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All the way across the US

I want to continue to share this trip I took with my four dogs. I am trying to find the focus to continue to tell you about it. I brought home a hand full of sugar sand and 100 shells I collected on the Beaches in North and South Carolina. I saw alligators and turtles, sharks and bears, flying fish and flying squirrels, 1000’s of butterflies, foxes and bright colored birds. I saw wild Connemara Ponies, that weren’t very wild at all. Monuments, plantations, dude ranches, the home of the blues and civil rights movement. Pine trees and coal, swamps and wildflowers . . and so much more. I wish I could have stayed longer, much longer in spite of the bugs, the fierce wind, and extreme storms, that a little van camper must run from. Massive floods and thunderous madness. Soon, I think I will at least post a little of my memories.

I find an Alligator

Delay

I hope to return soon to my trip recall, perhaps today, perhaps later. A woman newly my friend and hoped for travel companion was victim of a brutal homicide. Has taken my concentration to post, to reason with the world. I can only call upon kindness and compassion as all of us live our lives.   My heart pours out for her family and friends.

Homicide and Grief

This is not the original post

 

Flying Curls Jeana

 

My dogs had been on the sick side from me letting them drink the local Texas water, I needed to get some chicken & rice and probiotics, was time for shopping. Turned out that was not easy in eastern Texas, sent me scrambling back and forth checking shops, nope, they never heard of probiotics, found a stockpile of all the bad stuff we don’t give our dogs in a feed store in nowhereville, so this is where they sell it, too bad. Went into H-E-B in Beaumont, hum, interesting. Maybe some are better than others. I do enjoying checking the local places, groceries, are there any natural food stores, does a salad exist, what’s the local style.  Is there regionalism?  Takes me back to studying geography, the development of the city and the importance of place. I’m not focusing that well right now but you get the idea.

State Park

I camped at Holbrook Park, Sulphur Louisiana    Holbrook Park was the next closet place to the State Park and a common way out-of-towners arrived at this location. I didn’t know what I’d find. I rejected the State Park for lack of appeal of the RV area, too cluttered, no easy walking for the dogs, no swimming with lots of alligator warning signs. there were so many nicer places in the Park for camping but  someone had decided to shove them into a view less corner.  I check my camping apps, I  use a few different ones and then just point and drive.  Holbrook Park was just what I needed, I recommend it.  It’s a small community campground with a fishing lake and small river. I paid $4.00 for a tent site and for the first time dragged out my sun tent. RV sites with power are $12.  You need a tent to use the tent site, I enjoyed copious space for my dogs to play.  Did not take a chance on dogs in the water, maybe alligators, maybe not.

My copious camping area for $4.00!!! Can’t find that in CA.

The lake

 

The manager invited me and my four over for wine and conversation on his deck; his dog gave us the stare from the top of the couch,  his nose pressed stoically against the window. If you’re friendly and stay longer you’re likely to get invited to a home cooked southern dinner. There’s a song written about this place and the camp manager Harry, would love to post it but is missing at the moment. Maybe you’ll have to go out to Louisiana yourself and ask him, he has a long long beard, a big smile, and a friendly demeanor, can’t miss him. Great story about the naked campers running through the camp. Loved the hospitality, just watch out for the blood-sucking mosquitoes.

Another shot of the lake

Drove a wayward path that only my GPS system could invent down to Lake Charles passing miles of petroleum research labs, gas and chemical plants, petrochemical refineries.  The reason for all the people around. Everyone was at work, I wondered how many people were employed in this area.

Didn’t expect the Lake Charles vibe, there were signs every few feet around the lake, no animals allowed. A beautiful walking path, nope! How I could partake without my pack, too ridiculous. Motorist were in a hurry, honking, slamming their doors, smoking, dropping still lite butts out the door, their faces looked irate. Nothing but the bible and Jesus on the radio, grim stuff, not uplifting. The town is known for gambling, rhythm and blues, cuisine and education. In 1994 there was the ethylene dichloride pipeline spill, the Bridge itself is shrouded in controversy. The sky was darkening, quickly clouding over. I called it quits and headed onward.

Visited the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center in Baton Rouge, LA  didn’t want to leave the dogs too long as it was getting too warm; I wanted to find me an alligator, didn’t see one so I didn’t stay as long as I might have.

Walking along the entrance trail at the Nature Center

Drove around the Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge didn’t interest me enough to stay longer and there was that mass of traffic so I backtracked and drove over the swamp to New Orleans, that was fun.  My mom texted me how the New Orleans wetlands are the fastest disappearing land mass on earth. That’s scary.

The sea level around Louisiana is up to 24 inches higher than it was in 1950. This increase is mostly due to sinking land, and it’s causing major issues. New Orleans is the largest population center at risk from sea level rise in the country and is now experiencing one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the world. Because the state is already losing approximately 25 square miles of land per decade due to sea level rise,2 Louisiana’s coastal marshes, which provide protection for inland communities and habitat for countless species, are threatened. The state is planning over $25 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include building levees, restoring shorelines, and relocating entire communities.  https://sealevelrise.org/states/louisiana/

 

Drove across the water to the Big Branch March National Wildlife Area on Lake Pontchartrain, 15,000 acres of pine flatwoods, oak rides and coastal marsh. Seems I like marshes, swamps, estuaries and other bodies of water.  Twisted my way around, thank you again to my GPS to a close up view of the Bay St. Louis Bridge. At the end of the road was a fishing place, it was closed, I considered siting there, with the air running and the doors closed to keep out the little flying snarky things and watching the traffic and the water, maybe parking overnight but eventually decided to move ahead dropping down onto the 90 / 607 over another bridge to Henderson Point along the Gulf of Mexico.

Spent that night at the Walmart Supercenter in Pass Christian, Mississippi. Two of the largest hurricanes hit here, Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina. Is a good place for fishing, fishing charters, golf, cemetery tours, art galleries, history, stately homes and the beautiful white beach. The Walmart was across a wide boulevard from the beach, could hear the sounds of water, but not quite see it. yep it was a Walmart night.  Walked up and down the boardwalk with the dogs, no dogs actually allowed on the sand, was warm and balmy, capris and sandals .

 

In the morning I visited the War Memorial Park, the marina and harbor, an upscale coffee shop for breakfast with Santa Barbara prices, more walks with the dogs along the gulf, drove around and looked at the homes, then continued to Gulfport and Biloxi.

