Friendship & Social Media

This is me at Graduation

I was a new graduate out of nursing school in 1973. I worked for a year in a big city hospital in Philadelphia to gain experience. Boy did I ever gain experience, charge nurse on a 40 bed sub-surgical specialty floor with 2 nurses aids, on the night shift. What????

After a year I decided it was time to spread my wings and leave home. I had always wanted to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. When the application came and I realized how far I would be from my family, I was not ready to commit.

I was too young. 

I decided that I would stay state side and become a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Volunteer. After a week of training in Chicago, I traveled north to my assignment for the year, in a little town-Glenwood City, Wisconsin. I worked in a West CAP program (Western Wisconsin Community Action Program). Although I really never had a job description, I worked for the all the programs the office housed. 

There was a young woman who worked in the office, Melissa. We soon became fast friends. We did so many things together and it was fun. Through out the 1970’s we stayed in touch but gradually we went in different directions and lost touch. 

Enter facebook. Melissa and I reconnected about a year ago. It was such a delight to connect with her again. We have followed each other on Facebook. It has been almost forty years since we have seen each other. How could that be? I am not that old.🤔

Melissa & Me 

Last Tuesday Melissa and I met. Elsie the Cat and I have been camping in her and her husband, Will’s driveway since last Tuesday. It has been so nice to re-meet her. She and I have a lot of years to catch up on. We have been busy talking, a lot. It is interesting to see what she remembers and what I remember from our past.

Here are few things we have quickly found in common.

  • Yoga, today it is more mainstream than when we first took classes.
  • Contradance-we love to dance and we both met our husbands dancing.
  • Our political beliefs are similar.
  • Embracing our joy for life is similar as well.

This has been a wonderful meet-up with Melissa. I had no idea that we would actually visit with each other and still have so much in common. We even think we still look the same. I feel blessed. 

On Monday I will be driving south into Oregon. I am planning to meet friends there as well. I feel so grateful today for all the unique menagerie of friends that are such an important part of my life. 

I am feeling thankful.

Glacier National Park, Personality, Adventure, Beauty, Exploring Inside and Out, Grief

I continue to remain in Montana near Glacier National Park. The Roadtrek Rally was a success. I managed all the people by remaining scarce, thanks to my friends Linda and Steve. Each day we hiked in Glacier National Park and returned to the rally site around six or seven in the evening.

In the evenings or mornings, people would stop by and visit. If I got peopled out I would disappear into my rig. It worked out, yet, to be honest I don’t think I gave this rally a fair try. I was overwhelmed by the numbers of people that were there. I was overwhelmed before I even arrived. If I choose to attend another one I might stay around for more of the group activities. I believe that if I pick and choose what I want to attend then I will have a little more control over the people time. I know I can be a bit more social than what I ended up doing on this trip.

Glacier National Park was amazing. It has been many years since I traveled in this part of the USA. My first introduction to this park was a backpacking trip with a good friend of mine, Diane, back in the early 80’s. I loved the remoteness and majesty of it then and I find that has not changed one bit. I saw a lot of animals and amazing sites. It was awe inspiring at the least.

On the way north from Boise I lost a part on the outside of my Roadtrek. I have remained in the area while waiting for the part to arrive. I had it put on this afternoon and now EmmyLou the Roadtrek is once again whole, well almost. I still need to find another missing part. That one is not visible to the eye.

As I came out of the drive across Logan Pass (Going to the Sun Road) I received news from friends back east. Once again I am struggling with the basics of life. Many years back, 2013, I posted regarding my friend Zoe. We met on a breast cancer support web site. She and I quickly became friends. Her support was so instrumental in my struggle with breast cancer and it’s treatment. She has helped many people while going through her own struggle with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Her support around Jim’s death was that of a good friend who was always there, no matter what time of the day or night.

Zoe & Kay

Zoe is now approaching the end of her life. I struggle to write this here as I am not really sure what to say. For the last few days I have sat in a forest and dove deep into grief. Grief for the struggle that her and her partner Kay are going through. Grief knowing I won’t be able to see my friend again. Grief for my own suffering and broken heart, no matter how selfish that sounds. Grief for the sake of grief. I have only done this adventure into this area of my life since Jim’s death. I am beginning to recognize when it comes. I tell myself, OK go feel it, you have forty eight hours and then get out of there. Deep grief is not somewhere I want to stay long.

the view from my campsite on the river.

