Appreciating What I Have

Finally, yesterday, I got the call I’ve been waiting for. The van is done. Carolyn and I were already out to lunch, so when we were done she dropped me off at the shop. The not insignificant payment for their parts and labor went through, and I drove my home… um, home. Okay, that’s just weird, but you know what I mean.

It runs better than ever. It also stops better than ever, with a new brake booster (the old one contributed to the vacuum leaks), new back brakes, and fresh brake fluid. The parking brake works, thanks to them MacGyvering something together because the correct parts aren’t available. I’ve only driven a few miles so far, but I’m looking forward to driving it more.

Not everything is perfect. One of my pantry cabinets popped open while they had it, and almost everything fell out. I wanted to reorganize the pantry anyway, so since it already half unloaded itself, I tackled that project today. Now things are where I want them, rather than where Trisha put them.

I’m curious how this happened. That bend in the door frame didn’t exist before. I’d be quite upset if the rest of the body was in good shape, but honestly, it isn’t, so I’m not. The light still works and the door still opens and shuts, so I’m not worried. I would like to try banging it out at some point, though.

I reinstalled my mobile router and hotspots, as well as my ham radio. I tested my heater, found it won’t light, and the cause is an empty propane tank. Not sure when or how that happened, but I can’t complain. This is the first time I’ve needed propane since I moved into the van, with an already half used tank. I’ll get it refilled before I leave LA. While I’m cooking mainly on the butane stove now, I want to be able to run my propane heater now that it’s winter. I don’t need it in California, but I may need it in the Arizona desert at night.

Today is also Thanksgiving. Carolyn and I will be joining Reuben and his mom shortly to celebrate. While the traditional story of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims I was taught in the Massachusetts schools has been proven to be false, I feel it’s still worth spending time with my newfound LA “family.”

It’s also worth being thankful for… well, being here. If that smoke alarm hadn’t gone off at 2:30 am on March 24, there’s a good chance that Trisha, Lister, and I wouldn’t have lived to tell the tale, or have this adventure in the first place. It certainly hasn’t gone according to plan, but while we’re not all still here, we’re all still alive, which is worth being thankful for. (Trisha and I may have ended on bad terms, but I wish no ill upon her.)

While I’ve lost almost everything over these past few years, I’ve gained a great deal as well. I have an enjoyable, fulfilling job that lets me live this life. I’ve fulfilled several dreams and bucket list items already, and I’m just getting started. The experiences I’ve had so far on this journey are priceless. I’ve certainly gotten comfortable in sticks and bricks during my stay in LA, but I’m not done traveling yet. I don’t think I will be for a while. I may change the way I travel, but there’s still a whole lot of exploring to do, on two wheels as well as four.

People have told me they admire my positive attitude about where I am and what I’ve been through. This is strange to me because I’ve never been a very positive person — until now, apparently. They say having a near death experience changes your perspective on life. I think that’s true, at least for me. I never intended to travel alone in a van, but because of it I’ve seen and done things I never would have otherwise. Having the opportunity to do that, as well as the people I’ve met or reconnected with along the way, are what I’m most thankful for this year.

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