Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Parting is such sweet sorrow

"Parting is such sweet sorrow" has been the major theme for this trip. After my visit with my Kansas family/friends (from here on out I'm going to say frams) I headed into Eastern Standard Time. Trees have basically shed most of their leaves as owners busily rake them into piles. Grass is still green and the weather is nice. Storms moved through the Midwest just as I exited. Those storms only bring high winds and rain to the Detroit Metropolitan area for a day. But that's OK because I've arrived! My RV Rand McNally GPS once again proves worthy of its purchase as it helps me navigate the multitude of freeways systems of this gigantic area.

I'm so busy visiting, the blog is the farthest thing in my mind. You know you're friends when you can be separated countless of months and reunite to pick up right where you left off. Love, good food, friendship, family, conversation, debates take place as I sit back to relax after traveling 2,000 miles. Five days fly by as I find myself saying goodbye to my dear family who live so very far away. No worries, it gives me a chance to put my Casita to use as I plan new visits in the upcoming year. I love you dearly Isabel, Dalia, and Bassam!

Once again I'm on the road, this time heading south. I pass so many beautiful barns as I drive up and down the gentle rolling hills of Ohio. If I thought the hills were steep in Missouri it's because I never driven the hills of Kentucky. Now, those are steep hills. I know I'm in the land of prized horses as I pass pastures with these beautiful animals grazing. I almost stay at Big Bone Lick State Park. The name makes me giggle which makes me head that way. The state park guide says that it's open year-round, but someone missed the memo as I pull up to a gate saying that it is closed. Well, I may have been disappointed, but you should have seen Cassie and Odin's sad faces. I head over to another campground nearby. I'm tired.

I head to Memphis where I learn from my daughter-in-law's parents that there are 45 pages filled with things to do in the area! Wow! That's a lot of research. Again, I need to visit here again as I settle in and feel like it's home away from home with conversation that doesn't miss a beat. In the morning, the theme of the trip plays in my head as I hug and wave goodbye and drive down the road and over the Mississippi River. The night before, the skies broke loose an ocean of water as I pass flooded field after field after field. Here, I thought listening to the rain from inside my Casita was just a lullaby to help me fall asleep.

Then I face a perplexing problem yet to be solved on my Casita. The other night I checked into a campground and could not get electricity using 30 amp connection. I have a surge protector and it showed juice. I went inside and flipped all the breakers and still no juice. I took off the surge protector connected the cord directly and still nothing. I put it back on. I went inside to check my fuses. They look like new. I tried again. Zip. I connected my 15 amp adapter and I had juice!?! The pole had a 50 amp connection so took off the 15 amp adapter and put on the 50 amp adapter (which steps down from 50 amps to 30 amps) and again everything worked! I woiuld think that my fuses are alright if I'm now getting electricity in the trailer. It was raining so I called it a night and thought that maybe it was the electrical post. Today, I'm at a Corps of Engineers campground. Again, the 30 amp connection does not work yet my surge protector says everything is fine. This place only has a 15 amp alternative so I tried it and I have juice. I can use it, but can only run one big item at a time. Today, I changed out the 30 amp fuses just in case with no result. Any ideas?

Tomorrow, I'm heading to my last 'fram' on the way home. Thanks for reading. I'll post again when I reach home and to let you know what I find out about the electrical conundrum. It's been a worthwhile journey facing my aloneness and my capabilities. Driving with just the dogs has gotten easier. Odin switches from the back seat to the front passenger seat on a regular basis. I hear Charley's voice in my head as we pass areas we've cycled over, look at barns, pretty leaves, skies . . .

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Baby, it's cold outside

The temperature outside is a chilly, cold 32 (that's 0 centigrade for my European friends) so I'm not anxious to break camp too quickly. Plus, the trailer is toasty warm and I have a hot cup of coffee to finish. Today is the last leg of my journey north to visit family/friends in Livonia, Michigan. I've made it before the snow hit.

I'm at Fireside Resort RV Park in Auburn, Indiana, just north of Fort Wayne. Anyone who didn't take Economics in college, here's a quick lesson. If a business is the only one available around (supply is low and lack of competition) yet people are still traveling (demand is up) you get to charge what you want (price is high). All the other campgrounds in the area, that I could find, were closed for the winter. This one was open, no water, though, for the over-nighters which is fine since I carry my own. It looks like a lot of campers are using it as a base for work. Electricity kept me nice and warm. Even though all the advertisements and their website said that wi-fi was available, apparently they shut that down also for the winter.

No one is in the office to ask about this. I see two ladies outside having smoke and conversation so I go over to ask about the internet. They are disgruntled about this aspect also as they confirmed my suspicions.

