Kentucky Portals

Once in Maysville, Kentucky across the Ohio River from Aberdeen, Ohio, I traveled west to Georgetown.  1006161730-1-640x360As this area is not far from Lexington, the countryside did not disappoint. Every road was lined with fences and rock walls surrounding acres of horse pasture.  The grass was as green as Maine’s is in the spring. I found an RV park north of the City; i
ts convenience outweighed its cost and its ambiance. It was clean and the staff was courteous but the environment left much to the imagination. Very few trees were planted and they were young; shade and some privacy were sorely missed.

Many of the private “campgrounds” outside of New England, I have found, are simply parking lots for all sizes of rigs.  Maybe it’s because many people who drive the larger rigs have all the comforts of home right inside, including satellite TV, easy chairs and spare rooms – even fire places in some. RVers may stay inside and not miss a beat so don’t need to be outside!  (To each his own.) So I’m learning that an RV Park is not the same as a campground!  The most spacious and natural campgrounds I’ve found, with few exceptions are those managed by the States or the Army Corps.  The Army Corps sites I stayed at were in Arkansas; I’ll describe those in more detail next time.1006161749-1-523x640

I arrived early afternoon so had time to explore a bit after setting up in the Whispering Hill RV park, which featured neither hill nor whispers.  I found a nearby park where I could walk Nuttah; this park hosted a fishing hole where many were trying their luck.  People of all ages were meeting there. In Georgetown itself, there was another small park at the roadside with a decent size creek running through it. It was there that I found two beautiful feathers laying in the grass right beside where I had parked.  I wanted to believe they were vulture feathers because it seemed that everywhere I went during the past several weeks, turkey vultures soared overhead.  I1006161827-640x360 had grown so accustomed to them, that in addition to Nuttah, they essentially constituted my social life.  I’d talk to them, like I’d talk with Nuttah or a person sitting beside me. Leaving Chillicothe earlier that day, I had spoken with the turkey vultures and asked them for feathers.  My find made me smile….no matter what kind of feathers they were!

After my layover in Georgetown, I made my way some 2 hours west to a small suburb of Louisville called Fisherville. 1017161635-640x360There, I met Barbara, with whom I’d previously arranged to stay for a bit.  I met Barbara a few years back when I participated in a Medicine Wheel making event hosted by Dory. I’d since participated in other consciousness raising offerings by Barbara. During the first week, I participated in 3 gatherings she facilitated.  I was acquainted with a number of people in this community because of a workshop I had attended outside Louisville in late May just before leaving my apartment and entering the nomadic life. At this stage of my travels, it was wonderful to connect once again with people I knew and who shared a bit of my history! In addition, Nuttah had the benefit of being able to roam free in a large fenced in yard – it was good to see him run again!

During the first week, I learned that Louisville’s 1019161050a-640x360urban park system was unparalleled; we spent time there every day exploring the miles of myriad trail types. Other days, I did errands or simply stayed close to Barbara’s Sanctuary in the Woods.  The Sanctuary is rich with mature oaks, ash and walnuts; the squirrels, birds, deer and occasional raccoons that passed through or made use of the property were quite entertaining for all of us, but especially for Nuttah. The days were hot and the nights warm. It was a relief to get out of the chill of the more northern states….and to sleep in a room to myself. What can I say, I had missed my creature comforts!

Early during week 1, I had lunch with India, Shiela, Carol and Barbara. Unbeknownst to us, we managed to choose a restaurant that was in process of being re-roofed and we all agreed that the waiter who ‘took care of us’ ought to have stayed home that day. I’m not sure he got anything right! The next day, after an evening meditation that focused on the importance of using Selenite to  clear our personal energy and the energy in our homes, I joined Gina, Marcie, Chris, Barbara, Devon and Patty for dinner at a local oriental restaurant.  It was wonderful to be in the company of people whose values and outlook on life were similar to mine. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed even brief face-to-face contact with like-minded friends since I’d left the Shamanic gathering in upstate New York a few weeks before.

