Monday, November 9, 2015

On the Road Again

I started this blog back in 2008 to document mine & Jeff’s travels & experiences, & possibly help others learn what & what not to do & where or where not to visit. Now, it’s documenting how I’m surviving his sudden death & possibly help others get motivated to follow their dream, regardless of relationships. So if the following is TMI (too much information), I understand if you skip it.

During the 3 weeks after Jeff’s death, I had the pickup serviced & new brakes put on, got new tires & a little generator, handled the legalities with Social Security & Veterans Administration, & cleaned/reorganized the trailer, pickup, & storage unit. I sold a few items from the storage unit & have a girlfriend selling a few items for me on Craigslist. I spent multiple days & hours (& lots of sweat) getting the storage unit cleaned out enough to have an isle again. I have more to clear out next summer & hopefully move to a smaller unit. There’s just some sentimental items I don’t want to get rid of. I gave clothes & such to a thrift store. I placed various old & used items next to the dumpsters at the campground for anyone who wanted to have them. Everything found new homes. Best of all tho, I gave specific items of Jeff’s to friends who were particularly interested in those items: fishing gear to a fisherman, cookbooks to a cook, beard trimmer to a friend with a beard, etc. I kept Jeff’s Air Force Vietnam cap, Green Bay Packers shirts, jewelry, & a couple of warm jackets. His ashes are on the floor next to my bed – & provide comfort. I’ve filled up the closet with all my clothes & emptied the frig of anything I don’t eat or drink. I gave away a dozen plastic bags full of food I didn’t want. I practiced hooking up & backing up the trailer. I got better. . .but even tho I’m going very slowly, I still don’t have either maneuver perfected YET.

I finally pulled out of Compton Ridge Campground in Branson on Friday before Halloween to travel to my parents’ apartment, a nearly 3 hour journey since I was only driving about 60 mph. It took several tries backing into their driveway, with the trailer only a little crocked. Whew! That was stressful. Sunday – with a tummy full of butterflies, I returned to my girlfriend’s driveway in Springfield. She has a double driveway off a 4-lane road with a turning lane in the middle – thankfully. It took me at least six tries to finally turn the back of the trailer straight into her driveway instead of going onto the grass on the far side. And then there were another six or so tries of pulling straight into the road to get the pickup to line up straight with the trailer. The front of the pickup was still a twitch toward the center but at least she could get her car out of the driveway. Wow, I was exhausted after that experience. But – I did make it.

Tuesday, Nov 3 was launch day. An RVer on RVillage offered to let me tag along with him & his girlfriend in a Class A pulling a toad, going to Phoenix mostly on I-40. The first night’s stop was in Carthage MO, so I drove there by myself to meet up with them. I nearly choked the steering wheel from all the Springfield traffic, but the I barely knew the trailer was behind. Amazing. The next day we drove over horribly rough highway thru Tulsa & survived busy traffic on multiple lanes thru Oklahoma City. After I got gas at a Pilot, I tried to drive around back but it was a food window circle instead. I had to back up to exit. Seems like my first attempt at backing the trailer is ALWAYS to turn the wrong way! Sheesh. Anyway, we stopped for the night at a KOA west of Ok City. The next morning a line of thunderstorms were passing over, but we were on the far edge of it. We had about 20 minutes of three bands of extremely heavy rain (as in wipers on high). Soon there was nothing but clear blue skies ahead of us. Whoopee!

We stopped at a Wal-Mart in Amarillo as the wind was getting stronger & stronger by then. We parked at a campground west of town & apparently they have lots of strong SW winds there since ALL the campsites are angled to the NE. My phone said 20 mph winds with 31 mph gusts. Thankfully it died down by dark cause it was rocking the trailer so bad it would have been difficult to sleep, or just not get sick overnight. It was 33 degrees when we left the next morning!

Everyone complains about how long it takes to get across Texas, but I think it was only about 4 hours all together getting across the panhandle part. Nice. I was surprised how quickly we got to the New Mexico state line. Wow – felt like coming home!! Unfortunately, the wind started raging again, so Ron (the other RVer) asked me to pass him since he was slowing way down. I didn’t catch near as much wind so could comfortably drive a little faster than him. Plus the road had lots more long hills too slowing him. Still driving under 60 mph, I ended up losing them somewhere “back there” but felt comfortable knowing someone knew I was on the road ahead of them.

