Friday, June 24, 2016

Finally Made A Decision

I hate indecision, but that seems to be a problem for me ever since Jeff died. No one to bounce ideas off of or someone else’s desires to consider. Too frequently, it just leaves me STUCK doing nothing.

Somehow tho, unbeknownst to me, my emotions have shifted. Suddenly I started feeling restless – maybe the infamous hitch itch. I started thinking about making a plan for when to leave the Wolf Sanctuary & where to go. I could wait as late as July 15th to leave & make it to my Class Reunion in MO. But – geewhiz, I’m needing to see somewhere different. In 3 months, I’ve made 4 trips to Walmart in Gallup. No where else! I may have mold or rot growing on me!!

OK, so I think I’ll move up the date & leave July 10th. That puts me here an even four months in one place at the Sanctuary. Several days later tho, I started thinking. . .always a dangerous experience, maybe I’ll leave after the 4th of July weekend on the 5th. That sounds good. I told the staff in the Sanctuary office that I’d decided on a departure date. We talked about some of the virtual assistant things I could do from anywhere & keep a few necessary tasks taken care of without me being here. Great – I sort of have a job (no pay) but don’t have to report to a specific place at a designated time for a certain amount of time. That’ll work.

Then a slight earthquake in my thinking happened. There were two wild fires down the middle of NM that weren’t a problem for us. But the wild fire in eastern AZ south of Show Low was blowing smoke at us. And possibly some of the heat. All of the southwest has been experiencing unusually high temperatures this year, not just for June but for anytime. I’ve been running my AC in the afternoons until dark since the early part of June. Nighttime temps tho are heavenly, just perfect with the window open. So why get in a hurry to leave? More indecision.

One morning while walking Kira tho, I looked across the valley at the pine-covered distant hill & realized I wasn’t feeling the peace & contentment of the landscape like I had for months. There was that itchy feeling again. Damn I hate waiting!! After 5 years of being a nomad, of being tied to a workkamping commitment too many times (I know, you can always leave if you want), it’s getting harder to WAIT to launch.

Finally, I realized I had just hit critical mass. I was feeling trapped in this serene, remote location that has been so comforting & healing. Mostly, I’m so frustrated from my flaky-to-non-existence 3G Verizon cell signal with ever-so-slow internet connection. I wanted to make a call whenever I wanted or needed without waiting for the signal to return or worrying about the call dropping (& not have my phone even ring if someone called). And there’s the hassle of tank dumping into the blue boy then haul it in the pickup to the porta potty to dump. Thankfully, I’ve only dumped 3 times in a little over 3 months by using the campground shower & porta potties. And getting water in the bladder on the pickup cab to replenish my on-board fresh water tank was needed every few weeks. I’m so grateful for having electricity tho (recharging batteries, watching endless TV & now running the AC) – but damn, after boondocking in Quartzsite all winter, I really, really want to park with full hookups again!! And then there was the 4-hr-round-trip to a Walmart in Gallup. Now I’ve saved hundreds of dollars in this 3 months by not traveling or shopping or eating out – BUT! BUT!!! I haven’t had Chinese food or my favorite shrimp enchiladas since before leaving Branson Nov 3rd. And this heat means it’s time for a chocolate malt (with nutmeg) from Andy’s Frozen Custard too. I’m salivating just thinking of it all. And although I needed the time alone, I’ve had very few campers around to visit with. Bottom line – I’m civilization starved!!

So, I made an executive decision to pack up & boogey on my next day off. I just couldn’t wait until after 4th of July? My launch date on my first day off work was just days away now. Yippee!! No time to twiddle my thumbs anymore. I’m just feeling so anxious to get going. Since I have plenty of time to take my time traveling east, I’d like to see some of the northern NM State Parks that were still closed for the winter whenever we were traveling thru the state. But with such a short season, all electric sites were reserved at Blue Water SP west of Grants when I wanted to visit. And with this heat, I’m not doing without AC. OK, so scratch that idea (Made another decision.) And after several nights having trouble going to sleep (pre-trip excitement), I decided (again) to just bite the bullet & make this trip as fast as I can manage to get from western NM to Branson, mostly on I-40. It’s not like there’s a lot to see between Albuquerque & Branson anyway (or that we hadn’t already visited). I considered driving at night for the cooler temps, but normally, I’m yawning by sundown so that probably wouldn’t be the wisest or safest choice. I’ll just have to leave at daybreak & get parked & plugged in by late afternoon when it’s the hottest. Kira rides in her crate behind my driver’s seat & the cats ride in the trailer. They like the heat much more than Kira & I, but just to be safe, I’ll carry my indoor-outdoor temperature base in the truck to read off the outdoor sensor inside the trailer what the temp is. Good – not only decisions made, but a plan of action too.

