Summer is Winding Down & New Adventures are on the Horizon

Two days ago my house-sitting gig on Whidbey Island came to an end. I have fallen in love with the little house on the bluff. I will miss it. I will miss the sunsets. I will miss Birdy Boy. I will miss my neighbors, Tom and Robyn. I will miss the comfort of my temporary home.

And, I am ready to move back into my RV and get on the road.

But not so fast. On Monday of this week, I moved up Island to the charming town of Coupeville where I am house and dog sitting for a week. Yes, the animal and house-sitting adventures continue.

Lela’s Place

One of the things I like about owning a Roadtrek is the true friends I have made since I bought EmmyLou.

Lela had a Roadtrek that she sold about a year ago. We met when I first came to Whidbey Island in 2021. She lives on this island. We have been friends since. We kayak together, meet for outings and music festivals, eat dinner together, talk, and have fun.

Lela has two dogs, well she had three, Abbe went to Doggie Heaven a few days before my arrival. Ellie and Ace are still here and going strong. They are my charges for the week. Are they cute and personable? Yes! Can they be whiney? Yes. They are dogs.

I now have two dogs that sleep with me at night and follow me around the house during the day. They are cute. I love how they look at me like I am the best person in the world. They get me out and walking a couple of times a day. They love their walks. I have become a dog poopy bag carrier.

I also continue to have the most amazing sunset views. I love looking west.

After my week here I am changing it up. I am joining three other adventurous women and we are heading for the backcountry of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a few weeks. These trips make my soul sing. I will share more of this adventure as it unfolds.

I am moving south. Fall has arrived here, even though it is still summer. Right after Labor Day, the weather shifted and I could smell fall in the air. The days are growing shorter and it is cooler now. Today I woke up to heavy fog over the Sound and the house but not me. I still have to take those doggies for a walk.

I will miss many things about island living, the ferries, the sunsets, my friends, being so close to nature, kayaking, and the quiet and solitude I often experienced here. My nomadic life has not come to an end, though I admit I look at the real estate ads from time to time.

I feel blessed and honored to be asked to take care of people’s homes and pets. I have been able to experience parts of this country more in-depth than just spending a week or two in each place. I have made friends. I have seen so many lovely places. Now I am ready to see some more.

Sandy’s & Jim’s Home

Today I am thankful for Sandy & Jim who have let me live in and caretake their home for two wonderful summers in the Northwest. Maybe I will be back again. I am thankful for the friends I have met and kept. I am thankful I discovered a lifestyle that complements me especially when I was feeling lost after Jim’s death.

Today I am thankful.

Now, it is time to take the dogs for a walk.

Going on a Holiday From My Holiday

Canon Beach on the Oregon Coast

A week ago I returned To Washington from a week on the Oregon Coast. I took a holiday from my holiday.

Last summer a group of us who own Roadtreks decided it would be fun to meet up on the Oregon coast. It started with the three of us, Mary, Linda and me. We have been friends for years. We rented a group campsite at a state park near Florence, Oregon. As we began to plan, we started to think of others. Campskunk and Sharon spend their summer on the Oregon coast so let’s ask them. What about Pat, who lives on San Juan Island? She was invited. Oh, let’s ask Dorothy, and she came.

Six Roadtreks came and seven people. We had such a good time we decided to do it again this summer. This year we met at Cape Perpetua, another group campsite. Some of the original group could not make it this year so we invited others. Those who could not make it were missed.

Pat and I left three days early so we could meander our way to Oregon. Both of us are less inclined to drive for hours on end. We had shorter driving days and more time to explore. And our campgrounds were good, some were really good.

Our View Willapa Bay
  • Bruceport County Park is located on the south side of Willapa Bay. There always seems to be a spot to camp. This time we got the best site. It had an unlimited view of Willapa Bay.
  • The Blue Heron Creamery in Tillamook, Oregon is a free Harvest Hosts site. It is surrounded by farmland and open to many RVs that come for the night. For those who can indulge, shopping for the wonderful cheeses in the store is a plus.
  • Beverley Beach State Park is further down the coast and is one of the many State Parks on the coast. A short walk will end at the beach. The Oregon Coast is so pretty.

