Big Bend National Park is a People Experience

I have been in Texas for a few weeks. I kept thinking I was going to Big Bend National Park but I kept getting diverted. There is so much to see and do. I now have the time to explore. It is fun to pull into little towns, wildlife refuges and more. I like casually exploring.

Since my last post I have explored a very small section, of a very large state. Texas is 1.26 times as big as France. It is a huge state. Big Bend is a large National Park and it takes up a wee tiny spot in Texas. See the spot of green on the Texas map. It is above the Texas decal on the map. That is Big Bend.

The Indians said that after making the Earth, the Great Spirit simply dumped all the leftover rocks on the Big Bend. This park is a very rugged mountainous area and recieved it’s name from the big bend in the Rio Grand River, which follows it’s southern border. It is certainly a land of dichotomy. As part if the Chihuahuan Desert, it is arid and dry. Everything either pokes, sticks or scrapes. It is an environment that is always defending itself, for food and mostly water. Yet right along the southern border is this marvelous river and a delicious, green riparian zone. It attracts birds and other wildlife that might not be seen in the desert. Like I said a land of dichotomy.

Big Bend National Park

click on the pic to see it full size

When I first arrived here it was hot. I am not a fan of heat. On the third day a front went through and  the temperature changed over 40 degrees from the 90’s to the 40’s. It was hot and then it was cold. What the heck is with that?

I met another solo RV’er while I was on the east side of the park. Peggy is full timing in her small rig. She was fun and willing to give most things a try. We hiked and toured and most of all laughed together. It was fun to be with someone else. We even took the ferry (a rowboat) across the Rio Grand to Mexico for a few hours. Don’t even get me started on the burro episode.

Today we parted ways but are planning on meeting up again before I head west to San Diego.

I met John and Carol on the west side of the park. They invited me for dinner. I miss having company for my meals so this certainly was a delight. Their excitement was when I told them that I had ice cubes. Margaritas taste just that bit nicer when chilled with ice. 🍹

I enjoy the company of others. It gets a bit lonely sometimes out here on-the-road. Most times I do not mind being alone yet it is certainly nice to have the company of others. I find that after being on my own for a time, I have to make sure I give other people a chance to talk. Maybe i should carry a talking stick.

It is fun to share experiences. It is interesting to share our experiences of living in our small homes on wheels.

Now I am on my way north and west. I am not sure exactly where I am going yet. There are more things to see and do out there, and hopefully more fun and interesting people to meet.

Stay Tuned.

Advertisements

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.

Friendship

unknownThis month, October is always a marker month for me. First, it was when I was born. The real marker for me, however, is this is the month that Jim, best friend and husband for twenty one years died from cancer.

As I approach the date of his last admission to the hospital and then his death, I think it will get easier as time passes, yet, each year as this month rolls around, I find myself once again thinking of Jim and the events that came to pass. I know it has changed my life, yet I am not always certain how. There are the basic real life changes.

  • I am single, widowed, or something in that range.
  • I have to figure out how to do everything on my own or at least contact the right people to help.
  • I sold my house in July and currently, am full timing it in my Roadtrek.
  • I don’t have someone to talk to whenever I want. It has made me reach out to my friends more yet I miss the easy companionship we had.
  • Learning to cook and eat for one has been an interesting challenge for me. It is not as much fun for me to create a meal for one.

There are many other challenges that could be included here. I think you get the gist of it.

I have been thinking about Jim’s and my friends as this month has rolled in. I am so thankful to so many of them. Without their help and kind, loving support my walk through grief would be very different.

I have been thinking a lot of a good friend of Jim’s, Doug. For the entire time I have known Jim, Doug was a presence in our lives. I heard many Doug and Jim stories from Jim over the years. When we got married Doug and his former wife paid for our honeymoon to San Francisco. We had wonderful personalized tour of San Francisco with Doug and Lisa. They met us at the San Fransisco airport with a car rental and off we went into the city for four days. It was a delightful time.

