Dollhouses, Kayaks, Moving Forward

An Example of a Queen Ann Style Dollhouse

Years ago, more than I can remember, Jim (my husband) and I decided to build a dollhouse. A good friend of mine had mentioned that she would love to have a Queen Ann style dollhouse. Sharon is someone we both loved. She wanted a dollhouse and so we built her a dollhouse. This was not just a wee dollhouse, it was at least 2-3 feet tall. We shingled, wallpapered, carpeted, painted it and more. It was an adventure we enjoyed together. I don’t remember how long it took us to build. It was months by the time we finished it. It was a labor of love. Every moment we worked on was rewarded by Sharon’s reaction when we presented the finished product to her

Building the first one was so much fun that we decided to build a second one for Jim’s niece. This second house was just as much fun as the first. After it was completed it went home to Chris.

Once the second dollhouse was complete we decided to move onto a much larger adventure. Jim and I had been planning to buy kayaks for some time. It was Jim’s suggestion that we try to build our own. After much research, we narrowed our search to two companies, Pygmy Boats, and Chesapeake Light Craft. Chesapeake Light Craft became our company of choice. Did we want to use their blueprints or build from a kit? What was the difference between the two? The blueprint meant we would have to find the wood, cut it into the shapes we needed and find all the components that were needed to put it together. The kit came with all the wood pieces cut into the shapes we needed. All the screws, nails, rolls of fiberglass, epoxy glue and more were included. We decided on the kit.

We were both working full time. The kayak building was done on weekends and nights. We were busy. Jim was certainly the lead on the building, I was a very active second in command. In approximately six months the first boat was complete. We painted her red and named her Whistling Woman. I was reading a book titled A Whistling Woman is Up to No Good. This book showed women of the ’90s how to express their wildness, describing how they can get in touch with their true natures and express themselves in a sometimes-disapproving society. The first kayak was mine.

It took us six more months to finish the second kayak. We had learned a bit from the first kayak so the second one was easier to put together. It was five pounds lighter. When it was complete it was painted forest green and named Ronin, after one of Jim’s favorite movies. The second one was Jim’s.

After launching them successfully on Mission Bay, in San Diego, our kayaking adventures started. We took classes through Aqua Adventures and an independent boating store. We learned how to capsize our boats, turn them over and re-enter them. Learning to come in through the waves on the ocean was a challenge. It was fun to get wet. Kayaking into a strong wind also presented us with new challenges.

The kayaks were frequently out on the water. Early, Sunday mornings often found us back on Mission Bay. We would kayak until the other boat traffic would get heavy, then retire to a coffee house to enjoy the rest of the morning. As we became more proficient with kayaking, the learning curve is quick, we ventured further afield.








We took them camping on the lower Colorado River, on the back bay at Newport Beach. When we finally felt brave enough we went camping and kayaking throughout California, making sure to spend time on the lakes and bays. It was fun to combine our love of camping with the joy of kayaking.

After Jim died I continued to kayak. My tactics changed. First I had to figure out how to get my kayak on the roof of the Subaru Outback. Then I had to figure out how to get it off the roof. I got very good at asking others for help. Kayakers are a nice group of people and I never had to search far for assistance.

Three years ago I started my nomadic full-time existence in my Roadtrek RV. I sold my house in Southern California, moved what I wanted to keep into storage, including the kayaks and began my full-time traveling adventure.

I have been thinking of the kayaks often over the past year. I have held onto them for emotional reasons. Jim and I built them. They were a precious reminder of our life together. They were a reminder of this very loving and unique man I married. Over the past year, I decided these kayaks needed to find a loving home, where they would be used and cared for. Keeping kayaks in storage is not the best use for any boat.

October 2019, I decided that I was OK with selling them. I had a few requirements.

  • They need to go to a loving home.
  • They need to be used.
  • I need pictures of them once in a while so I can see they will be enjoyed and loved.
  • They are not to return to a storage unit.

With Elsie’the Cat’s disappearance the kayaks, once again were put on the back burner. Trying to find Elsie was the number one priority. Unfortunately, Elsie is still missing.

Early in March, I decided to proceed with the selling of the kayaks. I spiffed them up, took pictures and after advertising them to friends, I put them up for sale on Craigslist, Nextdoor, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace. The offers started coming in. How was I going to choose? Just as I was preparing to sit down and sort out all the offers, a friend contacted me. He wanted to buy both kayaks and I would get visiting privileges. That, is a sweet deal. They will be going to someone I know. I have no doubt they will be loved and taken care of. Any time I want, I can ask Jon how they are doing. Maybe I will get an occasional picture. And…I have visiting privileges.

On a blustery afternoon in San Diego county, three of us loaded them on the top of Jon’s truck and off they went to their new home. It was hard to see them go, yet I know that it was the right thing to do. They weigh in at 40-45 pounds. I no longer have a car to haul them. They are 16 feet long, making them to long to fit in or on the back of my RV. The bottom line, I want them to be used and not just sitting and waiting to be used. It is the best way to honor them and to honor Jim.

I am content. I can look at this as a sad farewell or another step forward in my life. Maybe I can find a smaller kayak that will fit my needs better (12 feet sounds right to me). Maybe I can manage without one at all. Or maybe I will just decide to build myself another boat. the opportunities are endless as my life moves forward, one step at a time.





Getting Ready to Roll

I feel like I have been in San Diego for a long time. It is not true, I have been here for a month. My RT went into the shop today to have a few things checked. She is ready to go. Oil changed, tires rotated, DEF fluid topped off, leaky gray water tank fixed today. It looks like everything is a go.

Once again I am un-nesting. I find I get anxious before I get ready to “get on-the-road”. I have delayed trips by a day or two or by a week or more because of anxiety, mostly presented by my not feeling well. I am now recognizing the symptoms earlier so I can attempt to stop the anxiety from getting the upper hand. Well, most of the time.

A wash outside of Zion National Park

Where am I heading? I am leaving in the morning, tomorrow for southern Utah. I have a dear friend who lives just outside the entrance to Zion National Park. I am anxious to see her and catch up. It also helps that I can walk from her house to the washes and take off hiking and exploring. And then, there is the park within a short drive. This is an amazing part of our country.

I would like to say that this anxiousness has occurred since Jim’s death but that would not be true. When I was working as a Tour Manager, I would feel that anxiety build before a trip. It amazes me that I have to tackle this issue when I love to travel so much. I believe that some of this anxiety is my desire to be perfect, which I will never be. Then there is also the unknown. When Jim was around he would help defer it by keeping me busy. Now it is up to me to discover tools to help with this. Reminding myself that once I get behind the wheel, the anxiety disappears. Breathing and meditating is also another useful tool. If any of you have tricks that work for you, please oh please share.

Life is a continual learning and growing experience. I am looking forward to the beginning of the next part of my continuing life adventure. I am not sure where I will land but I am certainly going to make it an adventure getting there.

Get ready Miss Elsie, we are getting ready to move out.



Miss Elsie the Cat Takes a Ride

Elsie in the desert

Elsie in the desert

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

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

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

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

Miss E looking out the back door.

Miss E looking out the back  screened door 

Elsie rolling in the desert

Elsie rolling in the desert

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

hiking and rolling in the wash

hiking and rolling in the wash

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

Elsie in Patagonia

Elsie in Patagonia

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

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

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

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

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

Go Miss Elsie.