I had an opportunity to make a lifelong dream come true
My husband was the one who suggested I read the book called Travels with Charley – In Search of America by John Steinbeck. Mr. Steinbeck named his truck camper Rocinante. My husband thought that would be a great name for the Airstream.
According to Wikipedia, “Rocinante is Don Quixote’s horse in the two-part 1605/1615 novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote’s horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.”
What name could be more appropriate for the “horse” that would carry me across the country on my very first adventure? Like John Steinbeck, my journey would make a big circle around America…across the top, out West, down to the bottom, and back East. Also like John Steinbeck’s search of America, my own search took three months. When I left on the trip, I wasn’t sure how long it would take. I was terrified. I was excited. This might be, as for John Steinbeck, my only adventure like this and I wanted to savor every moment. I felt so alive! I was in my 60’s and thought the best part of my life was behind me. This trip made me feel like a girl again…like the girl who explored the woods and marveled at the campers and trailers and schoolies at Atwood State Park. I was in search of America, but also in search of ME.
When I was around ten or eleven, my dad bought a truck with a little home-made camper on top of it. The truck looked more like a car…all sleek and slim. The camper was made with plywood and painted green. The roof was canvas. It looked sort of, kind of, maybe…like this.
That is so not really right, but I like it anyways. The little area over the truck cab was so small that I couldn’t make myself share the space with my sister. I slept in a lawn chair outside. My parents slept on the table…lowered down to the level of the bench seats. There was no bathroom. The kitchen consisted of a tiny counter with a propane camp stove and an ugly gray water cooler.
Camper – Meh! Camping – Awesome!
I did NOT like camping in it on those rare occasions that we went to Atwood State Park in Ohio. I loved being there. I just didn’t like having to sleep and spend time with three other people in THERE. Outside the camper, my parents left me to my own. I explored the woods and spent a lot of time looking at the other campers. There were no Winnebagos that I can recall. Mostly there were tents, truck campers, little vintage trailers, and some old school buses converted into campers.
That was the moment…there at Atwood State Park. It was seeing those little RVs. To me they were little homes and I wanted one of my own. I wanted to see what they looked like inside.
First Glimpse at my Introversion
When our own camper was at home, it sat out under a tree, balanced on four stilts that cranked down to allow the truck to pull out from under it. Dad left the little camper sitting there on its thin legs. I was allowed to go inside whenever I wanted. I felt like this was some sort of right-of-passage. I was at last old enough to do something by myself. The little camper was not hooked to electricity, so it was always a bit dark inside. I didn’t care. I went out and sat on the bench seat and just thought. I imagined myself living in there and being on my own. I locked the door and it was thrilling to just be allowed to lock a door. Privacy. My first privacy. My first solitude. And I liked it. I didn’t need it all the time. A few minutes at a time was enough to give me the energy to go back out and be around others. I just loved getting that time to myself, even though I didn’t really have anything to do out there. Mostly it was just sitting in the dim light, smelling the odd wooden structure and the plastic covered seats; taking time to just be.
That was how it started; my being an introvert and finding a way to do that and not to feel like I was weird. I was just me. I discovered how much I savored quiet moments, the listening to things…really concentrating on things around me
It was good.
The previous page of my art journal took me back to those days when I fell in love with designing “home”. It’s the page where I decided to try my hand at drawing things from memory. It brings them to life and gives me a chance to share them with others. Much to my delight I found out that others have done the same thing…drawing houses on the ground with autumn leaves. Wow!
Houses Drawn on the Sidewalk
After the leaves were burned I had to find another way to make houses…because my heart was on fire with this new pass time.
Too Cold to Draw Outside – Draw Inside!
I could draw them on any surface, but I found a large sketchbook was best. I used a pen to draw the layout and features I wanted. Then I colored everything in with colored pencils. As I went along I added more and more detail to my drawings. I designed houses in caves, tree-houses, buses, apartments…anything I could think of.
It was fun to add wood floors, stone floors, patterns on furniture, little details of things on dressers, desks, and kitchen counters.
Lately I’ve gotten it in my head to add walls. That was good for my brain, I think. I liked figuring out how to cut holes for windows, how to color the inside and outside to make it look as real as possible. I wanted to be able to peek inside and see what it looked like; pretending that I could see the family inside, living and loving one another and making the most of their time together.
3-D Structure – An art class project with the kids
For my part in the project, I drew the RV. First I drew it in my journal and then made it with white foam core board. This was the final art project I did with the kids in Honolulu.
I wanted them to do this design project so they would, on their own, discover why perspective and scale are so important. I wanted them to learn to think in three dimensions and to see how everything relates to everything else.
However we only had a week to complete the project. It was the first one where they didn’t put it aside after class and not come back to it until the next lesson. This time they took the little houses with them to spots around the house and each one worked throughout the week. I was so proud.
