It Is All About the Journey

A little over four years ago I began a journey in a little white Roadtrek, Rv. Little did I know it would become my permanent home, for now. It has been quite a journey for me and Miss Elsie the Cat.

As I reflect back on the beginning of this blog, yes I do go back and read entries, I recognize how far I have come. Some of those first entries were pretty raw. That is how it was during that time. Today I may still not be sure where I am going or what I am doing with the “rest of my life” yet I am out there experimenting and trying out my new wings that had to sprout after Jim’s death.

I don’t know if any answers have arrived to the many questions I had and still have today, yet I do recognize that I have grown and matured, well maybe a little. Grief is not easy. Some get through it in less time than others. I thought that three months after Jim’s death I would be done with it. I was wrong. I am able to recognize the steps I have taken. Most have been so small I don’t recognize them as they happen. I have to ponder on it and then there is this little tiny aha moment where I can see the change.

I have been traveling, this time, since early September. I have been exploring the southwestern United States. I have seen some beautiful places and amazing natural things. Nature has been at my beck and call or really, I have been at natures beck and call. I have wandered through Utah, sleeping in a tent, again, for part of the trip. I enjoyed the ruggedness and beauty of the back country. I enjoyed the company of two good friends, Mary Z and Linda, who willingly tolerated my sensitivity and stumbling. It was a good trip and one I am glad I took on.

I spent about two and a half weeks on my property in southern Colorado. The biggest decision of this trip took place while camped on the land. I have decided that 45 acres of property was more than I could take on. I was able to camp on the land and mourn the passing of this part of my life that was really Jim’s and mine.

Remember to click on the pics. It will enlarge them.

When I get back to San Diego and get the paperwork together, the land will go on the market. I am glad I spent the time I did on the property. When I made the decision to sell it, I felt relief and a sense of rightness. It makes me sad to see it go. I hope that someone else will care for it and love it as much as Jim and I did.

After Utah and Colorado, I started to visit places I had never been to before. Even more than the amazing places I have seen, the second part of this trip has been about friendships, new and old. I have met some really fun and interesting people since my arrival at Big Bend National Park. In other posts,  I have told you about a few of them.

Amazing 

&

Beautiful

                                        Places

Since Jim’s death I have withdrawn from people to a certain degree. I have learned that being around people can be exhausting. Even more than that is the fact many feel that it is time I leave my love and caring for Jim behind. But I have learned something – I can move forward in my life and bring my memories and love of Jim forward with me as I establish myself in my world as it is today. I can meet someone new if I want and the memories and love will only enrich any type of relationship I have from this moment forward. I have been forming new friendships with depth and meaning and fun. I am thankful that I am a more whole person for those memories. Will I continue to carry memories of Jim with me as I move forward? You bet. Will this stop me from forming all kinds of wonderful relationships? Nope.

Since my arrival at Big Bend I have been having fun. It is an easy and wonderful kind of fun. I thank the women and couples,  I have been meeting for helping to bring that part of myself forward. Peggy, Mary and I are all living full time in our rigs. Each of us is doing it in our own style. One designed her rig so she could sleep on the streets and no-one would suspect that it was an RV. Another travels with her dog and cat. She stays in one place for longer. I have been learning from these ladies and am very glad to have met them and the menagerie of animals that accompanies all of us. I have laughed more. I have enjoyed the easy company of these women. We all meander and we have been having fun.

Mary, Janet & Peggy * Roxie the Dog*

There are all kinds of relationships in this life. I really don’t mind having to work hard at relationships. If the relationship is good then it is worth the effort. I have been discovering the joy of easy relationships. I like the pure joy of discovering that people like me just for who I am. I can laugh easier and talk more profound with easy acceptance. I am rediscover joy. How cool is that?

Now I am getting ready to return to San Diego, for a little over two months. Elsie and I are going to move out of the RV and into a studio rental for this time period. I am looking forward to it. Although it is only a studio it will seem a bit large to the two of us. We have been living in a very small space. I am looking forward to this with excitement and a bit of fear. Ah, there it is, my friend and ally, fear. I feel that it is time to see how this feels. Is San Diego suppose to be my home? I don’t know. Staying in one place for a little while may help that knowledge to become clearer. Or, it may help me to acknowledge that I really like this lifestyle for now. I am preparing for a new part of the continuing adventure of life. It is going to be so nice to visit with my friends who have been such a major support in my life, before and since Jim’s death.

And so the journey continues. I look forward to it with anticipation and just a wee bit of trepidation. I am human. I am glad for my side kick Elsie. She is getting braver too. We reflect each other. I will continue to take you on my journey as it unfolds. Today the desert, in a few days, San Diego.

