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.

 

 

 

Preparing For the End of Winter

I would like to express my gratitude to all the responses I received from my last post “Struggling Through Winter”. All of your comments were so supportive and helpful. I have read through them more than once. It has eased the feeling of aloneness I felt this winter. It has reminded me, once again, that those of us who struggle with depression and sadness are not alone. I am forever grateful to all of you.

As the daylight hours lengthen I have found I have more energy and interest in the world around me. And, I am beginning to prepare…prepare to move back into my rig and begin the life of a nomad, once again.

I wasn’t sure what direction I was heading when I left the bay and ocean, in San Diego. I kept waiting it out, in hopes that a small “aha moment” would appear and I would have it figured out. I now know my first destination. I am going to driving across the southern United States and then cutting north to Ohio by the second week in March. I leave my rental on February 28th. I will spend a few days at a campground, just to adjust and then I am on my way.

For those who have been following my blog, you may be aware that my one and half year old great nephew, Ward, was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor right before Christmas. After successfully removing the tumor and kidney, he recovered and is now in the process of receiving chemotherapy for several months. His family is adjust to this unexpected time in their lives. This is not an easy adjustment and they certainly can use all the support they can get.

My sister, Grandma to Ward, has been in Ohio  since the tumor was discovered. She is in need of returning home. I am going to be helping my niece and her husband out for a while. I will now have time to meet and get to know my great nephew. I am looking forward to meeting this little one and loving my niece and her husband.

This is what family does for each other. We may not always agree, or get along but when any of us struggle, my family is there to support and love each other. It is my honor to actively support and love this lovely young family.

As February begins to wind down, I am getting busy with my Roadtrek. I am getting it cleaned up and completing  all my little and medium size projects in the rig. I am cleaning, making lists and starting to figure out what I want to take with me and what will return to my storage locker.

Miss Elsie the Cat is making her own checklist. She wants to make sure she has all her creature comforts with her. 

I am looking forward to being on the move. I am looking forward to spending time with my niece and her family. I am looking forward to exploring places I have not been before. I am looking forward to meeting people along the way and visiting with friends. I am looking forward to figuring out my spring and summer. I am looking forward. Looking forward means that depression is lessening and I am entering back into life. Oh I am so glad for this. It has been a long few months.

Next winter I might go to New Zealand so I can experience summer all year around. 🌞

Stay tuned—-Life is picking up.

 

 

 

A Winter in San Diego

Crystal Pier Sunset

A month passes fast. I have been in San Diego for just over a month. Elsie and I moved into a rental near the beach for three months. It is nice to be able to walk the two blocks to the bay and then in a few miles be at the Pacific Ocean. I have missed “Big Blue”. I walk or ride my bike every day, in between appointments.

 

One of the reasons I moved back to SD was to get “stuff” done. Important stuff but still stuff.

  • Dental appointments, galore -I am on the finishing side of my tooth implant. My close relationship with the periodontist is at an end. He is a nice man yet I will be glad to put this chapter behind me.
  • All my doctor appointments are complete (many appointments in December) and I am good to go for another year. I know this sounds light yet, this is just the sign of relief I feel after being anxious about these annual visits.  I begin to fuss  about two months in advance. After having breast cancer, the trauma does not seem to totally go away.
  • I completed by new web site. It went live about three weeks ago. Go check it out. I am proud of it and if you want to purchase any of my photos it is all on the web site. Your comments are always welcome jarnoldarts.com
  • My storage locker is still there. I am starting to acknowledge that it may be time to get rid of some of the things that are in the unit. I am discovering that absence really does not make the heart grow fonder. I am beginning to realize that many things I kept because of sentimental value. After a year and a half away, the sentiment is growing less with each passing day.
  • I spent several days cleaning and sorting and fixing my Roadtrek RV. I enjoy doing this.
  • My rig is at the RV hospital getting repairs done and getting her physical check-up.

I could go on but you get the idea. The first month has been very busy. I am now finding more days that have nothing on the calendar. I am glad to see that because it means it is time to visit more of my local friends. I will enjoy catching up with everyone.

Another reason I moved into a “sticks & bricks” studio was to test the waters. Is San Diego a contender on the potential list of places to live? I figured that maybe moving in and staying put for a few months might answer that question. The jury is still out.