I would like to say that it is easy to get ready to travel, yet it takes a bit of planning to get my RT ready. That means getting EmmyLou, my rig ready for the trip. Two days before departure the refrigerator is turned on. She got a bath and I did some minor detailing. And just as I think everything is ready to go my engine battery died. Thank goodness for Roadside assistance. She now has a new battery, the DEF fluid was added and she was purring and ready to roll.

It was a delight to meet up with my friends again. This year there were three dogs and one kitty that joined the menagerie. We camped, and talked and caught up on each other’s lives. I got some precious kitty time with Phoebe the Cat. On our one full day, a subgroup of us hiked to Thor’s Well, a natural phenomenon on the coast. We shared stories, food, and more, and then, just like that it was over and we all departed for separate destinations.

All friendships are special. I like how friends can meet once a year and it is like we have seen each other yesterday. The company is good. The stories are great. And especially in the past few years, it is wonderful to physically meet up with others, see their precious faces, and hear their tales.

The Roadtreking friends’ adventure was not quite over for me. I returned to Washington, stopping before I left Oregon, for a morning kayak north of Waldport, and then returned to Tillamook for another free camping night. After one more night of camping, I joined my friends, Jean and Jim (they own a Roadtrek too) at their lovely home on the Salish Sea, in Washington. I slept in the driveway and enjoyed the view from their home above the water. This part of the Sound faces east and south. In the far distance, one can see the skyline of Seattle. I arrived in time to witness Jean giving Jim a haircut. It bought back memories of Jim, my husband. I used to cut his hair as well. Jean and I talked our way through the afternoon and evening.

And then, just like that my adventure was over and I returned to Whidbey Island and the land of the amazing sunsets.

Buying my Roadtrek RV has been a game changer in my life. I bought it on a whim. It has seen me through so much. It helped me drive through the initial grief of the loss of my husband. I have seen some marvelous places and met good and kind people. Mostly though, it has been a friend magnet. I continue to meet such wonderful people. We become more than people passing on the road. We become friends. How wonderful is that?

Today I am thankful for my Roadtrek, EmmyLou, and the amazing people that are now my circle of friends.

Ah Yes, Today I am Thankful.

Where I Have Been-Where I am Going

After my last post, I received questions from a few people asking where I am. I am not being a very good blogger because I have not let people know of my continued journey since I left the desert.

By April the desert is warming up. It in fact is getting pretty hot. As much as I love the desert, I am not a lover of extreme heat. I was there later than usual this year. I arrived late so left late. I got to visit good friends, do a little kayaking, and get my desert fix once more.

Mary, Shay & Rocky

I left the desert at the end of March and climbed into the mountains to visit a good friend, Mary from Idylwild, CA. The temperatures cooled off and signs of earlier spring began to show themselves. The daffodils were blooming and a few tulips were popping out as well. I spent a lovely week with Mary and her two dogs, whom I have pet sat for. Shay and Rocky were glad to see me. It was fun to be out walking with them and catching up on Mary’s life. I even had a bed companion, it is fun that Mary is willing to share Shay the dog.

Since then I have been in San Diego. I am camped on Mission Bay. It has been spectacular weather. The days have been sunny and cool and just perfect. I had my follow-up dental visit. I am on course for good healing from surgery. I get a two-month reprieve before I have to return for a dental cleaning. It won’t be in San Diego as I am going to be heading north.

It is not unusual for friends and strangers to ask me what is next. I don’t know, is frequently my answer. I have never been a good planner. It would drive Jim, my husband, nuts. He had a job that required us to plan vacation time. I did not. I know he found it hard to pin me down and it would be a point of frustration. I would breathe and sit down and within a few days, we would have a plan.

I still have a hard time making decisions. I mean, what if something better comes up? Plans do not have to be set in stone and they can change. I remind myself of this when I am struggling to see what is next. It does cause me some anxiety. It helps to breathe through anxiety. The world is not going to fall apart because I don’t have a plan.

On Sunday, April twenty fourth I am leaving San Diego for the summer. First I am going to Santa Barbara, CA for a week. I will be camping on the beach for a few days. Dan Neeley, who works on my rig is just outside of Santa Barbara, to the east. He is all things Roadtrek. Many of us on the west coast head to him for annual maintenance and help with any other issues. After four days on the beach, I will be going to an Airbnb for a few nights just in case my RV has to spend a night at the hospital.

Upon leaving Santa Barbara, I return to Salinas and Woody the Cat. He and I will be hanging out for most of May. I am getting a second cat fix. I am looking forward to seeing Mandy and Woody again. It also means I get back out on the Elkhorn Slough in my Kayak. That is a very good thing.