My own, shown below, was done quite hastily. I didn’t measure out the furniture. It was more like the other drawings from memory…very spontaneous/ I didn’t have time to color the interior or exterior of the walls. I just went with trying to depict that the walls existed and divided up the space into little rooms.
It was a fun project. I didn’t do a very good job, but it was still satisfying and left me wanting to make more. It reminded me of the 3-D dollhouse my younger sister had all those years ago.
I come back to the topic of designing houses in pages further along. Here I was just figuring out what I wanted this little art journal to be about. I have never been good at or liked to do art from my imagination. I prefer to have something real to look at. But as I got into the journal, I began to draw little sketches from memory and found it so satisfying that it has changed how I look at art altogether.
The nickname of Ren came about a number of years ago. I have a dream to write a children’s book about a little girl named Aubrey Claire who is a modern day Renaissance Girl. I am also one who has tried many things and so I named my character in an online role playing game…Ren. Short for Renaissance. It has stuck and to this day, throughout the US, on my travels, I am Ren.
I don’t think I talk about the cover in any of the pages. I wanted to have a printer with me in the RV. From time to time I needed to print out documents, but I also wanted a printer that would print out high quality prints that I could sell. I’d had a Canon Pixma Pro printer for years back in my studio at the cabin and I loved the quality. It printed with pigments rather than ink jet. The ink doesn’t smear when it gets wet. It’s also archival quality. Even better, the quality of the printouts is superior. The printer in the image above is the Canon Pixma Pro-100. It prints on paper as large as 13×19. I can print on almost any medium. I can run archival quality watercolor paper through it if I choose. I’ve often printed on the highest quality bristol board, made by Stonehenge.
The RV – 2018 Winnebago Vista LX35
This is a class A motorhome. It’s thirty-five feet long. It was purchased January 5th, 2018. It has a bath and a half. The half bath is right in the middle and is accessible even when the slide-outs are in. I can’t tell you how convenient that was when I was on the road. The rear bathroom is blocked off by the bed, which is on a slide-out. The RV has a washer/dryer combo which is fantastic. I loved having it. There is plenty of storage through the interior of the RV, as well in as in the “basement area” underneath. The living area has an electric fireplace that actually kept the entire RV very comfortable in even the coldest weather. There are lots of posts about the Winnebago if you’d like to look back to them.
Einstein is a ten year old Golden Retriever. He was my best friend and traveling companion. He was not able to go with me to Hawaii. It was a very difficult decision to make. He was a great dog and pack member, but he did not like our days on the road. he often became physically ill for days while on the road. I found a new home for him and he has been doing super well. I’m told he adjusted immediately and is loving life with the other Golden Retrievers and the children. That makes me feel better. I still miss him and you’ll see him throughout my blog. I’d love it if you’d read the interview with Einstein…in the menu at the top of the screen.
I have the printer…still
I bought it while in Oklahoma. When it was delivered, it weighed fifty pounds. Once out of the box, it still weighed in at thirty-five pounds. On travel days, it sat in the passenger seat with a seatbelt. It rode with me my house-sitting job in New Jersey. For $165 I shipped it in the US Mail to Honolulu, Hawaii in March. When I left Honolulu and returned to the mainland, it costs $400 to take on the plane. Why you ask? Why would I pay so much to keep it with me?
Because I’ve never had a printer that can compare and it will earn its costs by helping me to sell my art.
This art journal is on a spiral book made in Beaverton, Oregon. Its called Bee Paper and is considered Marker Paper. I like the super smooth texture of the pages. I like to use colored pencil, watercolor pencil, permanent markers, and watercolors. I had to leave the watercolor pencils in Hawaii and my colored pencils are in storage. I do have the watercolor set I used however.
And here are the pens I prefer to use. All of my ink pens are permanent so that I can use them with watercolors. I like rather fine points as my art journals are rather small. That way I can take them with me in my backpack.
Einstein is gone. The RV is gone. But the adventure and its story are still here…in this little art journal. When I was traveling to visit friends and family, I used the nickname Ren. I made many new friends along the way and I didn’t give my real name. So I’m called Ren or Renny by the many awesome people who crossed my path. I like it.
By the time I was traveling around in this, our cabin was empty and up for sale. I couldn’t make myself move back into the empty cabin. Besides, the whole purpose of selling everything and selling the cabin was so that we could live in the RV full time and travel. Little did we know it would take two years to sell the cabin. At this time, it has a buyer, but is a short sale and has not been finalized yet. Many fingers are crossed
I got two pages done in my first art journal and then all the pages started falling out. The paper was a heavy cold press watercolor paper and just didn’t stand up to the small book being opened and closed.
