We have been having a peaceful R&R morning in Shawneee State Park, Ohio. It is mid- week, Tuesday, and we are nearly alone. I count just five occupied spaces out of the many in our area.
I take to the asphalt, walking down to the ranger station to square up and ask about hiking in the area. There are park maps pulled out, as I inquire. Not seeing what I am looking for, I mention that we have been a way from eastern forested areas like this and we would like solitude, maybe some meditation.
There is a trail up the road. Suspiciously, it doesn’t sound quite right, but there is little else to go on.
A short trip up the road through the canyon is a boat launch and dam. A lower parking lot is empty. Nobody is around. We get our light gear and follow a sign, walking across the road over to a hole in the foliage. It soon becomes apparent, that this trail is all our own.
Just a few feet in, we confidently strip off. I toss my clothing into the pack and out of the way.
Lawn mowers are everywhere, everyone has a big green lawn. Dorothy, we’re not in Arizona anymore!
We begin with a slow easy start, meandering through the back country roads of Missouri, smelling the cool morning breeze as it wraps around our bodies.
There is a beautiful bridge that we use to pass over to “east of the Mississippi” a sort of demarcation dividing the USA in half. Western Americans know this concept as if pioneers embarking “out west.” We anticipate a change. Oddly, on the other side of bustling Cape Girardeau, sits a strip bar and gas station, surprisingly nothing else, just some fields and trees and the road.
We’re going across five states today, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and landing somewhere in the Ohio River Valley. I’ve checked the nudity laws. They vary from state to state, some more threatening than others. It is best to just use our regular carnuding strategies. We’ll be on Interstate highways mostly. Not much concern, but of the view of a bored truck driver who might awaken from his driving tedium.
I pull over for cell phone reception at a rest stop to make a telephonic doctor’s appointment. With that out of the way, we decide on lunch on one of the picnic tables and have a break from is longer day of driving.
The place seems odd to me. Each tree is perfect and uniform in shape and size. These clones have been here many years and manicured, probably planted at the same time. It reminds me of a Jetson’s cartoon that I saw years ago, where in the future, the trees are all gone. Their replacements are actually metal and uniform. I wander off to the edge of this park in fascination. I find much wild biodiversity attempting to creep in the empty space and take over. It is barely contained by perimeter fences.
As we sit and eat, we people watch. I contemplate that there is a defining identification regionally about clothing. Redneck chic is a big thing. Western outfits began to be replaced more by baseball caps with logos and tee shirts, as we have made our way eastward. Illinois seems more urban with paler skin from lack of sun. Indiana has the redneck look down pat. It seems like a tribal thing. My wrap around kilt, a convenient individuality, gets second glances. If only we would spend our summers dressed as human beings. There is much to do about really nothing. Continue reading →
…Missouri welcomes, as does every state. A long expanse of trees covers the countryside. There are national and state lands preserved for the future, bringing back the heritage that has been logged away. I had set up for some camping and hiking exploration in the Mark Twain National Forest, but hearing the voices of old friends on the phone, changed my mind. Follow the heart.
We stop for ice cream and gas along the highway. In the parking lot, there is a young man with the lid up on his old pickup truck, sitting with car trouble. Five Amish men in their traditional dress, black suspenders, gather around him watching. After a while, I see a black horse carriage trotting away down the highway. No motor troubles.
We turn off of the Interstate as the shadows begin to get longer. The two lane road winds through forest and farmland.
We are feeling refreshed from our dip in the natural bathtub. We are comfortably barefoot, head to toe, road ready. We leave Dog Canyon, passing through Alamogordo, New Mexico, continuing our journey.
I’ve used the word “carnude”, or “carnuding” several times lately. Just to do some housekeeping, it is a contraction of “car” and “nude” that several of us came up with several years ago. It was a takeoff of the contraction “canuding” meaning canoeing nude. It simply means traveling by car without clothing. Here is a complete Carnuding Handbook, which explains the how to’s that we employ to safely carnude:
We slow through the quiet town of Tularosa. I have been through here numerous times over my lifetime, but never have taken true notice. I spot a large neighborhood of dressed up older homes. They are what I’d call New Mexico styles. They have much in common with the popular Santa Fe style, but are less restricted to the boxy pueblo look.