It’s All About Water

Payette River

I am about water. We are all about water. We are made of water. Without water we and this planet would not exist as we know it today.

I love bodies of water great and small. This spring is about water in the west. There has been an abundant supply of snow this past winter and spring runoff is happening, in the lakes, rivers and streams. I have heard several comments from the locals here in Idaho regarding the amount of water in the rivers this spring. “I have never seen the Payette River this high.” “There is usually a beach here.” “Wow!”

Since Jim’s death the ocean has been my friend. I sent his ashes into the Pacific and I have found some comfort in being close to the ocean since then. Leaving the ocean behind was hard for me and I was wondering how much I would miss it. When I discovered these wild flowing bodies of water, I find, I have not missed the ocean one bit.

Pacific Ocean in all it’s Glory

I love water. I love it when it is quiet and meandering. I am attracted to weather at it’s worst. I think many of us are. There is something about nature in all it’s fury that beckons me to go outside, climb the mountain, stand on the sand and witness the un-tameness of it all. Big waves? You bet. Wild surf and bad storms? Yep. I once had to crawl under a boulder on a mountain peak while lightening struck and hail was coming down, fast and furious (it was a surprise storm). At these moments, when nature is in it’s full fury I am reminded that I am a speck in this universe. It is a good reminder and humbling.

Spring is a juicy time of the year. Water abounds and is usually at it’s most prevalent. There is still snow on the mountains, more water is still to come. This year I am going rafting for six days on the Flathead River in Montana. Ah, more water. I love to put my feet in water and if it is warm enough I love swimming in it. In San Diego, the summer is boogie-boarding season. There is a quiet joy in kayaking or paddle-boarding a peaceful lake. It is fun to  meander the shore-lines and see what I can see. There is nothing better than the sound of a loon on a quiet lake.

Fields near Donnelly

Since I have arrived in Donnelly, Idaho, I have been surrounded by large bodies of water, Cascade Lake and Payette Lake. As a nature photographer I really enjoy all this water. It attracts birds and all sorts of wildlife. If I want a chance to photograph, all I have to do is put on some mosquito repellant and sit by a lake or stream and wait. Right now the open fields have quite a bit of water in them. I can stop almost anywhere and wait. If I am quiet and patient enough the animals and birds will come. My favorites this spring are grebes and sandhill cranes. They are my current favorites until something else attracts my attention.

Greebe

Greater Sandhill Crane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cascade Lake

Ponderosa State Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water attracts all of nature, People, animals, birds, bugs-the list could go on. Water is a part of my life and I am happy to have it there. I like to camp next to it. Fishing is fun. There are times that I enjoy renting a hotel room right on the beach and sit and contemplate life, as the waves gently or not so gently crash onto the sand. When evening falls and a lake is still, the sunset is awe inspiring. It quiets my spirit before sleep.

Today and every day I celebrate water in all of it’s wondrous forms.

 

A Quick Update

Poncho

I made it to Boise, Idaho. I am house sitting in this beatifully situated town for a week. My charges are Poncho the dog and Misty the Invisible Cat. Why is she invisible? She resides most of the time under the master bed or under the covers. Ah it reminds me of Elsie the cat.

I am including a link to my latest post on the Roadtreking site.

Roadtreking: Celebrating the Small RV Lifestyle.

I thought you might enjoy reading of my adventures as I was heading for Idaho. Click on the underlined link above and it will take you to this post. I guest post for this site approximately twice a month. If you enjoy RV’ing you may want to follow this blog.

I also have updated my photos of my travels. If you would like to see more of these click on the link below and it will take you there.

Photos of Life in a Small Motorhome

When you look at the page on Shutterfly I have added some new albums. Zion National Park would be a good place to start and then move on from there. Idaho will be starting soon.😀

I am in Boise until later this week. When Linda and Steve return I will be heading north to Donnelly and McCall, Idaho. I am looking forward to spending some time in one place. It is time to catch up and reflect on a year since I sold my house and moved into my small and comfortable RV full time. There is more to come.

