Uh Oh-Camping Trip Interrupted

After a brief visit with my Ohio sister, Ruth and my great nephew, Ward, my New Jersey sister, Ginny,  and I left for a camping trip to the east coast and her home.

Well that camping trip did not last long. We camped for one night on a beautiful reservoir that border Ohio and Pennsylvania and then…..being sick happened. I was hit first. We instantly made a decision to head to I-80 and head for home.

 

Here is what I know today.

  • I love my sister, for doing the five plus hours of driving. She never flinched, just got behind the wheel and rolled. (80 on 80 she says). I don’t even want to know.
  • I love the fact I was in an RV. I disappeared to the back and was able to crash on a comfy bed.
  • I love the fact that said RV has a bathroom.
  • I love rest stops on the interstate.

A day later Ginny succumbed. By then we were home and she could retreat to her comfy bed. Then a day later her husband, Frank, succumbed. Ay yi yi. We are all in recovery mode and life is looking a little brighter. Food is beginning to look and taste good and we have survived another sickly adventure in life.

Being sick is no fun. Listening to what my body needs, takes a little attention and agreeing that I don’t need to be strong. There are times that the best thing I can do is crawl into bed and feel sorry for myself and sleep it off. Sometimes it is OK to let others help you out. As a proud and independent person, this is not always easy to admit.

A good thing about family is that we can push past the barriers that one sets for oneself and help each other out. Ginny helped me when I was at my worst. Frank and I helped Ginny when she was at her worst. And the two sisters were there for Frank when he was at his worst.

The real bottom line, here, is IT IS NO FUN BEING SICK. Yet when it does happen it is good to have family and friends close by who are more than willing to jump in and help out.

Hmm, I am getting hungry.😋

The Adventure of the Anxious Traveler

Navajo National Monument

Since leaving San Diego, I have had a beautiful ride and some nice hikes in my favorite parts of the United States. I have visited friends and helped out where I can. It has been a relaxing and easy time.

As I was crossing the Navajo Reservation, I found, although I was enjoying the scenery, I was anxious. The closer I got to Durango, CO the more my anxiety increased. I tried breathing. I tried diverting my thoughts. And finally I took a Xanax.

Rafting the Animas, Durango

The big question, why was I so anxious? I love this area of Colorado. It has a bit of a feeling of coming home. Why the anxiety?

  • Jim and I bought 45 acres of property here, in 1999. It was going to be our retirement home. We have upgraded the property. For the first couple of years after Jim died I was unable to come to Durango, much less visit the property. Last year I realized that 45 acres was more than I wanted to manage on my own and I put it on the market.
  • I have a good realtor. I have a lawyer that is making sure all my paperwork is in order. I have good friends here who offer to help me any way they can. Yet I find it is hard to let go. I try to keep the emotions out of this sale. It is, at times, hard to do.
  • As I drive across this great country I have a lot of time to think. If I focus too much on the issues with my thyroid and cancer I get a little anxious. Have I made the right choice to wait until fall? How long do I have to live? How long do any of us have to live? Why does the diagnosis of cancer create all these mixed up emotions in anyone? Well aren’t these just a bunch of loaded questions.

Very good friends

What surprises me about anxiety is that it shows up suddenly. I have done little to precipitate it. I would like to tell it to go away. If only it was that easy. On the drive into Durango, I diverted my attention with a qood audio-book. This technique helps a lot. It has to be a captivating book. Stopping to take photos also helps me refocus (sic). I know I can reach out to friends as well. Not that afternoon as I was driving in and out of cell range.

I have been in Durango for two days now. I have had a chance to visit with friends, meet my realtor, and take care of some business. I have gotten one good bike ride in and I am doing better. The anxiety is less, yet I still feel it simmering in the deep backgrounds of my being. I am breathing more, throwing in a little meditation and reminding myself that this is just property and as others have said to me, “it is just business”.

I am choosing to find things to do that bring me joy. That has helped lessen the anxiety a lot. If you have never been to this country, joy to me, is being outside and in nature. I can hike, bike, walk and more. There are lovely stores in town that cry out to be explored. The art galleries are my favorite. I may even go off to the hot springs and soak. There is a lot to do in Durango.

