A Farewell to the Original South Whidbey Island Recycling Center

I love places that encourage me to bring my camera and photograph them. Last year, 2021, when I arrived on Whidbey Island, my neighbor Tom, introduced me to the South Whidbey Island Recycling Center. This place was not only a place to recycle, it was an open-air art studio.

What a fantastic place. This was not an ordinary recycling center. A lot of thought, joy, and laughter went into decorating this place. Teddy Bears resided on the roofs, teapots lined other roofs, and an elephant on another roof. The area where I dumped cans and bottles was supported by a row of toy trucks. I could write about this place in detail yet I would rather you sit back and take a look.

This year with great anticipation I prepared to go to the “Recycling Center” or “The Dump”. I had friends visiting and I had built up their anticipation about a trip to the dump. As I turned into the site my mouth dropped open in surprise. It looked like any other recycling center. There was nothing to explore. Everything that had made this center so special was gone. There was nothing to get excited about, I just dropped off the recycles and left. My friends, Sandy and Pat never got to experience the pure joy of this place.

The original owners have retired. When the current recyclers, the Island County government, took possession, most of the items that made this place unique were scrapped. No longer can I spend hours wandering around looking at all the items and discovering lost treasures. No longer can I look for Elvis or Maryland or JFK. Now I just go and recycle and leave. People don’t stand around and chat. It is all just business. Sigh.

I am glad that I got to see this place before it became just another stop on a Saturday. Finding unique and special places is part of the fun of travel. My hopes are still high that this recycling center may be a creative place again. When I spoke with one of the people who worked there, they said that they are going to try to bring it back in some form. Unfortunately, when the government steps in there are more restrictions and rules set in place.

Today I am thankful to have discovered this center in its former form. Today I am thankful for small town and rural living. Today I am thankful for “The Dump”.

On the Move North for the Summer

I have been traveling. Woody the cat and I departed company at the end of May. Mandy, his owner, and friend, and Rocky the dog returned home. And, just like that my time in Salinas came to an end. 

It was a good month with a lot of kitty time, kayaking “The Slough” and riding my bike. Salinas and Monterey County is such an interesting area. It is the home of Monterey and Carmel, where the views are amazing and wealth abounds. It is also the home of many hard workers. They work planting tending and harvesting the crops of many things that we eat every day. Artichokes-check, cabbage-check, Strawberries-check, Garlic-check, check and check. The soil in this Salinas valley is so rich and something is always growing here. 

As a Tour Manager, I remember taking tour groups through this area. We would stop at “The Farm” to learn more about this culturally rich area and the hard-working men and women and children that still harvest the food we eat. One group was even offered to get off the bus and help the workers harvest celery. The driver and I refused as it had been raining and these were seniors. The driver didn’t want to get his bus super muddy and I needed to protect my tour group. 

Salinas is Steinbeck Country. It is the home of John Steinbeck and his family. Have you read The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men or Cannery Row, and many of his other books? Steinbeck wrote often of these hard-working people and the perils of the working man. Salinas has a museum, library, and more dedicated to John Steinbeck. You can even have a meal in his childhood home. 

My trip north was a good trip. I found State Recreation sites and State Parks to camp in. All of them are on my list for a return visit. One was on the Salinas River in northern California and the other was on the Willamette River in Oregon. I may be kayaking on the Willamette on a return visit.

The most memorable part of the trip north was visiting with friends. Mary and I were able to catch up, in-person in southern Oregon where she lives. She is getting ready to raft a few rivers. That is her June activity. I had the opportunity to swamp for her on the North Fork of the Flathead River several years ago. It was work and it was fun. We are planning a trip in the fall into the southwest, not involving rivers and rafting.

On June first I met up with Pat another Roadtreking friend. We had made plans to meet at Scenic Beach State Park near Seabeck, Washington about nine months ago. Why? Great Blue Herons and Eagles feeding on Midshipmen Fish that come in the spring to breed among the oyster beds, and an opportunity to see nature happening close up. I also had the opportunity to photograph all the action.

