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Art Journal – Houses

Art Journal – Houses

The previous page of my art journal took me back to those days when I fell in love with designing “home”. It’s the page where I decided to try my hand at drawing things from memory. It brings them to life and gives me a chance to share them with others. Much to my delight I found out that others have done the same thing…drawing houses on the ground with autumn leaves. Wow!

Leaf Houses

Houses Drawn on the Sidewalk

After the leaves were burned I had to find another way to make houses…because my heart was on fire with this new pass time.

Too Cold to Draw Outside – Draw Inside!

I could draw them on any surface, but I found a large sketchbook was best. I used a pen to draw the layout and features I wanted. Then I colored everything in with colored pencils. As I went along I added more and more detail to my drawings. I designed houses in caves, tree-houses, buses, apartments…anything I could think of.

It was fun to add wood floors, stone floors, patterns on furniture, little details of things on dressers, desks, and kitchen counters.

Lately I’ve gotten it in my head to add walls. That was good for my brain, I think. I liked figuring out how to cut holes for windows, how to color the inside and outside to make it look as real as possible. I wanted to be able to peek inside and see what it looked like; pretending that I could see the family inside, living and loving one another and making the most of their time together.

3-D Structure – An art class project with the kids

For my part in the project, I drew the RV. First I drew it in my journal and then made it with white foam core board. This was the final art project I did with the kids in Honolulu.

I wanted them to do this design project so they would, on their own, discover why perspective and scale are so important. I wanted them to learn to think in three dimensions and to see how everything relates to everything else.

However we only had a week to complete the project. It was the first one where they didn’t put it aside after class and not come back to it until the next lesson. This time they took the little houses with them to spots around the house and each one worked throughout the week. I was so proud.

My own, shown below, was done quite hastily. I didn’t measure out the furniture. It was more like the other drawings from memory…very spontaneous/ I didn’t have time to color the interior or exterior of the walls. I just went with trying to depict that the walls existed and divided up the space into little rooms.

It was a fun project. I didn’t do a very good job, but it was still satisfying and left me wanting to make more. It reminded me of the 3-D dollhouse my younger sister had all those years ago.

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.

So what is a home?

So what is a home?

That word – home – seems to be very important to me. The significance is just out of sight. In the corner of my mind. If I turn to look at it, it moves further away, evading me. I feel like if I can catch it and hold it in front of me to study, like a beautiful stone, secret compartments will open up. Puzzles will unfold. Mysteries will be solved.

I have been searching for a sense of home my entire life. When I was a little girl I loved to play in the piles of leaves that my dad so carefully raked up. I discovered that I could pick up a handful and walk along and drop them as I went, making lines on the ground. Leaf lines. I drew 2-dimensional houses. Walls. Beds. I would lay on the flat leaf beds and imagine I was in my own house. In my mind it was a house that was comfortable and safe and a place where good memories were made by loving family members.

My first house design

Eventually Dad had to burn all the leaves…after raking them all up again. A thought occurred to me. I could draw houses on the sidewalk. There was a great big square of concrete in the corner of our yard. I think it covered something related to water or sewer. I never saw the slab slid aside, so I don’t know. It was the only piece of concrete that was not all broken up. It was begging to be drawn on…so big and smooth. I found out I could draw with pieces of stone…limestone.

I played with these houses like they were doll houses. I used small stones as family members. When it got too cold outside and snow covered the square of concrete, I had to stop drawing on it.

I don’t know where I got it or why I had it, but I had a sketch pad and some colored pencils. Maybe I asked for them at that time. I had never, as far as I can recall, drawn anything in a sketch pad before. I don’t remember ever getting it as a gift. It came into my possession though and I began drawing houses like there was no tomorrow. I got lost in my drawings. If I wanted a house to have stone floors, I drew every single stone. I drew bricks. Wood floors. I drew blankets on the beds, clothes in the closets. I drew canisters in the kitchen and soap dishes in the bathrooms. I drew throw blankets and pillows. Textures and prints on furniture. In essence, while I created my houses, I lived in them. Whatever one I was working on at the time was my favorite one. I would lay it by the bed and look at it in the moonlight. I imagined living in it, walking around, eating at the table, laying on the bed. I began to write stories about the houses and the lives lived within them.

