Elsie At Home

Me & My Sheepskin

Me & My Sheepskin

Hi everyone. It took a few days to get to the computer when Janet wasn’t looking. It helps when she works 12 hour days. I am not sure what work is but she tells me that it keeps me in the lifestyle I am used to. OK, I accept that.

I now know what home is.

Home is:

  • where I don’t have to sleep under the sheepskin all day, although it remains close by in case of emergencies.
  • huge compared to the little home on wheels I have been in for the past almost 4 months.
  • where I can go outside during the day without a leash. Yes I do still have to wear my halter and yes I do have to come in before dark each night. I am not sure why I have to do this,  but if it lets me go outside without a leash, I’m good.
  • filled with windows I can look out anytime I want to.
  • stationary.
  • quiet. There are not as many visitors. A lot of people want to look inside my little mobile home. Then they stay around and talk. I don’t know why they all do this yet Janet seems to like talking to all those strangers.

I have had some grand adventures on this trip.  Did you know I got away twice? It was after dark and there was big woods all around. I would have really liked exploring but the first time I heard fear in Janet’s voice. Since I kind of like her when she called and clapped three whole times I ran into the RT. The second time it was really foggy and I could have gone far but a big truck drove up the road and scared me and I ran into the RV. That little home on wheels is one of my safe places.

Here are some of the highlights of my trip.

  • I stayed in two houses, and two hotels.
  • I saw lots and lots of water. Big water and little water. Some tasted kind of salty. Some had waves (that is what Janet called it). Waves scared me.
  • IMG_6487

    Oh No, More Horses

    At the very beginning of my trip I saw horses. And…they were right behind my little house. I stayed under the sheepskin for almost four whole days!!!

  • I met three other kitties on this trip and three dogs.
  • I went to Canada where I learned to speak French, “juste un pue”.
  • I met a lot of wild life, birds and animals. They were all interesting and I really liked the ones that moved fast. I would have really like to have met some of them quite a bit closer but Janet said no. What a spoil sport.
  • On

    On “The Land”

    I liked going out on my leash. Every place we stayed was different. I really liked the quiet ones where it was just us. One of the last places we stayed was on “the land”. I am not sure what that means. We were the only ones there and the grasses were super tall and I got to explore in them with my leash. It was fun.

  • Watching the fish in the water at the Lake in NJ was very entertaining.
  • Chippies…Squirrels….Birds…….well you get the idea.
  • IMG_6475I finally got to see a coyote. Janet says I can’t go out after dark because of coyotes. This one did not look threatening. She says they are wiley. I am not sure what that means. They have big voice and yip a bunch. I guess I better stay away from that one.
  • Janet and I spent quality time together. I liked talking to her and snuggling up next to her on cool nights.
  • IMG_1629I liked riding on the dashboard. I got to see a lot. I tried to not be a back-seat-driver.
  • I was in 22 states and 4 provinces. That is a lot for a little six pound kitty like me. Just call me, Miss Elsie-Adventure Kitty.

I like both my houses but the big stationary one, is still my favorite. The little one on wheels is also kind of fun and I like being on an adventure. The more I travel in it the more fun it becomes. And I like seeing all the places and animals and “stuff”.

Janet tells me my adventures are not over yet. Hmm, I wonder what that means?

Miss Elsie the Cat Takes a Ride

Elsie in the desert

Elsie in the desert

If you have been reading my blog from the beginning of my journey in 2013, you know I was suppose to be traveling with my cat, Elsie. That first summer she opted out and stayed in San Diego with my house sitter and friend Raquel.

This coming May I am planning on taking to the road for three months. More to come on that adventure. This time I decided that Miss Elsie is traveling with me.

How do I get Elsie (one of the original scaredy cats) and myself ready to travel together in my RV? I have for the past several months taken her out to the Roadtrek, made it comfy and spent the afternoon or evening reading while she explored and got used to the movements of my neighborhood. I wanted to make it feel like her home.

Once she was comfortable with this I then started the engine and took her for short rides. The short rides became longer with destinations in mind where we spent time inside the RV looking out. A few times over the course of last summer I would take her to the bay, open all the doors and windows and have dinner while she first hid under the bed and then gradually made her way to peer out the side door. Any noise or person would send her scooting under the bed again.

Miss E looking out the back door.