Now I am on Whidbey Island, arriving just less than a week ago, to house sit for another summer in the same lovely home I was in last year. Ooooh, more amazing sunsets. It has to become summer first. People who live here tell me they are still waiting for spring and summer to arrive. It has been raining, a bit. 

And…guess who was here to greet me? Birdy Boy? If you have followed my blog from last year you will remember the posts about my relationship with a sweet little Song Sparrow. He is still here and is back to sitting on my arms and legs and singing up a storm. It is so fun that he remembers me. I have been enjoying the low tides this week while waiting for spring and summer to arrive.

Summer is off to a good start.

Where I Have Been-Where I am Going

After my last post, I received questions from a few people asking where I am. I am not being a very good blogger because I have not let people know of my continued journey since I left the desert.

By April the desert is warming up. It in fact is getting pretty hot. As much as I love the desert, I am not a lover of extreme heat. I was there later than usual this year. I arrived late so left late. I got to visit good friends, do a little kayaking, and get my desert fix once more.

Mary, Shay & Rocky

I left the desert at the end of March and climbed into the mountains to visit a good friend, Mary from Idylwild, CA. The temperatures cooled off and signs of earlier spring began to show themselves. The daffodils were blooming and a few tulips were popping out as well. I spent a lovely week with Mary and her two dogs, whom I have pet sat for. Shay and Rocky were glad to see me. It was fun to be out walking with them and catching up on Mary’s life. I even had a bed companion, it is fun that Mary is willing to share Shay the dog.

Since then I have been in San Diego. I am camped on Mission Bay. It has been spectacular weather. The days have been sunny and cool and just perfect. I had my follow-up dental visit. I am on course for good healing from surgery. I get a two-month reprieve before I have to return for a dental cleaning. It won’t be in San Diego as I am going to be heading north.

It is not unusual for friends and strangers to ask me what is next. I don’t know, is frequently my answer. I have never been a good planner. It would drive Jim, my husband, nuts. He had a job that required us to plan vacation time. I did not. I know he found it hard to pin me down and it would be a point of frustration. I would breathe and sit down and within a few days, we would have a plan.

I still have a hard time making decisions. I mean, what if something better comes up? Plans do not have to be set in stone and they can change. I remind myself of this when I am struggling to see what is next. It does cause me some anxiety. It helps to breathe through anxiety. The world is not going to fall apart because I don’t have a plan.

On Sunday, April twenty fourth I am leaving San Diego for the summer. First I am going to Santa Barbara, CA for a week. I will be camping on the beach for a few days. Dan Neeley, who works on my rig is just outside of Santa Barbara, to the east. He is all things Roadtrek. Many of us on the west coast head to him for annual maintenance and help with any other issues. After four days on the beach, I will be going to an Airbnb for a few nights just in case my RV has to spend a night at the hospital.

Upon leaving Santa Barbara, I return to Salinas and Woody the Cat. He and I will be hanging out for most of May. I am getting a second cat fix. I am looking forward to seeing Mandy and Woody again. It also means I get back out on the Elkhorn Slough in my Kayak. That is a very good thing.

I will continue to head to the Northwest, visiting friends and seeing magical things along the way. I have been asked to house sit for the same owners on Whidbey Island, Washington. I am looking forward to another summer in the Northwest. Hopefully, I will see my little Birdy Boy. I will be back in the land of the magical sunsets over Puget Sound.

Sunset over Puget Sound

And there is my summer. A lot of this came together in a few days. It seems that one moment I had no idea what I was doing after my dental appointments were complete and then it took shape and then I had a plan. That plan goes into action tomorrow when I leave San Diego for the next several months. I will meet up with wonderful friends along the way and I am sure I will meet new ones as well.