Forty eight hours is now up. I moved out of the forest and am now nested along the Flathead River. Moving out of the forest may be a symbolic move, yet it helps to look out and see the whole world, not just trees. I ventured out tonight and talked with others in the campground. Moving out of grief means moving out of my small and tight world and stretching myself to get back to ” normal” once again. I am not sure what normal is.

I need to ask myself how is it that I can best support my friends during this end of life process? Zoe is not dead, she is dying and no one, including her knows the length of this process. It could be days, weeks or months. She is lovingly supported in hospice and surrounded by friends, her church and mostly her wife, Kay. I don’t know if there is a term for this observing and supporting the dying process, yet that is what we are all doing, for whatever length of time it requires of all of us.

I love Zoe. We have not always seen eye to eye but that is what sisters do. She is my sister and my friend and I am heart broken at the impending loss of her on this planet.

I share this with you all because that is all I can do. “Thoughts and Prayers” seem to lose their intense meaning today and yet that is all any of us can do, think of those we love and pray. That is what I am doing. I carry Zoe and Kay close to me and when I see amazing natural places I hope they know that I see them there too. Nature is a wonderful healer.

In a few days time I will be moving slowly west. I am looking forward to seeing beautiful mountains and seeing friends along the way. I will choose for this moment in time not to spend too much time alone. I can easily sit in a campground and enjoy those around me, even at a distance. I don’t necessarily need to talk to anyone. It is good to have them near by, just in case I feel a social call coming on.

I am back to the present moment. I am remembering to breath. I know that many of you are there if I need to reach out and talk to someone. I am grateful for this knowledge, love and caring support.

Sunset on the Flathead

Now I will be off to enjoy the rest of the evening by the river before the doors shut and I head for bed.

Returning to the Outside

Wow, two weeks later I am returning to Boise, Idaho from southeast Alaska. It feels like I have been gone forever, the sign, I believe, of a good trip. It has been a great trip and a wonderful adventure. I am so glad I said yes, when Leslie asked me to join her on this small ship cruise. 

I am also glad I tagged on a day at the beginning and one at the end of the cruise. Yesterday, June 13 we spent the day with a friend of mine and her partner. Jane was an amazing tour guide in Juneau. We toured, we talked, we caught up and even saw a bear. 

Here are some of my highlights from the past two weeks.

  • Glaciers-all sizes, all kinds, calving, not calving, icy cold.
  • Icebergs floating by. 
  • Eagles-lots and lots of eagles.
  • One orca.
  • Humpbacks, lunge feeding in Taku Harbor. This was an amazing event to observe.
  • Our Glacier Bay National Park experience was made even more amazing by having Janine, our ranger guide on board. Her enthusiasm and warmth and kindness made everything in and around the bay come alive. She even did the official swearing in ceremony for those of us who completed our Junior Ranger Badge booklet.
  • Bears up close and from afar.
  • Flowers-spring is happening in the Tongass National Forest.
  • The Light House Keeper’s talk as we entered Frederick Sound.
  • Reuniting with Leslie and spending time with her. We had years to catch up.
  • Catching up with Jane in Juneau. We toured, saw a bear, walked the labyrinth at St Therese Shrine, visited the botanical gardens and saw the new humpback whale sculpture on the waterfront. 
  • Hiking, small hikes, large hikes, beach combing and more.
  • Learning about the Tlingit culture in the village of Kake.
  • Learning about the Norwegian culture in Petersburg, AK.
  • Birds-so many shore birds. Kittiwakes, Pigeon Guillemots, Murrelets, Gulls, Oyster Catchers and more. Lots of activities on the icebergs.
  • Sea otters lazily floating by on their backs.
  • Stunning sunsets late into the evening. The sun did not set until close to 10 pm each night and sunrise came early (4ish). 
  • Food amazing, delicious, yummy food. 
  • The crew on the ship was accommodating and kind. They were fun to be with. I spent a few evenings playing Bananagram with the bar-tender and the naturalists. 
  • Finding quiet places on board the ship to read and ponder while protected from the wind.
  • Lastly my fellow passengers. I enjoyed them all. There were close to 45 of us on board. With two weeks and a small group it was easy to meet all of my fellow explorers. It was a delightful crowd, not one fussy one in the bunch. It made for an easy family for the ten days we were on board. It would be fun to meet up with them again, although the chances of our crossing paths again is slim.