I am more than coping. I am being adult when I need to be and then I can drop that and go off and explore and enjoy my day. I am remembering to breath. It is good to inhale spring at elevation. The sky is clearer and bluer. The mountains are an amazing backdrop. I think I will kick anxiety out the door and go and enjoy my day.

 

 

 

Plans & A Change of Plans

I am getting ready to become mobile in my Roadtrek with Elsie the Cat. Around this time I start to get questions from  others: What are your plans for this year?” “Where are you going next?” I often hesitate because I really don’t know the answer.

I was hoping to go to mainland Mexico with friends for the winter. The rig is ready, diesel fuel supposedly can be found better on the mainland than Baja, Elsie is set (records and shots are up to date), and then…..

I am staying within a day’s drive of San Diego for the next few months. Why? Yes indeed, why, is a very good question to ask.

Returning to San Diego is always an unknown. Can I come in and get back out without anything too caustic happening? This year I limped in and I am walking out, however, I will be back sooner than planned.

Surgery is pending on my thyroid. A pesky little nodule that was found seven years ago, following a bicycle accident, is growing a bit too fast. It is growing a bit too fast for the endocrinologist and my surgeon and me. The biopsies have been benign and the choice of what to do was left to me. Oh great leave a decision up to a Libra (sic).

After weighing all the alternatives, taking into account my history of breast cancer and my favorite surgeon retiring in a year- I decided now is the time. Now is a relative term. Sometime in the next twelve weeks I will get a call from Kaiser giving me a date for surgery.

Although heading for the desert is my goal-I plan to leave on January 8-the desert is going to be a little closer than originally planned. It is time to rediscover the Anza Borrego and the California desert. Palm Springs is on the agenda, too. When I get “the call” I will be a comfortable day’s drive back to San Diego.

So these are the facts yet the truth is, although I made the decision with wise and good input from people I respect, it is still surgery. If I take the time to let this chain of events into my every day consciousness, I am a bit nervous and unsure.

i don’t know the outcome. I don’t know what surgery will be like. I don’t know what recovery will be like. I know I will need to go on medication. What will that be like?

And even more basic questions involve the logistics. Where am I going to stay? How do  I get to day surgery and how do I get home? Where is Jim when I need him? How do I do this on my own? And the list goes on.

Here is what I do know. I want everyone to support me in the most positive way they can. I don’t want to hear any horror stories. You don’t need to share surgical or medical horrors with me. I already know them, remember I used to be a nurse. I don’t need anyone second guessing my doctors or the medical health care system I am a part of (Kaiser).

Please don’t suggest alternatives. You can trust I have researched them. My full medical team includes all of the above doctors mentions and an acupuncturist, a massage therapist and more. Hopefully I have got it covered.

What you can do is to tell me good stories and good outcomes. Give me a call. Divert my attention. Love me a lot or love me a little.. And if you can’t be positive then be silent and wish me well.

Meanwhile it is time to finish up in San Diego and get some hiking in. I need to find a few slot canyons and, hopefully enjoy a bit of warmer weather. It is time for Miss Elsie to roll in the desert dirt and sand. It is time to adventure into the New Year with as much gusto as I can.

Happy New Year and on to new adventures.

Plugged in & Getting Ready-Time to Head West

This morning after  a run to the post office, I returned to my sister’s, backed into my parking space and plugged EmmyLou the Roadtrek into shore power. Today was different though. Today I turned on the refrigerator. Today I did the wash. Today I began the prep for departure. Yes it is May and the west is calling.

Three generations. My two sisters Ruth & Ginny, Adrienne my niece and her daughter Quinn-just turned 2.

It is also good not to overstay my welcome. My sister, Ginny would never turn me away, but I also know it is time to go and give her and her husband and Kitty Lepore their home back. It has been a marvelous stay. On this trip east I have gotten to see all of my birth family. That is unique unto itself, especially when one lives in Florida, another in Ohio, and more in northern New Jersey. Oh and even though I sold my home in San Diego, I know the west will always be home. Like many in this large country we are scattered throughout and this is no small country.

I have no plans except to head west. Elsie and I will take it one day at a time. I am looking forward to meandering west rather than driving those long hours like I did to arrive in Ohio. I came across the south part of the country coming east. Going west, I will drive across the north part of the country as I head for Boise, Idaho.

