Monday, March 20, 2017

Leaving Quartzsite Winter 2017

Well the 2017 Fiberglass Rally at Dome Rock BLM area had around 150 units this year, not as many as last year, but they still filled the area well. John created & sold some decals of the Rally, & hopes to create & sell more next year for other rallies in the area.

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I suspect John felt a bit overwhelmed by all us little white trailers tho because he returned to the LTVA area before the Rally was over & I moved over next to Wendy & Diane, up on a hill with a fantastic view of the whole area. We needed a break from each other & he felt sort of bad about me spending less time with Wendy than with him. So after the Rally ended & most of the “eggs” had moved on down the road, I met up with Wendy near Yuma at the Pilot Knob LTVA area as she finished up her dental appointments in Los Algadones, Mexico. It was a convenient parking spot but pretty bland, so we decided to take a little road trip into California. This was our last opportunity to travel together before she headed back to Florida.

I always wanted to see Slab City, southeast of the Salton Sea, but wasn’t comfortable going alone nor staying overnight. So Wendy & I drove through it on our way to Borrego Springs, CA to look at the metal sculptures of pre-historic animals around the area. Some people really like Slab City & feel safe there – neither Wendy nor I felt that, plus it was cloudy & gloomy as a storm was coming across southern CA, so we were fine leaving the area quickly.

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I had been thru Borrego Springs years ago but didn’t know for sure where to boondock camp. We ended up next to the horse sculptures for a rainy night, & drove around the next morning looking at more sculptures. Again, it was cold & gloomy, trying not to rain, & just made the whole experience uncomfortable. As we headed northeast toward Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, it rained pretty hard on us occasionally. Bad time for a trip to southern California.

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We took a short cut from Mecca CA at the northwest corner of the Salton Sea thru Box Canyon Road to cross I-10 directly south of Joshua Tree National Park where we intended to camp for the night. Unfortunately, Wendy & I were both tired, cold, a little damp around the edges, & didn’t like the total absence of cell phone service in the Park – so we just continued east on I-10 for a couple hours & returned to Quartzsite. Even tho we had to set up in the rain, it still felt like home!

Wendy & I hung out until Tuesday when she left to start her annual migration back to Florida. John joined us for a “last meal” before she left, & he helped grease her trailer axles for her long trip. I learned how to do that last Fall, but it’s just so much easier for a guy to mess with that mechanical stuff.

Thursday, John & I went to Los Algadones, Mexico to shop, eat, & for him to get his first pair of glasses. They help him but are taking time to adjust to. We hung out with a couple from Canada also waiting for the line thru Customs to shorten – but that didn’t happen so it still took us two hours to get back into the US. Didn’t get home until after dark.

Then Friday, we made a (sunny but cool) day trip to Joshua Tree National Park & I got to see a whole lot more of it than before. We’d like to return for a longer stay to see more of the Park so plan to visit either on our way north from Quartzsite soon or next winter before returning to Quartzsite.

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received_1135555093209361We rode with another couple (Carol & Peter from Canada) for a visit to the Desert Bar, north of Parker. We’d all been there before but not with each other. One of the priceless joys of RVing is running into previous friends in unexpected locations. The Canadian couple John & I visited with in Algadones while waiting to get thru Customs was also at the Desert Bar that day with another couple, so the eight of us sat around visiting for hours. It was a really great day.

Life has slowed WAY down around Quartzsite now as people are leaving to return to their homes or find cooler locations. Ironically, the nights in late February were colder than the rest of the winter. John & I are getting both our rigs ready to travel & are going to caravan together this summer. Since he has a long list of places he wants to visit, I just plain don’t want to sightsee alone, & we both need to return to South Dakota for driver’s licenses this summer, it seems like a win-win solution to travel together. Besides, we sort of enjoy each other’s company!

