The Flight of the Butterfly

I am slowly making my way to San Diego.

Roadtreks at a Rally

I had a wonderful couple weeks on the central coast of California. The Roadtrek Rally was a great success. It was a personal success for me. I met wonderful people. When the rally was over I left with two of the women, Mandy and Ann and met up with a third Roadtreker, Don. We camped for four nights near Morro Bay. Every day was beautiful and fun. We hiked and taked and talked and laughed. We got to know each other.  I have new friends to go on adventures with.

I gradually am working my way into San Diego. I am a bit nervous about my upcoming appointment at the Moores Cancer Center. Instead of making my way all the way there, today, I am camped for one more night on the ocean. My view is great and I can fall asleep to the sounds of the Pacific crashing below my campsite. 

Four Roadtreks at Morro Bay

The last few days I have been in Camarillo, CA staying with my good friends, Mary Jane and Jeff. Elsie and I camped in the driveway. Jeff and I are doing fiberglass repair work on my side steps. I sort of met one too many sidewalks. It will take a while to complete, yet I walk away with the knowledge that I will be able to complete the repair on my own. It is looking good at the moment. 

For the past two days I have been sitting in the middle of the Monarch Butterfly migration. It has been amazing. As soon as it warms up they are flying, up the driveway, over the roof and on north. I have heard of this phenomena yet this is the first time I have experienced it. I am not talking of one or two butterflies, I am talking more like hundreds. I finally left them behind when I arrived at the ocean, near Malibu today.

“The annual monarch life cycle and migration begins at the monarchs’ overwintering grounds in Mexico (for the eastern population) and the central to southern California coastal region (for the western population). Around March, the overwintering monarchs begin their journey north. Once migration begins, monarchs become sexually mature and mate. The females begin their search for milkweed plants on which to lay eggs. After mating and egg-laying, the adult butterflies die and the northward migration is continued by their offspring. It takes three to five generations to repopulate the rest of the United States and southern Canada until the final generation of the year hatches and does the return journey to the overwintering grounds.

The monarch migration is one of the greatest phenomena in the natural world. Monarchs know the correct direction to migrate even though the individuals that migrate have never made the journey before. They follow an internal “compass” that points them in the right direction each spring and fall. A single monarch can travel hundreds or even thousands of miles.”

I admire their perseverance. They cross ten lane freeways, mountains, Los Angeles and they still continue to fly. If it is not warm enough they lay on the ground until the sun or weather heats them up enough to fly. 

I feel honored to have witnessed this once in my life. It was amazing. I rode my bicycle to a preserve near my friends home. The butterflies were hanging on the wild mustard. It was a sight I will not soon forget. It was hard to drive because I knew that my rig was hitting them. I kept telling them to fly higher. It is hard when the industry meets nature. Often nature loses.

Tomorrow it is on to San Diego. I will remember to breath. I am hoping for a good outcome from this second opinion. As I weave my way through these next few days I will remember the amazing Monarchs and hope they help me smile.

 

What To Do When I Am Sleepless

This Friday I am scheduled, finally, for thyroid surgery. I have planned this out. I feel confident that this is the correct thing to do and yet….sleep has been sporadic this week. I go to bed and my mind is full of random thoughts. Sometimes I fall asleep only to wake a few hours later. Then I cannot return to dreamland.

Miss Elsie

I can become frustrated or I can enjoy these sleepless moments during the night. The first thing that occurs is Miss Elsie, sensing I am awake will leave her cushy bed on the front seat and come snuggle with me. These moments are pure joy and I treasure them.

Then I begin to listen and feel. Now that it is warm enough I sleep with my windows open. I can feel the gentlest of breezes coming into the van. If I listen hard enough I imagine them whispering to me, telling me the tales of the invisible presences. I imagine the wind brings Jim’s touch to me from out there. I like the coolness on my skin. Once in a while the breezes will blow in sweet smells of flowers in bloom. Sometimes the smell is not quite as pleasant, meaning there might be a skunk close by.

