Enduring Friendships-Getting Ready…

Have you ever had friends for what seems like a lifetime? I have.

I first met the Hatfield family as a young girl. My two older sisters and I babysat their three children. I was around twelve when I first joined the cue of available babysitters. On longer than one day assignments I would join a sister and take on the Hatfield kids. They were wonderful and very rambunctious children and it often would take two of us to actively babysit for them.

As we grew up the Hatfield family moved away. First, they moved to downtown Wilmington, Delaware (I grew up in the suburbs), and then halfway across the country.

As we, my sisters, and I grew up we got active in our own lives, and eventually, we lost touch with the family, except for the catch-up Christmas Cards every year.

Fast forward to 1975. I became a Vista Volunteer in northwestern Wisconsin. As the only nurse in the local program, I was sent for special training for disaster emergencies. I went to Milwaukee for a two-day training session. I knew the Hatfields lived nearby in Mequon, thanks be for Christmas Cards with return addresses. On a whim, I called them, and at the end of my training, now as a young adult woman, I reestablished my friendship with them.

It has been a blessing, profound and wonderful as I established a friendship with all of them that has endured over the years. They have loved and supported me unconditionally. Sharon, the mom, has been my mentor, teacher, astrologer, friend and so much more. In many ways, she has helped me shape my life. When I think of Sharon and her family my heart is full. 

When we were still babysitting for the kids, Sharon was an early example of an independent, strong, honest, and loving woman. We thought she was cool because she worked for Planned Parenthood, played the guitar, and had all the Joan Baez and Bob Dylan albums. For a mom in the 60’s she was cool. She was outspoken and voiced her opinions and beliefs without hesitation. As I look back to this early connection I realize now that she was shaping my life, even then.

Eventually, we met up, again, in Minnesota. I lived in the Twin Cities and they lived in Marine on St Croix, east of the cities. I would go visit when I needed to talk to someone. I would go visit when I needed to feel love. I would go visit and housesit while Sharon and David (her husband) traveled the western part of the USA. David was a hospital administrator and with his help and support, I was able to get a job at St Paul Children’s Hospital. Specialty jobs were hard to come by for nurses at that moment in time.

After a few more moves around the country, Sharon and David retired to Rockville, Utah, just outside the west entrance of Zion National Park. The “kids” were grown and had established themselves in different parts of the country.

Over the years all the kids and I have stayed in touch, at least through Facebook.

So why am I telling you this? My friend Sharon is celebrating her ninetieth birthday on June 23rd. They are having a party in the park in Rockville. Friends and family are coming to celebrate this milestone. Truly I think everyone is coming because they love her. She has shaped many lives with her honest and giving nature.

When I first received an invitation to join the celebration I said no. It is a thousand-mile drive and blah, blah, blah. Then I stopped and thought if this was eight years ago and I had just bought this rig, would I hesitate to go? Well, No. I would hop in my rig and hit the road.

I changed my mind. On June Ninteenth I am on the road. I head south and east. First stop, Pendleton Oregon, where I will join David Jr and his daughter and we will convoy to southern Utah. I am as excited about this meet-up as I am about the party. David is Sharon’s oldest son. We have had our own adventures over the years, getting stuck in a blizzard in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northern Minnesota in the middle of the winter being one of them. He helped outfit me for my first backpack and along with a friend from Vermont introduced me to hiking and camping the backcountry. I could go on but I will not.

I am telling you, this family has helped shaped my life.

We will head south in my rig and his car. His daughter Taylor Rose will ride between the two vehicles and keep everyone company. I will have time to catch up with them as we stop to rest and spend one night at a hotel. Them in a room and me in my rig.

As the time draws closer (8 days today) I am getting excited to have a new adventure to head towards. My rig is ready. My refrigerator is ready and I too am ready.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of people as I have been pretty secluded over the last year and a half. It is good to have my RV, If peopleing is too much for me I can disappear into my very own space and even shut the door. The party is set up for social distancing and I am sure the mask will come out. This is the first chance I have really taken in a long time Yet, How Could I Miss This Celebration.

