The Legs Have It

Recently I have been thinking about my legs. It is interesting to recognize how often I take so much of myself for granite. Every day I walk on my feet and legs. They carry me over hill and dale and back again. They peddle my bike and kick while I swim. And they dance. My legs hold me up, literally and figuratively. 

Why have I been thinking about them? Several years ago (2010) I was hiking in the Grand Tetons with a good friend. About a mile to the trail head I stepped on a rock, went down and thought I sprained my right ankle. A thousand miles later and a visit to the doctor confirmed I had broken my ankle. Into the boot I went for five and a half weeks. Pretty soon I was back hiking and biking and being active once again.

Fast forward to 2016. I was working in my former home, was standing on a chest and started to fall. I took a quick leap off the chest landed on my feet, standing. I thought I had gotten away with it-no pain-wait-ten minutes later I was crawling to the kitchen to get ice for a very sore, knee and leg. No broken bones, the doctor thought I had generally sprained my whole leg. 

Just as I am healing from this, I was hiking in the desert with good friends, slipped on some scree, went down and I knew immediately that I had broken my right ankle again. Oh No!!! This time my ankle was broken in two places. After seven weeks of non-weight bearing and two weeks of the boot, and physical therapy I was up and moving again. The doctors didn’t feel it was necessary to pin it. I think it may have been because I dance and hike and walk. My legs were in good shape prior to the injury.

Here is what I know. 

  • Given the chance and the support, a body will attempt, usually successfully, to heal itself. 
  • An adventurist life is not without peril. 
  • If I support my legs and lower body, they will support me. 
  • What ever I do, I will not stop hiking, dancing, walking and more. When I attempt to be lazy, things begin to hurt. It is just time to get moving again.
  • It is OK not to hike as far or as fast. This one is a hard for me to learn, but I am learning and it is OK to reset my limits. Some days I can go as fast and as far as I used to, other days I cannot.
  • Hike with hiking poles, always! I can hike faster and further with less impact. They certainly add extra support.
  • When I do injure myself, it is OK to give myself the time to heal. Eat right, rest and put my holistic health background to work. I believe that I can heal and return to my non-injured state if I allow myself time to heal. 

This week I am thankful for my legs. I like that I can get out of the rig and hit the trail. I can still go up and down hills. Maybe there are a few complaints at the beginning from my joints and muscles and tendons but soon, they get it and I am off. If things get sore I stop, admire the scenery and get ready to move on down or up the trail. 

I am thankful every day that I can bike. I am thankful I can dance. I have been dancing for close to thirty years and it remains an important part of my life. My legs and all the joints help me, every time I get on the dance floor.

There is a saying out there “Every step you take is a prayer”. I pray that each step I take will lead to the next one and the one after that. It has taken until this time in my life to be grateful for my still functioning body parts. 

This weeks I am extremely thankful for my legs. 

Traveling Vancouver Island

Deep Cove, near Sidney, BC

Wow, it is hard to believe that I have been on Vancouver Island for close to three weeks. Where does the time go? A question that I ask more and more often as each year goes by.

I have been traveling, not far and discovered today that I have only covered half the island. How is that possible? I have been seeing interesting and sometimes amazing things. I have been meeting really nice people. I have been having fun.

I thought that by coming this far north I might escape the fires and the smoke and for the first week and a half that was true. Not any more. I woke this morning to the smell of smoke. There are a few fires burning near by. Fire is inherent to the west. The last few years have been worse than usual, I believe.

I have changed up my plan on how I travel. I have found these past months that I have been getting lonely more often. So…I decided to intersperse traveling alone with staying with others. It has been working well. Each year I join two organizations. Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts.

For a small amount of money, as a member of Boondockers Welcome, I camp in people’s (Hosts) driveways or on their land. I meet the locals, get great suggestions on where to hike and tour. Often in the evenings my hosts will come and visit and catch up on what we have been doing during the day. It is very relaxed and very social. I stayed with Cathy and Dave for a few days, at Mesachie lake.  Cathy and I became instant friends. We hiked together and talked, a lot. I felt like I left with a new friend. All of this has been a game changer for me and I find I am less lonely and sad.