During the Monday lunch, which was excellent despite the service and ambiance on that day, Carol suggested that I might want to meet a woman she described as “an angel who works with crystals”. Others who knew her agreed!  I was definitely interested; Shiela was interested as well so we arranged to meet with Jan together. What a treat that was!  “Angel” is a good descriptor but I think she was a fairy godmother! Here was this jovial woman several years my senior who reminded me of my aunt by all appearances and who also exuded the joy and excitement of life with every breath.  Entering her home, one was greeted by all manner of crystals in all sizes, shapes and colors. But that was just the beginning. Jan uses the finished basement in her moderately sized home as a “crystal reading” room.  In it she keeps large and small trays of every type of crystal and mineral you can imagine. She buys and sells these little gems.  After an orientation tour of her space, we were invited to sit. Jan led us in a short and loving invocation to the angels who support her work. She asked us to think of an intention as she requested guidance from the angels. She explained that she uses her pendulum to ask the angels which of two crystal oracle decks she should use with her visitors. She handed me the chosen deck and asked me to select a card. I handled the deck, spread the cards slightly and selected a card; it was the Smoky Quartz.  She reviewed the information about smoky quartz from one of her many crystal books  (it can eliminate negative energy is what I focused on) and then offered me a gift of smoky quartz by suggesting I choose from several small crystals she had in a tiny box.  I felt called to one of the small crystals. She used her pendulum to verify whether the selection I’d made was one the angels supported. Her pendulum confirmed that I chosen wisely but she further affirmed it had a twin and that both would be joining me.  Needless to say, I was touched.  She then suggested that I move about the room to select any crystals that spoke to me, collect them in a small container, and once completed, she would review their meanings with me to determine how they might be useful in helping me with the intention I’d set. I had chosen five or six small crystals, the size of my thumbnail. Each one had a unique but complementary vibration that would be beneficial for me to integrate in terms of my travel related intention – to be free of anxiety, to be open to possibilities and to live my life purpose.  This was such a sweet experience. I spent two and half hours with her; all she asked was to be reimbursed for what she had spent on the crystals I had elected to keep.

This experience, whether one believes in the energy of crystals or not, was very deeply nurturing. I felt I had been given a great gift! Within a few days, my mind was whirling with questions;  I wanted to learn more so I arranged to meet with Jan again before leaving Fisherville. In appreciation for the time she had given me, I made Jan a small tote bag from fabric I’d been gifted by a my youngest brother Jim when he had visited Thailand some years before. It was a beautiful print and Jan was very pleased to have it. She thought she might use it to carry crystals.

During my visit, we talked about my trip and the reasons I had decided to make the trek on my own. She talked a bit about herself and her work. I purchased a couple more small crystals that I had not allowed myself to have the week prior and then Jan pulled out a large smoky quartz crystal. It was nearly as long as my index finger and larger around. We looked at is beauty together as she highlighted what looked like hieroglyphic markings on its various faces. smokyShe handed it to me and within moments I felt the vibration of this crystal reverberate through my entire body. Holding it made me feel as if I had just guzzled a cup of espresso; the energy of this natural glass moved through me like a mild electric current.  She beamed and said “I knew it wanted to be with you!” What a beautiful person and experience I will cherish forever!  On my departure, I thought about how I’ve felt energy like this before but only when I was in a sacred space in nature….was this new connection a signal that this the energy moving through me can exist in any environment? This thought got my wheels spinning.

During week two, I house sat for Barbara while she was on travel.  In that time, I focused on completing orders that I picked up along received_337854003246622-1-640x634the way for my custom drum and sacred tool carriers.  All in all, I completed one altar cloth, one chanupa (peace pipe) bundle, three new drum carriers and one drum carrier that required retrofitting. I also made the base for a back pack altar cloth drum carrier (combo) that will be sent back to Maine when it is finished.  This is also when I made the tote bag for Jan, the angel of crystals. I did not sew again until I reached New Mexico.  I’m hoping the weather is conducive to sewing in the RPOD’s attached tent once I settle in Arizona for the winter….we’ll see.