The last few days in Quartzsite really heated up, so we left on a Sunday instead of waiting for Monday (a better travel day). We had our last Friday night fish at Darlene’s & our last pizza & beer Saturday at Silly Al’s. Part of me just hates leaving Quartzsite because it has always felt so much like home to me. It’s hard to describe to people but it’s eclectic, quirky vibe is addictive. Nevertheless, Kira & me in the Tundra pulling my egg with two cats & John & Beethoven in his Class A pulling a cargo trailer headed NORTH on our summer adventure.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

I Met Someone. . .

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted cause I’ve had a busy couple of months . . . spending time with John, the decal guy I met back in December. It’s been a couple of months now & we’ve been working on getting to know each other & becoming really good friends. It may last a week or years – don’t know or worry about it as long as we’re enjoying each other’s company today. Plus Kira is happy having John’s dog as a play mate. I recently changed my Facebook status to “in a relationship” tho & was amazed over all the well wishes from friends. Guess I’ve been a big worry or concern for some people. I look back on my nearly 16 months now since Jeff’s death & realize I’ve changed (grown) quite a bit, almost becoming a different person than ever before. I’ve learned finally to trust my own decisions & have accepted that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy or safe. Since I’ve spent most of my adult life having a male companion near, this was nearly as big a learning curve for me as figuring out how to manage living in & traveling with my trailer alone. In spite of all the tears & uncertainty, I guess it was a self-imposed loneliness I needed to go thru. I’ve learned to never expect either the good or the bad to last forever & to expect the unexpected.

Quartzsite was warmer this winter than last winter, but has had more days of rain & cloudy skies. Rain in the desert is always a special time tho. The clouds over the distant mountains is mesmerizing, as well as water droplets on the saguaro.

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So John & I have spent a lot of days investigating the Quartzsite area. He’s been teaching me how to safely drive my 4x4 Tundra pickup over some pretty rough ATV trails. I finally decided tho that I could trust his driving the truck so I could get back into taking photos as a passenger. One day we followed an ATV trail south of Q Mountain (south side of Quartzsite), all along the west side of Tyson Wash (the river running north thru town) & discovered an old rock house.

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Another day we drove east on King Valley road at the south end of KOFA just to see what was over there. This is the back side of the mountain just south of Palm Canyon. The clouds made awesome shadows on the rugged mountain.

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We also drove east on Plumose Road (north of town) to look at Bouse AZ & stopped at the Fisherman Intaglio on the way back. There’s another ancient ground graffiti north of Blythe CA similar to this. It’s hard to make out the drawing while standing next to it, so taking a photo was even more difficult.

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After traveling over a rough ATV trail behind Dome Rock, we discovered the unique Gold Eye Mine. The owner is buried there, surrounded by several burnt-out rock buildings, but this display of decorated toilets had my attention.

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We visited the vendors in town several times, ate out numerous times (especially Friday night fish at various restaurants), & walked thru the big RV Tent Show & the QIA Pow Wow (lots of rocks). I attended the BloggerFest 2017 this year & met lots of new people but only a few bloggers I met last year were present.

Of course, the sunrises & sunsets in this location at this time of year have been eye-popping. Apparently all the California drought & dust in the air make the sky come alive.

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I’ve been parked next to John’s big Class A for a month in La Posa South LTVA but John&Iwe moved together recently to Dome Rock as the Fiberglass Rally is about to start. This will be my 5th year at this rally & I’m looking forward to visiting with previous friends & making new ones. Last year had around 185 molded fiberglass units snuggled together near Dome Rock. John seems to consider us egg people sort of a cult (can’t imagine why). He’s a big guy tho & needs most of that room in his Class A but admits he’s a little envious of all the narrow, remote places I can get my trailer into. I took this photo of us the other day so at least you know I’m not imagining him.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hanging Out In Quartzsite AZ

Wendy & I have been camped at the LTVA (long term visitor area) south of Quartzsite AZ for nearly a month now. The weather has gone from HOT in the afternoon with perfect sleep-with-the-windows-open nights to get that furnace running weather. We’ve had a surprising number of cloudy, overcast days. . .disrupting our solar gain. My propane generator I got last Fall has been starting amazingly easy so far & I’ve ran it for 1-2 hours every other day or so. No, I’m not watching television all that much, definitely not during the days like when plugged into electricity. However, I’ve been sleeping most nights so much better than the past year since Jeff’s death. I’m where I want to be, the desert air is more relaxing, or maybe I’ve just finally gotten more comfortable being alone. Don’t know.