I drove onto this spit, people were hanging out, fishing, taking in the view, having lunch.

 

Before I knew it I was in Mobile Alabama.  I kept getting driving in circles due to the odd signage seeing some bizarre parts of tow.  I visited the Mardi Gras Park, the Port of Colonia Mobile, GulfQuest National Maritime Museum, did a little shopping and stopped a park or two for the dogs where the sprinklers nicely cooled everyone for a great beach day.

 

Mobile Mardi Gras Park

Headed over the Mobile River thinking I’d stay at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Orange Beach, it didn’t seem such a good idea so I drove to the Orange Beach access lot itself wondering if I could stay there as the parking area said it was open 24 hours, but as always  no dogs allowed on the beach, could only walk them around the parking area and they were not feeling well so decided I needed more security and comfort. I took the windy road to the Gulf State Park but once there I learned it would be $54 to $70 for a crammed spot, if she could find me one, they were nearly full; the ranger took pity on me and told me to go to Walmart…  it was a different Walmart I was to park at…   a larger one on Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores, $0.00 was just the thing I needed especially as  I spent most of that night up with Jackson. Every 2 hrs he needed to go out. I think this was my first Walmart posted with no overnight parking signs. I was told to park there and sure enough no one bothered me or my dramatically sick dog. Felt safe and had no trouble but was not a restful night.  In the morning I took a walk at the Cotton Bayou Public Beach. I loved it, the dogs, yeah they only got to see the parking lot.   Soon, I’d find them a great swimming beach!!!  …  next post…

Why not visit the Southeast.

I was excited to see the Southeast. I met a senior gentleman the other day at a local coffee shop who told me he’d rather visit West Africa than the Southeastern US and as far as driving with dogs, he said, well, I want to have someone to talk to. He then started in on his list of the counties, I tuned out, I couldn’t imagine him being better company than my canines so I left him to his writing. He’s not alone in his dislike of the South. Me, I want to see it all, if I haven’t been there I’m ready to go which is most of the world. There are ecosystems to discover, natural forces, wildlife, history, the people, the built environment, local food; bring it on!

I headed to Austin with the warning that it might not be doable given I was driving an RV. I wound up on a paid expressway as I’d approached Georgetown and was determined to remain off of these. I still don’t know what driving on them costs. Billing is by mail, no signs are posted as to rates. Congestion wasn’t bad until I arrived in Austin. I took a driving tour of the city. It was filled with co-ed pedestrians, motorists, pickups and SUVs, heavy gridlock, cyclists, segways, scooters. It was Saturday everyone intent on getting somewhere other than where they were by whatever means they could.  I had an image of no one staying at home in preference of covering ground even if there was nowhere in particular to go.  Growing too fast? It was true, not an easy place for an RV, even a little one so I aborted an idea to hang out, expecting fun in San Antonio. Well, really I was, seemed I picked their Fiesta and if I thought Austin had a lot of gridlock, oh my!

Fiesta® San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. That historic commemoration still takes place, but for more than a century, Fiesta® has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures. Fiesta® has evolved into one of this nation’s premier festivals with an economic impact of more than $340 million for the Alamo City. Funds raised by official Fiesta® events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year.

I was jammed in roadblocks, not having a good idea where I was going I could not get away from the congestion.  I finally learned that most of the city was shut down for the Fiesta. Would up driving back and forth, trying to see stuff, trying to find my way while avoiding the entire central district.  The Alamo and River Walk would have to wait for another time.

Drove to Braunig Lake Park but did not stay, likely would have been a an okay place to drycamp with all the fishing people. Spent the night at a TA Travel Center near San Antonio. when I woke in the morning there were several cars with towels stuffed in their windows, snuggled next to my van, Made me feel like mamma van.

In the morning I manged to avoid the Fiesta, went to the Koffee Kup for breakfast, interesting chat about sustainable agriculture with the young woman serving me, she telling me and filling my heart with talk of how important it is to care for the land. Took a morning walk at Woodlawn Lake Park including a short distance on the the city trail across the street.

There was a nature trail here with native Texas plants. Dogs and I stopped and looked at each tree and flower.

I did not stop in Houston. It was a strange feeling, sad and moody as I thought about my friend and ex-dance partner, Steve Laib. He’d wanted to reconnect and hoped that when I passed near Cypress we could meet again. His wife did not agree and forced him to silence; she did not let me know of his passing. He and his bride stopped to visit a long time ago in Santa Barbara not long after their wedding I’d wished them happiness. I had feelings of anger, loss and confusion and a good bit of amazement at how long it took to cross Houston. By the time I was out of the city I felt I’d let go of my resentment. I would have loved to have seen Steve, I hope he was happy. This was an unexpected catharsis, driving alone one has time to think, to process feelings, to dream.

I was rewarded by a lovely night on the Gulf at Fort Anahuac County Park. Yeah for Texas! I had this recreation area almost completely to myself overnight, one other RVer on the other side.  Folks were fishing here, I asked the sheriff if I could spend the night and he said, sure no problem but you might want to park up on the hill, I was down on the spit by the water when I asked him. He explained about the mosquitoes. I asked him who to pay or to register with, his answer, it’s Sunday don’t worry about it. Beautiful spot, ran around with the dogs. I wound up here as the upper areas with power had burrs in the grass. I drycamped and it was perfect, a bit windy.  Didn’t let the dogs swim as there were potential of alligators or sharks. Some said, nah, their dogs swam all the time others said they’d seen them. Chatted with local folks down with their families fishing for the day, then they all went home. Later in the season I image this park gets crowded. I was in heaven being on my own with the birds and the gulf. Couldn’t help but laugh at the the RV Parks I’d passed all crammed in with no view. Let the dogs run, play ball and ramble about in the morning. Bathroom was a bit trashed but I didn’t care.

 

 

Sentimental view of the battlefield, 19th Century. Samuel Chamberlain. “on the battlefield the Night After the Battle” watercolor and gouache.

The rest stop facilitates in Texas double as storm shelters. They tend to have delightful mosaics. Yeah for Texas!

 

I am not now currently on the road. This is my disclaimer, I am back in Santa Barbara, California so the weather and events you will read about have come and gone. My blog for this trip will be a recall, and as asked, will include where I camped, what I paid and what I saw. Comments welcome.

Oh boy, a camping trip! Mason and Jackson.