I am in coyote country. I guess most of us are now. They have seen them on the streets of New York City. There is something special when the pack howls in the night. It reminds me of all those spaghetti westerns-sitting by the campfire with howling in the background, just prior to the cattle stampede. The coyotes are very vocal, at night, in the hills around Santee Lakes. Their multiple voices add to the special moments in the quiet of the early morning.

If I am involved in a good book, I may  read for an hour or so before I, once again, attempt to return to sleep. If any of my computers are near-by I may play a few games. Mostly I like to lay, listen and feel and pet Miss Elsie so her purr can add to these quiet moments.

I have two nights to go. I will not be surprised to be waking in the wee hours for these next few nights. Nerves are just nerves and I am so sure they are part of a very normal process. I look forward to returning to a better night sleep next week. Although I will miss the Elsie moments.

I am the first case of the day on Friday. I enter the hospital at 5:30 A.M. and hopefully will be out of there by noon. I am holding on to the best case scenario. It is hard to ask for thoughts and prayers, these are terms that are so overused in today’s world. If you can, drop a thought my way on Friday morning. The power of others loving me can do so much to help the healing process and good, very good outcomes.

Until then I look forward to what tonight brings.

 

 

A Different Winter in the Desert.

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With daylight savings time arriving this weekend, I have been reflecting on my winter and the arrival of spring. This winter has been a very different winter than the previous two.

The first two winters after I went full time,  I went solo into the desert, in my RV. I saw a few friends along the way, and even traveled with a few for a short time. Those first two winters were solo winters for me. I withdrew from too much “people” interaction and contemplated life, my existence, what had happened with Jim and more. I call these two winters my existential winters.

It is not easy to delve into the depths of myself and work my way out the other side of some dark and truthful moments. Since then I have discovered that it is not unusual for people in their mid-sixty’s to go through this self evaluation and reflective time. It was very reassuring to discover that I was not alone and that it is a process that others might be going through as well.

And I thought I should be done growing by the time I arrived at this age. Ha!!!

This winter was very different. I chose to stay close to San Diego as I was truly hoping that my thyroid surgery would be behind me, by now, and I would be in the recovery stage. Well, guess what?, I am still waiting. The surgeons must be very busy.

I went to the desert about two hours east of San Diego and spent the winter. The Anza Borrego desert is an amazing place. It is alive and usually dry. It is a good place to be solo, yet my time there, over the past few months has been delightfully active with other people. I camped near a good friend of mine, Peggy, for almost two months. I enjoyed meeting her new beau and spending time hiking and exploring the area with them.

Friends in the Desert

Sandy and Pat arrived. They are fellow Roadtrekers and delightful people. I am happy to be friends with them. More hiking ensued, including a climb to the top of Coyote Mountain. The three of us met two winters back at the White Water Draw Wildlife Refuge (AZ) and we are friends. I cherish them.

More friends arrived, Karen, Larry and Joni. I had the opportunity to hike and camp with them in a different part of the park. Karen and Larry arrange private river raft trips. I met them when I became a swamper for Zee on the North Fork of the Flathead River, over a year ago. They are fellow desert hounds, hikers and explorers. 

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I took time to meet new friends on the east side of the Salton Sea. Rhonda and Jim are more fellow Roadtrekers. They spend part of their winter running away from Michigan, seeking the warmer weather of Southern California. I spent two nights at The Fountain of Youth RV Resort. For two days I enjoyed the hot springs and getting to know this delightful couple. They took me on a tour of Slab City, East Jesus, and Salvation Mountain. I might suggest a visit to this unique spot.

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A few days later Mary, (Zee) arrived after she traveled for two months in Mexico. After spending time on the east side of the Salton Sea and getting some serious bird watching in, oh those cute burrowing owls, we met up with Karen and Larry in Joshua Tree National Park. We arrived in time to witness a Superbloom on the south side of the park.

