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.

Up Way Too Early!

Up Way Too Early!

Woke at 6 am…way too early for me. But couldn’t fall back asleep, so got up and took a shower and now waiting for my hair to dry.

My Printer’s Seat

Funny. It looks small sitting there in that seat. Who would have guessed!?!

I arrived in Tucson yesterday. Lost track of which day it was. Could have looked on my phone’s calendar, but was so sure it was Wednesday that what did I need to check for? Right? But it was Tuesday. Plus I pushed myself, making it here last night around 6:30 instead of leaving that last two hours for today. Anyways, so I’m here early. Can’t go over to the fairgrounds until tomorrow. The RVing Women convention is there. The fairgrounds has a campground! Isn’t that awesome! When I got to this campground for last night and tonight, I evidently drove right by the fairgrounds…thirteen miles back. Didn’t realize how close I was. That’s awesome. Won’t have far at all to go tomorrow. And today I can rest.

Overnight RV Park, Amarillo, TX

That was my first night on the road. Daytime temperature there was about 46 and the night temperature was 27. Very cold. I had no idea it would be so cold in October there.

Albuquerque

Found a neat campground in Albuquerque. It was called Enchanted Trails Camping Resort. It was on old Rt 66. They had lots of cool memorabilia. There were also old vintage travel trailers that you could stay in for the night. The daytime temperature in Albuquerque was also in the mid-forties during the day and down to 24 that night. Super COLD! Had to use my heated water hose to protect my water pipes. I have a hose called a FREEZE BAN that has a temperature sensor in it and the heater encased around the hose comes on when the temperature drops below 45 degrees F.

When I reached Tucson and was checking into the LazyDays KOA, there was a big Halloween cat in the yard by the office. While I was in checking in, Einstein was checking OUT the cat. Its head moved and it distressed him. When I came back out to the RV, he was barking hysterically at the cat.

Einstein’s Nemisis

I awoke this morning to a sunny day (even if it was too EARLY!). The high today will be 70 degrees F. I love it.

I made pudding

I made pudding

The life that has stumbled upon me over these past twenty-six months is different than anything I could have imagined…and I have tried to imagine and to dream of what I would like to do in my life. I’ve met many people who are on similar adventures and sharing time with them has been sweet indeed. Time visiting family and friends has been sweet and memorable…worth experiencing.

Before

Before now, however, my wanderlust and the yearning for this nomadic life have always been a part of me.

When I was maybe eleven or twelve my dad bought a funny little truck. It was like a car, but instead of a trunk, it had an open bed. It was rather ugly and it had this wooden camper top on it that someone had made. Inside was a bench seat dinette, a little bitty plywood counter, and a bed that went over the cab of the truck. When the four of us actually went camping in it, My parents slept on the dinette, with the table pressed down. My sister and I slept in the bed. I did not like that…sleeping up there in the stifling heat. Eventually I was allowed to sleep in a lawn chair outside. My parents bought a screened dinette tent and I put my lawn chair in there to keep from getting eaten by mosquitoes.

When I was thirteen my parents said that I could go out to the little camper. When not in use, which was most of the time, it sat on four stilts. I would go inside and be by myself. With its very small windows, it was darkish inside. I wasn’t able to write or draw and I was finished with pretending and playing with dolls. Mostly, then, I just sat out there and thought about things. Often I listened to rain on the wooden roof. Why did I go out there? I went out there because no one else wanted to be out there. It was the only place I could go and actually close the door and truly be alone…a young teenager’s dream come true. Teenagers have a lot of thoughts.

Now

Now when I am in this RV I both appreciate the fact that it is not a tiny little thing on the back of a truck (because Einstein would insist on using up the entire floor and I would be left to hop from bed to table to door) and also that I have lights, running water, and a toilet. Back when I sat in the quiet of that camper, I never dreamed of a time like this.

This RV is the place where I can truly be alone with my thoughts. I suppose I am going through a second set of teen years…where I’m wondering who I am, what I want…before its too late. I am creating myself here.

I read on Facebook about the special moments my children are experiencing with their children…memories they are living right now and that they will cherish always. As I read I remember my own times like that. There were achievements, performances, events where I witnessed them coming into their own, shaping themselves, living in the moment. I guess I long to have that all back…but it is gone and done. If I had lived just a generation earlier, I would be retired from a job, collecting a small pension, and sitting on the front porch waiting for something…I don’t know what. Life would belong to the young.

