RVing in Utah

RVing in Utah

We’re just north of Salt Lake City for two weeks while Roy teaches two classes. He has equipment to set up for teaching, so we need to be stationary.

Great Salt Lake – Antelope Island

On Saturday we went over to Antelope Island. It was pretty interesting there. I’m glad we went. There are lots of hiking trails. We only took one. We’d like to do some of the others, but I think we’d come back for that in the fall, when its a little cooler.

I’ve passed through Utah several times on my travels, but this was my first time to see the lake. It wasn’t what I expected. Somehow I expected a big round body of water that was gray and menacing, with people floating on top, because of the salinity. But it was beautiful! I took the photo above from Antelope Island.

You can see Antelope Island there, in green letters. It actually had farmers living on it for many years. The island has a lot of wildlife, including Buffalo (between 550 and 700 in number now), Antelope, and many others. There’s an information center with an on-going film about the island’s history. There’s a very nice exhibit and gift shop. The items in the gift shop were a bit expensive. We bought two bottles of water and a coffee mug and the cost was over $40. The waters were $7.50 each. The mug was $24.95, but it has a buffalo and “Antelope Island” on it. Its probably the nicest mug I have. I believe it helps support the island, which is a state park. I don’t mind supporting such a great asset. The island also has the Buffalo Grill, beaches, and several campgrounds. We checked it all out and were very interested in staying in one of the campsites on our next visit. They have no utilities, but the view is amazing. Its easy to do social distancing at the beaches, as there are many to chose from. There are showers up near the parking lots where you can rinse off the salt. The main farm was still there and it was a popular attraction.

It was a great place to spend a day. There were covered picnic tables here and there. The campground sites also have covered picnic tables.

Many of the rocks on the island are as old as 1.6 billion years. I was amazed to be walking on a path that had rocks nearly as old as the earth.

I recommend you stop and spend a little time at Antelope Island if you pass that way. I’ll definitely come back.

Full Time RV Life…that shouldn’t work…not for us!

Full Time RV Life…that shouldn’t work…not for us!

Two years ago

For two years our house has been on the market. For two and a half years we’ve owned a Winnebago RV. On January 10th, 2018, five days after buying the RV my husband came to me, all excited, and said he had the answer to all our problems. We’re going to sell our stuff, sell our cabin, and RV full time. He explained that once the cabin was sold, we’d stay at a local campground and, without a mortgage payment and all the other house-related costs, his salary would accumulate, giving us enough money to travel the country. He explained that he had some co-workers that were doing that and it was working well for them.

I was skeptical. No, it wouldn’t work, I thought. We’re too different and too set in our ways. But I went along with it.

Selling the cabin…realtors

We found a realtor. Actually we found several realtors and we considered what each one would do to help us sell the cabin. We chose one who seemed the best. Seemed. He walked through the cabin and put pink sticky notes on the things we should keep while the cabin was on the market and said that he wouldn’t list it until everything was gone. Everything had to go. We looked around us. The cabin was 6,000 square feet of home and forty-four years of marriage – a LOT of belongings; a LOT of treasures. I owned a business that I operated there at home, in my studio. I did filming, editing, photography, and art. The cabin had also been a bed and breakfast and had a lot of extra furniture for that. I did framing and matting as well. Everything had to go.

Getting rid of everything…where to begin

It was going to take us years to sell a lifetime of stuff. It was going to take a lifetime to just sort through it and decide what to keep. What would be worth keeping and storing…at a monthly rate? We tried, but it was not easy. Not at all. We considered having an auctioneer come and do an auction. We found one, but he never showed up for the appointment to look at our belongings. Then we heard about an estate sale company. They came and talked to us. Sounded like a great deal. They didn’t want to leave the pieces with the pink sticky notes unsold though. Those, they claimed, were the things that would bring the best price. In four days time, they got rid of everything. That estate sale took place exactly two years ago today. After just four days, the cabin was empty with the exception of the few things we’d put aside in a small room in the basement. Photos. Things for the RV. Paintings. Mostly sentimental things.