It Is Always An Adventure

The Continuing Saga of the Little Brown Bird

I left Whidbey Island in the middle of June shortly after Sandy and Jim arrived home. The night before I left I introduced them to my little song sparrow. By the end of daylight, it was sitting on Jim’s head and singing. I felt I left this bird in good hands.

Throughout the month that Sandy and Jim were home the relationship with this song sparrow continued. Sandy told me that as the time came closer to them leaving for their next campground hosting job they began to dissociate from him as they were concerned about how he would get along when the house was empty.

Robyn and Tom, the next-door neighbors, said they saw this charmer once about a week after the owners had left for their next hosting job in Yellowstone National Park. Then the bird was on his own.

I returned to Whidbey the first week of August. I arrived late in the afternoon, put my things down, and went out to the deck to see if a little brown sparrow was still about. Sure enough, just like that, there he was, singing and chitting just I like I had never left. I was so happy to see my bird. I felt like I was greeting a good friend.

Things were different between me and this sweet little bird. He no longer sat on my head and was often more comfortable sitting on the post near me and chitting rather than singing. One day I noticed he had only one tail feather. The next day both were gone. I was worried. I researched song sparrows and molting online. Sure enough, he was molting. It took very little time before the new tail feathers appeared and grew. Sparrows and most birds molt twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

His colors are more muted now and not the orangey-brown of springtime. He sings less often. Some days I see him once early in the day and not again. Other days, if I had been out and about I might not see him at all. Two Saturdays ago, my friend Melissa was visiting. He came into the bushes near where we were sitting and chatted to us for quite some time. When I tried to approach him he flew away. Sigh

No Tail Feathers

The next morning I went out on the deck to find him and welcome him for a visit. He was not there. It felt different. He had left. Then I noticed there were no sparrows around at all. The White-Crowned sparrows had disappeared. All the sparrows were gone. The Chickadees, Nut Hatches, Finches, and other birds were there and plentiful but not a sparrow in sight. What had happened?

Do sparrows migrate and where do they go? I put a post on Facebook to the Birders in the Northwest region and discovered sparrows migrate to Texas and southern climates for the winter. I assumed my bird friend was on his way south to stay warm and find plenty of food and maybe a mate.

Five days later he returned along with three other song sparrows. I was still in bed when I heard a familiar song out in the back and there he was along with his buddies. My heart was glad. I was immediately up and down the stairs to welcome him back. He remains a bit more distant. His singing has returned and it was a delight to welcome my sweet little birdy friend back to my Whidbey Island life. I am told that when they molt they disappear into the bushes.

The seasons are beginning to hint at change. I know he must go. I am glad that I have let him be a bird. I have not hand-fed him or encouraged him to be anything else other than a little wild bird who has welcomed me into his circle. One time I found a large dead moth and presented it to him as a gift. I have never seen him so excited. He looked down onto the bench where I had laid it. He snatched it up and disappeared into the brush to enjoy a meal.

I don’t know how long he will be here. I see less and less of him now. Often I will hear him early in the morning. I am immediately up and outside to say hello. Some days he is not here at all. When he does come it is usually early in the day.

I am glad I have had some practice at his not being here. It is a bit hard to admit that I grieved for this little bird when he disappeared for those five days. Next time I hope I will buck it up and wish him well and send him on his way. However, I have to remember if this little bird was human I would feel the grief of loss just like when a friend moves away or stops communicating.

By allowing me into the circle of his life he has become more than just another little brown bird. He has become my friend. I feel blessed to have been chosen by this little bird. I have learned a lot about myself and life through this unique and special friendship. There is an unspoken yet very recognizable responsibility when one becomes friends with another. It is important to nurture these friendships, no matter how long they may be in one’s life. The value of friendship is what makes a being unique and special in my heart.

