Slowly, Very Slowly Moving East

Zion National Park

Mojave Desert

After a beautiful drive across the Mojave Desert, last Monday, I arrived in southern Utah. I planned on a few days outside Zion National Park (ZNP) and then would be on my way east. I am here a bit longer than I expected.

A good and very long time friend, Sharon, is in need of some assistance so I am going to be here through the end of the holiday weekend and depart next Tuesday. She was in an accident and is bruised and banged up with a few fractured ribs and sternum tossed into the mix. This is what friends do for each other. They help each other out. It is my honor.

This is not a hardship. I have known the whole Hatfield family since I was a girl and I love this woman dearly. We have ample time to talk and relax in each other’s company. And when she is off to take a snooze, ZNP and surrounding areas are there for me to explore. It is amazing country out here and I never tire of walking off down a wash to see what I can find.

Sharon has a lovely yard. It is big and currently needs grooming. Since she cannot tackle it, in her current state, I am gardening for her. There is nothing I love better than getting some gardening gloves on and digging, prune the trees, pull up weeds, and get things organized. It is probably the one thing I miss, living my current lifestyle. I love the smell of dirt and loam. Earlier in the week it was raining, which brings all the smells forward. There is no other smell like it.

Elsie and I are camped in the driveway. I chose to live in my small space this time, rather than finding a bedroom to sleep in. I have gotten quite comfortable in my cozy tiny home on wheels. Miss Elsie the Cat has too. I spend my day letting Elsie out and into the rig. She has discovered the catmint in the driveway and is a happy camper lying in the midst of it. When Elsie is out, Dharma the dog is in. When Dharma wants to go outside, Elsie goes back into the rig. I am the animal monitor. Who is in and who is out. I definitely need to stay on top of this. Dharma would like to meet Elsie but Elsie is not so fond of this idea. So I remain the door monitor.

Having been to this park many times before (it is good to have friends that live so close), I have not felt a great urge to hike every trail. Instead I have wandered from Sharon’s home and explored what I can find on foot. The Virgin River is at the end of the drive. It is an easy walk. Currently there is a lot of water in the river which adds so much drama to a river visit. When not there I have wandered the town of Rockville. I have visited the cemetery and meandered the side roads. This is a delightful and quaint little town. And, how convenient that it is so near the entrance to ZNP. On Monday I may decide to explore it by bicycle. That would be a new experience for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so my adventure unfolds a bit at a time. I have rather enjoyed the slow pace yet I know that I need to move east. Africa awaits. Next stop southern Colorado.

Art as a Way of Healing

What makes travel interesting is the people I meet along the way, the locals who bring to life the area I am traveling through.

Friday I finally got on my bike and went for a ride

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On the Trail to Westport

. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. Camp had been set up. I decided to ride to the small fishing town of Westport, check it out and return to the camp later in the day. The best part of this ride was finding the path that followed the Pacific coast into town.

After settling over a cup of tea and reading I started the return ride. It is always nice to have the wind at my back on the way home.

On my way into town I noticed an interesting vehicle, so to speak, on the right side of the road. I promised myself, when I returned I would stop there and take a few photos. On the return trip I did just that, stopped to take a photo or two.

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Christopher & his Traveling Studio

Just as I pulled off the road, a man came out to say hello. Meet Christopher Bollen. He is an artist. He has been practicing art since he was young. He started as a pen and ink artist and then progressed his way to watercolors. I could stop here and you would know him as an artist, yet there was much more to this man.

When he first came out and spoke with me, he recited a poem.

He has been an artist most of his life. After returning from Vietnam, art helped him conquer PTSD. When he decided to attempt to become a working artist, he chose a neighborhood Seattle and knocked on doors offering to depict homes in framed drawings for $100 each. He had seven commissions the first week.

Christopher told me he took an art class at a community college. He went to one class and never went back and still passed the course.

His traveling art studio was designed and built by him. His home was simple and plain but inviting and well laid out. He raised two children as a single parent. His son now runs his own business on the same property, Barrett’s Gym. He is a personal trainer. He and his father built the gym. It is private and not open to the public.

At one point in his prolific career he owned nine galleries. He was well known in the Seattle area for his pen and ink drawings of local scenes. He opened up his traveling art studio and would travel and paint. Everyone was welcome into his studio.

 

Now he paints for himself, focusing on miniature watercolors. None are for sale. His goal is to paint a thousand paintings for his children’s legacy. He knows what his paintings are worth. What a creative idea.

