When We're Talking We're Not Listening. (5 minute read)
I’ll tell you what. Klink sends me the best – and sometimes quirkiest – helpers. My late husband was a really capable guy and could build or fix anything. He was also good at figuring his way out of any type of situation. I learned a lot from him in our time together and draw on that when I’m in a tricky spot. Nowadays, I just send out a bat-signal and he always guides me out, finds me the right tool, or sends the right people to assist me.
At the Vets Camp in Minnesota, I was sent Nelson and Tony. In St. Louis it was Kevin The Groundskeeper. On the beach in California…it’s Doug The Great.
As I write this I am in the Pismo Beach/Oceano Dunes area in central California. While I was camped here at an RV park the last two weeks I found out I could park right on the beach for $10 a night. This price is, seriously, unheard of. If I could spend the rest of my life facing the ocean I’d do it in a heartbeat. Wake up and open your door to the crashing surf? Yes please. Oceano Dunes is also a recreation area for off highway vehicles (OHV) and on the weekends this place turns into a Mad Max movie; hundreds of ATV’s, dirt bikes and whatever else kind of dune-buggy-contraption-thing you can drive, all congregate here. Trust me when I say there is no peace and quiet happening on this stretch of beach Friday through Sunday.
But Monday? Now that’s a different story.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity to check beach camping off my bucket list, I pulled onto the sand with my truck and teardrop on a quiet Monday morning. I drove down to the RV parking area and found—what I thought was—a solid place to park. I pulled forward and back a few times to try to find level from side to side, but that ended up being a huge mistake because now my truck is stuck, and 4WD in the sand is the equivalent of spinning corn on the cob in a stick of butter.
I was staying two nights and wasn’t planning to unhitch anyway so I decided to deal with it when I pulled out on Wednesday. I’m sure I could figure this out. Everyone else here seems to be maneuvering through the sand and most of the rigs are much bigger and heavier than mine so I’m confident I’d find a solution. But then I realized I had no drinking water. Shit. So now I have to drive off the beach to the store which means I have to unhitch and set up my trailer in the sand, which I haven’t experienced yet. The only thing I really know of sand is how my body feels while laying on it—when on a tropical vacation. Even with my limited understanding though, I do know that it can be quite unpredictable.
I was right about that.
I managed to get the truck out (easier without a 3800 lb trailer attached) and picked up my supplies. On my return, I parked behind the trailer in hopes that the breeze would level off the sand in front, making it easier for me to hitch up when it was time. As the day went on the wind did indeed pick up and the sand shifted quite a bit. This was hopeful. But it also started to create pockets around my wheels and stabilizers so my trailer started sinking and shifting in the sand. This started to freak me out a little bit and I became worried I would wake up in the morning with my trailer half tipped over. Then what the hell would I do? I didn’t notice any trucks or trailers being towed out over the weekend so I assumed my inexperience was really the only obstacle I faced.
By 6PM I had an impulse to hitch up and move to harder sand. As soon as I grabbed my keys, an old white, and very well-seasoned RV, decided to park—right in my pathway out. I stared at it for a few minutes contemplating my options while having a mental conversation with this yahoo in my head. When he got out of his cab, I walked up and told him I was pulling out to reposition and he’d might want to move (just in case) because I didn’t know how this was gonna go. Well, rather than oblige me, he instead provided me with a crash course in beach camping, towing, and all things related to wind and sand. This interesting fellow was no yahoo at all. His name was Doug The Great and he would end up being my savior.
He’s been RV camping (living?) on the beach, in the dunes, and everywhere else it seems, since the 70’s and I soaked up his quirky stories like a dry sea-sponge. He explained to me that my teardrop wasn’t actually sinking, but that the sand and wind were only creating “craters” around its touch points. He mentioned the use of plywood in front of the tires as a guard which explains why I noticed so much of this over the weekend. He also showed me how to let air out of my tires to make them more buoyant in the sand and get me out of my current situation.
Neat trick. And it worked too.
I ended up learning more about beach camping and towing in 20 minutes then I’ll bet most learn in years. Each of his lessons unfolding in storybook fashion. (Did you know they used to surf cars here?? Literally. Like drive cars out at low tide, turn sideways, and catch a wave.) His stories made me feel more at ease and comfortable with what I was doing and my confidence soared. When I asked him about leveling my teardrop off, he said ,”Just eye-ball it and enjoy the experience of unsteadiness.” He could’ve been talking about my night in the trailer—or about my life in general.
Either way. Good tip. Balance is never perfected.
Within an hours time, I no longer felt inexperienced with towing and camping in the sand. In fact, I’m feeling a bit of an expert at this point. If this guy did all this crazy stuff he was telling me then I can certainly get out of my tiny dune. He guided me out of my sand trap and watched me as I circled around and moved to a more solid area about 20 feet west of where I was. He and I had become instant friends. He introduced me to Lovey, his travel companion, and I decided they would be my new favorite neighbors.
I soon realized that Doug The Great, was not IN my pathway out, but rather, HE was my pathway out.
While he was letting air out of my tires I told him I was pretty sure my late husband sent him to help me and he turned his head around and grinned. His stark white RV was simply a beacon set right on my path via the universe, via Klink. I had no choice but to meet him but I did have a choice on how it played out. No doubt in my mind that if Klink were still alive, these two would be telling stories of their raucous and rebellious pasts around a beach fire until the sun came up.
I think my whole point here is that sometimes the people we have prejudged in our heads as yahoos, or weirdos, or assholes or jerks are actually the people we need to meet the most. And dang if we don’t need to listen to their stories. Maybe they have the answers we’re looking for or the help we may need. And maybe it’s for more than our current situation—for something else we’ve been wanting clarity on. Or maybe we’re the giver and they’re the receiver. Either way, we all benefit. I think the more open-minded we are and the more we listen, the less afraid we become. All of it makes our lives flow a bit easier. Or at the very least, it could get us out of a sand ditch. I thought I needed to figure out how to get out of a rut, but what I really needed was to figure out how to meet Doug The Great.