Now, two years later

…the cabin hasn’t sold and it is nearly empty. It contains minimal items. We fired our realtor. I still can’t believe that he said we had to get rid of everything except the few best pieces of furniture that he’d marked with the pink stickies. It makes me upset to think about it. His direction left us with an empty, unsold house. We were naive. The new realtor we hired has been amazing. The fact that it hadn’t sold was not due to any lack of effort on her company’s fault. With an upside-down mortgage it just hasn’t sold. The first realtor should never have lead us to believe that selling it would be a piece of cake.

Then Covid-19 happened

The pandemic changed how many companies and their employees do their jobs. Roy, my husband, is a professor. Due to the pandemic, they decided to change classes to on-line classes. Its worked so well, that now Roy is able to hit the road in the RV. No more waiting. No more living in an empty cabin that isn’t selling.

A surprise solution – short sale

Since the cabin has been on the market for two years and we’re in our mid-60s and Roy is near retirement age, we decided to investigate doing either a “Deed in lieu of foreclose” or a “Short Sale”. After talking with our realtor and with and our mortgage company, we’re pursuing the short sale option. Days after beginning the paperwork to take that route, we got an offer on the cabin, based on it being a short sale. Its supposed to go to closing on September 23rd, which is about two months from now. We’ve done all the paperwork. The bank is working to make it happen. They will have an answer for us this week.

Well, let’s give it a whirl, eh?

While we wait for September 23rd, lets give RVing a try. And here we are. Three weeks into it. We drove ten days to cross the country. Spent a week in San Diego. Picked up our Jeep at the port. I’d been in Honolulu visiting our son and his family for three months and had taken the Jeep. I was going to stay there for the duration of the pandemic and wanted a vehicle while there. Roy’s being able to hit the road early changed that. And here we are.

Since Roy can teach his classes online, he did some of the smaller segments while I drove the RV. Once we got the Jeep and headed away from San Diego, we came to Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ve been here a week. While here, Roy has been able to set up his large monitor and his laptop and teach his classes. It worked very well. He’s encouraged and I enjoyed it as well. While he sits over on the couch, comfortably teaching (he’s a VERY good teacher), I sit at the dinette table and work on my art, on a children’s book, and play some games on my computer. I also keep an art journal about traveling. It has felt peaceful sitting here, the two of us, doing our work. So far, I like this.

You know what…maybe it WILL work

Our story isn’t by any means typical. Some of it has been quite painful and we’d do it very differently if we had it to do over again. Its done though. All the stuff is gone. The cabin has a buyer. We have an RV. As September draws near, we’re going to head on back that way to sign the papers. We want to take our few belongings from the cabin to a storage bin. There are a few things I’d like to put in the RV, though not much. On the way there, I want to spend some time with my friend Sherry. She calls me her little sister and I love that. (I know you’re reading this, Sherry. I love you!!!)

RV Life is perfect for introverts…like me

I’m finding that life in a campground is wonderful. I may be introverted, but I LOVE people…one at a time…or from a distance. At a campground you meet lots of other people just like you. Lots of introverts. Lots of extroverts who enjoy always having a lot of people around them. They have campfires at night and share a bottle of wine. They laugh and talk. When I was walking the dog, I enjoyed hearing the laughter and seeing them so very happy. Introverts sit in pairs or just by themselves, by their RVs. There’s a sort of code for being outside your RV. If you enjoy having someone stop by to talk, you sit facing the roadway. If you prefer time to yourself, you sit with your back to the roadway. I have made more friends on my travels than I ever met back at the cabin…or in any other house we’ve lived in.

While the cabin has been for sale, I’ve been traveling. I don’t have a job requiring me to stay put in a house. I’ve traveled and visited many friends and family. Those relationships are deeper and stronger because of getting to spend time together. I’ve been from Mexico to Japan to Hawaii to Canada and from the top to the bottom and one side to the other side of the mainland…and I want more.

How I’ve Coped with long term quarantine – Covid-19

How I’ve Coped with long term quarantine – Covid-19

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.