At our important events Doug was there. The event I remember the most was around Jim’s death. Four days before he died, the phone rang in the hospital room and it was Doug. I thought he was still in the Los Angeles area. He asked if we wanted company and we both said, of course. Then he announced he was in the hospital lobby and up he came.

Doug spent the final four days of Jim’s life with me and him. There was nothing that was too little that he wouldn’t do for Jim. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. Doug was a firm presence for me to hold onto as we progressed through those four days. When I wasn’t there, Doug was. He and Jim talked and laughed and remembered times. They also caught up one more time on each other’s lives. When Jim died, Doug was there in the room as a witness to this important event as well. There could not have been a better friend and I want to honor that in this posting.

He remained in San Diego for a few days to make sure that I had my feet underneath me. When he drove back to LA and his life it was with the final words, “if you need anything, just call”.

After Jim died the Doug and Jim stories continue. I received an e-mail from Doug about a year or so ago, sharing with me the phone call Jim and Doug had the day that Space Shuttle blew up. It was a very intimate moment between two good friends. I have no doubt that this deepened and secured their friendship. I was going to share the e-mail with you, here but I cannot find it. Of course.

This is what friendship is about. We can laugh and share the good times, yet it is the sharing of the intimate and in your face painful times that marks those special and meaningful friendships in ones life. It is not often you find that friend who you can laugh, cry and share with over many years. Some may never find the depth of friendship that was shared by Jim and Doug.

Jim was fortunate, very fortunate  to have such a friend as Doug. Doug, I think would reciprocate that thought and feeling.

I have never needed to call but I do stay in touch by e-mail and Facebook. Doug travels the world with Nancy, his partner of many years. He leads a full and diverse life. I am glad that I continue to be a part of it even on the periphery.

Today I am thankful for the presence of Doug in Jim’s life and in mine. I benefit from their friendship. It helps keep Jim alive to me and reminds me, once again, how special our relationship was.

Today I am grateful for Doug. Doug-Thank you.

 

A Break in Time

IMG_9739

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

Valentine’s Day

imagesJim and I never really observed the holidays, official or made up. We felt that if we wanted to celebrate something why not do it when we thought about it rather than wait for a special day. The holidays, our anniversary and more was not that important to us. What seemed more important was to acknowledge the unique friendship and relationship we had on a daily basis.

Now that I am on my own I still feel little need to mark the holidays. I do try to make it to Jim’s family on Thanksgiving or Christmas because it is important to them and I enjoy the camaraderie. It also helps me get into action and make plans, which I am not always good at doing.

If I did not have any family near by I know that celebrating these events would probably just go on by. I would be good with that. Maybe this has something to do with working as a nurse and then a tour guide. With these careers, I worked the holidays. I have been working holidays for most of my adult life.

Valentine’s Day was always one that I have shunned. Too many people go out. The restaurants are crowded. It is a sham holiday made up by the card companies. Blah, blah, blah. Oh my head at work.

Why am I commenting on this? This year I was invited to go out to dinner with a friend and 4 of her friends on Valentine’s Day evening. The final enticement was that we would be going to Albert’s at the San Diego Zoo. It is a lovely restaurant in the center of the Zoo and the meals are delicious. And…it is really cool to be in the zoo after dark with no one around. We could only walk from the entrance to Alberts but it was fun to hear the night noises and know those animals and birds were close by.

Unknown

Last night I went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner and I had a wonderful time. The food was delicious and the company superb. It was an easy, relaxed evening. I always worry about being excluded. Nope, none of that. All these folks were delightful conversationalists. I felt very included. The bottom line; It Was Fun. We talked, we laughed and ate good food and drank good wine. What more could I ask for?

This year I have committed myself to move out of my current comfort zone and be with more people. This was a very good result of pushing myself. I was not comfortable, yet as soon as I met Vinnie and Gary I knew it would be alright. Then everyone showed up and all their personalities just firmed up the fact that it was going to be a good evening.

Each time I take this tentative step forward with good results, I look for the next opportunity. And maybe, just maybe I won’t shun the holidays as much. Well, maybe.