Wendy & I have managed to occupy ourselves without spending much money. We go out to eat (usually around $10/meal) every few days & have driven around various areas of town. There’s actually a golf course north of Quartzsite, no grass just greenish creosote bushes. It’s odd to see flags with a circle drawn in the sand around it. There’s also a shooting range up the road from the gold course.

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We took a perfect afternoon to hike up Palm Canyon in the KOFA preserve. Kira & I walked this rugged trail several years ago but we didn’t go to the end this time. I turned around after I got far enough up the canyon to see the palms up on the side of the canyon. Wendy had stopped about half way up, so I wanted to go back to check on her.

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On the way back to the pickup, we ran into another hiker & stopped in what little shade was along the trail to chat for awhile. He had been traveling around for 7 months living only in the back of a camper shell on the back of his pickup. Amazing how he had it all organized. And he was a Packers’ fan, so we had a great visit in the desert.

Wendy & I made several trips to Parker to Walmart, but one day stopped by the Blue Water Casino theater &, $5 senior discount each, we saw a movie! We’d neither one been to a movie in a theater in years. We saw Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge about the first ever conscientious objector, during World War II. The hero really did deserve a movie about his accomplishments.

One evening going into town after a rain shower & clouds most of the day, I was shocked to see the most fabulous DOUBLE rainbow with the most intense colors I’ve ever seen. People were standing outside in town taking pictures of it cause since it doesn’t rain that often around Quartzsite, any rainbow is unusual.

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I joined the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter finally. I felt a need to connect with known veterans around town since some parts of me will never be civilian again. Always thought about joining it or American Legion because I may need a safe spot for the night traveling around. However, even tho I was in the Navy during a few of the qualifying campaigns to join VFW, I was not actually boots on the ground in those locations, so I could only join as an Auxiliary using my father’s WWII service. I attended a monthly meeting to be inducted, & was surprised, I teared up taking my oath. . .just like when I joined & re-enlisted in the Navy.

Wendy & I have gone out to eat Friday night fish every week, as well as eating other meals at other places around town. There haven’t been too many campers parking near us, so life has been pretty slow & easy for 6 weeks.

I have always wanted to put some unique graphics on my trailer & found a guy at the BLM office who has done graphics for years but is now a full-time RVer. I had him come look at my trailer & we talked about what I wanted. Jeff always put up an American flag but I just haven’t wanted to mess with putting it up, so I gave his flag to his daughter. But somewhere I saw a flag graphic mounted on the front of a Casita & decided that was a good compromise. Anyway, John (the graphics guy) & I are working on what I want on  my trailer. I’ve always loved working with graphics on a computer so this is a fun project. Besides, he’s also a cancer survivor & chemo recipient so we developed an instant bond.

So, it’s winter in the desert around Quartzsite – & we’ve had rain & cold nights. The cloud deck is so low you can’t see the tops of the ragged mountains ringing the valley. Nice for a change but will be glad when the sun returns.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Into the West

After filling up my fresh water tank & dumping my black/gray water tanks, unhooking electricity & my television dish, & hooking the trailer to the pickup, I finally pulled out of Branson headed west at 8am. WOO HOO. Talk about a happy camper. On the road again. . .

I made good time, just poking along at 62 mph, & got to the Oklahoma border by 10:12 am. Went thru Tulsa around noon – & I-44 is just as rough & beat up at last fall & past spring. Geez Louise, it’s a toll road, why is it so bad?

I’ve always hated the traffic on the south side of Oklahoma City where I-35 & I-40 are sharing that portion of road, so. . .I take the turnpike along the north & west sides of the city. Much, much easier, but the bridges on that stretch really create rocking & rolling. My paper towels not only unrolled but also toilet paper. Never had it that bad. Oh, & the bottom shelf on the frig door broke at the side bracket. Super glue again. And the wind was so strong (constant at least, not just gusty) from the SW, I barely drove 60 mph with both hands strangling the steering wheel. After getting gas around 4:30 pm, I camped at Elk Creek RV Park in Elk City, OK for $29/night, 30 amp, f/h.