Guild Officers Posing in the Guildhall

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, a character from World Of Warcraft

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).

Screenshot from a Match I played last evening

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.

Tree House 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.

Me

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

My gaming friends are of all ages. Granny is a gamer who plays Final Fantasy XIV. There is a free trial of it that you can try out (Final Fantasy trial).

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.

MMORPG Summary

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!

The Journey to Honolulu!

The Journey to Honolulu!

New Jersey

I had a lot to accomplish before I could leave here. Corona Virus was in the forefront of the news more and more. The three days before I left were tense. I had places to go…the landfill, Samaritan thrift shop, post office, and the grocery store. I bought hand sanitizer and began training myself to use it a lot and to refrain from touching anything, anyone and even my own face. The harder I tried (don’t touch my face, don’t touch my face…Oh! I touched my face) the more mistakes I made. I left on Friday, the 13th. I went to Maryland. I had some things to put into the RV, a table in the cabin, and five boxes in the basement to keep there until the cabin sells.

Maryland

The two nights here were slightly scary, because of the pandemic. My being there with friends and family was putting them and me into possible danger. It was becoming very real. We went to dinner at my favorite restaurant and the next day we hit up a couple of grocery stores. Toilet paper, milk, bread, hand sanitizer…where? Would there come a day soon when grocery stores were just not open anymore?

Ohio

Next to visit Sherry!!!. Stayed inside except for one necessary trip. Watched a lot of news reports about the virus and I started to feel very afraid. The Corona Virus was now called the pandemic. It was beginning to spin up and to affect the whole world. I had worked so hard to make this trip happen and it seemed the entire universe (at least the planet) was going to tell me NO! Should I go? Should I stay in the empty cabin? Should I risk de-winterizing the RV and stay in there? It felt like that might be a solution for the short term, but it could postpone my move to Hawaii for months. I needed to try and get there. So I set out.

Change of Plans

While in Ohio, I called the place that would be shipping my Jeep from San Diego. Yes. I could bring it on that Friday (when I called it was Monday). Called the airlines. Yes, I could change my flight to Saturday. Ok. I felt better. Sooner was better.

Springfield, Missouri

Before hitting the road I went into the Airbnb app and looked for a room in a place that would be approximately 750 miles from where I was. I needed to make 750 miles a day and 150 the last day to make it to San Diego in time to ship the Jeep and make my flight. I found a room in Springfield.

The drive was long and stressful. I had so much to be afraid of. Would gas stations be open? Would I be able to find food? Would roads be closed? Would I get very far before being forced to turn around? I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was that many people were driving someplace. There were a LOT of truckers on the road. That told me that supplies were still being delivered. If there were shortages of things (like toilet paper) it was only because people were in a panic and buying enough for the rest of their lives instead of for the normal amount of time. When it was time to get gas, I pulled off the interstate and found a truck stop. It was open and there were as many vehicles there as ever. The main difference was that the eating establishments at the truck stop were open, but not for sitting and eating. I felt sad for the truckers, who are on the road for like 14 hours at a time and this is their time to rest and sit down and talk together and wash clothes and take showers. They now had no place to sit down, except inside their own trucks. That day I was able to get a sandwich from a truckstop Subway. I ate it while I drove and it was wonderful.

I drove all day, finally arriving at a few minutes after eight o’clock. The couple welcomed me and the room I had was absolutely wonderful. It was comfortable and decorated in such a pleasing way. It was a great experience. It was $36. I left the next morning before anyone was awake. I’m not normally a morning person, but I was motivated.

Now I was halfway across the country and it would be as difficult to turn back as to go forward. I couldn’t seem to put words to the possibility that I might reach San Diego, deliver the Jeep to the shipping company, get a ride to a hotel…and then find that my flight was indefinitely cancelled to Honolulu. I couldn’t make myself think it or what I would do if that happened. I just kept driving.

