Popoki

29 Dec


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It is amazing how one simple, tiny intergalactic space warp can upturn and radically transform our relationship with our environment, people/pets around us, and ourselves. This event for us started very, very early in the morning on the third, partly sunny day of December.

The crisp morning air was fresh and our car bed was not yet stuffy. My bladder resembled a nuclear reactor about to be detonated, so I hurriedly stumble out of the car and dashed over to the bathroom at the gas station we newly discovered the day before.  Even though my head was hazy and not awake, and possibly a bit distracted with the urgency of my need to pee, I have my pattern fully trained to quickly shut the door behind me in order to thwart either of our two meowing fluff balls from escaping.

Filled with relief, I return back to the nest and pass out a second time.

Round two wake up:  It is now 10:30 in the morning.  This time, Max groggily stretches next to me and I feel my belly awake with hunger.  We decide to get up so I get dressed and begin to do our usual morning breakfast review.  This is where we scan our current food collection and decide what we are going to buy as an addition to our yummy breakfast.

Max returns from the bathroom and joins in the morning ritual by setting up the fluff balls with their food and litter box.

“Ki Ki Kiiiii!” Max calls out, “Popoki”.

I am fully absorbed making breakfast so it doesn’t quite register that something is awry when I hear Max call specifically for Polo a second time.

“Popoki, here kii, ki, kiiiii! Polo!”.

Max comes over to me and says in a worried tone, “Shallon, I have no clue where Polo is.”

The urgent kitty calling now registers loudly in my head.  I look around and call for him, but Max is right. Polo is nowhere to be found.  My heart flutters a bit and stomach feels a bit like an elevator drop.

Cheech sits in the front seat licking his chops and Polo’s dish uncharacteristically remains full.

My mind zooms back to the entirety of the morning’s events: I pee, I sleep, I get up.  The car door only opened two, no wait, three times.  Both times, I was extra cautious for escape artists. Where could he have possibly gone?  Did he morph into pancake cat and slide out the door I cracked open only an inch?  Did a supernatural occurrence happen where I shift into a parallel reality where Polo no longer existed, but my memory of him still did?

It felt so odd to not have even an inkling of where this adorable, cute kitty could have gone.
At this point Max and I undergo whirlwind of emotions in order to assimilate and clearly see the situation we were now in.

The Week in Review

Now lets step into one of those movie flashback moments and look at the events that occurred leading up to this event. This will give you the full emotional experience of how this event felt like a complete time/space interruption to our normal daily flow.

The first of December started groggily, as usual, in our comfy car abode in the Walm-ART (refer to previous WalmART pic if possible) parking lot.  I desperately crave coffee, so we head over to Voodoo BBQ, the cafe attached to Walmart, and try to order coffee to go.

4post1“We have unlimited refills on coffee,” the cashier says as she points to the tiny styrofoam cup near the register.

I really wanted a large to-go cup.

“Any larger to-go cups?” I speak my mind.

She again points to the same styrofoam small cup.  We undergo a bit more confusing exchange before I settle for a large cup generally used for soda, not hot drinks.  On the way back to the car it dawns on me that the wax on this cup may not be very good in my drink. Max suggests exporting the coffee into one of our almost empty glass peanut butter jars. Peanut butter? Hmm..this sounds interesting, so we try it and yum! The coffee is saved in the nick of time from the wax-coated cup in a very exciting way.

Feeling extra compelled to be extra clean, we scout out a local laundromat and chatter away with a few very nice locals. I love how easy it is to strike up conversation with strangers in NOLA (as in New Orleans Louisiana).

Not wanting to dirty our clean clothes we execute our superman/woman-like qualities and sponge bath in our trailer.  To an outsider, dirty traveler disappears into the back of their trailer and emerges as beautiful buskers.  The onlookers across the street had strange looks about them. I guess outdoor restaurant seating comes with a different atmosphere than one might expect today. We were now ready to dazzle New Orleans with our act.

As we approach Bourbon Street we notice it is askew with performers in our usual spots, so we try a new location which to our knowledge is completely free and clear. This is attractive to us since street performing in NOLA can be very competitive. Especially when it comes to coordinating performance space and interacting with a small handful of local street performers.

Within a short jaunt, a familiar breakdancing street performance group sets up right next to our acoustic act.  They boom their amps and gather the crowds pretty much right on top of our act.  At first I was enraged with this complete disregard for our art, but as I allowed myself to be fully present with my emotions, in this experience, I began to see the opportunity presented before us. Max mirrored my experience and suggested that we pray for our blessings and to keep focused on them.

The breakdancers would at first gather an exceptionally large crowd using a microphone, amp, and background music.  They would keep them there with their banter and stage presentation.  Their dancing act lasted about 10 minutes and then they would rally for money and let the crowd disperse.  The realization set in with the awareness that if they were gathering a large crowd that dispersed all at once, we could coordinate the meat of our performance flow with the end of their act.  Immediately large crowds circulated around us as a result.

Secondary results, however, educated us in Max’s vocal projection. He has a very powerful voice that can boom over the mayhem of noise on Bourbon. The catch is how long he should do this for. Sometimes he can lose his upper registers for a few days preceding a performance as such.

Later on, as we counted our profits, we discovered the method to our timing was very fruitful. I love how easily and quickly money has been flowing in lately.  It is such bliss to feel in flow with the universe.

4post6We begin our visit to the Daiquiri Bar with Max chatting with the bartender and me sitting at an outside table.

A cop walks up to me as I am playing.

Looking at the open case next to me I exclaim, “Oh no, I am not actually street performing.”

I remembered that some sections of town are more strictly enforced than others when it comes to permits

He relaxes my uncertainty by saying, “Actually, I came over to hear you play.”  He points to the guitar I was strumming and smiles.  He has a distinct southern accent and a warm smile.

I am relieved and play what I know of ‘House of the Rising Sun’.

“Still learning?” he asks after listening for a bit.

“Yup.” I say feeling like a caught beginner.

I explain to him about our street performing act and that I am learning the guitar and Max is learning AcroYoga.  I show him a slew of photos and he appears to be completely enthralled. After about ten minutes he wishes us well and continues on his way.

4post7Max then joins me to count our earnings. In our countings, we discover several Euro coins inside the guitar case. I hold them in my hand and feel a tingle throughout my shoulders and back of my head. The energy from them relaxes the tension I picked up earlier in the evening.