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I hit the road Wednesday morning at 7:15 am. It’s still pretty dark on the western edge of Oklahoma at that hour, so I barely drove 55 mph in the dark. I managed to get this picture of the sun rising in my rearview mirror.

The sun was up enough to see the road ahead clearly by 8 am when I crossed into Texas! The road was like glass, no wind, & not much traffic. I whizzed right along steady & got thru Amarillo around 10 & Tucumcari NM by noon – oops, that would be 11am Mountain Time there. At Santa Rosa, I headed southwest on Highway 54 (that’s the same highway that goes thru my hometown in MO) & skipped Albuquerque. However there were three different highways & sections worse than some gravel roads going to BLM campsites.

I was to meet up with Wendy at a rest area on I-25 south of Albuquerque where she was coming from. But, it was closed, so Wendy went to the next exit. She texted me how to catch up with her, but I lost cell signal & never got the text to where she’d moved to. So. . .in the meantime, I’m following her original instructions & ended up on a frontage road along I-25 that ended at a gate without enough space to turn around with the trailer. I had no choice but to practice backing up, down that half mile at least of deserted road which included a couple of gentle curves. I finally got to a driveway with a gate & put the trailer right up next to the gate while managing 4 or 5 K-turns to get the pickup pointed in the opposite direction without falling into the ditch at the front of the pickup in the process. Whoop whoop whoop! I did it, not pretty or fast. Trial by fire. I was tired, hungry, scared, irritated & shocked, not sure if I was going to cry, throw up, cuss, walk, or what. Thankfully, while I was figuring out how to handle that, I just kept backing up a few more feet at a time.

After stopping for gas & dealing with a serious head wind, I made my way south on I-25 to meet up with Wendy FINALLY at Caballo Lake State Park, south of Truth or Consequences, NM. Boy, was I glad to finally park it & let Kira out of the truck after 10 hours of riding (including the slow backing). I slept SOOOO well that night too.

We just vegged out Thursday as thunderstorms woke me up at 3 am & rained on & off all day. However on Friday, Emily (a Casita owner in town) picked Wendy & I up to eat lunch & make a quick Walmart stop. I’ve stopped here to visit with her for four years now & enjoy that she knew Jeff back when he felt better.

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The clouds just hung on top of the mountains east of the Lake & our campsites. So strange not to have full sun over the area.

We left Saturday morning around 11, heading south on I-25 to Hatch, taking the shortcut across the desert to Deming, then west on I-10 to Arizona. Once again, I would have done a little dance at the Arizona state sign – except for the driving part. We scooted thru Tucson & north to pickup I-8. I’d never been that way before, having always headed west from Tucson on the Ajo Highway. Made it to the Shell station at the east end of Gila Bend around 5:30, close to dusk, pretty well worn out & pooped. BUT, we were only a few hours then from Quartzsite & our destination. We just boondocked at the far side of that truck parking lot & slept pretty well, not caring that we were officially in Arizona’s Pacific Timezone until 2am the next morning when it became 2am Mountain time.

We were both awake early Sunday morning so got back on the road by 9:30 am heading north to Buckeye to pick up I-10 west to Quartzsite. Traffic wasn’t too bad & no wind so went directly to the LTVA kiosk to get our annual $180 pass. We moseyed around looking for the perfect spot but finally took an open area with a great view of the red mountain directly to the west of that site. We wanted a tree & drove around all the various LTVA areas days later, looking for a better site but in spite of it still being summer in Quartzsite, it’ll change in a month & a shade tree won’t be wanted. Besides, we really like the view of that mountain behind us.