Driving through Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico

Same mileage, but for some reason this day went faster. I got an earlier start. I still had to stop a lot. My little Jeep (2-door) has a small gas tank and I had to stop more often; probably about six times each day. I didn’t want to go below half tank in the event that I couldn’t find a gas station…especially out west. Gas prices ranged from $1.55 a gallon to $3.19 a gallon.

In New Mexico I stopped in Santa Rosa at a Hampton Inn. There were no Airbnb rooms available. When I checked into the hotel, they were fully booked. I was glad I’d made a reservation. Isn’t it odd that people were suppose to stay home and not travel…but the hotels were full? Were there others like me, who were desperate to get someplace. I know what desperate feels like now.

The little town had some restaurants and fast food places. I didn’t want to wait in a long line at a drive-through, so I picked Dairy Queen. Only three cars ahead of me. The employees were very friendly and I was very hungry. Took the food back to my hotel room and relaxed.

High Winds

In New Mexico I also encountered the winds. I wasn’t really afraid I would get blown over. When I was in the RV, I sometimes worried about that. There were times when I could feel the RV shift to the side by the push of the wind. I’d heard of trucks and RVs getting lifted up and set down by the wind. I discovered it does happen. I encountered five tractor trailer rigs that were knocked over by wind. The fifth truck isn’t included in the photos. I came upon it suddenly over a small rise. It was on its side, having slid and scraped across the median about twenty or thirty feet, digging into the dirt.

Arizona

This third day of travel was long again, even though it was only about 720 miles. I don’t know why. I thought it would never end. I hadn’t seen any snow the entire winter, but when I got to middle Arizona, there it was…

A few minutes later it was…

I’d been in touch with some RVing friends in Yuma, Arizona. Told them I’d love to stop and see them, but I needed a hotel or town that had an Airbnb. They offered up their couch. SOLD! They were right on the path to San Diego. I got there after dark. Stephanie drove the golf cart to a place where we would meet up and she lead me to their RV. It was good to see her and Jessie and the dogs, Brinley and Bailey. I can’t tell you what a welcome sight they all were. We talked. They fed me. In the morning Stephanie put the locking lugnuts on my Jeep’s spare tire and she helped me consolidate my stuff into one suitcase. I left there organized, comforted, and loaded with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a ziplock bag of sliced carrots and celery, and munchies. I felt optimistic. Maybe I would make it after all.

San Diego

What a welcome sight! I had the name of someone who would chauffeur me around once I dropped off the Jeep. I got to the area about three hours early so I could get the Jeep washed and vacuumed, a requirement for shipping. All the car washes were closed. The shipping company said just bring the Jeep to them. In fact, they said I could bring it early. So I went straight there. It was another relief to have something done. A box (an important one) was checked off.

I felt, all this time…worrying about the virus and contagion and how the nations were so unprepared…how possible it looked that everything would change forever. We’d taken everything for granted and assumed it would be wonderful forever. Now we were faced with something that we might not survive.

As I drove, safe within my little Jeep, I felt at peace. The danger seemed farther away. Time seemed to be just a theory. I was doing something I’d done many times and loved. Driving. Thinking. Daydreaming. Only when the gas guage reminded me that I had to deal with the world again did I find the unease. It was a relief to be back on the road afterwards.

The driver came and picked me up and took me to a hotel near the airport. It wasn’t full, but it was quite expensive.

As you can see there were very few guests. And maybe those cars were employee cars. In the morning, there were two other couples in the lobby waiting for cabs to the airport. So perhaps it was just the five of us in the entire four-story hotel.

I woke at 4:00 am. I must be crazy, because I didn’t care. I wanted to GO!

Got to the airport about 5:15 am. I was the only one in line to check in with United. I was the only one in line to go through security. At the gate there were maybe fifty people. Our flight to LA was a commuter type flight with two rows of seats on each side. I’d upgraded my flight to allow me a seat just behind first class. There was more leg room and I hoped it exposed me to less humans. Less germs. The jet took off and climbed for about ten minutes and then immediately began to descend for perhaps ten minutes…and we landed at the airport. Short flight!

