THE MAGNIFICENT ANDERSONS
A few here in the camp have dawdled on the Oregon Coast now for over a week. I will soon head inland to see some of nature's other wonders, some friends, and think seriously about going south.
The storm left us with two days, while quite different, equally nice. The first was a calm day with no wind yet fog the crept in and out tantalizing us all day. It would be impossible to see for ten minutes and then lift to allow the shore to be recognized. It was, in its way, quite lovely. The soft fog, warm temperatures and the surreal landscape of trees that live in a permenant leaning state due to the usual omnipresent wind all give the impression that this is a different earth. The second day was as clear as the previous was not and as the sun rose high. It reached the mid 70 degree mark. It was a wonderful day to walk and visit and just sit and contemplate the birds and the sea.
The following morning it rained hard again and of course it was a day when things needed doing. By noon I was soaked but done and back inside. It was dry three hours later, the park was quiet and the temperature pleasant enough for a fire outside and a glass of wine with the neighbors before dark.
To keep me on my toes, and in keeping with the theme of the trip apparently, minor catastrophe struck the day after the storm when my air mattress decided it had seen all it needed of this world and sagged with a quiet sigh of fatigue. I woke and was certain I was sleeping in a hammock. The getting out was far more difficult than the sleeping which was pleasant enough. By the time I struggled free, I was laughing out loud. This says somethng for the level of serenity I have been able to achieve. A string of oaths would usually accompany such a thing in my "other" world.
Once many trips ago, while making the bed, I slashed a mattress on a sharp edge and had to find another. Since then, I have always carried a spare realizing it was one redundancy that was crucial to life in the van. After rummaging around in the deep hold in the rear, I found the spare, replaced the bed and decided since I now that I had all this laundry I might as well do some of it. There is a laundry here that is as nice as any I have ever seen in a public park. It is franchised to a local sheltered workshop which keeps it clean and well stocked with coins and detergent. By five, I was reading while awaiting for the interminable dry cycle (an hour) to finish .
Two couples arrived at about the same time. As happens with these chance meetings, the one man had grown up 10 miles from me in the East. He spent life after the service as an elevator mechanic in Los Angeles and other places in California. They now live in the Sacremento valley. His wife, a self-described "traditional housewife" is a most kind a gentle person. Their dog "Maggie" is a Golden Retreiver of 12 that came to them last Thanksgiving is equally so. It is their third such senior dog that they have taken after the original owner has died. The two before have lived an average of 3 years and both of them are quite pholosophical about the fact that the dogs do not stay with them long. They are clearly attached to her and will no doubt treat her very well, yet seem to understand they are only caretakers for the animals of others who will have a few happy years with them and then will be gone. They see it as better than the alternative.
We were joined nearly simultaneously by a couple from British Columbia. They were headed home . We were disabused of the idea that they were snow birds headed south when the man, Trevor, explained that "at their age" they were only allowed to travel 30 days out of country or their insurance would be canceled. Their age seemed in the 60's so both my other new friends and I asked when that became the rule. Martha explained that since she was 80 the rules were different.
Well. All of us could have been knocked down with one feather. Trevor explained that he had married an "older women" to which Martha replied was his fault and he would always be trying to catch up with her. Laughing, he admitted it as true as he was "only" 78 soon to be 79. I am certain that I have never seen two people of that age in such wonderrful physical shape or good humor. We had learned all this soon after Trevor had jogged to and from their site to find sufficient US currency to feed the washing machines. I have relatives who do not run that well at less than half the age.
As with most Vancouver people, I found them polite, curious and wonderful story tellers. When asked if the city was ready for the Winter Olympics, they told of their son who has been a volunteer for the effort for nearly three years and would return from Florida for the first time in years to finish the job in January and February. Trevor said that the Candian government had somehow reached the conclusion that there were too few volunteers so were offering all government employees in the Province the "opportunity" to volunteer by giving them six weeks off with pay. He was appalled. They seemed to have many volunteers already and now many would just take the time off with the pay. He had decided that if one could be away from their job for that long n they should be declared "redundant" and the job abolished.
Trevor was not happy with his government before this. Yet, as with most Canadienans I have met their disgruntlement is more philosophical than angry a difference between they and many citizens here. He had been in the English Navy for 10 years and then the Canadiaen Navy for ten more. All the service was creditabe, but those who served prior to the unification of all the Armed Forces in Canada, apparently were not eligible for pension if their service was so split. The fact that he spent all those years in deisel submarines, served in two wars (I assume War II was his first), a most dangerous of professions, mattered not at all to them. It did to me, spending about ten minutes below deck in one of those things back when I was a young Ensign was enough for me. I cannot imagine how he did it.
Martha asked about our health care "problem." We all mumbled something that contained the word "maybe." Ken, the New Jersey born and raised owner of Maggie artfully turned that aside by asking what would happen if they became ill while here. Martha then recounted a trip they made here some years ago when she had been hospitalized three times for influenza. The hospitals and relevant caregivers all billed the Canadian government, Trevor's union insurance and some other policy they retain by virtue of living this long equally and were fully reimbursed by all since none talk to each other. Ken and I found it an interesting concept to remember for future reference since Trevor delighted in telling us that the Canadian government enjoys doing the same when a U.S. citizen gets sick up there.
Too soon, darkness was falling fast as the cold fog was inbound and we all had dinners to eat so we parted. Trevor and Martha left the next morning, another set of wonderful people I can put in my pantheon of the many met on the road.