When I had used the whole sketch book up my mom burned all my drawings. I don’t know why. She wouldn’t say. I stopped drawing them. Once I was grown up and on my own, I drew a few more. I still needed that sense of home I’d been searching for.

When I was maybe twelve or thirteen, my dad bought a used truck and it came with a homemade camper on it. It was made of plywood that was painted a dark green, almost black. The roof was canvas on top of thin plywood. The interior had a little dinette table similar to the one in my Winnebago. There was a bed over the cab area. My family used the truck and camper to go camping a few times. By choice, I slept outside in a lawn chair. My parents slept inside. I didn’t like the crowded feeling of such a small space with other people. I have great memories of those trips though. My favorite part was the fact that my parents let me go into the camper when it was off the truck, sitting on its stilts, in the side yard. I didn’t play in the camper. It was too dark to really do much in there. But it was a space I could be in and be by myself. It felt safe and quiet and my thoughts were ripe and flowing in that small space. I was content to just sit there and think. Daydream. It smelled musty, but I didn’t care. Here is a crude little drawing of how I remember it.

That same time in my life, there was a Christmas party for kids at my dad’s work. They had it every year. They always showed a movie up on a screen. Then Santa would come and give everyone candy canes. There were piles of wrapped presents on the stage. They were in piles according to age. I was thirteen, but the gift I got was a small doll called Betty. It was the year I had realized I was no longer a child who played with dolls. I was kind of disappointed to receive a doll. My sister (my parents had adopted a little girl) received a house. It came in a box and was the most unusual house I’d ever seen. It had a big board, like a board game surface, but on it were drawn carpeted rooms. There were small holes along the edges of the rooms. It came with a plastic bag filled with wall sections. Each wall was maybe three inches high and was just a wall. There were cutout windows. On the inside of each wall were printed-on curtains, paintings, wall paper. On the outside were printed-on bricks, siding, shutters. It came with furniture and little plastic people. The people had magnets on the bottom. You inserted the walls into the holes and you had a house. Three inches high. No roof. There was a wand with a magnet on the end and you could slide it around under the board and the people would move.

I was so in love with that house. Why hadn’t it been my gift? I was quietly, secretly, profoundly sad. My sister tossed the whole thing aside. What in the world would she want with such a gift. But she wouldn’t trade. So, secretly I kind of played with that house. I not only built the walls as they were supposed to be, but I put them together to make up rooms of my own design. I put the house on the side shelf of the desk next to my bed. When the moon was full, I’d lay in bed at night and look at the house; look through its windows to see the interior where wonderful things might happen and dreams came true. It felt so real to me that I could almost imagine myself inside there. I will never ever forget that house. And the longing I felt for my own space.

I’m sorry I don’t have lots more pictures to illustrate this post . I went onto the internet and tried to find pictures of 2-dimensional leaf houses. None (note: I finally just drew my own leaf house plan and placed it up in the section up above) .

I don’t even know what to search for to find the little magnetic house I just mentioned, but below is a black and white sketch of what I’m talking about. I’ve also spent a little time coloring it a bit. Its very crude and maybe one day I’ll make a much nicer version, but I don’t really know what it should look like. This is just a modified, small version of what I remember. It was very cozy and comfortable looking. I loved everything about it. If I looked at it, down at the window level, with my bedroom window on the other side, the moonlight would pour into the little house and I could see shadows and moonlight within it. I loved that. Its nothing like the real thing was. I wouldn’t mind, one day, making one out of wood. I’d love to have one.

Black and White Draft of the Magnetic House
Color Draft of the Magnetic House
Art Journal Entry for October 17th, 2019, Art Journaling for Beginners

I am an artist through and through. As I move about on the earth, my eyes and my very soul drink in all I see. Textures, colors, shapes, movement of leaves in the breeze. It goes straight to my heart and is tucked away there for when I get back to my home, wherever that may be, so I can render it and have it for all time. I’m also fond of painting people. Drawing people. Capturing who they are and what they love to do. It is not an easy thing to do, but I am compelled to do it.

