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.

 

 

Into the Desert

I have been in the desert for over a week. To be more specific I am in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the town of Borrego Springs. I am boon-docking (dry camping) and visiting friends.

My usual way of doing the desert is to be as remote as possible, isolating myself from the world. I have changed up my game plan, thanks partially to Peggy and Roger. I am learning to be a bit more social. It is a casual social, nothing forced or big.

I am still doing what I love best, hiking and exploring in the back country. One day I found a wash that I followed for a bit, discovering natural water tanks, small waterfalls and of course flowers. The desert is blooming a little bit at a time this year, thanks to the abundant rain.

The first few days I was here I stayed with a friend, Phyllis, at a resort and spa. We did some hiking and then sat in the jacuzzi and rehashed our day. There is a very good massage therapist in Borrego Springs, Paul, and he just so happened to be working at the resort I stayed in. Massages were in order. I love a good massage therapist, my body loves it more.

I am camped just outside of the small town of Borrego Springs. Peggy and I have taken the opportunity to access what is available in this small town. We have gone to yoga class and played bingo at the senior center . I won $30. Peggy has become involved with the quilting community.

This town is celebrating the 6th year of the Borrego Springs Film Festival. The whole event is sold out. I was able to buy certain film blocks. I have been enjoying interesting and cool movies. People come from afar to be part of this weekend. The films I have seen have been extremely varied and different. After the movie block the film producers are invited up on stage and anyone can ask them questions. The attendees are friendly and interesting as well. This will definitely go on my radar for next year.

I have yet to explore the new library. I will get there. It is a beautiful and modern building. I am always anxious to explore libraries.

Almost every day I have gone hiking, alone, with Peggy and Roger or any combination of the three of us. I have been exploring old favorites and finding new places as well. Jim and I used to come out to this desert all the time. We only stayed for a few days. I am enjoying spending more time here to explore a bit more leisurely. We even hiked up a small section of Henderson Canyon in the rain. Yes, you heard me right, it has been raining in the desert a unique and rare event. One afternoon we went out in Roger’s jeep to find flash floods. We were successful and safe.

The sunrises have been spectacular. Each day it is a bit different. When I am living in my small RV my schedule shifts. I go to bed earlier and arise with the sun. Often I stayed curled up in bed yet there are mornings where it is worth the effort to rise and greet the dawn.

This next week I will be returning to San Diego for eight days. I need to get some work done on my rig. I will be there for eight days and then return to the desert and hopefully get ready for the “Bloom”. The desert is greening up. The ground is covered in green waiting to bloom, be eaten by caterpillars and fade into existence for another year. Ah the cycle of life. I believe it will be another grand wild flower year.

I look forward to seeing my friends in San Diego, once again. I also look forward to returning to the desert and enjoying the small town of Borrego Springs and hiking into the wild. 

 

 

A Break in Time

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4 Desert Divas

This past weekend I met up with a two other Roadtrekers, Mary and Linda,  in the Anza Borrego Desert. There were four of us for part of the weekend as a local friend of mine, Phyllis came out for Friday night. We hiked, we toured, we laughed and had wonderful conversations. The wild flowers were in full bloom. It was a great time for photographers to be out in the desert.

As we were returning from our last hike together, I slipped on some loose scree and fell hard. The results? I fractured my right ankle. As I am lying in the middle of the jeep road, well thank my lucky stars, here comes a jeep. The couple in the jeep lifted me on board and drove me the two miles to the trail head and Linda’s Roadtrek. I crawled on board, laid on the floor, with my foot elevated and iced. Thank goodness for the RV lifestyle.

one break on the outside- one break on the inside

one break on the outside- one break on the inside

After double ace wrapping my ankle I actually was able to drive home. (Maybe not the best idea but the most convenient). Phyllis met me in the driveway and drove me to the Emergency Room. It was orthopedic night. I guess everyone shows up from their adventures over the weekend. Ah the weekend warriors.

Now I sit with my foot elevated, splinted and wrapped until after my appointment today. I am also on no weight bearing. I am getting used to crutches.

I have had my share of injuries over the past six years. Jim was still alive when I injured myself before. Now I am on my own. It is different. When someone is around on a daily basis, there is always help when I need it, someone to prepare meals, drive the infirmed, me, places. Now I have to figure it out on my own. It makes it a bit harder and I have to be a bit more creative.