I have a good core base of friends in San Diego. I now realize that peoples lives move on, even my friends. They are caught up in their own lives, as it should be. I knew this was a possibility when I chose this current lifestyle, yet I miss seeing some of them and being more involved in their lives. You could say the same thing about me. I have changed and grown too. We are all caught up in our own lives. I do know that I need to reach out more and contact my local friends.

I really enjoy everything a large metropolitan area has to offer. I don’t like the traffic. San Diego is huge, the 8th largest city in the United States. It is spread out and rush hour traffic is a major hassle. Try driving it in a larger vehicle. People are impatient, and I get honked at and sometimes the middle finger is raised in salute. I don’t particularly like the hurriedness of it all. Being at the beach has helped. It has a different vibe.

And then there is the cost of living. I have spent some time on the weekends strolling the neighborhoods and stopping into open houses. Wow, the price of homes is amazing, really amazing. There is one that sold across the street from my studio that sold for $1.3 million. Jaw dropping, to say the least. Rentals are not much better. It is a landlords market currently and they can ask whatever they want. Thank goodness for my little rig.

Another reason to even consider this area is the weather. Many of you are currently in a deep freeze. It has been in the high 60’s and low 70’s in San Diego. Every day I spend time outside. I walk, I bike ride and hike and more. I love being able to access the outdoors every day.

Walking the Beach

The diversity of nature here is really a plus. For being such a big city, there is so much to do outside. Yesterday I walked the beach. I can go to the desert and to the mountains and many environs in between. I love this diversity. There are over 52 microclimates in San Diego county. This lends to some great exploring.

So here I am still in the “what do I want to do with this next phase of my life” issue. Who knows, maybe I am already doing it. I love to travel, the RV is certainly a good way to travel in comfort. Yet, I do know in my heart of heart’s that I want to settle into one place again. I am still exploring the where.

And, the jury is still out.

Another Year-Reflections

Tomorrow is my birthday.

The day after tomorrow will mark the sixth anniversary of Jim’s death. Time stands still. Time flies. It is amazing that it is six years since I last saw him. It is amazing that it has been six years since I last heard his voice. Well this whole process is pretty amazing and not always much fun.

I grieved when my mom died. I grieved when my dad died. I have grieved over the loss of friends and over the loss of others in tragedy, which we have seen so much of this year. The loss of Jim was different. I lost my life partner, my friend and my companion in mischief and dance. I describe the three and a half years leading to his departure, like a deck of cards thrown in the air. Just as they started to come down and I was picking them up, something else happened and the cards were thrown back up in the air again.

I am still picking up cards from six years ago. I didn’t know there were so many cards. Yet I have accomplished a bit along the way and each day I attempt to live life to its fullest. Some days it is a wee, tiny bit and other days are big a luscious and overflowing with awe and beauty.

I am beginning to realize that I may never have an answer to the question “What’s Next?” At my best I look for the large and small around me and find some marvel in it all. At my worst, I still find I can treasure my current surroundings and who I am.

  • I am not homeless.
  • I have this lovely little Roadtrek to call home.
  • My home is heated, which feels good on these chilly fall nights.
  • Elsie is always my faithful companion, in adventure and silence.
  • I know, oh how I know, I have many out there that support me daily, mostly in thought and prayer. Yet I know you are out there.
  • There are many books to read. On days where I don’t have much energy, I sit and read.
  • When I was younger I went through a short, period where everything was gray. I appreciate that I have never gone back to that place. I still can see and marvel at the loveliness of the places I visit and the people I meet. Color is a wonderful medium.
  • I have a family, sisters and nieces, that though not often heard from love me and support me.
  • And there is always my camera-I love taking pics even at my lowest.

There is always hope. In this coming year I am going to attempt to not be so hard on myself. I really don’t need to make far reaching decisions about anything. I want to focus on what is best for me at this moment in time, in this day and in this year. I want to experience a little more joy, wherever I can find it. And, although I am not sure I may want to settle down. I shall see on that statement.

I now understand a bit more of the statement from others that “you can move forward, while treasuring the moments Jim and you had”. I know that I can do both. And, ever since Jim’s passing he has been very good at helping me find my car keys. I have called on him more than once. This is one of the important reasons to keep him nearby as I adventure forth into life.