COME ON ALONG.

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Oh The Places I Have Been-a post by Elsie the Cat

Elsie the Cat here. I have been one traveling kitty. I have seen big mountains and lots of sand and met up with some more dogs. I am one traveling kind of kitty.

It is hard for a little six pound kitty to see the big wide world. I am so glad for my tiny house on wheels. When things get to overwhelming I run for the rig. I know this is my safe place. Every kitty needs one. It becomes a bit hard for it to be safe when Janet, says, “Oh bring that dog in, Elsie is used to them”. Hmmm, I wonder how she got that idea. Being used to them and having them inside are two totally different stories.

Sonny

While we were staying at City of Rocks State Park, I met up with Sonny. He came in my house but only stayed a little bit. He was skittish and so was I. What is that dog doing in my house? He didn’t stay long, so it was OK. Sonny belongs to a new friend of Janet’s, Connie. She rides the same kind of RV as Janet.

Roxie

Then I met Roxie. She belongs to Mary. Another Roadtreking fool. Roxie was a different story. Roxie and I got to hang out for the greater part of an afternoon, while the people went off somewhere. This was not our choice. I even had to give her a hiss a swipe, just to let her know who was in charge. I couldn’t even get a decent afternoon nap. I had to keep one eye on Roxie all the time. I let Roxie have the back bed and I laid on the counter top so I could keep watch. I slept really good that night.

Roxie travels with her own kitty, Frank. I think Frank is a bit nuts to tolerate a dog. Janet better not try getting a dog while I am around. Whew, I was glad when that day was over.

Roxie & Frank

Now Janet and I are back on our own. I  like that. It has been a while since I have had her all to myself, although most of the time it doesn’t matter because I like to sleep a lot. Sleeping is really important to me. I love it. I really love it when I am undisturbed.

I am braver now. For the past month or more I no longer sleep under the sheepskin. I now sleep on the passenger seat. I think it is important to keep an eye on Janet. She tends to take the road less traveled.

For the last three weeks we have been way more social than what I am used to. I am not sure I like this social stuff, yet I am getting used to it. Although everyone has their own rig, Janet has been hanging out with other travelers. I have had to get used to the fact that Peggy often took my seat in the evening. She said that it was actually Janet who took my seat but I know better. I protested a little and then went to sleep on the front dashboard.

Where have we been since we finished up riding with another Mary, in September? With Janet’s help, here is a list.

  • Our land in Colorado-near Durango
  • Aztec Ruins National Monument
  • Fort Davis, McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains State Park (I really liked it there), and Marfa
  • Big Bend National Park-lots of mountains and a big giant river. I saw my first Javalina-a strange and interesting looking thing.
  • Silver City, NM
  • Gila National Monument
  • Guadalupe National Park-we camped in a parking lot.
  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • City of Rocks State Park-there were a lot of coyotes there and owls.
  • Oliver Lee State Park
  • White Sands National Monument. This one was just one huge giant sand box. Janet took me out and I did not like it one bit. The wind was blowing and sand was everywhere. I like my litter box-thank you very much.
  • Aguirre Springs National Recreation Area and Campgrounds
  • We stayed at the St Clair Winery in Demming, NM for two nights. We could here owls right outside our house at night.

Now Janet says we are on our way to San Diego. I know I have been there before but I am not sure why we are going there. Janet says we are staying put for a few months. Hmm, that should be interesting. I will wait for this to unfold as I am sure it will. Until then I believe it is time for me to get some sleep. Nap time!!!

Big Bend National Park is a People Experience

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

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

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

Big Bend National Park

click on the pic to see it full size

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Tuned.

The End of Daylight Savings Time

Does anyone else dislike the shortening days of fall? I have found that for several years now, I am not as tolerant of the shortening days and the less brightness and warmth of the sun. Maybe I don’t like introspection. Maybe I just like more day light. I am certainly not looking forward to the end of daylight savings time. Whose idea is DST any how?

In many of the traditional cultures fall is the time to come inwards. It is a time of harvest and reap the rewards of hard labor. Preparation is on for winter. Without storing enough grains and foods you might not have enough to help your people make it through the coming long winter months. It was time to make sure that their homes were secure, there were enough blankets and bedding. It was a community affair. It was a busy time.

Many animals are also preparing for winter. They are gathering food stuffs for their nests. Bears are eating their fill, in preparation of sudo-hibernation in the lower 48. Birds and rodents are busy gathering nuts and seeds. Ants are doing the same.

Although my culture does not follow the traditional cultures, in many ways we do the same thing. My sister and her husband make sure they have enough wood for the winter, so they can stay toasty warm in their northern NJ home.