In LA I only had a couple minutes to make it the LONG distance to the other gate. I practically ran. Whew! Thought I’d die. Encountered three airport employees standing next to motorized carts. I asked if they could point me to the gate I needed. “Hop on” they said and drove me right to my gate. I was so relieved. When I walked up to the gate, the boarding had ended and the jet was prepping to take off. I found an employee sitting on a window ledge and asked if I’d missed my flight to Honolulu. She asked me my last name, went over typed something into a keypad and said, go on, pointing down the ramp. I did. I went! I made it. I was the last one to board the plane. It was one with three seats on each side of the aisle. I had the row of three seats all to myself.

I programmed one of the TV monitors to show the map of our progress and the middle one to movies. Around the middle of the flight, I got up to use the washroom in the very back of the jet and was surprised to find that the jet was nearly empty.

Now that’s putting distance between folks! The flight attendants stayed in the far back most of the time. However, they were very attentive, frequently offering us snacks and drinks. It was a great flight. I was deliriously happy to be on the plane and on my way. It took about six hours to get to Honolulu.

I left San Diego at 6:15 am and arrived in Honolulu at 11:57 am. Love the time change! The images above are the street where I now live and a tree that is very typical. I have no idea what it is, but they are massive. We went for a walk over to the water, between lunch and dinner. There were tropical fish in the water…like the ones people put in aquariums, only MUCH BIGGER. I saw several yellow and black angel fish. Each was maybe ten inches long. I saw my first sea cucumber.

The LONG wait

So here I am, in Honolulu, having arrived yesterday. I have jet lag today. I’m waiting. I’m on a fourteen day quarantine. I’m scared. If I was exposed to Covid-19, it could show up any time…up to fourteen days from now. Yes, I’m afraid. Every time my head feels congested or my chest feels congested or I get a tickle…I get scared. Before leaving New Jersey I’d had an upper respiratory infection that lasted maybe three weeks and was awful. Just as I started feeling better, I got my usual spring allergies. I had medicine for it, so no big deal. During the drive out west, the allergies went away and I felt great. Now here I am at last at my new home and I have allergies…or something again.

There’s a papa-san chair in my room and this is me sitting in it. I don’t mind waiting fourteen days, but I do mind waiting to see if I get sick and possibly die. If I get sick, I’ll wonder how many other people I exposed to the virus. I’m keenly aware of all the millions and millions of people who are nervous and scared…wondering. Waiting. I tried so very hard to be safe. I sanitized my hands so much they became red. I sanitized everything I touched in the Jeep. I wore latex gloves when I got gas (except when I lifted the pump and forgot the glove). I even washed off my key fob with sanitizer. I was careful to touch as little as possible while in the truck stop. It was just that no matter how hard I tried to do the right thing, I never felt like I did enough. What about my clothing? What about the seat in the Jeep? What about…so many things? Did I make a mistake? How many people were thinking these thoughts? Waiting. I’m waiting to find out if it was enough.

Changing the header

Changing the header

I’m not in the RV right now. I’ve written about that in the previous post. This is a time for art and writing. I’m dedicating these weeks to that. I’m signing up for classes in nearby towns. Signing up for a drawing class, creative writing and still life in acrylic. Still looking for more. I want to learn…to prepare for the next chapter in my life. If I can find a place to teach others, I’ll do that, too.

I can never get a photograph that does this painting justice. Right now it is leaning against a wall so that when I enter the house, there it is. And it still takes my breath away. But it doesn’t photograph well at all. Perhaps I need to buy some oil paints (mine were sold two summers ago) and work on it some more.

That’s it for this Monday evening. I hope you’re well and happy. Remember to “relax and dream up a good life”…Jim Carrey.

House Sitting

House Sitting

January 9th, 2020

I’m not actually sitting on a house. In it, though, yes.

I’m enjoying this newest adventure. Taking care of my friend’s (hi, Reen!) house is wonderful. Her house is comfortable and well built. It feels solid and is a great place to spend the cold winter months. She has a humidifier that’s keeping me healthy. Normally I have all sorts of sinus problems in the winter, but not this year. Never realized how important a bit of humidity could be.