Why Boise?, one may ask. I have been offered a wonderful opportunity. In early June I am going to Alaska for 2 weeks on a small cruiseship,  in the Inside Passage, southeast AK. The ship holds up to 75 people. I will be traveling with a friend of mine, Leslie. These ships get into places big cruise ships cannot. It is an active tour so there will be hiking and kayaking involved. I have always wanted to explore this part of Alaska more intimately, and now I have the opportunity to do just this.

Elsie cannot cruise with me. She is going on holiday in Boise with friends of mine, Linda & Steve. We seem to exchange animal sitting duties. El will be hanging out with Poncho the pup, Misty the, usually, invisible cat and Ophir who spends most of his cat time outside on gopher and mole duty. Although she may not be fond of the mix, she knows all of them so she will adjust for a few weeks while I am gone. And my heart is warm and glad that I can turn to this wonderful couple, my friends.

For the next few days I will be packing and putting everything into it’s proper place. Each time I stay somewhere for a while I find the need to nest again. There is usually a transition period, too. I get used to being around people and I find there is a period of adjustment that I need to make, when I return to my solo and nomadic life. This is an interesting phase of travel. When I was younger I consciously planned to be single my whole life. There was no need for a period of adjustment. I was happy and content. Then I met Jim. Since his death, over five years ago, being solo and single is different. I need to explore this period of adjustment, embrace it and allow it to be. Sometimes I get frustrated. I have been known to delay a trip by a few days, because I don’t feel well. I associate this with stress and needless worry and fear. I think it has gotten better. The first trip in 2013 I delayed by a week. Once I am in and on board I turn to enjoying myself as I explore new places. I really do enjoy my little home on wheels. Buying my Roadtrek was the best decision I ever made. I explore in comfort and at my leisure.

Time to pack.

 

 

On the Move, a Family Visit & Cancer

After a long and somewhat grueling drive across two thirds of the country, I made it to Ohio two weeks past. I found the drive grueling because I could not meander. I love to meander the backroads. I was on a mission to reach family in northern Ohio. So I pushed on.

It has been a good visit. I spent a week with my niece, Brittany, her husband, Trip and their toddler, Ward. I arrived to help this young family, while Ward is undergoing chemotherapy for childhood cancer. Well that sucks. Elsie and I got settled in to the spare bedroom and I met my grand nephew for the first time. And what a cutie he is.

Thomas the Train

I forgot how exhausting a one and half year old can be. I got up early and by the time I went to bed at night I was exhausted. As adults our main job is to entertain a young somewhat housebound toddler. It is hard to be out and about when one is immuno-compromised. I read books, put together puzzles, played numerous kinds of games and watched Thomas the Train many, many times. One knows when they have watched Thomas the Train one too many times. You know the characters by name, you know the plot and try not to roll your eyes when a little one asks to see the same movie three times in one day. 🙄

Brittany and I have had time to share our cancer stories and the stress that accompanies this diagnosis. There are a few clubs I wish I had never joined. The cancer club is definitely one of them. Cancer is a very personal diagnosis. The physical diagnosis is only a small part of the broad picture that cancer plays in someone’s life. Each diagnosis of cancer carries it’s own story. Each story is different. I believe that only those who have been slammed with this diagnosis can understand each other’s story on a different level than those who have not had that experience. We shared stories. Brittany asked questions about my diagnosis (breast cancer) and Jim’s. For those of you who are new to this page, Jim, my husband, died from metastasis of a salivary gland cancer over five years ago. All I can do is be honest with her. All I can do is support her and her husband’s process. And amid the stress, we can have fun and laugh and go out for a beer. The stress is not always visible but remains a presence even if lingering in the recesses of our daily lives.

Ward Rocking His Last Weekly Chemo

The good news is that Ward has completed ten weeks of weekly chemotherapy. He now moves on to chemo once every three weeks and will finish up in late May or early June. The story doesn’t stop there. He will continue to have CT scans at intervals for an undetermined time. Although cancer will recess into the further quiet reaches of the mind the stress revives with each doctor appointment or scan. All we can do is be there for each other.

Elsie and I moved into a lovely old hotel near my family. Grandma from Florida arrived today. She moved into the Porch house and we moved nearby. As it has sleeted and rained outside, we have been having a quiet day inside.  It is time to catch up and rest and plan.