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We ate out several days the first week & got to know a few of our closest neighbors. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, I drove my pickup to Yuma to get it serviced (since the light came on early into my trip out to AZ, probably 1,600 miles ago). First, Wendy & I stopped at Applebee’s for my 8th year of a free veteran’s meal. It always meant a lot to Jeff & I since we’d never been allowed to celebrate Veteran’s Day much as most employers don’t acknowledge it as a holiday Last year’s meal was alone in Albuquerque, so having Wendy along this time was really nice. Getting the truck serviced took forever, & by the time we shopped at Walmart, it was pretty much dark on the way home. Only real problem was. . .my truck was running on fumes from the reserve tank & we barely made it to a gas station in Quartzsite in time. Unloading our groceries in the darkness of the desert wasn’t too bad since the not-quite-full moon was amazingly bright & helpful that night.

Otherwise, we’ve spent some pretty quiet, peaceful days. The first week & a half got pretty warm in the afternoons but the nights were, as all desert nights are, fantastic perfect sleeping temperature. There was that little issue with Wendy trying to climb a hill with her SUV but got it buried first in the gravel bed trying to get to it (she didn’t make it). Glad she has 4-wheel drive in her Sequoia cause the running board on my passenger side was loaded with gravel still when we got back to the trailers. Apparently it really was buried deep for a bit on the passenger side.

We’ve visited the local library a few times, filled propane tanks, & found more places to eat out. Our solar panels have worked well, & I used my propane generator FINALLY after 5 days of boondocking. After a week, I got us both water for our fresh water tanks with the water bladder that lives above the cab of my truck. We’ll hook up to dump the tanks when needed but probably return to the same spot. Yep – life has been pretty GREAT back in the desert! The locals say summer will abruptly end soon as winter arrives. I’m ready as I had more than enough summer this year! And it’s so great to see these Arizona sunsets again that look like molten lava across the sky!!

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Fall 2016 – Finally

After Wendy left for Denver, I returned to Branson Ridge (formerly Compton Ridge) Campground west of Branson MO. This is the campground where Jeff & I spent the previous two summers, where we hung out as his health deteriorated last year, & where the staff was tremendously helpful teaching me how to manage continuing to live in the Casita by myself. I thought about returning to the exact campsite where Jeff & I were camped -- when he died last year. . .but. . .but. . .it just didn’t feel right. I’ve returned to that site tho while walking Kira, to sit at the picnic table in the covered deck shelter, thinking, reflecting, saying goodbye. It hasn’t been as sad as I expected. I managed to come to terms with various aspects of my time spent with Jeff in my life, & reached a degree of peacefulness instead of simply acceptance.

As my departure date to AZ neared, I happened upon a welder in Springfield who removed the cargo deck at the back of the Casita which housed stuff & two AGM 12v batteries to a simple steel box to house only the batteries. The previous cargo deck was replaced several years ago that housed four (too heavy) 6v batteries, but this 2-year old solution was going to fail sometime soon too. I moved what was left to the pickup or storage unit. I also replaced the icky dirty white spare tire cover. I like the look & ease of this arrangement much better & hope it is much more serviceable.

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I’ve bought a few other things, including one of those newer, kink-free, light-weight fresh water hoses & an Anderson leveler, visited with a lot of campers, 2016-10-04 21.51.48& eaten out a few times, but for the most part, spent 3 weeks just vegging, finally enjoying some cooler weather & sleeping with the windows open at night. And Kira & have have taken a lot of walks around the campground. This is one of the roads we walk DOWN all the time. Just happened to have the setting sun sneaking thru the trees.

I returned to Stockton Lake (where Wendy & I had camped) for a week to spend saying goodbye to several friends & to celebrate my dad’s 94th birthday with him. I replaced the battery in his 2-year old smart phone, as well as a new battery for my fon too. He’s still doing very well after my mom’s death, but his knee has given out a couple of times so he feels it’s only a matter of time until he goes to the nursing home where a wheel chair & a helping hand will be needed even more. I had a good, long visit (& often shared a meal) with four different friends that I may not get to see even next year when I return.

