The Adventure of the Anxious Traveler

Navajo National Monument

Since leaving San Diego, I have had a beautiful ride and some nice hikes in my favorite parts of the United States. I have visited friends and helped out where I can. It has been a relaxing and easy time.

As I was crossing the Navajo Reservation, I found, although I was enjoying the scenery, I was anxious. The closer I got to Durango, CO the more my anxiety increased. I tried breathing. I tried diverting my thoughts. And finally I took a Xanax.

Rafting the Animas, Durango

The big question, why was I so anxious? I love this area of Colorado. It has a bit of a feeling of coming home. Why the anxiety?

  • Jim and I bought 45 acres of property here, in 1999. It was going to be our retirement home. We have upgraded the property. For the first couple of years after Jim died I was unable to come to Durango, much less visit the property. Last year I realized that 45 acres was more than I wanted to manage on my own and I put it on the market.
  • I have a good realtor. I have a lawyer that is making sure all my paperwork is in order. I have good friends here who offer to help me any way they can. Yet I find it is hard to let go. I try to keep the emotions out of this sale. It is, at times, hard to do.
  • As I drive across this great country I have a lot of time to think. If I focus too much on the issues with my thyroid and cancer I get a little anxious. Have I made the right choice to wait until fall? How long do I have to live? How long do any of us have to live? Why does the diagnosis of cancer create all these mixed up emotions in anyone? Well aren’t these just a bunch of loaded questions.

Very good friends

What surprises me about anxiety is that it shows up suddenly. I have done little to precipitate it. I would like to tell it to go away. If only it was that easy. On the drive into Durango, I diverted my attention with a qood audio-book. This technique helps a lot. It has to be a captivating book. Stopping to take photos also helps me refocus (sic). I know I can reach out to friends as well. Not that afternoon as I was driving in and out of cell range.

I have been in Durango for two days now. I have had a chance to visit with friends, meet my realtor, and take care of some business. I have gotten one good bike ride in and I am doing better. The anxiety is less, yet I still feel it simmering in the deep backgrounds of my being. I am breathing more, throwing in a little meditation and reminding myself that this is just property and as others have said to me, “it is just business”.

I am choosing to find things to do that bring me joy. That has helped lessen the anxiety a lot. If you have never been to this country, joy to me, is being outside and in nature. I can hike, bike, walk and more. There are lovely stores in town that cry out to be explored. The art galleries are my favorite. I may even go off to the hot springs and soak. There is a lot to do in Durango.

I am more than coping. I am being adult when I need to be and then I can drop that and go off and explore and enjoy my day. I am remembering to breath. It is good to inhale spring at elevation. The sky is clearer and bluer. The mountains are an amazing backdrop. I think I will kick anxiety out the door and go and enjoy my day.

 

 

 

A Different Winter in the Desert.

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With daylight savings time arriving this weekend, I have been reflecting on my winter and the arrival of spring. This winter has been a very different winter than the previous two.

The first two winters after I went full time,  I went solo into the desert, in my RV. I saw a few friends along the way, and even traveled with a few for a short time. Those first two winters were solo winters for me. I withdrew from too much “people” interaction and contemplated life, my existence, what had happened with Jim and more. I call these two winters my existential winters.

It is not easy to delve into the depths of myself and work my way out the other side of some dark and truthful moments. Since then I have discovered that it is not unusual for people in their mid-sixty’s to go through this self evaluation and reflective time. It was very reassuring to discover that I was not alone and that it is a process that others might be going through as well.

And I thought I should be done growing by the time I arrived at this age. Ha!!!

This winter was very different. I chose to stay close to San Diego as I was truly hoping that my thyroid surgery would be behind me, by now, and I would be in the recovery stage. Well, guess what?, I am still waiting. The surgeons must be very busy.

I went to the desert about two hours east of San Diego and spent the winter. The Anza Borrego desert is an amazing place. It is alive and usually dry. It is a good place to be solo, yet my time there, over the past few months has been delightfully active with other people. I camped near a good friend of mine, Peggy, for almost two months. I enjoyed meeting her new beau and spending time hiking and exploring the area with them.

Friends in the Desert

Sandy and Pat arrived. They are fellow Roadtrekers and delightful people. I am happy to be friends with them. More hiking ensued, including a climb to the top of Coyote Mountain. The three of us met two winters back at the White Water Draw Wildlife Refuge (AZ) and we are friends. I cherish them.

More friends arrived, Karen, Larry and Joni. I had the opportunity to hike and camp with them in a different part of the park. Karen and Larry arrange private river raft trips. I met them when I became a swamper for Zee on the North Fork of the Flathead River, over a year ago. They are fellow desert hounds, hikers and explorers. 