Jeana checks out “her spot”

I left town on the west coast knowing I wanted to take the southern route, touch the Atlantic sea and return through the Great Smokey’s either via Interstate 40 or back to I-10.  I left on Sunday April 21st, 2019, visited Mom and Dino in the SFV on the way to my first night at the free dry camp, Chiriaco Summit (GPS: 33.663864, -115.723976)  30 miles east of Indio (or 70 miles west of Blythe,) behind the General Patton Museum. There are no facilities but on the pull off below there is the museum, gift shop, post office, cafe, convenience store, gas station and truck parking.

There’s a camp host who will check with you, you can use any open designated site, fairly level, with a fire ring, a view of the desert and the I-10 below. Large gravel sites, some road noise. Lots of room, friendly, privately owned, be careful of snakes. I wouldn’t let dogs run free here, plenty of walking. I’ve stayed a few times and would absolutely stay again. Night skies, sunsets are beautiful, strong Verizon signal too.

My idea was to head east quickly so I was geared for long driving days,  didn’t want to get burned out getting across the country. Austin is 1,474 miles from Santa Barbara, that was my first point of interest.

 

As I approached Deming, New Mexico I noticed the sky ahead was lighting up, like you’d see for a festival. It was on the horizon off to the right in a circular bowl shape. The lights were so steady and continuous that it didn’t occur to me that it might be caused by natural means rather than technology. Darn ignorance of a California driver!!! I kept going without a care wanting to make time, the sky was clouding over. Ho-hum, I was fascinated by the light show, at least I can say that about my ignorance. And then I was in Deming. It was lightening! I’d never seen such a mass of continual and steady strikes, the thunder was reverberating as if I was in the center of a cresending symphony written by a madman. Well I could drive past I thought, it didn’t look so spooky…  did I mention I’m from California, land of earthquakes and fires, we don’t have the sky doing this kinda thing to us. There were other cars and lots of trucks on the Interstate. I was enjoying being able to drive in the dusk. The closer I got the more intense the storm became. Kind of like it was happy to see an old camper van stuffed full dogs and a solitary female driver and wanted to greet us. All of a sudden just as we entered town, someone turned Niagara Falls on top of us. The wind started battering us, and the thunder!!! The thunder was striking every moment and it was hitting the highway in a fantastic display. To my credit I took the van off the Interstate, I was shaking so hard I could barely hold the wheel against the wind. My dogs were terrified. I pulled into a parking lot and my terror intensified as I realized this was not going to stop and the likelihood of enduring the onslaught unscathed in this location was risky so I did the only thing I could think of, I got back on the Interstate and followed a big semi-truck. I had to settle the dogs who all wanted to be in my lap. They did not believe me that we would all be just fine, I wasn’t exactly reeking in confidence.  Pulled out at about 10 mph, remarkably my little LT Daisy pulled up the hill and out of this depression which was turning into a water park. As soon as we got up the hill the thunder stopped, the flooding stooped. I was amazed. Seems I had made the right choice.

Spent that night at Sunland Casino in El Paso, I was very tired, it was dark and the same as my last time through this area, the roadways were torn up with closed freeway exits and bizarre detours, roadblocks with quick unexpected turns into a dark unknown. This is were I discovered my headlights with their new housing were disgustedly insufficient, at least if I cared about where I might be going. I paid $15 for electric and water, neither of which I used or needed. Was not impressed with the bright overhead lights and all the noise; it’s a spot in the parking lot, there is security so depends on what you’re looking for.  Never saw my neighbors but made friends with the parking security guy, he loved the dogs, talked to me about the weather and gave me a ride a few times back and forth from parking to the casino. I was so shaken I had little strenght left for walking. I tried to buy a hot meal, that was hopeless, the workers at the casino didn’t know what they severed and they were about to close, the menu was flashing on and off overhead, couldn’t read it, they kept offering me a hamburger – I don’t eat red meat. I gave up and had something cold and snacky from my cupboard. Would not stay there again. A hot shower to calm my nerves would have been great. They also have a hotel and a racetrack.  The odd thing was how once in Texas the Deming storm seemed unreal.

Somewhere Texas, loving the wildflowers.

Checking out the caverns.

The night after I stayed at the Caverns of Sonora.  I did not tour the caverns, dogs and I walked all over, was a place to rest, exercise the dogs and as such was fine. Hardly anyone there, so nice and peaceful. The dogs of course attract attention even if there are only a few people. Can’t remember what I paid, am thinking it was about $20.

Checking out the geology!

It was late to be seeing my fellow Lagotto breeder friends in Georgetown (Austin, TX) so I headed to the nearby reservoir. Tons of traffic. Had already checked with my friends and they advised not camping in Georgetown due to the Red Poppy Festival which we went to during my visit.  Red poppies from Europe arrived in Georgetown after WWI and have established themselves with natural reseeding. When they bloom there is a street party.

I passed through Marble Falls with its lakes and wineries, took a stroll through Fredericksburg; tried to get a cappuccino. The coffee place was closed so I tried the natural food store next to it, they had coffee. Oh my, Virginia!!!  Or rather Texas!!! This shop actually wanted $6.50 for a cap!!!  I thought I’d seen expensive prices for coffee drinks, so I asked if it was special coffee, no the espresso wasn’t that expensive so I ordered 2 shots and had her top it off with some oat milk, the total price $1.50! Go figure?  It’s a German town, shopping, cuisine, art, theater, wine, history, film festivals, spas, music, peaches in season. I popped into a few galleries and took the dogs for a walk at their central park.

Run, did mom say RUN!!!

Camped that night at Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area for $12.  Was almost alone there so I let the dogs run free. And run and run and run. I was at first thinking, I could let them run and they wouldn’t instantaneously race across the open fields and plunge with utter delight into the water!!!  Nah, what kind of Lagotto would do that! So for almost 2 hours my poor van fevered badly stressed Lagotti played and ran and swam, Mason took a nap. I wish I could give them a place like this all the time. There are almost 10 miles of trails.  I learned from the gardener the next day that normally this is one of the top places to see the Texas Bluebonnets; this year the masses of flowers were underwater, flooded. I still thought the flowers were stunning along with the butterflies, bees and the gorgeous birds. Life was bursting. I would stay here again in a heartbeat, of course I was spoiled  having the park almost to myself. It was a little piece of heaven in spite of two of my ever so sweet Lagotti rolling in sticky mud and thick layers of burs and stickers right after we’d finished our run and I’d given them baths, ah-huh, had to do that all over plus wrestle the nasty stuff out of their coats. No rest for the dog mom! They did not understand the look on my face but I could see Mason, my dry one, smirking!