Harvest Hosts I have not used as much this year, though my friend Peggy and I celebrated Thanksgiving at a winery in southern New Mexico in 2017, thanks to them. Harvest Hosts is a membership program that provides access to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, museums and other unique attractions that invite self-contained RVers to visit and stay overnight. I have enjoyed the places I have visited with this organization. I am not sure how much I have saved because well I seem to spend money at the wineries and the cheese factories. It is fun and most places offer a beautiful setting to camp in. Elsie likes them a lot.

I have been working my way “up island”. I have been to beautiful places both inland and along the west coast. Here are a few of the highlights.

  • Arriving in Sidney, BC was a fine welcome. It is a very beautiful area right on the coast. I stayed three nights at McDonald Park. The campground hosts were waiting for me. Julie and Ron had contacted me through the Roadtreking Facebook site. They were waiting with maps and many good suggestions while visiting the Sidney area. I was able to ride my bike on paved paths to the Farmers Market and around the inlets. It was a fine welcome to the Island.
  • Although I was planning to stay out of Victoria, I ended up there more than once. They have a marvelous system of bike paths. It is an easy way to explore a busy city.

 

  • I told myself I wasn’t going to Butchart Gardens and yet I ended up there for a half day of walking and exploring the beautiful flowers and gardens. On a very warm day it was a great place to sit in the shade. When I told the parking attendants that I had a kitty in my RV they found me a nice shady place for Elsie to stay. With the windows open and the Super Fan on she was quite comfortable.
  • The west coast of Vancouver Island is beautiful. It is filled with very tall trees, Douglas Fir and Cedar, to mention a few that reach the beaches. The coast tends to be mostly rocky and rugged. Even though the water looks inviting, it is cold. I got in as far as my ankles. I stayed at Provincial Parks (French Beach and China Beach. My favorite place on the lower section of the coast was Jordan River. I finally found a campsite right on the beach. I loved going to sleep to the sound of the very small waves crashing on the shore.
  • I met two delightful women while I was camping on the beach. I was included in a family get together and a walk to the coffee shop. I like being included.
  • I have stayed with three Boondocker Hosts since my arrival on the island. Each one has been unique and different and all of them have been a joy. I like including this in my travels.
  • When one hikes here, one hikes to beaches or waterfalls or both. I have seen many waterfalls. They still take my breath away.
  • I have done some special things. Everyone told me to go to Tofino Beach. I did. It was filled with tourists, a bit too hectic for me. While I was there, I did something I have always wanted to do. I took a seaplane flight. It was a half hour scenic flight. Mostly I wanted to take off and land on water. I did and it was so fun.
  • From Port Alberni I took the local mail and delivery boat for a beautiful cruise out the sound close to the ocean. It was interesting to see what this working boat does. At one person’s dock, they delivered a refrigerator. They stopped at a post office on a dock and delivered and picked up mail. We ended at the town of Bamfield. it was a small town at a point of land. You can get to it by boat, or seaplane or a rough logging road. It was pretty isolated. We docked at the coast guard lighthouse buildings. I hiked to Bradley Beach and then did the half mile or so walk along the boardwalk in town. It was a good day.
  • I am getting ready to move, tomorrow. It is time to move north and hope I reach the north end of the island soon. If I don’t make it, I guess I will just have to return.

It has been a good and interesting journey here. I am glad I came. When I leave here I am heading to the San Juan Islands for about 4 days, visit a friend and then I am not sure where.

I am finding I think more often about a permanent home. Is this the end of my wandering life in my small motorhome? I am not sure. The verdict is still out.

 

Le Chat Meows

It has been quite some time since  I last posted. I have been on some adventures. Janet keeps thinking of new places to go. Most of the time she takes me but some times she leaves me with friends. 

I did the stay with friends thing a while back. I had my safe place but I had to share my place with a dog, Poncho and two cats, Misty and Ophir. I remember the dog and Misty but Ophir was new to me. Here is what I have learned about dogs from Poncho. There could be a whole house full of cats, God forbid, but as long as the dog was the center of attention, he couldn’t care about the cats. He also likes to sneak the cat food when no one is looking.