I will be here for another week connecting with my sister, Ruth and continuing to support Brittany, Trip and Ward. Then I will begin to meander. I expect to be in northern New Jersey in early April to visit my other sister and plan time to visit friends as I travel in that direction. I did not expect to be in this part of the country, yet here I am. I want to make the best of it and it gives me the opportunity to visit and see places that I usually would not direct myself towards. Why???? Because I love the west and I miss it when I am gone. While the weather is cold and wet here in Ohio, I miss it even more. I will be heading west again sometime this spring. Those wide open spaces continue to call my name. How did a girl from Delaware end up calling the west home? Well this photo below may demonstrate a reason why.

Until I head west again, I will enjoy my time here in the east with family and friends. Life is just one big adventure.

It Is All About the Journey

A little over four years ago I began a journey in a little white Roadtrek, Rv. Little did I know it would become my permanent home, for now. It has been quite a journey for me and Miss Elsie the Cat.

As I reflect back on the beginning of this blog, yes I do go back and read entries, I recognize how far I have come. Some of those first entries were pretty raw. That is how it was during that time. Today I may still not be sure where I am going or what I am doing with the “rest of my life” yet I am out there experimenting and trying out my new wings that had to sprout after Jim’s death.

I don’t know if any answers have arrived to the many questions I had and still have today, yet I do recognize that I have grown and matured, well maybe a little. Grief is not easy. Some get through it in less time than others. I thought that three months after Jim’s death I would be done with it. I was wrong. I am able to recognize the steps I have taken. Most have been so small I don’t recognize them as they happen. I have to ponder on it and then there is this little tiny aha moment where I can see the change.

I have been traveling, this time, since early September. I have been exploring the southwestern United States. I have seen some beautiful places and amazing natural things. Nature has been at my beck and call or really, I have been at natures beck and call. I have wandered through Utah, sleeping in a tent, again, for part of the trip. I enjoyed the ruggedness and beauty of the back country. I enjoyed the company of two good friends, Mary Z and Linda, who willingly tolerated my sensitivity and stumbling. It was a good trip and one I am glad I took on.

I spent about two and a half weeks on my property in southern Colorado. The biggest decision of this trip took place while camped on the land. I have decided that 45 acres of property was more than I could take on. I was able to camp on the land and mourn the passing of this part of my life that was really Jim’s and mine.

Remember to click on the pics. It will enlarge them.

When I get back to San Diego and get the paperwork together, the land will go on the market. I am glad I spent the time I did on the property. When I made the decision to sell it, I felt relief and a sense of rightness. It makes me sad to see it go. I hope that someone else will care for it and love it as much as Jim and I did.

After Utah and Colorado, I started to visit places I had never been to before. Even more than the amazing places I have seen, the second part of this trip has been about friendships, new and old. I have met some really fun and interesting people since my arrival at Big Bend National Park. In other posts,  I have told you about a few of them.

Amazing 

&

Beautiful

                                        Places

Since Jim’s death I have withdrawn from people to a certain degree. I have learned that being around people can be exhausting. Even more than that is the fact many feel that it is time I leave my love and caring for Jim behind. But I have learned something – I can move forward in my life and bring my memories and love of Jim forward with me as I establish myself in my world as it is today. I can meet someone new if I want and the memories and love will only enrich any type of relationship I have from this moment forward. I have been forming new friendships with depth and meaning and fun. I am thankful that I am a more whole person for those memories. Will I continue to carry memories of Jim with me as I move forward? You bet. Will this stop me from forming all kinds of wonderful relationships? Nope.

Since my arrival at Big Bend I have been having fun. It is an easy and wonderful kind of fun. I thank the women and couples,  I have been meeting for helping to bring that part of myself forward. Peggy, Mary and I are all living full time in our rigs. Each of us is doing it in our own style. One designed her rig so she could sleep on the streets and no-one would suspect that it was an RV. Another travels with her dog and cat. She stays in one place for longer. I have been learning from these ladies and am very glad to have met them and the menagerie of animals that accompanies all of us. I have laughed more. I have enjoyed the easy company of these women. We all meander and we have been having fun.

Mary, Janet & Peggy * Roxie the Dog*

There are all kinds of relationships in this life. I really don’t mind having to work hard at relationships. If the relationship is good then it is worth the effort. I have been discovering the joy of easy relationships. I like the pure joy of discovering that people like me just for who I am. I can laugh easier and talk more profound with easy acceptance. I am rediscover joy. How cool is that?