Being stationary near Borrego Springs gave me the opportunity to become involved in the town, meet the locals and check out small town life. It was a seven mile ride to town from my campsite. This is a small town in the desert and a hub of activity. I attended the theater, an Independent Film Festival, saw the San Diego Ballet Company perform, went to yoga, and enjoyed playing bingo. Their new library is also an amazing place to sit and work, read or ponder. Oh, and the best place in town for goodies is the Fudge Store. Yummy. (try their Maple Fudge-trust me it is to die for.)

fullsizeoutput_2921The desert has always been magic to me. This year was a very different experience. It was wild and rainy and flash floods became common. I have never seen the desert so green or so wet. On the intense rainy days, my favorite activity was to go see the flash floods. It was a very cool thing to watch. I hiked into waterfalls that usually are dry. Not this year. I love seeing nature at its wildest. This winter was the desert’s turn.

My winter was different. I felt ready to be more social. It was fun interacting with everyone and yet, I could still find time alone to contemplate and breath and just be. It was a good winter in the desert.

I have returned to San Diego. Currently I am staying with my friend Phyllis. We are intensively planning our trip to Africa this summer. There is work to be done, reservations to be made and much to discuss. We are doing well. We have not gotten into arguments yet. It bodes well for a two month trip to somewhere very different.

I enjoy San Diego. I am more of a tourist now in this city. I take the time to go see things that I would have put off, while I was still living here. Though I am enjoying my time here, my mind often wanders to those wide open vistas and a bit of longing fills my soul. I know that I will return to those wild open spaces as often as I can.

The world awaits— Out there awaits. 

I am on my way.

 

 

Roadtreking & Grief

“Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed.”

“Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away. The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship.”

There has been an on-going story out of Kitchener, Ontario over the past several weeks. To make a long story very short, Roadtrek, the company who manufactured my RV, due to some issues that have yet to be revealed, is closed. This fine vehicle no longer has a mother ship to return to. And…I am feeling sad.

This company always welcomed me to it’s factory. I was welcomed as if I were family. When I had an issue I could chat with them on line or call them. Names such as Leo, Deron, Sean and others were my go to guys with all things Roadtrek. Now these people and nine hundred others have lost their jobs and are trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. For some this was the only job they had ever known. It is a hard reality they have to face.

It is a hard reality I have to face, too. I no longer have a mothership to go to. Who do I turn to when no one else is able to solve my issue? Although I do have other resources out there, currently I feel like I am at a loss.

I started this post with two quotes from Wikipedia. I know grief, personally. My husband, Jim died over six years ago. Whew talk about grief. Many things are now better in my life yet this issue of loss still raises it’s tentacles and wraps around many parts of my life. Often I don’t see it coming until it is present and I have to cope and understand these issues all over again. 

I am grieving for the loss of this company. I have lost friends, I have lost the Company. I feel sad and a bit melancholy. And yes I am grieving. Thankfully this is not the strong unrepentant grieving of Jim’s death, but make no mistake about it I am certainly grieving. 

Like many of us who own these wonderful machines we are trying to figure out what is next. I am thankful I am no longer in warranty. I have resources. I know there are people out there who can help. I don’t have the easy fix of calling the factory. I am going to have to learn even more about how to take care of my home. 

I also understand that it is important to give myself this time to grieve. It is OK to feel sad or angry or melancholy or whatever other emotion I feel over this loss. 

And then….I will get in my Roadtrek, EmmyLou and go off on another adventure.

Tough Love & Hiking

I love to hike. I have been hiking since I was in my twenties. I have marched over hill and dale, sometimes carrying a loaded back-pack with me. I have camped in gorgeous places and seen amazing things. I have enjoyed the company of good friends and also being solo in nature.

Many years ago I did a nineteen day trek in the Himalayas. After this trip my enthusiasm for carrying a back-pack waned. These days I find I enjoy day hikes and carrying a much lighter pack. I also like coming back to my Roadtrek, to a comfortable bed and satisfying food in the evening.