I grew up in a family where we put by food for the winter. August and September were spent canning our garden harvest. Although we could go to the grocery store, that old tradition of putting up food for the winter continued. We had a cold cellar to store all the canned goods and potatoes.

Spiritually, fall is also a time to come inwards. It is a time to reap what we have accrued over the past half year. It is a time to begin to come inward and begin to reflect on what we have sowed.

There are times I find it hard to come inward. It is then that I realize I still have a ways to go regarding grief and loss. I find I am more lonely now. Reflection is not always easy and yet necessary as long as it doesn’t drag me too far down. It is good to look at my progress. It is good to take time to be quiet. I just wish that the sun was not dimmer and the days were not shorter.

I am chasing the sun. I am now in southern New Mexico. I have spent the last week in Silver City, NM. The past two days I have been at the Gila Cliff Dwelling in Ruins. It is in the most amazing valley. Yesterday I saw the ruins and a spotted owl. It is interesting, the story of these native peoples. It is even more amazing to see where they lived.

Today I am hiking along the West Fork of the Gila River. It is definitely fall here. I am camped along the river at a natural hot springs. I go soak before I go to bed at night and when I get up in the morning. Not a bad way to contemplate life.

The Gila Cliff Dwelling Ruins

click on the images to enlarge

From here I will continue to head south. My goal is Big Bend National Park. And when I am done there I will be heading for San Diego for at least a few months. My relationship with my dentist continues. And, it is doctor time. I have all my annual visits coming up. It is another way of coming in after a year of basically feeling healthy, on-the-road.

I wait hopefully for the return of the longer days. I celebrate the winter solstice every year, even if it is in a quiet way. I look forward to the warming sun and the longer days. Knowing that is coming helps me make it through the fall and shortening days. Chasing the sun helps too.

I guess I should be more like Miss Elsie and find a sunny spot, curl up and take a nap. Not a bad idea.

And the Adventure Continues

As I reflect on this past month of travel there is so much I appreciate about it. I am glad that I am still in good physical, mental and emotional shape to take on adventures near and far. I am thankful for my strength and agility. It is good to still be able to lift some weight and climb those trails.

After my week in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park, Mary and I continued our adventure in southern Utah. One thing I have learned from being a Tour Manager/Tour Guide, it that it is good to have a knowledgable guide with you. It enhances a trip. I was fortunate to have Mary as my guide. She had been to most of the places we explored before. All I had to do was follow where she led.

Now this could have been bad if she was not aware and respectful of the limitations of my Roadtrek. I did not have to worry about it and she never took me and EmmyLou, my rig anywhere that I could have gotten in trouble. A few times we left the RT safely parked at a visitors center and 4-wheeled it to trailheads in Mary’s handy truck, Sparklett.

A view from our campsite in Canyonlands, the Needles

We spent time in another section of Canyonlands, known at “The Needles”. Often, the campgrounds in the National Parks are full, yet right outside the park boundaries one can often find dispersed camping on BLM land or in the National Forest. Here is what is nice about this camping.

  • It is free. There are no hookups or water but if a person can be self contained it is a darn good deal.
  • You don’t have to park near anyone else. I love this kind of camping best. It is quiet. There are no neighbors who are playing loud music or arguing.
  • It is free.
  • The views are usually incredible.
  • The night skies are amazing.
  • It is free.

Mary and I hiked into areas that she had not seen in quite some time. One was Paul Bunyan’s Potty, an arch that looks more like a toilet seat.  We planned to hike further but those dark clouds on the horizon made us think of flash floods so we turned around, all too soon to save ourselves and Sparklett. It is never, ever good to be caught in a flash flood. Just saying.

We left Canyonlands behind and headed west. A little known fact about Janet Arnold. I love ferry boats. When Mary suggested we drive to Hite Marina on Lake Powell and take the Ferry across a section of the lake, I was all for it. Before we got to the ferry  we camped in Valley of the Gods (north of Monument Valley). Another BLM property. After doing the 17 mile dirt road drive through this area we climbed the Dugways, cool switchbacks with magnificent views and arrived at the ferry around noon.

Valley of the Gods

The Dugways

The Ferry

Lake Powell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a beautiful sunny fall afternoon we crossed Lake Powell and began our drive on the Burr Trail. What an amazing ride. We found one of the best campsites of the trip, totally isolated, cedar trees in place and the best part was a wood slatted board. With the help of our mats and my heated outdoor shower we were able to clean up. There was no one to see us. Another BLM site.

rounding up the wagons

And, you know what I like about those sites? They are free.