Cats are a different story. The two cats mentioned above and I got along, by ignoring each other. Ophir likes to catch voles and mice. He would disappear for hours on end and then pretty much ignore me and Misty. Misty and I were on leashes when we were outside and we pretty much ignored each other too. By the end of my stay Misty was making overtures of friendship, though, I am not sure.

I liked to get up on the fence and walk the fence line. It was fun to be high and see the world. If I snuggled into the shadow of the tree no one walking by would see me. I liked that a lot. It is a big world for a small cat on top of a fence. I saw people walking dogs, these funny little birds with a feather bobbing on their head. They don’t fly very much, just run really fast on the ground.

After some time, Janet showed up and back into our little home on wheels I go. We drove into the mountains. Some nights we were alone and other nights we shared our area with other people. I like it better when I am alone because all those people kind of concern me. Janet says I am skittish. Maybe I am. It might help me keep my nine lives in tact.

We camped for what seemed a long time in a campground with many other campers that looked just like ours. Some were big, some were small and some didn’t look like my home at all. We camped with Linda and Steve. I was OK with that because they were my caretakers while Janet was gone and I knew them. Other people would come visit and leave. I finally decided that if I was going to get any outside time at all I was going to need to be brave and come outside while people were sitting there. I was good until any of them came up to talk to me. I would run inside. 

Since then I have seen mountains, rivers, and forests. I like camping in the forests the best. It is often quieter there. than anywhere else. I also get to find my inner beast and pretend I am a wild animal living in the forest. But, wait a minute, I like my Wild at Heart cat food too much. I guess I will remain domesticated. I like having my creature comforts too much to be truly wild. A cat can dream.

Now we are in someplace called Canada. I am not sure why it is called that and really it doesn’t matter. Although I am in the forest it appears that there is a lot of water around this land. I really don’t like water, except to drink. Have you ever seen a dog jump and play in the water? They have so little self respect and why would anyone want to get wet like that?

I titled this post in French as Janet says that is one of the languages spoken here. Meow sounds the same in every language.

Every day Janet and I go out “touring”. Well she tours and I sleep in the passenger seat. I need my beauty sleep. Janet always makes sure that everything is cool and comfy for me when she leaves to go walking. It gets dark and cozy in my house. The fan is gong and I fall asleep. She is a good pet person. I am always glad when she returns, although I feign indifference.

I think that sometimes, Janet is lonely, so I am glad to be there for her. She and I are never alone when we are there for each other. 

Well, time for another nap.

Bienvenue-Welcome

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Samish Bay

Summer is here and it is time to go and explore more new places. I have been working my way to the west coast since April. Yesterday I finally got to touch the Pacific Ocean at Samish Bay, Washington. I felt like I was being welcomed home.

Where have I been? I have been to some really interesting and fun places since I began the drive west, including two weeks in Alaska (without Elsie or the Roadtrek). Cruising the Inside Passage on a small ship cruise was really cool.

I have stopped in many places and all of them have been interesting. Since you have last heard of the places I have been, here is the list. I know some may be a repeat, please be patient.

  • Glacier National Park-one week on the east side and one week in the Kalispell area on the west side. Flowers and wild animals were certainly a highlight.
  • Western Montana for the 4th of July, camping on a beautiful lake with friends.
  • I revisited Idaho and had my first Boondockers Welcome experience. Boondockers is an organization RV,er’s can join. People sign up to be hosts and you can stay in their yards or driveways for 2-3 nights. I stayed with a lovely couple near Farragut State Park on Lake Pend Orielle. I camped in their tree covered yard, visited with the neighbors, visited with my hosts and rode my bike into a beautiful state park. I visited the town of Bayview and saw the floating houses. There are always so many cool things where ever I go.
  • I bicycled the Hiawatha Trail on the Montana-Idaho border. It was very good day.
  • I finally made my way out of Idaho into Washington state. I started in the middle-Cascades, visiting a good friend, Lori, who I have not see in years. It was a really good visit.

Hiking Cascade Pass

  • I arrived in the Northern Cascades and Northern Cascade National Park to spend five days exploring. Wow-that is all I can say. I hiked and walked and took photos. What an amazing place. I chose not to stop in the small towns as there were too many people and events were happening. I camped in a National Forest Campground and loved every minute of it. I hope to go back, maybe when it is not so crazy busy. You should have seen the parade of cars, RV’s, jeeps and trucks driving east along route 20 on Friday afternoon. Everyone from the greater Seattle area was leaving town, or so it seemed.

