Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring in the NM Mountains

During the nearly 4 weeks I’ve been volunteering at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, the weather has been fairly consistent – upper 20s over night, full sunshine during the day with a few horribly windy days but comfortably warm. However, last week had a glitch – I woke up to snow, & a few flurries of huge snowflakes occurred during the morning. By 1pm tho, it had all evaporated (or melted away).



My job here is basically as a Girl Friday, helping out several other volunteers doing the grunt work they don’t have time to get to. I’ve updated email & mailing addresses, written numerous Thank You cards for our visitors, & most recently, started scanning & digitizing a humungous amount of photos of past rescue wolves. That project is going to take weeks (or months).

I’ve made one 62 mile one-way trip to Walmart at Gallup once. Thankfully, I got everything on my list so I’m set for 3-4 weeks. The Trading Post across the road from the Sanctuary has a deli, laundromat, & small selection of supplies & groceries. I’ve eaten there several times but have actually had to prepare food for myself. Sometimes I think I should be a dog since I can eat the same thing day after day. So I’ve been on an oriental slaw kick for months since it keeps well, is easy to make, & has all good things in it. I’ve also started making refrigerator oak muffins for breakfast munching (no baking required). I got an Oster smoothie maker at Walmart months ago & really enjoy the blueberry, yogurt, protein powder, & V8 smoothie juice for fast, easy nourishment. I generally try to make things that are easy while boondocking so a microwave baked potato or frozen dinner is a treat. And there’s the mixed nuts to munch on at night watching TV. Since I only work 4 hours a day (5 days a weeks), I have the afternoons to take care of housekeeping, food preparation, & essential chores, plus reading & walking Kira. Initially she didn’t seem to notice all the wolves howling numerous times a day, but she’s started barking now when they howl. Plus, one wolf, Zoerro, was raised as a puppy by Rory then given to the Sanctuary, so the Sanctuary provides a Wolf Walk for strolling around the area accompanied by a wolf on a harness. Totally awesome to watch. Kira gets very excited when they walk by.

Shortly after getting here, I got an Amazon order (it’s SO nice having a mailing address finally). I got a little stainless steel manual espresso maker that makes fantastic coffee. And I got a connection to hook up & read the hard drive out of Jeff’s old laptop that refuses to turn on anymore. Oh, got a replacement top for my propane tank cover that blew off on the way to Yuma when I didn’t have it latched down. Lastly, I got a portable USB CD player/recorder to connect to my little laptop/tablet. I’m digitizing (ripping) all the CDs I found hiding in the pickup console so I can put my favorite music on a thumb drive to listen to in the truck when driving. I’ve been sleeping better here, probably because I can leave the TV on all night if needed. One night tho I kept waking up every time the timer turned off the TV so I know it helps somehow having it on. Although I’m not crazy about having a work schedule, I have a lot of free time for reading & other projects (or just being lazy).

Four years ago during Christmas & New Year’s, Jeff & I became friends with Aubrey & Sally parked next to us in Zion National Park. We all had a great Christmas Eve diner at the Zion Lodge, a Christmas Day pot luck picnic, & New Year’s Day viewing of the Hobbit at the I-Max theater outside the Park gate in Springdale UT. Aubrey’s comment after letting them know Jeff had died was that it was a “magical Christmas” that year. I agree in so many ways. I believe Jeff was feeling his best & happiest ever while there with them. Well, they came to the Sanctuary to visit me & the wolves last week. They were here for my birthday too – the first in 21 years without Jeff, so having good friends close by was so comforting. Although it was gloomy & spit sleet several times during the day, we had a great wolf tour on my birthday too.


It’s been decades since I’ve been excited about having a birthday, but remembering my brother & Jeff especially, I remind myself to be ever so grateful just for having another birthday (as painful as they are). However, birthdays mess with my mind (or ego or heart or attitude), so I decided I was finally going to color my gray hair. I’d talked about it for several years, but Jeff didn’t want me to mess with it. This birthday seemed like my chance. Unfortunately, my desire for something different – going sort of dark red – didn’t work out like I wanted. I’m not a redhead, so I’ll be going a medium brown without red the first chance I get. And no, no pictures just yet. I want to update my Google & Facebook picture since it’s more than 4 years old & I have changed some (as in aged, seems like about 5 years in the past 6 months).