The following day we traveled the rest of the Burr Trail-more switchbacks through amazing country to arrive in the town of Escalante. These little towns are truly in the middle of nowhere. This town was of interest because of my friend Therese, you can read about her in earlier posts. She is a member of the Universal Unitarian Church. Two of the members of her congregation live part time in a beautiful home in this town of approximately 800. There was an art festival in town. As I wandered through the community I walked into a pop-up art gallery and the next thing I knew I was driven to meet Bob who lives in San Diego part time and makes incredible loaves of bread when he is in Escalante. It was fun. The bread was out of this world delicious.

Riding the Burr Trail

 

After spending some of our hard saved money (BLM sites) we splurged on a hotel room for a night to get out of the cold and the rain. It is sometimes good to regroup. Someone said to me once that it is not giving up, you are just regrouping. On a cold and rainy night it was good to sleep in a warm and cozy bed at the Prospector’s Inn.

Mary and I continued on towards Kanab, stopping to hike Willis Canyon. Another little known fact about me-I love slot canyons. So does Mary. This is a wonderful little slot canyon in Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. I love slots because it never ceases to amaze me that water, wind, erosion and gravity created these special places over geological time. It also reminds me that my life is just a speck of time on this planet. It is humbling.

We meandered the slot for a greater part of the day before we headed into Kanab to driveway boondock in Mary’s  friends driveway.  And here is will I leave you on this post. There will be one more in this series. I want to dedicate the last part of this back country adventure to it’s own page. I believe you will see why when I post next.

Today I am so grateful of the experiences I have had over the past month. I love seeing places of such beauty and peace. Nature has always been a very healing place for me. It clears my mind of all the “stuff” and helps me to gain clarity. I am thankful today for all those open spaces that allow me and others to get clear once again. Knowing that these places exist help me to live in the more urban areas for periods of time before I venture out into the outback once again.

Elsie Steals the Computer

Whew it is hard to get this computer to myself. Janet puts it away or takes it with her and I have been wondering how to let my fans know about my adventurous life.

I know not many cats get to do what I am doing. I understand the owners and their own hesitancy. Here is what I want to tell all you cat people out there “Cats are Adapatable”!! I know, I am the world’s worst scaredy cat, yet I like to explore new places and see new things, as long as I have a home to return to when I want security, comfort and a good nap.

I have been to many places since I last posted here. Janet, me and the Roadtrek spent the winter in Arizona, I guess that makes us official snowbirds. I like the idea of Snowcats better. We returned to San Diego in the early spring. Janet says she needed more dental stuff done. I know dental means teeth. I keep trying to tell her that if she ate dry crunchies her teeth would be OK. I don’t know why she doesn’t listen.

Dharma the Dog

Finally in mid-April we left. Since then I have stayed in many interesting places. First stop was to visit a long time friend of Janet’s, Sharon. She lives in a place with “biggggggg…..” rocks everywhere. I had to get used to Dharma the dog. Whew it was hard. Dharma is big and I am small. I am not so sure about dogs but there she was. We stayed inside in a secluded bedroom. Every time I wanted to go somewhere Janet had to carry me. Who would be sniffing right behind? You guessed it Dharma the dog. During the day I would go to the RV so I could look outside and be curious. Who would be outside looking in, you guessed it? Dharma the dog. If we had stayed long enough Dharma may have worn me down and I would have become friends, of sorts, with her. Well maybe.

Since then I have been to the desert, the mountains, the ocean and more. We have camped, rallied (Roadtrek Rally, Monterey) and stayed in people’s homes. I like going back to homes I have been in before. For a while we stayed with Mary, a friend of Janet’s and mine in Medford, Oregon. I remember this house. I have been there before. I love the stairs. I haven’t seen many houses with stairs. They are so much fun to run up and down, over and over again. Janet calls it the rip and tears. I may be older but I love a good run as much as the next cat.

Me groveling with Andrew

For about three weeks we stayed with Linda and Steve and their son Andrew. First Janet was there, then she left, then she came back again. Where does she go? I am not sure. All these other people took good care of me, making sure that I got fed and skritched and loved. I really like Andrew. I am not much of a “guy” cat. Andrew is an exception to that rule. He would come in the room they had set up for me and visit. I admit I kind of ended up groveling a bit when he was around. A cat has to make the best of every situation, right?

These people had other animals. Poncho the dog, kind of ignored me. He didn’t seem to care about me at all. What is wrong with that dog? I am all nervous around him and he pretends I don’t exist. Dogs, go figure. Janet says, Poncho is such a dog. I am not sure what that means but I agree with it. The other animal was Misty the Cat. We didn’t see eye to eye. Whenever we met there was growling and hissing. Setting up territory is hard work.