In addition to daily walks in the park system nearby, I traveled throughout Louisville quite often getting familiar with the road layout and the landmarks.  I’m pretty adept at orienting myself; I think it’s because I naturally enjoy seeing how places are connected. You can take the planner out of the work but you can’t take the wandering wonder out of the planner!  And it helps to have GPS on your phone! The City is clearly a hub with numerous interstates converging at its heart; it’s close to Cincinnati and Lexington and so it benefits from that proximity in terms of economic base. There are many attractions in the surrounding area; I think it’s a great metropolitan area.

Needing to deliver her drum bag, I visited Chris at her lovely home and met her donkeys, alpacas, chickens, dogs and cat. received_10210144008492487-480x640Her goats were not very social that day but we found them in the barn and they allowed me to pet them. Chris’ love for animals is a tip off; it’s easy to guess what she does for work. After hearing her, I thought, maybe I could find a profession in the animal care industry. Do what you love says Joseph Campbell!

I also spent time with Shiela from whom I received several acupuncture treatments to deal with chronic right hip pain and plantar fasciitis in the left heel, both of which had plagued me since the past winter.  Miracle worker she is; releasing the energy stuck there took a bit more time after I left Kentucky, but two months later, I can say that I am largely pain free.  On a more social note, I traveled with her to Jeffersonville Ohio to visit a former co-worker and friend of hers who has a sewing and embroidery business. I gained some wonderful tips from Carol! And aside from Shiela’s knowledge of physiology and Chinese medicine, she is gracious with her heart and soul; I loved getting to know her better.

On the day Barbara returned, I found that the battery in the trailer had drained fully!  I should have disconnected it while it sat idle for two weeks…but I hadn’t learned that lesson yet.  So the day after my discovery, I took a ride to Cabela’s where I purchased a new battery. I was not yet sure the old battery was truly dead so I kept it. (I kept it until I got to New Mexico where I had it tested and learned that it would not likely hold a charge – even though my reasoning mind thought it looked so new! It was great to get rid of it!)

With the new battery installed, I was ready to move on. 1022161105-640x360It was a beautiful day, I was rested and revitalized. I was also grateful …. I’d had a safe place to park my trailer for two weeks and I had created memories with some beautiful people not the least of which was Barbara with whom I had deepened my friendship.  I felt deep appreciation for my good fortune and for the generosity of so many as I said goodbye!

I traveled west on I-265 then south on I-65 to Mammoth Caves National Park outside of Cave City, Kentucky. I drove to the campground without having booked a reservation; luckily there were two sites available. mammoth cavesThis was a dry camping experience but the sites and facilities were great. Saturday night was packed but on Sunday night, you could have heard a pin drop.  I camped two (or was it three?)  nights, spent time at the visitor center, explored Cave City, Park City and Horse Cave and stopped at a local rock shop. I learned that this cave system is the largest in the world; the displays in the visitor center are amazing! On Monday morning, I followed route 70 northwest from Mammoth Caves all the way to Browder where I picked up Route 431 north to Central City. From there I turned onto Route 62 west to Land Between the Lakes, just east of Paducah.  Route 70, I might add, was a trip…two narrow lanes, little to no shoulder and more windy than hilly….but fun! Roads are so varied in their personalities – it made me wonder whether they reflected the personalities of their everyday users!

At Land Between the Lakes, I stayed at the Hillman Ferry Campground through Friday.  This place was by far the most scenic campground of my entire trip to date except maybe for Cobsicook Bay State Park in downeast Maine. My Hillman site offered a 270 degree view of an inlet on the lake and because it exists on a flyway, I was treated to the sight of large wading birds daily.  Herons acted as the kingpins; egrets knew better than to fish in their larger cousin’s territory but that did not stop them especially during evening feedings. In the mornings, the egrets convened at the lake frontage to the east of my vantage point. img_6074-640x335There, the herons did not seem to bother them as much. This was also the portion of the lake where the pelicans visited.  On the second to last day I was there, four pelicans joined the shore birds. I’d never seen these beautifully painted black and white birds on any of my trips to the southeast so this was a treat; in Kentucky no less!