I’m unable to turn off this “drinking in” of everything around me. It is delicious and exhausting at the same time. Eventually I have to return to my home and rest. I write about what I’ve seen. I draw it. I want to memorize it. If, one day, I can no longer draw or get out and experience life, I want to be able to look at my drawings and read my journals so I can bring it back to life and experience it all over again. I do it for me, but if there is anyone out there in the world who sees something that touches them from what I’ve drawn or written, then that is an amazing thing.

The Gift (watercolor)
A Good Read (oil)

Now I’m grown and still searching for home. I thought it was a place that I had to design…the perfect home. I got to do that. I got to live in it. Many good memories were made there. It is not home afterall. It is a building. It contained an over abundance of things and of responsibilities to care for those things. I longed for home still however. I went on a three month journey in a small travel trailer. It was the best three months I’d ever experienced. Partly because it was small and simple. Partly because it took me to places I’d never been. I had to overcome, figure out, learn how to do things and how to make my own decisions. I had to solve problems that seemed huge. The satisfaction I got from all of that has begun to create me. Time alone has been good for me.

It turns out that home isn’t a place I get to design and live in. It isn’t the perfect dwelling. Its me. I am my home.

How do I spend my time?

How do I spend my time?

I admit that I can have whole days where I don’t have any chores to do. However, living in a small space loses its appeal when it becomes cluttered up. I try not to buy things, but sometimes I do find things I can’t live without. When I see things I want, I have to ask myself if there’s anything in the RV I can live without so that I can replace it with this new thing. The answer is usually yes. The stuff I thought I couldn’t live without when I first started this have not all turned out to be a good fit for this life. This month is one of those times when I go through my stuff and see what can be given away or donated. There are things that I have bought and indeed used, but the need for it has passed.

My RV isn’t brimming over with stuff. I just don’t want to get carried away with buying things. I like it simple.

Because I have a dog and that dog likes routine, there is a bit of routine in my life. Einstein does let me sleep in. He tries whining a bit when he thinks I should get up, but I’m a pretty sound sleeper, so it doesn’t always work. He isn’t whimpering because he wants out desperately. He just wants me to get up. So. Eventually I acknowledge his request and we have a bonding time. He wiggles and wags and I pet and talk to him in my happiest voice. Mostly. I get dressed and he always has to come over and sniff what I pick out to wear, as if he needs to give it his approval.

I make my bed. I have to do this because the extra pillows (I need them for nap time!) are laying on the seat at the table. Once the bed is made, I put a mug full of water into my little Keurig machine and press the button so it makes a cup of coffee for me. Next I give Einstein his thyroid medicine and get out his leash for a walk. He loves this part.

Glen Ayr Resort and Campground, Washington

After a nice walk, its back inside. Einstein knows our RV and no matter where we are, when we get close to it, he goes right to the door and puts his front paws up on the bottom step. When I open the door, he has to duck his head. Every time. Back inside, he gets a drink. So I have to make sure I put fresh water in his bowl, because I KNOW he’s going to get a drink after his walk. Predictable!!!

The RV now smells like freshly brewed coffee…I love THAT part. My cup of coffee is ready for consumption. I make sure the table is cleaned up a bit. It may have the laptop on it or some art supplies. I put a scoop of food into Einstein’s dish and then I eat. He seems to be happiest if we eat at the same time. I don’t always accommodate his preferences, but life together is a give and take, right?

Since the table is also my art studio, just sitting there to eat a bowl of cereal gets my creative juices going and pretty soon I’m munching and sketching. I check my phone, because during the night I sometimes (often) wake up with ideas for drawings. I put them into the NOTES app on my phone. The drawing of the RV pulling the printer behind it was a wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night idea. However, the dog on top of the printer…that was actually a daytime idea.