If you look on this site you will see a Go Fund Me tag. I have been raising money for the Jim Fenningham Memorial Scholarship for 6 years. I am close to my goal of $25,ooo to make this a perpetual scholarship. I have about $8,000 more to go. I have been constant and steady in trying to raise this amount. If you would like to donate, small or large, some student out there at Grossmont Community College will thank you for your efforts.  I treasure each donation because I know about the thought and caring behind it. If you would prefer to donate directly to the college, here is their information.

Mail your donation to:

Scholarship Specialist
Financial Aid Office
8800 Grossmont College Dr
El Cajon, CA 92020-1799
Contributions are tax deductible

On to another year of discovery. Who knows what it will bring. I will continue to follow my own path, carrying the memories of my time with Jim forward. This year I pray that it will be just a wee bit easier. Each year seems to be getting that way. I am thankful for this.

I am thankful for 21 years of love, caring and relationship. I am thankful for being able to have those memories to help me move forward with my life, no matter what direction it takes.

Today I am thankful.

 

 

 

Totality


fullsizeoutput_8201My extended summer vacation is drawing to a close. I have had an adventurous and good time in Idaho and Montana. I can’t thank my friends, Linda (for her “cabin”) and Mary (including me in her adventures) enough. It has been a fun.

The finale to my time in Idaho and Montana, and a little bit of Oregon was watching the Eclipse in totality, with new friends. We were in Unity, Oregon. The eclipse was every cliche or phrase or word you have ever formulated for amazing. I had told myself that I would not take photos. I was just going to watch it. Well the best laid plans can go awry. I did get one good shot of totality. It was fun to take pictures of the people and the shadow, and the sunset. Yep it was downright awesome.

And to think, I almost missed it. What?, you may wonder. She was planning to do this since last spring. How could she almost miss it?

I have been out in the back country for most of the summer. I have hiked and biked and kayaked and more. I have spent a lot of time alone. When the news started coming in that they were expecting close to a million people in Oregon for the eclipse, I hesitated. McCall Idaho was expecting up to 100,000 people. People were worried about traffic. There was concern that gas stations would run out of gas. The more the reports came in, the more unsure I became. I was not sure I wanted to be around all these people. I have seen one other eclipse. I could easily head south and avoid the masses.

Mary & Janet waiting for Totality

What drew me to Unity to see the eclipse was my friend, Mary. I had made a commitment to her to share an RV site. I had made a commitment to be there. I like my friends and I really don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t break commitments very easily. So with some hesitation on my part, I drove to Unity, Oregon.

And the result? 

I had a great 4 days. The group I was with were delightful and easy going. The day before the eclipse we went to Unity Reservoir and mucked about on the water. Everyone got along. The town and the townspeople were welcoming and helpful. We had a great big grassy area to sit in, the morning of the eclipse. Other people outside of our group joined us. Everyone was having fun getting to know each other. There were no hoards of people. We left on the August 22. There was no traffic. We had no difficulty driving or getting gas. The trip to Medford Oregon was long yet easy.

 

I am glad I stretched myself. I am glad I pushed myself to step out of my comfort zone and mesh into a fine group of people. I believe that it is important for me to be a bit uncomfortable from time to time. The emotionally scary experiences help me to become more-more human, more whole, more of everything. I know several posts back, I spoke of fear. Fear has been pretty much a part of my day to day existence since Jim died. I can let it drown me or I can make it my ally. The trip to Unity is a good example of asking fear to be my ally. When I support this part of myself and push forward to a new experience I grow and fear becomes a tiny bit more distant.

Sunset in Totality

I am driving south. I am going to be in San Diego for two weeks, starting this Sunday. I have to visit the person I have an ongoing relationship with for another six months or so, my dentist.😁 I have to sign up for Medicare. Good heavens, I am 65 this October, how did that happen? The rig is getting checked out and serviced. It is time to get my eye exam and order new glasses. It will be a busy two weeks.

I am hoping to see all my San Diego friends. I have missed my major support group, since Jim’s death. You all know who you are. I hope to see each and every one of you in my two weeks in town before I adventure out again.