I have spent a lot of time outside and have had time to observe and breathe nature. Many birds come to the feeders, each one is unique. I have witnessed the change of seasons from early spring into fall. The circle of seasons in the yard is special to be a part of. The birds have gone from their spring glory of color to more muted colors. They sing less now. The hummingbirds disappeared for about two weeks while nurturing their young before they returned to the feeders again. My sparrow has grown from a young bird into full maturity. Often he sings for the joy of it, but it is also a way to get the girls to notice. As these little birds come to the feeders I have allowed them to recognize and trust a safe environment. None of them except one little brown song sparrow allowed me to become more intimately involved in their natural life.

I will treasure this moment of time in my life. This wee little bird crept into my heart and opened it to experience the joy of friendship in this somewhat lonesome time. (Covid) It has been a joyous and welcome respite.

Oh yes, truly, today and every day I am so grateful for moments in time that awaken my heart. Today and all days to come I am thankful and so grateful for this sweet little Song Sparrow who happens to be my friend.

Here, There & Back Again-Adventures Along the Way

The View From Whidbey

In the third week of June, I left my house-sitting job on Whidbey Island and resumed my nomadic lifestyle. I traveled to southern Utah to celebrate my dear friend, Sharon’s, ninetieth birthday. I was surrounded by family and friends. I reunited with her family, one I have known since I was a young girl. I made new friends and enjoyed all those that I do not know at all.

The following week I traveled north through Utah. I kayaked lakes and rivers, biked along the byways, and kept my hiking limited due to an ongoing ankle injury. Utah never disappoints me. There is always magic there and it draws me back time and again. I waved to Salt Lake City as I drove by. This city was my first real move away from home in 1976. Yes, I have almost always had a nomadic tendency.

I gradually made my way into Idaho. After exploring the City of Rocks National Reserve in southern Idaho I stayed in Boise with good friends for two weeks. Linda and I are like sisters. We hike and walk together and even tube the Boise River together. It is so much fun to have friends that have a sense of adventure.

When I left Boise I returned to Donnelly, ID, where I spent my 2020 Covid spring, summer, and fall. This time I was there for ten days. It was long enough to see one of my favorite chiropractors, go to the Farmers Market and kayak a section of the Payette River. It was an action-packed ten days. I would have stayed longer but I had a plan.

Linda, Mary, Phyllis, Janet

Mary Z, Linda, and I became friends back in 2016. I met them on that fateful desert trip. I ended the long weekend, breaking my ankle, delaying the sale of my home, and my imminent departure into my full-time RV life. The three of us have remained friends. Our last great adventure was traveling the White Rim in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park. It has been a while since the three of us have been together.

A Gathering of Friends

We decided to meet up on the coast of Oregon. After some quick decision-making, we reserved a group site at one of the campgrounds near the town of Florence. With that one decision, it became a gathering of friends. We invited a few friends to join us for this group camping adventure on the coast. There were six Roadtreks(our RVs) and seven people. Two dogs and one kitty also joined the laid-back festivities.

Since I bought my Roadtrek in 2013 I have met wonderful, interesting, and unique people. I had no idea how this single purchase would change and enhance my life. I have traveled with some of these people. Others I meet in the desert during the winter months. Sometimes it is purely by fate that we meet at all. Recently while I was making my way to Boise two Roadtreks passed each other, we waved and there were my friends from Michigan. And, as with the Canyonlands trip, sometimes we leave our Roadtreks behind (safely watched over) and head to the backcountry in high clearance vehicles and camp, once again, on the ground. Almost anywhere I travel there are people who are waiting to have me join them for a day or two or more.

Linda, Mary, Pat & Pancho the Dog-Hiking during the Coastal gathering

People who RV are a welcoming, adventurous, and fun lot. I have become friends and or acquaintances with many. When I travel cross-country, I usually have people to visit, places to stay, or others to go camping with. When traveling distance it is so joyful to break up the monotony of the drive, by meeting delightful people. I have learned of unique and interesting places to explore. There is laughter and catching up to do. Sometimes serious and heartfelt conversations help relieve the stress of making major decisions on my own. I treasure my RVing friends. I treasure my friends. My Roadtrek may have been the catalyst to meet others yet several friendships have gone beyond the RV. I treasure all these friendships.