I don’t do dishes after every meal. Sometimes I could. Sometimes I can’t. So I usually just go somewhere in the middle and just do them when the left side sink is full. If I’m dry-camping (no hookups, so no water, electric, or septic) I try not to make many dirty dishes. If I do have hookups and its an travel day, I wash things right away, because I leave after breakfast. If I am staying somewhere for a while, I let it go until the little basin is full.

Wow! I just noticed most of my washed dishes are COFFEE MUGS!

If I have any chores, it works best if I do them in the morning (or whenever I get up). I might have to sweep the floor. If I didn’t have Einstein, I probably would rarely have to sweep. He sheds year round. Once every other week, when I’m stationary somewhere, I have to empty my grey tank (water from the dishwater/shower/washing machine) and black tank (you know…the toilet! Yikes!). Right now I’m in Robert’s driveway and he has 50 amp electric, water, and septic for me. Its wonderful. I let my tanks get to 2/3 full and then empty them both. I empty the black tank first and then the grey. The water from the grey tank flows up into the black water tank and helps wash it out. Then I close them both up again.

From time to time I have to sharpen pencils. I use a lot of watercolor pencils, oil based colored pencils, and wax based colored pencils. I like them to be very sharp, so the point gets down into the pores of the paper. So I use my Homepod, telling it “Hey, Siri, play some pop music” so I can sharpen pencils to music. And sometimes I just like to dance around the RV. If I’m a little down, it lifts me up. If I’m happy, it makes me happier and I burn some calories.

Every once in a while I look through my belongings to see if I can give anything away or donate it. If I haven’t used something ever or in a long time…it goes to a new home somewhere.

I have no yard work. I keep my bathrooms clean and tidy, but that doesn’t take much time at all. I love to tuck little pieces of art, postcards, artistic business cards, or photos into the edges of my mirror. Surprisingly, they stay put when I’m bumping along on the highway.

I’d say that I spend most of my time doing what I want. I take naps, bake something, cook meals, go for walks, take Einstein to a dog park, go to a store where I can buy art supplies, and I spend a LOT of time doing art. I like to draw things on paper and then take them into my iPad and do more art with them in the Procreate app, using my Apple Pencil. I’ve written about that in an earlier post.

To earn money, I draw things and sell them. In the past, I owned a film company and made documentaries, commercials and videos for corporations. I also filmed and edited a plethora of weddings. I have been an artist for most of my life. Doing the film work seemed to be a great way to combine all the other types of creative things I enjoy doing. I call myself a Digital Nomad now. I do whatever I can do from this little table in my RV.

I have never ever been so happy and so productive. I have learned, at last to live in the moment.

Been on the road a lot

Been on the road a lot

Einstein and I traveled from Las Vegas to California to visit friends near San Fransisco. We stayed in an interesting KOA campground in Petaluma, CA. Einstein got sick. You saw that in an earlier post. By the time we reached Newport, Oregon, he was doing better. He thrived in Hoodsport, Washington, where we stayed at Glen Ayr Resort for nine weeks.

I had a Workamper job at Glen Ayr Resort. I didn’t finish the season. I saw the summer disappearing before my eyes. It seems like each summer something keeps me from doing the thing I love…exploring in my RV. I believe I was too keen on proving to myself that I still had it in me to work and be productive. I might try it again, but I needed this summer.

The folks at Glen Ayr made me feel welcome and like I was part of the family. I liked that. I mostly worked at the front desk. The resort has a two story hotel with fifteen rooms. There is a cottage that can be rented. There are three condominium type apartments. There are also about three dozen campsites. I worked fifteen hours a week for my campsite. Any hours above that I earned $12 an hour. I took calls for reservations, answered email requests for reservations, checked people in, Sold items in the small store, stripped beds in the rooms, cleaned rooms if there was no housekeeper for the day, washed bed linens and towells, and then folded everything and put it away. I’d say that doing laundry took up half to three quarters of my time. I also checked the chemicals in the spa, emptied trash inside and out, made sure the propane was turned off over at the gas grills, and patrolled the grounds to make sure that all was well. In the evenings when I made my round of the campground area, it was neat to see folks sitting outside together talking. Sometimes as I walked by they would call out to me and say hi. Some would ask for help with figuring out how to get their TV to see the cable channels.