Now my summer is ahead of me. I am not sure exactly what I am doing. Yes that is true. When I return to Boise, I will catch up with my friends there, meet my sweet little El Cat after a rare separation, and return to my small home on wheels. Shortly after my return I will be off to a Roadtrek Rally east of Glacier National Park, Montana. This will be my second rally with the Roadtreking group and I am curious to see what this one will be like. A rally is a gathering of RV’s and their owners. This one will be mostly Roadtreks. 

And here is my truth-I am a bit anxious about this gathering. There will be at least double the number of people, than on the ship. I have not been a big group person since Jim died. The number of people is a bit overwhelming. I am a guest reporter for Roadtreking: Celebrating the RV Lifestyle.  People who follow this blog know who I am. I am feeling somewhat at a disadvantage because I know very few of them. It may be hard to believe but I do have introvert tendencies and I am nervous about this situation. 

How did I get here? When I started this blog, Journeys of Thankfulness, I also joined the Roadtrek Facebook page. With my first post I heard from Mike who is the owner of the Roadtreking blog and he invited me to join his group of guest reporters and post blogs from the road. I decided to be brave and do this and have intermittently been posting on his blog over the ensuing years. And now I have arrived at this place and time and this is the result. 

I have mostly traveled alone or in small groups and avoided any gatherings. I have gone out of my way to not meet other Roadtrekers and RV’ers, on-the-road. I guess I wanted to be an invisible presence. Now that may change a little bit or a lot. Who knows. It is anybody’s guess. I am just nervous about it. Like the rest of my life, I am going to push forward and know if all the people get to be too much I can get in my RV and leave or go on a hike or just close the door to my RV and pretend I am not home. 

I am getting ready for summer and can’t wait to see how it unfolds. There are adventures big and small waiting around the bend. I plan to reach out and embrace them as much as I can.

As I say a longing farewell to Alaska and return outside (that’s what Alaska calls the lower 48), I will stand as strong as I can from day to day and greet adventure with open arms. 

Into the Wild, Well, Not So Wild, North

Good morning from small ship cruising on the inside passage in Alaska. It is not even 6 am yet and I am wide awake and ready to roll. It is hard to sleep when the sun rises shortly after 4 am.

The beginning of this journey to the north has been interesting and fun and awe inspiring. I have met wonderful new people, Jeff who housed my friend Leslie and I in Sitka, was the perfect tour guide. We hiked, we talked, we ate, we did yoga (Leslie teaches) and I personally repeated “Wow, Isn’t this beautiful?” several times while we wandered the darling town of Sitka. This phrase has continued to repeat itself since boarding our small ship.

The scenery is amazing. Mountains everywhere. Trees everywhere (it is a rainforest). The people I am traveling with are very eclectic, from all over the world and enjoyable. I have been fascinated by the lives of my fellow passengers. Some of the passengers are from AK. When you live in such a large state, you have to play tourist to see where you live.

While I am wandering the north country, life continues to go on in the lower 48.

  • My great nephew had his first post chemo scan and, thankfully, it is clean. We are all so relieved.
  • Elsie is adapting to life at Linda’s and Steve’s in Boise. It appears all the animals there have called a truce and are pleasently ignoring each other.
  • My RT, EmmyLou, has been in the shop and when I have reception I have been emailing Nelson’s RV and Linda (same friend as in the bullet above) has been managing the interaction between me and the shop. What a good friend. My propane leak is fixed (yay) and EmmyLou is getting ready to roll. It is hard to manage this at a distance.
  • Hopefully all my friends are doing well. Reception is spotty at best where I am so I am out of reach often. Today I am in and I am up early and I am writing.

This is Alaska, so far. Mountains, Eagles, Bears, Whales, Mountains, Dolphins, All kinds of ducks and more. It is relaxing and adventurous all at the same time. Yesterday we visited a Tlingit Village, learned about the life of the local tribe and watched and participated in dancing. It was delightful and informative.

Leslie and I are traveling well together, although this is only day five (Hee Hee). We are good roomies. We are not glued at the hip so we wander off on our own explorations as well as create time to explore together. This is an ideal travel relationship. When we are together, of course, we talk, it has been several years since we have seen each other.

I am off for another day of exploration. I am forever grateful that so many “have my back”. I carry all my friends, known and unknown with me wherever I venture and I am so thankful for the silent and strong support I feel as I adventure into the Wild North.