During my busy week of saying goodbye to friends & family, I spent Oct 13th, the date Jeff died last year, exclusively with his daughter. We met up south of Kansas City to spend three great hours over pizza – just girl talk – answering questions, calming sensations of guilt, & sharing our future plans. She’s the closest person I have to a daughter. She’s a daddy’s girl, just like me, so as badly as I’ve missed Jeff, I feel it’s been even harder for her since her dad has always been in her life, just a phone call away. I can only imagine how much loosing my own father is going to hurt.

I returned to Branson for the last two weeks of October to finish up medical appointments & get organized for my winter in AZ plus spring/summer in NM & CO. It cooled off finally enough to go thru, reorganize, & clean out my storage unit. I sold/gave away most all of Jeff’s power & hand tools. I didn’t know what most of them did & wasn’t going to need them. I ripped all the music CDs we still had that I cared about to my computer & donated them to the library. And of course, thru away stuff. Now at least I know what’s in the storage unit is what I’m not ready to give up yet & I can get to it all. I’ll downsize more next Fall.

A friend suggested getting a dash cam, like a GoPro, but they’re a pretty expensive toy. But I thought it would be neat to use an action camera attached to the back of the Casita to watch as I backed in to a campsite (still a tense undertaking). An Amazon search yielded lots of these inexpensive little cameras & I selected one with a spare battery & a free app to view what the camera sees on my smart phone. I still have to get it secured on my pickup dash & at the back of the trailer – but I’m content with my $53 Christmas present toy.

I spent the Saturday before leaving with my dad. He fried some crappy fish (pronounced croppy) for me & baked me some brownies (my favorite desert). My Casita friend, Debbie, who has camped with me & Wendy & lives around the corner from my dad finally came over to meet my dad & me. It was sad leaving cause unless something happens with him, I hope to not to have to go east of the Rockies until next October.

Unfortunately, the bone scan done by the VA revealed I’m getting close to full-blown osteoporosis. Crap!! Between my mother having it, chemo, menopause, & ex-smoker, it was only a matter of time – I guess. The VA has me on a once-a-week pill that we’ll see how well it works.

Also, I’ve noticed my 12-year old, 20# Maine coon cat, Boots, having problems moving around this summer. I was hoping it was just arthritis, but after doing some research, a vet visit confirmed he has diabetes. Double crap!! He seems to be getting around better from the diabetic cat food & twice daily insulin shots at least. I rescued him off a lonely country road 12 years ago as a scared, starving 7-wk old kitten & I’m not about to give him up without a fight.

I am letting my natural salt & pepper hair grow out & stay (probably until the next time I get bored & want a new look) so most of the sick, yucky red is gone finally. Got an “all clear” on my annual mammogram & was finally free to move about the country. I’m pulling out the morning of November 1st, headed west toward NM & AZ to meet up, travel & camp with my solo Casita girlfriends. YEE-HAW!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Reunion with Casita friends

My Quartzite friend, Wendy, arrived finally to visit me. We went out to eat that evening & visited my dad. This full-time RVing is a very strange & not understood idea to my dad, so it seemed like a good idea for him to meet one of my closest camping buddies. The next evening then, another Casita gal (Debbie), who lives around the corner from my dad, decided to come camp with us (all of an 11 mile trip for her). And she even brought food & fixed us some great bacon-wrapped hamburgers. Had a fantastic visit talking Casita stuff outside in the refreshing cool weather that rolled thru just for that weekend. One day, I took Wendy over to visit one of my high-school friends, & then another day we made a trip to Walmart & ate at a Chinese restaurant. Overall a lazy week tho.

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After a week, we hooked up & traveled to a COE campground near Shell Knob MO (west of Branson on Tablerock Lake) that is centrally located for some Ozark sightseeing. Unfortunately, the curb-side tire on Wendy’s Casita failed about an hour from the campground. We don’t know if she ran over something or if it blew out or what, but her tire was totally shredded by the time road assistance got it changed. We spent one day in Branson, having lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant, visiting the Visitor Center at Tablerock Dam, & later had frozen custard at Andy’s. And of course, a stop at Walmart again before returning to the campground.DSC04026

Another day, we visited Roaring River where a trout-loving cold stream gushes out of a small cave.

