Reflections of the Past and Present
I arrived in Klamath Falls, Oregon on the evening of Friday June 16th after a beautiful drive through northern California. I could not pass up the opportunity to meet my lovely cousin Mary whom I have waited to meet for years. Her mother my Aunt Pauline inspired me to write 20 years ago, as I feel close to her whenever I pull in my creative talents. As I pulled in Mary’s driveway she greeted me with a huge hug and we immediately sat in the front yard under a canopied rose covered bungalow area that was shaded in her front lawn. So much of my family history on my father’s side has been buried deep in shame and concealed in the pages of history. There are so many unanswered questions about my family and I intentionally set out on a portion of this trip to sit down and have a discussion with Mary who is the last person who could recall her mother’s stories. Mary’s mother was deeply impacted by the Walter family series of tragedy’s dating back to the early 1920’s when her mother died in a suspicious drowning accident on Klamath Lake. Upon first meeting Mary I felt the same way about her as I did with her mother 20 years ago. Mary and I were kindred spirits and had countless experiences in common. Mary was an adventuresome gal her entire life, trekking across the west coast and into Canada in her little motor home for years. A widow since the 1950’s she single-handed raised 4 children in in spite of her own hardships of loosing her husband to a tragic suicide with all 4 of her children under the age of 12. Mary is an amazing woman with a fierce spirit of independence, confidence, sassy spark, which I can completely appreciate. She climbed her way up the executive ladder starting as a secretary and into the ranks of management in several positions she held as a woman during the 60’s-80’s. I learned very quickly upon arriving that Mary has an expansive knowledge on a variety of subjects. We spent 3 days in rich dialogue, which really stimulated some amazing conversations over the weekend. I would reason she used at least 100 words that I have never heard in my life, which was absolutely invigorating. Her mother Pauline had an extraordinary mind and wrote many mystery novels that she never had the opportunity to see published. On the other hand, if Mary can ever get her moms work out into the world we will see another Harry Potter series or better. On my last night with Mary she shared her mothers hope chest with me and we literally spent 3 hours going through 60 years of family history. We could have spent 2 weeks going through all the thousands of hand written stories and illustrations her mom wrote over her lifetime.
Nevertheless the most important things for me that we found were the original newspaper clippings from my Uncle Romer’s death and my grandfathers suicide including letters from Uncle Romer written to his sister during WWII. There were many other important family documents that Mary generously gifted to me, as she wanted me to be able to piece together more of the family history. I am so grateful that I took the time to drive up to Klamath Falls and spend these precious days with Mary, as life is very fragile. We waved goodbye yesterday and I continued my trip further up North to Crater Lake National Park.
The trek up to Crater Lake National Park was spectacular and the views were jaw dropping. I must have pulled the Outback over at least 5 times before I reached the summit, as the glacier ice melt was creating multiple roaring waterfalls at every junction. At each pull over yesterday I met people from around the country and around the world. There are countless people traveling the country doing the exact same thing as me this summer. We are like a tribe of wandering adventure souls roaming the country on our own personal journeys.
As I write was writing in my journal last tonight I was snuggled up in the back of the Subaru parked in a Fred Meyer grocery store lot with a couple of other RV’s. My pillows was propped behind my back as I comfortably stretched out on the nesting side of the Outback. I anxiously waited the sunrise, as I had parked 2 minutes from the Harris State Beach. Last night when I arrived into Brookings, OR only 30 minutes before the sunset, I was able to slip down to the beach and found the views to be absolutely stunning. Below in the picture was a secret little meandering path from the Harris State parking lot, which was about 300 feet above the ocean, that lead down the cliffs to the oceans edge. There were hundreds of giant towering black boulders jetting out of the ocean like mysterious lava rock chunks shot into the ocean thousands of years ago. The closest thing to this representation are the fantastic rocks at Morro Bay, however I found this to be much more spectacular. I closed my eyes and imagined my grandmother, Aunt Pauline, Uncle Romer, and my dad once walking this beach in the 1930’s, as the scene would be the same.