I am re-discovering again, the fact that I have good friends. Phyllis was supportive and patient during the initial wait in the emergency room. She also helped me clean out my Roadtrek. Yesterday some work friends, Yvonne and Annie,  showed up with food and conversation. Today, another friend, Janet is driving me to my first appointment. Oh my goodness, I am so thankful for friends. All we can do is help and support each other. Every day I am thankful that I am cared about.

I am trying to do as much as I can on my own. I feel a need to challenge myself to do my daily life. My desk chair has become a good friend. It has wheels, I can wheel it around the kitchen to prepare my meals. I also wheel it around the house when I weary of my crutches. I am not immune to crawling. I have found that is a good way to get around too. It is OK to be humble.

The dilemma of a single person is certainly in the forefront of my mind. There are many of us out there, in the world. When you have a partner there is often a false sense of security. I always assumed Jim would help me out. Now that he is not here I have to be creative in figuring out solutions. In the next few days I plan to start investigating services that might be of use to me. Some of the local grocery stores have home delivery. How do I get around? What if I want to go to the library or a coffee house? Unfortunately I live in an area with limited bus service. Uber might come in handy.

What about exercise? I am not one to sit around. I don’t mind having my foot up for a few days but then I want to move. Gary, has offered me his knee scooter and I think that would be a good solution. A scooter is certainly a better solution for me to go a bit further afield, down to the end of the street to get my mail. I can do some yoga poses so I will continue to practice. Maybe I will even adventure to the gym for some upper body work. I hope they will let me in.

I am so glad that the house has not gone on the market yet. I can delay that. Thank goodness. Right now I am set up in the living room in Jim’s and now my favorite big red Lazy Boy chair. I have the computers close by, the phone is my best companion, and I can see the finches at the feeder outside. I also have four library books sitting next to the chair. Now that is what I call a good set up.

Living alone is easy when one is healthy and able to take care of themselves 100%. With on little slip that can change in an instant. So here is what I know.

  • Ask for help. Be as independent as possible but never, ever be too proud to ask for help.
  • It is good to have friends.
  • Get a good rolling chair in your house, seriously, it helps so much.
  • Ask your HMO for services to help you out. I plan to do that this morning.
  • Investigate your resources.
  • If not on a good diet make yourself get on one. Food heals. This is an important one for me. I have not been very good regarding eating as a single person. Now it will become one of my focuses.
  • Drink plenty of water. That helps heal too.
  • Apple TV helps. I can watch a lot of current movies and documentaries.
  • Get some good books to read.
  • Now is the time to catch up on the chores I don’t want to think about, update all the financial stuff, balance the checkbook, pay bills, clean the desk off while sitting in my rolling chair.
  • Have the phone nearby so I can talk to friends and make calls with minimal effort.
  • Keep the spaces clear in the house so I have a good path for said chair and crutches.
  • And don’t mope, it could always be worse. I haven’t done the moping part yet and I don’t plan to.
  • ASK FOR HELP-this is the one I need to remember most of all.

    Linda, Phyllis, and Mary

    Linda, Phyllis, and Mary

I always thought that as I got older personal growth would slow down. I would have reached “it” whatever that is. Instead, every day I am growing as an individual on this planet. This is one more life lesson for me. Why I needed it might not be clear and that is OK. I find I need to accept this latest incident as just another place to discover thankfulness and gratefulness. Even though it has only been a few days, already, I am soooooo…..grateful to so many. Grateful to Yvonne who stepped in at the last minute to take a tour I was suppose to lead this week. Grateful for Nancy who fixed my fence last night so Miss Elsie the cat can still venture into the yard. Grateful to that couple who picked me up and drove me two miles down the hill. Grateful to Linda and Mary for all their assistance. Grateful to Phyllis who is always there when I need her. Grateful to Gary who is going to loan me his knee scooter. Grateful to everyone else who is out there loving and supporting me as I continue to explore the life of the single person. Sigh.

And here is why I was in the desert in the first place.