One younger lady asks in her beautiful southern drawl, "Are you traveling in that cute little thing over yonder?"

"Yes, that's mine." I reply.

"Is it just you and your husband?"

I shake my head, "No, it's just me and my two dogs. My husband died back in August."

The older lady asks, "So, it's just you traveling? Wow! That's great! Power to you!"

I respond, "Thank you! We worked it together so I knew all the ins and outs. I'm visiting family in Michigan."

The younger lady says, "Yeah, I do too. My husband told me that if I wanted to travel with him to the job locations that I needed to know how to set up and break camp."

The other lady confirms saying, "Yeah, I know it all too. It helps him out."

I tell my new found friends that my husband was 15 years older than me and we would talk about what if the other one goes. That's why we bought the Casita because it was easy to manage for either one of us if we were caught alone.

The younger gal exclaims, "Me too! My husband is 15 years older than me, too! Plus we have a 5 year-old son. We talk about it all the time. He works a dangerous job on top of that. He operates a crane. He's still strong, but I see him when he gets up in the morning, he has to walk off the stiffness he didn't used to have."

The other lady says, "We didn't used to talk about it until one of our friend's husband suddenly died. It scared us so bad that we sat down and planned it out and he bought life insurance."

The younger lady says, "You gotta talk about it. It's part of life. Well, I'll be. I am proud of you. You go girl!"

I left them with a smile in my heart. The conversation was energizing after today's drive.

I want to praise another woman caught in my situation: Glenda. Her husband, Jeff, died shortly after Charley. They were full-timers in a Casita. She is currently carrying on and traveling west for the winter--remaining a full-timer. We met them both last year while staying at Brantley Lake State Park in New Mexico. They told us about the Fiberglass rally in Quartzsite, AZ where we met them a second time. You meet once, you're friends the second time! She is, too, carrying on!"

Monday, November 9, 2015

Wrinkled Land

I feel so wealthy for all the people in my life, my support, my family/friends (friends so close they are like family and family so close they are like friends) (FF). Parked outside my FF's home I am able to rest and refresh just south of Kansas City. Trees feeling the cooler nights have begun to change the color of their leaves and begin the shutdown for winter. Leaves begin to carpet the floor in multi-colors. My dogs are ecstatic to run free in the huge backyard and play with Rusty. They run, and run, and run, and . . . Only if you were a stone could you keep from smiling while watching them frolic about.  No, I take that back, I think the rocks were smiling also.

Sunday I met Missouri once again with it's steep hills that rise and fall and do it all over again. Memories of our round-trip bicycle tour to Iowa and back begin to play in my head. The momentum gain on the way down would only take us three-quarters of the way up where we had to winch the tandem the remainder of the hill to the top only to do it all over again. Coming back to the present I see that farmland now lay with short, dry, stiff, day-old stubble as I pass an occasional farmer riding equipment most probably to storage. Down and up I go. As memories spin around my head my emotions begin to play like the hills, down and up, down and up. The day ends well with FF texts and a phone call.

I pass the Missouri River today and I am met with land with less wrinkles. I wear a light jacket in the morning as I break camp at a Corps of Engineers' campground. The day warms again to the mid 60s but tonight will be around 32. Beautiful weather.  The attendant of 'Champaign Sportsman Club campground asks, "Are you traveling alone?"
"My husband died. I'm trying to carry on," I respond.
He says, "Oh, that's difficult. But it's something you gotta do."

He's right, you know. It's something I gotta do.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Beautiful tailwinds and dogs!

It's interesting the role that winds have played in my life, in all our lives for that matter. I've had several careers over the years, I tend to call them lives. In one life, Charley and I used to go down to Mexico, buy primitive furniture/antiques, bring them back to the States, clean them up, then haul them to various parts of the country to wholesale to dealers. We always watched the weather and wind because our cost of good sold would increase as the mileage was dragged down by that dreaded headwind.

Then, we started bicycle touring in the late 90s. Wind is usually the demon in front of you and rarely your friend at your back. Hills you can see, but wind, that invisible force that impedes forward progress is a demon, just ask any touring cyclists. Well, the same goes for traveling with a camper-trailer or an RV for that matter. Travel costs will climb with that invisible enemy.

Well, since I've left home, the wind has been my friend. Tailwinds! I usually get an average of 17-19 mpg, but I'm averaging 21.7 mpg! On top of that, the gas is cheap! The cold front that hit Montana and the Rockies sent wind at my back.