At dusk, sill almost alone here.

Spent the morning loving the flooded lake, then when I left I tried to take a scenic route to Georgetown, somehow that failed, mostly I found traffic. I took a wrong turn and missed the falls. I arrived at the perfect time in Georgetown, I’d just settled into a parking lot when Judith texted me. We, Judith, John and their two Lagotti and me and my bunch, met at lovely park for a walk. Berry Springs Park and Reserves, laced with beauty pecan and oak trees, Judith wondered if there were truffles. We walked around the lake and found a spot for the dogs to get wet and cool before heading for their home.

Five Lagotto all sitting in a row, amazing!

I learned how much and vigorously it rains in Georgetown and how the heat does not diminish at night. I parked comfortably in their driveway after chatting and relaxing with all the dogs running around. They treated me to a natural delicious dinner, the restaurant was upstairs in an unmarked building, I don’t know how you’d find it if you didn’t know it was there. Of course I don’t like elevators but it was fine, took the stairs after eating going down, the food was really good, then we walked around the Red Poppy Festival, snagged some wine and kept walking and talking, looking around. We stopped at a hat shop, there’s far more to a good Western hat than I ever knew. Returned to their home for dog talk, one of my favorite subjects!  Judith treated me to a really cool healthy homemade pancake breakfast and we took off to learn about Pecan Truffles. Our dogs, the Lagotto Romagnolo are bred to find truffles so it’s always exciting to find where they grow and potentially let them do what the breed is meant to do.

One very appreciated thing Judith shared with me was a new weather app:  actually I have two, Storm Radar and MyRadar, now I could receive real time alerts for severe weather.

They do things different in Texas, apparently a cactus and a cow are types of types of trucks! Not so RVs! 

Okay, am taking a break ….  Will be back with the next review soon. I was very excited having made it this far all the way out to Austin especially with what happened in Deming. I had an idea I could relax after this.

Flying Curls Jeana

Spring is here, after an 8 year drought on the Central Coast of California, it rained!  23 inches or 127% of normal in Santa Barbara!

Nope the climate is not predictable and won’t be, given the rapid climate change we get to witness, but it does mean green grasses and blooms! Animals and birds are breeding, there’s water flowing, trees fondly swaying under dramatic skies.  I just completed my docent training at Arroyo Hondo Preserve on the Gaviota Coast in California. Seems I’m collecting naturalist titles as I completed my California Naturalist Certificate some months ago along with reaching my 2nd year as a volunteer at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens.

I am loving our blue sphere. I am remembering the days when I wandered freely and the stars literally guided me.  I watched them each night turning around me. It’s different now, I am enculturated by a fancy tourist town in the Mediterranean Climate, more than a little spoiled.

Very soon I will be off, with all my trepidation and longing, all 4 dogs in tow.

Here’s the list of items I’ve adjusted, repaired or added to my camper…  some are for the dogs.

  1. Replace disintegrated gasket in the furnace and put it all it all back together.
    RV Trailer Furnace Burner Access Door Gasket: $14.35
    Interesting note I’ve discovered that the built in RV propane furnace is intended to blow cold air to clear the propane in advance, and only if there is enough power will the heat kick on. So the problem with the furnace blowing cold was due to my house battery not holding a full charge.
  2. Unstick back side window so it opens like the other side to let in the breeze.
    This simply took two people, no my dogs cannot be a person when finger dexterity is needed! One person pulling or cranking on each side of the window released it along with some oiling to keep it functioning.
  3. Lengthen the outdoor shower line so that it’s not necessary to create a huge mud puddle right by the door when cleaning the dogs.
    Likely one doesn’t need to spend as much as I did on this. I bought a Dura Faucet RV Exterior Quick Connect Spray Faucet with a 15 Foot Coil Hose and Multi-Spray Nozzle: $49.95.  I wound up not mounting the faucets. What looked easy in the instructional videos turned out to be too tight and limiting in my LTV outdoor shower box. Instead I unscrew the stock shower head and twist on the 15 foot coil and nozzle as needed!
  4. Add some reinforcement to the insulation curtains.
    I am very much loving the insulated inner curtains I made several years ago. They were made with Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric. I ought to remake them if I can find where I stored the extra material as they are worn. Likely I will not get to it before I leave as I still can’t sew! I bought some bright orange fabric tape to add to the bottoms of the silver material to hold them together until I remake them.
  5. Fix the leak from the bottom of the Thetford toilet and fix the lack of water for flushing.
    I purchased the Thetford 13168 Aqua Magic IV Water Valve kit for $28.73 however this job turned out to be a nightmare with plenty of money thrown at it.  I had taken the van to a nearby camp host / RV mechanic.  He fixed some things for me which I appreciated. Turns out he was at the RTR so we bonded but then again I didn’t get things fixed at the RTR either.  When it came to the toilet it was discovered that the trouble was in the approach waterline. The inline water valve was solidly clogged with mineral deposits. A new in-line shut off valve with the correct fittings could not be found at the local hardware stores, nor the preferred size water lines. An alternative was mavericked together, the original valves, housing, screw on fittings were all destroyed in the process. When done it leaked and there was no longer a shut off valve, this having been replaced by a simple flow through valve, and thereby no way to run any water in my rig without leakage in the bathroom which pooled at the bottom of the toilet and ran down the pedestal.

    It you look closely you can see the water droplets leaking from the top connector. That fitting with the clamps on it was cracked in the remake and the person working on it thought he could just clamp it and it would seal, he seemed so certain …. ha-ha-ha-ha-ha NOPE

    This was the bulk of the workaround, you can see this is a NO NO.

    I contacted Thetford, both by email and phone, I can say they were useless (although they answered both my call and email) and deserve a bit fat rating of ZERO. For several weeks I was on a wild goose chase collecting all kinds of alternative parts which I am currently rounding up for returns.  Frans reluctantly took on the job. He should get a big shout out and cheer for his expertise. I located the Thetford water hose extension and fittings (made by Thetford!!!) and the replacement shut off value (a way bigger plastic rendition of the ruined original) from a RV supply house. It’s fixed now, the kit I bought was never really needed but was installed for good measure.