I will continue to head to the Northwest, visiting friends and seeing magical things along the way. I have been asked to house sit for the same owners on Whidbey Island, Washington. I am looking forward to another summer in the Northwest. Hopefully, I will see my little Birdy Boy. I will be back in the land of the magical sunsets over Puget Sound.

Sunset over Puget Sound

And there is my summer. A lot of this came together in a few days. It seems that one moment I had no idea what I was doing after my dental appointments were complete and then it took shape and then I had a plan. That plan goes into action tomorrow when I leave San Diego for the next several months. I will meet up with wonderful friends along the way and I am sure I will meet new ones as well.

It Is Always An Adventure

Getting Ready-Heading South

After so many months it seems a bit strange to say I am “getting ready to roll”. Yes, the owners are returning to their lovely home on Whidbey Island. My time is up and I am heading south. I am ready for a bit less rain and warmer temperatures. It has been raining a lot lately. One week it rained for almost a whole week straight before the blessed sun returned to the sky and everything dried out.

I have enjoyed my stationary time. Well mostly stationary. I have made a few excursions to the Oregon coast to meet up with friends. After a week away I returned to Whidbey and the house. I also have been to the Olympic Peninsula twice. I love exploring our national parks.

I have lived full time, well mostly, in my tiny RV for more than five years. Staying in one place has been a new experience for me. I have had plenty of time to explore. I have experienced the changing of seasons in the Pacific Northwest. I arrived at the beginning of spring and am leaving halfway through the fall.

For the first time in years, I have experienced changing of the seasons. It started rainy and blustery. As the spring progressed the rain stopped and everything came alive. I discovered when the rain stops in the spring everything greens up and flower season begins. After living in southern California for almost thirty years I thrived on the green here. There are so many tall trees. Walking in the woods smells wonderful. It really helps when that walk often ends at a beach.

This year I got to watch the progression of flower seasons. When I first arrived Daffodils and Tulips were everywhere. I was able to meet up with a good friend and enjoy tulip season in the Skagit Valley. It was breathtaking.

Tulip season folded into Rhododendron season. There was color everywhere. I discover private and public gardens to explore on my walks and bike rides. The east coast lilacs I grew up with competed for attention with the Rhodies. I love lilacs and it was a joy to have them in vases in the house. I would walk downstairs in the morning and smell the lilacs as I entered the living space. What a wonderful smell.

As the season rolled into summer the flowers faded, replaced by green, sunny, warm days. I got my fair share of kayaking, walking, and cycling in. Except for a few days, the temperatures were mild. It was good to be outside.

The flowers made a reappearance this fall when the Dahlias stepped forward to fill the flower void. Oh my, there were dahlias everywhere. They were on display at roadside stands, farms, yards, and even my front yard. I love dahlias. 

I have also seen a progression of birds as the season’s change. Hummingbirds were here and then they were gone, while they raised their young, and then they reappeared. Recently the crows who have been around all summer have disappeared. Where have they gone? I have seen eagles, osprey, sparrows (golden-crowned, song, white-crowned), finches, and flickers. My joy this summer was seeing Harlequin and Pintail Ducks for the first time. I have treasured the birds and the time I have to enjoy them. 

And then, of course, there is my special little brown birdy, who has made me feel so important, special, and unique. I see him every few days. He always acknowledges me. I enjoyed the times that he seems particularly thrilled to see me, flying over to visit and sitting on my foot or leg. I will miss him. I also know he is OK out there in his birdy world. 

I have made friends on Whidbey. One of them, Lela is going to join me for part of the trek south. She owns a Roadtrek RV as well. My neighbors, Robyn and Tom have been such a great resource and a delight. I am glad to have met them. 

All in all, it has been a very good way to spend another Covid summer.

Thank you Jim and Sandy for loaning me your beautiful home with the drop-dead gorgeous sunsets. I will always be grateful for this opportunity. 

Now the days are shorter. It gets dark early in the afternoon and stays dark later in the morning. I find I am longing for the sun and the warmth. It is time to go.

Today I am feeling thankful for the opportunities that present themselves to me. Today I am thankful I can recognize them. Today I am thankful for life.

 

Enduring Friendships-Getting Ready…

Have you ever had friends for what seems like a lifetime? I have.