The resort was pretty far from things. There was a small town about a mile away, but most things were at least about fifteen miles away. The best hair salon I’ve ever gone to was in Olympia. The owner did my hair. That was in March. It still looks nice (August). They use natural hair coloring. I enjoyed my time there. Afterwards I walked to a really good pizza place where the pizza is stone fired. To top off my time there, I walked to a jewelry store and bought a new silver chain.

I liked Washington. It was the first place I’ve been where I could leave the windows open for days at a time. I liked that. I could sit and write or draw and sounds of other RVers would drift in as they enjoyed their stay and visited with one another. I could live in Washington. It doesn’t rain as much as I thought. There were lots of very pleasant days.

From Washington I went to Canada. I explored British Columbia and Alberta. At the time of this writing, I’m still in Alberta. I’ve made many new friends here. As I sit here typing, I can hear the announcer at the rodeo next door. Its the big summer fair and rodeo. I hear the sounds of horse drawn carriages or wagons as they race around the track. Oh! They’re little conastoga wagons. Racing wagons! Looks like each wagon is pulled by four horses.

My time here ends soon. I’ll be leaving on the 27th, heading for Oklahoma. The plan is to spend a few weeks there with family, then begin to head East. I haven’t been East in a year now. I’m going to visit Sherry in Ohio, then go to Maryland for Christmas so I can visit with friends and family there. I’ll be house sitting for another friend in New Jersey for January, February, and March. I’m really looking forward to that. However, I’m leaving the RV in Oklahoma, so I’ll just have my little two door Jeep, the dog, and whatever else I can fit to get me through about five months.

That’s the plan. I will REALLY miss the RV. But I’ll use my time to make art and to write. So. Follow my art and there I’ll be.

Day After…Vegas

Day After…Vegas

Yesterday I left Las Vegas. It was an eventful day.

I woke very early so I could tear down camp and get the RV to Camping World for the vent covers to be installed. It was relaxing while I waited. Einstein kept me company in the lounge. He drew a lot of attention. Everyone loved his name and how sweet he was. The work was done promptly and I headed back to the Oasis RV Resort to get the Jeep.

When I went to hook up the Jeep, the right arm of the hitch wouldn’t extend. I tried forcing, pulling, pushing…nothing. I texted Sharon, who was three spaces over from me. She was awesome. She drove out to the front of the campground where I was. I told her I was trying to at least connect it to the Jeep so maybe I could push and pull with the Jeep itself. I had moved the Jeep backwards and forwards by millimeters and could never quite get it. I had it close. With Sharon there, we were able to just pull on the bumper to move the Jeep and we got the pins in. I moved the Jeep a bit and the arm loosened up as I hoped. We got everything hooked up, said good-bye (Sharon, if you’re reading this…thank you so much! You’re awesome!!!), and I headed west. When I reached the California border, the tire monitor started bleeping frantically. It said the right front tire was low in pressure, the right front tire was too high, and the back right tire sensor was malfunctioning. I pulled off the road at a gas station (few and far between out there). I got out my little tire pressure gauge and hand-checked the front tires. The left one was perfect. The right one was indeed a bit high, but within safety margins. I let a little air out and then the monitor told me the tire was leaking air. I figured it was because I made it leak. LOL.

I spent that first night at a campground in Bakersfield called Bakersfield River Run RV Park. It was a family owned RV park. The nightly cost was about $47, but they did take Good Sam. It was super nice. I hadn’t seen grass that lush and green since the beginning of January. When I took Einstein out, he leaped backwards when his feet touched the grass. He then stepped gingerly onto it. After that he was good with it and takes it for granted now.

Bakersfield River Run RV Park
Getting Ready to GO!

Getting Ready to GO!