My cousin Mary gave me a scrapbook with hundreds of pictures of the town of Brookings and pretty good directions to locate my father’s childhood home just off the Chetco River. My quest yesterday was to find the homestead which Mary personally visited with her mother 15 years ago before my Aunt Pauline passed away. Mary and I visited at length about the trip she and her brother Tony escorted Pauline on to Brookings to see the old house one last time. Mary and I talked about how special that trip was for her mother to once again see the old house that she lived in with my dad, and her brother in the 1930’s. Over the years I have thought it would be enjoyable to drive to the OR coast and try to find the old house, but I figured it would be in shambles or bulldozed. My experiences yesterday completely caught me off guard as to the emotional response that I felt when I actually drove right past it and immediately recognized the house from a pictures taken in 1930. I turned right immediately after crossing the Chetco River and drove approximately 2 miles down a beautiful winding 2-lane road surrounded by tall redwoods. I thought I must have passed the house when I suddenly rounded the next corner and there it was on the right just like Mary told me it would be. I had to go down the road about ¼ mile before I could find a place to turn around, as the road was very narrow. When approaching the house I saw two vehicles in the yard, so I did not want to get too close, therefore I parked on the far side of the driveway by the mailbox. I strolled up and down the street trying not to look like a criminal casing a house. I snapped several quick pictures and some video of the old house. I felt as if I had stepped back into the pages of lost history standing there at a distance in the road recalling a memory from 100 years ago. I believe my dad would be proud that I found the old house and made the effort to drive over to Brookings. When I pulled up in the driveway I laid the old scrapbook on top of the homeowner’s trashcan, so I could flip through the pictures and compare what I was seeing in front of me. It was totally surreal as the house looked very similar aside from a dormer that had been added over the years. I was shooting some video with my phone when I spotted a lady coming out of the house with two bags of trash heading straight for my location. I thought to myself, “Yikes she might have a gun and a big husband that was coming next as I was taking all these pictures of her house.” As she approached me I said, “Hello I am Deb Walter and I am not a weirdo just taking pictures of your house. Actually my grandfather built this house in the 1920’s and I have traveled over 3000 miles to take a few pictures. I hope you don’t mind, as this would mean a lot to my sister and I.” I immediately grabbed the old scrapbook off the trashcan and opened it up on the hood of the Subaru, so I could show the lady that I was legit and actually had authentic the pictures of the house. She was pretty shocked that I had all those old pictures of her house and had so much history in the scrapbook. I asked her how long she had owned the house and she told me about 12 years. She asked me, “I was told that the original owner who built the house logged all the redwood from up the road.” I confirmed that she was correct and showed her pictures of the doors my grandfather built from the scrapbook. She said, “Wow this is incredible as those doors and hardware are still the same today, however everything else has been remodeled and painted.” All at once I have no idea what caused such emotions to arise in my spirit, but I started to cry as I talked about how happy I was to have this opportunity on Fathers Day. Reflecting today I am sure I have deep unresolved feelings of sadness about my father and his unfortunate death at the hands of my mother. That in itself is an entire Lifetime Special novel which I will write about someday. I thanked the lady whom sadly I did not get her name and thanked her for her time and allowing me to take pictures of the house. I proceeded to jump back in my car and drove off just as I had arrived. I am very happy that I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a small piece of my family history and close another chapter of the past. For me it was nearly 100 years of history all wrapped up in one glance of picture. Reflecting today I visited a house my grandfather built whom I never met, an old house my dad, Uncle Romer, and Aunt Pauline once lived still standing strong, on Fathers Day. As I drove back into town I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and purpose to have actually found this small piece of my history, so far forgotten, yet remembered in the pages of an old scrapbook and now my mind.