I first met the Hatfield family as a young girl. My two older sisters and I babysat their three children. I was around twelve when I first joined the cue of available babysitters. On longer than one day assignments I would join a sister and take on the Hatfield kids. They were wonderful and very rambunctious children and it often would take two of us to actively babysit for them.

As we grew up the Hatfield family moved away. First, they moved to downtown Wilmington, Delaware (I grew up in the suburbs), and then halfway across the country.

As we, my sisters, and I grew up we got active in our own lives, and eventually, we lost touch with the family, except for the catch-up Christmas Cards every year.

Fast forward to 1975. I became a Vista Volunteer in northwestern Wisconsin. As the only nurse in the local program, I was sent for special training for disaster emergencies. I went to Milwaukee for a two-day training session. I knew the Hatfields lived nearby in Mequon, thanks be for Christmas Cards with return addresses. On a whim, I called them, and at the end of my training, now as a young adult woman, I reestablished my friendship with them.

It has been a blessing, profound and wonderful as I established a friendship with all of them that has endured over the years. They have loved and supported me unconditionally. Sharon, the mom, has been my mentor, teacher, astrologer, friend and so much more. In many ways, she has helped me shape my life. When I think of Sharon and her family my heart is full. 

When we were still babysitting for the kids, Sharon was an early example of an independent, strong, honest, and loving woman. We thought she was cool because she worked for Planned Parenthood, played the guitar, and had all the Joan Baez and Bob Dylan albums. For a mom in the 60’s she was cool. She was outspoken and voiced her opinions and beliefs without hesitation. As I look back to this early connection I realize now that she was shaping my life, even then.

Eventually, we met up, again, in Minnesota. I lived in the Twin Cities and they lived in Marine on St Croix, east of the cities. I would go visit when I needed to talk to someone. I would go visit when I needed to feel love. I would go visit and housesit while Sharon and David (her husband) traveled the western part of the USA. David was a hospital administrator and with his help and support, I was able to get a job at St Paul Children’s Hospital. Specialty jobs were hard to come by for nurses at that moment in time.

After a few more moves around the country, Sharon and David retired to Rockville, Utah, just outside the west entrance of Zion National Park. The “kids” were grown and had established themselves in different parts of the country.

Over the years all the kids and I have stayed in touch, at least through Facebook.

So why am I telling you this? My friend Sharon is celebrating her ninetieth birthday on June 23rd. They are having a party in the park in Rockville. Friends and family are coming to celebrate this milestone. Truly I think everyone is coming because they love her. She has shaped many lives with her honest and giving nature.

When I first received an invitation to join the celebration I said no. It is a thousand-mile drive and blah, blah, blah. Then I stopped and thought if this was eight years ago and I had just bought this rig, would I hesitate to go? Well, No. I would hop in my rig and hit the road.

I changed my mind. On June Ninteenth I am on the road. I head south and east. First stop, Pendleton Oregon, where I will join David Jr and his daughter and we will convoy to southern Utah. I am as excited about this meet-up as I am about the party. David is Sharon’s oldest son. We have had our own adventures over the years, getting stuck in a blizzard in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northern Minnesota in the middle of the winter being one of them. He helped outfit me for my first backpack and along with a friend from Vermont introduced me to hiking and camping the backcountry. I could go on but I will not.

I am telling you, this family has helped shaped my life.

We will head south in my rig and his car. His daughter Taylor Rose will ride between the two vehicles and keep everyone company. I will have time to catch up with them as we stop to rest and spend one night at a hotel. Them in a room and me in my rig.

As the time draws closer (8 days today) I am getting excited to have a new adventure to head towards. My rig is ready. My refrigerator is ready and I too am ready.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of people as I have been pretty secluded over the last year and a half. It is good to have my RV, If peopleing is too much for me I can disappear into my very own space and even shut the door. The party is set up for social distancing and I am sure the mask will come out. This is the first chance I have really taken in a long time Yet, How Could I Miss This Celebration.

Adventure awaits and I am going to embrace it. Adventure awaits and I am walking into it with my arms and heart wide open. Adventure awaits and I look forward with excitement and love to seeing Sharon and her family again.

It is Exciting. Life is An Adventure.

Feeling a Sense of Accomplishment

There are times in my life that I get frustrated with the everyday world. I would like everything to run smoothly and efficiently without any attention from me. This is not how my normal everyday works. I bet it is not how yours works, either.