But I made pudding today. Yesterday I made some really good brownies.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

By Dylan Thomas

I’ve asked no one to take this journey with me. In fact, I’ve intentionally needed to take it alone. I have needed quiet time to sit and reflect on what came before and what might come after. I want to think about how all the things I’ve done and experienced fit into what’s left of my time on the earth. When I drive along in the RV, miles of road before me, I want to see that road with my own eyes and feelings and impressions.

Whether I am able to muster up the courage to speak to a stranger, ask questions, ask advise, find out how their own path has gone out here on the road or behind the cash register or that counter…I want it to be because I wanted it. I don’t want, right now, to consider anyone else’s opinion. I want to fit it all together by myself right now. When I come to an intersection, even if I had a plan at the start of the day, I want the freedom to change my mind and go left instead of right.

I’m ever mindful of the lessening of days in my life. Little aches and pains niggle at my mind and body, never letting me forget. This is my time and I’m letting it fall upon me quietly or loudly.

So today, on this Tuesday, I made pudding…because I wanted to.

Travel Days Coming Up!

Travel Days Coming Up!

This Post is Meant for…

…those who need to know how to break camp. Anyone is welcome to read it, but that is who I intended it for. I hope to make a video about it soon, but I have been lazy and focused on art instead.

The following is a detailed description of the process I follow to break camp and move on. I have it written in a list and I have walked around with that list in my hand, using it as I broke camp. I still have the list and just before I drive off, I scan it to see if I’ve missed anything. I’ve done this process so many times that I know the list by heart. I check the list, because I’m only human and I don’t want to miss anything. I once knew someone who started driving away from his site. Another RVer ran beside him, waving his arms. My friend rolled down his window and the man said, “You’re awning is out!”

I used to have an Airstream travel trailer and, even though it was very different from my current motor home, there were still many similarities. Inside stowing and outside chores. I’d have to say that my motor home is easier for setting up and taking down camp.

Tucson, Arizona

I leave for Tucson, Arizona on Sunday. This is Wednesday evening. As usual, I’m a little anxious. I’ve been here in Oklahoma since about September 7th. That’s six weeks and I’ve gotten pretty settled in. When I stay somewhere for more than a couple weeks, I take the plastic bins out of my little pantry I put them on top of the bed over the cab area. The bed, when I’m traveling, is up against the ceiling. When I’m stopped like I am now, I let it extend down about two feet. It makes great storage.

Interior Prep

The area under the bed is covered with what used to be the bedspread that came with the RV. I put Velcro on it and Velcro on the side of the cab-over bed. The windshield and side windows of the cab area radiate cold in the winter and heat in the summer. The quilted bedspread fits perfectly where you see it and keeps the main living area of the RV much more comfortable.

Travel Day Approaching

So when travel days are approaching, I take all of the things off the bed. The plastic bins get put back in the pantry. Having them out like you see above makes it easier to find things. Each bin is labeled with what it contains. They stack in the pantry. I have command hooks along the metal part of the bed so that I can hang hats or jackets or a grocery bag. Once all the stuff on the bed is stowed away, the whole rest of the RV is easy to prep.

There’s a shelf under the TV in the living area. It holds my electric pencil sharpener and my Homepod (for music). I stow those in the clothes drawers. I don’t have a lot of clothes, so its a good place to stow things that are breakable.

Its a good idea to check the contents of the refrigerator. I place a couple of tall items in between the drawer and the filtered water pitcher.

After I check that the contents of the fridge are good, I screw in the lock that holds the freezer and fridge door shut.

The galley area (kitchen) have things that I can leave right there on the counter. Some items have a bit of blue sticky putty (like teachers use to stick papers on the wall of the classroom) and that prevents things from tipping or sliding. My white Bialetti hot pot is something I don’t have secured down. I put that on the bed behind a couple of pillows. The Keurig…I put on the closet floor with my hanging clothes. It’ll be safe there. Anything else, I just stick it in the left sink. I keep a plastic bin in that sink. It fits perfectly and I can wash dishes in it. Its light enough that if its filled with rinse water, I can take it outside and pour the water on plants. I have two plants and I put those in the sink as well.

The white boxes hold my art supplies when I am on the road

My little rolling cart with my art supplies can be secured to the back of the driver’s seat with a bungy cord if I’m going a short distance. If its a multi-day drive, I empty the cart, stowing things into their original bins over the dining table. The cart itself I will lay across my bed.