Tonight I am at the beach. I have missed the ocean and have felt a draw to the west to say hello to the Pacific, and Jim (he was buried at sea). It is time to get my shoes on and take a walk. It is time to say hello to the wide open ocean.

 

 

I Am On The Move

When I look back to my last post, I am amazed it has been almost a month since I posted. What? How could that be? I have been on the move.

 

I left San Diego in mid-April. Once taxes were completed and the dental work finished it was time to figure out what to do with my summer. In classic Janet fashion, sometimes I find it hard to decide what direction to go. Sometimes when everything is planned a better option shows up and there I am, my typical Libra self, once again, contemplating and making plans and changing my mind.

Friends, near and far are a life line for me. I treasure my friends. This part of my journey has been about travel and friends, and new experiences.

A View of Zion Canyon

First stop on my rambling life, Zion National Park. I have a very good long time friend that lives just outside the park.  Sharon and I have known each other since I was young and I babysat her children. When I was in my early twenties I reconnected with this family and it turns out, it was the best thing I could have chosen to do. Sharon and her husband David always unconditionally loved and supported me. Unfortunately David died a little over two years ago. Now after a 60 year marriage Sharon is on her own. She and I have joined the same club, like it or not.

I spent my week in and around the park doing challenging hikes and helping Sharon around the house. One day of hiking was followed by a day of errands and yard work. It was a great combination.

Central Nevada

From Zion I drove across central Nevada heading to Monterey, CA. I have never spent much time in this state. The byways I took makes me want to go back and explore more. Another state goes on my ever-growing list of places I want to visit. I like the solitude of the area. When a badger crossed in front of my RV, I could stop in the middle of the road to watch it. There was no traffic. Nope, not one vehicle.

Roadtreks all in a row

After all the solitude I arrived at a Roadtrek Rally located at the Fairgrounds in Monterey. The rally had forty Roadtreks and about sixty people. For three and a half days we gathered for meals and other events. We explored each other’s rigs and new ones as well. It was three days of camaraderie and learning. I discovered that larger groups of people can be fun when I have a place to retreat to for quality alone time.  Another very good use for my Roadtrek. Meeting friends can be fun. I met several people who I have met on-the-road. It helped that there were a few friends at the rally. Charlotte, a good friend and the woman who married Jim and me lives in Monterey. We were able to slip a breakfast in and catch up on new and long time experiences. She is a magical, delightful person.

Oh so good friends-Gary on the left and Ron on the right as you look at the photo.

Now I am heading north. I will get to my summer plans in a few minutes. Two nights ago, at the last minute, I called friends in Santa Rosa who I have always threatened to visit and this time I did. First you have to know, I love Ron and Gary. They have always held a special place in my heart. They are both Scottish dance teachers as well as amazing musicians and delightful friends. Not only did I get to spend a wonderful evening with them, dancing and catching up…I got to dance. Oh it has been long. My ankle is not 100% yet but it is close. Being back on the dance floor was delight. Coming back to their house afterwards was even better. I love these two men and I am glad we are friends. I have known Ron for close to thirty years. He is special.

Where to next. Well here it is, in a nutshell. I am heading north to Lassen and then to Medford. It is time to meet up with my friend Mary again. She is the one I spent some time with in the Arizona desert this winter. I am looking forward to catching up and getting some wine tasting in.

Idaho is my destination for a part of the summer. Linda and Steve, more Roadtreking friends,  have offered me and Miss Elsie their cabin in Donnelly Idaho. I am taking them up on the offer. I am looking forward to being a bit stationary for a few months. Other events on the horizon? A river trip, the solar eclipse (oh Jim would be so proud) and later in the summer, Colorado. It is time to spend time on my property there. Late summer and early fall is a delightful time to be in the mountains.

I am grateful for the western United States. I always thought I would end up in New England. I often tell people I got to the Rocky Mountains and never looked east again. There is something about this part of the country, from the mountains to the Pacific that touches my soul. I am looking forward to my mountain summer. And….you know….if any of you are in the area please be in touch. I would love to visit and explore with you.

All my friends are treasures and I look forward to spending time with each and everyone of you, time and time again.

Today I am grateful for Friends and Friendship.