Meanwhile, I hope you are celebrating Memorial Day, well. Get out the grill and enjoy the day. While you are having fun and enjoying the beginning of summer, never forget what this holiday is all about. I remember as a child we would drive by cemetaries and see the American flag flying from the majority of graves. It was and always is a touching thing to see. Remember to honor those who have served or are serving today. It is part of the freedom we enjoy.

 

Challenges of a Small Home Lifestyle

Lake Jennings

I have been in San Diego County since March 19th. I have camped in two places since my return and I am getting ready to move to a third place. It is important to book ahead when Easter weekend looms on the horizon. My first campground was at Lake Jennings. It was a beautiful site, on a scenic reservoir. Now I am a bit closer in towards San Diego at another very nice campground, Santee Lakes. This weekend I will move once again and then when Easter is over I return to Santee Lakes.

Wood Duck Mama at Santee Lakes

When I really enjoy a place, where I have stopped to camp, I find it is hard to let go of it and move on to the next one. I think I, un-intentionally, like to set down roots. I believe many of us do. That is why we buy homes or land. That is why we nest.

I think it is a very good lesson to un-nest and re-nest once again. I have found, since I have taken on this experiment in living that there are two responses from people. The younger generation tells me how cool it is and that is what they want to do. The older generation ( people my age and older) don’t always understand what I am doing. I have to admit I don’t always understand what I am doing.  I do know that the longer I have been living this lifestyle the more comfortable it gets. Do I think I will do this long term? No. I miss my community of friends and eventually community will be what draws me back to settling in one place again.

There are challenges with this lifestyle, as there are with any. When I am back in San Diego I visit my storage locker a couple of times. I like sitting around what is familiar and loved. It feels like all these objects and belongings are waiting. Hmm…I am waiting too. I am not sure what I am waiting for, yet, I am waiting. My belongings know what they are waiting for. They are waiting for a home.

What are some of the challenges?

  • My living space is very, very small. Storage is always an issue.
  • What do I really need to live a comfortable life? This is a question I ask myself several times a month.
  • Things need to be orderly. I am somewhat of a slob. I am not dirty but I tend to lay my clothes and belongings other places than where they should be. I cannot afford to do this in this small space. If something is pulled out, when I am finished with it, it has to go back to it’s home instantly.
  • It is amazing how quickly this small place can become dirty. I clean every single day. The carpeted area gets vacuumed. The floor gets swept daily. The floor also get’s washed every other day.
  • I have a small “wet bath”. When I take a shower, the whole bathroom gets cleaned. This usually happens every other day.
  • The garbage cannot linger. I have to remove it every other day. Smells accumulate in a small space.
  • When I want to go somewhere in my Roadtrek, I can’t simply pull out. I have to disconnect the water, and electric. The refrigerator has to be moved to battery power. Are all the windows and doors closed and locked? And where is Miss Elsie the cat, usually sleeping in the driver’s seat.
  • I have two of everything. That means if more than two people come to visit, they either have to come with their dish in hand or I get paper plates and plastic ware, which I really do not like using.
  • When getting ready to travel, is everything in it’s place. I have a check list that, even after close to four years, I still look at. It is not unusual to miss one thing.
  • When I had a house I noticed when things went wrong, only after they had escalated. In a small space I notice more quickly if something needs attention. This is of course a house on wheels and all homes have issues over time. The time is just shorter in a small home.
  • It is amazing what I can lose in here. Now my keys go back where they belong as soon as I enter my home.
  • I used to have a whole file cabinet. Today, I have one portable file with all the essentials in it.
  • I usually do not read books. I read on my Kindle App. There is limited space for the real thing. I miss turning the pages. I would, however, prefer to read than not read. 📚
  • The cat litter cannot be ignored. That gets cleaned at least once a day. It took a bit of research, I finally found a type of cat litter that has minimal odor. Yay. Tracking means vacuuming.
  • If I have to take my RT in for repairs, what do I do with Elsie the cat? When I am in San Diego I can drop her at my friend Nancy’s (thank you, Nancy). When I am on the road I usually will put her in her cat carrier and if it is longer we find a hotel room.