Bathroom Prep

My RV has two bathrooms. Why? Good question. The answer is logical, but I don’t feel I need the small half bath. Its purpose is that when I’m on the road, my slide-outs are pulled in. The one in the bedroom causes the bed to go right up against the cabinets on the opposite wall, preventing me from reaching the large rear bathroom without climbing over the bed. So the half bath is on the left side of the RV, just before the bedroom. It’s never blocked in by a slide-out.

To get the rear bathroom ready for travel, I don’t have to do much at all. I have two small clear plastic boxes on top of the window. They are held down with Command Strip velcro and it has worked great.

I have a wooden box that I keep odds and ends in. I put some of the sticky blue putty under each corner and it has held the box in place.

Day Before Travel

On Saturday, the day before I leave, I’ll make sure my grey and black tanks are empty and I’ll check to see if I need to add any water to my freshwater tank so I can use it en-route. I’d be able to flush toilets and rinse out dishes. Sometimes I stay at places along the way, for the night, where there are no connections for electric, water, or sewer. I might stay at a Cracker Barrel if they have RV / Bus parking. It’s free. I eat breakfast in the restaurant as a courtesy to show my gratitude.

Dry Camping – no hookups

There are many places to stay where you can dry camp (no hookups) for the night. I’m able to do everything I need to when dry camping. I can shower. I can use my propane furnace.

Generator

My RV has a built-in generator, so I can turn that on and run it all night if I need to. It uses very little gasoline from the RV gas tank. I can run air conditioners, TVs, etc. I can run the generator while I’m driving if I need to. Lets say its really hot and the air conditioner from the front of the RV (the cab air conditioner) isn’t reaching Einstein in the back area. I can run the generator and then keep the temperature comfortable for him by using the cabin air conditioning. That is my last resort, as gasoline is expensive these days. Its nice to have the option however.

Good use of the generator

I’ll use the generator if I want to stop at a restaurant to have a hot meal (that I didn’t prepare). Leaving Einstein in a non-air conditioned RV would be very bad. Its no different than leaving a dog in a car in the summer, engine off, windows rolled up. I have a sensor in my RV that alerts me with both a text and an email when the temperature in the RV is too high for Einstein.

RV Temperature Monitor for Pet Safety

Day of Travel

On Sunday morning (the day I leave). I’ll take care of Einstein…give him his medicine for his thyroid, walk him, and feed him. I fix myself a bowl of cereal, and while I eat, I look at my Allstays app on my phone. It shows me all I need to know for my route. I can see campgrounds, whether they are KOA types or state parks, national parks, Cracker Barrels, etc. It shows me where I can get gas. It tells me details about all the places as well. Ratings. Pricing. Amenities. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Gas Stations

I like to pull up satellite images of gas stations to make sure that I can fit. Because I tow a small Jeep, I can’t back up. So gas stations where the pumps face the store are pretty much out of the question for me. I have to pull way forward so that my gas fill is at the pump farthest from the store (because my gas fill is in near the back of my RV). If its not going to leave me any turning space, I’d be in a pickle. I’d have to unhook the Jeep, move it out of the way, back up the RV, and get out of there. Then I’d need to re-hook up the Jeep. Not something I want to do.

Campground Choices

I have a travel journal and in there I note two or three campgrounds that sound good, plus good gas stations along the way. They will be at various distances from my starting point. As I drive and begin to tire, I pick whichever one is near me. I pull into a rest area or gas station so I can call the campground to make a reservation.

Where Einstein Rides

After stowing the last items inside the RV, I put the table down so its a bed. Einstein travels on there. It has seat belts so I can secure him in. His seat belt has a long three foot tether on it so he can move around a bit. He wears a dog harness that goes around his shoulders and belly rather than around his neck. He’s able to get a drink of water from his dish. His food and water dishes are non-spill dishes so the water dish can have water in it even on the road.

Last Interior Items

I turn off the air conditioners if they’re on. I turn off the water heater, TVs, and any other items that I might have going.

Water hose (blue) and septic (orange)

Exterior Prep

I move outside and turn off the water tap, then unhook my hose from the tap and letting the water drain out before unhooking from the RV. I unhook the cable for cable TV, coil it up and stow it. If I had the septic hose hooked to the campground septic, I empty my tanks, if I hadn’t done so recently. I make sure the hose is empty. I can flush it out by hooking a non-potable-water-hose to a special intake that sprays water into the black tank until I can see clear water coming from it. At that point I unhook from the campground septic and from the RV. I put caps on each end, coil it up and stow it. Lastly I disconnect the power cable. My RV uses 50 amp electric, because I have a 35 foot motor home and it has two air conditioners.