When I first got my rig I decided upfront that I was going to hire someone to do any needed repairs. That type of thinking did not last long. Before I knew it I was under the rig, in the engine, and fixing anything that might have needed fixing. I am, after all, my father’s daughter. My two sisters are my father’s daughters as well.

I am not the most gentle of RVers. I travel on dirt roads and small country roads. I don’t particularly like freeway or highway driving. At least once a year I go through my rig and tighten screws, replacing them if need be. It is good to do home checks.

My refrigerator in my RV is a little workhorse. And I mean “little”. It has seen wear over time. It has been jostled. It has been filled to the hilt. More than a year ago the door started to show some issues. I decided that while I was stationary I was going to work on it.

It was not easy work. It required new tools, new thoughts, and ideas. My door was sliding off the bottom pin. Although it would close I could never guarantee that when I opened it that it wouldn’t slide off the pin. Thanks to J&B Weld and my trusty Dremel tool I created new holes to support the pins.

Of course while I was working on that I decided to buy some contact wall paper and add it to the front door panel so that it would look spiffy. It covers the dents and scratches and looks brand new.

Of course, as I was finishing that project I discovered that my door latch no longer worked. After perusing the YouTube Videos I discovered what needed to be done. In the process, I broke some of the plastic and finally bought a new latch. The latch that came out so easy did not go back in that way. I contacted my favorite everything Roadtrek person and with the help and encouragement of Campskunk, my latch is now in place and my refrigerator door has the sweetest click.

The Workhorse is Back.

When I tackle projects, such as this, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride. I am glad I can ask for help and ideas. I am glad when it all works out. I am glad my door won’t come off. I am really glad I have a snazzy refrigerator that is ready to take on the next road trip. Yep it is an afternoon of feeling good.

On to the next project.

Rounding up the Wagon, Heading South

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I am reluctantly leaving Idaho for points south. Why? This weekend it is suppose to drop to the teens (F) at night and the temperature is also going to be chilly during the day. I don’t do cold and I don’t do snow. It is time to head south.

A Beautiful Fall Day

It is hard to leave Idaho. I love the country here, yet more importantly, I love my friends Linda and Steve. I have felt safe and secure in their borrowed home about 2 hours north of Boise. I have been in Boise at their full-time home for the past couple of weeks. I have enjoyed the company and the ease of our companionship. We have walked and hiked and talked a lot. Linda and I are both birders so we have been out searching for the birds and enjoying beautiful fall days.

Now it is time to venture south. Before I do, however, I will be heading east and to the Camas Wildlife Refuge to find the Sandhill Cranes. I love them. I follow those birds everywhere. The best part of heading four hours east is… Linda will be taking her Roadtrek and joining me. We are both photographers and bird watchers. It is fun to have company to explore a new area. It is fun to have someone to ooh and ahh with. I am looking forward to the company and the fun.

Sandhill Cranes

Friday I will drive south looking for warmer weather. By the end of the month, I will arrive in San Diego. I will get all my medical and dental checkups done, visit with friends (from a safe distance). No later than January I will head east to the California Desert and points east. It is desert season.

The adventure of my current lifestyle continues. I am getting ready to get on-the-road. I hope you will continue to follow along on my adventures. 

 

 

Getting Ready to Roll in the Time of Covid

My Roadtrek

In RV lingo – I am getting ready to roll.  I am going


to be moving back into my sweet little Roadtrek and heading out into the wide-open spaces of the American West.

All good things come to an end. My time “Sheltering in Place” with my friends, Cynthia and Ward is coming to a close. It is time to give them their home back. We have gotten along more than well, not one argument. I will miss them. This three-month adventure has made me realize that community living is definitely possible.

Where am I going?  I am heading north. As I am sitting in the middle of a Santa Ana and things are warming up in San Diego county I realize it is time to head for the coast and the mountains in search of cooler weather. First I will venture to Ventura for a few days to meet up with Dan Neeley of Dan Neeley RV Services who knows all things Roadtrek. It is time to get some work done on my rig. We have been trying to get together since January, without success.

I have good friends in so many places. It makes it easy to travel and feel safe from all those germs out there. A few summers ago Miss Elsie the Cat and I spent most of a summer in Donnelly, Idaho. My good friend Linda and her husband, Steve, offered us the use of their cabin in the mountains. It was a beautiful summer of hiking, biking, and using the lakes, that are generously dispersed throughout this beautiful country. It was also a summer of getting to know Linda and Steve better.