I got here the day after Christmas. Reen left her Christmas tree up so I could enjoy it. I hung my hand drawn ornaments on it. My friend, Stephanie (Hi!), made me two ornaments. She hand-painted them so that if you look on the inside of the ornament you see a winter scene and if you look at the outside, you see a desert scene.

I love the way the tree looks with her red hanging candles, Stephanie’s hand painted glass ornaments, and my cardboard ornaments.

I’m getting settled in. I’ve made a little workspace for art and for my laptop. The bed is comfortable. Einstein loves the fenced yard and I love being able to just open the door and send him out there. His favorite activity is to smell everything in his environment. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever been as happy as he’s been since arriving here. All the people and traffic are overwhelming for me, but I’ll adjust.

January 27th, 2020

More days have gone by. I’ve ventured out many times and have indeed adjusted to things. I admit that I loved the western side of the country. More wide open space, fewer people. I had found many favorite places there. I suppose that’s the place I love the most. I’m here now and I’m making the most of it. Finding new favorites. Getting to know the people. There’s exploring to be done here. I never thought I’d find adventure still…without my RV. I have.

I love it when I’m outside and the church bells are ringing. There are several churches that ring bells. Yesterday I heard them at 6:51 pm. Not sure why that exact time, but it was lovely. Maybe it was their call to parishioners to hasten to the evening services.

The houses here are a feast for my eyes. I love houses. Homes. The house I’m staying at has been in this family for 65 years. Three boys and one girl grew up here and the girl still lives here. It holds many memories. Even though the house has been updated a bit, it still bears the character of who it has always been. I can almost hear the rumbling overhead of three boys playing, laughing, shouting. I can imagine the mom and dad down here watching a program on television. I wonder what Reen was up to? Maybe she was working on one of her beautiful pieces of needlework or reading a good book. She might have been listening to records. Its an honor to spend time here. When I’m out and about, I look forward to getting back here…to my home for now.

I’m going to spend this coming week looking for a gallery so I can sell my artwork. I’d love to earn a bit of money. I have framed paintings, one original framed zentangle inspired piece (an Oriole on a celtic-type background), a number of unframed originals, and many limited edition prints and notecards. They’re all looking for a good home and would love to be displayed and appreciated.

My life is slow paced still, as it was in the RV. For now there is no planning of the day’s route. No researching campgrounds and gas stations. My days are rather slow and relaxed. I spend a lot of time listening to music, reading, writing, and doing art. In the evenings I play online games with friends. Jonathon, Lilli, and Knight are working to improve the Guildhall that we have in Guildwars 2. I’m proud of their efforts. It takes time and materials. Yesterday Jonathon and three others invited me to help them with a dungeon…the most difficult one in the game. I started out on my tough and powerful Revenant, but ended up bringing in my petite Sylvari thief so she could make everyone invisible to run through dangerous minions and creatures. We were all in Discord, so we could talk and discuss our strategies. I loved it.

Einstein brings me his ball and we do a bit of tugging about a dozen times a day. He always wins. I don’t have certain times to eat…just whenever. For the last three days I’ve made chicken sandwiches, along with some raw carrots, and a couple of Splits (pretzels). I love naps and manage to get one of those about every other day. No particular time…just whenever I’m sleepy. I don’t watch TV, but today I watched an old 1958 movie called “To the Moon from the Earth”. (Hope I got that right). I love old black and white movies.

I guess that’s about it for now. Its not as exciting as my adventures in the RV, but to me, its wonderful. I enjoy having time to myself to think and do creative stuff. I’m happy. Very happy.

Take time to just "BE" this Christmas

Take time to just "BE" this Christmas

Merry Magical Christmas to you!!! I hope that this holiday season is one you will cherish! Taste things of such deliciousness that the memory of them will dwell in your heart. Spend time in places where the air is filled with wonderful scents of amazingness! Enjoy the companionship of many friends and family.