Miss E looking out the back  screened door 

Elsie rolling in the desert

Elsie rolling in the desert

Early in February we did our first overnight. We went out to the desert and boondocked. It was just her me and the desert. There was no one close by. First she laid on the bed and peered out the back screened window. Eventually she made it to the screened side door. With great timidness she stepped outside and discovered the desert floor is covered with dirt and sand. This cat has always loved to roll. Well she took off for one of the most major rolls of her life. By the time she was done she looked the color of the desert. When the night sky was in it’s full glory she and I went out and laid on the desert and looked at the heavens.

hiking and rolling in the wash

hiking and rolling in the wash

The following day on the way home we found a place up in a canyon and I took her hiking up the wash with me. I admit this makes me nervous as there are coyotes out there. She was on a short leash so she could not wander far. She again loved exploring and rolling on the desert floor.

Elsie in Patagonia

Elsie in Patagonia

Trip two occured about two weeks ago when she and I headed to Patagonia, Arizona. Although timid in campgrounds she did come out from under the covers and look around. I took her for short walks late in the evening when everyone was inside their RV’s. We stayed there for 4 nights.  The more we were there the more curious she became. And her world began to open a little at a time.

Here is what I have done so far to ensure the safety and happiness of Miss Elsie.

  • She has a halter on at all times except when we are sleeping.
  • She is chipped with ID information on all her halters.
  • I am going to add a locator to her collar so if she does get away I might be able to find her.
  • She always goes out with a leash on. I have a short one and a long leash.
  • She has a kitty playpen that I can put her in if she shows interest.
  • I have all doors screened and I can add screens to the front windows when camped.
  • All her vet records will travel with me and her immunizations will be up to date.
  • I am putting a sign on my RV letting people know she is on board.
  • I have favorite toys and sheepskins that she uses in the house with her in the RV.
  • The litter pan is easily accessible and will be cleaned immediately after use.
  • I have a designated place for her food and water.
  • Several years ago Jim and I taught her commands. Clap 3 times means come in the house, and she does. Collar, means stop let me put your collar on or take it off. My latest one I started when I first introduced her to the RV and that one is Wait and she does.

This summer when we leave I will travel differently. We will stay in one place for more than a day. I think that will ease her nervousness and I will get to know a place better. I will need to pay attention to someone elses needs and that is not a bad thing to consider.

Elsie was Jim’s kitty. It took her about five months to decide he was not coming back and she changed her allegiance to me. Over these past few years she has been a good friend and a constant in my life when everything else is changing. I am glad to have her along for the ride this summer.

Go Miss Elsie.

Who Knew???

Approximately two weeks ago I was interviewed by Caitlin Kiernan for Yahoo Travel. At first I was going to be included in a larger article about RV’ing. Then her boss and she decided that my journey in my cute and new little RV that started this blog would be good as a feature article.

She interviewed me and some of the people I met along my travels and soon the article was finished. It appeared in this weeks Yahoo Travel on the web. It was a good article and I felt that she had done a good job. And I thought it was done.

Oh my goodness, the past few days have been amazing. I have recieved e-mails from people commenting on the article and their own personal journeys. Several people are now following this blog.

I am overwhelmed. So what did I do? I left town. When all else fails, run away (sic).  I am now in Patagonia, Arizona visiting a friend and taking time out to digest what happened with this article. I am also going bird watching and hiking and generally enjoying my time out.

I started this blog as a way to keep friends and fellow adventureers up to date with where I was as I moved across the country. Very quickly it became something more. All any of us can do is help each other out. I hope that through these posts that maybe just maybe it can touch someone else’s life and help make their struggle just a wee bit easier and if not at least it is a good read. These posts have certainly helped me become clearer about life and my own personal journey.

I have continued to post because people did not want me to stop. My own journey is not over yet. Each time that I go somewhere whether it is for a day or a week or much longer it is part of my own personal journey of healing and wholeness.

So welcome aboard all of you who decided to start following my blog. Welcome to those who have been following this blog since it’s inception. I am honored and grateful for each of your visible or invisible presence in my life. Let the journey continue.

Here is a link to the article in Yahoo travel. Driving Through Grief

Marking Year Two-Off on an Adventure

005October seventeenth  marked the second anniversary of Jim’s death. Sigh.