We pass by Jackson Square and notice a pretty African American girl set up to read tarot cards.  Her positive energy strikes both Max and I simultaneously.  Max is compelled to talk to her about our Euros and I am excited to hear what she says.

4post22She smiles, closes her eyes and takes them into her hands.  After a few moments, she opens them again and again smiles.

“I feel the message from these coins are not directly related to the giver but more about an experience you will partake.  You will be traveling overseas to Europe.  It is important for you to do things that scare and challenge you. I also see you traveling to Brazil and other parts of South America,” she explains.

These words resonate and excite both Max and I since we desire overseas and South American travel.  We enjoy our exchange with this lovely tarot card reader named Nicole and exchange contact information.  We hope to see her again.

At this point a feeling that began during our performance began to escalate rapidly.  My body unravels into an array of soreness like none I have experienced in a very long time.  I desire curling up in a cozy crevice and Max is in the mood to partake in the city’s festivities.

4post8After a little bit of a refresher, I decide to walk along with Max on Frenchmen Street to see if we spot any of our friends.  We not only find Alan, our hitchhiking friend from Canada, but Max chats away with an array of interesting people.

The next morning felt a bit like a mac truck hit us.  Our bodies are so incredibly sore from the AcroYoga and festivities from the night before we take it easy most of the day. In fact we didn’t accomplish more than sloth-like activities, so we set an intention to take care of business when we woke up.  We go to bed feeling at peace with our very chill day.

Alright, so now this brings us full circle to our unexpected missing Polo dilemma. Remember that saga from the beginning of this post?

Marco… Where’s Polo?

With the whirrr of events and flow that occurred directly before this morning, you can now understand the full uproot from our normal flow.  Sometimes unexpected events can bring about an exceptional need to be grounded and rooted in the NOW.  The past few days erased from my memory completely as I stood beside Max scanning the parking lot for our dear fuzzy critter.

Since Polo was nowhere to be found, we decide to complete a few very time-sensitive tasks we intended the night before with aching overwhelment.

How can we just drive away, but how do we stay?

The next few hours feels like trying to find a needle in quicksand.  The area where Polo vanished is a vast parking lot with a long fence on one side, the Walmart store, and then a busy highway on the other side.  I tried to imagine what route Polo could have taken. Max, knowing Polo since kittenhood, walks towards the back of the parking lot and peers between a stack of pallets. I peak under the cars parked within easy darting distance from our car. There is absolutely no sign of Polo anywhere.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, we head over to the two local animal shelters. Maybe someone picked him up and turned him in.  Our fingers were crossed.  We were hopeful.

4post10The first shelter had a large section of stray pets, but none were Polo so we head over to ARNO (Animal Rescue New Orleans).  This shelter had a very natural, organic feeling to it.  We discover later that this shelter has a no-kill policy whereas the hearsay about the first shelter is that dogs are put down after seven days.

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We enter the front door and proceed down a long aisle between several large animal cages filled with adorable cats.  Immediately we were intoxicated with their cute and playful qualities.  One striped older kitten playfully reaches through the bars of the cage and softly taps my hand.   My heart melted.

Max discovers an intensely affectionate kitty named Peaches whom he falls in love with immediately.

4post11“She could be Polo’s girlfriend.” he says adoringly.

We unfortunately don’t find Polo, but it takes an incredible amount of willpower on both our parts to walk out of the shelter without additional cats.  Would it be possible to travel cleanly and freely with four cats? Probably not a good idea.

The evening is a blur because there is still no sign of Polo and we are exhausted.  We conclude the day with another in depth search of the parking lot and then decide to call it a night.

The next morning we head to our favorite chill spot, Dot’s Diner, and research the local animal shelters.  We discover several shelters in the area as well as a couple Facebook groups for lost and found pets in New Orleans.

Max posts one of Polo’s cutest pictures on NOLA Pets Lost and Found Facebook group.  Within two hours the post took off like a wildfire with over 200 shares. This quick response was touching and sparked hope in both of us.

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A Nice Distraction

The day has whisked by and after taking another scan of the scene of the disappearance, we decide to take a breather and head to the French Quarter.  We feel exhausted from the day and hungry.  but getting out is exactly what we need.  We walk down the now familiar streets and run into Bea.

4post15Bea: a tall, blonde 19 year old who has traveled to over 40 countries in the past year and half. Interestingly enough, she always seems to have lots of food and shows up whenever we are hungry.

She introduces us to her friend from Memphis, Laurel.

Laurel:  A sparkly upbeat girl with character.

4post16Happy for a distraction, Laurel and Bea sweep us off to a cute bar to meet up with some of their friends.  We are immediately greeted with friendliness and cheer by a group of their friends. Max is doing well to keep up with the evenings spirits, but I can tell that he is thrown off with deep worry for Polo’s well-being. 4post17

Keeping our chins up

The next morning we wake up a bit more refreshed, but still deeply missing Polo.  We revisit the closest shelters with no luck, but discover that the news about Polo’s vanishing act is still making it’s rounds.

I call a shelter across the Mississippi river and describe Polo without mentioning his name.

The man on the other end of the receiver responds with sparkly recognition, “Oh…you mean Polo?”

I was surprised and touched by the quickness of his response and by the fact that he already knew about our missing loved one.  The kind man on the other end of the line hadn’t seen Polo, but it was great to feel such a flood of care.

We let go of our search for the evening and head back into the Quarter to do little bit of street performing.  Our money cushion could use a bit of a refresher since we took the past few days off to look for Polo.

It felt good to get back into the swing of AcroYoga.  I love watching Max from the unique perspective of lying on my back with him sitting on my feet.  The reaction from all of the happy stumbling tourist as he plays guitar and sing out to all is so rewarding.

After we play for a bit, we head down to our local hangout spot The Golden Lantern for a drink and a moment to unwind.  I am on my way to the bathroom when my phone buzzes. The woman on the other end is unfamiliar but friendly.

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I found your cat

“I found your cat in the Walmart parking lot,” she states.

My heart flutters, but I double check, “Are you sure? We spotted another cat that was not him earlier.”

“Yes, it is definitely Polo.” she states with a certainty that sets me in motion to get back to Max at our seats up at the counter.

We pick up our full drinks and quickly make our way back to Walmart.  We find the woman standing on top of the pallet pile. Max has been looking in that pile since the first day of Polo’s disappearance.

4post19We discover that this short haired, kind, brunette is named Lisa.

Max immediately crouches between the pallets where she points to where Polo is.

