A Sight Seeing Day

Late last week I said a regretful farewell to my sister, packed Miss Elsie and me back into the Roadtrek and began to meander west through northern Pennsylvania. It has been a pretty ride.

I wandered to State College to visit some other Roadtrek people. Mary Jane and Toby were delightful. They gave the whole front of their home to Elsie and me. People are so kind and generous. This was the first time I met them. I was given a wonderful tour of the town and the campus of Penn State. Mary Jane and I spent most of the time talking and enjoying each other’s company.

Today I began to head south and west again. I did not get very far. I became distracted by one of those familiar brown signs on the side of the highway, which usually indicate something of national interest. This time it was a sign that said Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. Well, I just had to see what it was so I exited and took a tour, self guided.

At the top of the incline there was a train barn.

Pennsylvania, it seems was concerned about losing population and business to New York, so they decided to build a canal, east-west, across Pennsylvania. It just so happens that the Allegheny Mountains got in the way, so, if you can’t go around them, then darn it you are going over them. As part of the canal system they built a railroad system of ten inclined planes, five up and five down. They rigged up a fancy pulley system, put the boats on the rail cars and hauled them over the mountains. It was a part of the canal system. With the completion of the Mainline Canal they could move goods and people across the state in five days instead of almost a month.

Skewed Arched Bridge-the trains went through this

Now, I love trains and I had no idea of this history or this site. It was a fascinating morning and worth the stop. I spent time in the visitor center before I hiked to see all the areas that remain of one of the inclined planes. It was well worth the stop.

When I was finished with this tour, I move southwest a little more and visited the Flight 93 National Memorial. Whew-what a touching place. I debated whether I wanted to go there or not and I am glad I chose to go. It was very peaceful and very well done. I along with many others left a little prayer for the spirit of the place. I am glad they have done something like this in our country to remember the events and the people involved of 9/11.

This is the entrance to the visitor center. The black walkway indicates the path of descent of the flight.

A 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center is this wall with the names of the passengers and crew etched into it.

 

 

Now I am camped on a beautiful lake and trying to figure out my day tomorrow. Elsie and I took a walk after we arrived here but she got nervous about the water so I carried her on most of the walk.

I find after I have been visiting with others I enjoy the quiet of the evening alone. It is my regrouping time. I know I need keep moving west. Pennsylvania is another big state and I could spend a lot of time here. Everywhere I go there is so much to see.

Tonight I am grateful for another day on this earth.

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.

 

 

On the Move, a Family Visit & Cancer

After a long and somewhat grueling drive across two thirds of the country, I made it to Ohio two weeks past. I found the drive grueling because I could not meander. I love to meander the backroads. I was on a mission to reach family in northern Ohio. So I pushed on.

It has been a good visit. I spent a week with my niece, Brittany, her husband, Trip and their toddler, Ward. I arrived to help this young family, while Ward is undergoing chemotherapy for childhood cancer. Well that sucks. Elsie and I got settled in to the spare bedroom and I met my grand nephew for the first time. And what a cutie he is.

Thomas the Train

I forgot how exhausting a one and half year old can be. I got up early and by the time I went to bed at night I was exhausted. As adults our main job is to entertain a young somewhat housebound toddler. It is hard to be out and about when one is immuno-compromised. I read books, put together puzzles, played numerous kinds of games and watched Thomas the Train many, many times. One knows when they have watched Thomas the Train one too many times. You know the characters by name, you know the plot and try not to roll your eyes when a little one asks to see the same movie three times in one day. 🙄

Brittany and I have had time to share our cancer stories and the stress that accompanies this diagnosis. There are a few clubs I wish I had never joined. The cancer club is definitely one of them. Cancer is a very personal diagnosis. The physical diagnosis is only a small part of the broad picture that cancer plays in someone’s life. Each diagnosis of cancer carries it’s own story. Each story is different. I believe that only those who have been slammed with this diagnosis can understand each other’s story on a different level than those who have not had that experience. We shared stories. Brittany asked questions about my diagnosis (breast cancer) and Jim’s. For those of you who are new to this page, Jim, my husband, died from metastasis of a salivary gland cancer over five years ago. All I can do is be honest with her. All I can do is support her and her husband’s process. And amid the stress, we can have fun and laugh and go out for a beer. The stress is not always visible but remains a presence even if lingering in the recesses of our daily lives.