I am sure that if I took more time I would discover more challenges. The challenges become a daily part of life and I don’t think about them too much. It is better to approach the unique situations as they come up. There is always a solution. The one nice thing about my RV is that if I break down somewhere (hasn’t happened) I have a place that is comfortable while I wait out the solution. That is nice.

I may just do another post on the benefits of this lifestyle. I have found there are many. Right now, though, today is moving day. I am off to Kumayaay Lakes Campground for Easter weekend. I am looking forward to staying here. Until about a year ago it was closed. Now it is open weekends and has come in handy when Santee Lakes was full. Time to do the process.

Happy Easter everyone.

 

 

Leaving the Sonoran-Arriving the California Desert

Today I move. In about two weeks I need to be back in San Diego. One more dental surgery to go and taxes need to be done. Sigh.

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Ah, Sunset

Last evening was the warmest evening I have spent in southern AZ. I could actually sit outside till long after the sun had dipped below the horizon. It was a perfect Sonoran desert evening. No wind, owls hooting, and the traffic had dwindled to a minimum. Elsie was busy watching things, out there in the world. Definitely a perfect evening.

I spent the last two days meandering the desert. There are no trails here except the ones the wild burros have made as they trek to the tinaja (water tank). I had to sign in to be on this land. The docent where I signed in said just follow the burrows. FTB. I did just that. I walked through the mountainous terrain to the valley that lies beyond. I walked into the wide dry wash and stood listening to birds. Those pesky birds are hard to find amongst the willows, palo verde and creosote.

What I thought was a dry wash revealed itself as I looked down. The burro tracks revealed a different story. I could see water at the bottom of their prints. The wash was not as dry as I first thought. Water, the life blood of the desert, the mountains and all humans. In this dry, harsh climate I have gained a new respect for water. The tracks at the tinaja were numerous and varied. Even the bees were there drinking from the green rank water. If I was really thirsty, I know I would be joining the others for a drink.

Those Pesky Chollas

Those Pesky Chollas

img_8671You have to be careful when walking in this country. Even though the cholla really do not jump sometimes it feels like they do. Most things are thorny and prickly and demand respect. There are many holes dug in the ground, big and small. They are critters homes. If you don’t observe where you walk you could stumble into one of these. It could lead to disaster. The first hike I did alone I returned to where I thought my RT was only to find I was quite a distance to the south. A strong sense of direction is a must. A map is even a better idea (I didn’t have one). I always carry a compass and in this case looked west. I knew there was a road out there somewhere.

I have seen desert Big Horn Sheep, climbing up and over the top of a rocky mountain. Two javelina surprised me as much as I did them one morning. They started up the mountain. One stumbled and slid down a rock but quickly regained his footing and the last I saw of it, it was running over the summit.img_8570

 

Desert Lily

Desert Lily

Wild flower season is beginning to happen here. With just the right amount of water the desert blooms with the tiniest of flowers. All are showy. It is hard to step around the white daisies that carpet the floor in these washes. The desert is a happy place when there has been rain. Ah, water. I could mention most of the flowers I have seen but that would take too long. The desert Lily is always one of my favorites.

Today El and I pack up and leave. I am not done with the desert yet. I am moving towards Anza Borrego State Park in the California desert. I am having a hard time saying goodby to southern AZ. I have seen so much, found some peace for my sometimes weary soul, and met some lovely people along the way. I know I will meet up with most of them again. We are all part of a group-the wandering, adventurous souls. We love to travel. It is a strong bond and one I want to explore more in depth.

17021834_10153749903052537_7288542039359449127_nI had the opportunity to visit for three glorious days with Missy and Dan. Missy and I have been friends for many years. They live on the east coast, splitting their time between Florida and Maine. It makes it hard to get together, yet every so many years we manage. It was a delight traveling, camping and hiking with them. I loved the access we had with their jeep. I love them.