“Hereee Ki, Ki, Ki.” Max calls

I hear a tiny meow.  My spirits lift in hope.

“Here Ki, Ki, Ki, Popoki.”  Max shakes a food dish.

Max wedges deeper into the pallet pile and I climb on top along with Lisa to get a better view.
I see Max below crouching down and peering under a stack of pallets.  This time I hear the distinct meow of Polo in response to Max’s calling.  I am elated.

Lisa says “Wow, listen to him talk back to you. He has been dead silent until he heard your voice.”

“He is quite a little ninja, I have never seen a cat run and crouch so low to the ground before. The closer I got to him, the lower he sank into the ground.”

After a bit of coaxing, dirty Polo emerges from the pallets and Max quickly swipes him up and hugs him with deep appreciation and love.

“I missed you soooooo much!” he says softly to Polo.

“Meeeewa!” Polo squeaks back.

“You are such a little shit! Do you have any idea what I have been through?”

4post20The reunion feels so good and fulfilling that I join in the cuddle fest with a hug.

Lisa, standing beside us is beaming.  We give her a hug and our deepest heartfelt appreciation for her kindness and consideration for helping us find Polo.  We learn that she is one of the administrators of the Facebook page Max first posted Polo on. She obviously holds a deep love for animals and helping people find their missing family members.

This night we go to bed glowing and cuddling with both kitties.  The saga of Polo has concluded with success and appreciation for the flood of kindness and help we received throughout our search. I look to Max for a celebratory cuddle, but he is fast asleep. He was surely exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster. I’m so glad we found his baby.

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Back to “Normal”?

The next day we savor our find by relaxing with Polo and Cheech until the late afternoon.  I decided to annoy Cheech a bit by dressing him up with some beads… He never did flash me.

Polo4Polo and Cheech reconnect and curl up cozily together on the back seat.  Max and I decide to get back on the street again for some busking. We set up next to a cranky lady selling roses.  Maybe we could brighten her day with our act?

We perform with ease and joy, but the cranky lady still appears to be in a funk. The more money that goes into our guitar case, the more pissed off she looks. Max surprises both her and I by buying a beautiful, red long-stemmed rose.

I blush as he hands me the gorgeous flower and we make our way back to the car to count our earnings.  Needless to say I couldn’t feel more adoration for my boyfriend. Not only did he finally brighten the flower lady’s day but he charmed mine as well.  How fun!

So many fantastic events were in this day to savor.  We savor each others presence and the new presence of Polo as we make our way back to our familiar Walm-ART landing spot.

David and the Dogs

The next few days evoke a flurry of new developments and the meeting of new people.

We awoke in the morning with a deep desire to feel clean.  It’s amazing how much accelerating appreciation for showers we have developed in our gypsy-like traveling ways. It was Max’s turn to use our campground shower pass so I waited in the car and listened to some tunes and relaxed.

When sparkly clean shaven Max returns, we once again meander to our ‘Busking Land’ (aka French Quarter and Frenchmen Street).  Just as we were gathering our gear, a white-bearded man and a jolly smile drives past us in an older Volvo with a sign on top that says ‘Local Newspaper’.

He pulls over yells out at us, “Did you want to buy a paper?”

“Actually we were just walking up to find a place to busk,” Max states.

“OH,” he says and pulls over to talk to us anyways.

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We discover this smiley man’s name is David.  He has lived in New Orleans long enough to have a flurry of stories to share with us and to be deeply integrated into the local scene.

Somehow we got on the topic of places to stay and how we are scouting one out for camper construction.

“Oh I’ve got a place you can stay,” he states matter of factly.  “Why don’t you follow me right now.  I have some time to show you.”

We decide to take David, as learned, up on his tour offer, so we jump back into the car and make our way over to Music Street (what an appropriate title) where a house he purchased, primarily for his 14 dogs, resides.

We park in front of his dilapidated house and are greeted with his pack of friendly dogs.  Cheech and Polo crouch ferociously in the window preparing for flight if needed.

This house on Music Street is centered in a large cluster of four leaf clovers but is run down and needs a lot of work.  We feel a buzz of an opportunity hidden somewhere in this tour so we proceed inside to be greeted with one of David’s friends slumbering on a queen sized old bed.  He wakes up and smiles at David’s familiar face.

“Hey man, did you get out of jail today or yesterday?” David openly asked.

His friend replied groggily, “Oh, it was yesterday. I walked here.”

David says to us chuckling , “Poor guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the police arrested him for disturbing the peace. He’s not so great with words.”

We learn that this young guy has been squatting in David’s house for the past few weeks.  He has large bushy hair and is very aloof. I can easily see the potential for this man to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He finishes showing us around the place and explaining all the work that needs to be done to get the building up to code.

New Orleans has a vast array of empty or dilapidated housing. This city has a lot of growing pains and obviously some storm issues. It makes for an interesting place to tour through for sure.

David then invites us to the local food co-op. We follow him to the Marigny where the store resides.

Now this is what we have learned about the Bywater and Marigny thus far:  Cool shops, restaurants, and decor intertwined with a few crazy ass reactive people who resemble a person with turrets syndrome.

On this particular day the owner of a Bed and Breakfast runs towards us like a bat out of hell screaming “NOOOOOOOOOooooo! NOOooooooooo! Stop!”.  I could have swore that this simple consonant and vowel sound was actually a random four letter word.  Did I see a twitch?

The crazy man wanted to claim the street parking spot for his Inn.  The world watched as his unconsciousness appeared more like a rooster squawking uncontrollably.  I had to remember half way through this rash of craziness to not take it personal. To stay present and not reactive.  Phew..this is definitely a good thing to remember!

We gladly move on from this neck of the woods back to our busking scene. Max was wonderfully insightful on lessons to be learned from the crazy man and my day began to shift with a sigh of relief.

The rest of the day proceeded as follows:  food, busking, and a wonderful evening hanging out with our friend Alan.  The afternoon/evening was a ride from being a bit jilted to floating in bliss, love, and appreciation.  What a day!

Getting the Busk Back On!

The next morning we woke with the impetus to take care of a few errands and work our way down to the Quarter for some daytime busking on Royal Street.  We were told that this is the place to go to play for all of the daytime shoppers scurrying around finding Christmas gifts.

We begin by stopping at The Golden Lantern to refresh a bit before locating a good daytime performance spot.

“Howdy,” the bartender calls out to us.  We are welcomed with familiarity.

