Our lives are a series of stories, as well as stories within stories which are good or bad. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
After a great time at the book signing at Clayville Fall Festival in Pleasant Plains, Illinois
visiting my dear high school friends Kathy Jamerison and Sharon Stillwagon last week in Springfield, Illinois, I had to say good bye and move on down the road. Good or bad, it’s hard to say.
My adventures in this crazy universe, whether planned or off the cuff, whether positive or negative, make for a multitude of stories, which are good or bad. It’s hard to say.
I believe the universe takes charge and sets the best path for me, once I express my desires. (I think this is good.) So, I cruised south on I-57 headed for some quality writing time in Shawnee National Forest and to tour The Garden of the Gods .
When I reached my Lake Glendale campsite in the Shawnee National Forest I discovered a text from my friends Sally “Edwards” Warnick and her husband, Michael, whom I had met last year as camp hosts at Giant City State Park near Carbondale, Illinois. Their text messaged asked, “Were you traveling south on I-57 two hours ago? ”
Small world. (This is good.) So, the universe opened up a campsite for them here at Lake Glendale and we’ve spent the last several days catching up. As new homeowners in the area Sally and Michael became my tour guides.
If you follow my blogs, you already know I look on the bright side and try to see only the goodness in world in which we live. This adventure became not just friends sharing nature’s beauty, it is also became a tale of discovering the beauty of human beings.
As we drove through the pastoral farmland of Southern Illinois we discovered many small overlooked towns, whose values and community spirit are the glue which holds our country together. Like the courthouse in Golconda, Illinois
How about Marion, Illinois? Be sure to stop by the Southern Illinois Mercantile in Marion , Illinois. Check out their Facebook page. The owners Tanya and Ellen are examples of small-town living. Not only is the Mercantile a shop that you can spend hours exploring local made crafts and antiques and books by local authors they have melt-in-your-mouth homemade ice cream too. But more importantly, They are huge supporters and volunteers for the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois They have raised so much interest and support they are sponsoring TWO Honor flights next year. Way to go Tanya and Ellen and Marion. Illinois!!
The small village of Elizabethtown, known to the locals as E-town, charmed us into have lunch at the E-Town River Restaurant. Michael indulged in fish which is caught daily from the Ohio River while Sally and I preferred fully loaded with all the fixin' hamburgers. After lunch we proceeded on with our tour. (All is good.)
Cave In Rock Cave In Rock State Park states, “Few natural formations are as awe-inspiring or intriguing as a cave. The deep, dark recesses immediately conjure up images of adventure and mystery.” And so true.
So many folks insisted that that I visit The Garden of the Gods. "It is a “must see,” they said and it didn’t disappoint. The views of Southern Illinois were spectacular.
Camel Rock at The Garden of the Gods.
After oohing and awing at the vistas and The Camel Rock formation, we began our short hike down the path back to the truck.
A young girl, her hair braided and wearing a red-white- and blue bandana as a headband hiked up the path, toward us as I announced to Michael and Sally, “I would like to ride a camel someday.”
The girl’s male companion whose headband matched hers, followed close behind. From their Harley attire I guessed they were touring southern Illinois on their Harleys.
As she passed, she looked at me and announced, “I had an affair.”
I swung around meeting her gaze. (That's bad, I thought.) Her male companion, too, had stopped, and was staring at her as if she had gone mad. Surely, she was joking.
“You did?" I asked. " And why are you telling me you had an affair?” I glanced at her husband or boyfriend who still stood, his mouth agape, waiting her answer.
Her eyes darted from me to him. She seemed as startled as everyone, but then burst into laughter. “Nooo!! I said, ‘I did at a fair!’” She waited, studying our faces. “I rode a camel … at – a – fair!”
Relief washed over the young man’s face and we all exploded with laughter. (This is good, I thought.) We talked a few moments and I reached in my back-jean pocket for my wallet to give them my business card.
My merriment switched to panic.
My wallet was gone!
(This is definitely bad.) Hoping it came out of my pocket in the truck, I hurried back to the parking lot. My mind insisted on jumping to the worst-case scenarios -- I could have lost it on the trail or at Cave In Rock or in the bathroom at the diner. So many possibilities. (This is bad.)We called the restaurant.
My wallet was there. (This was definitely good.)
After I had used the bathroom in the restaurant, the right woman, at the right time used the bathroom after me. She discovered my wallet and had turned it in.
Life is good and people are good.