Sorry no pics because WiFi wont let me download them. They will come later.

 

 

 

Once again I have successfully traversed the lower 48. I arrived in Boise Idaho about a week ago. There were a few mishaps on the way but Elsie the Cat, my rig and I have all made it in one piece.

Field of Dreams

I loved the Field of Dreams Movie site. Have you ever had a movie touch something inside of you? This movie was one of those movies for me. I thought I would spend about an hour there. Instead I signed up for a tour and spent close to three hours there, before I headed west. Truly, it wasn’t hokey. Our tour guide was excellent and he had so much trivia about the filming of the movie. It was a great tour. The only thing missing was the corn. It was barely beginning to grow.

I had always promised myself that if and when I drove cross country again I would head back to northern Nebraska and ride the roads just south of South Dakota. I rode the Bridges to Buttes Highway, the Outlaw Highway and the Lewis & Clark Highway. It was lush and green and so spring. I stayed in state park campgrounds. I have discovered that Nebraska excels in their State Park system. Both parks were beautiful. I rode my bike through one of them, ending with an amazing overlook of the Upper Missouri River. I took some time to ponder the Lewis & Clark expedition and what it must have been like to see this country without roads or bridges. They had no idea what lay ahead. Whew-a powerful moment.

Driving across the middle of this nation.

The Missouri River, Moi with a giant jackalope, Camping at Chadron State Park, NE

After a bit of a traumatic drive across Wyoming I made it to this lovely mid-size town in Idaho and my friends. I have had a wonderful week catching up.

Currently I am sitting in the Seattle airport and am on my way to Sitka, Alaska. My friend Leslie, offered me an opportunity I could not refuse so I am off on another adventure that begins today. The cruise begins on Sunday. Leslie and I will meet up later this afternoon. I have not see Leslie is a few years, at least. Yet we maintain a good friendship and I am so looking forward to catching up.

Boise Sunset

Friendships have been on my mind and close to my heart this morning. Ah a repeat theme. Here is what I know today. I feel so fortunate to have such good friends that want me in their life and want to take adventures with me. I love to travel alone. However, just as I am getting tired of my own company I am close to where a friend lives and I am invited in.

I appreciate the many ways my friends love and care for me.

  • Linda, her husband, Steve and son, Andrew are taking Miss Elsie in so I can travel north in comfort knowing she will be loved and all her cat needs will be met. Linda is also taking my rig in for appointments while I am gone. Now that is friendship.

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    Steve & Linda I Poncho the pooch

  • Leslie has gone above and beyond the call of duty arranging places for us to stay in Sitka and managing the upcoming cruise.
  • Helen and Norb, lovingly took me and El in for four days. We laughed and shared our way through this time together.
  • My sisters are always glad to see me when I show up at their door step.
  • Joy and her sister Diane invited me to be a part of a real family Easter.
  • New friends open their driveways and homes to me.
  • My San Diego community call, email and remembers me. I am very grateful for this.
  • Then there is the larger community in the Universe. I belong to the Roadtrek Facebook Page. These people support me along my solo journey. I know I can always reach out to them, if I have questions or need help.

These are just a few examples of my experiences with people within my immediate friend environment and those beyond who I have not met yet.  It gives me faith in humankind. I believe there is a lot of good out there in the world. Sometimes I need to put my inner critic aside and see people for just who they are. On the whole I think most people in this world are pretty darn amazing.

I want to take time here, to thank everyone, those I remember and those who silently cheer me on, for all of your ongoing love, caring and support. It makes me flow through my day and adventures a bit easier, knowing that so many are silently or verbally cheering me on. Even if I am alone, the truth of it is, is that I am not truly alone. People wait for my photos. People wait for my blogs. People wait for me.

Today I am grateful for humankind.

Friends &Moving West

I have many kinds of friends. I treasure each one. I have ones that have been around since high school and some that I have recently met. I treasure them all.

Helen on Fish Lake

I spent 3 days last week with a very good, long time friend of mine in Fish Lake, Indiana. Helen and I lead very busy lives. She lives in Chicago and I live, well I am not sure. We stay in touch by email, text and phone. We don’t see each other very often. Oh, but, when we do….The talking and fun ensue.