Several locals sit around the U-shaped bar.   I head to the restroom to freshen up while Max dives into the banter with the men across the bar.  The man kindly buys us a drink.  The generosity here has always been so plentiful.

Still feeling the buzz of kindness, we meander down Royal and discover performers and shoppers everywhere.  Many performers set up in spots that say no parking so follow this flow by setting up our act.  This is when we discover that the street is most definitely not flat which makes the acroyoga portion of our act very challenging.  This a pivotal point in our busking flow where we decide that performing on Royal Street is not our first choice in performance spaces.

We stop for a break and discover a new Po Boy shop that is absolutely delicious and then head to get a coffee at PJ’s Coffee on Bourbon Street.

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A new burst of energy hits, so we head up Bourbon Street and discover that it is packed with performers.  We decide to explore the performance area closer to Canal Street and find a clear spot in front of Le Bayou, a cajun creole restaurant with friendly waiters.  No sooner had Max unfurled the mats and I got him propped up on my feet then people smiled, laughed, flocked to contribute to the case.  Three separate people tell us that we need an agent and should be on the television show ‘America’s Got Talent’.  My head spins in reverie of being on television.

Half way through our performance a tall black man comes out and brings us two cups of water.  He is a doorman at Le Bayou and they are loving our performance and the energy we are bringing to their restaurant.

“Man you guys are great! Every time these people stop I get half of them to come into the restaurant!” he says excitedly.

I just have to stop at this moment and reflect on our journey from Maine thus far.   Before our travels begun, Max and I had the original intention to travel to the other side of the continent, fly to Hawaii and work on a self-sustained farm. Instead, here I am. Not Laying on a beach but on a yoga mat on Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Now looking up at my cute boyfriend who is singing and playing guitar, while propped up on my feet. The sky floats behind him, what a heavenly backdrop.

Do I feel disappointed in this change of plans?  I mean afterall WWOOFING somewhere tropical and exotic is on both of our bucket lists.  I look up at the  telephone wires above me which are littered in Mardi Gras bead.   The roar of celebration and party seeps from every open door on the street and I feel the spark of playfulness. What a dramatic difference in atmosphere from a sandy beach with large ocean waves, but my emotions clarify that I am clearly in a state of bliss.

By following my moment to moment greatest excitement, I ended up in New Orleans, LA fulfilling a completely different item on my bucket list in a more exciting way than expected.  I look at Max’s guitar case open. My bucket list was to be performing music with my guitar case open- but wait, this open case relates to my acrobatic portion of the act as well.  I love that on occasion we can get 100 people to smile, laugh and throw a dollar into our case.

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From Black Friday to Accomplishment

13 Dec

3post1Apologies for the late entry. When you read the entry to come you will understand the delay.

Black friday was relatively uneventful for Shallon and I.  It was our original intent to street perform amongst the shoppers.  However, in the early morning, we realized we were far too tired to attempt this.  So, we slept in.  Then we chilled about Katie’s place for the afternoon.  When we find a place that suits our desires, we try to savor the time we have and appreciate it. Even if it is very temporary. Later in the evening we got some great photos of the french quarter…3post43post5

Shallon wanted to play the guitar a bit while we walked the streets (I love new orleans!). She also kept spotting the most wonderful window displays.3post23post3

3post20On the following day, Katie and Markus were still catching up, so Shallon and I decided to collect our belongings and head out on our own again.  Katie was a wonderful host.  We felt blessed to have met her.
We ventured down to Frenchmen Street in the French Quarter and found that it was quite busy with buskers.  Our usual corner was taken, so Shallon optimistically suggested we move up the street for a new spot.  It sits beside a little pub by the name of 13.  We had the most entertaining time performing.  We made some decent money and had some great company come by to watch.  After I broke an important string on the guitar, we decided it was time to quit.

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Just then a Jamaican fellow came over and showed me a bunch of bass lines on the guitar.  It made me remember how great it felt to play bass guitar.  I used to be in a great band back in Tucson, so it made me reminisce a little bit. It also reminded me how much I really miss my reggae music listening.  I don’t get a lot of music listening time lately.  Anyway, what a character this guy was.  He was in town for a short bit on some business.  He was glowing with his love of music and had great stories of his adventures in street performing in his younger days.

Afterwards we walked away from our new spot and got a phone call from Shallons Mother.  Apparently a very close family member, in his senior years, was attending a family Thanksgiving dinner.  During dinner he overheard Shallons older brother telling a story about her recent infected fingers.

So he says, “That sounds a little like the thing that is going on with my foot.”

He shows the family his foot and they decide to take him to the hospital… Low and behold, he has a staph infection in its advanced stages. Due to his age and his diabetic condition, It would have been life threatening if he had not gone in. After the phone call, Shallon and I shake our head and say, “I guess everything happens for a reason.”

We spend a great deal of time writing and then off to the Walmart “camp”. When we get there we finally decide to go on an adventure to discover what kind of bird squawks awkwardly all night long over a meat processing plant. I know, weird! We cross the parking lot of Walmart and the road. We never did get a visual on the squawking bird.  To this day we still have no idea what or where it is.  However, 3post8we did find a cool school bus for sale!  It was just another reminder of our travel bus dream.  We took the phone number down and headed back to the “camp”.  When we got there we noticed that the Walmart sign was only half lit… How appropriate!

We awake in the morning and I am feeling very tight and sore.  Shallon says to me that she wants to give me a massage in the park.  Geez, I guess I will have to suffer through that!  We head over to the park and she puts me to sleep on a blanket in the soft grass.  After a great recharge, I fill up our water stores at the park fountain.  The water in Audubon park is the best city water I have found in New Orleans.  Afterward, we decide to call the phone number we collected on the bus. I talk to a fellow that is selling his last bus of a fleet he used to have.  I realise after the phone call, that I’m probably going to need to buy a bus from a yard or a public auction.  I have been looking at pricing on private bus sales for a while now. So far I have found that they are simply asking too much for old, rusty buses that need money put into them.  Oh well, it was still fun to dream about it!

I still don’t have strings on my guitar.  The new ones I put on broke in just two sessions.  So we go to a local music shop on Magazine street.  Turns out I am sixty cents short for a set of strings.  The awesome guy at the counter gives me the strings anyway!  How great!  I explain to them how much I need these strings and I thank them.  I also told them I would be back with the the sixty cents (and I did go back!  They were surprised).

