The stench from our bathroom set the schedule for our day’s activities: our waste tank needed dumping and fast. So Shawn set about hooking the van to the trailer at the back of Willie, while I fed the kids their requisite bowl of cereal and secured all drawers and cupboards before our “home on wheels” got moving.
This is one of my favorite parts of a “traveling day”. I imagine myself as a flight attendant in a neatly tailored skirt and blouse in a sensible color like navy with sturdy yet elegant high heels walking purposefully along the narrow thoroughfare of our bus, fastening the metal latches on each compartment, the resolute “click” that says “ready for take-off”. I think I even wear a rather smug look on my face while I'm "preparing the cabin", though I haven’t yet looked in the mirror to see for sure.
The kids each find an activity to occupy them during the drive, anywhere from Barbies to Matchbox cars to annoying everyone in arm’s reach (Sammy’s specialty). I perch beside Shawn on the cushy “co-pilot” seat up front and we’re off. When we first started this adventure, the moment the bus lurched forward on its trek, my stomach would immediately begin doing advanced yoga poses in my gut. But that was almost 3 weeks ago; now it’s just life as usual. Now, instead, I kick my feet up on the dash, and we listen to James Taylor and look like old pros.
About 30 minutes later, we stopped in Ocala at a dingy little establishment called “Holiday Trav L Park”. Clever. Shawn shoehorned Willie down the narrow black-topped pathway that lead to the dump station. Now, let me just tell you that there is nothing on earth that makes a person feel more like an animal than watching all their bodily waste rush down a red accordion tube into the metal opening of a sewage receptacle. Sheesh, you could smell us a mile away. While for the past 12 years I have felt my love for my husband increase day by day, it absolutely gushes forth from every pore of my body like Old Faithful when I see him emptying our waste tank. This man is indeed a keeper.
After we lightened our load, Willie set his sights on Oakland, Florida, just on the outskirts of Orlando. Our friend Renault pastors a congregation there, and they are graciously allowing Willie to camp out for 3 days in church's front lawn. Upon arrival, we released the hounds (aka, our children) to play in the clearing beside Willie while I put together a light lunch of peppers, strawberries, and yogurt.
With bellies full and eyelids heavy, we all retired to our respective bunks for an afternoon siesta. And that, folks, was the best sleep I’ve had on this entire trip. The wind lazily blew through the open bedroom window, keeping the air fresh but not cold; I didn’t even need a sheet to cover me.
I admit I went to sleep heavy-minded. This trip has brought up so many questions for me as well as reflections on the past that confuse and sometimes frustrate me. But on the breeze floating through the window, my burdens seemed to be whisked away and I awoke feeling lighter.
Ah, Sleep: the Great Restorer.