Ward Rocking His Last Weekly Chemo

The good news is that Ward has completed ten weeks of weekly chemotherapy. He now moves on to chemo once every three weeks and will finish up in late May or early June. The story doesn’t stop there. He will continue to have CT scans at intervals for an undetermined time. Although cancer will recess into the further quiet reaches of the mind the stress revives with each doctor appointment or scan. All we can do is be there for each other.

Elsie and I moved into a lovely old hotel near my family. Grandma from Florida arrived today. She moved into the Porch house and we moved nearby. As it has sleeted and rained outside, we have been having a quiet day inside.  It is time to catch up and rest and plan.

I will be here for another week connecting with my sister, Ruth and continuing to support Brittany, Trip and Ward. Then I will begin to meander. I expect to be in northern New Jersey in early April to visit my other sister and plan time to visit friends as I travel in that direction. I did not expect to be in this part of the country, yet here I am. I want to make the best of it and it gives me the opportunity to visit and see places that I usually would not direct myself towards. Why???? Because I love the west and I miss it when I am gone. While the weather is cold and wet here in Ohio, I miss it even more. I will be heading west again sometime this spring. Those wide open spaces continue to call my name. How did a girl from Delaware end up calling the west home? Well this photo below may demonstrate a reason why.

Until I head west again, I will enjoy my time here in the east with family and friends. Life is just one big adventure.

Miss Elsie the Cat Checking In

Hi, Miss Elsie checking in. Where the heck am I?

Elsie in her tiny home.

Just as I was getting used to the studio at the beach, one day, Janet picks me up, puts me back in my tiny home on wheels and off we go. We drove and drove and drove. At nights we would stop and I would get a chance to go out on my leash. The next morning back into the house I would go and we would drive some more.

I had no idea where I was going, but as long as I was with Janet and in my familiar home on wheels I was good. I ride shot-gun now. I try not to tell Janet how to drive, yet  I keep an eye on the road, just to be sure. Janet says we drove through Arizona, Texas (for many days), Arkansas, Tennessee, and Ohio. It all looks the same to me when we drive. When we stop the smells are different and so is the scenery.

I am good at the riding. I used to sleep under the blankets all day. One day I got brave and came out to have a look around and discovered that it wasn’t so bad riding up front. Since that day, I have not gone “back to the blankets”. Janet bought me a soft fuzzy blanket for my front seat. I think she is a bit jealous of my blanket because I see she takes it and covers up in the evenings while she reads. I am OK with sharing, well, as long as it is not my food or my toys or the catnip.

Look at that little boy run.

After about six days we stopped and out I came and into another house. I am getting pretty good at finding my safe spots when we move into a room or house. I figure it out pretty quickly. This house is a bit more of a challenge because there is this little boy who runs around with a loud inside voice. He scares me some. He runs too fast, and startles me.

And then there is another cat….we have met through the glass door. I am outside and she is inside. There has been some growling but so far I am not too interested. there is so much else to absorb. The other kitty is name Callie. She is bigger than me. She is the princess of her house and I am the princess of mine. I am not sure how she puts up with that little boy. Whew.

Callie & Elsie meet

Callie keeping an eye out for Elsie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have my own bedroom suite. My safe spot is under the bed. I have discovered many safe places under beds. I discovered a box with clothes under this bed, and I have been pulling those clothes out so I can make a comfy spot under there.

My favorite times of the day are as follows:

  • Going outside. Each day Janet puts my halter on, carries me downstairs, keeping me safe from the other cat and the little boy and I go outside on my leash. I like being outside. I have found warm places in the sun to rest and watch and maybe even catch a catnap.
  • I really like the time I spend with Janet. She seems to disappear for longer periods of time. She says she is babysitting. I am not sure what that means but it gets a bit lonely. Then I curl up and take another nap and before I know it there she is.
  • I have decided recently that I really like my wet food. I love when Janet serves me my one meal a day. It is always a surprise. Sometimes she serves me outside, sometimes on the bed, and most times where all my other food is. That is just so common.
  • At night I sleep with Janet. She moves, I move and then snuggle in again.
  • I love my skritches. I have found if I ask, I usually get what I want. Hmm, there is a lesson there.