The last three days I have been in Burlington, WA. I am catching up on chores and fixing EmmyLou the rig so she is ready for tomorrow. Tires?-check. Slow leak in one tire?-check. (it was a screw) After a crazy incident all parts fixed on my rig?-check. Headlight replaced?-check. (one went out when I got here. I even changed it myself) Laundry done?-check. Pedicure done?-check (I have sparklie green toenails) Chiropractor appointment?-check. Billing done?-check. All records ready for entry into Canada tomorrow?-check, I  hope.

I did take time to drive to the coast yesterday afternoon. I visited the small town of Samish. What a pretty little town. I was able to drive to a point in Samish Bay and finally greet the ocean and Jim. (he is buried out there) The flowers are beautiful in people’s yards. It reminded me of my mom and dad, especially when I saw the giant dahlias. My parents loved to garden. It was good to return to the ocean after almost four months away.

Tomorrow I head out on a new adventure. Elsie and I are going to be taking the morning ferry from Anacortes, WA to Vancouver Island, Canada. I first visited this island as a tour director. I remember taking my group to Boutchart Gardens, worth a visit.

Two years ago Cat, my friend who bicycled the Pacific Coast, and I took the ferry from Vancouver to the Island and started south. I knew then that I would return. It is a beautiful Island and I wanted to see more. Tomorrow I get that opportunity. I plan to be there for at least a month and discover interesting and magical places and meet new people. I plan to cover the island, driving biking and walking. If it takes longer, I will stay. I am ready to go into the unknown.

So stay tuned. Come along on the adventure. El and I are getting ready to roll.

 

 

I’m Sorry-Revisited

Sunset Cle Elum

After spending four really good days catching up on over 20 years of conversation, my visit with my friend Lori in Cle Elum, WA came to an end today. We hiked, toured and lord did we talk. I got to explore the Cle Elum area with a long time resident. Lori was a great tour guide and I am thankful for her giving me the time to visit and tour

 

Elsie the Cat and I are “on the road” in Washington state. We are slowly heading west.

Today I drove back into the hot somewhat barren country of the Columbia River Plateau. It is really not barren. There are major crops that grow out here. The land, however is yellow and treeless and hot. I kept thinking about trees. When I saw this campground it is on a river and there were trees. That was inviting enough for me.

I am camped along the Methow River. I am in an RV park for the night. My first night back on the road is often easier when I still have amenities, laundry, shower, electric and water. What more can one ask for in life.

It is busy in the campground. This weekend is the Winthrop R & B festival. People are pulling in. I was lucky to get a site for one night. I am always thankful for small miracles. Tomorrow I will head for the National Forest and higher, cooler climes.

I tend to say “I’m sorry” often. I apologize for things that are not even close to being my fault. If something happens in the world well I may as well just apologize for it. For goodness sakes it is so past time to get over this behavior. It is hard to break old habits.

Tonight I received a lesson. The man in the RV next to mine must have apologized to me several times since my arrival.

  • I am sorry that my air-conditioning is so loud.
  • I am sorry but I have to empty my black and gray water tank. I apologize ahead of time for the smell.
  • I am really really sorry about the smell. (there wasn’t any)
  • I fixed the air-conditioning but I am sorry that you can hear it.
  • I live in western Washington and it so hot here that I have to run the air-conditioning. I am sorry.
  • I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry.

I kept telling him, it is OK. Then he would apologize again. I thought to myself, is that what I sound like when I apologize for everything under the sun? It didn’t sound good. I kind of felt sorry for him. What if he had just come out and said hi, I am your neighbor, welcome to the park. I think we all get it, when we live in close quarters there is going to  be sounds and noise. For me it is one night.

I am going to try to catch myself when I get in an apologizing mode. Maybe, just maybe with practice I can stop before I apologize and ask myself, silently, is this really something I need to apologize for? Practice can change habits. I also promise not to be hard on myself when I slip. It is life and these habits are slow to change. They are very long and ingrained habits.