I turned off I-40 near Tijeras (east of Albuquerque, in the mountains) for Hidden Valley Campground, the only Coast to Coast campground in NM. We camped there during Christmas last year & again this Spring heading back to MO. I’m glad I was put in a site we’d not stayed in before – but still, Jeff was with me last time I was here. I’m staying until Thursday, Nov 12 to receive some mail & go to Applebee’s for my free lunch on Veterans Day. Last year, Jeff & I were in Little Rock for our free meal. This will be yet another solo experience.

My first full day of nothing to do since Jeff’s death was cloudy, gloomy, & cold – all day. I don’t know if it was just the weather, or the familiar campground, or the relief of finally making it this far, or maybe it was just time; maybe a combination of everything at once, but I had several intense meltdowns yesterday from so many great memories from the past kicking me in the gut. I wasn’t scared or feeling lonely – I was just sad that Jeff wasn’t with me. I just miss him so horribly much sometimes. I tried pretending he was sitting outside – but that didn’t help either. I miss laughing together. Sometimes, I think of the good things about being solo to feel better about this situation. That didn’t work, so I watched a couple of recorded movies – but they didn’t always help either. I’ve had a plethora of things to accomplish & concentrate on. . .until yesterday & I couldn’t even play Spider Solitaire without crying. Thankfully, I had a couple of old friends to call when I felt like I’d never stop crying. They helped me laugh again.

I’ve realized that our tendency to camp away from other people was OK for me because I didn’t want others judging Jeff based on his getting stupid (drunk) most every evening. He really did try to control his drinking, but he never learned how to cope with the hardships of life nor the stress from little things. I believe he tried to negate his sense of worthlessness by being as generous & helpful as possible to others. Since I’ve only talked with a few campers near me here, I definitely feel like I don’t need anymore alone time than absolutely necessary. So I want (need) to be much more & involved socially now. The possibilities & opportunities are exciting – & that’s a good thing.

I know this is a whole new chapter in my life & I’m trying not to make any drastic changes. I have at least definitely stopped smoking. I got nicotine patches from the VA & charged up my e-cigarette, so from the morning I left Springfield, I’m now an ex-smoker. As stressful as driving, traffic, roads & weather was, thankfully I didn’t ever feel like I wanted a cigarette. Yeah!!! My other goal is to establish a regular morning exercise routine. This needing to hang onto the counters to get up from kneeling down in front of the frig really sucks. I still walk Kira once or twice a day – but that’s not helping as much as I want.

As sad & bleak as Saturday was, Sunday was just the opposite. It was gloriously sunny with a calm wind & an energetic nip in the air. Kira & walked twice, I could focus enough to write this post, & had several phone calls. I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel again.

Future plans are still fairly fluid. I’m spending a couple of nights visiting with Emily in Truth or Consequences, & then visiting another friend who actually bought a little piece of property near Tombstone so I can practice my boondocking skills & finally fire up the little generator I got before leaving Branson. Then I was invited for a Thanksgiving campout at Roosevelt Lake with a dog camping group. Not sure where I’ll go during most of December, but want to visit friends hosting again at KOFA & want to spend the holidays at Anza-Borrego & see all those big, rusty sculptures. January will be Quartzsite’s RV show & (hopefully) a small gathering of fiberglass trailers at Dome Rock again. Then the official BIG fiberglass rally is the first part of February. After that – I don’t have a clue. Visit my cousin again in Phoenix, maybe check out Prescott. Hoping to come up with places in Colorado for the spring/summer. My little egg trailer can handle earthquakes & hail well, get out of the way of floods & fires, but I really don’t want to encounter a tornado. Spring in MO is beautiful – but has the most severe tornado-prone storms then. Unfortunately, July is a class reunion back in MO – the absolute hottest, most humid part of the year (yuk, yuk), but if I skip Spring in MO, I really need to visit my parents again by then for sure. My daily phone calls to them is fantastic – but parents are funny wanting to see their children frequently. And all these “plans” only exist as long as I don’t get a phone call to make an emergency trip back to them. I’ll probably return to Branson in September, enjoy the cooling temperatures to work on the storage unit again & get my annual VA checkups done. Next November will be snowbird time again to head west.