Shallon and I head down to the Quarter to busk on Bourbon St.  The police are standing right behind us smiling and laughing at our act.  They even stand by as some crazy intoxicated lady tries to ride Shallon like a mechanical bull.   We do pretty well, but we need a break. So we head out for Frenchmen St.  On the way we run into Raven.

Raven: a complex and friendly fellow with short dark hair and a long overcoat that sits on Royal street doing tarot readings.  He is close to our age and has spent the majority of his adult life on the streets of New Orleans.

We always see him there, so we chat a bit. He convinces us to do our act a bit nearby. He stands there and watches us for a while.

“I’m not getting readings done, but this is so cool!”

After a while performing a backpacker wanders by us and watches us for a bit. We take a break and have some more chatting with Alan.

Alan:  a  tall, blond haired man in his 20’s  from Alberta who has spent the past few months adventurously hitchhiking across the U.S.

After much conversation we finally make it to Frenchmen St and set up at our new spot next to 13.

After another great time performing, Matt Chester crosses the street towards us.

Matt Chester: A fun, generous & hospitable New Orleans firefighter that was our first host in New Orleans.

He walks up and watches us for a bit. He has been having a great night and says he has been missing us and all of the worldly guests that were at his house during our stay there. He also stated that he was so glad that we were still in New Orleans. We share the sentiments and proclaim meeting again in the near future. Just as he leaves Alan walks by again and we have an even more in depth conversation about his travels and our spiritual journeys. After a long fruitful conversation, a few shots of Brandy and hug, he hands us a book called Siddhartha. What a guy!

We leave the Quarter scene for some much deserved rest and a very fulfilled social desire.

3post7It is really amazing how well Shallon and I have been received by the locals here in New Orleans. One late night, we decide to busk on frenchmen street very late. There were very few people out on the street this monday evening, but for midnight, it was very warm and humid. Since we spent the day doing chore-like stuff we just wanted to play around and perform for the wind. The weather was incredible anyway, why waste it, right? We set our case out on the street and a local walks by and throws a dollar in before we even finish setting up. He says “I’ve seen you guys before. You guys are really great.” and he walks away. Shallon and I just look at each other and go “Um, Cool!”. As the night goes on, we have several characters walk by and converse with us about how they love our act. One local dealer just loves our act and in between his deals he watches us play. He laughs and smiles whenever we are there. Another local musician that started on the street, now plays at the Apple Barrel. She congratulates us and encourages us to keep it up. A local bar owner walks by us after she closed her bar and tells us how much she enjoys our act! So great was this night. Well, we never did get a lot of bread that night, but we sure did get a lot of food for our souls.

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The next day was very rainy and balmy.  In the morning boredom Shallon decided to do a kitty-cat photo shoot in the back of the car.  She got some good ones…

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Since the weather was detouring our outside plans we got a nice oil lamp and sat in our vented trailer while we played guitar.  I decided to catch up with an old friend on the phone.  After some cuddles and a cosy blanket warmed us up, we were both so tired we passed out and got some early rest.

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The next day was sunny and beautiful!  So, we decided to sneak into an RV park and catch a well needed shower!  As we took turns doing this, the other would sit in a nearby park and play the guitar.  After getting cleaned up we went to the Flying Burrito for some food on a gift card we received.  Its crazy how much free stuff is just flowing to us.  We don’t even look for it! It ended up being extremely good mexican cuisine.  I spent nine years in Tucson and It was comparable to the food prepared there.  After being fed we headed down to Bourbon Street and had our most profitable hit yet!  After two hours of performing we head to a local hotel with a nice coffee shop inside.  In the lobby we decided to do some photos amongst the festive decor…

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3post17Afterwards we head to get some great local food at Verti Mart.  On the way I spot a cool window to a live performance on Bourbon.  The pianist notices us behind him and he peers out at us with a smile.  I love how happy people are here in this city.  Even the street bums are smiling all of the time.  How can you deny it?  Later, on Frenchmen St, we run into some fellow traveler/street performers.  One of them shares his expertise in train hopping with Shallon.  Thats another thing we keep getting on this journey… Free information! Everyone educates us on their lives.  They just volunteer the information!  There is such a diverse collective down here.  I could never get bored of the conversation.  After a short spell there we head off to Dots Diner to catch up with our timeline.

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The next morning was amazing weather yet again.  Shallon wants to write on the blog, so we head off to the park to get some stuff done.  I made sandwiches, fed the kitties and filled our water stores while Shallon got some “work” done.  After my chores were done I learned a new song on the guitar and basked in the awesome sunlight.  What a tough day!

3post19In the afternoon we met up with Alan at a local bar called The Golden lantern for a drink.  We stay there for a bit and then introduce him to Verti Mart for some great local food.  After a great meal he followed us up to our favorite spot on Bourbon Street.  On the way we spot more great window displays.  We set up on 3post21Bourbon Street and Alan took off after we started performing.  We did very well again and then headed to our coffee shop at the hotel to watch the Saints football game (Hey, when in rome… right?).  If the Saints win, we have to go back to the streets and perform, we usualy get tips well.  If they lose, well, who knows? After the Saints were defeated, we decided to head back out to Bourbon Street to try and make a few bucks.  Well, we did ok until the police asked us to leave due to a silly noise ordinance on Bourbon.   Now, I know I’m not louder than the local bars with their open doors and their live bands, but you can’t argue logic with law.  So I didn’t bother trying.  We were tired anyway, so we left for Frenchmen Street where we found some delicious spiked cider being sold on the street. It has to be the tastiest cider we have ever had…Yum!  Shallon also spotted a local art market on the street with some interesting stuff for sale.  We didn’t buy anything, but it was really fun to look around.

3post253post24On the following morning, the park was wonderful yet again.  We really have been spoiled with fantastic warm winter weather.  Today, we decided to film our routine to critique the way it looks and to improve the visual elements.  We got some great insights on it and have improved it greatly since.  Shallon finishes writing her blog entry and leaves it be for the day.  Its always good to let it sit before we post it.  That way, we don’t waste the precious daylight on the computer and we get to think about it for a bit before posting.  Afterwards, we head out to our favorite spot on Bourbon.3post22  While we are there we meet a man named Dan that wants to start a band with me and some great characters from Weed World Candies. They give us a few lollipops, that we are obviously afraid to eat, and tell us that they got us on video the day before.  They were very complimentary and gave us a nice glowing feeling of appreciation.  We go back to our favorite coffee shop in the hotel again.  This time the baristas are particularly jaunty!  They give Shallon a wonderful cheer and rant on about the size and shape of her backside.  Of course, she takes the compliment with great pride (especially considering the ethnicity the compliments are coming from)!  This, strangely for us, has not been an uncommon occurrence down here. We have both been practically molested in the streets since our bodies have been shaping up. We both have to swat admirers off of us all the time. It really has been a lot of fun.