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I took time to meet new friends on the east side of the Salton Sea. Rhonda and Jim are more fellow Roadtrekers. They spend part of their winter running away from Michigan, seeking the warmer weather of Southern California. I spent two nights at The Fountain of Youth RV Resort. For two days I enjoyed the hot springs and getting to know this delightful couple. They took me on a tour of Slab City, East Jesus, and Salvation Mountain. I might suggest a visit to this unique spot.

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A few days later Mary, (Zee) arrived after she traveled for two months in Mexico. After spending time on the east side of the Salton Sea and getting some serious bird watching in, oh those cute burrowing owls, we met up with Karen and Larry in Joshua Tree National Park. We arrived in time to witness a Superbloom on the south side of the park.

Being stationary near Borrego Springs gave me the opportunity to become involved in the town, meet the locals and check out small town life. It was a seven mile ride to town from my campsite. This is a small town in the desert and a hub of activity. I attended the theater, an Independent Film Festival, saw the San Diego Ballet Company perform, went to yoga, and enjoyed playing bingo. Their new library is also an amazing place to sit and work, read or ponder. Oh, and the best place in town for goodies is the Fudge Store. Yummy. (try their Maple Fudge-trust me it is to die for.)

fullsizeoutput_2921The desert has always been magic to me. This year was a very different experience. It was wild and rainy and flash floods became common. I have never seen the desert so green or so wet. On the intense rainy days, my favorite activity was to go see the flash floods. It was a very cool thing to watch. I hiked into waterfalls that usually are dry. Not this year. I love seeing nature at its wildest. This winter was the desert’s turn.

My winter was different. I felt ready to be more social. It was fun interacting with everyone and yet, I could still find time alone to contemplate and breath and just be. It was a good winter in the desert.

I have returned to San Diego. Currently I am staying with my friend Phyllis. We are intensively planning our trip to Africa this summer. There is work to be done, reservations to be made and much to discuss. We are doing well. We have not gotten into arguments yet. It bodes well for a two month trip to somewhere very different.

I enjoy San Diego. I am more of a tourist now in this city. I take the time to go see things that I would have put off, while I was still living here. Though I am enjoying my time here, my mind often wanders to those wide open vistas and a bit of longing fills my soul. I know that I will return to those wild open spaces as often as I can.

The world awaits— Out there awaits. 

I am on my way.

 

 

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.

 

 

Breezes of the Desert

75ccc72e53440b46961e7776d2add1faimagesEarly this morning I awoke around 1:30 am, windows open in my Roadtrek and the gentlest of breezes was beginning to blow. I love the desert. When the night breezes begin, the desert is beginning to cool down from the heat of the day. My RV begins to cool off and now it is a time where snuggling into the blankets begins to feel really good.

Coyotes are howling out in the countryside. Despite how I worry about coyotes and Elsie the cat, I love them. They remind me of the wild country before we had big cities. They remind me of Jim, (one of his major spirit animals) and they give me comfort. I embrace the wild-around me and in me. It gives me the will and desire to wander into uncharted territory.

Instead of worrying about not being able to sleep through the night, I accept the waking and explore the dark, welcoming the moon and the moonless nights. I listen to the wind. Reaching over I open another window so I can get a cross-breeze. I love the feel of the coolness on my face, arms and hands.

Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert

Before I arrived on the outskirts of Tucson, where I am for the next few days, I was in the desert north of Ajo, AZ. I was boondocking(dry camping). I had driven about a half mile off the main road into the desert. Each day I would go on my own short walk-about, exploring my temporary home. For two days I sat in silence. My only conversation was with Elsie the cat. In the distance I could hear the occasional braying of the local wild burro population and the occasional coyote. Silence is hard to get used to at first. Then it becomes familiar. Then I embrace it. It is hard to let it go, when I go back into the city or even the small town. I hope that some of the silence follows me back into the noise of the everyday world.

Wild Burros

Wild Burros

In the quiet I can begin to hear and feel in a deeper and clearer way. I feel the gentlest of breezes and welcome it’s whisper, quieting my heart and mind.  The sky becomes clearer and the world around me brightens. Sitting out after dark I begin to hear the scurrying of little critters and have a passing hope that a pack rat is not setting up home in my engine, they do that.

When I first moved west I thought I was going to see sand and dirt and nothing.  The desert is so alive. There are plants big and small and so many different cactus. The birds and wildlife are varied. In Suguarjo National Park there are over 200 species of birds. They all have their own unique way of surviving in the hot summer months and cold winter months.

Late Afternoon Hike, near Gilbert Ray Campground

Late Afternoon Hike, near Gilbert Ray Campground

I would like to consider that I may also have my own unique way of surviving. This is why I sold my home last July. This is why I moved into my RT. This is why I accept my questioning spirit. This is why I know it is OK to grieve. This is why I know it is OK to roam and wonder what is next. Maybe just maybe when the wind whispers, I will hear the answer I am seeking.