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Then, we wandered over to & around the eclectic, mountainside town of Eureka Springs AR next. While eating lunch, it poured outside & never stopped sprinkling until we returned to MO. The café had this intricate mural on the side of the building. Wendy got a new top & a pair of earrings.

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We also drove west to visit Thorncrown Chapel, a little church with glass walls, nestled in a dense stand of trees.

 

 

We spent some days just hanging around inside the A/C enjoying whatever we wanted. We left on Thursday before Labor Day weekend to return to the quiet, little campground near my hometown to wait out the holiday crazies. On the way, we stopped in Springfield for Wendy to get three new trailer tires so she’s good to travel many more miles. I got to have some Springfield cashew chicken again while in town. A cool front had come thru too & dropped both the temperature & humidity level so I actually slept with the windows open.

As with most RVers tho, Wendy’s plans changed slightly, so she decided to take another couple of weeks to just unwind here in MO without having to travel anywhere. Labor Day afternoon, we hooked up & traveled a half hour to camp at the COE campground on Stockton Lake (much cheaper than the campground near my hometown where we survived the holiday). We spent two glorious, lazy weeks looking out on a little bay. We haDSC04048d another wine night & visited my dad a couple of times. We drove around town & the DSC04034west side of Stockton Lake. AND, our Casita friend Debbie spent another night camped near us. Every time she shows up, the weather cools off. However, the day she picked me & Wendy up to go to Red Lobster in Springfield for Wendy’s birthday, it poured all the way down & back, quitting only about 15 minutes away from the campground.

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After more than 4 weeks camping together, I (almost tearfully) waved goodbye as Wendy finally headed west. I was so envious tho since I hate this hot, humid weather. I’m returning to Branson to get things wrapped up for my expected Nov 1st escape to the West.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Half an Orphan

My 90 year old mother with vascular dementia for the last 6-7 years died early Wednesday morning, Aug 3 (one day short of four weeks in the local nursing home) quietly in her sleep. Her kidneys had failed & she was fairly unresponsive the day before so it was no surprise. My poor father was just beside himself watching her so frail but unable to do much of anything to help but hold her hand.

I saw her Monday for “lunch” (barely some thickened liquids), but I’m not sure she really knew I was there. She looked so bad, I could barely stand it. And she reminded me WAY too much how bad Jeff looked before he died. However, we didn’t know it was finally her time & I needed to return to Branson. So I hooked up & pulled out Tuesday morning so I could make a Walmart run & Wednesday leave Kira at the local vets to have two small bumps lasered off her right front leg. They appeared to be growing slowly but she licked on them some & I wanted them gone. My dad called me at 7:15 Wednesday morning to tell me mom had died quietly in her sleep during the night, so when I left Kira at the vet’s barely an hour later, I was really stressed (one raw nerve). I’ve never been comfortable when one of my critters is anesthetized for a procedure, always fearing they won’t wake up or something will go horribly wrong, so I wasn’t doing too well. At least I learned that human anesthesia can now be used on animals so they wake up faster & without many side effects. In deed, Kira was bouncing around when I picked her up that afternoon. After dropping her off tho, I drove to Springfield to spend the day with my girlfriend (since the 8th grade) – the one I called at 2 am after my brother died & where I spent the night after Jeff died. She’s my surrogate sister & Kira’s godmother if something happens to me. It was good spending that sad & stressful day with her.

I posted on Facebook about my mother’s death & was blown away by all the prayers & condolences. Everyone’s support was extremely helpful & comforting. What an amazing way to communicate. I remember using the old party-line phones that hung on the wall, so using cell phones from anywhere (with texting) & internet (emails & Facebook) is nearly too easy.

Thursday, I hooked up again & returned to the small campground outside my hometown. My mom’s funeral was Friday morning in the church they attended, across from the house they used to live. I borrowed some appropriate clothes from my girlfriend who drove up to sit by me during the funeral so I could squeeze her hand. I had always expected to have Jeff for comfort but she was a good substitute. A number of my classmates attended but overall, most of mom & dad’s oldest friends have already passed away so not that many people are left to attend. After the graveside services, we returned to a dinner given by the church for the family. As soon as possible, I had to change into my uniform (tshirt & shorts) but at least I hadn’t embarrassed my dad at the funeral (he has to live here). Since I woke up at 3:30am that morning, I was seriously wiped out when I returned to the trailer that afternoon.