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History, Faith and a Great Holiday

1 Dec

A little tribute to our friends.

Alina and Thomas inspired us.  Their travel stories and their advice was so great!  They volunteered a wealth of knowledge to us about blogging and travel.  After lots of talking and planning we finally decided to write about our experiences.  Having been on the road for two months, we have lots of material to write about.  Our wonderful new friends made it easy for us to get it kicked off.  Thank you for your help!

Alina and Thomas’s blog
http://a-t-travel.travellerspoint.com/

Shedding more light on how we write.

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We really wanted to make a blog with a unique twist. If you read a travel blog it has lots of great pictures and lots of wonderful details about people and places. That’s the allure, right?  We want that in our blog! However, the tough part for us is the fact that, sometimes, we are not traveling in the manner that most people would consider a travelers lifestyle.  Instead of breezing through each stop on our trip, our ‘gypsy’ ways leave us freer to decide how long we want to stay at each spot. Our budget is much smaller than the average travel bloggers budget.   We spend a great deal of our time on enlightenment and appreciating the smaller things.  These are also the things we write about. Not to mention how we keep positive and work through the sudden upheavals in our plans.

Ah yes, upheavals… No matter how well you plan, there are always things that can come up.  Working through these things can be a true test of character.  Now we have never gone without our basic needs.  However, we have spent a lot of time doing inner work on how we feel about our abundance.

Abundance: The ability to do what you need to do, when you need to do it.

MaxBloggingAs we have the smallest chunk of change since we started this journey, we have never felt more Abundant… Now think about that for a minute.  How could someone have less money and feel more abundant?  Doesn’t money allow you to do what you need to do?  Well… Yes, but does the means let you do it when you need to do it?  Ah, thats the trick question.  We guess the answer is dependent on when and how you make your money.  We also guess that the answer to that question is, all too often, no.  We both used to have full-time careers with benefits and all of the money we needed.  Both of us had an uncontrolled chain of events pull us from our careers.  So then what?  What if it happens to you?  What if you live this life of “Safe” decisions and then your retirement gets swallowed up in a ponzi scheme?  With our twenties already spent on a common life that dried up, we were left with two choices.  Get back into the rat race with everyone else or a shift in our perspective.  The opportunity to start over allowed us to search for a deeper meaning in life.ShallonBlogging

We met under very synchronistic circumstances and we shared similar desires for spiritual growth.  For us, this journey was a gift.  For us, in this journey, we are allowed to focus on all of the gifts that come to us as well as the money.  Financial advisers will tell you not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Isn’t money or currency a basket?

Now, as the topic of abundance becomes easier, the freedom topic comes up. Well, what is freedom?  For us it appears to be a life without fear.  To be without fear is to trust that all is well in the moment, even if you have no control over it.  Because, inevitably, you will have moments in your life that you have no control over.  This has been a great journey of trust that we have been on.  Sometimes we think our trust is strong, until it gets shaken.  The true test of our trust is deciding to hold it while its being shaken.  So far, we have never been let down in our trust. It stays true, always.  The only time it even appears untrue, is when we doubt it.  Fortunately, we have learned how to shift our doubts quickly.BloggingIpadPark

Faith and a Pizza.

My eyes pop open and I take a moment to peer around our cozy car abode:  window’s carefully covered with make-shift shades, a thick layer of blankets spread across both Max and I, and the kitties peacefully nestled by our sides.   Four months ago I would have never expected our journey to take us to the brightly lit parking lot of the Walmart store I once swore to never shop at.  The fun part is, I never expected to now find so much thrill and joy out of the experience.  Why has the fluorescent lighting taken on a much more cheery aura?  It’s not that I now prefer stark lighting over warm lighting.  No, my preference is clearer than ever at how much I love ambiance.  So then what has changed?

I turn my head and gaze at Max who is now, cooler under one sheet, peacefully asleep. Sleeping in the car can heat up quickly once hit by the morning sun.

Having such a free-spirited and fun partner no doubt has amped up my willingness to explore such a daredevil way of life.  Beyond this though, the tools we have been exploring together as how to change our perspective are what really has shifted our reality.  It is great to be able to freely move from fear and self expectation to being relaxed, happy and blissed out.

As soon as Max wakes up, we whizz through the usual routine of:  roll the car bed back into the trunk, eat and freshen up, & feed the screaming kitties.  We are getting so in the flow of our daily routine, we barely have to utter a word to each other about what is next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is such a beautiful sunny day and my fingers are pretty much healed so we decide to, spend the afternoon practicing our moves at Audubon Park.  I love how we have this option to play outside even though it is November!  We ease into a series of new moves and then wrap up before dark, when the mosquitoes come alive.

It is time to get back into the street performing groove on Frenchman Street.  We are refreshed with new moves that we are excited to share with tourist and locals.

LitOakOn the way, we spot oak trees lit in thousands of gorgeous lights.  We find out later it is very popular in New Orleans to fully engulf these century old oak trees with as much brightness and cheer as possible. I am stoked to see the city come alive as Christmas approaches.

Frenchman Street is filled with the usual vibrant liveliness and our new street performance routine feels fresh, new and exciting. We perform for a while, but my legs are beginning to feel like they are rubber and my stomach is screaming for grub like our food obsessed cat, Polo.

Tonight our case was filled with only a few sparse dollar bills.  When you can see the bottom of the case, its never a good hit. At one point this would have been downright unnerving, but instead I chose to feel happy and peaceful.  I knew from my previous experiences, letting go of worry, nervousness and expected doom only led to greatness.   This proved to be another case of greatness because within five minutes of experiencing hunger, a girl with short brown hair walked up to us and asked to use our phone in exchange for ordering us a pizza. PIZZA! Yum…this is exactly what I am craving and in perfect time. So satisfying!  My body is downright refreshed.

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Jiji shares that she has been travelling for a few months.  On the surface she is cheerful, but her stories are very deep. Her husband left on a train.  Her boyfriend was picked up for a warrant that he had out on him in Texas.   She chattered away about these topics easily, but you could tell that there may be more to her story. On another note,  she showed us how to order a pizza without having an address to deliver it to.  Her openness at sharing a whole pizza with us was touching.