The first year was hard yet I kept myself busy and that year seemed to move quickly. All of a sudden he was gone a year. Now I don’t mean to imply that it was easy because it wasn’t. I missed him in a large all encompassing way.

This second year has gone by slower. I have had a much tougher time finding the energy to stay positive and delightful. This year I have missed him in the small ways.

  • A touch.
  • His voice.
  • His kisses.
  • His help around the house, for sure.
  • Kayaking solo because my buddy isn’t here.
  • Bicycling solo because….
  • Conversation. I think I miss this most of all. He was a very intelligent person and we had conversations in depth. Now I find that when I meet someone, like Silver Hooligan (Kat), and we have that kind of conversation I pull it in to my brain, my heart, my soul, through the pores of my skin.
  • Where is my waltz and polka partner?
  • Goofing around the house and being silly.
  • Laughing at the Simpsons.
  • Getting Ready to Raft the Grand Canyon

    Getting Ready to Raft the Grand Canyon

    Planning marvelous adventure trips together.

This gives you an idea of the small things. The list could go on and on.

This past year I struggled. I met new people to help me out, my acupuncturist, Gayle, a new therapist, Heidi (my other one retired, sigh). I chose to meet this grief and sadness head on this year and you know, I feel better. I am not done yet but I feel better. I feel better, about me, about life, about others, about my house and more. It feels good to feel better. There are times that I still curl up in my house and that is OK, as long as I come out again.

I have found that work helps. I work part time locally as a tour guide. I love my job and I truly enjoy the other guides I work with. I go to some mundane places (the airport) and some lovely places (La Jolla Shores). Mostly I enjoy being out and catching up with others. It is fun to see people have a wonderful time. I meet interesting people in this job.

I worry that others will forget Jim and yet when I speak with his close friends I realize they will always remember him in their hearts. I find I am now starting to tell Jim stories and others share theirs with me. This is a new development and I find I enjoy it and it feels light.

Kat and her pups. Bicycling to the east coast

Kat and her pups. Bicycling to the east coast

Travel also helps. Tomorrow I am going to head out in my RV, the cute little Roadtrek. I am traveling through the deserts of southern California and Arizona, where I will meet up with Kat (Silver Hooligan-see my last post) for a night. Next will be Flagstaff where I hopefully, will be seeing a much different Sharon than I did a year ago in July. For those of you who have been following my blog, she was the one who ended up in the hospital while I was there.

On Friday I am going to a private ranch, Kane Ranch, on the north rim of the Grand Canyon to take a water color workshop. This is a big step for me. I have tried a few times since Jim left to paint. It has never worked out. I decided to go where I might get some inspiration. The Kane Ranch is owned by the Grand Canyon Trust. I support their cause and they are the organization that is sponsoring this workshop. If I can’t paint I can always pick up my camera and just enjoy being there.

full moon over Zion National Park

full moon over Zion National Park

Lastly I will be on my way to Zion National Park and a visit with my dear friend Sharon. You can scroll back to September of 2013 to read about this very special family. Since that time David has gone on to join Jim. We have a lot to talk about.

Adventuring off on my own takes a bit of courage for me. I have at times been anxious and stressed in preparation for this trip. Yet I persevere. I know that once I get behind that wheel I will be happy and ready to explore where I am going. I take all my friends with me. I feel everyone’s love and support and encouragement. Thank you for getting me through year two.

On to year three.

What Am I Waiting For

Elsie hiding

Elsie hiding

OK, yes, I have been in hiding. This past spring has been hard for me. I decided this year that I was going to stay home and face my grief head on and find life again, not just a little bit of life but life full on. I am not there yet. I am getting closer.

One thing I have definitely learned, since I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago is to ask for help. I have continued this theme in my life through all the broken bones and Jim’s cancer and death. Asking for help, I discovered, is a sign of strength. It also reflects a commitment on my part to find the strength to move forward.

My healing team includes Beth (massage therapist & friend), Gayle (acupuncturist & a little bit more), Dr Wright (chiropractor & friend) and the latest addition is Heidi (psychologist). I decided that I was just being blah for too long so I decided two weeks ago to go back into counseling. It is good to have an unbiased third party in my corner.