Tomorrow I ascend into the northern Cascades for the weekend. Up I go and down goes the temperature. Elsie and I will be looking for solitude and quiet for the rest of the weekend. I am excited I have never been here before so everything is magical and new. I am ready to get on my hiking shoes.

Next Wednesday El and I are going international and heading to Canada, Vancouver Island. I am anticipating a month, maybe more exploring the island from the south to the north and back again. Any suggestions besides Victoria and Buchart Gardens?

Off I go on another adventure. It has taken me since early May to reach the west coast. I am looking forward to seeing the ocean, saying hello to Jim (his ashes went to sea) and exploring a new place. And I get to take at least one ferry ride. I love ferries.

Anyone want to come along? Company is always welcome.

Ongoing Experience of a Cancer Diagnosis-My Niece Eloquent Words

About a month ago my niece, Brittany posted her thoughts and feeling regarding the end of her son’s (Ward) chemotherapy, the removal of the port and what it feel like to be a family that has survived the initial phase of cancer treatment, in a way too young boy (diagnosed at 1 1/2 years of age). I wanted to share it with you because it is poignant and real. I get this as a cancer survivor. I get this as someone who saw their husband die from the disease. I get it and yet I don’t. Each of our experiences with this diagnosis are just a wee bit different. Here is what I know-the diagnosis of cancer sucks. Plain and simple. Yet, for those of us who survive we each must find a way to move on, figure out a new norm and try to remember to live and breath every day.

Brittany’s Caring Bridge Note.

“And just like he rang the bell, chemotherapy ended, a scan was officially clear and all cheered.

Except me.

Why?

I want to breathe out, I have been holding my breath since December 8, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

I thought this was THE end.  But it’s not.  It is simply AN end.  This is the beginning for a new phase of cancer, living scan to scan.

His name is off the prayer list, the cards won’t come anymore, we won’t see our doctors weekly, and the average friend thinks we are done, praise God.  The only thing that will keep coming is advice, a blessing and a curse.

There is no back to normal, we live now as a family traumatized by cancer.

The life we used to live meant we’d be planning a vacation and buying plane tickets, but now I count how many scans are between us and that trip, and how many times do we have to all hold our breath and hope to hear the words, “the scan is clear” again.

The life we used to live included parties, lots of summer parties.  But now parties make me anxious. Who is coming?  Are they sick? Do they know he had cancer?  Will they ask the hard questions?  Will I be triggered into anxiety by something new I don’t even know will trigger me?

The life we used to live included trust.  Now I ask do I trust his doctors?  Do I trust my decision-making?  Do I trust we can keep living?  Do I trust that the floor won’t crumble beneath us?

December to May we lived in triage.

We woke up, put on our pants, took a deep breath and did the emergency work the doctors guided us to do.  We showed up on time, we held him, we medicated him, we cleaned up the messes, we hugged each other, we cried when necessary, and we loved harder than we ever loved before.

But the triage phase is over.  We have paused.  We look back.  We look forward. We look inside.

When will we breathe out?

It may never be all at once.  But we will slowly exhale over the years with each new day, each giggle, each birthday, and each milestone.  We will slowly exhale each clear scan and each year further from cancer.

Hope and love will remind us to breathe in the meantime.”

A Mountain Biker’s and Railroad Lover’s Day in the High Country

Point Reyes National Seashore

This post was published on Roadtreking : Celebrating the RV Lifestyle today. I thought I would like to share it with my readers without all the ads.

Many years ago I was visiting a good friend in Santa Cruz, CA. He suggested that we go camping at Point Reyes National Seashore. We took his two mountain bikes and biked into one of the campsites near the ocean.

I had never been on a mountain bike before. As we were dropping down the hill to the campsite a huge boulder suddenly appeared in front of my bike. I put on the brakes, hit the boulder, flipped over the boulder, the bike flipped over and landed on top of me. I ended up with whiplash and lots of bruises. As I lay on the ground my buddy, Neal looked at me and said “Wow, Janet that was a great flip.” So much for sympathy and help.

It took some time to recover from that incident. Since then I have had a few minor incidents with mountain bikes. I have religiously avoided them. Until today.