It was so fun to draw in the pizza within minutes of being struck by hunger that I am now pumped with energy.  I love feeling connected to the universe and feeling taken care of.  These relaxed, open, joyful feelings are what helps me move so fluidly from one experience to the next.  I love when the magic pours in like a sci-fi movie on television. I feel like a wizard of my life.  This has been and continues to be an incredible and fun part of our journey.

Now fed, we have come full circle to our familiar spot in the Walmart parking lot.  The day leaves a friendly taste in my mouth. After unfurling the car bed, I return to my spot nestled next to Max and slip into a deeply content sleep.

Happy Turkey Day!

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Thanksgiving took on a fun new bent for me this year.  Not only was the day bright and sunny, but it was warm.  A typical Thanksgiving day for me was to be bundled indoors with maybe an inch of snow outside.  However on this festive morning, we woke to fresh crispness in the air that rocketed to a gorgeous 76 degrees by lunch time.  With this luxury in mind we decided to have a Thanksgiving picnic outside at our favorite grassy spot at Audubon Park.

Max and I groggily wrapped up our morning routine and venture over to Robert’s Market, a really nice market we have grown to love, and pick up our feast.  I sit in the car with Cheech and Polo and watch several herds of families, all dressed alike and chattering away about family gossip, turkey, and the gorgeous day.

Max returned with a pre-cooked moist, juicy cajun chicken and fresh salad fixings.  The aroma filled the car sending the cats into a frenzy.  My stomach, which was already growling, sent out an extra loud rumble at the thought of eating this tasty perfection. Now we were ready to begin our fun adventure.

TrailerCheechWhen we arrived, the park was unexpectedly crowded.  However, our usual spot next to a cluster of beautiful old oak trees was clear and waiting for us. We first lay out our blanket, set up the kitties in their usual cool shady spot in the trailer, and then sit down to take a relaxing breather before diving into our grub.

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To our surprise, no sooner had we nestled onto the down comforter and wrapped it around us, we both fell into in a deep, deep sleep.   The sun, radiant on our skin, speckled through the trees.  I barely remember hearing max’s breath deepen as his body relaxed into slumber next to me.

The sun was far beneath the tree line when my eyes suddenly popped open.  My body tingles with the crisp cool evening air.  What happened to the sun?!  Max was beginning to arise as well and stretched his limbs out from under the blanket.  I rolled over and picked up my phone to notice a few hours had passed by – holy cow, a few hours!  The majority of Thanksgiving afternoon was spent in a siesta and we haven’t even tapped into our meal.  The latest whirlwinds of our travels must have caused a need for hibernation.  I felt relaxed, awake, and needless to say- a bit hungry.

My phone buzzes with a text message.  Katie, a girl I had messaged on Couchsurfing, has accepted our request to host us and would love us to come over for Thanksgiving.   Also very exciting, she also has a her friend in town who is an AcroYogi- yay!  My head spins with the happy thought of flying a few poses instead of the usual basing I have done with our act.  I love waking up with the buzz of an exciting new quest.

To my stomach’s dismay instead of diving into our feast we decide to wrap up and share our food with our host.  This feels good despite my excitement to eat,  so I snack a bit to curb my appetite and begin to pack up our picnic.

CheechskyPoloSkyJust then a frenzy of tiny, scurrying birds flocked above our head.  As Max put it, they squeaked like a sea of puppies chewing on dog toys.  Taking hold of this adorable, humorous moment, we gather Cheech up and stick him on the roof.   He curiously scampers about, looking overhead like he’s about to be abducted by 800 tiny aliens. We love getting a rise out of the cats so we pause for an official photoshoot.

Enough time passed by so we head to Katie’s house. This is the first time we have crossed the Mississippi River to the other side of New Orleans.  The area appeared to be peaceful and friendly, but not as fancy and antiquated as the Quarter.  At the entry of her apartment we were fascinated to come to a guard shack.  The guard was friendly middle aged man who carefully analyzed my license and jotted down a few notes about us.   He kindly helped us find a spot that would accommodate our large rig close to our host’s apartment.

Katie and Markus were waiting in the parking lot for us. Katie is a petite blond in her early twenties. She has a pleasant disposition and immediately welcomes us into her apartment complex. The place greatly reminds both Max and I of previous apartments we had in our previous lives.  Her house is clean and smells like turkey. A black and white striped kitten peaks curiously out from behind the wall dividing the living room from a tiny hallway.CrazyCat1CrazyCat

Markus, an average height man with short hair and glasses, joins in this friendly introduction with immediate talk about our love for AcroYoga.  It is fun to talk ‘shop’ and try out a few poses with a fellow playmate.

Max, still a bit groggy from the lazy day, slowly prepares our salad.  Meanwhile, I show Markus an acroyoga flow called Vashing Machine.  I overhear Max chattering away in the kitchen with Katie.

“Yeah, we were at Audubon Park,” Max explains.

“Audubon Park?” Katie asks exclaims excitedly.  “Why that is where I intern.”

“At the park?”

“No actually, part of Audubon Park is a zoo. I am a zoo keeper.”

Hearing this evokes fascination and excitement!  Couchsurfing with cats has really led us to the houses of some really interesting animal lovers. This has been an unexpected pleasure to explore unique perspectives and lifestyles that I may not have otherwise been introduced to by travelling with Cheech and Polo.  To sum up Katie’s experience, we learned about what it was like to work with big cats such as lions and tigers. She also shares with us her  lifelong love for working with animals of all nature.

The kitten, who I learn is called ‘Crazy Cat’, finally playfully pounces out from behind the  corner towards our feet.

“HIIISSSSSS!” Cheech exclaims dramatically and hunches over in the corner.

The cat drama ensues a chuckle from all four of us.  I couldn’t help but wonder what is in store for the rest of our stay.

Max finishes preparing the tasty salad and we finally feast.  The wait was well worth it! I sink my teeth into the salad and feel the fresh greens immediately energize and relax my body. The chicken becomes a great side dish for what our bodies are really craving.

Full bellied and happy, Katie shows us how to turn the futon couch into a bed.  She heads off to sleep since she works early in the A.M. Its great to have another rest in a quiet place. Tomorrow is black friday.

From weary fingers, wallet, and soul to everything we could ask for.

21 Nov

We don’t need luck. We are taken care of.