When I am out on the trail and the going gets tough, steep ascents, too long of a day and I am weary, I get whiny. I don’t usually whine where others can hear me I just whine as I march along. I am very good at this. Sometimes it helps me reach my destination.

I used to hike and back pack with my friend Diane. We camped and hiked throughout the western United States. She may not know this, until now, but I used to march along behind her when there was that one more mile to go and whine to myself. “I don’t know why we can’t just camp here.” “God how much longer is she going to hike?” “Maybe I will just stop here and camp and she can just go on by herself.” Yet I would make it that final mile. The camp sights and the view were often the reward for that final mile.

I used to whine when Jim and I hiked. I was often a bit more verbal to him about this. “You just go on alone, I will wait here.” “Let’s make this your hike and mine, you go ahead and leave me behind.” he never did. Whine, whine, whine. One time after I was diagnosed with breast cancer I told him to just leave me in the desert and let me die. I got a major eye roll from him on this one.

A few days back my friends Sandy and Pat met me in the desert. I spent time with them before I went back to San Diego and met up with them upon my return to the desert. The last day they were here Pat came into their rig and said “we are climbing Coyote Peak”. I never thought to say, I am not coming, so off I went.

Sandy, Me & Pat at the peak.

Coyote Peak is not a long hike, approximately five miles round trip. It is however, straight up and straight back down. it starts at about 600 feet and ascends to 3165 feet in 2.5 miles. About three quarters of the way up I was tired and I began to whine. “Maybe I will just stop here. “I don’t need to see the top.” “This is really really steep.” “I know I will just stop here.” “Why are they so far ahead of me? I need to tell them that I am stopping.” Whine, whine, whine.

After we made it to the top I told them I had been thinking of stopping and waiting for them to return. Sandy said she thought I was thinking that way. She decided she was going to stay far enough ahead of me so that I could not stop them and tell them I was going to wait below the summit for them. Her idea was that if I couldn’t tell them I was stopping I would march my way to the summit. And I did.

Tough love is often used to describe a direct and up front approach in regard to helping someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. Tough love can have a broader context among friends or a teacher or someone who loves and cares about me. People who know and care about me, often can see when I really do have that extra half mile in me to reach the top. These same friends would also know when I had reached my limit and could go no further.

When I arrived at the summit of Coyote Peak, I could still smile and laugh. The view was amazing. There was even snow on the peaks of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It was a beautiful day on the summit. I was glad to be there. I felt accomplished and weary. Then we had to hike back down. On those steep ascents it is often much harder going down than up. I was glad when we reached relatively flat country once again. I was tired and happy and glad I had pushed myself to the top. 

I am very thankful for my tough love hiking friends. Today I am grateful for Sandy and Pat.

 

 

 

Money Money Money

Have you ever known anyone who has no issues around money? I have not. 

We have too little, we have too much. We spend it freely or are fearful of spending it at all. The stock market goes up, the stock market goes down. What do I do with my money and what do I do if I don’t have enough? Oh and if I have too much money how do I not become part of the one percent? (Not that I think that is a big worry).

MONEY MONEY MONEY  

This issues is raising its head or tail once again. I am planning a trip to Africa later this year. When my friend asked me if I wanted to join her on this adventure, my first reaction was no. Why? It is an expensive trip. And since we are going far we are going to stay for a while and see as much as we can. 

I immediately heard my dad gasping for air, although he has been on the other side for years. Where do these old tapes come from? How long do I need to hold onto them?  Can I change them? How do I tell my father to Hush it or at least tame it down a bit. When do I just bite the bullet and take the leap, and have faith that I won’t be homeless tomorrow? Oh wait, I think I am homeless. I have no home except for my sweet little RV.

When I was younger, if I had $5000 in savings I immediately would think, “it is time to plan a trip”. And plan I would. Now I have more than that and I get concerned about spending it. My latest statement I ask myself time and again is, “and how long do you think you are going to live?” The truth is, even if I don’t want to face it, I have a limited amount of time left on this earth. I have lived longer than what I have left, although I do plan to stay around for a while. 