My last day (morning actually) at work took FOREVER. And then waiting for the cooler evening temps to get hooked & packed up was just as long & frustrating. After stowing away & cleaning up the cabin, I put on my head band (to keep the sweat from running into my eyes & across my glasses), & I went outside in the 90 degree full sun to bag up the two trash cans at my site, put them in the pickup & truck them over to the trash gage (to keep the protected ravens from picking thru the bags). Well, I’m on a roll (as in not melting down yet), so I drove around the front of the trailer, plugged in the rearview camera & lined up the trailer hitch with the truck. OK – time to take a break. But, gee, I bet it won’t take much effort now to hook the trailer up today instead of waiting until the cool of the morning. I HOPE I’ve actually slept more than a few hours by then but can still get on the road earlier by doing more this evening. OK, backup, get out & look, back up a smidge more, get out & look, one more tiny backup. The remote camera wasn’t too much good with a pine bough right in front of it. Since I was parked on a slope with the hitch REAL close to the ground & the backend up in the air, I attached the safety chains before raising the hitch. WOO WHO, I think that’ll work. I had to pull up a twitch to get the hitch to latch, but after more than 3 months of sitting still, AND in the heat, it went amazingly smooth. OK, continuing my roll, I secured everything on the outside & removed the BAL leveler that I like using to level up side to side. I’m not backing up by myself on blocks so even with the effort, the BAL leveler has worked great for me! Finally, just a few things left to secure after the sun goes down before packing up those last few things in the morning. Time to go inside to the AC, drink some water, & wait some more.


Oh but, not that kind of wait (as in waiting for sundown or morning). In all these months, I’ve never actually got to touch or get too close to one of the ambassador wolves, those that are comfortable enough to get near humans. Here I am sitting down near my trailer site getting to touch & pet Flurry, an Artic wolf (amber eyes & all). Not one of my better pictures, but it was hot outside & I’d been working.


Surprisingly, I slept pretty well that night (might have been all the activity outside in the heat). I woke up at 6am, jumped into gear, & rolled out at 7am, mountain time. The temperature was just perfect. And for the first time, I didn’t have the heeby jeebies when I first started pulling the trailer. OMG, it was SOOOO great to be moving again – an adventure. The drive on Highway 53 east to Grants & I-40 is just a gorgeous route.

Jumped on I-40 heading to Albuquerque but was hoping the traffic wouldn’t be too bad on a Sunday morning. And indeed, it was a piece of cake. It’s not a bad town to get thru anyway, & those 5 lanes of traffic weren’t too crowded. Hot dog, so far so good. I stopped once at a rest stop to potty & get a V8 to drink out of my frig. Cats are doing good with decent temperature from window & ceiling vent open. I decided not to let Kira out since she gets so excited with new places to smell that she’d be hot & thirsty. I stopped again for gas in Santa Rosa.

East of Tucumcari, I started noticing some green grass (or weeds) along side the road {gasp}. Wow, how long has it been since I’ve seen grass, much less green? And finally, the Texas state line – & more green grass. The wind finally started kicking a little before I got to Amarillo, but that’s only an hour from NM.

I stayed the night at Oasis RV Park, 12 miles or so west of Amarillo, the same place I stayed last November when heading west along with the couple from RVillage who let me tag along. Didn’t unhook the trailer, level cement pad, got plugged in & AC going, set up satellite, & took Kira for a walk on MORE green grass. Slept good, no wake ups, & had my alarm set for 6am. W e l l – excitement I guess, I woke up at 5am & pulled out at 6am. Hmmm, it was thinking about getting light outside but hadn’t quite made it yet. It’s much lighter at 6am in mid Mountain Time Zone than 6am at the western edge of Central Time Zone. I missed seeing the left turn back onto I-40 in time to turn so had to go another 2 miles on the frontage road to get on the interstate. OK, zooming thru Amarillo on a Monday morning at that hour was no problem either. Now to get thru Oklahoma City in one piece.