When I finally made it into his studio I was taken. His art is beautiful and varied. He worked exclusively for eight years in pen and ink before branching out into watercolor art.

 

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When I told him I was a watercolor artist who has not painted since Jim died, he told me this is the time I need to paint, not for others but for myself. Painting is lonely and grief is a great time to start. He asked me if I felt guilty for Jim’s death. When I said emphatically, no, his response was “good”. He told me to pick up a brush and start. Record my history.

He decided that Cat and I are on a pilgrimage, each one different yet one with a common goal. It is not always an easy one, yet at the end of the day we need to lay down our differences and recognized we are in this together.

I stopped by this morning to thank him for his time and to give him one of my cards.  I left with two watercolor prints.

A most amazing man, indeed. I am glad I stopped. I am glad I stayed. I am glad to have met him and maybe not today but soon, I will pick up a brush and begin.

 

 

On the Move

IMG_3342Last Tuesday I started driving Miss Elsie and myself northward. I did not get far. I received an invitation from other Roadtrekers to visit them in their beautiful home in Camarillo, west of Los Angeles. I could not have had nicer hosts and now friends.

I did not stay in my RT. Miss El and I had a very nice suite within their home. Elsie really liked the door than opened to the back yard. She thought that was pretty cool and was always ready to get hooked up to her leash so she could explore. Of course, she could only do that when I was around as coyotes and hawks live in the neighborhood.

IMG_3359In the three days I was there I had an opportunity to explore, on my bike and with Jeff and MJ. Since I have lived in southern CA, it has never ceased to amaze me that I can find wild open spaces in a land lived by so many people. I biked one morning into Hill Canyon, a beautiful reserve between Camarillo and Thousand Oaks. What a delightful way to spend a morning.

Jeff and MJ also took me to the beach one evening. We sat in their Roadtrek and enjoyed a delightful dinner while watching the sunset and the birds play in the surf.

Life is certainly changing for me. It takes some getting used to and that will take time. It is OK for me to give myself the time to adjust. In the meantime it is good to explore what is out there in the world.

Here is a list of things I need to remember in my new chose lifestyle.

  • I do not need to be a tourist 100% of the time.
  • Remember to pay the bills.
  • Remember to check my e-mail.
  • It is OK to stay in one place for more than a day, in fact it may be preferable, especially on a summer weekend.
  • Do not think you can just drive to the Big Sur Coast and get a campsite on a weekend in the summer. It is not going to happen!
  • Pay attention to the news, at least a little. There is still a wildfire burning in the rugged hills east of the drive up the coast. There had been talk of closing Route 1. It might be good to know this information.
  • Always make sure Elsie is taken care of first. After all, she is the princess. On a more serious note, I want her to be comfortable so she doesn’t overheat.
  • It is OK to sit down with a good book and relax.

IMG_1476I feel so honored each time I am invited into someone’s home and life. I have discover delightful people with many varied stories to tell. I find it so interesting to share our life stories. Sometime I find I have more in common than I know and other times, I find I am just fascinated by the stories they have to tell. Life is an adventure.

I am in Monterey now. I finally found a campsite at Laguna Seca. And I am staying here until Sunday when everyone heads back into the city. It is an interesting place. Down the hill to one side is a gun shooting range. Over the hill on the other side is Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This morning I hear gun shots on one side and cars racing on the other. I am definitely going to take a walk over to the raceway and check it out. This area sits in the hills east of Monterey. It is so nice a quiet at night and busy during the day.

After a few more posts I may be dropping the link to Facebook and LinkedIn. If you want to continue to follow my blog there is an easy way to do that. If you go to my blog https://journeysofthankfulness.com and click on “Follow my Blog” it will ask you for your e-mail address. Each time I post, you will receive an e-mail. I am considering this option for several reasons. One of the major factors is security. I will alert you before I take this step.

There are some interesting things on the left side of the page.

  • Check out the Go Fund Me link. This shares information about The James Fenningham Scholarship.
  • There is a Book Recommendations link. I added that after so people came up with their favorite book suggestions. Some of the books are my recommendation and others are from people, like you, who submitted them in one post.
  • The Favorite Website link, with one click on the website and it will take you to the appropriate web site. keep an eye on these as I will be updating this at intervals.
  • Click on Photos and it will take you to my Shutterfly and you can see the latest photos.

Well it is time to adventure on. I need to check out the car noises. Off to explore.