Adventure awaits and I am going to embrace it. Adventure awaits and I am walking into it with my arms and heart wide open. Adventure awaits and I look forward with excitement and love to seeing Sharon and her family again.

It is Exciting. Life is An Adventure.

Already on the Road

On the Beach at Pt Mugu

Usually, I title a post “Getting Ready to Roll” when I am preparing to move in my rig.  I can’t do it this time as I am already on the road. This morning I departed San Diego for the season. After a difficult farewell with Cynthia and Ward, I began the drive north on a beautiful and chilly Southern California morning. 

 

One may ask, Where are you heading? That would be a fair question to ask. I have not told many what my plans are. I didn’t want to jinx it. I am going to be house-sitting for friends on Whidbey Island, near Seattle. I will be there until some time in June. I am so excited. I have never been there so it is a brand new place for me to explore. My bike is ready and my kayak as well. I am ready too.

Whidbey Island is the largest of the islands composing Island County.  It is about 30 miles north of Seattle. The island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound. It is ranked as the fourth longest and fourth-largest island in the contiguous United States, behind Long Island, Padre Island, Isle Royale.

Hopefully my Northwest friends will pay special heed to this post. I am sure we can figure out some way to safely visit. Oh I hope so.

It feels good to “get on the road”. The adventurer in me takes over and who knows what may happen from there. I am thankful that I have a large country to explore as I am still not feeling comfortable traveling by air. It is good to have so much to explore outside my own front door.

A Beautiful Sycamore at My Campsite

Today I took a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, through Malibu, ending at Point Mugu State Park. It is a small park with a small beach on the Pacific Coast. There are many hiking trails and it is a quick walk to the beach. It is hard to believe I am not far from Los Angeles and millions of people. Yet here I am snuggled into my RV after a short walk earlier in the afternoon. I am camped among the sycamore trees and it is quite lovely here.

I usually get a bit apprehensive when I leave for a new place. Today I did not feel that. For that I am thankful. I was able to sit back and enjoy the ride. It helps to have good audiobooks to listen to.

So get ready to come along for the ride, I will have new photos to share and new stories to tell. Come on along.

 

Sisters

Traveling solo in my RV can, at times, be a lonely existence. There are days that I grow weary of my own company. I miss companionship. I have discovered over the past few years how fun it is to travel with others. There is more laughter and definitely more talking. I have enjoyed the times when I have traveled with others.

I am on my way to northern New Jersey, to my sister’s home. Miss Elsie the Cat and the rig are going to spend the summer there, while I travel to South Africa. Miss El and I know how fortunate we are to have a place that is safe and secure and loving to go to. 

A week ago I texted my New Jersey sister, Ginny, and suggested that she fly to Ohio, where my other sister, Ruth and my niece and her family live. She could then ride back to New Jersey with me. I totally expected her to say no. And, I would have understood. It was a last minute kind of thing. 

You know what she said? “I am already packed!” Woo Hoo! I was immediately surprised, excited and happy. We are going on a road trip. Ginny and I have done road trips together before. There was that time in Maine when we got so mad at each other, we had to pull off the road so we could yell at each other. By dinner we were friends again. 

We have explored the West Coast, the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce together. One of our last trips was to western Massachusetts and New York State. I was doing a “Fam” trip (familiarization trip). I was exploring the area before I took a tour group into the area. We have discovered interesting places together. Near St Johnsbury, VT we were guided by a local retailer to seek out the Dog Chapel at Dog Mountain.

