Quest for Yes is a mindset. It’s a recipe of optimism, gratitude and naivety cooked up when events inspire neither. When Covid hit big in March 2020, we were 1000 miles away from home with no control over campground closures. One minute we were holding tickets for a tour of Mammoth caves, the next minute we were being escorted to the exit. National Park welcome centers shuttered. The Nation flipped the switch to OFF and entered an epic lockdown. But instead of packing it up (going home) or hunkering down (sheltering in place), we masked on, east coast to west coast for nearly 10,000 miles. Foolishly we thought we could out-camp the pandemic. Eventually, YES got knifed in the gut by HELL NO one too many times, and we raised the white flag.
Running from fires blazing in Oregon through Colorado, hobbling from a broken leg and two broken ribs, and fighting the impact of a Covid shutdown drained our tanks. Like most dysfunctional relationships, we hung in there and tried to make it work. It’s hard to let go of drama. Struggle and challenge is baked into our personalities.
When we finally decided to surrender, we swapped 29 feet of rolling Roxie for a sprawling 3,117 square feet of concrete block below the Florida freeze line. Winter was coming and the idea of a cold, masked, covid-closed Maryland was a hardship we couldn’t face. Roxie moved into her 40 foot hot commodity storage spot, ultimate fate unknown, while we bought a house with a Florida vibe and hit the homestead bid. Florida man is real, drivers are aggressive and while we don’t always agree with our state leadership, the state stayed open, the sun shone down and we recovered our health.
Vaxxed and boosted, we dropped our masks and pursued new Yes adventures. A Saturday morning social outing turned Eric onto the fastest growing sport in the nation. Pickleball breathed new life. With vigor and vitality, the professor is now a student, watching endless Youtube hours of strategy and technique, perfecting the drop shot, punching the drive, finding multigenerational camaraderie through a squarish paddle and glorified wiffle ball. For Sheri, a “buy-by-the-pound” thrift store has provided a steady stream of unusual materials to reinvent in art projects, feeding a lifelong attraction of exploring trash-to-treasure creativity. A stationary home with beds instead of cots, plus Allegiant Airlines $49 nonstops and a close-ish drive to the other Sunshine coast helped us reconnect with spread-out family.
We are loving life on the middle Gulf. Is it possible that we are loving it too much? Are we crazy to trade life in paradise for an unpredictable nomadic existence? That is the kind of good problem to have, for sure. We are just a restless couple and there’s still more USA to see. Jack London’s epic masterpiece has never been out of print since 1903 for good reason. So, we pack our Pickleball paddles, markup a map and hit the road for the unknown ahead. With 16 out of 50 National Parks left to visit in the lower 48, the plan is to scour 6 on this trip, none of them in California, along with a dozen other NP Units, like seashores, historical sites and recreation areas along the way.
Yes doesn’t come without challenges. The gas meter is running at $4 for every 10 minutes down the road. The retirement accounts are on the Ukrainian rollercoaster ride. Everything is more expensive and the unpredictability in camping availability is the new post-covid reality since everyone and their brother bought an RV during the pandemic. And, Eric’s old rib injury – yep, pickelball re-injured it again. We have a sensible reason to double down on free pickleball and BOGO deals at the Publix. But as the Yes recipe calls for naivety, we’re going to hope for the best, plan as best we can for the worst, revive the blog and report back on what’s happening around the country. Are the National and State park systems accessible or closed for backlog maintenance? Is Pickleball really the fastest growing sport in America and can you just show up and play anywhere in the nation? Will there be gas lines like in the 70s? Will we be shut out of camping if we go No Reservations like we used to? April is scheduled, but May and beyond is in limbo. Will it bring more adventure or will we re-raise the white flag? The draw is confronting that unknown.