  6. Replace marine house battery with AGM Deep Cycle 12 Volt 100Ah in preparation for solar.
    Another nightmare, at this point not to be completed until LATTER. I’ve discovered one can’t just swap out one type of battery for another. The Multi battery Isolator found under the engine hood must be able to electronically charge an AGM 12V, Deep Cycle battery during driving and the house charging system must also provide the correct type of charge, a trickle charge I believe. AGM batteries are heavy, the 100 Watt is about 60 to 70 pounds, found a great one for about $200 but did not order it, fortunately most of them will likely fit in the battery compartment. At least one of them. If I go with Lithium this will achieve a lighter, smaller, longer lasting stable battery with more power, but at nearly $900 to $1000. My current Marine battery has a home brewed shut off leading to the cabin for my convenience, this would need to be reworked if I proceed in this direction. For the time being as I’m pulling at the bit to get out of town, I’ve decided to toss in another marine battery for house power; on the way home I’ve heard there’s a great shop in Flagstaff AZ to install my solar system: solar panel, charge controller, inverter, battery and associated cables and mounting equipment. (looking at a Renogy Package ) I might find another such shop on my journey. I would be more than happy if this happens!
  7. Troubleshoot Dometic 3-Way refrigerator: there is currently no AC power and therefor likely no 12V power. really sad about this one as I’ve wanted it fixed for some time.  I have learned that without fully charged 12volt power there can be no AC power. There is at least a chance a new battery will fix, but I really don’t believe this is the issue. When the ‘frig is switched over to electric the under sink outlet pops open. I was told the board I’ve been searching for (most likley the problem, something in there burnt out,) is not located in the rear of the frig though the access panel as I had thought but is behind the control knobs; in my Dometic that would at the bottom of the unit. I do plan to do a test this weekend by plugging the frig in directly to my house current.When everything’s in place I expect the solar system with improved house battery) to run the frig instead of propane which I use 24/7, for enhanced safety and economy. Would love to get this repaired, my mechanic won’t work on it and well, I’m getting tired of repairs; eventually it will be done.
  8. Replace blown wall outlet under sink near refrigerator. Self-explanatory.
  9. Added 2 LED Stick On Battery Powered Tap Lights $12.99. One in the bathroom the other in the overhead cupboard…  yep, no lights in there!
  10. For the DOGS: Bought one package of Clip-On Pet, Dog Collar LED Light – Dog Lights for Collars, Waterproof Safety Lights $12.99 for 6 lights
  11. Finally gave up and have cut the wires for the CO2 and propane alarms which are directly wired into the walls of the van (they tend to go off for no reason which terrifies my boy Jackson.)  Added a portable Kidde Battery Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display $19.98 <p>
  12. To repair some cracks in the shower flooring am using EternaBond White Mobile Home RV Rubber Roof Repair Tape. I choose the simplest repair method I thought would work.
  13. Finally the old annoying frig fan is dead!!!! Yeah! Have replaced it with a Camco Fridge Airator with On/Off Switch: $18.14. I consider the frig fan essential, keeps everything cold with the benefit of keeping ice in the small freezer no matter how hot it is outside.
  14. New headlight housings, yeah I know you can restore the old ones…. Naught! Get real, they’re old and with the lights on standing in front of the van you can barely see a glimmer. Bought new ones OEM online, my mechanical will install.  Interestingly he told me not to bother getting the LED adapters as, if you want to remain legal, they don’t work so well at night.
  15. I had the 2 side windows tinted with ceramic medium shade by Tint Works in Goleta for $90, he did the front window for me in the past and I’m very happy with the work he does. I had no idea it would make such a difference.

I guess that’s a lot of items, but only the 2 big jobs, the water leak in the bathroom and the new battery (to be delayed) which will be the work horse of the new solar system. Am adding some cosmetic touches and have bought yet another car seat for my problem boy Jackson. Both Olympia and Jackson want to ride in the same location, this journey will likley be filled with the same struggle, but I keep trying! Next stop Bruce’s Auto in Goleta for a trip check.

Dawn at the Dog Park, Quartzsite, AZ

I was going to title this blog, Two Bitches in Heat at the RTR!

I’m a dog breeder and can say things like that!  I mean the title literally. First one and then the other of my Lagotto Romagnolo girls came in Season. Jean-Beans came in over two months late. If she’d managed a few weeks earlier I’d have skadoodled 1,200 miles north to Port Angeles to visit her “boyfriend” and gone truffle hunting along the way.  But, Ms Jeana delayed long enough that to breed her would annul the remainder of my year. Breeding from a reputable breeder is a careful and loving activity, not done in haste or without time to nurture, socialize and teach the pups. What to do, what to do?  I’d wanted to attend the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) since its inception. I’d conversed with Bob Wells on Plenty of Fish but never met having been distanced from my Joylon who then died; life is complicated.  Cheap RV Living: How to live or Travel in a Car, Van or RV – and Love it!!

Some years back, I drove to Quartzsite, The Rock Capital of the World, and failed to find gold, valuable ore or the off-road location of the RTR. I looked at all the stuff for sale in and around The Big Tent as I’ve done on other occasions; in the Winter there’s a large collection of almost anything you can think of with the Sell-A-Rama, the Outdoor Market Center, the Rock & Gem Show, the Arts  & Crafts Fair, and the RV Show.  One could shop for days or weeks or longer if they were so inclined!

On that trip my eyes were hazy, I could barely see with milky floaty stuff, little dots, a black circle and shifting blurs amid stabbing headaches and anxiety; I’d given up trying to find the RTR with a wretched mood unable to interpret directions that made no sense, driving the long way home all that night. I swore I was done with this group of nomads . . . . but the RTR has grown. There is a Women’s RTR now too, it was in a tiny spot called Bouse, AZ. I thought about attending that but I did not. 

Starting to explore the “streets of the RTR campground.

It was actually last January when I determined I really did want to join the RTR, learn about solar, how to find locations for Boondocking, maybe meet some people. Last year here in Southern California smoke cloaked our lungs from the Thomas Fire burning 281,893 acres from Ventura up to Goleta, then nature demonstrated her even more fierce catastrophic abilities in a debris flow hitting the newly burned area in Montecito; boulders at 100 mph slicing homes into pieces, taking lives, depositing mud along with the massive obstructions that had to hauled away, shutting down the 101. The way around was laborious, I stayed to offer help, I didn’t make it out of town.