Put aside yesterdays and tomorrows…be here for those around you right now…in this moment. Be present. Be!

I’ve been making Christmas ornaments. There’s something amazing that happens when I sit down to work on them. Everything else fades away from my mind and I feel peaceful as I draw. Even better are the times when I worked on them together with Sarah in Maryland or with Sakura in Oklahoma. We talked and laughed and drew. I think its the part of this Christmas that I’ll tuck away in my heart the most.

Homemade ornaments are best

My friend Reen has a Christmas tree. I’ll be heading there the day after Christmas. I’ll hang my ornaments on her tree. Last year my little tree in the RV had the ornaments I made of old travel trailers (vintage is the word I suppose). I have them hanging here and there in the RV.

My first RV ornament

While here in Maryland, I went across the river to my old church. It was good to see old friends. The small church was beautifully decorated and it felt welcoming and comforting. I still knew almost everyone there. They hugged me like a long lost child…which I suppose I am. It felt like no time at all had passed.

Christmas with my church family

I love to go for a drive in the evening to see the lights and decorations on homes and towns. I don’t care for the busy-store part of the holidays. I stay away from that as much as I can…but the lights and music and seeing people I haven’t seen in a long while…that’s great. Its a smidge sad, because I don’t come here very often, so when I hug them good-bye I wonder to myself “will I see them again?” and it makes me want to cry. It makes me appreciate them all the more.

This Year’s Christmas

…is about taking it easy, living in the moment, and to just “be”. I savor time with friends.

Its not that every moment of my life is perfect and that there is no strife. It still happens. I just don’t anticipate it happening or fret about it, expect it, or brace myself for it. I enjoy right now. Maybe I don’t have a lot, but I have what I need and a little more. I don’t always get it right. I am, after all, a work in progress.

So this Christmas I’m grateful…for the scent of fresh brewed coffee, conversation with friends, art-time with Sarah, breakfast on Thursday with Joyce and Ellynne, for the glow of my little electric fireplace, and for chocolate!

Merry Christmas from me to you!

So Glad I Came to Tucson!

So Glad I Came to Tucson!

The last twenty-three days have been unforgettable. I had not intended to come down for the convention in Tucson, but I was beginning to very much need time with my own kind. I have wonderful visits with friends and family. Those visits fill in so many empty spaces in my heart, giving me great memories, like a fountain I can dip into whenever I want and be refreshed.

Sometimes, though, I need to spend time with other RVing Women. I need to sit outside under the stars or around a campfire and talk RV. We talk about little difficulties we overcome. A bad water heater. A leak. A broken vent cover. We share how we fix things and we go and help one another with fixes. Debbie was able to get the locks on my engine cover to unlock. I was able to help someone with a generator problem. We tell stories that make us laugh until our sides hurt. Sometimes we just sit quietly, enjoying the star-studded night sky, the crackle of a campfire, and thinking about how great it is to just be there together for a time.

I want to write a bit more about my time here in Tucson, but today is a travel day. I’m sad to be leaving. There’s so much I want to tell you and I think you’ll find yourself laughing until YOUR sides hurt at one of my stories.

But for now, I’ve just finished my bowl of cereal and cup of coffee. Einstein is laying on the rug next to me. Its time to start stowing loose items and unplugging from the electric pedestal outside. Time to get behind the wheel and see how far I can get today. Aiming for Deming, New Mexico.

Visiting a Missile Silo!

Visiting a Missile Silo!

On my second day here, two friends and I went to visit the Titan II Missile Silo and museum. We were taken into a small theater where we watched a video about the missile silos. Afterwards, the people who were over six feet tall put on hard hats (to prevent injury from low conduits and doorways). We went outside and learned about all the outdoor stuff.

Down, down, down

That took us down stairs and more stairs.

It wound around a bit, taking us through very thick doors into a control room. Before all the silos were closed down, four people would work a 24 hour alert shift. There were three levels to their domain in the control room area. The bottom level was an equipment room. The middle area was the control room itself. The top area was the living quarters with a sleeping area, kitchen, and washroom.