Dog Mountain is set on 150 acres on a private mountaintop spot. The grounds are always open to people and their dogs. Stephen Huneck and his wife, Gwen, bought the property in 1995. They turned the barn into studio space. Stephen was a hand wood carver. During a serious illness Stephen had a vision to create a space for dogs including The Dog Chapel. What an interesting find. the whole area on the top of a mountain is dedicated to dogs. Inside the chapel the walls were covered with photos of dogs who have passed over, others that were sick. We added a picture of one of our favorite kitties, Wally. It is important to encourage diversity. Stephen and his wife, Gwen, have both died. A foundation continues to run and manage Dog Mountain.  There are hiking trails and a dog agility park. All dogs and their humans are welcome. Yes I would encourage you to explore this unique find when you are in the are

Tomorrow, all three of us sisters will be reunited, however briefly near Columbus Ohio. I look forward to seeing both of my sisters and my great nephew, Ward. My niece and her husband are out of town. After a good visit, Ginny and I will get in EmmyLou the RV with Miss Elsie the Cat and we will venture the backroads to northern NJ. I am looking forward to the company. I am looking forward to what we might discover.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of others, and you know who you are, joining me for long or short trips in my RV. I will treasure the company. My world appears to be expanding.

 

 

 

 

Plugged in & Getting Ready-Time to Head West

This morning after  a run to the post office, I returned to my sister’s, backed into my parking space and plugged EmmyLou the Roadtrek into shore power. Today was different though. Today I turned on the refrigerator. Today I did the wash. Today I began the prep for departure. Yes it is May and the west is calling.

Three generations. My two sisters Ruth & Ginny, Adrienne my niece and her daughter Quinn-just turned 2.

It is also good not to overstay my welcome. My sister, Ginny would never turn me away, but I also know it is time to go and give her and her husband and Kitty Lepore their home back. It has been a marvelous stay. On this trip east I have gotten to see all of my birth family. That is unique unto itself, especially when one lives in Florida, another in Ohio, and more in northern New Jersey. Oh and even though I sold my home in San Diego, I know the west will always be home. Like many in this large country we are scattered throughout and this is no small country.

I have no plans except to head west. Elsie and I will take it one day at a time. I am looking forward to meandering west rather than driving those long hours like I did to arrive in Ohio. I came across the south part of the country coming east. Going west, I will drive across the north part of the country as I head for Boise, Idaho.

Why Boise?, one may ask. I have been offered a wonderful opportunity. In early June I am going to Alaska for 2 weeks on a small cruiseship,  in the Inside Passage, southeast AK. The ship holds up to 75 people. I will be traveling with a friend of mine, Leslie. These ships get into places big cruise ships cannot. It is an active tour so there will be hiking and kayaking involved. I have always wanted to explore this part of Alaska more intimately, and now I have the opportunity to do just this.

Elsie cannot cruise with me. She is going on holiday in Boise with friends of mine, Linda & Steve. We seem to exchange animal sitting duties. El will be hanging out with Poncho the pup, Misty the, usually, invisible cat and Ophir who spends most of his cat time outside on gopher and mole duty. Although she may not be fond of the mix, she knows all of them so she will adjust for a few weeks while I am gone. And my heart is warm and glad that I can turn to this wonderful couple, my friends.

For the next few days I will be packing and putting everything into it’s proper place. Each time I stay somewhere for a while I find the need to nest again. There is usually a transition period, too. I get used to being around people and I find there is a period of adjustment that I need to make, when I return to my solo and nomadic life. This is an interesting phase of travel. When I was younger I consciously planned to be single my whole life. There was no need for a period of adjustment. I was happy and content. Then I met Jim. Since his death, over five years ago, being solo and single is different. I need to explore this period of adjustment, embrace it and allow it to be. Sometimes I get frustrated. I have been known to delay a trip by a few days, because I don’t feel well. I associate this with stress and needless worry and fear. I think it has gotten better. The first trip in 2013 I delayed by a week. Once I am in and on board I turn to enjoying myself as I explore new places. I really do enjoy my little home on wheels. Buying my Roadtrek was the best decision I ever made. I explore in comfort and at my leisure.

Time to pack.