 

This time deciding reluctantly to push breeding Jeana until her next season and having been unable to breed my darling Olympia months prior due to political pressures in the dog-world leaving me sad and sans income, I forlornly with growing agitation starting packing my rig, bogged down and slow.  At last I took Jackson, my intact boy, to my mother’s and the next day around 10 am headed south to Arizona. I’d read that the Women’s RTR was expecting 500 to 1,000 people and the regular RTR from 8 to 10,000! I DON’T DO CROWDS!

Be not afraid, we would have lots of room, it would be all good. Bob and friends posted detailed videos on how to get to the RTR and how we introverts and non-crowd, independent type people should come. That the RTR was for us and we would be okay. I made it to Quartzite the day I started, arriving in the dark and TIRED. I hadn’t eaten that day. Several times I drove to what I thought was free dispersed camping in the dark as indicated by one of my apps only to find a shutdown kiosk for Long Term Visitor Camping. You pay $40 to stay 2 weeks. Or $180 for a permit that allows you to stay from August through April.  With the Government closed the kiosk was closed but the signs said to pay. It wasn’t a lot of money, I was CONFUSED, tired, irritable and driving in circles, did I mention I hadn’t eaten, of course I’d fed and walked my dogs. I was eager to admit defeat, there was precedent, I couldn’t find this thing in the middle of nowhere and Quartzsite wasn’t making sense to me, maybe it was best to go home. Why was I doing this with dogs in Season, was I crazy?

I slipped into one of those commercial RV sardine type RV Parks, my space in-between 2 other campervans  which had attracted me (there were only 3 spots available in the Park.) Ugh, it was directly under a big tall super ridiculous BRIGHT spotlight. I plugged in and turned on my tiny electric heater. I shunned the bathhouse, the Wi-Fi and the pet area. I hated this Park, only my spot had this nascent light. No one was afoot, my neighbors never arrived, the rigs must have been stored and waiting for the upcoming explosion of activity when Quartzite turns into a magical calling for RVers.  Turns out there are a ton of RV Parks here and if you are not paying daily rates some are only $1,200 for the entire year or $180 for the season.

 

When no one’s around however you can make up any story you like. I left the RV Park before dawn, took the dogs to a city park with no grass, gave them breakfast and a walk, found an empty dog park and threw the ball for Olympia. Next I filled the gas tank and bought some last minute food supplies, including some perfect fat oranges (the type I can never find in my home town) and extra water at the Roadrunner Market. The sun was up and I could see! Wow! I watched Bob’s detailed videos on how to get to the RTR on my cellphone, plugged in the coordinates and I was off back over the torn up road I’d grumbled over the night before. Later people were telling that if you went about 40 mph it smoothed the road out; ha-ha in my LT Daisy her contents would be flung into a leaky wreck on the floor with broken latches, a stinky mess and terrified dogs.  It is rather funny when something does fall into the isle, my Mason who rides shotgun on the passenger seat gives me the look and sorta points with his nose…  hey look, it’s happened again, is it something eatable?

I let the torn rough, pitted, bumpy, loud pockmarked pavement with it’s deep potholes dictate LT’s wayfinding, it was fine. Once you turn onto the dirt its better. This morning I was not intimidated, I was curious. Life doesn’t stop when you turn 65, humans are meant for movement, challenges and action, three of my four dogs agreed!!! My boy Jackson is a wimp when it comes to rough roads, he hates them, but he wasn’t here with us.

In daylight, I saw there’s plenty of land to camp on for free.  One barely needed directions with the stream of rigs headed across the crappy road. I cried with a flooding joy as I approached the RTR seeing van campers and little B’s just like my LT Daisy, more than I’d ever seen, just like me! It was love! It was majestic, like the opening scene in an epic movie. I enjoyed that feeling as I arrived moving across the desert road, the big dip and the curve . . . I’d made it to the alternative world at Scaddan Wash! I could tell, from the calm organized, yet directionless, non dogmatic volunteers helping everyone settle in, we were free here. We would be respected and we were welcome. There were a few rules, mostly courtesy and safety. Did I want day parking near the stage, or, one of the volunteers said, we just opened up that area off to the right, down that road, past the main event area, its prime and quiet and not crowded. I did that. Found a picturesque spot, no one near, parked with my double doors to the desert, grabbed the dogs and hoofed the newly bulldozed temporary road to the meeting area.

Heard the last 30 min of the morning session; people were gathered, sitting in their camp chairs, standing in the sun. A senior kinda crowd, some young, a lot not so young. A warm ambiance, welcoming, a delight of being out here on a patch of unspoiled desert. Each brings everything they need, food, water, shelter, pets, art, music, bikes, firewood, their vehicles, a few porta potties were provided fro those in tents and one large trash dumpster which quickly had too much in it. Everything in also goes out, you don’t leave trash, poop, junk or anything else. There was sound equipment for the stage, info booths where you could get a name button, a little burning van made of stiff cardboard for the last day, a large bulletin board with index cards and push pins for us to post as we wished and a free area where you could place an item you didn’t need and/or take an item you did need; all nearly sorted. And yes, everything was FREE! Bob, at one of the lectures said the setup for the camp cost him $20,000, but it was at no charge to us, donations happily accepted but it was his gift to us fellow nomads and wanta be nomads.

 

I stayed longer than I expected. After that horrible night in the town of Quartzite I wasn’t expecting the RTR to be fun but right away I met my new tribe, special people that I can’t wait to connect with again! How did that happen!  I joined them several nights at our campfire, laughing, chatting, connecting, even a marshmallow roasting contest …  OMG. I haven’t laughed like that since well, since before Jolyon became ill, since before I lost Forrest.

 

There was exploration, beauty, drama, learning and seeing cool stuff, a lot of walking and carrying my fold up camp chair back and forth, meeting great people, telling about my dogs, discovering people I really liked and loved and others I was neutral about. Several guys crushed on me, I hadn’t expected that at all!

I did require a bit of rescuing a few times or I thought I did.  One of my neighbors attempted to take apart the furnace on my rig as it was blowing only cold air in the 40 deg night. He explained how he was a mechanic who lived on a farm, his rig for the RTR was his car where he sat most of the time in the passenger seat reading his books, smoking handmade cig’s, drinking a beer, hitting on his medical marijuana and preparing vegan meals on his outside grill and cast iron pan. He had health problems, I heard his life story, It’s was different life, not expected.  Working on my rig seemed to give him purpose, he at one point said he’d wanted to impress me but he couldn’t fix it. Then my bed which is also a couch wouldn’t go back down again…  I was bad with these hours, uncomfortable with what was being done to my LT Daisy and now, no heat and no bed!!!  I almost went home  right then in the beginning of the night, miserable but my other neighbor on the other side of me talked me out of it along with a call to my mom, no sense driving right into a flooding California storm. One of my admirers who was crushing on me offered to house me and my dogs for the night, keep us all warm; I declined.  I turned on the van’s engine for 2 hours as the heating pad for Mason had totally drained my house battery, then my bed went down and I had some heat! I took to idling the engine after that for about 20 min each night to warm it up before getting under the covers.

