My New Heroes… Ken and Rilla Zak

My new extended family! With Ken’s ribs!! They were awesome of course. What did I provide? Tuna noodle casserole!!! LOL!

So I think I have previously mentioned a little about my almost-didn’t-happen new best friends. What does almost-didn’t-happen mean? It means I came very close to not opening myself up to meet them when that decision was upon me. There’s a saying that goes something like “It’s usually the things in life that you don’t do that you regret, not the things that you do”. This wisdom applies on all fronts with the following story.

It all started with this blog. I had a new subscriber, Ken Zak, who would comment on my articles in length, and would also send me suggestions on IM as to things to see, places to go. We began to do a lot of chat this way, he was very interested and helpful. He was very excited about my upcoming adventure and shared my love for nature and animals.

Once I knew I was going to be coming close to where Ken (and Rilla!) lived, I let them know and they jumped into all sorts of offers to meet, let me stay at their home, to try Rilla’s pizza, take me on a tour of their hometown, etc. My first thought was “How nice!”. My second thought was “Well that’s weird, how open they sound, they don’t even know me.”

Because I opened myself up I got to have Rilla’s pizza ‘party’ in the mouth! this is just one if the three I was treated to!

If you know me, you know I am an introvert. I am not super social, either. However, with the excitement of the trip and all of the ‘newness’ that goes with it, I thought, “Why not…Let’s do this, they sound nice, give it a chance!”

So I let them know when I was coming, they gave me their address, and I mapped my way to their neighborhood in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

Here I come! And, what am I doing?!?!!

However, when I got to Sun Prairie, I started to let my negative Nelly internal voice get to me. (What if we don’t get along? What if I don’t like them? What if they are axe murderers? Do I have the energy to be social right now? MMMM, I don’t think I want to do this!)

My mental voice pulled this act right when I stopped at a gas station to let them know I was there. I almost texted them to decline. It lasted maybe 2 minutes and then I decided heck with it. It would be par for the course with what I have just gotten myself into with all this RV’ing change of life. I texted Rilla and she replied that Ken was on his way on his BIKE.

Me following Ken back to their house. (What am I getting myself into???! Is this a bad decision? Is this the last photo I will ever take before I am axe murdered??)

So, I got out of the truck and got into the RV with the girls, who I had just walked. I tooled around for a minute, put my pepper spray in my pocket, then ‘hid’ myself in position in front of my bed window so I could stalk his arrival, and make sure he passed at least a visual test that he wasn’t a crazy man. Right as I plunked down, there was a knock on the door! He beat me to it. (Dangit!)

You already know that it went OK if you read the title to this blog. I have been truly blessed to know such people who have made a huge impact in my life and as to how I carry myself and see other people now. So much so that I had to devote an entire story about them.

On our Saturday drive to Amish country! There’s an amazing bakery we went to. Best granola I have ever had.

Ken and Rilla Zak. First I will just run down what they did for me. These things may not sound so Uh-mazing, but when you live in an RV, and resources are at an all-time low, any RV’er knows that these things were priceless. First, they literally put me up right behind their home in a very well maintained neighborhood. I had power and I could have had water, but cannot for the life of me remember why I didn’t do so. They were willing to let me stay as long as I wanted. (Within reason I’m sure, but they said AS LONG AS YOU WANT.) They trusted me instantly. Let me make the list easier to read:

They:

  • Fed me. A lot
  • Let me do laundry in their house
  • Watched The Girls for me
  • Let me wash Trix and Giz in their home
  • Washed my Rv
  • Yes, Ken WASHED MY WHOLE RV one day while I was away!!!
  • Then he washed my truck, and I helped.
  • Took me on the tour they promised
  • And took me on a tour/hike
  • Praised me in many ways I don’t feel I deserve, but I do just a tiny bit more now with their backing
  • Fixed up my bike chain
  • Fixed my new iPad case so it truly fit my iPad
  • Made leashes for the bike basket for the dogs
  • Made a homemade leash for Gizmo (complete with a snap) to replace my ghetto string
  • Warned me that my RV tires were dry and told me what to put on them, which I did
  • Cleaned up my Stihl trimmer. (Yes, I brought it with me. Don’t ask me why)
  • Let me stay in their home even if they weren’t there. Right away.
  • Let me keep the pups there even if they weren’t there
  • Let me charge my electronics in their house before I finally hooked up to power
  • Let me use their WIFI
  • Showered in their house
  • And on and on and on…
The homemade basket leashes
You got it… washing my truck. Because he wanted to.. Because he is that nice and genuine!
Here Ken is blowing the water out of his 42-year-old hose. You read that right, 42 years old. Once more, that hose, he has had 42 years and it looks brand-new. This is how organized and clean this guy is!

