As the last of the Fourth of July fireworks once again fade into memory, our time in Sidman quickly draws to a close. We’ve nearly finalized our travel plans through Labor Day weekend as these first few days of July slip by, and while we’re anxious to hit the road again, we remain reluctant to actually leave. The past few weeks were well-spent reconnecting with family, lending a helping hand when possible, and forging new stories to tell around future campfires.
People seem naturally drawn to a fire, whether it be for simple warmth, the promise of food, or just lighthearted camaraderie. We certainly enjoyed spending time around the backyard fire ring toasting mountain pies, digging into a pineapple upside-down cake from a Dutch oven, and fending off large dogs in search of an easy treat. For the record, taco mountain pies (with seasoned ground beef, salsa, cheese, etc.) and pierogi mountain pies (with buttery mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese) are delicious. In the absence of an actual campfire, a grill turns into a gathering beacon, luring people together in search of perfectly charred meat and fire-roasted vegetables.
We’ve enjoyed quiet mornings with cups of coffee while watching the local wildlife swirl around us – two large woodpeckers, numerous rabbits, a few whitetail deer, a couple of garter snakes, baby raccoons, and uncountable smaller birds, to name a few. Oh, and the dogs may not be native to this area, but they create a dominant presence in the local ecosystem. I’m still trying to earn my place as part of the pack, but I just can’t seem to develop a taste for dog food and I think they’ve noticed.
Ashley found time to test out new crafting techniques while constantly (at least, that’s how it seems to me!) perfecting her chosen few. We now have a colorful cab curtain thanks to her experimentation with shibori dyeing, as well as a couple of shirts sporting a new and improved indigo hue. Her online store is also now up and running, with a handful of items available for purchase. She even patiently coached me through a new crocheting technique, and while I may not be making anything more complicated than a dishcloth anytime soon, I can at least hook a few rows of a larger project and claim that I helped.
Not to be left behind, I too made time to engage in one of my own hobbies. Following the new tradition of brewing beer in one of our hometowns, I worked on my method of brewing in the RV. The resulting product may not be as refined as I would like (for any other homebrewers who might be reading, I’m doing partial mash with a concentrated boil as opposed to all-grain with a full boil), but it’s still beer and it tastes pretty good. I also put my amateur painting skills to use by helping to finish a couple of cornhole boards, and my elementary modeling skills were tested while assisting in the assembly of what seemed like hundreds of tiny pieces of wood into what would eventually become a butcher block table.
While we may not have a permanent local community due to our chosen nomadic lifestyle, we actively seek to cultivate a temporary sense of community whenever possible. From sampling the bounty of our short-term neighbors’ garden, to feeding the flock of chickens in the backyard, as well as lending a hand with a mechanical issue on a friend’s motorcycle, any and all social interactions become a virtual community regardless of our actual physical location. Yes, I’m looking forward to sampling the eggs from those chickens on our way back through this area when they finally start laying in the fall. And, no, I didn’t really do much to help with the motorcycle unless you count standing in the background, drinking beer, and searching for relevant YouTube how-to videos as “helping”.
We’ve witnessed a few storms in our stay here, as well as some stunning sunsets. More often than not, an overcast and rainy evening would give way and yield to a sunny sky at dusk, illuminating the lingering clouds and painting the sky in a pastel palette. The mist rises from the forest in the valley, cloaking the trees in an ethereal haze and gently softening the landscape. Suddenly the storm is forgotten, and you’re drawn back outside to witness what only nature can provide.
The sunsets in Sidman can be a spectacular sight, just turn your eyes to the horizon and you might not want to look away.