Now I am getting ready to return to San Diego, for a little over two months. Elsie and I are going to move out of the RV and into a studio rental for this time period. I am looking forward to it. Although it is only a studio it will seem a bit large to the two of us. We have been living in a very small space. I am looking forward to this with excitement and a bit of fear. Ah, there it is, my friend and ally, fear. I feel that it is time to see how this feels. Is San Diego suppose to be my home? I don’t know. Staying in one place for a little while may help that knowledge to become clearer. Or, it may help me to acknowledge that I really like this lifestyle for now. I am preparing for a new part of the continuing adventure of life. It is going to be so nice to visit with my friends who have been such a major support in my life, before and since Jim’s death.

And so the journey continues. I look forward to it with anticipation and just a wee bit of trepidation. I am human. I am glad for my side kick Elsie. She is getting braver too. We reflect each other. I will continue to take you on my journey as it unfolds. Today the desert, in a few days, San Diego.

COME ON ALONG.

Totality


fullsizeoutput_8201My extended summer vacation is drawing to a close. I have had an adventurous and good time in Idaho and Montana. I can’t thank my friends, Linda (for her “cabin”) and Mary (including me in her adventures) enough. It has been a fun.

The finale to my time in Idaho and Montana, and a little bit of Oregon was watching the Eclipse in totality, with new friends. We were in Unity, Oregon. The eclipse was every cliche or phrase or word you have ever formulated for amazing. I had told myself that I would not take photos. I was just going to watch it. Well the best laid plans can go awry. I did get one good shot of totality. It was fun to take pictures of the people and the shadow, and the sunset. Yep it was downright awesome.

And to think, I almost missed it. What?, you may wonder. She was planning to do this since last spring. How could she almost miss it?

I have been out in the back country for most of the summer. I have hiked and biked and kayaked and more. I have spent a lot of time alone. When the news started coming in that they were expecting close to a million people in Oregon for the eclipse, I hesitated. McCall Idaho was expecting up to 100,000 people. People were worried about traffic. There was concern that gas stations would run out of gas. The more the reports came in, the more unsure I became. I was not sure I wanted to be around all these people. I have seen one other eclipse. I could easily head south and avoid the masses.

Mary & Janet waiting for Totality

What drew me to Unity to see the eclipse was my friend, Mary. I had made a commitment to her to share an RV site. I had made a commitment to be there. I like my friends and I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t break commitments very easily. So with some hesitation on my part, I drove to Unity, Oregon.

And the result? 

I had a great 4 days. The group I was with were delightful and easy going. The day before the eclipse we went to Unity Reservoir and mucked about on the water. Everyone got along. The town and the townspeople were welcoming and helpful. We had a great big grassy area to sit in, the morning of the eclipse. Other people outside of our group joined us. Everyone was having fun getting to know each other. There were no hoards of people. We left on the August 22. There was no traffic. We had no difficulty driving or getting gas. The trip to Medford Oregon was long yet easy.

 

I am glad I stretched myself. I am glad I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and mesh into a fine group of people. I believe that it is important for me to be a bit uncomfortable from time to time. The emotionally scary experiences help me to become more-more human, more whole, more of everything. I know several posts back, I spoke of fear. Fear has been pretty much a part of my day to day existence since Jim died. I can let it drown me or I can make it my ally. The trip to Unity is a good example of asking fear to be my ally. When I support this part of myself and push forward to a new experience I grow and fear becomes a tiny bit more distant.

Sunset in Totality

I am driving south. I am going to be in San Diego for two weeks, starting this Sunday. I have to visit the person I have an ongoing relationship with for another six months or so, my dentist.😁 I have to sign up for Medicare. Good heavens, I am 65 this October, how did that happen? The rig is getting checked out and serviced. It is time to get my eye exam and order new glasses. It will be a busy two weeks.

I am hoping to see all my San Diego friends. I have missed my major support group, since Jim’s death. You all know who you are. I hope to see each and every one of you in my two weeks in town before I adventure out again.

Tonight I am at the beach. I have missed the ocean and have felt a draw to the west to say hello to the Pacific, and Jim (he was buried at sea). It is time to get my shoes on and take a walk. It is time to say hello to the wide open ocean.