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.

 

Ferry Riding in the Pacific Northwest

I am waiting in line for the ferry. At least twice a week I can make this statement. This is what happens when one lives in the Northwest and wants to connect to the mainland or to other islands.

Maybe after living here long enough the ferry rides are no event but currently, well I just love the ferries. I like short rides. I like long rides. I love being in the front and once I was in the very back. I was the last vehicle on board.

Ferries are extensions of roads. When the schedule gets off, it affects a lot of people. Once I was on Vancouver Island in Canada and my ferry was canceled. I had to find a different route to get off the Island and get on another ferry to go to another island. It was messy but it worked. I understand after that event, ferries are essential for those who live on the many islands in Washington state and British Columbia.

Why am I waiting for a ferry? Where am I? Where am I going? Twice a week I travel from Whidbey Island to the mainland to see a sports medicine chiropractor. I have issues with my left Achilles and with his help, my heel is slowly improving.

One day my friends, Melissa and Will, and I took the ferry as walk-on’s to Port Townsend for the afternoon. We wandered, had lunch, and then returned late in the day. All that for $4.30. It felt like I was on a mini-vacation.

Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

A week ago I took the ferry on my longest ride yet. I went to San Juan Island for a week to visit Pat, a friend, and a fellow photographer. Pat has lived on this island for many years and I feel fortunate to have such a knowledgeable friend and guide. We talked and had fun and took pictures.

We traveled a lot on the island. We hiked to interesting and unusual places. One day we saw Orcas. Every late afternoon we would drive to this gravel road and wait for the foxes to come out. Yes, foxes. There are red foxes on this island and if one is fortunate you will get a chance to see them as they hunt in the fields and ditches. The first night we saw several, I really can’t remember what the count was.

After that first night, we decided to take our dinner and sit in the rig, on the dirt road and wait. There were never as many foxes as that first night. It didn’t seem to matter we were happy with what we saw.

This is the fun of being with another photographer. We share a common interest. Both of us got excited when we saw any moving thing. It didn’t matter how long we sat there and waited. When the next late afternoon would arrive we would look at each other and say “Foxes!”. And off we would go.

Mulkiteo Lighthouse

Now I am back on Whidbey Island and enjoying my short ferry rides to the mainland and back. I find the ferry rides add a bit of adventure and excitement to my day. I have to time my departure from the island to make it on time for my appointment. If I arrive on the mainland side early, I spend time exploring the port town of Mulkiteo. There is a beautiful lighthouse on the “Sound”

My time on Whidbey Island is winding down. I will be heading south at the end of October. I will miss my ferry rides. These are moments to relax, contemplate or read a book. I have learned patience and discovered a bit of joy in the wait.

Today I am grateful to have discovered island living and the fun of riding the ferries.

A view from the stern of the Ferry

The Continuing Saga of the Little Brown Bird

I left Whidbey Island in the middle of June shortly after Sandy and Jim arrived home. The night before I left I introduced them to my little song sparrow. By the end of daylight, it was sitting on Jim’s head and singing. I felt I left this bird in good hands.

Throughout the month that Sandy and Jim were home the relationship with this song sparrow continued. Sandy told me that as the time came closer to them leaving for their next campground hosting job they began to dissociate from him as they were concerned about how he would get along when the house was empty.

Robyn and Tom, the next-door neighbors, said they saw this charmer once about a week after the owners had left for their next hosting job in Yellowstone National Park. Then the bird was on his own.

I returned to Whidbey the first week of August. I arrived late in the afternoon, put my things down, and went out to the deck to see if a little brown sparrow was still about. Sure enough, just like that, there he was, singing and chitting just I like I had never left. I was so happy to see my bird. I felt like I was greeting a good friend.

Things were different between me and this sweet little bird. He no longer sat on my head and was often more comfortable sitting on the post near me and chitting rather than singing. One day I noticed he had only one tail feather. The next day both were gone. I was worried. I researched song sparrows and molting online. Sure enough, he was molting. It took very little time before the new tail feathers appeared and grew. Sparrows and most birds molt twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

His colors are more muted now and not the orangey-brown of springtime. He sings less often. Some days I see him once early in the day and not again. Other days, if I had been out and about I might not see him at all. Two Saturdays ago, my friend Melissa was visiting. He came into the bushes near where we were sitting and chatted to us for quite some time. When I tried to approach him he flew away. Sigh

No Tail Feathers

The next morning I went out on the deck to find him and welcome him for a visit. He was not there. It felt different. He had left. Then I noticed there were no sparrows around at all. The White-Crowned sparrows had disappeared. All the sparrows were gone. The Chickadees, Nut Hatches, Finches, and other birds were there and plentiful but not a sparrow in sight. What had happened?

Do sparrows migrate and where do they go? I put a post on Facebook to the Birders in the Northwest region and discovered sparrows migrate to Texas and southern climates for the winter. I assumed my bird friend was on his way south to stay warm and find plenty of food and maybe a mate.