Heidi wants me to journal. I bet that none of you know how much I dislike writing. Over all my years of adventure and travel, I have often had people say to me “you should write a book”. Well that sounded horrible to me. I have always seen myself as more of a story teller and yet, here I am writing a blog. Hmmm…interesting.

I have not physically sat down and started to journal. I was hiking in the mountains east of San Diego last Friday, alone. The whole time I was hiking I found I was journaling in my head. That was much easier. I saw myself coming home and putting all my thoughts on paper. Instead here I am blogging.

Hiking a Conservancy Trail

Hiking a Conservancy Trail

I made a statement when I was with Heidi that I felt I was waiting, not for Jim but just waiting. It was suggested that I journal about what I was waiting for. As I was climbing that trail this was what I asked myself about.

What am I waiting for?

1.  True Love. (sorry I had to start on a light note. The Princess Bride is a favorite movie of mine.)

2.  A big aha moment. Something that is going to define my life in it’s latest incarnation.

3.  I wait for someone to tell me what I should be doing next. (I know, I need to tell myself)

4.  Smaller aha moments would also be more than acceptable.

5.  I am waiting to feel the fullness and joy of life again. There are small moments but I want more.

6.  Hugs and recognition from friends and strangers. People who will take the time to ask me how I am doing and be willing to accept a truthful answer and then take me to a movie, go for a walk or play scrabble. (just a sampling of things to do)

7.  I am still trying to figure out  when to sell my house. This spring I have been very glad to have a comfortable home to hole up in. Seeing spring in my yard was a delight.

8.  Where is my next trip in my RV. I have not finished thanking my far away friends, although, right now it feels important to stay put.

9.  Sometimes I feel I am just waiting to figure “it” all out. What “it” is, I am not sure.

Engleman Oaks

Engleman Oaks

IMG_8457

Native Grasses

Cactus

Cactus

   More Photos of my Hike

artistsway-250x300There is a beginning of my list. I still plan to journal. I find the free form of journaling a comfort as I just write what my hand tells me to. Have you ever heard of the Book “The Artist’s Way”? This is a very good book that the reader needs to be involved in. I did the process of  journaling three pages every morning for weeks. It was  boring and insightful and I was glad when it was done. I find there seems to be a magic about putting your words down on paper, even when you don’t really want to.  Writing gave a different perspective to my thoughts and feelings.

This blog has certainly helped me see some truths that might have otherwise slipped away unnoticed. I also notice Journeys of Thankfulness helps me keep my heart and spirit open to the moment and is a heartwarming way to keep in touch with friends.

Journey On.

Camping the Big Sur Coast & Friendship.

along the Big Sur Coast

along the Big Sur Coast

Sometimes I get caught up in my day to day events and feel they are so important and I don’t take the time to be thankful or grateful for this moment in time. Then I find out a friend of mine is fighting for her life and it throws everything back into perspective again. I thought I would take some time out of my morning chores and business and be thankful for this day, my health and remember those who struggle. I decided to write on the blog. After all, it is called “Journeys of Thankfulness”.  Although my trip last summer is over, my journey into gratefulness is not.

Janet & Diane at Point Loma

Janet & Diane at Point Loma

Two weeks ago my friend Diane, from Vermont (remember her helping me to drive across the covered bridges of VT and NH?), decided to escape the cold and the snow and head west to visit me in sunny southern CA. Funny how friends show up at the right times in my life. I have been mostly content with life now, although still missing Jim so much at times. I have been stressed a bit about life and then Diane shows up. People seem to arrived just when I need the company and a boost. I love friends. It is so good to have them in my life.

Beach Kind of Morning

Beach Kind of Morning

Right after Presidents Day we decided to pack up the RV and drive north to the Big Sur Coast of CA. I have done a lot of traveling alone and I really enjoy it yet it is so much fun to have a good travel companion. Diane and I have had our adventures over the years, backpacking the Rockies is one, and now we continue to find more to do together. The weather was perfect, the scenery grand and the company magnificent. And through all of the activity it also was relaxing. I think I might have sold Diane on RV camping as well.

I had to throw in a photo of a  Sea Otter, They are so cute.

I had to throw in a photo of a Sea Otter, They are so cute.

