I met her June 28, 2021; the last day of the solo leg of my summer adventure. I'd just spent eight days camping by myself on the northern California, Oregon and now the Washington coast.
Ten states, two travel partners, tent camping 20 nights of the 30. A great adventure to be sure.
An extrovert, I'd looked forward to talking to other campers, thinking I would be lonely, but I wasn't. I had a few chats in coffee shops along the way, but the only campground conversations had been here at Cape Disappointment, two short ones. One when a sweet family seeing me sitting in the shade of my Subaru sweating profusely offered their shady site for my use while they went to the beach; the other when a couple had walked by and did a double-take at my Missouri plates asking where in the hell I was from.
Other than a few waves here and there from women my age and a preschooler yelling hello from his bike as I sat by my campfire, no one else had talked to me for those eight days. Until this day, this last solo adventuring day at Cape Disappointment.
I was melancholy that the all-on-my-own part of the trip was over, the leg of the journey that had originally scared me to death but to my surprise I'd fallen in love with the freedom to do, be, go, eat, wake, sleep, wander however I wanted.
On the way in to the Cape Disappointment camp store to buy lunch, I saw the mowed path inviting me to dine at a picnic table all on its own above the Columbia River and took advantage of my freedom to eat wherever I wanted.
I was sitting on top of the table to see the river better, had finished eating. I wasn't looking at the river though. Instead, I was messing with my phone as I had service, when a dog came bounding in front of me.
I know this sounds like I don't have a soul, but I've never been much of a dog person. I grew up with a few hyper bird dogs and then married into coonhounds kept in kennels. When I was a teenager, a Saint Bernard wandered up to our farm and I claimed her. She was mine for a few months, until the neighbor shot her. That was the only dog who was mine all of my 56 years. Even now I don't enjoy a dog licking me, jumping on me, or sticking their nose places they shouldn't be. I know that makes me a complete weirdo.
But this doggo seemed so sweet, even when he climbed right on top of the table with me. I was laughing and petting him, wondering where he'd come from when I heard a voice calling him behind me.
She stood alone, feet apart, confident, grounded to Mother Earth. Her hair was natural, long, partially gray. I thought immediately, "This is going to be something special, maybe important." Then just as quickly Ithought maybe not as she had on a KOA campground shirt. I grew up primitive camping in Colorado national forests; every few days we'd go to a state park for a shower but a KOA? Never. They were considered ugly and expensive by my adventurous parents.
I was wrong though. Her shirt said Oklahoma, the letters in a circle. It was difficult to see what it said. For some reason, my brain had isolated the KOA. Although I don't have a conscious connection to it, Oklahoma is my birthplace. I was wrong about her also. She was a true adventurer, driving around in her home with only her dog Annie for company. She'd rescued Annie from being tied up to a fence in an Oklahoma trailer park, paying a couple of hundred to the owners. She talked of burying a beloved cat near Rainier, becoming a fire pit designer, the documentary she was working on.
The meeting was magic in so many ways. She, a veteran of solo woman traveling, with many journeys ahead of her; me a neophyte on my last day. She told me about the Facebook group for Solo Women Van Travelers; I'd thought I was so out of the box doing what I was doing. I wasn't. Right then it clicked. I wanted to keep doing this. I would make camping and road tripping on my own a part of my life now; I had to. She shared a plan she has to start a place in New Hampshire for solo women travelers to come, camp safely and make some new friends around the campfire. I asked to see her camper. We walked together to it, a small RV she'd ripped the carpet out of, taken two captain seats out for more room, and dismantled the refrigerator.
I asked if she'd read Women Who Run with the Wolves, and that's really when it felt magical.
How could it not when she could almost quote it, when we began to talk of women and some of our personal journeys to fierceness and joy.
She told me about the book If Women Rose Rooted, by Sharon Blackie because it made her think of Dr. Pinkola-Estes Women Who Run with the Wolves. I can see why. I need this book in my life right now. Maybe you do too. I started it today, and already know it is going to be an important book.
The subhead of the book is "The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging." Blackie writes of the mythology of Eve we are immersed in, women ruining everything with our dishonesty, curiosity, and general untrustworthiness. She says we need new "old" narratives, Celtic narratives of women who show us what women can be, strong and feminine, wild and fierce, protectors of the planet...
"Our own stories, no one else's. Stories seeped in sea brine, black and crusty with peat; stories that lie buried beneath our feet."
She says we must get out of our heads and be in the world, "rooted and ready to rise." How?
All of this to ponder in the first 50 pages alone. Get a copy and read along; let's talk about what we learn. Maybe even in the cloak of night, campfire crackling; wouldn't that be lovely...
This kindred female spirit who shared the title with me that last solo travel day, the only person I had any sort of real conversation with, is still in touch. I just got an email from her this week. Her last line read, "Me and Annie are sending peaceful energy across the miles to Kansas City..."
She is a sister for sure, a gift, someone I look forward to sharing stories with over a campfire someday and maybe even joining forces in some way to make a difference.
Author Kim Blevins
Writing has been important to me since I started listing how to spend the $5 I made picking blackberries as a child. At the top of that list was a large fuzzy foot rug I never got. In high school I wrote of the boys I loved, the important decisions I had to make, the homework I dreaded, and which family member had annoyed me the most that day. I lost writing for a few years, then got paid to write, lost it again for many years then being a part of the National Writing Project took my hand and led me to it again. I turned my back on it one more time chasing a love that didn't work out to then find this fierce obsessive love that will always be a part of my life, the love of words, of stories, of musings and mullings. Thanks for reading.