I have no doubt that I will return to this country. The desert draws me back again and again. Who knew that this east coast woman would fall in love with the wide open space. Now it is time to pack and get ready to move.

I plan to carry my time in this country forward with me. It has changed me as each new experience does. I feel a little less alone and more at peace. These are good things and even if I forget these moments and feelings, I know my body and mind will hold them for me. That way I can tune into this anytime I want.

Getting ready to pack.

Listening

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I have spent the last two nights at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Refuge. It is in eastern Arizona and is a migratory stop to 7,000 plus, Sandhill Cranes. The whole valley is a stop for more than 23,000 of these beautiful birds. Each morning around dawn they leave in mass to feed in the nearby ranch fields. It is an amazing site to witness their departure and return to the refuge.

Leaving the refuge in the morning

Leaving the refuge in the morning

Arriving back at the Refuge around noon.

Arriving back at the Refuge around noon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The refuge is also home to many ducks, shore birds, owls, and yellow-headed blackbirds. Coyotes, bobcats, foxes and more make this their home as well. For those of us in our RV’s and tents, it is a free camping spot. I think the refuge provides the camping as most get up to see the pre-dawn take off.

cinnamon Teal

cinnamon Teal

Shovelers in Flight

Shovelers in Flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes it was amazing to see these graceful birds. Yes I loved the ducks and all the other birds. What was most amazing were the amount of sounds that surrounded me when I stopped and listened.

  • The cranes were never silent, even in the middle of the night.
  • The ducks quacked, squeaked and more.
  • The first evening when the yellow-headed blackbirds returned to the refuge they flew directly over my head. It was so amazing to listen to the sound of hundreds of wings. They were so close I could almost feel the breeze as they flew above.

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    Yellow-headed Blackbirds Arriving at the Refuge

  • Later as I was making my back to the RV, the reeds sounded like the wind was blowing, although it was still. It took me a few moments to realized that the blackbirds were making the noise in the marsh reeds.
  • The owls hooted in the trees surrounding the marsh.
  • Night two I was able to witness a murmuration up close as the blackbirds swooped in and out of the marshes. They created their own arial dance. I could hear them as the swooped and dove, settling for a few moments on the reeds and then taking to the air again.

Listening is defined as “giving attention with the ear”. It is an art form. There are classes to teach active listening. People listen to each other. A therapist listens to their clients. Fine music can sweep one away.

How often do we stop just to listen? How does the wind sound today? How does the quiet sound, right now? When it is too quiet do we actively do something to disturb it? What does silence sound like? This refuge was so alive I cannot tell you what silence sounded like.

boywithcat

Listening to nature is a form of meditation. It can quiet the mind, still the ever present rambling thoughts. I have found that it can increase my awareness of the present moment. The more I am quiet in the wilderness, the more I become aware of the subtlest sounds. As I stood in the refuge I realized that the ultimate experience at this place, was sound. There was so much of it all around. If I had not taken the time to quiet myself, I might have missed the sounds around me.

I have noticed, since leaving San Diego in January, that quiet is becoming more important to me. It is not quiet that I seek as much as it is the increasing awareness within myself to acknowledge the sounds that I don’t often pay attention to, like the blackbirds in the reeds. It was an amazing revelation to realize that the reeds were alive with birds. It drew me back the next night and so I was able to witness the murmuration.

Now I am listening to my stomach and it is telling me it is time for dinner.

Further Travels of Elsie

img_7404Hi this is Miss Elsie checking in. I am one traveling kitty. I have seen more than most kitties see in a whole lifetime.

we arrived in San Diego and for almost three months I thought we were stable. First we moved in with Janet’s friend, Pat. She has a great house. I love the wood floors where I can “rip and tear” to my heart’s content. One day this little girl came in the house and she really wanted to play with me. She scared one of my nine lives out of me. I have learned to become very good at hiding. After that day every time I heard little kid voices I ran and hid. Like I said I am good at that.