Two more hours of easy driving & I’m out of TX. All the semis & cars are passing me as I poke along at an even 62mph. Oh well, I’ll get there in one piece. I started seeing fully-leafed out deciduous trees – large groups of them – & little fresh-water ponds. OMG, I didn’t realize how much I’d missed this landscape. Had to stop for gas again & figured out I could start pumping gas, run inside to potty, & be back before the gas tank was full.

I decided to try the Kilpatrick Turnpike along the western & northern sides of Oklahoma City with two pay stations (cash only – coins, no bills) for $3.20 total (3 axles), but missing that traffic was well worth it. The road heads east on the north side of town & dumps effortlessly into I-44. I sort of started getting claustrophobic east of Ok City as there were lush forests right up next to the road on both sides. Agh, no views at all. Oh well, there’s more road in front of me & the scenery was constantly shifting (unlike many parts of the country). Traffic was tolerable & no wind today. The temp reading on the pickup only got to 91° all day long (just like yesterday) & the trailer was a degree cooler.

I stopped at a Quick Trip outside of Tulsa for gas again (at a lovely $1.83/gal), rumbled over the roughest road of the trip, & got closer to MO. More toll booths on I-44 but it was necessary & worth it. I could have stayed on I-40 east of Ok City & taken I-49 (Hwy 71) north at Ft Smith but would have had to jump off near Fayetteville to wiggle up & down & around Hwy 76 into Branson. Jeff LOVED roads like that to get his wiggle fix on all those curves, but I’m not ready to tackle that kind of driving yet.

FINALLY, I’ve reached the MO state line at Joplin. OMG, I can’t believe I did this, or survived this marathon drive. OK, a few more hours, but at least I’m in totally familiar territory now. Around Mt Vernon, I noticed the trailer temp was at 94° tho so I pulled over to check. All that bumping thru Tulsa had closed the ceiling vent & stopped the (hot) air flow – plus the sensor jumped off the hook to land in the trash container on the bathroom door so it really felt the heat. The cats were fine temperature wise although a little bug-eyed at the long bumpy day.

I finally jumped off I-44 west of Springfield, zoomed around town on the James River Trafficway & headed south on Hwy 13 for BRANSON. The 8 stop lights in Nixa are a royal pain but 13 has less hills than taking 4-lane 65 to the east. Besides Compton Ridge is west of Branson proper & much more accessible coming in from Branson West (past a Walmart). I scooted around the plethora of curves on Hwy 76, past the stop light going to Silver Dollar City, & turned right onto Highway 265. Holy cow, I’m only a mile away from friends, stopping, shade, & full hook ups!!!! It was 4:30pm. Not counting my fuel stops, I covered a little over 1,000 miles in 18 hours of driving at 62 mph. Not too shabby.

I had called Compton Ridge to warn them I was coming & when I drove up, several workers & one camper from summers past were at the office to welcome me. I had thought of my arrival several times during the drive & tears always flowed but I was just so grateful & happy to have arrived & to see “my family” that I just babbled with joy – no tears. And Miss Kira knew we were back home. She just wiggled all over – & sniffed. Yes, so many interesting smells & the possibility of new doggy friends in the area (doggy heaven). And there’s the golf carts to bark at too. She still remembers running along side one as I rode comfortably when we worked in Pagosa Springs CO 5 years ago.

I wasn’t sure where I wanted to park & I was too brain dead to tackle backing in even if I’d found a site I wanted. I just didn't want a site where Jeff & I had parked before. Finally I just pulled into Site #1, right in front of the office, & got plugged in. It didn’t take long, even with the heat, for Kira & I to be out walking the kinks out. Kira had been in her crate in the truck over 10 hours. However, we both QUICKLY became aware of the much higher humidity than we’d experienced for over 8 months. Good grief, we’ll both waste away from sweating (& panting) so much. I got the TV hooked up & settled in to just veg. I don’t have the words to describe how good it felt finally. Anxiety, worry, stress – all gone – replaced with comfort, contentment, thankfulness, excitement, & peace. However, I wanted Mexican food but couldn’t find anyone nearby to go out to eat. So, I just went by myself. I play solitaire a lot at restaurants anyway, so it didn’t matter no one was around to talk to. My shrimp enchiladas were just as good as I remembered!