 

Challenges of a Small Home Lifestyle

Lake Jennings

I have been in San Diego County since March 19th. I have camped in two places since my return and I am getting ready to move to a third place. It is important to book ahead when Easter weekend looms on the horizon. My first campground was at Lake Jennings. It was a beautiful site, on a scenic reservoir. Now I am a bit closer in towards San Diego at another very nice campground, Santee Lakes. This weekend I will move once again and then when Easter is over I return to Santee Lakes.

Wood Duck Mama at Santee Lakes

When I really enjoy a place, where I have stopped to camp, I find it is hard to let go of it and move on to the next one. I think I, un-intentionally, like to set down roots. I believe many of us do. That is why we buy homes or land. That is why we nest.

I think it is a very good lesson to un-nest and re-nest once again. I have found, since I have taken on this experiment in living that there are two responses from people. The younger generation tells me how cool it is and that is what they want to do. The older generation ( people my age and older) don’t always understand what I am doing. I have to admit I don’t always understand what I am doing.  I do know that the longer I have been living this lifestyle the more comfortable it gets. Do I think I will do this long term? No. I miss my community of friends and eventually community will be what draws me back to settling in one place again.

There are challenges with this lifestyle, as there are with any. When I am back in San Diego I visit my storage locker a couple of times. I like sitting around what is familiar and loved. It feels like all these objects and belongings are waiting. Hmm…I am waiting too. I am not sure what I am waiting for, yet, I am waiting. My belongings know what they are waiting for. They are waiting for a home.

What are some of the challenges?

  • My living space is very, very small. Storage is always an issue.
  • What do I really need to live a comfortable life? This is a question I ask myself several times a month.
  • Things need to be orderly. I am somewhat of a slob. I am not dirty but I tend to lay my clothes and belongings other places than where they should be. I cannot afford to do this in this small space. If something is pulled out, when I am finished with it, it has to go back to it’s home instantly.
  • It is amazing how quickly this small place can become dirty. I clean every single day. The carpeted area gets vacuumed. The floor gets swept daily. The floor also get’s washed every other day.
  • I have a small “wet bath”. When I take a shower, the whole bathroom gets cleaned. This usually happens every other day.
  • The garbage cannot linger. I have to remove it every other day. Smells accumulate in a small space.
  • When I want to go somewhere in my Roadtrek, I can’t simply pull out. I have to disconnect the water, and electric. The refrigerator has to be moved to battery power. Are all the windows and doors closed and locked? And where is Miss Elsie the cat, usually sleeping in the driver’s seat.
  • I have two of everything. That means if more than two people come to visit, they either have to come with their dish in hand or I get paper plates and plastic ware, which I really do not like using.
  • When getting ready to travel, is everything in it’s place. I have a check list that, even after close to four years, I still look at. It is not unusual to miss one thing.
  • When I had a house I noticed when things went wrong, only after they had escalated. In a small space I notice more quickly if something needs attention. This is of course a house on wheels and all homes have issues over time. The time is just shorter in a small home.
  • It is amazing what I can lose in here. Now my keys go back where they belong as soon as I enter my home.
  • I used to have a whole file cabinet. Today, I have one portable file with all the essentials in it.
  • I usually do not read books. I read on my Kindle App. There is limited space for the real thing. I miss turning the pages. I would, however, prefer to read than not read. 📚
  • The cat litter cannot be ignored. That gets cleaned at least once a day. It took a bit of research, I finally found a type of cat litter that has minimal odor. Yay. Tracking means vacuuming.
  • If I have to take my RT in for repairs, what do I do with Elsie the cat? When I am in San Diego I can drop her at my friend Nancy’s (thank you, Nancy). When I am on the road I usually will put her in her cat carrier and if it is longer we find a hotel room.

I am sure that if I took more time I would discover more challenges. The challenges become a daily part of life and I don’t think about them too much. It is better to approach the unique situations as they come up. There is always a solution. The one nice thing about my RV is that if I break down somewhere (hasn’t happened) I have a place that is comfortable while I wait out the solution. That is nice.

I may just do another post on the benefits of this lifestyle. I have found there are many. Right now, though, today is moving day. I am off to Kumayaay Lakes Campground for Easter weekend. I am looking forward to staying here. Until about a year ago it was closed. Now it is open weekends and has come in handy when Santee Lakes was full. Time to do the process.

Happy Easter everyone.