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June 8, 2018 / annakpf11

Vibrant Emptiness

The Japanese school of Sumi painting says: “If you depict a bird, give it space to fly.”

In our quixotic quest for the “perfect recipe”, Dave and I sold our cute-as-a-button-but-less-than-nimble Airstream trailer and transferred our affections to an all-in-one Winnebago sprinter van. What can we say? We were seduced by her streamlined efficiency and easy mobility.


Our new rig has a name—“Suzy”—in memory of my grandmother, a backroads explorer, wildflower photographer, bird watcher, trout fisherwoman and maker of quite possibly the best homemade pickles ever. Dave and I will count ourselves lucky if we explore a fraction of the number of back country miles that she and my grandfather, Carl, logged in their lifetime.

Scan20003 copy – Version 3

We have mapped out a month-long journey to Denver and back, attempting to craft a timetable that leaves room for ease and spaciousness, what grandma Suzy would call “wiggle room”, and what the Japanese call “ma”: the pure, expectant emptiness that is present in the negative space in a painting, in the space between notes in music, and in the tacit understanding between close friends.


DAY ONE: Point Richmond to Silver Lake

Accordingly, when departure day arrives, we have no campground reservation for the night. Dave puts Suzy in gear and I verify our route with a quick search on my iPhone. We had thought to cross the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the Sonora Pass, a road neither of us has ever traveled before, but as we roll away from our house, I discover that the Sonora Pass is considered too treacherous for RV’s (that would be us). Let the improvisation begin.

Instead of risking our rig (and possibly our lives) the first day on the road, we set out for highway 88, a familiar and beloved path that leads to the forest service cabin purchased by Carl and Suzy in 1958 and now shared by succeeding generations of children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren.

By late afternoon we are ready to stop for the night, and we take a chance on the Silver Lake East Campground, a small, relatively primitive high altitude campground where campsites are offered on a “first come, first serve” basis.


On this Monday afternoon in early June, we practically have our pick of sites. After a brief reconnaissance, we settle into a secluded nook near a rushing stream.

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Dave takes a walk and explores the nearby lakefront while I unroll my yoga mat on a piece of flat ground probably meant for pitching a tent, but ideal for practicing yoga, too.


Later, we carry our folding chairs to the granite slab beach and enjoy a glass of wine before dinner.


Dave sighs. “I’m so happy!” he smiles. “I love being near a river.”

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We stay for a good long while, mesmerized by the flowing water.

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Eventually, we adjourn to the campfire for a one-pan-supper of sautéed new potatoes, weisswurst, and fresh asparagus.


And then to bed, lulled by the sound of the river.


On the first day of our trip, a lack of plan has turned out to be a very good plan indeed.



Leave a Comment
  1. carrington brown / Jun 9 2018 11:17 am

    Love reading your posts and so impressed you rolled out your yoga mat!

  2. Krzysia Gossage / Jun 9 2018 3:22 pm

    Divine! Krzysia xx❤️❤️

  3. Adele Stancliffe / Jun 10 2018 11:10 pm

    I loved your “space between notes in music and the tacit understanding between close friends”. Keep on enjoying and I do miss you both

  4. Jeff Amor / Jun 11 2018 4:25 pm

    Your pics are amazing and its a pleasure to read of your adventures. Jeff x

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