I am not a pandemic expert or a physician or anything more than a sixty-five year old grandma. Okay. I’m an unusual sixty-five year old grandma. I travel extensively, play on-line games, write stories, take tons of photographs of my travels and even my everyday life, draw and paint like crazy, and keep several journals all at the same time. There’s more about me, but what would be the fun of thinking you’ve got me all figured out after reading just a few sentences, eh?
MMORPGs – Online Gaming Options
I’ve always wanted to fly and I’ve found a way to get as close as possible to it. I play online games…MMORPGs. MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online and RPG stands for Role Playing Game. They are games you play online with other real people and you play a role. \\
Guildwars 2 (made by Arenanet)
In the above photograph I am a Guardian in Guildwars 2. My name is Renemy (my nickname is Ren, so it is a play on that). This is me.
This is me from the back. In Guildwars 2 I love “dressing” my characters in interesting clothing. To finish the look, I like to add some wings. There are many outfits characters can wear and you can change the colors on each piece. You can change your hair with hair make-over kits. You can change your entire look, as a matter of fact. You chose your weapons and can change the way those look as well.
People from all over the world play Guildwars 2. The above screenshot is of Blaze, from Australia.
This image is of LiLi, from Brazil. Another friend, Lydia, is from Holland. While we play, we wear headphones and are in an app called Discord so that we can talk together. That makes it more fun and we can talk about what we’re doing in the game…a dungeon, a fractal, PvP (Player vs Player), a part of the story quest, or just running around the map chopping trees, harvesting vegetables, or mining minerals…all to use in recipes or to build things.
Guildwars 2 has been around for about seven years. I’ve been playing for over six. I love the game. I belong to guilds (you can be in up to five guilds). They’re easy to find and join. Guild leaders advertise in the chat/text area of the game, which you can see all the time in the lower left corner of your computer screen while in the game. People love to chat. They chat about all sorts of things. It can be entertaining to just sit and read what they are chatting about. Sometimes, however, you’ll see someone post a message in chat about how their guild is a friendly group of people who enjoy playing the game together and if you’d like to be a part of that, to send a message…and they list the person you should contact. A few years ago I started my own guild. We go on adventures together. We help one another. There are quests and achievements to do in the game, if you like. Some you can do alone, but some are best (and more fun) done with friends…or strangers, if no friends are around at the time. Some parts of the game auto-join you to a team or you can bring your own friends for part or all of the team.
There’s something about being part of a team, going on adventures, that is like nothing else. While you’re there, you’re caught up in it, feeling like you’re really there. You and your team. You protect one another, advise one another. You fail or succeed as a team…and then you do it again. We overcome formidable foes and slay monsters. We hunt down dragons. We have a common goal; a mission. We’re a team. To make it even better, there are apps you can download so that you can actually talk with your team mates. I like Discord (mentioned earlier). We can all be in Discord, wearing our headphones or earbuds, talking and guiding the team through a dungeon or getting an achievement. There are story quests to go on. People in the game are glad to help. They all have experiences that can make the mission fun and successful.
Games Made by Blizzard
I also play some games made by a company called Blizzard. I currently play World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. They make several other games, but these are my favorites. All are games where I play with and/or against opponents that are real people.
World of Warcraft (WoW)
World of Warcraft has been around for nearly two decades and is hugely successful. It’s similar to Guildwars 2 in that you are playing a fantasy character that you pick and customize, using swords, shields, maces, axes, armor to wear, adventures to go on.
Hearthstone – an animated 3D card game
Hearthstone is a card game of sorts. You design your deck of cards and when you play a card, it has animations that occur. I haven’t played it in a while, but this is the opening screen.
You can play Hearthstone against the computer or against other people. You can make friends in the game and play against them. Its a 1 vs 1 game. The characters in the game are from other Blizzard games. You will get to know the names…Malfurion, Muradin, LiLi, LiMing and many more if you play any of the Blizzard games. Heroes of the Storm is the same, using characters from the other games.
Heroes of the Storm
This is Lucio, who is a character from the Blizzard game called Overwatch. I don’t play Overwatch, but I love this character. He is a healer and that is the type of character I play the most. Lucio roller skates through the matches and uses music to do his healing. He keeps his team alive and healthy.
Chromie is one of my favorites, but there are many characters you can choose from, as you can see. They are all types of characters. Some are the tanks (players that lead the match and lead the team, able to take a lot of damage, because they are always right up front), ranged (like Chromie, fighting from a distance), Healers, Support (help protect other team mates), and Bruisers (do the most damage during the fights).
My character name is Ren. In Heroes of the Storm, you can play alone, to practice, in Try Mode. You can play in AI mode where either you are on a team of five and the other four are computer generated characters or where you are on a team of five where the other four are real people who are mostly learning the game or trying new characters or new builds.