I spent the 2nd travel day listening to music – our music. Andrea Bocelli over & over. Cried a few times but had a conversation with Jeff finally. It’s all the things he would have told me if he’d known he was dying. (I do think he suspected, knew or was told by his doctor, but he just couldn’t talk to me about it) It wasn’t my thoughts that I heard either – it was how he’d have said it. When I envisioned arriving at the campground & the tears rolled, he told me “It’s OK, baby. I’ll be with you.” So at that last road, the anxiety fired up again & I repeated what he said to myself several times & it worked. We both felt so at home in the Branson area & love it so much. It really had to me my imagination; I know that (mostly) but I could just feel how happy he was to be back too. His ashes have traveled under my bed since we left. Although he wanted me to sprinkle him around the beautiful places I would continue to visit – but I’m just not ready to let go of ANY of him yet. It’ll happen sometime.

I slept REAL good Monday night & got some appointments set up Tuesday. Found a new site I can get into Thursday when those campers leave. In the meantime, I’m sitting in full sun. Oh well, as long as my AC doesn’t stop, we’re golden. I made a Walmart run Tuesday, & listened to music again on the way home. Bad words & dirty names! That was INTENSE. This was Jeff’s town & he was so close to me right then. On our evening walk, Kira & I met up with some other workers from previous summers & it felt so good to talk about Jeff with people who knew & cared for him too.

Since I was changing sites Thursday, I traveled up to my hometown to see my parents Wednesday. I dropped Kira off at my girlfriend’s house in Springfield & got to visit with her a little. My folks are doing amazingly well for 90 & 93. Mom’s dementia is as bad as ever but didn’t seem too much worse. They are both looking healthy, not overweight or sickly skinny. A classmate/girlfriend who lives in their complex came over to visit with me, & we talked about our upcoming class reunion as well as her ailing husband, Jeff’s death, & my travels. I left later than planned but just HAD to stop at Andy’s Frozen Custard in Springfield for that chocolate malt. Oh yum. There’s no grass growing under my feet as far as eating out goes. When I returned to pickup Kira, I was invited to stay for supper so by the time I got home 11 hours after leaving, I was dog TIRED, full, cool, & feeling the lack of the last few days adrenalin. We took a short walk but Kira was ready as ready as me to be inside the cool & crash early for the night.

Thursday I moved to my new site about 10 am. It was already getting really steamy but I think I’ll like this site. It’s a much busier, crowded area than we’d parked before, but being by myself, I haven’t minded other campers within spitting distance of me. The bathroom/shower house is close, the satellite is happy, I’m on pavement, & have trees on both the east & west for shade most of the day. Oh, Kira doesn’t take long to scratch on the door to come inside. Guess it’s still too hot for her even in the shaded outside. I have more appointments to make & projects to start.

Then I talked to my cousin who lives in Branson with her husband. We all went to school together although they’re both a grade or two ahead of me. Although my cousin is a great cook, she tries to go out & eat as often as possible. So. . .we met for CATFISH. Oh yum, I felt like purring. Afterwards I went by our storage unit & deposited my generator, solar panels, & blue boy. Ain’t gona need any of that for several months. Picked up some large plastic storage drawers that I wanted to try in the trailer to consolidate some of the clutter. Yeah, I took out more cushions, small storage containers, & plastic tables than I brought in. It’s not quite right yet, but even inside the AC, I was dripping with sweat. Think I’ll sleep on it.

Talked to my girlfriend in Kansas City for two hours about my visit next month. Woke up a couple of times overnight so slept until almost 8am. It’s Friday afternoon now & it’s been raining all day. Woo hoo. A day of rain is fantastic; a 2nd day is too much tho. I got all caught up reading on the blogs since last weekend & fixed me a big breakfast (for lunch). Kira’s been outside under the trailer all morning (in the rain) but it’s cool enough to turn off the AC. Just don’t want the humidity inside tho. We probably should go for a walk before it rains again. Not much planned for the weekend other than to finalize my inside rearranging. That’s all my news for now. Gotta few more friends to see & places to go this week – but it sure is nice to be back home (even if it is hot & humid).



  1. Wow, a lady of action and get out of her way when she decides what to do. Great going. I understand the feelings about movin' on. Glad you made it safely and without incident.

    1. Yeah, I was surprised with the strong feeling of urgency. Hoping it wasn't some bit of premonition. But everything about the trip really was as smooth as glass so it must have been the right time. Sorry I left b4 you cud visit.

  2. Say hey to KC for me. Now that I finally have a home with wheels that move I'm content to sit in one place. For now.

    1. I'll say hi to KC for you. I guess being mobile doesn’t mean you HAVE to keep rolling - just that you CAN when you want. The best of 2 worlds!!


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