My heartfelt wish for everyone this ThanksGiving is an
My heartfelt wish for everyone this ThanksGiving is an
Reprinted with permission of Challenge Magazine
(My second story for Challenge Magazine appeared in their October 2013 edition. They have graciously allowed me to reprint it here.)
I sit at my station in the beach store. Computer screen before me, phone to my ear. Taking another reservation, waiting on another customer, weary, in a funk. It is high summer and another busy Friday afternoon at this northern California coast RV park.
A tall, pale-complexioned man walks in. Says I’m here to check in. I say Welcome to Caspar Beach. The greeting sounds hollow to my ears. I try a smile (but don’t feel it) as I ring up his bill.
Giving him his car tag and campground map I look into his eyes. Something there tugs at my heart. Helpless? Resigned? Just tired from the road?
Before I can ponder the mystery any further he solves it with words that pluck at my heart strings: I have terminal cancer. This vacation is part of my “bucket list.” It’s my first time here. Looks like a nice place.
Willing sudden tears to disappear I give him a genuine smile this time and say You’ve come to a wonderful place. What else can I say to someone who knows that death is imminent. Nothing but the truth!
In the space of a nanosecond, my earlier funk is gone. It is replaced by the simple awesomeness of being alive and healthy and happy.
The next day I walk to a lonesome, rugged beach where the waves thunder to shore. The air is filled with sea mist. It’s not a friendly inviting place like Caspar Beach with melodious waves lapping the shore, soaring varieties of birds and myriads of sea life, inviting and commodious to all ages and activities.
Virgin Creek Beach is wild, uninhabited, tumultuous. The waves range from three to five feet, crashing to shore, calling solace to none, daring only the brave or stupid to enter its waters.
I’m here just because I’m curious, wanting to experience this rugged beauty, to savor some alone time.
A lone surfer meanders along the path. He waves to me; I recognize this man from our earlier encounter at the store. Headed for the beach, he wears a wetsuit and carries a surfboard. Surely he’s not going in!
I watch as he walks right up to the thundering waves, lays on his surfboard and begins to paddle out. Beyond the breaking of the waves.
He sits on his board, back to the shore, surveying the ocean blue. A mound of water surges toward him. A good sign that this will be a decent wave. He deftly turns on his board, stands, rides the wave to shore.
I, sitting on a knoll, photograph the moment, as he waves in triumph. Sole witness to the indomitable human spirit.
We take it as it comes to us. Sometimes struggling to stay afloat. Sometimes riding high on the waves of life.
Moonshine was for many years illegal to make, sell or drink. Today in the state of Kentucky with liquor laws less restricted one can go into a liquor store and peruse a great variety of the white whiskey known also as White Lightning, Mountain Dew and Branch Water.
Moonshine got its name because it was made by the light of the moon when snooping eyes were less likely to detect a deep woods still.
A plethora of enticing bottles of Moonshine from several southern states grace the shelves of a local Kentucky store.
What ingenious things people can make with some extra corn, a bit of cane sugar and some idle time. All in the name of survival and good times!
Ever grateful, Annie
A day off from work started out with the usual: a swim at the university pool, grocery shopping, doing some chores around my tin can cottage.
I am fortunate to have arrived early at Heartland RV Park. I chose an open spot next to the field. So from the front I am awash in a sea of RVs. But in the back I have a private oasis with a field of green.
And that’s the direction from where my extraordinary find came meandering. A chance walk around the back to check on my waterline and there was this other-worldly creature clambering over the stones under my motorhome.
Picking it up with a piece of paper I gingerly set it on the table, got the camera and started shooting. A wind came up, blew the paper off the table and onto me……the creature disappeared.
Frantic, I looked under my chair and table, patted my head gingerly, looked under my feet. Nowhere! Then I went inside and looked in the mirror, lifted my arm. There it was clinging to the cuff of my shirt.
So back outside to commence the photo shoot!
Spicebush, SB for short, has found a home with the park manager’s children. SB is slowly spinning its cocoon. Eventually it will encapsulate itself into a chrysalis and emerge in about 15 days (hopefully) as a blue-winged spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
In all my life I have never seen anything like SB! What a treat to still be in awe of the wonders of Nature!
Up at 4:30AM and asleep by 9PM. Working 10 hour days at Amazon while walking an average of 8 miles a day leaves me craving rest and relaxation at the end of a long day.
But there’s always time to look up at the sky, marvel and imagine soaring along on a cloud!
Right now, look up at the sky and think!
By the sea, by the sea
I am ever
By the sea
If you travel the interstates most likely you have enjoyed stopping at a Pilot Travel Center or a Flying J. They have great gas prices and lots of things for the travelers’ needs. They also have Challenge magazine with stories by and for people who travel.
One of my stories was in their August 2013 issue. They kindly gave me permission to reprint it. So I took photos of the page ( for all those who can not get the magazine). So here it is, my first magazine story…ever!
“Reprinted with permission – Challenge Magazine (August 2013).”
Ever grateful, Annie
The heat was bearable but I still felt like I was sweating bullets. As long as I drank a half cup of water every 15 minutes, I knew I could keep a steady pace and pick customer orders.
On day two of my job at Amazon I got to use all the tools of a virtual shopper or product picker: scanner, work gloves, cart, product tote.
Outside the building here in south central Kentucky the real feel hit 100+ degrees. Inside was probably in the 80s; even with fans and a cooling system on high.
Everywhere one looks in the building there are coolers holding bottles of water. Free for the taking. In the break room they supply free Gatorade.
A trainer comes up to me to remind me to replenish my salt intake every evening. We are given additional information on heat-related issues.
Walking and reaching, lifting and walking some more. The hours go by and my mind relaxes into the familiar routine from a year ago when I worked at this same job.
When I get home from work I check the weather. Looks like another couple of weeks before cooler temperatures are forecast.
The best thing to do is just smile my way through!
I already have my first day working at Amazon under my belt! Yay!
It started with getting ID badges and safety vests plus an orientation to the workplace. Our melange of 23, the first group of CamperForce 2013, filled out the regular stack of first day paperwork and watched several videos on workplace conduct,i.e. harassment, discrimination and ethics. Basically the message is: put any biases in neutral; you’re here for the customer. I like that!
Then we got into smaller groups with our Seasonal Trainers and went to Safety School. At various stations throughout the warehouse we learned proven safety measures.
At one station we learned to lift a tote onto a conveyor belt ”nose to toes”, meaning that when you turn from your cart with your tote in hand your nose should be lined up with your toes. It makes good sense that any repetitive action be done is a physically-safe manner.
We got our first pair of safety gloves when learning to move empty pallets, use step stools to reach product and push our work carts. I’ll go through a pair a week once I get into the swing of things.
The best part of the day was reconnecting with the people who helped to make my day every day last year during CamperForce 2012. There were hugs and shouts of surprise and laughter.
It made me think of all those people over the years who’ve come up to me and said, So it’s just you, you’re doing this alone? To which I have replied, On my own but never alone!
Even far from friends and family, with just a bit of effort, kind words and lots of smiles we meet kindred spirits along the way who remind us that family is a universal thing!
I chose this photo for the weekly photo challenge which shows a depth of field with sharp focus within the entire frame, from foreground to background.
This is a road leading to Petroglyph Rocks in Gila Bend, Arizona. I love how the road seems to go on forever.