The drive yesterday from Crater Lake National Park over to the Oregon coast took approximately 6 hours; then again it was a thrilling drive. It probably would have been faster, but I could not pass up the chance to get the kayak back in the water. As I was driving through the mountains I spotted a beautiful lake snuggled into between two mountains and immediately swerved the Outback down a small dirt road that provided access to Lost Creek Lake. I talked this super nice guy into helping me offload the kayak from my roof rack. I certainly can do it by myself, but I would never turn down an extra set of hands to expedite the process. From pulling off the highway and unloading the kayak I was paddling in the water in less than 10 minutes. I spent a peaceful afternoon in the middle of an Oregon glacier fed lake exploring several awesome bridges and secret coves. It felt great to get back in the saddle on a smooth inland lake with small boat waves after my Lake Powell hair-raising experience. I loaded the kayak again onto the car with the help of another sweet young man and continued my journey towards the coast. The gigantic redwoods, 2-laned zigzag roads, and twisting Rouge Rouge River kept my attention stirred all day. I drove the majority of the day with the car windows down, so I could smell the scent of Sequoia redwood pines billowing through my car. From time to time on my drive I would get a mixed sense of two fragrances, steaks on the grill on one side and cannabis on the other. I thoroughly enjoyed excellent music on Sirus Radio, as I drove to the Oregon coast listening to my favorite soft rock love jams. For the first time in a long time I felt a sense of freedom and peace in a place of absolute pleasure within myself. Every minute of the drive soothed my psyche as another authentic experience of my healing journey to rediscover my passion and purpose in this life.
There are new doors of experience that I have wholeheartedly brought to the surface, as I continue to stay present in my daily travels. One wonderful thing that I am enjoying is coming to the realization that I love being un-tethered to a traditional schedule, as well as the fact that I love not having to answer to anyone’s else’s expectations. The more I dive into this 30 day summer travel experience living out of the back of my Subaru the more exciting the entire experience becomes for me. I have had to pleasure meet so many people along my travels who are also checking out of the rat race, or societal pressure cooker of traditional existence. It is mind-boggling how I have been able to energetically connect with other like-minded souls across the United States who are embracing a different perception in their own lives. I sense an earnest pull in my spirit that these “Human Existence,” stories should be documented. As I continue my travels I am discovering how many other people are out here in the world starving for conversations of authentic life, not spending their lives behind the screen of an I-phone. Yes I love technology and appreciate the convenience it provides to get my stories out to my family and friends, as I am sure people are on their phones reading this blog. However, I am also keenly aware of the mind numbing addiction that technology has created in our society and how it is eroding relationships, marriages, and friendships. I actually stopped watching TV 4 months ago and closely monitor my own social media time to a minimum during the day. I am totally fascinated with people, their lives, their stories, and the fact that I have connected with so many amazing humans across the United States, and now have some new international friends in Germany. Hello Ange Lina! People are so fascinating, real, and soulful if we just take the time to sit down and listen. I have discovered people really want to tell their story. Unfortunately, as a teacher I have a front row seat to witness the direct impacts of social media and its addictive qualities on the brain. I prefer to leave my phone in the car when having dinner with friends, as I want to be present in the conversation and hear their stories. It is so easy not to be present when distracted by a bing, bong, or chirp. Cell phones are at times like a poison drug cast upon our human existence. As I sit here today I see 16 people sitting with me in the Starbucks Cafe, 13 are on their phones and 3 are actually having a live conversation. I know I have personally used social media to numb my pain, problems, perhaps misrepresent situations. I actually admit I used social media in the past to seek sympathy over my painful experiences. Nonetheless, it is a tool that I too love and I embrace to reach people who follow this blog and my continued journey in “Post Cards from the Edge.” I feel that I am suppose to share my journey and the stories of others to perhaps reconnect the human community through transparent out pouring of healing and daily experiences. For me, packing the Outback with 30 days of food, supplies, kayak, bike, yoga mat, and $1000.00 cash has been the most authentic therapy I could have even gifted myself. I have uncovered that I really like myself, enjoy spending time with me, am good to be alone, and a pretty cool adventurous woman. At least that is what people tell me when we meet across the United States. Perhaps folks are just being nice, or maybe I inspired them to take a journey too!
More blogs coming soon as I have some really funny stories about Mr. Super Sucker Man.
May the journey begin within you…