Five days later he returned along with three other song sparrows. I was still in bed when I heard a familiar song out in the back and there he was along with his buddies. My heart was glad. I was immediately up and down the stairs to welcome him back. He remains a bit more distant. His singing has returned and it was a delight to welcome my sweet little birdy friend back to my Whidbey Island life. I am told that when they molt they disappear into the bushes.

The seasons are beginning to hint at change. I know he must go. I am glad that I have let him be a bird. I have not hand-fed him or encouraged him to be anything else other than a little wild bird who has welcomed me into his circle. One time I found a large dead moth and presented it to him as a gift. I have never seen him so excited. He looked down onto the bench where I had laid it. He snatched it up and disappeared into the brush to enjoy a meal.

I don’t know how long he will be here. I see less and less of him now. Often I will hear him early in the morning. I am immediately up and outside to say hello. Some days he is not here at all. When he does come it is usually early in the day.

I am glad I have had some practice at his not being here. It is a bit hard to admit that I grieved for this little bird when he disappeared for those five days. Next time I hope I will buck it up and wish him well and send him on his way. However, I have to remember if this little bird was human I would feel the grief of loss just like when a friend moves away or stops communicating.

By allowing me into the circle of his life he has become more than just another little brown bird. He has become my friend. I feel blessed to have been chosen by this little bird. I have learned a lot about myself and life through this unique and special friendship. There is an unspoken yet very recognizable responsibility when one becomes friends with another. It is important to nurture these friendships, no matter how long they may be in one’s life. The value of friendship is what makes a being unique and special in my heart.

I have spent a lot of time outside and have had time to observe and breathe nature. Many birds come to the feeders, each one is unique. I have witnessed the change of seasons from early spring into fall. The circle of seasons in the yard is special to be a part of. The birds have gone from their spring glory of color to more muted colors. They sing less now. The hummingbirds disappeared for about two weeks while nurturing their young before they returned to the feeders again. My sparrow has grown from a young bird into full maturity. Often he sings for the joy of it, but it is also a way to get the girls to notice. As these little birds come to the feeders I have allowed them to recognize and trust a safe environment. None of them except one little brown song sparrow allowed me to become more intimately involved in their natural life.

I will treasure this moment of time in my life. This wee little bird crept into my heart and opened it to experience the joy of friendship in this somewhat lonesome time. (Covid) It has been a joyous and welcome respite.

Oh yes, truly, today and every day I am so grateful for moments in time that awaken my heart. Today and all days to come I am thankful and so grateful for this sweet little Song Sparrow who happens to be my friend.

Flowers-Nature’s Show

Flowers are amazing. Have you ever taken the time to really look at a flower? It goes beyond color and shape, although these are interesting features as well. Each part of a flower has a purpose. There are common flowers we see every day. There are weeds that grow in the wild. There are flowers and then there are FLOWERS.

Since I have been on Whidbey Island in Washington State I have been enjoying flowers I have not seen in years. When I first arrived the early spring flowers were blooming. Daffodils and Tulips abound. Just at the end of that season, the Rhododendrons began to bloom. Oh my, they were beautiful. They continued to bloom week after week. in the middle of Rhododendron season, the Lilacs started to bloom. I have favorite flowers and Lilacs are pretty close to the top of the list. Their fragrance and colors are delightful. When I was in high school my father and I would drive to abandoned farmsteads and pick lilacs, fill the car and bring them home. Oh, how I love those flowers.

When I arrived back on Whidbey Island in early August there were new flowers at the roadside stands. Another favorite flower has arrived. Dahlia season is in full swing. They are so unique. Dahlias come in all shapes and sizes. They can be huge or small. Their petals are perfectly formed. The colors are wide-ranging. They are beautiful flowers. It is not uncommon on my walks or bike rides to see Dahlias in almost every yard.

Around this time of the year, I think of my Mom. My Mom loved her gardens. There was an Iris garden and a Rose garden. There were the early spring flowers in every garden. From early spring until late fall something was in bloom in our yard.

My Mother was eighty when she died, shortly after Labor Day. When my sister, Ruth, and I arrived at our family home in Delaware, we helped my Dad plan my Mother’s funeral.

When it came to choosing flowers for the casket the florist was willing to work with us. We went into the backyard to see what was in bloom. The Dahlias were in bloom. My dad took great pride in growing some of the largest Dahlias I have ever seen.

We cut Roses and other flowers in bloom in our yard. The featured flowers were the beautiful Dahlias. The display on top of my Mother’s casket was a generous and beautiful display of late summer and fall flowers from the garden. It was personal and touching. Every time I see Dahlias it brings back a special memory of my mother and our family’s tribute to her.

This spring and summer I have been enjoying the multitude of flowers that exist where there is water. I have enjoyed the long seasons of several flower groups. I like walking outside and seeing luscious colors. I especially love seeing the Dahlias in bloom. It gives my mind a chance to wander to my Mom and treasured moments in time.

Here, There & Back Again-Adventures Along the Way

The View From Whidbey

In the third week of June, I left my house-sitting job on Whidbey Island and resumed my nomadic lifestyle. I traveled to southern Utah to celebrate my dear friend, Sharon’s, ninetieth birthday. I was surrounded by family and friends. I reunited with her family, one I have known since I was a young girl. I made new friends and enjoyed all those that I do not know at all.