Then Janet disappeared for two weeks. I don’t know where she went. She did come back. For those two weeks I stayed at Nancy’s house. I really liked it there. I have always liked Nancy. I don’t run and hide from her. She talks so nice to me. She had a really cool back yard. There was a corner of the living room that smelled like catnip. It was fun to roll there.

Janet came back and we returned to Pat’s house again. Another reason I liked Pat’s house is that the windows are so low that I could look outside and never have to climb on anything. I liked looking out the windows. At first I could go out back and out front, on my leash. Then one day Janet saw a coyote in the back yard and I didn’t go there any more. It didn’t really matter. The front was really fun. There was a wall I really liked sitting on.

I don’t tell time well, I am a cat and time isn’t that important. I eat, I sleep, I play and I get scratched. I am quite evolved. One day, all of sudden we moved back in to the little house on wheels. We have been traveling since.

People keep showing up and disappearing. One place we stayed for almost a week. There were two people and two tiny houses. Then two more people showed up. Their house on wheels was not so tiny. I heard they had two cats inside that house. I am not fond of other cats. The lady, Linda said that I was a designer kitty. Pft, I have always known this. I am a cat. Then a few days later another person shows up. Then Janet and I left, along with Mary. Where does everyone keep going? I am really not sure.

My favorite place, to this point was a place where it was only Janet and I camping. Well, Mary was there and then she left. I am not sure where everyone keeps going. They come and then they leave. This place was very quiet. We were the only ones there. I loved rolling in the dirt.

Burros

Burros

One morning Janet took me for a walk-she carried me. All of a sudden I saw these large animals and they made a really strange sound. They scared me a lot. I ran all the way back to our house. Boy was I thirsty and tired. I don’t recommend them. Janet said they were burros. They were really huge to this 6 pound kitty. If you ever see them, be careful.

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coyote

We have been exploring the desert. It is really weird place. Everything seems to have pokey things. I look out the window and talk to strange birds. I like all the windows in our little house. Some places I have been able to go out at night and some I can’t because of these animals called coyotes. They look like dogs, I am not fond of dogs. Janet says they would like me for dinner. That is kind of rude. I guess it is a good thing to stay away from them.

A few days ago I got another fun surprise. We visited with Raquel. It took me a few minutes but I remembered her. She stayed at our sticks and bricks house for a while. Janet disappeared and so did the little house on wheels. See what I mean, people keep disappearing and then reappearing. It would be quite confusing, if my needs weren’t met. My needs seem to be always met. I am a cat. Raquel took good care of me. I really like her. I was surprised to hear a familiar voice. People just keep showing up. Why was she out in the middle of the desert? I am not sure. These things are confusing to a little kitty.

Now we are in a place with trees. I can go out here. There are skunks-they smell bad. I have to be careful of them. There seem to be no coyotes here so I am able to venture outside after dark. I hope Janet is right about all this. I have to rely on her a bit.

Each day I get to roll. Then she wets a towel and wipes me off. I don’t know why I can’t keep the dirt on. It feels good. It is a direct challenge to get dirty again. Hee Hee.

Janet got me a really neat present. They are called sheepskin seat covers. I love sleeping on them. In fact I no longer sleep with Janet. Every night I head to the passenger seat for sleeping. Sometimes Janet kicks me off the seat because she wants to sit there. I should get priority. I am the cat. It’s OK though. I just move over to the driver’s seat. These are cushy, warm, wonderful things. I recommend them. I even sleep on them while she is driving, though I still go to the blankets for undisturbed naps.

Tomorrow we roll again. I am not sure where we roll to. Janet has told me that we are getting ready. More adventures to come. With all the current excitement (thunder and lightening) I am ready to retreat to the blankets. See you later.

Into the Desert

img_7051Last Wednesday, Miss Elsie the Cat, the Roadtrek and I left San Diego for points southeast. The desert was calling my name. The dentist gave me a reprieve and so we departed into the vast Sonoran Desert.