Desert Sun Flowers

Desert Sun Flowers

Sand Verbena

Sand Verbena

Desert

Desert Primrose

 

Desert Liliy

Desert Lily

Elsie, My Mini-Adventure

my latest favorite spot to hang and sleep

my latest favorite spot to hang and sleep

Hi everyone, Elsie the Cat here. Lately I have been quiet and let Janet write all the postings. Mainly it is because I haven’t had much to say. I have been spending my days doing what I do best: sleeping, eating, getting petted and going outside where I enjoy the chase of the lizard. They are one of my favorite preys. I hardly ever catch them but the chase is fun and entertaining.

I digress. On Monday, I am happily laying in my favorite window, watching Janet go in and out of the house & in and out of the house, again and again. Now I was suspicious she was going somewhere but I had no idea that what she was doing would involve me. She has gone places since our big outing over the spring and summer but they have not involved me. I am happy about this as I like my routine. You should try the above sometime. Living is good.

Around noon she comes back in the house, picks me up, puts my halter on and the “short leash”. Oh No, the leash is never a good sign. Next thing I know I am in the little house on wheels and we are going somewhere. What??? Janet could have said something.She didn’t even give me a chance to hide or protest.

This house looks familiar and there are all my comfy items; the sheepskin, my litter pan, my food and water bowls, and one of my favorite toys, Miss Piggy. Okay then, let me crawl under the sheepskin and I am ready to roll.

We travel over hill and dale (I am not sure what that means but it sounds good). For a while we drive quietly and then all of a sudden I am bouncing all over the place. I am not sure what that is about but I am hanging on for dear life, under my sheepskin. When we stop and I look outside I know I am not in San Diego anymore.

the desert

the Desert

There are miles of nothing, just shrubs and the wind and one of my most favorite things in the whole world “DIRT”!!! I love dirt, I love rolling in it and becoming one with it’s color. Janet took me to the desert. The wild ride was riding on sandy roads to a perfect camp site. Okay I am good with this.

She hooks me up to the short leash and we go walking. She tells me that the short leash is important because there are coyotes here and I would make a tasty little snack. I don’t like the sound of that. I thought all animals got their food from cans. I certainly don’t want to be anyone’s snack. NOPE!!! I am not sure if I remember what coyotes are but if they will eat me, I am good with the short leash.

My climb up the hill and way down there is the RT

My climb up the hill and way down there is the RT

We climbed a hill. The wind was blowing a lot and it was kind of chilly. I thought the desert was hot. Not this time. And there were clouds and did I mention the wind? I could not find one lizard. I thought with all these rocks there would be lizards everywhere. Not one. Where do they go?

After our walk, I was ready to snuggle in and look out at the big wide world from my small home. After Janet fed me I snuggled up on the bed and pretended I was in my favorite window at home.

We stayed there all night. The wind blew and it rained. I was very happy to be inside this little house sleeping next to and on top of Janet. There is even heat here so I could be comfortable all night long. It was snuggly and fun.

I like that this little house on wheels is familiar to me. I don’t have to go through it being a first time thing any more. I am becoming a pro. I am glad Janet takes the time to make sure I am comfortable. The one thing I like about being in this little house and on-the-road is that I have Janet all to myself. We bond. When we are in our “sticks and bricks” house, Janet is often busy and goes out a lot. She hasn’t learned to sleep in the window yet. When we are in the little house, she is all mine. She does go out for hikes and stuff but mostly we hang. I like that.

IMG_7094Because the wind was wicked, we headed to the mountains. This morning we are camped in the oaks. Late yesterday afternoon we heard all this howling. Janet said they were coyotes. They sounded like the neighborhood dogs when the fire engines go by. There seemed to be a lot of them. I was glad to be inside. I have decided short leash walks are better than no walks at all.

I remember that sound they make from this summer. I thought and thought and then I remembered that coyote on the land in Colorado. He was just a little thing. I guess what looks harmless is not always true.

Now I am back home and in my favorite window. I am dreaming of that big land of dirt. Even though I don’t mind my routine, well, sometimes it is OK to jump out of the routine and do something adventurous and fun. I am glad Janet helps me do this.

A rainbow kind of morning

A rainbow kind of morning

I think I will go to sleep now and dream of the next big adventure in this very small cat’s life.