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Kathryn Cleveland at Camp Lejune

Kathryn with her new grandson. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

Kathryn with her new grandson. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

Bonnie and Clyde, my camper and truck, sat in my daughter’s driveway for three weeks as I ignored the same camper problems that I had ignored on my trip across the county. It was much more rewarding to spend time with her as we waited for the baby’s arrival. Then the labor and birth became much more important. And then HE was here!

Who cares about a camper refrigerator when there are tender toes to admire and that sweet baby smell to inhale? Air conditioning? Who needs it? So what if I didn’t have any water pressure in the camper – I had a grandchild!

In those weeks of waiting, I did take time for some lovely bike rides around the Marine Corps base on the lovely spring mornings. Camp Lejuene is a big base and they are serious about fitness – lots of nice bike trails. Just expect to share the road with Marines during lunch and after work.

Hiking and bicycling path through Camp Lejuene. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

Hiking and bicycling path through Camp Lejuene. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

In the cool of early morning, the Stroller Warriors are out in full force as young Marine wives lose baby weight or train for marathons by running with their kiddos. A battalion of strollers pushing mamas hits the streets for several hours in the morning.

Back home in South Dakota, my new cabin is near a Rails to Trails bike path and I am determined to enjoy it. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. I priced bikes in big box stores and then wandered into a real bike store. Normally, I’m not an impulse buyer unless it’s a bargain at a thrift store! But the bike store expert asked me a few questions, looked at my short, middle-aged body and said, “Try this one.”

Well, a quick circuit around the parking lot including braking hard on gravel and climbing a small hill and I was hooked. It was like pedaling butter, smooth and easy and so much fun. I hustled back into the store with a grin on my face, “Do you do layaway?” Raleigh comfort bikes- cool fun for grown up girls.

So I enjoyed my fabulous new bike on Camp Lejeune’s paths and even thought I might try to ride out to the beach and check out the RV campground. I needed a recommendation for an RV repair place nearby. Turns out it’s a long way from the main side to the campground… and it began to rain. So I returned the bike to the garage, backed Clyde down the driveway and headed to the beach.

The best way to find out about anything related to camping or even your RV is to be friendly to the camp host; or just meet them. Their sites are marked and they LOVE RVing. This year, the co-hosts at Camp Lejeune are full timers. Soon after a quick introduction, I had an experienced RV owner digging around in my rig.

I’d love to say that there was a serious issue that he fixed, that I could never have been expected to figure out this complicated process alone. Well, no. Turns out my fridge wasn’t actually plugged in. Ah… so many cords, so little experience. I even read that particular manual. How had I missed the clearly unplugged black electrical cord in the access box? AC had a fuse out. And my water miraculously had plenty of pressure.

He checked out my water heater set up so I can actually take showers INSIDE Clyde. Of course, I’d have to remove all the stuff stored in the bathroom.

My grand plan to camp across the country turned into long visits with friends, with Clyde parked in their driveway and, well…a bit of shopping. Plus, I collected items I had left behind when I moved from the area nine months ago.

The beach at Camp Lejeune. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

The beach at Camp Lejeune. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

I also started the trip with all baby supplies my daughter had found in Denver at Christmas. Reality? I’d been driving around a large, expensive storage unit. But I am going to camp! And I may start with Camp Lejeune’s Onslow Beach. It has 37 sites with full hook-ups.

There’s a nice shower house and you are literally across the quiet road from the beautiful beach. There are also cabins available so family or friends could join you and have their own place to stay. Just pick up your groceries on the way in. The check-in is in a small, temporary unit and has some junk food but it’s short on fruit and veggies.

And, of course, the park has friendly RV hosts. I returned to their beautiful unit with my new friends and we sat with a glass of wine as the wind and rain became wild.

It was wonderfully cozy to sit inside and swap stories. Flying solo doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help and enjoy friendly companionship!

P.S.: It turned out I had to fly home for a month then return to North Carolina and drive my rig back across the country. This meant I had another week with the world’s most perfect baby- hurrah for grandchildren. And on that visit, I finally got out on Camp Lejeune’s water.

canoeing and kayaking in the harbor. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

Canoeing and kayaking in the harbor. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

I rented a kayak at the main side’s Gottschalk Marina and cruised up a creek off Morgan Bay. It aggravated my tendonitis so I probably need some paddle lessons but I love to kayak. The kayak is a lightweight watercraft that’s easy to maneuver, glides when you need to rest and completely quiet. Perfect.

I took some pictures, turned and headed back to the marina. By this time my forearms were aching and knots were forming along those pesky tendons. I rested and thought a bit. It’s quiet and peaceful. And soon, I was much too hot. I forgot how much I detest hot, muggy weather. So I dug my paddle in and created my own cooling breeze as I glided across the water.

As I approached the marina docks, two young Marines were leaving.

Canoeing and kayaking in the harbor. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

Canoeing and kayaking in the harbor. Photo by Kathryn Cleveland.

They were young and strong but a bit clueless. Their movements powerful but ineffective. They’ll learn… or get tendonitis in a few years!

I was reminded that I’ve been out on the waters of life, so to speak, for a long time and I’ve learned to glide a bit. Dig deep when I need to, enjoy the glide when I can, be at peace with my pace. Those young bucks were just starting out, and more power to them. I’m on the backstretch, heading back to the dock and that’s just fine. We’re all out there just moving through the water!

Kathryn Cleveland, USMC widow South Dakota

Reprint from Nov-Dec 2012 • Volume 42, No. 6


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