 

I clicked with an amazing woman I met, she impressed me; I stopped to talk to her as she’d posted a big sign on her rig saying she had no friends and where she’ was from. She’d flown across the country, rented a small Class C, think this was her first RV experience. She wanted to learn about the van camper lifestyle and she did! I found her inquisitive, buoyant and outgoing, she’s part of my tribe now, one of those I can’t wait to see again and it was there I found my campfire group, such cool people; traveled, wise, fun, friendly and filled with loving kindness.

I met a couple that had just completed ecological upgrades on their home in Paradise CA when the fire destroyed everything they had, all they had left was their trailer, a truck and their van and their bright spirits.  I talked to a lot of campers with their dogs, a couple from Canada with a Great West on a Sprinter van, that’s a rare rig now.  My dogs and i would hike the temporary “city” chatting with friendly rough looking men that I’d not otherwise approach, couples, families, groups of friends, solo women. Campers were in tents, sleeping in their SUV’s or small cars, topnotch rigs completely outfitted for the backwoods and desert survival along with homemade rigs.  Vans, scooters, bicycles and motorcycles were everywhere, van-campers and other Class B’s old and new, I saw a red Travado on the Promaster with a cool add-on zip up room (yep still dreaming about a upgrade to my good ol’ Daisy.. shhhh) Class C’s, popups, trailers, Class A’s and hippy buses small and large. I wanted to walk the entire encampment but it was impossible, folks crammed in close on designed communities and streets but were also stretched into the canyon as far as they could drive.  I ambled talking to the musicians, the artists, the builders, the survivalists, the women and answering a lot of questions about my pack of canines.

Once I figured out my CA clock was an hour off of Arizona time I attended almost all of the three times a day seminars held at the main stage, dragging my camp chair and the dogs with me. My girls in were snappy to other canines, they can be like that even when not in Heat but they are so cute and they adore humans so it turned out okay.

I will be implementing new things I’ve learned.   There were a plethora of activities posted on the bulletin board some I tried to get to, but generally I was too busy, or in the case of the very early morning dog walk and mediation it was too cold!  I woke before dawn everyday (and yes, for those that want to know, I stay up late too) but waited until the sun  peaked before getting out of my covers. I’d bundle Mason in a cocoon since we had no heat, he liked that, I think he had more blankets than me, the Lagotto girls of course were happy as stars. Mason won a lot of hearts and warmed many happy laps.

 

 

The RTR filled my heart. My new tribe suggested I give a seminar next year on how to travel with pets, maybe I will do that.

I never got out my paints or books, I didn’t expect there to be so much to do as I’m not one who generally stays put in one place for long. I cooked delicious meals, kept my rig as clean as one could in the middle of the desert with star filled midnight potty walks and carrying Mason who was not crazy about the hard sharp cold rocks under his paws.

 

I did have drama starting the evening before I left; it had begun to rain so instead of the campfire I decided to attempt the singles meeting (better to be called solo meeting,) I left the dogs and my chair in the van heading out with my big red umbrella.  It didn’t take long for me to tire of conversing around the large bonfire in the now pouring rain in the pitch darkness so I started back missing the company of my dogs. I’d walked this way so many times now, I could have done it blindfolded, but this time there was not one star to be seen, the temporary roadway-path could not be separated from non-roadway as it melted into the pelting rain. I passed my friends rigs, so I knew I was on course but I did not arrive at mine.  I couldn’t believe it so I  walked back to the main stage and started over, thinking how nuts that was. I did this several times, starting to get tired. What was going on? Finally I just stood in the rain with my failing flashlight, searching rig to rig; new people had come in and some had left but yet I still could not find my way.  An hour or so later I was sad, missing my dogs and trying not to panic, thinking that would not help. I saw a woman and I ran over, she lent me her headlamp, then disappeared into her rig, it didn’t help, then I spotted a young man, he told me not to worry, he’d trained as a rescuer and would help me. We walked back to the main stage in the rain and he stayed by side listening to my directions on where I parked, we walked that way as I’d done over and over hours earlier and bingo there it was!  When I’d found him I was across the flooded gully on the opposite side of camp; how in the world? My only explanation is UFO’s. Obviously I was transported for a quick chat by aliens, they wiped clean my memory and dropped me back on the route to my rig but they made a mistake and plopped me down on the wrong side. Obviously that’s what happened, right?

I’d seen objects with bright lights flying, zipping around and flashing in the air earlier that day; drones, industrial lasers, I’d assumed. I’d also seen even more bizarre unexplained lights doing impossible stunts. So later they came back and took me, right?  I was so happy to see my dogs calm and safe waiting for me!

Jeana was sick that night, she eats everything she sees so who knows what it was. She makes this barely audible whimper, not like my Jackson who is loud and dramatic, Jeana is so quiet.  I slipped on my Gore-tex boots, rain jacket and grabbed the red umbrella, there was a river under my rig! Uh-oh!  I’d parked on sand the last time I’d re-positioned (too long a story there) and not on the hard pack. I knew not to do that, but who knew it would rain for a solid 12 hours?  The weather apps didn’t say that. Jeana needed out a few times, and out we went popping into the deepening muddy stream, she loves the rain. In the morning my neighbor, who’d talked me into staying wanted to out, desperatly ranting about the rain and how all 8 to 10,000 souls of use were stuck now, it was a disaster, he said! The road out was flooded, we’d be trapped, forced into a REAL survivalist event. He was a ex-military type. Wow! I had no idea he’d be this way. I calmed him down the best I could, then went back in my rig to try to dry off a little. Just wait, I thought it’s the desert it will dry out or with all these well prepared types around someone could give him a tow. Instead he started up his van spinning those wheels hard, sinking to the axles.  Fortunately he stopped. Hmm, guess guys are not the calm ones are they?