When Janet returned we arrived at this lovely home that we have been in for about 3 weeks. I like it because, once again, I am the solo pet. I like it when I have Janet to myself. this place has birds and other animals to entertain me when she is out and about. It is nice that she brought my own personal sheepskin inside. I love “making bread” on it and resting in the window where I can watch the world go by. I dream of humming birds. Those swallows make me weary. The just seem to never stop, flitting here and there. I am not sure what birds are about but I like to watch their quickness. It keeps me entertained. Wouldn’t it be interesting to catch one?

Exploring

Janet says we are here to regroup. We have been traveling a lot for the past year. I like stopping for a while. I like the big house. This one has stairs too. I like being able to stretch. I love to rip and tear through this house. All my toys are here, so I can look at them with disdain when someone is looking. Late at night when no one is up I play with them and carry them around the house. They are fun. I pretend they are birds and mice and lizards. I love lizards.

I am not sure how long we are here. I will enjoy all the time I get wherever I am. Life is too short. When things get stressful I will retreat to a time out under the blankets. And when I want to explore the big wide world I will come out from under them and go off and check things out. It helps to have Janet here. She is my rock. I know she will always take care of my base needs. Once in a while when I want her to she will always be there to scratch, love and feed me. We are a team.

Being Sick, Getting Better, Ready to Adventure On.

being sick

At the end of my pet and house sitting gig in Boise, earlier this month, I headed north to McCall, ID hoping to spend the major part of my summer hiking, biking and kayaking and practicing photography.  The same people I house sat for have very generously offered me their second home in the mountains.  Linda accompanied me with plans to spend a week, before returning to her family in Boise. We both got sick. We were both sick for the full time she was there. Arrgh!! This is not how I wanted to spend our time together. I was hoping for hikes and ample time to take photos. Instead we were sick.

I don’t spend much time around large groups of people. I should go out and expose myself more, so that I don’t catch the latest thing that is “going around”. When I worked as a nurse and a tour manager the “bug” exposure was always there and usually one illness  a year would do it. After I started to annually receive the flu shot, even that went away.

Since Jim’s death I have been healthy. With that stressor, I would not have been surprised if I had gotten sick. Stress can do that to a person. It just did not happen. I did have other physical events like a broken ankle but that is not getting sick. That is one of those oops moments that the Arnold girls are prone to. 🙄

Although I love my tiny home, I was very glad to be in a real sticks & bricks house. There was a great deal of comfort, being able to curl up in a firm, double bed with Elsie, my sidekick, curled up next to me. During the day I sat in a comfy chair and watched the weather play out it’s agenda. When I wore out, back to bed I would go. I wonder what I would do if I became sick while traveling in my cute little Roadtrek. One time a few years back I developed a really bad headache and I retreated to a hotel. If I got really sick while on-the-road I think I would retreat to a hotel until I felt better. Maybe I wouldn’t, yet I think my inclination would be to nestle in somewhere.

Except for the cough, I am better. And why is it, that the cough is the last thing to go? I don’t know. Usually for the better part of the day I am fine but when I get weary the cough shows up. Sigh.

After the REI Garage Sale on Saturday, early the next morning I began driving north. Since I still feel in recovery mode I find that if I travel four to five hours in a day, that is enough. I have found wonderful national forest campgrounds each night with nice short or long walks right at the edge of the campground. Tonight I have upgraded to a State Park Campground on the edge of Flathead Lake.

Thursday, I am meeting up with friends in Columbia Falls, MT. We are doing a six day river raft trip on the Flathead River starting near the border of Canada. I am excited to be out and doing.

 

The country I have been exploring has been amazingly beautiful. In the high country it is spring and there are fields of flowers in bloom. Mosquitos abound. A good snowy winter means a lot of standing water this spring. Water=Mosquitos. At one point, I pulled off the road to get a photo from the RT, rolled down the window and within a matter of moments there were mosquitos everywhere. I spent the next twenty minutes chasing the little buggers and, despite bad karma, killed every single one. I have no regrets. After that little fiasco, I had to clean the interior of the front windows. Sigh. I am not a fan of mosquitos. 

Spending the majority outside means that bugs are part of my life. I just like the ones that do not bite or sting. Why can’t we have a mutual agreement to not bother each other? Life is not like that and I have to accept that there will be the infrequent close encounters.

Hmm, I wonder if this could be applied to the rest of my life as well. It is the end of my day and I cannot go to that deep thought place right now.

Montanna

I am looking forward to being on the river. We will be floating near Glacier National Park. It will be stunning country. This type of adventure is one Jim would have enjoyed. This time I will have to enjoy it for both of us. Ready to adventure on.