It is winter here. It is chilly at night, if not down right cold. It is wonderful hiking weather during the day and after the rains the desert is alive and the color green is showing up everywhere. The Octotillo are already blooming here at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Why the desert? The desert is the place I go to seek solitude, solace, to think and sort and grow. There is something about the wind and the animals and the vastness of the desert that is wonderfully healing for me. I slow down and really observe my surroundings.

Roadtreking Together

Roadtreking Together

I am not alone. I met up with Mary, a friend of mine. She has a Roadtrek too. We are exploring the desert together. We get along well. One of the nice things about having our own vehicles is that when we need time to ourselves we can retreat to our tiny home on wheels. I appreciate the fact that we both are respectful of our need for our own space.

I enjoy sharing my life with others. Mary asked me if I felt that things were getting easier for me, regarding Jim’s death. This is a very interesting question to ponder. I don’t always take the time to gauge where I have been, what I have achieved, and where I am going regarding Jim. Now the question has been asked I will take some time to bring this into my awareness.

Before I left my friend Nancy mentioned she was having a hard time remembering what I was like before Jim. And there it is. I will never return to who I was before Jim. Who I was before him, during our relationship and who I am now is a cumulative effect of all that has preceded this day, this moment in time.

Years ago Jim and I rafted the Grand Canyon. It was a life altering event. After the trip was over, we often would mention before Grand Canyon and after Grand Canyon. I notice there are times where I regard my life as “before Jim’s death and after Jim’s death”. How have the past four plus years affected who I am today? Well that could be a loaded question. I mean over six years ago I was entangled in the the whole breast cancer issue, that led right into Jim’s diagnosis and his death a year and a half later.

Most of the time I see those times as a hard exercise in growing. I had always heard of others who went through periods of trauma (all kinds-you pick it) and then life smoothed out again. I am hoping that my time of trauma is smoothing out. There are issues still to address but for the most part I would like the smoothing to start.

I miss Jim. It is not often that I feel that overwhelming raw grief that carried me through the first few years. I am thankful for that. I was reminded of it, once again, after the National election results this year, and although the grief was strong I knew to step beyond it quickly. Raw grief is not somewhere I want to stay. I find I like to carry him with me, in the stories I tell and the photos I look at. I guess I feel he is here and I can still advance forward in my life.

Janet, Hiking Alamo Canyon

Janet, Hiking Alamo Canyon

Most days I feel I am doing much better and am working towards sorting out my own life. Grief has no timeline. I am not even sure it ever truly goes away, it softens over time. I would like to consider the possibility that grief is softening for me. I am doing better at meeting people I don’t know well and enjoying their company. I have needed to re-teach myself how to reach out to others and know I will be accepted. Being alone most of the time is not good for me. I am enjoying the moments of meeting others and feeling valued as a person. One positive experience leads to the next.

While this all goes on within, I find I am enjoying each day, sometimes a little and sometimes much more. I am enjoying the desert. It was time to leave San Diego. I did not know that when I left and yet it only took one look at the Anza Borrego Desert, as I was coming down the mountain, that I knew I was where I needed to be.

Gila Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

Even in an organized campground, with people around the quietness of the desert is everywhere. I wake each morning to a Gila Woodpecker on the cactus next to my campsite. It is good to get up early to greet the dawn and enjoy the wildlife before they disappear in the warmer part of the day.

Elsie is slowly adapting to life on the road again. Thanks to the calming flower essences my friend Beth gave me, she is quietly and shyly coming out to explore. I appreciate my steady little companion on this journey of mine. At night she curls up on the bed with me. Like I said, a good companion.

I will be returning to San Diego, late in March-one more dental surgery to go. I know some of you have been waiting for an update. It is because of all of you out there in the world, known and unknown to me, that I can continue forward with the adventure of life.

Each day, I am getting ready to hike and explore this marvelous country.