One of the best things about long time friends, no matter how far apart we are, we pick up right where we left off the last time we talked or saw each other. And so we did. It was a marvelous 5 day trip of remembered times and creating some new moments along the way. We hiked into the hills, slept among the redwoods, and wandered the beaches and it was so much fun. I don’ think I have laughed so much since before Jim died. I guess I had forgotten how serious I have become sometimes. I need to stop this, really. It is good to have friends who can help you remember to lighten up (and the elephant seals mating on the beach helped too).

I want to thank Diane for coming to visit. It is good to get out of my normal routine and remember how special the world is. I am an adventurer and I love to explore the natural world, books, knowledge, my internal growth and the wisdom of others. It is good to take time to remember and value what I have. I am glad I stopped this morning to remember all of person-kind and value what I have in this day. Today I am thankful.

Today I will call a friend and let them know I remember them and thank them for loving me. Here is to good friends.

Diane & Janet Toasting Friendship & a Perfect Holiday on the Big Sur Coast.

Diane & Janet Toasting Friendship & a Perfect Holiday on the Big Sur Coast.

 

If you would like to see all the photos from this trip here is the link.

Journeys of Thankfulness

I Am Still Here

Janet in The Slot Ready for desert season

Janet in The Slot
Ready for desert season

Wow. I just realized how long it has been since I have posted. Where does the time go? Well we all know where it goes. Life is busy and sometimes I procrastinate. there always seems like there is something that needs to be done first. I am back and my journey continues.

I made it through the holidays. I don’t do much celebrating and haven’t for years. I like the holiday lights and the music. Many years ago I gave up  giving gifts. It certainly took some of the stress away. I have to admit I am glad that the holidays are behind me.

Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona

Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona

Christmas found me traveling with a group to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. I love to drive distance. I find it a great time to be reflective let my imagination run wild. Riding for 13 hours across the California desert with a group of people was a whole different story. Our morning started early and we got to Sedona around 8:30 in the evening. Whew, long day. The saving grace was that we stayed in the same hotel for the whole 4 nights we were there. It was fun to spend Christmas day on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. At the end it was again a long drive back to southern California.

Here is what I learned from this trip. Even though I have enjoyed the last 13 years of travel, I am done. I am done with stressing about these trips. I am done being tired and not sleeping during the trip. I am truly done with people evaluating me. What does this mean…well, I retired from AFC Vacations last Friday. If I make a commitment to do an over-the road trip now it will be because I really love where I will be going with each company that asks me to do a trip. Change continues to be the theme of my life.

I am still working locally as a tour guide. I love doing the close-to-home work. After 6 hours I can go home to my quiet house and yard. Miss Elsie is waiting. I can get a good night sleep. Life is good.

one of my accomplishments, a new berry lattice

one of my accomplishments, a new berry lattice

For the last few days I have been thinking about the phrase “random acts of kindness”. I love reading about people who give unselfishly, often at a moments notice, frequently without waiting for thanks or acknowledgement. Not only do the recipients feel good and special but so does the giver. I also feel good after hearing of these moments in time. Then I began to wonder about why we can’t give ourselves those special moments. Would it feel the same? Sometimes I feel like I want to thank myself or acknowledge my own job well done. It is good to take the time for each of us to feel good about ourselves by acknowledging ourselves. I know that each time I accomplish something around the house that Jim would have done, I feel so warm and special and happy. Usually there is no one around to say good job well done, so I say it to myself and I allow myself to feel warm, proud and happy. Even months later when I remember that moment it still feels good. It is a little harder, I feel, to figure out how to give myself a random act of kindness. Even as I write this I am not sure how to do that. This will require a little more thought. What a fun thing to think about.

Sharon & David with David Jr, Judith and Taylor. September 2014

Sharon & David with David Jr, Judith and Taylor. September 2014

For those of you who have been following me I want to end this post by giving you an update on my friends in Southern Utah, Sharon and David. At the first of the year my long time friend, David finished this earthly journey. He had been sick for some time and after a short time on hospice he moved on. It has been a unique and hard experience for all of us who loved him so. He lived a long and good life and was a mentor to many, including myself. I am so glad that I had a good visit with him when I visited in September. I value him in so many ways and he will be missed. Sharon is doing OK. She has a very strong community of friends to support and love her. And her adult children are amazing. I have been honored to know him for more years than I can count. I ask you to wish him well wherever he is now. Soon it will be time for me too load up the Roadtrek and go visit Sharon.

Happy New Year Everyone.