Today I decided to be brave and rode the Hiawatha Trail on a mountain bike. This hike and bike trail is 15 miles long with 10 train tunnels and 7 sky-high trestles. This Rails to Trails path follows the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains on the border of Montana and Idaho.

I rented a mountain bike, helmet and headlamp at Lookout Pass Ski Resort, mile 0 on Route 90. I put the bike on the back of my Roadtrek and drove to East Portal. East Portal is the beginning of the 15 mile gradual descent.

On a beautiful sunlit day I approached the mile and a half tunnel. I turned on my head lamp and began my descent into darkness. I could only see as far ahead of me as my head lamp would allow. The only sounds were of water, my bike and me letting out an occasional whoop. The echos were great.

Entering the St Paul Pass Tunnel

After my mile and a half ride, I came out into brilliant sunshine, incredible blue skies and a water fall. How much more perfect can one get than that. The temperatures were in the 60’s at the start of the ride. By the time I finished the trail, the temps had climbed into the low 80’s. As the temperature heated up I could smell the pines and the damp earth. It is such a fine smell.

Along the trail there were signs to stop and read and learn about the building of this incredible stretch of railroad. Along the way I learned about the “Silks” and the early days of first class travel on the rail.

Here are a few of my favorite interesting facts.

  • The “Silks” were special trains that transported Asian raw silk from west coast ports across the country to the east for processing into finished garments. These trains were fast and were considered top priority.  Raw silk deteriorated quickly, the price of silk fluctuated rapidly and insurance was high. There was also a fear that silk could be hijacked from slower trains so it was important to move it as quickly as possible. In 1928 at the height of the silk trade $452,000,000 of raw silk was transported across the continent. When other ways of shipping took over (the Panama Canal) the “Silks”run faded away.
  • The railroad was one of the great hirers of freed black slaves. They became porters and waiters on the trains. It was a very different lifestyle than anything they had known before.
  • The Olympian line was the Milwaukee Road’s flagship luxury line to the Pacific Northwest. When introduced in 1911, it was the first railroad to offer “all steel” cars. To further define the uniqueness of the line, the cars and engines were painted orange and maroon and were among the first to carry broadcast radio receivers.
  • The section of the route crossing the rugged Bitterroot Mountains was considered the most scenic stretch of railroad in the country.
  • It was named to the hall of fame by the Rail-to-Trail Conservatory, one of only 15 trails across the United States to receive this designation.

Approaching the end of the St Paul Pass Tunnel

As I approached the end of the trail I had two choices. I could turn around and ride my bike back up the trail I had just come down or I could take the shuttle bus. l climbed on the shuttle bus for the ride back to the St Paul Pass Tunnel. The shuttle dropped me and the other riders off a mile and a half short of the trail head. All of us got to experience the ride through the St Paul Pass tunnel once again. It was a great way to finish the day, riding and whooping into the darkness, once again. It was a great finish to an absolutely beautiful day in the high country.

A favorite view of the trestle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now my day is over and I am camped next to Lake Coeur d’Alene in a National forest campground. I have been for a swim to get the trail dust off. The water was warm on top with a bit of chill coming from below. It felt wonderful. Another good finish to a good day.

Here are suggestions and facts regarding this trail.

  • You can boondock  in the parking lot at the ski resort for free. I did this. It was quiet and peaceful. The workers coming in the morning were a good alarm clock for me.
  • Go early. The rentals open at 8 a.m. The Trail opens at 8:30 a.m. I recommend the early hours because it is cool and pleasant. For you photographers, the lighting was good, really good in the earlier part of the day.
  • There is a fee to ride the trail. You can pay it at the ski resort or at the trail head. These fees help maintain this amazing trail.
  • There is a fee for the shuttle. I did not buy my ticket until I got to the end of the ride. I thought I might pedal, back but there was a very patient little kitty waiting for me to return. After bumping along for 15 miles I was ready to give my seat a respite.
  • This is not a breeze of a ride. You do have to pedal. The trail is well maintained, yet it is dirt and rocks. I wore my bike shorts under a pair of regular shorts.
  • Take snacks and water with you. They also sell snacks and drinks at the trial heads. Just remember that what you take in you need to take back out. There are no trash receptacles along the way.
  • Take your time. Read the signs. Take pictures. Be amazed. It was a delightful day.