The following week I traveled north through Utah. I kayaked lakes and rivers, biked along the byways, and kept my hiking limited due to an ongoing ankle injury. Utah never disappoints me. There is always magic there and it draws me back time and again. I waved to Salt Lake City as I drove by. This city was my first real move away from home in 1976. Yes, I have almost always had a nomadic tendency.

I gradually made my way into Idaho. After exploring the City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho I stayed in Boise with good friends for two weeks. Linda and I are like sisters. We hike and walk together and even tube the Boise River together. It is so much fun to have friends that have a sense of adventure.

When I left Boise I returned to Donnelly, ID, where I spent my 2020 Covid spring, summer, and fall. This time I was there for ten days. It was long enough to see one of my favorite chiropractors, go to the Farmers Market and kayak a section of the Payette River. It was an action-packed ten days. I would have stayed longer but I had a plan.

Linda, Mary, Phyllis, Janet

Mary Z, Linda, and I became friends back in 2016. I met them on that fateful desert trip. I ended the long weekend, breaking my ankle, delaying the sale of my home, and my imminent departure into my full-time RV life. The three of us have remained friends. Our last great adventure was traveling the White Rim in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park. It has been a while since the three of us have been together.

A Gathering of Friends

We decided to meet up on the coast of Oregon. After some quick decision-making, we reserved a group site at one of the campgrounds near the town of Florence. With that one decision, it became a gathering of friends. We invited a few friends to join us for this group camping adventure on the coast. There were six Roadtreks(our RVs) and seven people. Two dogs and one kitty also joined the laid-back festivities.

Since I bought my Roadtrek in 2013 I have met wonderful, interesting, and unique people. I had no idea how this single purchase would change and enhance my life. I have traveled with some of these people. Others I meet in the desert during the winter months. Sometimes it is purely by fate that we meet at all. Recently while I was making my way to Boise two Roadtreks passed each other, we waved and there were my friends from Michigan. And, as with the Canyonlands trip, sometimes we leave our Roadtreks behind (safely watched over) and head to the backcountry in high clearance vehicles and camp, once again, on the ground. Almost anywhere I travel there are people who are waiting to have me join them for a day or two or more.

Linda, Mary, Pat & Pancho the Dog-Hiking during the Coastal gathering

People who RV are a welcoming, adventurous, and fun lot. I have become friends and or acquaintances with many. When I travel cross-country, I usually have people to visit, places to stay, or others to go camping with. When traveling distance it is so joyful to break up the monotony of the drive, by meeting delightful people. I have learned of unique and interesting places to explore. There is laughter and catching up to do. Sometimes serious and heartfelt conversations help relieve the stress of making major decisions on my own. I treasure my RVing friends. I treasure my friends. My Roadtrek may have been the catalyst to meet others yet several friendships have gone beyond the RV. I treasure all these friendships.

Today I am thankful to have discovered a lifestyle that has opened my world. Today I am thankful for good, good friends. Today I am thankful for by-chance meetings that create change in my life. Today I am thankful for my Roadtrek, for my friends and for a sense of adventure.

Saying Farewell

After two and a half months, today, I leave Whidbey Island. I am certainly leaving with mixed emotions. For those of you who have not been here, this place is amazing. And…while many of you are suffering in heat…it has been in the low seventies and beautiful here.

Each day Puget Sound sparkles below me. The Olympic Range shows in the distance. It is so relaxing and comfortable here. The sunsets continue to be amazing. I keep telling myself I do not need to take more photos of sunsets and each evening I, once again, will be out on the deck with my camera. I have enjoyed the opportunity to walk the beaches, kayak the lakes, and Sound and bike the byways.

Every day I see Mama deer walk through the yard with their fawns wandering behind. Yesterday I found a fawn laying and hiding in a flowerbed by the rig. We kept startling each other.

The sweet little sparrow still comes around every day. He sings at the windows and doors. I have tried to alienate him a bit but he is quite persistent. I was reading recently that young birds can attach themselves to humans. As they grow they will leave this attachment behind. I keep telling him I am leaving so hopefully he picks up on this vibe.

Yesterday I was over at the neighbors house visiting and saying farewell. I had left the front door open as I had been going in and out frequently. On my return to the house guess who was in the house? You guessed it. That little bird had taken the opportunity to check out my digs or to find his buddy. He was not happy because, of course, he could not figure out how to get back out. Ay Yi Yi. He did find his way out again with a little encouragement from me.

I will miss the water life. I will return. I love the north country in the summer. It is usually too hot to stay south for too long. I do look forward to visiting with family and friends that I have put off seeing due to covid. I am looking forward to the company on the thousand-mile drive south. All of it will be fun and a wonderful adventure. Yet I will look at all my photos with longing.

I feel so blessed by the people I have come to know since Jim’s death. I had no idea that buying my Roadtrek would open me to so many new and wonderful adventures. I had no idea I would meet and become friends with so many good and kind people. I had no idea I would be house sitting on Whidbey Island.

I am grateful that I have been able to stretch and reach beyond my comfort zone to embrace and live an unusual lifestyle. It has become quite the 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.