There has to be a happy medium between being frugal and spending beyond my means. I am not always sure how to find that medium or even what that means. I have friends with enough money for the rest of their lives and yet they still worry over every nickel and dime. My accountant worries when I have to pay in taxes at the end of the year. I have friends that always express concerns regarding money. Now granted some of those friends are living on an extremely limited income and I get that, yet there are others that are not. They are the ones who worry the most. 

Another thing I noticed when I was single, pre-Jim, when I worried about my money, I often found I had less. When I gave up that worry, somehow I always seem to have enough. I had a roof over my head, food in the refrigerator and a job. If I was a little short one month I found I didn’t go to the movies or out to eat as often and I was fine. I always had enough money to go dancing. 💃🏻

How do I manage issues around money when they surface in my life?

  • The first thing I do is acknowledge that these issues are surfacing again. If I can say “hey here it is again” I then have the chance to acknowledge this event and breath and maybe change my feelings.
  • Maybe this is the time to review my finances and reassure myself I am OK.
  • When Jim was alive and I would ask him if we were financially OK. We decided we would do our banking together so I would always know what we had. I think this is a great idea. When Jim died the transition to doing my finances by myself was almost non-existent. Trust me that this helps a whole lot when a major life transition occurs.
  • It’s important to recognize what’s causing my anxiety. Sometimes if I write down what is causing the stress I can more easily recognize it. Keeping the list short can helps me feel less overwhelmed.

Regarding my upcoming trip, I have found it is helpful that I don’t have to put all of the money out at once. That is one good reason to plan a trip ahead of time. I have time to review finances as dates approach for more contributions to the full cost of the trip. Trip insurance is a must. When I was younger I never gave trip insurance a second thought. Today I do. 

Planning for this trip helps as well. As I plan and get excited about my upcoming adventures the money issues will fade into the background. That has been my experience in the past and I imagine that trend will continue as Africa looms closer and closer. 

Today I am taking a worry about money holiday and am planning to go and enjoy a beautiful Santa Ana day in San Diego. Taking time off will make my approach to this issue fresh tomorrow. In the meantime I think I will breath and enjoy the day.

 

Elsie Goes on an Adventure

I don’t know why Janet decided to title this post “Elsie Goes on an Adventure”, she was asleep, how would she know?

We are in the desert. It is kind of dry and windy and sandy. I am so happy to be here. This is my favorite dirt to roll in. There is just enough grit in it to give my back a little skritch. It feels, so good. And the smells, oh they are wonderful. I look down the little holes that are around the bushes and even stick my paws in them.

I am usually on a halter and leash when I go outside. I am never sure why Janet insists on it. I am a cat after all and I can go where I want. She mentions coyotes and mountain lions. I am not sure what they are but I bet I could handle them. I am not allowed out after dark. Who are those mysterious things that live in the darkness.

The first night we got here, Janet went to visit the next door neighbor and you know, she left the door open. I did not even have on my leash. I decided that she must trust me enough, and decided to go out exploring. Just as it was getting good, Janet came back to the rig and I high-tailed it for the door. She was really surprised and so was I. I had no idea that being on my own with no limits could be so fascinating. She was surprised because I was not on my leash. I was surprised when she saw me. 

 

We have been in the desert for over a week. I spend most of my days sleeping and eating and dreaming of another free flight. Last night I got my chance. Janet left one of the front doors open, just enough so I could slip out. Now she will never know whether I took advantage of it or not. And, I am not going to tell. Heh Heh. Janet did notice some interesting footprints outside that door this morning. Some of them could have been mine or not. Besides the little tiny prints there were dog looking prints as well. Were there coyotes or foxes out there? Inquiring minds would like to know. I think I will leave it up to you to create your own story. My secret is safe with me.


I am sleeping in the front seat now dreaming of my last night adventure. I am so glad to have this little house on wheels. It is blowing like crazy outside. If I went out now I would have to hunker down and make my ears flat. Instead I am inside, snug and secure and napping.