Day 8: Mr. Sly

Today was my last day at Mill Creek Campground, and – it’s funny – I felt a little sad leaving it behind.  It’s the first place I’ve kind of “settled in.”  Otherwise, I’ve stayed one night here, one night there, another night someplace else.  I’ve rocked the “wandering,” but at Mill Creek I actually took my “snail’s pace,” and it was lovely.

At breakfast one morning (I was spoiled by cheesy scrambled eggs and crispy bacon cooked-up by the hosts in the general store), I was cozied-up to the bar reading in front of the “Live by the sun, love by the moon” sign when an old guy in overalls sat down beside me.  Of course, he had me at Carhart.  I set aside my book when he said “I like my coffee black, just like my women” (completely inappropriately, I’m sure).  The conversation came easily, just like back home, and I took the time to talk and really listen to him.

Mr. Sly and his wife and children then grandchildren have “come up from the valley” to summer in their Mill Creek cabin for 45 years, after Mr. Sly spent summers next door as a child.  According to our camp host Joe, Mr. Sly’s wife Elva is a “deer-whisperer.”  Sometimes the deer line-up 8 or 10 deep outside the Sly house waiting to eat from her hand before napping in the shade of their trees.  And, as it turns out, one of Elva’s deer has a cough…and was likely the source of the mid-night snorts around my campsite.  It wasn’t a bear afterall!

On my journey from Mill Creek to Tahoe, I stopped for an oil change and got to talk with a couple of other folks from the older generation.  One man and another woman were natives of the Quincy area and told me all about the Feather River Valley and the big music festival bringing 15,000 people to town for the holiday week.  Again, they reminded me of home, and it felt quintessential somehow sitting outside the automotive shop chatting with them.

I expected to spend my journey solo in nature, thinking about my next steps in life.  Instead, I’m spending a lot of time connecting and listening and learning.  Perhaps, instead of fretting about the future, I’m supposed to be learning from the Mr. Slys of the world that life is best lived in the moment.

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