I am sure I am forgetting some key things, unfortunately, as It’s MY brain trying to remember and it’s been a whole two weeks or so since I left.

Mr. Ken giving Trix a good ear scratch
Rilla not really wanting her picture taken. She’s beautiful!

The biggest thing they did for me is to help me really really see the good in people again. And to learn selflessness. Ken and Rilla are ALWAYS so HAPPY, and it is genuine. It’s not the annoying type. I can see right through fake happiness.

On our outing to see backroads and walk at a state park. We were on a ferry in this photo. Could my hat get any bigger??

They are SO SO SO nice!!! They have been married for 42 years? (Again, My brain.)

My best parking spot for a week. After I had left, they actually told me it was a little sad when they finally mowed the grass which had grown up under the back of my RV.
Ken, Trixie (man she LOVED it here!) and Pirate the parrot!

They took me in without question and made me feel like the coolest person around. I am lucky to have had them come into my life and give me this gift of love and acceptance. The gift of knowing that there are really really good people out there. They did not want anything from me in return, and I felt so out of balance with wanting to reciprocate the enormous amount of little life treasures that they don’t even realize that gave to me. When I would try to emphasize this about them TO them, they would always say ‘We’re just being us’. And it was true. Well, their ‘us’ is exceptional to me, and my words are not even doing ANY justice here to explain.

At least I could reciprocate with this- I got to ‘cook’ them my Tortilla Surprise! They enjoyed it, as challenging as it is to eat.

Introducing my not at all famous Tortilla Surprise! Part of the surprise is to see if you can actually eat it without it falling apart! Here goes Ken….
Ken had no trouble…
The look on Rilla’s face surmises the title of my creation.
Even I had a tough time with this one!

Like, the nicest people in the world. And they like me!!? Makes me feel like a better person than I believe I really am. I am so glad that I decided to take that chance and followed through on my decision to meet Ken and Rilla Zak.

Thank you, Ken and Rilla. You are truly an inspiration.

New best friends! …group selfie with the new selfie stick!

I love you both! (But you already knew that!)
Your greatest admirer,

Kel


6 thoughts on “My New Heroes… Ken and Rilla Zak

  1. That is pretty cool to be able to meet some awesome people and enjoy some time with them. It is hard to let people get close now days. Nice post.

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    1. Thank you Mark. Yep it was refreshing, and I hope to have many more experiences like it, but I don’t think any will come quite as close. See, should be more positive! Maybe I’ll have a ton of people I meet like this!

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  2. My goodness Kelly, your words are a huge hit to the heart and….. MY GOSH….. how can a person respond to such words 🙂
    You are amazing 🙂
    We think we are the lucky ones, heck you took the time to go to Montana, via Wisconsin and you listened to your heart and that good voice in your head 🙂
    I know for a fact that you will meet TONS and TONS of wonderful people who are and will be, like minded and interesting and will add to your joy and inner happiness of life 🙂
    I can’t put words together the way you can Hun, but I know for a fact, that by you being the real you, the person you want to be and are, that you will have so, so many memories and stories from your travels and the beautiful way of life that you have chosen 🙂
    The lifestyle that many talk about or dream about, but never had the courage to take that step like you have done 🙂
    But what I think is REALLY, REALLY COOl, is that by your beautiful writings/stories/blog you will be able to maybe give folks the courage to take that extra step into the unknown, to help them make their dreams come true 🙂
    The possibilities of your thoughtful and truthful words can be endless for many 🙂
    You know our door and hearts are always open for you or the girls 🙂
    We will share many more pizza’s and camping adventures together…. you can take that to the bank and I guarantee that with a WISCONSIN HUG 🙂
    Sending you lots of love and a couple of special tummy rubs for the girls 🙂

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    1. See? Y’all see how awesome they are? They just proved it by what they wrote about ME. It’s better than my blog about THEM!!
      I think we have to agree that we are a mutual admiration society for each other!!!
      Thank you for your kind words, for being you, and yes, of course we’re gonna have many more good times in the future!
      You are awesomeness…

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  3. So glad you went through with meeting them and followed that different energy outside your comfort zone. I know you will meet many more good folks out there, and always trust your instincts. Wonderful strory, Kelly!!

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