You can play in Quick Match, where you are randomly assigned a team and play against another team of five people on a randomly assigned map. There are ranked matches and unranked matches. In ranked matches you work together as a team to decide who should play what role. The game comes with a built-in voice chat so, while wearing headphones, you can talk to your team. Its optional. There is also typed chat down in the lower left corner. You can turn it on or off, as you like.
Minecraft (made by Mojang)
There are other games I’ve played a bit, but there is really one more I want to mention. I have been playing it a lot lately. Its very popular – Minecraft. I play on a server, owned by a friend and downloaded it via Twitch (click on the mods tab at the top, and then Minecraft from the icons), but to get the game, you can also go directly to the link I mentioned a moment ago.
I didn’t like Minecraft at first. Seemed like a game for kids, I thought. But I was wrong. My gaming friends from other games also play it and we are able to play together. We wear the headphones and talk while we play. I love playing in CREATIVE mode versus SURVIVAL mode. Survival mode is where, before you can build a house, make armor or weaspons, you have to chop down trees and mine ores or stone. You have to find your own food. I play that mode sometimes, but mostly I play in creative mode. In there you can build the house and the materials are just in a big inventory, by category, for you to use as you want and need. I love building and designing things. I’ve made a rocket…
A tropical island with a village. I added lights to nearly every tree on the island to make it look welcoming and to keep “mobs” of hostile game-supplied creatures away from me and my villagers.
I made a desert oasis, which I later put under a dome, to protect it from hostile creatures and mobs, since I had villagers to protect.
Everything you see in all of the images are things that I made.
My two latest creations are a huge sphere that my gaming friends have turned into a world of its own.
The circle (kind of in the middle of the sphere) is where I made a sort of painting, using stained glass. My area inside the sphere is a hobbit type dwelling for myself and a village full of vendors, such as armorsmiths, toolsmiths, farmers, shepherds, etc.
I have fallen in love with Minecraft. My latest creation is a treehouse. My fellow gamers do challenges together to create things. That’s where the rocket also came from. The treehouse is the newest challenge.
I used my nature’s compass to find a redwood forest. I then located a group of trees that had branches or ledges where I put attach beams to support the different levels of the treehouse.
I really enjoy online gaming with friends, all of whom I’ve met over the years and who have become very good friends…from all over the world. I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting some of them during my travels. One of the most memorable times was my trip to Alberta, Canada, where I got to spend time with some guildies. We went go-cart racing, spent time at a virtual reality place, saw movies, went out to dinner, went to the county fair, and many more activities. Even though I’m sixty-five, I felt so alive. We laughed so much. It was really great fun watching “Aqua” and “George” race one another in the go-cart races. We were all in the race, but they were the most competetive. They would both go zooming by me (I was in last place, but enjoyed seeing the action in front of me) and they’d be looking over their shoulder at one another, looks of determination on their faces. Yeah, its a time of memories…and all because I started playing some online games.
Final Fantasy XIV
Granny is in her 80’s and has become so well known that the game has incorporated her character as a part of the game itself. Gamers can go and meet her character and hear stories from her. Granny streams as she, herself, plays the game. Its fun to watch her. You can see her playing and down in the corner is her as she talks you through the event she’s participating in. I love it. I don’t stream, but I’ve purchased the things I’d need to do so. Just haven’t gotten around to it. More comfortable on the other side of the camera.
Online gaming like the type I play can be played by any age. While you’re in a game, you feel like you’re really there. I have felt like such games were perfect for me, because I’m SO visually oriented. As an artist and writer I’m in love with the amazing graphics in these games. So much attention to detail by their designers. In Heroes of the Storm (HoTS), even though you’re running all around trying to get objectives with your team mates or defending others, you don’t have time to notice all the amazing little details. In one spot there is a little town off to the side, with a stage near the playing field. On that stage are thrones for the king and queen, who sit there and watch us play. Somewhere else a villager is shopping down a tree. The detail below shows villagers sitting on the wall or selling their wares outside a tent.
The games I’ve mentioned here are games that you do NOT have to master from the first moment. They are games that let you grow from a beginner player. The best part is that there are thousands of other people playing them, at all levels of experience, who are really glad to lend you a hand or answer questions. I have had to ask for help with very basic, simple things and people came forward to guide me through it or even showed up to do the task along side me.
Take your time learning the game. Enjoy it. Make friends. Discover a brand new kind of fun. Then one day you’ll find that YOU are the one stepping forward to help someone else who is in trouble or new to the game. YES!
You might even come across a little skeleton with a bow, riding a spider…Minecraft.
I don’t play the games non-stop, day after day. I have lots of other activities I’m interested in. I just wanted to share this part, as it has been very helpful to me over the past few months of the Covid-19 pandemic. It helps me feel less isolated. I look forward to spending time with friends. When I log into a game, there is almost always someone there who I can chat with and play the game with.
I hope you find a game that is just right for you. Happy gaming!