Today is Monday. I leave here (Oasis RV Resort in Las Vegas) Wednesday. That’s day after tomorrow! I didn’t sleep well last night. Woke up a lot and then couldn’t go back to sleep after getting a sales call at 5:49 am. Lots on my mind. I’ve been here just over six weeks and have become settled in and comfortable. There are people here that I’ve gotten to know. Its kind of hard to leave. Its less stressful to stay in one place. Gas costs drop to nothing when you stay put. Electric, water, and septic are taken for granted while here. The area becomes familiar. I had read that if you live in an RV you should stay put for a month at least at each destination…for the most part.

Moving on becomes hard. Last week I started preparing. I got Einstein groomed. He sheds a lot and that makes the RV a mess. Dog hair works its way under everything and into everything so before hitting the road I want to do some extra cleaning. Warm weather is on its way. There have been hints of it in the past couple of weeks.

One of my biggest concerns is Einstein’s safety when I have to be away from the RV. What if the electricity at the campground goes out, even for a moment. If I’m running the air conditioning it will turn off and then not come back on when power returns. I’ve never experienced a power outage when the air conditioner is on, but I’ve heard that its return doesn’t guarantee the return of air conditioning. I have heard others in the campgrounds tell me of times when power has gone out, so I know it happens. I ordered and received something from Nimble called an RV Pet Safety monitor. It contacts me, via an app, when the RV’s temperature is too cold or too hot. I have it all charged and ready to go. I just can’t log into the app. It says my username is invalid. I contacted Nimble and they are supposed to send me a new username and password. It’s been thirty minutes and nothing has shown up. Still waiting.

Talked with Nimble on the phone again (when you put in a help ticket, they call you right away. That’s kind of nice.

Oooooo! It works now! Awesome! It says that the temperature in the RV is 71.19 degrees F. I’m so happy to have peace of mind now

I’m low on propane. I can have some delivered to me here at the campground. I’ll ask about it in a bit. I can also pick some up when I leave. I have an appointment for 8 am Wednesday morning to have two vent covers installed over my vents so that I can have the vents open while driving or during rain. I’ll have that done at Camping World. They have propane, so if its too expensive to have it delivered here by the campground, I’ll get it at Camping World.

Tomorrow is my last full day here. I’ll need to check the air in the tires and get them up where they should be. I ran the engine this morning and its all good. I’ll empty my grey and black tanks Wednesday morning. I’ll move the Jeep up to the front parking area of the campground in case it takes longer than expected at Camping World. Checkout is 11:00 at the campground. I’ll park the Jeep up front and when I come back with the RV, I’ll park out on the road outside the campground, walk back to get the Jeep and drive it out and hook it up. The campground spaces are pretty jammed together and the roads are narrow, so that makes sense anyways.

Until yesterday I was a little down about having to move on. Then I realized that I was actually kind of excited and ready to go. It means seeing more places I’ve never seen. I’m heading to Sacramento from here. I’ll go beyond it, towards northern California to have lunch with a friend. We’ll meet in Chico for Mongolian barbeque. That will be new for me. I was going to go to a campground west of Sacramento and drive the Jeep to Chico. I’m considering taking the RV up to Chico to a campground there for the night so Einstein is left alone for less time. Back down by Sacramento, I’ll spend some time visiting with my friend Rita. I’m looking forward to that. So I’m excited about further adventures.

As the day to leave gets closer I am getting the interior of the RV ready. I’m stowing things that can’t be left out during the drive. By the time I leave, it will all be stowed and that will one less thing to do. This morning I went out and organized my underneath (basement) storage compartments. I got rid of some mangled cardbox and found a dog-tie-out I can give away. I’ll see if my neighbor here could use it. Otherwise the compartments underneath are ready. I was surprised by how light their contents was. The interior hasn’t really changed much. Still have the same cloth bins of art supplies. I did buy a couple of towels for when Robert was here.

Even though next winter seems pretty far off, I have to think about where I’ll stay then. I love Las Vegas and I have friends here. I felt it was too cold. It wasn’t really below freezing very often, but if I’m going to live in an RV and have the ability to stay away from the cold, I think I’d like to stay further south. So I’m going to start looking for availability now so I can make a reservation.