My parents were 25 days away from being married 73 years, but my dad has been amazing during all this. He could barely leave her alone in the nursing home, as he said, he didn’t have anything else to do. Although he hated to loose her, we both knew she had been leaving us by inches for the past few years, especially in the past month, & she was ready to be with her parents, siblings, & son (hopefully Jeff too). He’s sad but relieved now & basically just doing what I did when Jeff died – suck it up, continue living, & find friends & activities for distractions – you can’t bring them back or change anything. At least he’s starting to think of things to do now, like going for coffee with the guys every morning & attending church again, since he doesn’t have to stay around to watch after mom. The church pastor lost his wife 6 years ago & calls on my dad often, plus the neighbor guy’s wife has been in the nursing home for several years. Yep, birds of a feather stick together & help each other get thru the sad times. That’s what my new & old friends have done for me since Jeff died. That’s when you really learn who your friends are.

Funny tho being around normal people, you know, those who live in the same house, city, & state all their lives & absolutely, positively have no idea why anyone would not want to live in a house, in a neighborhood & town, to see the same people & do the same things over & over again every day, for years or a lifetime. I had one not too close of old friend who doesn’t understand my journey of being a nomad say that with my mom’s death, maybe I could afford to get a house now, or at least a bigger RV. Ummmm, that’s not the issue & that person definitely doesn’t have no clue. I wouldn’t settle down or live in a house if someone GAVE me one. Too much work & I don’t want to watch the seasons change in the same spot . And I certainly don’t want to pull around (or have to backup) a bigger RV, especially not a slab side or stick-built. My little molded fiberglass travel trailer holds it’s original value, is tremendously road- & weather-worthy, lives big but is cozy (I’ve always liked cozy even in houses), & is real close to maintenance free. Besides, without having wheels under my bed, I couldn’t change my neighbors, the scenery, or chase the weather when needed/wanted. OMG, talk about stuck in the mud, to be stationery. And it has nothing to do with money. My only exit strategy is to hire a guy with a pickup to pull my trailer to my winter spot (probably Quartzsite) & then to my summer spot (somewhere in elevation in AZ, NM, or CO) while I follow in a Jeep or something small. I love meeting up with RV friends & stay in touch with many just as easy as living down the street from them. Conventional life is just too boring – & actually much more expensive. Plus, living small & simple keeps me disciplined, something to do with that rule about always having a bit more ‘stuff’ than you have room for”.

Oh, & there’s also the comments about me finding another husband or companion. I don’t want to care that much about anyone again. Or become a caregiver or watch them suffer & die. Or compromise & try to understand moods & behaviors. I learned I can’t control or change anyone else; I can barely control my dog or myself, & I’m tired of accommodating someone else’s wishes. I hope I don’t sound bitter, just realistic, appreciating what’s important to me & knowing where my boundaries are. I just want to continue enjoying previous & new friends on the road, without regrets or worries, & looking forward to new adventures. Just a rolling stone. . .

I’m going to stick around my dad’s all month tho to see what he needs help with & visit enough that he’ll get tired of me being around. My Casita buddy from this winter (Wendy) is planning on stopping by later this month on her way from Minneapolis to Denver (via a slight detour to me). I need some serious time with my tribe (those molded fiberglass types). And I’ve got more (old) friends around here to visit with than in Branson, so I’m fairly comfortable here – well, except for this horrible heat & humidity (air you can DRINK). In fact, I haven’t really felt comfortable at “our” campground in Branson this summer. There’s just too many ghosts (memories) behind nearly every tree, & there’s lots of trees around there. My dad’s health & mind are pretty good so I hope I don’t have to repeat this past month ever again, but at least not for a few more years. And I’m chomping at the bit to get back out west. Missouri may be home but not where I belong anymore.