CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26: 3-4 

Sunshine Rat says, “What if we empty the car into the bear box, lay down the back seats, and then sleep in the car?” 

Body language that we barely can read in the dark seems to agree, so we get to work. First, we put on our headlamps.  

As the thunder and lightning teases the atmosphere, we gather everything we can fit in our arms and take it up the small incline to the bear box. 

We brush teeth quickly in the most glorious and welcomed concrete block bathroom. Then we nestle inside the CRV. The girls thrash about in the back until they make comfortable spots. SunFloJo leans back the driver’s seat, and I lean back the passenger seat. 

I unfastened my bra and wonder if my legs will get a blood clot by morning in this somewhat scrunched position. I tell myself that I will wake up enough times to adjust my legs. 

Into the dark car I make up a story, “Well, Sunshine. You heard him. Tank will be in Vermont by Labor Day to marry you. Your mom can rest assured you’re not going to be single forever.” 

The car erupts in giggles. Of course, everyone agrees with my fiction.   

The Steam Team agrees to meet in Vermont for Tank & Sunshine’s big day.  

As the car occupants consider sleep, I add, “Guess who is camping next door?”  

“Who?” Stalker C asks. 

“Shut-Up-Guy.” 

“What?!” SunFloJo strains to see. The car windows begin to fog up. 

“No way!” Stalker C sits up. 

“True story,” I say. 

Sunshine Rat snorts a little, “I could NOT believe when he barreled by at the top of the mountain at our last intersection!” 

I say, “Me either!” 

SunFloJo says, “And now he’s here wondering why in the world he can’t shake us!”   

No doubt. 

“Oh no,” Stalker C is looking at her phone. We have slowly realized that we can connect with the outside world again. Stalker C is searching on Facebook, “I think Tank may be engaged.” 

I insist, “I do not hear that.” 

Sunshine says, “Aww.” I detect sarcasm and sleepiness. 

“That won’t last,” I say. “The real wedding is still on. Vermont. Labor Day. Be there.” 

SunFloJo cracks the windows a little to relieve some of our fog. 

The youngest of us begin to fade. 

SunFloJo whispers to me that she is going to unlock the doors, “This way the first one up doesn’t disturb the whole campground with the car security alarm.” This is not her first sleep-in-the-car rodeo. 

I stare at stars in the sky through the sunroof until intermittent conversation, giggles and foggy windows give way to sleep one person at a time. 

SunFloJo is the last to speak. She touches my left arm, “I’m so glad you came with me and that you were able to finish.” 

“Me too,” I whisper. “Thank you for the invite.” 

As the sound of silence outside the vehicle circles the sound of breaths drifting away inside, I notice Flat Kevin’s head poking out of SunFloJo’s bag. I move slowly to avoid disturbing others and pull him out of her bag gently.   

You can watch the stars with me, Kevin. I smile at his pleasant face. I set him on the dashboard and use my shirt sleeve to de-fog a little starry night view just for Kevin. I pray for him and his family. 

Sigh. My body can truly relax now.  

Dear God, I surrender. I make room for Your will and the supernatural. Show me, lead me. Amen 

Steady rain arrives, rocking my brain to sleep. 

JUNE 4, 2016 

5:45AM 

I need to use the restroom. I quietly roll my knee opposite from the passenger door. Can I open the car door and close the door without waking up my friends? 

Friends. The word hits me in my gut after a week of bonding. 

I’m going to miss them. 

My cell phone camera near, I manage to take a quick pic of our final night’s accommodation. 

SunFloJo is curled in a ball facing the driver’s side door. Stalker C is sleeping on her tummy with her feet crossed in the air against the hatch door. Sunshine Rat is buried deep in her sleeping bag. 

Ok. I can do this. I slip out the door and gently shut it back. No one stirs.   

I half walk, half stumble away and around the CRV so I don’t risk making noise near the car.  

Brrr, the morning air is chilly. I see mountain top clouds or fog all around me.   

Deer! There are deer in all four directions. One is right next to the bathroom and doesn’t flinch as I slip by her and into the little building. 

I splash water on my face and refasten my ponytail holder. When I walk back up the small hill from the bathroom, Shut-Up-Guy is walking down the path toward me. Another full circle moment. I wish the other Steam Team members were seeing this. 

I tip toe beyond the CRV, into the tall grass of our would-have-been camp site. I open the bear box lifting the door carefully so that the metal doesn’t squeak.  

Dew is heavy on the grass. I notice my one-person tent is sagging from the weight of the dew. I line up our bags, odds and ends on the picnic table. I take my tent apart, flicking slugs off which soar toward a nearby tree.  

From the picnic table, I collect garbage and take it to a campground waste can near the showers.  I repack my backpack and take a seat to watch the sun rise in its fullness until the gals wake up.  

SunFloJo is next to roll out of the vehicle.  

Soon the girls follow making quick work of reassembling the back seats so we can load the CRV. 

I marvel how quietly we all work together with common goals today and every day this week. 

With the car packed and Campsite 2 empty, we walk up to the lodge. 

It looks different than when we went to the Tap Room last night. The large wood and stone building stands stoic, solid as if to say it endures the test of time beyond those who pass through it.  

Today we sit in the row of upstairs rocking chairs to read Deb’s last question. I look through the large windows to the blue haze of mountains and valleys. I’m going to miss this view.  

Sunshine Rat & SunFloJo sip coffee.  

“Ready?” I ask. 

“Yes,” all nod or speak in agreement. 

I say, “This is from the envelope marked ‘Journey’s End’

‘Dorothy & crew were in one moment both exactly who they had always been and also forever changed by their journey.  How is this also true for you? Why or why not?’” 

“Hmm.” The rocking chairs softly move. We ponder the question and stare out the windows silently. 

Technically part of the little slip of paper from Deb had said, ‘for the car ride home’.   

As we ponder, I suspect none of us are quite ready to answer. I know I’m not yet. I offer, “This is a deep question. Maybe we need some time to think about it?” 

Sunshine Rat says, “Yeah, let’s think it over and talk about it on the drive back.” 

We sit. For a while.  

Rocking. Thinking. Rocking.  

Taking all the time we need. 

For the podcast of this chapter, click here.

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