A person was allowed to be in the living quarters alone, but everywhere else, no one was allowed to be alone.

Before the tour, we’d been instructed not to touch anything. This is the last missile silo. All others have been destroyed and/or emptied. The things in this one, although for historical purposes, are the last of their kind. There are no replacements. Oils from our hands can cause the metals to disintegrate over time.

Hi, Janet!

After our tour of the control room, we walked along a hallway to the silo itself. The original missile was no longer there, but an unarmed missile resides in the silo. The huge doors at the top of the silo are locked in semi-open position and they can never again be opened or closed. A missile can’t be fired unless the doors are completely opened. Having them partially open displays to satellites from other countries that the silo is non-functioning. Many of the de-commissioned missiles have been stripped of armaments and are used to launch satellites. Re-purposed! They were very expensive, so that’s great!

Meet my friend Debbie

The best photo I have of the missile silo is from afterwards. We went above ground. At the top of the silo, you can see through a thick glass panel down into the silo itself. You can lay your cell phone on the glass for the best photo.

It was a great tour. I had no idea how any of it worked or what had become to the silos. Now I know. I’m so glad my friends wanted to go and take the tour.

Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

2019 RVing Women Convention

Getting there…

There are moments in any journey that are less than fun and easy. I accept that. Over the months, however, I have solved many problems on my own. Sometimes I had to sit down a while and think or go online and research. In the end, some problems fixed themselves. I figured out the rest. This time, the problems are ones I can’t resolve on my own and that makes me feel helpless. Now is one of those times.

Just a SCRAPE!

When I left Oklahoma, I drove down a beautiful street, shaded by tall oaks that were at least forty years old. I always watch to make sure tree branches don’t scrape the side of my rig. I watch overhead, too, for low hanging branches. I missed one though, up there in the deep shade of the trees. There was a scraaaaaapppppe along the roof and it scared Einstein. He ran to the front of the RV and leaned against my seat…for five hours. I stopped at a rest area and used the washroom here in the RV. I have a small half bath between the living area and the bedroom. I looked at the toilet seat and saw debris on it. “What?” I asked and looked up. That’s when I saw that the vent was gone and there was sky. The color probably drained from my face, replaced by the color of the wintery sky overhead. Oh no.

From Cold to Warm in One Day

Temperatures in Texas and New Mexico were in the forties during the day and twenties at night. I decided to go due south and get away from the cold. Once I was down on RT 10, the weather was in the seventies. I reached Tucson on Tuesday and was thrilled with warm weather and cool evenings. I stayed two nights at a campground called Lazy Days KOA. It was a beautiful campground with friendly staff. There were citrus trees at every campsite. Scattered throughout the campground were tall contraptions that looked rather like suspended expressways. They were solar panels.

I saw orange, grapefruit, and lemon. My site had a lemon tree. Some were ripening up, but most were green still.

While spending two very leisurely days at the Lazy Days KOA, I basqued in the warm sunshine and my eyes feasted on the blue sky.

Thursday, the 31st, was the day to head on over to the Pima County Fairgrounds, about thirteen miles from the Lazy Days KOA. It was an easy drive. It think it is wonderful that many county fairgrounds around the country are opening up their campgrounds to be used year round. During a big event, you may have to leave. There are full amenities at most locations …30/50 amp electric, water, sewer hookups. Prices are very reasonable. I could easily stay here at this campground. There are no trees in the campground and the ground is hard packed and mostly gravel. Many campgrounds in the Southwest are like that. There is a great dog park. Einstein deserved a dog park, so I picked a campsite just a few feet from the park. The dog park has grass and there are other dogs to play with most of the time.

Einstein’s Dog Park

On my first night here, I walked over to the Cantina. It serves food and has a bar. In the evening, some of us play Hand and Foot (a card game) in the Cantina while we have supper. There are lots of tables in there, as well as an outdoor garden seating area.

There was a beautiful sunset that just took my breath away. This is an untouched photograph, taken with my cell phone.

I think this is a good place.