It is cold here. I am so glad that I have my fur to keep me toasty when I am outside. Janet seems to whine more about how cold it is. And then, there is this white stuff that occasionally comes out of the sky. It is snow. It is kind of fun to watch. I am not sure what snow is but it seems to come with the cold.

Janet says we are moving again, even though we are staying in the same area. Janet says that we are still not staying in our tiny home because it is “winterized” and it is cold and she is a “wuss”. I am not sure what that means, yet I am ready to take on the next adventure. Hopefully there will be no little kids involved.

Bring it on.

 

 

Getting Ready to Move

I am in packing mode. Yes indeed, Miss Elsie and I are moving back into the RV on Wednesday. I am nesting. I am packing and sorting and rearranging. It is amazing how spread out one can become when they move into a place with space. Where did all this stuff come from and how did I get it all in my rig?

Pacific Beach

It will  be hard to leave the beach. I have really liked it here. Every day I walk to the bay, it is only two blocks away. About three times a week I walk the few miles to the ocean. It has been a tough existence (sic). The traveling gene is calling and I am heading out.

I have accomplished a lot in my three months here.

  • The dental work is done. Yay!!!! I have two new teeth and one is bionic 😏. Just kidding. I may be financially a little poorer, yet I have two shiny new teeth that I can show off.
  • Taxes are in process. They don’t need me to be present to finish them up.
  • All annual medical appointments are done. It is good to leave knowing I have a clean bill of health.
  • After many visits, chiropractic, massage, myofascial release, and acupuncture my back is feeling soooo….much better. I am seriously going to attempt to stay upright. No more falls are allowed, off my bike, off burros, or slipping on the sidewalk. Ay Yi Yi.
  • My Roadtrek has been checked out and inspected and fixed and is ready to roll.
  • My scooter has been tuned up and is back in my storage unit, ready for my next visit.
  • Thanks to the help of my therapist and the psychiatrist who orders my meds, I am emotionally feeling a bit more alive and ready to face the world. Thank gosh the sunlit days are getting longer, it helps my attitude so much.
  • I have had the opportunity to visit with friends. I have even made a few new ones. Sweet.
  • I finally found that document that was hiding in the dregs of my storage locker. Whew.

Shortly after Jim died, I started a scholarship in his name at Grossmont Community College. The accomplishment I feel strongest and happiest about, has to do with the scholarship. I donated the remaining amount of money needed to make this a perpetual scholarship. This scholarship will now continue indefinitely. Donations will still be greatly appreciated and the Go Fund Me site will remain on this blog page. It has taken the pressure off of me to raise the money needed. It feels very good to know that I have accomplished this very important goal. I have not done this alone. I have done this with the support of so many of you who gave either directly to the college or the Go Fund Me site. It was a team effort all the way. And I thank you.

I know there is more I could list here, these are the ones that come to mind at the present. Now my mental direction is shifting and getting ready to travel.

Ward

Where am I going? I am going to be driving across the southern part of the USA, and plan to be in Ohio by the 7th of March. I am going to help support my niece, Brittany and her husband, Trip with their son, one and half  year old, Ward. I posted about him back in December. Ward was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor in December. Since then he has had his right kidney and the tumor removed. He is now going through 21 weeks of chemotherapy. My sister, Ruth has been staying with them but she needs to head home for a short trip. I am going to be her replacement while she goes home. It is good that this young family has as much support as they can get.

I am going to enjoy meeting Ward. I have yet to meet him in a person. My personal hope for this time is that I might be able to relieve Brittany’s and Trip’s stress just a wee bit. This is what family and friends do for each other. We all help the best way we can. For me it has given me a direction when I get on-the-road.

I am off to pack some more. Stay tuned. The adventure continues.

 

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.

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!!!