I’d like to get the RV weighed. I’m afraid to do it though. If it turns out its too heavy, it would be no easy task to thin down. I’d need to go through the interior contents and get rid of some things. That would be painful, because everything that is in here is precious to me and was gleaned from the contents of my entire life. I know that I would NOT get rid of any art supplies. Clothes and shoes would have to go first. Food would go first. I have two 20 lb propane tanks and I have stowed them into the back of the Jeep. I have eight 1-gallon jugs of spring water for Einstein. Those are also now stored in the back of the Jeep.

my desert

my desert

Yesterday I drove away from my desert. I don’t really OWN it, but it felt like it was my very own desert. It was hard to leave. Even though I’d only been there from January 15th to the 27th (not counting the days I had to dash over to Phoenix to get my generator fixed), it seemed I’d been there always. It was my first time to actually dwell in the desert.

Eighteen months ago when I started full time RV living, I talked and thought about boondocking. I was going to do lots of it. As I traveled around, I found myself wanting amenities the way I sometimes want comfort-food. I was still trying to figure out just what I was doing living in an RV; what I wanted to get out of it. I was always looking up places to stay off-grid and it was an awesome goal, but at that early point of being on the road by myself, I found that staying in the parking lot of a Walmart or a Cracker Barrel was as much of a boondock as I cared for. Going into the desert and meeting up with women from RVing Women was a great way to introduce myself to the idea of really doing some off-grid boondocking. I watched what others did and asked questions. I’m an introvert so I didn’t ask as many questions as I wanted to. But I did better than I had expected. I came prepared, too. I had empty grey and black tanks, a full fresh water tank, bottled water, full propane tanks, food that I would cook and some that I wouldn’t need to cook.

I just wasn’t sure how to handle being out there and taking care not to drain my batteries, get so cold at night that I couldn’t sleep, how to keep myself entertained, or making myself get out there and socialize. I’m an on-line gamer. I play Guildwars 2, Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm. I have friends that I play with and we switch from game to game. I don’t play all the time. I have days when there’s not much else to do and I might play for several hours, but that’s rare. Many of my gaming friends are kind of like me…they’re artists or writers. I haven’t met any that are Nomads yet.

While in the desert I found out that you can stay on BLM land in that area from October till April 1st. I seriously considered paying the money and staying until April 1st. I wondered what I would do with my time out there in the profoundly silent desert. I had good cell signal, much to my surprise. I’m a Digital Nomad, meaning that I spend a lot of time doing things on my computer to earn money or just for the fun of it. Would I be able to still do that out there? With my generator I could probably do some of that, but I would not want to run my generator all the time. It uses gas and, even though its inside the basement of my RV, its still quite noisy. I turned on my generator when the sun went down and it gave me a couple hours to spend using my computer and running my electric fireplace. Without the generator I could use lights and I was able to charge my phone. I didn’t use my heated blanket or run the electric fireplace without the generator. The in-house batteries kept my refrigerator going. I learned a lot about conserving energy. I learned that at first its hard to be still and not be using my phone or computer. I felt edgy and restless. As the days passed, I developed a routine appropriate for that life and I got used to doing different things – reading, sitting outside, going for walks, taking a trip into the small town of Quartzsite, cooking, and sometimes just plain taking a nap.

There were Saguaro cacti all over the place. I enjoyed walking around and looking at them up close

The United States has lots of deserts. Some are sand…and evidently some are just not. I never knew there would be so many stones. There was no sand anywhere…only stones, rocks, and fine dust. As I drove to and from my RV, my Jeep bathed everyone I passed with a cloud of dust. “Sorry! Sorry! Oops! Sorry about that!”