On day two of my time at Hillman Ferry, I decided to drive into Paducah some 20 miles away.  I wanted to see the National Quilt Museum.  The City of Paducah is very spread out and the roads are many lanes wide; many are one-way. I found the Museum, parked at the rear/roadside in the shade with Nuttah waiting in the car.  My short visit was lovely but I did not expect less. I was not able to take photos of the collection or the exhibit (NYC Quilters Guild)  but I purchased a book in the museum store that I know will inspire me for years to come.

While I was in a City, I thought I’d take care of some business. I needed to have a change of address form printed so I asked the clerk at the museum store whether there was a Staples or Office Max in town. She gave me directions to the Office Depot. On my way down the long highway strip, I noted a huge sign on my right. As I passed by, I realized it said Hancocks of Paducah!  Now, if you are a quilter, you know that Hancocks of Paducah is the fabric store of fabric stores. I continued on to Office Depot and was told by a less than helpful clerk that she had no idea how long it would take for my one page to print; there were many orders ahead of mine.  I sent them an email anyway with the attached form and decided to kill time at Hancock’s – such torture!  With sheer willpower, I limited my time there by not allowing myself to do more than scan each row.   I did purchase a few remnants of unique fabrics that I knew I could use; I could have done a lot of damage to my finances there but thankfully my rational mind stayed in control!

On Wednesday of that week while at Hillman Ferry, Barbara and her dog Lucy joined Nuttah and I for a couple days. Barbara had purchased an RV earlier in the year and had been traveling much of the summer and part of the fall as well. She shared that since she had been gone a week during my two-week stay, she had wanted to spend more time with me. How fun to have a camping buddy! During this time, we explored the campground and area facilities, enjoyed meals together along with a few glasses of wine, as we shared stories around the campfire.  At other times we shared intentions and our love for the earth and our hopes for the future! I appreciated the soul connection!

By Thursday, it was time to think of moving on; I was to leave the next day. I had been contemplating going north into Illinois to visit several Native American sites and to view Cahokia in East St. Louis Illinois (across the River from St. Louis Missouri). I had even asked a friend who lived near Springfield to meet me in Cahokia, but the logistics were just not coming together. This is when I followed Jan’s practice of using a pendulum to help me decide in which direction to travel. I asked whether I was to travel north into Illinois; I got a no. I asked whether I was to travel west into Missouri; I got a no.  I asked whether I was to travel south to Tennessee; also no.  Finally, I asked whether I was to travel southwest, I got a yes!

So I mapped a route to Arkansas traveling south first into Tennessee then heading west/southwest across the Missouri pan handle into Arkansas where I found a state park called Crowley’s Ridge in the small town of Walcott. From Kentucky to Arkansas, I crossed the Missouri River, the Tennessee River and the Mississippi River. This felt very significant to me. I had been doing water blessings by leaving crystals in the lakes and rivers during my entire trip and because I was on an interstate highway, I was unable to stop at any of these crossings and properly thank these mighty rivers for all they’d provided. But I remembered my experience at Jan’s – how I felt the smoky quartz’s vibration when I was not in a sacred natural area.  I also remembered of my dream of forever being on the edge of a crater after visiting Serpent Mound and leaving a rose quartz there in the crater (see blog 4 – Hopewell Culture and Serpent Mound). I  instinctively knew it was ok that I was not more actively engaging with those rivers. All I had to do was feel the love and know that the waters would be receiving that energy….no need for a crystal, no need to touch the water, no need to be anywhere near it. The more I thought this, the more I realized the power of this belief. Simply focusing a thought has the power to change the object of the thought….the implications of this are almost unimaginable but they are not impossible!