Jeff always said life with him was an adventure, so I’m trying to continue the lifestyle. Hopefully, by the time I have to park it permanently, I’ll discover somewhere that I’ll be happy to watch the seasons change instead of wanting the scenery to change with the seasons. I can’t thank my friends, family, & even strangers enough for the support I’ve received thru this nightmare. Surprisingly tho, Jeff’s death has not been as traumatic as my last divorce. Times, technology, & I have changed enough for me to get past this.

No photos since both hands have been strangling on the steering wheel.


  1. I don't subscribe to your blog so I wasn't aware of your loss. I am so sorry for your husband's passing.

    We visited Prescott, AZ, last summer and loved it but it isn't a great place for wintering as it is cool at 6000 ft, but do stop by as it is beautiful and the surrounding area is very interesting.

    Take care.

  2. Glad you are taking some time for yourself. Will be waiting to see you at the end of the week, temperatures are to be in the 30's at night and 60's during the day. Nice brisk weather.

  3. You sound mighty brave to me! I don't think I could ever learn to park a trailer! I am glad you are considering getting "out there" with people. Conversation, friends and activities have to be a good thing. Keep blogging and having a conversation with us!

  4. Glenda, my deepest condolences in the death of Jeff. Hang in there, and hopefully it will become more bearable. Travel safe and keep the shiny side up. You mentioned the winds in OK. I was in Okla. City years ago and the constant wind about drove me crazy. We are planning on visiting relatives in Phoenix in December. May try to drive around Oklahoma after what you relate about the roads and winds. take care of yourself.

  5. Good for you, Glenda.
    I agree with the above comment. Keep on writing your truth and the universe will be overflowing with support.

    And, as you document your journey into wholeness as a single, you will be providing a road map for all who are trekking through their grief alone.

    Have fun and give Emily a hug.

  6. Wow. You are so brave to head out on this life on the road and handle all of these new experiences. Sounds like you are doing really well. Be patient with yourself on the down days. :)

  7. I am impressed with your honesty as you enter this new chapter in your life. Leave plenty of room to change your mind and adjust your sails and you will discover what works for you.

  8. I too love your trying to stay strong and I hope you find comfort in your writings and friendshipsee on the road. Ps...That AZ park for the holidays...Also AL has been writing it looks like boondocking is out now. Might want to chk it out.

    1. Yeah, doesn't look like Christmas at Anzo-Borego wI'll happen. Been rethinking just hanging around Quartzsite & Yuma. Still in one day (or 3 maybe) at a time mode.

    2. Yeah, doesn't look like Christmas at Anzo-Borego wI'll happen. Been rethinking just hanging around Quartzsite & Yuma. Still in one day (or 3 maybe) at a time mode.

  9. Sure plenty of open land and glad you're familiar with the territory! Godspeed ahead....may each day help you find peace! Hugs!!

  10. Glenda,
    Have been on the road for almost 8 weeks now and just heard about your loss of Jeff as I was leaving. My service was iffy so waited to get home to message you. Jeff was so sharing and kind as you are and I'm still using many of your helpful hints after camping next to you at Quartsite this past January. From "making ice" in the small cups to hints with my solar panel all have been helpful plus others. Sad I can't make Quartsite this year but plan to return! You are going to do well and so proud that you are not giving up the road. Being a solo is not easy, but is and can be so rewarding. Sending you the best and know that it has been tough, but your life will be full of thanks and giving because of the legacy Jeff has left you!
    ~~~ Hugs form Joan (Latte) and Jango the Yorkie

    1. Ah, Joan, thank you for such nice words. Sorry you're not making it to Q, but you are one of my inspirations to pull my egg alone. I'm 'managing' so far. . .except for these snow flurries in SE AZ today. Burrrr!!

    2. Ah, Joan, thank you for such nice words. Sorry you're not making it to Q, but you are one of my inspirations to pull my egg alone. I'm 'managing' so far. . .except for these snow flurries in SE AZ today. Burrrr!!


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