Do I sound happy? Well, it's because I am. I've had a beautiful day: clear skies, temps in the 70s, and a wide open range with an endless view. I left the solidified molten labyrinth of lava flows of Valley of Fires, traveled through the natural mountainous landmarks and cedar which eventually ceded to rolling plains and man-made landmarks of grain silos. I'm now in low rolling plains of Kansas. Blue skies were my ceiling today and the only clouds were in the distant horizon which mimicked snow-capped mountains. I'm staying at a beautiful campground called 'Spring Lake' that accepts Passport America (see the link on right column) which only cost $13.

The dogs are enjoying the moment and the adventure which keeps me in the present as well. So wise is the philosophy of a dog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Glass Ceilings and Bravery

Breaking the glass ceiling is not just for working women trying to get into executive positions but also for women who travel by themselves. When telling people of my plans to head out in my Casita trailer with my two dogs to Michigan to visit with friends/family I was told by several people how brave I was. While I understood where they were coming from, I also know that this comment would not be said to a man undertaking the same trip. 'Be careful,' is more likely to be the comment. I received that also.

But brave? Am I brave? I am doing what Charley and I had started. We bought the Casita because it is easy to handle, fuel efficient, and in a small space--has everything. We kept asking each other that if something happened to one of us would the other continue? We both would respond with the affirmative. So that is what I'm doing; I'm keeping my promise. Also, it's use it or lose it, got to keep the rhythm fresh to check off things.

So why Michigan? This was on our agenda before...well, you know. It would have taken place in October rather than now. But it has taken all this time to get things in order.  I did that very first trip just about two weeks after Charley passed. That was difficult, to say the least. This time I've done one trip by myself so here I go again. I'm still shaky but I am able. I know my Casita, the truck, the set-up and take down process. I can do this. As I type this I am staying in our favorite campground on my first night out on the road: Valley of Fires BLM just outside of Carrizozo, NM. There are going to be a lot of firsts this year as I tread on areas where I have been with Charley and now I am alone. But there are so many touches of him everywhere. He is still with me, in my memory, the way I do things, the way I talk and think. That makes the trip that much easier. Continue with me on this journey. I hope to keep posting during the trip to embolden the shy, to help you travel vicariously, or you to just to wish me well. Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Know each other's job

Well, I left the house, as the doctor had ordered, although I don't believe I left the way she intended. With my loss fresh and wound cut deep, I gathered things and packed the Casita and truck, and called friends. I hitched the Casita and was ready to go the night before leaving. The morning of departure, I found my hands shaking. Dogs jumped in the truck with enthusiasm which helped my mood. Gathering all the strength I had, with trembling hands, I grasped the steering wheel and headed out on my first lone journey. Charley set me up well. While we had our departmentalized jobs in our relationship, I was keen to learn his and he mine. Knowing each other's job allowed me to do this, to take our Casita, Tara, out by myself.

The trip did add a distraction from my current state of mind. It also showed me I could do it, even though I knew I could. Doing it made it just made it a reality.

So my advice for all you in joint-travel mode adventures, whether pulling a Casita or something else, is to know each other's jobs. Know how to pack, to hitch, to drive, unhitch. Know what needs to be done on the inside: closed, turned off, buckled down. That way, you can continue because if your partner in life is like mine was, s/he would want you to continue.
Dawn in Dixon, NM (Odin and Cassie at the ready)

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Precarious Adventure


This precarious adventure
Feels so real but is so very ephemeral
It should last forever
Then there are signs
Aging signs
Body indicators that tell you that things are changing.
Things are changing.


The precarious adventure.
Experiences flow in
Memories are made
Shape our thoughts
Sculpture the bust
Poetry made and songs sung
Once in duet become a song sung solo


Alone but not lonely
You are with me in my spirit through to my bones
And so the next adventure goes.
Prepared or not,
Here I come!
I want to remember the fragility.
With all my being and all my love, Kamala

Charley Land

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ah, the Casita Cult!

We're always excited to see another Casita on the road! We flash lights at each other, honk, wave. 'Why?', you may ask. Well, it's because we share such great taste.

On our trip along the Alaska Highway up to Fairbanks, we did not see very many Casitas. In fact, we 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sleepy Homey Doldrums and Some Info from our trip to Alaska

As soon as we arrive home we have to leave to the hardware store. We grab the keys to our Caravan, now anchored with spider webs to the carport, to buy a water pump for our evaporative cooler. Our home, made of fired adobe, while good insulation holds the predominant temperature. Since we were gone and El Paso was hot, guess what?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Just one more night!

We find ourselves in our familiar southwestern desert, greener than I expected, rain--good. This rich, beautiful landscape of mesquite bushes imitating short trees, sage brush, and creosote bushes with a backdrop of rugged rocky mountains is my home. I love it! Our trip is coming to an end. We decided