When Jim died, Helen dropped her life and showed up in San Diego after my sister had returned to New Jersey. I will always appreciate the fact that she didn’t take no for an answer and just showed up. I will always love her for that incredible act of kindness, support and love.  She is just that kind of friend. It will be an act of generosity that I hope to emulate.

On this trip her husband, Norb got involved with the merriment along with their two cats. We visited. We ate, trying out some of the local restaurants and cooking at home. We talked. We kayaked. Oh, and we watched the Royal Wedding.

Helen and I are family. Despite our faults we love each other. Isn’t that wonderful?

I am in Iowa now and heading west. I will visit the Field of Dreams movie site before I hit the back roads. Alaska looms closer each day. Elsie and I must get to another family of good friends in Idaho soon. Today I must begin the push west. Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and finally Idaho.

Moving right along.

Friendship & Reality & Aging

Yesterday I had breakfast with a good friend. She is 85 years old and her company is delightful. We play scrabble when I am in San Diego. She has been concerned about her mental health for some time now. She is fearful regarding her memory. She worries about Alzheimers, which runs in her family.

In the past when she would mention that she felt like she was forgetting more, I was one who said, don’t worry about it, it is just age. When she told me yesterday that she is being tested and she may be in early stages of Alzheimers, I stopped and thought about what I have said to her on occasion over the past year. Don’t worry. It is just age. Your doing fine.

Yesterday I made commitment to stop using these phrases. Although not a definitive diagnosis, this is a real and valid concern for her. It does not help to support her or anyone by brushing it off. So yesterday I truly listened to her and made a vow to support her in an honest and up front way. I will no longer say such things. My question really needs to be, I am sorry you are dealing with this and what can I do to support you. That is a much more helpful response than brushing it off or speaking lightly of it.

We spoke yesterday about the importance of having our houses in order. As single women we don’t have the privilege of relying on someone else to do anything and we really need to take care of our personal life. I have considered this a lot since Jim’s death. I think as humans we always think there will be someone there to help us. The truth is, we are all in this alone. Even in a good relationship, someone has to die first. I know that sounds morbid and I don’t mean it that way. It is a honest fact.

What do I need to do to get my house in order?

  • Finances-I go through a yearly review with my financial institution to be sure I am on track with my money?
  • If you have a trust, is it up to date. What about a living will? What about a power of attorney? Is that up to date? What do I want done with my body if I should die?
  • My friend, is going to investigate extended care facilities so that she knows what her options are. Did you know that most retirement facilities offer a staycation. You can stay 2-4 weeks and test it out. I really like this idea.
  • Miss Elsie the Cat

    What about pets? My friend, Nancy has offered to take Miss Elsie if something should happen to me. Once a year I check in with her to make sure she is still good with this plan.  I have also provided money for my kitty’s care. Did you know there are cat retirement centers at places such as The National Cat Protection Society. They will take care of your cat until death.

  • Does the family know of my plans? I have no children so it is important that at least one of my sisters is aware of my decisions.
  • What happens if I have no family left. What if I really am alone? Well, I am not in that situation yet but I think it might behoove me to consider this and what my options would be at that point in time.
  • I realized that I need to look for services that could help me maintain my independence: carpet cleaners, maid services, grocery stores that let you shop from home and have your groceries delivered, and handyman services.
  • What about my home, when I have one again? Putting handheld shower heads in all the bathrooms might help if I ever need a chair to sit in while I take a shower. What would make my life easier?
  • It is important to tap into your circle of friends. Some of those friends may be my life line if I need assistance. Asking for help and assistance is not a sign of weakness. Most people are more than willing to give of their time. I have to be the one to ask.

I know this list could go on, yet it a list I often ignore. I am in good health, I have new teeth 😁, and I still believe that I have that 20 and 30 something mentality, well I am going to live forever. The truth is, I am aging. I am alone and I need to be prepared.

Yes, I do carry a copy of my important records with me in my rig. Sorry they are hidden so I can’t tell you where they are. I try to remember to update my sister before I start traveling again. I am fortunate to have friends who I believe, though I don’t know, will gather around if I need help.

Today I am going to create a check list and get my own “house in order”. I believe I am pretty much set, yet I know I am not complete when it comes to this topic.

Today I make a commitment to my friends to really listen when important topics arise. Fear is fear and concerns are concerns and if I can help to lighten the load, even briefly, I will sit and listen and honestly try to understand and support the other person.

All we can do is walk each other home.