I am returning sans Elsie. I asked Linda if their second home might be available and without hesitation, she said yes. Why not shelter in place there? Why not enjoy the mountains and water? Why not?

My 1st Summer in Idaho

Ooooohh there are so many possibilities.

It is time to clean out my rig and put what is not needed into storage for the next several months. I am spending time cleaning and getting things done while still enjoying the company of my friends. My new bikes are getting excited. I occasionally hear their chains rattle in anticipation.

This will be the first adventure out since Covid 19 arrived on the American scene.

What will I do differently now than when I traveled before?

  • Wash my hands often.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available and use it.
  • Wear gloves when I pump gas. It had not occurred to me until Covid that touching a gas pump handle is dirty. Think of all the people who touch a handle on any given day. I have disposable gloves or work gloves that I will use when I pump gas.
  • I have masks, thanks to Cynthia. I will use them when I encounter others and will faithfully wear them.
  • The free tours of my rig are on hold for now. 😕
  • I will eat at home almost exclusively. I have a small but efficient kitchen in my rig and it will be used.
  • I am so thankful for my own bathroom. I will be able to avoid public restrooms. And I can shower at ease in my rig.
  • It will be unique to visit others while socially distancing (6-8 feet away), but at least we can visit.

There will be challenges as well. How do I approach laundromats to wash my clothes? I will have to enter a grocery store. I haven’t seen the inside of one since early March.  Remaining alert and attentive will help me weave my way through the challenges as they arise.

This will be a good getaway for me. I have had a lot to deal with in the past six months. I know this adventure out will not be truly normal, yet I hope I still have the excitement of seeking out new adventures and places. This year I will be on a careful and watchful adventure. Normal times are not here yet.

And if things bottom out again in the next week and a half…..it is not a bad option to remain “Sheltered in Place” with my good friends in San Diego.

Today I am thankful for good friends, my rig and knowing how to safely, move through my world.

 

Into Africa

I am going to Africa. Saturday morning my friend, Phyllis and I board a plane at JFK International Airport and we are off.

How did I get to this point? First I agreed to go on this adventure. Early in March I moved into Phyllis’s condo for a couple weeks and we planned. Each morning after breakfast we moved to our computers and began to put this trip together. First we started with the photo safari and then moved on from there.

Pangolin Photo Safaris ended up being our Safari of choice. We will be traveling with professional photographers. I am excited to be able to learn from them. I am excited to see animals and birds  and learn how to photograph them better. I am excited. Our tour includes a hot air balloon ride. That excites me too. Kenya and this safari is the climax of this trip.

It was Phyllis who said “If I am traveling that distance, I want to see as much as I can”. We extended our stay to one month. Then we decided two months would be better. We got input from good friends who planned their own independent trip to Africa (thank you Mary Z) and decided we could do this as well.

Several blogs helped guide us to figure out routes, places to stay and things to do. With the ten hour time difference it took a while to put the trip together. I did have a few late nights so I could contact places when they were open.

And then in the middle of all the planning, I had surgery to remove my right thyroid for what everyone thought would be a benign nodule. Instead it came back positive for cancer. After a few shed tears and oh my God moments, I had discussions with my surgeon and endocrinologist and a second opinion at UCSD Moores Cancer Center. Everyone said go to Africa and so I am. I was started on Synthroid to keep my numbers low. The rest of the treatment is on hold until fall. I am turning the cancer shingle to the wall for the summer and am off on a grand adventure. I know that sounds easy yet, in reality I have to keep my anxiety at bay. It is good to do research but not too much.

Tuesday I picked Phyllis up at the airport in New Jersey. She came to stay at the lake for a few days. In the wee hours of Saturday morning we are climbing aboard British Air and flying off into the wild blue yonder.

Here is our tentative itinerary in a nutshell.