If you have ever spent time in a hospital you surely must understand the feeling of freedom upon being discharged. For Shallon and I it couldn’t have been sooner. Logically, it wasn’t that we had a “better” place to be. No, just a dirty car and a list of things to accomplish for the evening. First stop is Holly’s house. Holly: An extremely kind nurse with a soft spot for animals. She was so kind and hosted our fluffy loves while we were staying at the hotel… I mean hospital. Feeling a little chaotic and spun “off course” we made our way to her home. Upon arrival she was waiting outside for us with her friend Sissy. They were about to go out for dinner, so we scooted into her lovely home of gorgeous wood flooring, tasteful chandeliers and lovely antique decor. The cats, Cheech and Polo, were waiting for us in the spare bedroom. After some light banter, a possible work connection and comments about our adorable fuzzballs, we made our way out the door.

On the way out Holly says, “Well, I wish you guys the best of luck and safety in your travels.”

I responded, “Thank you, but I don’t think we need any luck, we seem to be very well taken care of.”

Usually I realise a channeled statement after I say it. Usualy, these statements flow from me and then they replay in my mind as if someone else said them. This time was very different than the other times. This time I was a present observer, in third person before the statement came out. I felt the sound resonate in my chest and I felt deeply calmed by the power of my belief. I believe it so much in this moment that I don’t have to think before I speak. My belief speaks for me.

Building the case…

We head to the “wonderfull” WalMart to fill some prescriptions of antibiotics for Shallon’s finger (I know, Wal-Mart, so exciting! Tell us more!). We were told by Shallon’s nurse that the prescriptions were about four dollars each. So, we are intending to spend about twenty bucks or less. We walk up the the drop off counter as they are pulling the security shade down. They decide to help us and they give us the price of the Antibiotics that they can fill immediately. Wow, the price is way more than we were expecting. How can we afford food until Shallon’s finger heals and we can street perform for some money? The pharmacist helps us out with a discount card and we leave the store with a hurt on our wallet. We sit in the dirty car and decide that we need some time away from the car to seek the truth of our situation and to plan our strategy. So we look up a local coffee shop, scrape some change together and split a hot tea. After deciding that worry is not for us, again, we head back to the “wonderful” WalMart parking lot for some well-lit space to clean the car. We spend an hour scouring the dirty car out with a brush and organising our belongings in the trailer too. We are still feeling a bit low, but deep down we know we are taken care of. So, we move the car to a convenient spot in the bright parking lot… Yey, a space shaded by a tall camper. Why not? We quietly set up our car-bed and catch some well-needed rest.

At WalMart… Really? (Thomas and Alina)

The last place on earth that you would think to find enlightenment, wisdom or recent and specific questions answered would be a WalMart parking lot. Right?

We awake to the all-to-familiar hot, stuffy, sweaty car… Shallon decides to go into WalMart and relieve herself. I decided to rest my head for a few more sweaty minutes. After Shallon heads off to the store, I notice a man emerge from the camper and light up a smoke. I slip my pants on and step out of the vehicle.

I say, “Good morning”.

“Good morning, a cat?” he says as he sees Cheech through the drivers window.

“Yes, actually, I have two of them”

“Two?! Don’t your cats drive you crazy, riding in the car with you?”

I’m starting to pick up on a German accent.

“Actually they ride super well!”

I go into the details of how my cats ride well.

The conversation moves from cats to camper to girlfriends to female shoppers… Funny, both of our girlfriends are in the store at this moment. In the meantime I am enjoying speaking with this seemingly intelligent man. The conversation just keeps flowing from one topic to another. I keep thinking, “I need to start the introductions. We haven’t exchanged names yet”. However, I keep getting distracted from it.

Shallon returns to the “Campsite”.

A Pleasant Awakening

Walking from one end of the WalMart parking lot to the other is lot like being the ball in a very active foosball game- except the players kicking you around are twice the size and have a slightly different disposition.  As I skillfully dodge out of the way of two cars backing up towards me at the same time, I spot the familiar aqua and white ‘Unicorn on a Swing’ which is painted on the front door of our trailer. I am still feeling groggy, disheveled and nursing my sore finger but Max appears to be surprisingly awake.  He is smiling and chattering away with a kind looking man with salt and pepper hair.  I sense opportunity to get into a much happier space than the morning and evening before, so I wipe the crusties from my eyes, take a deep breath and inject myself into the conversation about our travels.

This is what I discover:  Thomas, is here with his girlfriend from Germany and has been travelling for the past 18 months and has been to about 44 different countries. I am curiously hooked. You mean this man, who I am standing next to in the WalMart parking lot is doing exactly what Max and I have been daydreaming about doing since we met?

I am loving this fresh new burst of energy and synchronicity that has entered my day.  I am now awake.  This is so much better than coffee!

Just then, a woman with bright eyes, medium length dark hair, and a nice smile walks up with several bags of groceries. This must be Thomas’ girlfriend. The addition of a second german accent bumps up our ‘camp’s’ sophistication to another notch and I’m stoked. Her name is Alina and she immediately extends the same warm welcoming chatter as she learns about our backstory.

We are immediately wined, dined and greeted into the spacious motorhome they purchased in New York for their travels in the U.S.  The day feels like it has taken on a mind of it’s own, which is a breath of fresh air since the original ‘To-do’ list felt as exciting and productive as running a marathon in quicksand.  Without any effort, my responsibilities slip into the oblivion of my mind like the rest of the parking lot, cars and shoppers.

I love that when I genuinely trust and relax that I am on course- I feel good.  At this point, the universe provides everything I need in a fun and exciting way.  Thomas and Alina shared wisdom, travel supplies, and good spirits better than I wished for only hours before. Yet again we are reminded that life is meant to be joyful and easy.

Next I find out that Thomas is a trained veterinarian and he takes a look at my finger which is now haphazardly wrapped in gauze and needing some attention.

“Your wound needs sunlight and air,” he says.

This felt right, so I nod and gingerly pry off the old gauze and allow my wounded three fingers to be fully exposed.  Ah…my hand stings at first but then is flooded with a new kind of relief.  Within the hour my fingers, which a day before were unrecognizably swollen, began to regain their shape. Even though without bandaging, my fingers looked more like a scene from ‘Friday the 13th’.  I knew that the healing that began in the emergency room was taking on an accelerated new level. It was also a blessing to be surrounded by strong-stomached, like-minded playmates.

We continue to chatter and plan an outing into the French Quarter.   I knew that the day’s fun was just beginning to fully transform my emotional state from feeling heavy to elated.

A night on the town with these wonderful people was a poetic end to seal the deal on this truly wonderful day.