Today I am thankful to have discovered a lifestyle that has opened my world. Today I am thankful for good, good friends. Today I am thankful for by-chance meetings that create change in my life. Today I am thankful for my Roadtrek, for my friends and for a sense of adventure.

Saying Farewell

After two and a half months, today, I leave Whidbey Island. I am certainly leaving with mixed emotions. For those of you who have not been here, this place is amazing. And…while many of you are suffering in heat…it has been in the low seventies and beautiful here.

Each day Puget Sound sparkles below me. The Olympic Range shows in the distance. It is so relaxing and comfortable here. The sunsets continue to be amazing. I keep telling myself I do not need to take more photos of sunsets and each evening I, once again, will be out on the deck with my camera. I have enjoyed the opportunity to walk the beaches, kayak the lakes, and Sound and bike the byways.

Every day I see Mama deer walk through the yard with their fawns wandering behind. Yesterday I found a fawn laying and hiding in a flowerbed by the rig. We kept startling each other.

The sweet little sparrow still comes around every day. He sings at the windows and doors. I have tried to alienate him a bit but he is quite persistent. I was reading recently that young birds can attach themselves to humans. As they grow they will leave this attachment behind. I keep telling him I am leaving so hopefully he picks up on this vibe.

Yesterday I was over at the neighbors house visiting and saying farewell. I had left the front door open as I had been going in and out frequently. On my return to the house guess who was in the house? You guessed it. That little bird had taken the opportunity to check out my digs or to find his buddy. He was not happy because, of course, he could not figure out how to get back out. Ay Yi Yi. He did find his way out again with a little encouragement from me.

I will miss the water life. I will return. I love the north country in the summer. It is usually too hot to stay south for too long. I do look forward to visiting with family and friends that I have put off seeing due to covid. I am looking forward to the company on the thousand-mile drive south. All of it will be fun and a wonderful adventure. Yet I will look at all my photos with longing.

I feel so blessed by the people I have come to know since Jim’s death. I had no idea that buying my Roadtrek would open me to so many new and wonderful adventures. I had no idea I would meet and become friends with so many good and kind people. I had no idea I would be house sitting on Whidbey Island.

I am grateful that I have been able to stretch and reach beyond my comfort zone to embrace and live an unusual lifestyle. It has become quite the adventure.

Already on the Road

On the Beach at Pt Mugu

Usually, I title a post “Getting Ready to Roll” when I am preparing to move in my rig.  I can’t do it this time as I am already on the road. This morning I departed San Diego for the season. After a difficult farewell with Cynthia and Ward, I began the drive north on a beautiful and chilly Southern California morning. 

 

One may ask, Where are you heading? That would be a fair question to ask. I have not told many what my plans are. I didn’t want to jinx it. I am going to be house-sitting for friends on Whidbey Island, near Seattle. I will be there until some time in June. I am so excited. I have never been there so it is a brand new place for me to explore. My bike is ready and my kayak as well. I am ready too.

Whidbey Island is the largest of the islands composing Island County.  It is about 30 miles north of Seattle. The island forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound. It is ranked as the fourth longest and fourth-largest island in the contiguous United States, behind Long Island, Padre Island, Isle Royale.

Hopefully my Northwest friends will pay special heed to this post. I am sure we can figure out some way to safely visit. Oh I hope so.

It feels good to “get on the road”. The adventurer in me takes over and who knows what may happen from there. I am thankful that I have a large country to explore as I am still not feeling comfortable traveling by air. It is good to have so much to explore outside my own front door.

A Beautiful Sycamore at My Campsite

Today I took a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, through Malibu, ending at Point Mugu State Park. It is a small park with a small beach on the Pacific Coast. There are many hiking trails and it is a quick walk to the beach. It is hard to believe I am not far from Los Angeles and millions of people. Yet here I am snuggled into my RV after a short walk earlier in the afternoon. I am camped among the sycamore trees and it is quite lovely here.