  • Victoria Falls is the first stop. I plan on getting wet in the mist of the falls. Did you know that elephants sometimes walk through downtown Victoria Falls? Elephants!!!!
  • Three days later we will fly to Nelspruit, South Africa and rent a car.
  • After one night in town, it will be time to explore Kruger National Park. We plan a week in the park. We hope to see the big five-buffalo, elephant, rhino, lion, and leopard. In Kruger you can rent cottages in different areas. We are staying in cottages in two different sections of the park. The other three nights we will be staying at a private reserve. Hikes and Safaris are included in our itinerary.
  • When we depart Kruger NP we plan to meander south along the east coast of south Africa. This is the most un-set part of our itinerary. We are going on a road trip.
  • It will be spring in South Africa. Flowers will be starting to bloom. I am looking forward to the gardens and the flowers and visiting National Parks as we travel.
  • Our next big stop is West Coast National Park. We will see more animals and wild flowers. We have registered for a day hike in this park and staying in Langebaan, a town just outside the park.
  • Next is Cape Town. We will be staying at the Parker House, again a recommendation. Sight unseen I have no doubt we will like our accommodations. The owners have been instrumental in helping us with some of the details of this journey, a rental car for one. It is nice to know that someone has our backs and we can touch base with them if we need to.
  • Finally we fly to Kenya and go on our official Safari. I am hoping to see many animals and birds. The Wildebeest migration is at the top of the list.

Elsie the cat and my rig are staying at my sister’s, on the lake in northern New Jersey. Ginny and my niece are taking the rig out for a weekend camping trip. We have gone through all the nuts and bolts on running the rig and turning on the house. The owners manual is close by and I told her that if she has any questions to ask on the RV Lifestyles or Roadtrek Hymer Facebook pages. People have always been helpful when questions are asked.

Here is my condensed summer adventure. I am excited and a little nervous. Hopefully I will remember to try to enjoy my journey just one day at a time. I will remember to breath and allow myself to open up to the experience.

There will be definitely more to come. I am planning to blog often and post photos, of course. I hope you will come along for the journey.

 

Living With or Without Cancer-Getting Ready to Roll

“There’s always a story. It’s all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything’s got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” – Terry Pratchett

Today I am changing my story. Instead of dying with cancer I am now living with cancer. It is possible that I am fooling myself and there is no cancer within me to live with. Well that is a cool thought.

Moores Cancer Center

Last Wednesday, with the support of Yvonne, we drove to the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD (University of California San Diego). I had a second opinion appointment with one of the primary head and neck surgeons. I define second opinions as a way to gather more information, so that I can be comfortable making a decision that will shape and define my life.

This whole complex of buildings that makes up the cancer center and other technologies are imposing as you drive in. The structures are big and impressive. There is one building that is dedicated to all things radiological speaking. The Novel Technology building is so new that the staff is not sure what it does. I was curious enough to do some on line research. It appears that it is a specialty that works with deep brain tumors and microscopic surgery. Interesting. It is good to be impressed by what I see.

My appointment went well. I met with Dr Brummond and his associates. They were kind and amazingly good listeners, especially the medical student that did the intake interview. Most of the information that I was given was not new, but that is what I wanted, a confirmation that my surgeon and endocrinologist were on the right track. I will have the other half of my thyroid removed upon my return from Africa (yes I am going). I did receive one new piece of information. This doctor feels that if the biopsy on the left thyroid comes back negative for cancer he believes I don’t need the radioactive iodine treatment. So I will gather that information into the ongoing puzzle of thyroid cancer.

Dr Brummond feels it will be OK to wait until my return in the fall to have the surgery to remove the other half of the thyroid. That is good news, really good news. I am relieved that this appointment is over and that I can begin to really plan for a trip of a lifetime. I imagine my friend and travel companion, Phyllis is glad to hear this too.

With the help of a therapist I am now getting ready to go into the final planning mode for this trip. Today I got my typhoid shot. All the other meds are gathered and ready to go. I am planning to leave San Diego this coming Monday and begin an amble east. Elsie says her bags are packed as well. I am daring to allow myself to get excited without getting overwhelmed. Living with cancer allows me to dare, to get excited, to dream. I was already getting weary of the feeling of dread that has been hanging over me. As I take each step towards Africa, the dread will disappear more and more.

My life is too short to be fearful and experience dread. That is a hard way to live. I would rather live hopefully and with a little or a lot of joy, depending on the day. These are always personal choices we all have to make every single day of our lives. Yes even you, dear reader are included here. Sometime the choice to live with hope is easy. Other days well we all have to dig a bit deeper to find that place. And so dig I shall.

Getting to Roll…New Jersey here I come….AFRICA here I come.