Alan and I were up early and were ready to go before Sarah even started moving. Oh, the challenges this aunt is having dealing with her niece’s living habits. “Give me patience, Lord.” But we were all on the road in plenty of time to get to Garberville, California, for a nice lunch.
Garberville is known as the marijuana heartland of the United States. They even have a Cannabis College there. I’ll assume this college is on the up and up side of medical marijuana crops, but since I’ve never smoked a regular cigarette much less a “joint”, I had no interest in a crop that seems to have kept this small community alive.
Let’s just say, this town seemed to be living on the cutting edge for most of its existence. I say that because for a town that looks like it hasn’t progressed much since its inception, the people are well versed with current events and hold a much looser view of how to live your life. I think I could learn a thing or two from these people. Not like I’m going to light up a joint and chill for a while, but I did see where a bit more tolerance, on my part, could help my ride across the country be more enjoyable.
My irritation with my niece this morning is proof that I’m pretty tightly wound at times. Now I never said anything to Sarah about sleeping in an extra thirty minutes, but she could tell I was not pleased. And now that we are here in this lovely town of Garberville, eating a great lunch at a local restaurant, I think, “Why, Betsy, why were you so crabby this morning? Did that thirty minutes matter in the whole scheme of things?” It did not, and I will make a better effort to try to understand the actions of my niece. She’s a wonderful woman, and I’ve never given her a chance to grow in my life. Shame on me.
Alan and Sarah continue to connect. It’s cute watching Alan work his ways with Sarah. Of course, he doesn’t have to work too hard most of the time, but Sarah’s staunch aunt will still not allow her to spend her nights in Alan’s tent. I draw the line there, not wanting any repercussions from her parents. I mean, she is an adult and can do as she pleases, but not on my watch. And it’s not as if Sarah has mentioned this topic, but the handwriting is on the wall. I figure my two riding partners will only make it as far as San Francisco before they take off on their own. Until then, I’ll enjoy their company, and will work at getting to know both of them better.
Alan was kind enough to pay for our lunches, and we were on our way again, but not before we checked out the local farmers market. Lo and behold, Garberville grows much more than marijuana. Next stop, Smithe Redwoods State Reserve, a mere nineteen miles from Garberville. The scenery was often times mind blowing. This is a lush, treed stretch of Highway 101, with spectacular views of the valleys below. So much of this was reminiscent of my journey through the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The three of us get to the campground with plenty of daylight to allow Sarah and Allan to hike around. I should have gone, but this old lady didn’t care to get any closer to the edge of total body shut-down, so I chose to read and figure out what I was going to make for our supper that night. I opted to try my hand at dutch oven lasagna and garlic bread. Sarah and Alan worked on a nice fresh salad from the produce we purchased in Garberville, and the meal was a big hit with everyone.
That night, Alan made a nice campfire, and we sat around telling stories. I learned a few more things about both Sarah and Alan. The one thing they weren’t admitting to was how much in love they were becoming, but it was a plain as the moon in the sky that night. I dropped my over-protective attitude, and allowed the two of them to wander off into the moonlit night. It was quite romantic watching them walk away arm in arm.
As I waited for the two of them to return, I thought about Sarah’s mission work. Was she really doing what was asked of her, or was she simply taking a paid vacation? It wasn’t long before I got my answer. I heard both Sarah and Alan chatting with another young couple camped not too far from us. Sarah and Alan were sharing tales of their life and this ride we are all on. Sarah explained how she was able to be here as a representative for the organization she worked for. The woman was enthralled with the mission Sarah was on, but was more enraptured with why I chose to attempt such a feat.
Sarah says, “Well, Aunt Betsy doesn’t know it, but that’s exactly why my boss sent me here. He wants to see how a ride like this can change a person, how it can bring you closer to God living this simple life. I can tell you this; my aunt is a totally different person than she was when she first started out. She’s living God’s word, and she’s touched on so many people’s lives; lives she doesn’t even realize she’s touched upon. It’s quite remarkable.”
My eyes welled up with tears as I heard her words. I’d never thought of myself as a steward of God’s word. I was simply living my life, but I guess I was living more on that cutting edge than I had ever imagined. It made me realize that this wasn’t just a trip to lose weight, a trip to escape the pressures of life, or even a trip to say, “Hey! I rode through all 48 states.” This was God driven, and I knew I needed to be letting go more and letting God. He had me on a mission, just as Sarah’s boss had her on a one.
I knew, from what Sarah had just said that neither she nor Alan would be ditching me in San Francisco. I also knew I needed to be less critical of how people lived their lives, like those pot farmers in Garberville. I began to wonder what other things I would see along my way that would alter my way of thinking. I never thought of God’s way as being on the cutting edge of life, but now, I think it is. Jesus and his disciples were always stirring up the crowds, making them think, and showing them that ALL people are God’s children.
I fell asleep that night, knowing that Sarah, Alan, and I were truly on a mission from God. I had the best night sleep of my life.
And in my real world, letting go and letting God is a constant struggle, but one I continue to work at each day. I’ve had many “come to Jesus” meetings with myself. The small world I lived in years ago, where everything was definitely black and white, no longer exists. I’ve had to change my ways and my opinions over the years to stay in line with what Jesus teaches us, love your neighbor as yourself. None of us are the same, but we are all God’s children. Some manage to wander off God’s path, but God didn’t put us here to place judgment on anyone. He is the judge that matters. As long as we are living a Godly life, even if that life is on the cutting edge, we should have nothing to fear when we meet our Maker.
Recently, I’ve struggled with the issues of my aging mother and her desire to not spend money on things that could give her a better quality of life, like getting dentures that fit. I’d find myself wanting to scream at her because she wouldn’t wear her upper plate, and the rotting teeth on the bottom made my stomach turn. I got to the point where I almost couldn’t talk to her. I judged her on how I thought she should be living her life, that is until a couple of weeks ago when we almost lost her. What an eye opener that was. Who cares if she doesn’t wear her teeth? If she can eat, isn’t that all that matters? Yes, I realize those rotting teeth should come out for health reasons, but when she is so afraid of dentists that it affects her health because of the stress, isn’t it better to just let her live out her final years the way that makes her happiest? That’s what I’ve decided to do, and if you don’t agree, well, I just don’t care. I know in my heart that God has inspired me to let go of this issue and hand it over to Him. If He wants those teeth to come out, He’ll do something about it.
So for those of you who are a little stuffy like I was, let go for just a day, try out that cutting edge stuff, and see how much closer to God you become. And as always, let’s keep going the distance.