This is my wet bay – water and sewer

Water Hose

The blue hose is called a water-ban hose. I don’t know why. Campgrounds usually close once water lines can freeze. Those that stay open may have their water lines at each site wrapped or mostly underground. My blue hose is heated. I plug it in to the campground’s electric pedestal at my site or I can plug it into an outside outlet on my RV exterior. I’d rather hook it to the pedestal so I’m not using some of the 50 amps I get from the campground. I have two of these blue hoses and together they mean I can be as far as 75 feet away from the water source.

Sewer Hose

The black and orange hose is the septic hose. These hoses go through that opening and then I can close the compartment door. My grey and black tanks are in the ceiling of this compartment. Being able to keep the wet bay closed up means that my tanks stay warm and are unlikely to freeze overnight. If I’m worried about the water in the tanks freezing, I can put a small space heater (I have a Broan) inside the bay and run the cord down through the hole and plug it in. I’ve had to do that many times.

Using one of the same tire-pressure gauges truckers use, I check all six of the RV tires and all four of the Jeep tires. I keep the Jeep tires at 40 psi and the RV tires at 90 psi. That is the cold pressure, meaning before the vehicle has been driven or towed. Once you start moving, the air inside the tires begins to heat up and you won’t get an accurate pressure. I have an inexpensive air compressor and it is a simple process to top off my tires.

Slide-outs, Levels, Cab Area

The last things I do are to pull in the slide-outs. Its as easy as flicking a switch. Once those are in, I hit another button and all of the leveling jacks are raised up. There is a curtain that covers the windows next to the driver’s seat and the passenger seat. I slide those towards the rear of their tracks and a cloth wraps around each one and it is snapped into a locked position. The front windshield has a blind that electronically rolls up and down. So I put that in an up position. Not all the way to the top. If I leave it down a foot or so, it acts as a sun-shade. Depending on where the sun is, it can be raised or lowered a bit more.

I stow the comforter (that you saw in the first image) that hung from the over-cab bed. I raise up the bed so it is against the ceiling.

Prepping the Cab Area

Finally I pour a few peanut m&ms into a cup and put it in the cup holder to left of the driver’s seat. I put a thermos of coffee or tea in the cup holder that is on the driver’s right. Me. I’m the driver. The area where the speedometer and other monitors are is large and I can sit my cell phone there in case I need to use the GPS on it. I don’t usually need to do that. The RV has a really nice GPS. I had to enter in the length, height and weight of the RV. It won’t plan routes for me that have bridges that are too low or roads that are too narrow for me. It shows me where campgrounds are, truck stops, rest areas, etc.

Do a Walk-around

Before I get into the driver’s seat and drive away, I do a walk-around. I check to make sure that all the doors to my storage compartments are shut and locked. Are my levels are up. I make sure the slide-outs are fully in, that all my hoses and cords are put away, and nothing is left laying outside. Sometimes I put a plastic table cloth on the campground-provided picnic table. Don’t want to leave that behind. I make sure I’ve left the campsite as clean or cleaner than it was when I arrived.

Time to Head Out

It’s NOT frightening to drive my motor home. I’m cautious, trying not to exceed 65 mph. Sixty is best, for the sake of miles-per-gallon, but I’ve gone 65. That means everyone on the road is passing me. Hopefully they don’t do to me what they do to one another…pull into my lane just in front of me. I don’t slow down as quickly as a car. Cars on entrance ramps expect everyone to move over so they can merge. That isn’t always possible for me. I try my best to accommodate, but I will not put my vehicle or myself in danger.

At last

Now you have it. It sounds very complicated. It really isn’t. You become accustomed to all of this quickly. If there are two of you, one can do the inside stuff and the other can do the exterior stuff. I love being on the road. I do my best thinking and daydreaming when I’m on the road. I’m a careful driver. I’m conscious of my position within my lane, where the cars are around me, taking curves cautiously. I use cruise control, but mainly on flat terrain and straight stretches. There are lots of those in the West. I go up mountains slower, down carefully, letting the engine help slow me.

I’ll arrive in Tucson on October 31st. I’m excited to get there. I’ll be attending an RVing Women convention. I have gone once before…two years ago. It was an absolute blast!

Happy Trails!