I usually get a bit apprehensive when I leave for a new place. Today I did not feel that. For that I am thankful. I was able to sit back and enjoy the ride. It helps to have good audiobooks to listen to.

So get ready to come along for the ride, I will have new photos to share and new stories to tell. Come on along.

 

Updates & Plans

I am now three weeks out from my Radioactive Iodine treatment. It was much harder than I had anticipated, yet I am doing well and recovering on my own timeline. I now have to remind myself it is time to figure out how to get back to normal, whatever that is. Each day I am a little less tired and I begin to think about the future at least a little.

I have been getting questions from friends near and far, regarding how I am doing. Now that February and the first two weeks in March are over, I am realizing that I can begin to consider my future. I still deal with tinnitus but after a visit to my acupuncturist, Gayle the humming is a bit quieter. I appreciate that the birds don’t have to compete for my attention so much.

I am officially not glowing however, the Radioactive Iodine will continue to make it’s way out of my body for eighty days. I can still set off Geiger Counters and alarms at the borders. I have a card I need to carry with me until mid-May that I present if I am stopped anywhere. I will probably set off alarms if I drive into Arizona. I continue to do what I need to do to stay healthy. Drinking a lot of water is still first on the list. Getting enough rest is another.

I still have to wait until early April to have my labs drawn. These labs will tell if I am on the correct dose of Synthroid or whether I need to change it up, again. I will also get a Thyrogen level, which should be close to 0. I have had my full body scan which is normal. Yes!!! If all goes well then I am free to go for hopefully another year.

What is next? Well isn’t that just a loaded question. I have been offered a great opportunity to house-sit for friends on Whidbey Island, off the coast of Seattle for six months. Oooh, what is a girl to do? I am still in the considering phase but each day that I ponder this, I am more and more inclined to accept this offer.

Two years ago, Elsie (the still missing kitty) and I spent a summer in the northwest. I really liked it. I liked the small towns. I liked the people. I liked the access to the water and the mountains as well. I have been considering changing up my travel methods and have begun to plan to stay in places for longer so I can determine where I might want to settle. My first thought was to find a rental in Monterey. I love it there. Then this opportunity arose and well a woman can change her mind.

I started to write this post about a week ago. So much has changed in that time. I am holed up like so many in this country in the safety of my rig. I have wonderful friends in San Diego. Yvonne has kindly offered me her driveway for the past week or so. I sit on the top of a small hill, secure from the world, and have been practicing social isolation in the best of forms. Some mornings, I meet Yvonne in her hot tub. We have been catching up on movies and reality TV. Another day I drove to my friend, Nancy’s house and happily weeded in her front yard for three hours. I have been enjoying quiet and healing time.

Today, I am getting ready to move. My friends, Cynthia and Ward, who have helped me through all things Thyroid Cancer related are welcoming me back to their home. Several years ago I fell while hiking in the desert and broke my right ankle. I had to be off of that leg for seven weeks. I remember how hard it was to adjust to being down one leg, especially for the first few weeks. It would have been so much easier to have someone help me while I got used to my new temporary life. Tomorrow, Cynthia is going to have elective surgery on her foot. She will be non-weight bearing for five weeks. I have offered to help her and her husband out for a few weeks until they have their temporary lifestyle figured out.

This is what friends do for each other. This is all we can do for each other. We can lovingly and supportively help each other out. We can make life easier for ourselves and for others. This is what we do. Practicing kindness and caring is all I can do for myself and others. Even better is allowing myself to accept help and support and put my innate stubbornness on the back burner. So I am off to enjoy my friend’s company and help out the best way I know how. Maybe I will be able to learn a few new crochet stitches (Cynthia is my crochet mentor)  while I enjoy the company of my friends. And…I will continue to give my self the time I need to heal and gain strength.

For those of you who have asked or wondered, I am doing OK. I am grateful for your concern and questions. I am grateful for my friends. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.