During the day, it was in the 60’s (in January!!!) so I got to open all the windows. How wonderful! However, I was never able to wear shorts or flip flops. The sky was almost always the deepest blue I’ve ever seen. I’d call it “Shelley Blue” – LOL. At night, it dropped down to the 40’s. I didn’t turn on my furnace, but I had lots of blankets on my bed. In the morning the temperature in the RV was usually hovering around fifty degrees. If it was colder than that, I turned on the propane furnace to warm things up enough so that I could do my morning chores. I had a full tank of propane and I have two small 20 lb tanks that I can hook up and they were both full. I could have been toasty warm all night long. I didn’t do that. I’m still learning and wasn’t sure how much of a drain it would be on my batteries to be running the propane furnace, as it uses electricity to blow out the heat.

There were days when the view out my window was just desert. Other days it was a plethora of RVs and women strolling along with their little dogs, stopping to talk with other women with little dogs. Occasionally there were big dogs, but mostly it seemed like little white dogs. Its an easy way to meet people…take your dog for a walk.

First Night

From the first evening to the last, the sunsets were spectacular. I think I took more photos of sunsets than anything else. They made me think of paintings. High five, God!!! Each one was as amazing as a painting in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. I couldn’t stop looking at them as they deepened and then faded.

I think the things I’ll take with me about my experience in the desert were the quiet and the beautiful night skies. So many stars!!! One evening my friends and I were sitting around a campfire and someone nearby was sending up something into the air that defies explanation. Each one looked like a floating paper bag with a candle suspended beneath. There were quite a few, one at a time. It was so cool!

We sat there around the fire, talking about RV life, about things we like, things we have to figure out and overcome, and about the sense of accomplishment it gives us to fix things ourselves. We talked about nothing of consequence, too, and it was a fine thing…sitting there with the crackling fire and absolutely no other sound. Debbie wielded the little shovel, pushing embers around, positioning a log from time to time. We roasted hotdogs and it was fun. Really fun. The companionship for us, who are usually each alone most of the time, content with our solitude, was indeed sweet.

Bye Bye Airstream?

Bye Bye Airstream?

My Airstream (Rocinante) was wonderful.  There were many, many things I loved about the guy.  As I pulled Rocinante down the road, I loved to glance in the side view mirror and see him back there, faithfully following along.  When parked, I loved to walk back toward him and the sight took my breath away.  Rocinante was compact and easy to manage.  Clean up was always minutes instead of hours.  I worried that Einstein and Emma would be cramped for space since they were used to a much longer domicile.  They seemed perfectly content with our little den.  I knew they were happy when they began to play and tumble about a little bit.  They settled into a routine that encompassed waiting for me to wake up, dress, make the bed, get their food ready, Einstein’s medicine in a small square of Velveta cheese, a walk, and finally a cool drink.  What happened the rest of the day was up for grabs.  It could be a day on the road or a day of relaxing somewhere.

You can see the size difference between my previous Montana 5th Wheel and my twenty-five foot Airstream Flying Cloud.  My Dodge Ram 3500 Quad Cab Dually (AR AR!) could easily ascend and descend any mountain, endure desert heat, and sigh contentedly in the shade of a tree at rest areas.  I don’t think the truck even knew it was pulling anything. 

My Airstream was simple.  He didn’t have a lot of storage, which forced me to rethink everything I took along as well as everything I wanted to add along the way.  It was easy to detach the two thirty pound propane tanks and take them to get filled.  The scissor jacks and entry steps were not hydraulic, which added to the simplicity.  They took only elbow grease to operate.  There were plenty of awnings for shade.  It didn’t take much to make Rocinante cozy and comfortable.

I thought about getting a bigger Airstream.  I did some online comparisons and a slightly larger Airstream was comparable in price to a motor home.  I had it in mind to compare a thirty or thirty-three foot Airstream to perhaps a Class A or Class C of similar size.

Whether it was wise or not to trade the Airstream in can NOT be dwelled on.  The deal is done.  There is just no point in analyzing the choices I’ve made at this point.  Rocinante is gone.  I cried the day I cleaned him all up, ready for the trade-in.  He looked as new as the day I bought him.  We made some wonderful memories together.  Indeed.  Farewell, Rocinante.  May those who share your future adventures love you, protect you, and keep you safe.