I not only enjoyed the visit from Aubrey & Sally so much, but they’re totally in love with the Sanctuary, weather, & landscape too, & are working on becoming part-time volunteers here now, mainly Aubrey helping with maintenance. He loves every opportunity he can get to “pound a nail”. It’ll be great having friends camped nearby, & I look forward to their return soon.

IMG_20160311_153440My campsite only has electricity (furnished by a big wire run across the ground from the power pole between the other two longtime RVs parked in the campground) but no water or sewer. I’ve had to fill my fresh water tank from the 45 gal water bladder residing on the pickup cab several times without any problems. Amazingly, by using bathrooms & shower at the office & campground, I went IMG_20160311_1535293½ weeks before getting close to needing to dump my tanks. I used my blue boy tank (like in Quartzsite) & then dumped that into the porta potty. I realized the cap on the blue boy even had a connection to attach a garden hose so I could safely run it into the porta potty. Unfortunately, it empties 4-5 times slower than using a regular sewer hose so that too IMG_20160311_153619FOREVER. At least I didn’t make any messes. While in Quartzsite this winter, I learned to put toilet paper in the trash instead of in the toilet & to not flush with every use (If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down) so it REALLY extends the black tank capacity. This regime seems to work extremely well for one person.

I’ve had a few bad days of missing Jeff while here, but overall am feeling that I’m healing fairly well. After almost six months, I’m really getting tired & worn down with this grieving process. Mostly I miss having Jeff to talk to, sharing feelings & experiences. He really was my best friend & I could tell him anything without fear of criticism or complaints. In fact, I still talk to him. Sometimes I feel him with me (with the sunshine on my face, the wind in my hair, & the memories in my heart), but no “hearing him talk”. It may be my imagination (or not) but it’s comforting anyway. I know the stabbing pain will ease as time passes & I become more comfortable & confident being alone. I have family & good friends to call, email, & text who have kept me sane. Oh & all the Facebook birthday wishes were fantastic. I really have so much to be grateful for. I just want to continue this adventure Jeff started us on. However, I haven’t been too excited about the kind of sightseeing we used to do. I need a traveling partner for those excursions to unfamiliar places & awesome sights. That will happen when it’s time.

So, that’s it – not much excitement & almost no traveling. But, this remote, peaceful setting is precisely what I felt I needed. I’m still uneasy thinking about returning to Branson. but I’m hoping I’ll have had enough distraction & desensitizing by July to keep it together when I go there. Ironically, Jeff & I have never enjoyed returning to the Kansas City area either after leaving – just too many bad, intense memories. As much as we loved the Branson area & the feeling of home being there, I’m afraid it’ll never feel comfortable there again.

I appreciate everyone who follows my blog & I’m sorry there’s not much exciting travel or sights to blog about. I also don’t know that anyone else really wants to hear about how I’m adjusting to Jeff’s death but. . .this blog has always been my way of documenting our adventures, & now my (emotional & physical) solo journey. So THANK YOU for following along.


  1. Great posting ! Thanks for the update.

  2. Love your blog with your adventures AND your feelings. I hope we can meet again somewhere on the road. I have great admiration for you as you go on your journey.

  3. So great to hear from you. We never know if we might be in your shoes one day. You're being so strong. Glad you have Kira! And you just keep talking out to Jeff...who knows he might be hearing you!!

  4. Be glad to hear about your grieving anytime. It's i portant to just make it part of your life. Nine months after our son died I know I'll be grieving forever, but I'll be celebrating the love too. Take care.

  5. Really enjoying your posts. Keeping it real makes for a great blog!

  6. I have never lost a husband to death, only divorce, but I experienced many of the same feelings that you talk about. Sometimes we have to live just one day at a time, and let the future take care of its self. Love reading your blog!

  7. Good to hear that you are doing well. The wolf sanctuary seems like a great place to spend a few months.

  8. I tried to go a bit red once, same reaction as you. In the blogfest photos you can see where the red stops, even though I tried to cover it once. I'm almost to the point of using my temporary tint in brown again, to smooth things out (we won't talk about the gray in the newer growth).


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