It’s Tuesday morning and I am sitting outside on a picnic table by the banks of the Kaweah River. There isn’t much water, but given that there was no water a couple of days ago, I guess I can’t complain. There was some rain here on Sunday when we arrived and that was just enough to freshen up things a bit. It is very beautiful. Bird noise. The sun is cresting the peaks to the East.
Sitting here in Three Rivers, reminds me of a friend of mine who deserves a shout of gratitude. I’ve spent the last year or so realizing not only that there are so many things I am grateful for, but also, so many people. I’ve learned that if you spend the day looking at all the things for which you have gratitude, it will keep your mind off some of the ugly things you would rather not think about at all. I feel that it is my duty as a human to keep up on what is happening in the world, but lately it is a bit much to take. Best focus on what is good in our lives when that happens.
But back to my friend. His name is Jeff Jertberg and I used to hang out with him back during the fourteen years that Sandy and I spent in San Diego. Jeff is a “salt of the earth” kind of guy, about as easy to be friends with as anyone I know. He has a huge love for music, whether it is listening to sound or making it… and a lot of respect for musicians and the lore around musicians, groups, and the history of popular music. He can build anything, and spent a lot of time teaching me construction techniques when we bought our first house. He’s the kind of guy who would do anything for a friend.
Over the years, I had the opportunity to do most of my favorite things with Jeff. We did quite our share of drinking. Hanging out at the beach. Volleyball. Hiking. River trips, and some road trips. Probably my favorite thing to do with Jeff was Sunday morning surfing. To me, that was “church”. Get up when it is dark and hit the ocean as the sun comes up. Cold water, the smell of ozone as waves are breaking and (sometimes) some great sets. I probably felt closer to God more times with Jeff during those sessions than any other time.
After surfing, we would almost always end up back at Jeff’s house. He would make us a pot of coffee (usually at stomach rotting strength) and then he would dig into the fridge and make breakfast out of just about anything he had. It didn’t matter what was in there; vegetables, steak, bacon, potatoes, cheese, eggs – it all went into a pan and got covered with salsa. Oh! And maybe a Bloody Mary to go along with it. The kind of morning that is good for your soul. I can just sit here thinking about it and get peaceful.
So, why am I sitting by this river and thinking about Jeff? Because right now, I am living his dream. You see, for as long as I can remember, Jeff has always wanted to own an Airstream trailer and travel the country. Jeff was so into Airstreams that when he turned forty, John Carpenter and I bought him an Epiphone Airstream Guitar. Check it out. It weighs almost as much as a real trailer and has a really nice logo on it which says “Trailer Troubadours”.
Our daughter, Milada, just spent a couple of months couch surfing down in San Diego (some of the time at Jeff’s and Jen’s house), and she told me that Jeff has tons of Airstream magazines. Although I only get to see him on a rare occasion, it is obvious that the dream is still very real.
But that is only half the story. You see, Jeff also used to own property in Three Rivers, and I know this place was very dear to his heart. For about fifteen years I heard stories about Three Rivers, and I had never had an opportunity to visit. So, when Sandy and I realized that we had to get down to Los Angeles for an anniversary party, I started looking for some place about half way down the state for us to spend a few nights. I pulled up Google Maps and Three Rivers leapt out at me. It just had to be!
So, back to gratitude. I believe that my life has been filled to the brim with influences; most good, some bad. If I look back, there are quite a few people have had a strong impact on my life. It is to those kinds of people that we should be most grateful, and we shouldn’t miss a chance to let them know about it.
So Sandy hatched up this crazy plan to travel across the country in a trailer.
There was no major decision to be made – it had to be in an Airstream. That was Jeff’s influence. On the very first day of our trip, we pulled into Three Rivers, dropped the trailer and rushed up to Sequoia National Park to see it for a few hours because Sandy had to work in the morning. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We couldn’t have had a better first day on the road, and I never would have come here if it wasn’t for Jeff.
So, this blog post is dedicated to Jeff Jertberg. You are a great friend, and my life has been all the better for knowing you. I am totally enjoying this dream of yours and I look forward to hearing about your own adventures in the not too distant future. Thanks for sharing.