I  gave him some time and tried calming him down again.  I told him that surely with all these people here at the RTR there would be many able to tow him out.  I don’t think he believed me but sure enough the next neighbor down one more from us pulled out his  SUV and towed him out, the mud was like butter, so soft. We all cheered! I asked that same neighbor to help me get my rig back onto the hard pack. He wanted me to try driving out so I stuffed mats under the wheels, put my rig into first gear, lightly tried the accelerator and immediately sunk. He towed me out too and yep more cheering! I gave him a big happy hug!  And Lesson To Self…. try remembering the stuff you know about saftey!

Some people called AAA. AAA refused to come out, we were not after all on a public or even a private roadway. Seminars were cancelled that day as the broadcast equipment could not be set up.  I thought that was a mistake, people needed a group meeting to talk about the rain and the sinking sand. I was sure it would dry out. I left around 2 or 3 pm, that afternoon, it was still raining even though the rain was supposed to have ended by then. I wanted to stay, I was really HAPPY but I was cold and Mason was having achy limbs. When he’s especially cold or challenged by rough surface his right front leg bends and he limps. I’d stayed longer than I’d imagined I would.  Likely there were people here would could fix the furnace, the frig, the leaking valve to the toilet and help me with solar but it was time to head out. My new RTR clan told me next time there was trouble to call them and they’d think of something, we hung out as i said goodbye.  I loved them. I really did not expect that.

I took off over the flooded dirt road following a slow line of others, we all made it. the rain and wind on the interstate was strong but the moment I crossed the CA border it stopped and the sun came out. That night I camped at Chiriaco Summit free dry camp behind the General Patton Museum just before the I-10 descends into Indio. There are about 20 sites, easy and flat, not far from Joshua Tree. Right now with the government shutdown we heard that Joshua trees are being cut down and destroyed at  the National Park, I suggested we send a few thousand of us rubber tramps to put a stop to that. What’s wrong with people!

I talked to a long distance bike rider at the campground, gave him some of my food as he was a bit stranded recovering from an injury and waiting for his friend. His setup is perfect, there’s room in his tent as needed for his bike and all his gear. He says he rides over 20,000 miles a year and is off to China to ride soon. Amazing.

 

Thank you to Bob Wells, his team of volunteers, the seminar speakers, to the people creating and attending the RTR. There is a growing light in all the darkness when people give and share.  I heard criticisms of the RTR, but you know what, there’s no need to be there if you don’t want to be, go to Burning Man where you can pay; camp in the desert on your own.  If you don’t like a few rules, that’s fine, you don’t need to be there, make your own way.

https://www.cheaprvliving.com/rtr/

 

https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_geologic_origin.php

The open road

In Montana, Wyoming and in Utah and select scenic byways of Colorado, Oregon, Washington and even in California if you dare absorb silence, turn off the radio, turn off the cell phone, stop, walk, listen, notice the elements, the sky, the horizon on a road free of gridlock and dense traffic, a change in perception, a space perhaps freer of urban trappings, may transform you, even if only for a moment. You don’t need to know how long the road is or why you might find yourself on it; you might be alone or in company. Step outside of your vehicle and breathe.

In geological terms, across Montana and Wyoming, you are in the realm of precambrian granulite-facies supracrustal rocks of continental collision, calc-alkaline volcanic and plutonic rocks generated along an Archean continental margin, and mafic dikes emplaced during continental rifting. You see the process of glaciers in hairpin turns; there are moraines, sediment dikes, valleys, lake basins, peaks and mesas. Slow down, let others pass, pull over, look around, sit, walk, ask what’s out there. In Colorado although there is more traffic you find piercing mountains, volcanoes and deserts, rocks over 2.5 billion years old and water frozen in glaciers, snow pack, rain, rivers and lakes.

My dogs are eager and happy for every new place sensing little critters, smells, the different way the air feels. When I’m driving even if I’m exhausted I am somewhere else, there is movement. When the road is empty slow and scenic I can forget sorrows and troubles. Perhaps I could just keep driving.

I want to camp alone where it seems limitless. I have done so easily when I had company, human company.  I don’t watch TV when I travel. My rig has one with cable hookup but in 7 years I’ve used it maybe 3 or 4 times to watch a movie when I was parked tight in big cement lot. It’s kinda funny the fuss some RV parks make to be certain you have your cable hookup. That’s the way some people travel, they are plugged in, TV, Radio, Bright Lights,Headphones, Computer Games, Lots of Noise and so on… it blocks out nature almost completely but they like it.  I check the weather and local road conditions on my phone, sometimes the news. I don’t read much either as I used to.  I will scribble a thought or a random sketch on my refrigerator that I covered with a contact chalkboard paper. I am alone thinking my particular thoughts having my own reaction and moments of transcendence if not fussing with the dogs, singing to them or talking to them then I am just quiet.

Before it got so crowded and we became in such a hurry to get somewhere and around my California that’s often in gridlock, we could take a leisurely drive. Pack a picnic enjoy the day, now it’s just me and my four dogs, it’s difficult to find places where they can run free and I can walk. I love the vast open spaces of my travels. Somewhere there are other solo van dwellers, not the ones at the costly RV camps, nor the ones blasting their presence into the night of stars but those relishing this inner wisdom, I think finding this companionship would be even more blissful.

Many people ask me how I can do what I do. It’s not easy for me and hard for you.  It’s hard for me, maybe more so for me than you. I have physical and financial challenges, I don’t know maybe you do too.  But if you want to be on the road, and you do get there, especially if you are alone you may find out you are enough. You are competent enough, capable enough, you know more than you think you do, you learn and the gaps fill in.

A drive where you see almost no one can be very soothing once you get over being all by yourself and embrace solitude, accept whatever comes around the corner, up or down the mountain or just ahead. You can get back in touch with you. If you are lucky enough to have someone with you I’d suggest you practice times of silence, like a meditation but better (esp for the restless types,) since you are active, vigilant and aware. Find a road that challenges you, not the same kind you do everyday.

Don’t be afraid to turn around, back up or try a side road, something you saw out of the corner of your eye and you want to see what it was. Your mind fills with the land, how’s its made, the geography and geology of its substance; given time and enough miles you can see for yourself how it all works.

Remember to be safe, maintain your vehicle, have a backup plan, observe the weather, slow down for the animals. I think humans were designed with a curiosity and stamina to explore. Maybe you need to build up your stamina. Stop and do things, talk to people even if it’s just a few words. Ask what there is to discover. Your ideas and theirs can be similar or worlds apart. Be generous. You will learn to distinguish innocence from harm, annoyance from time to depart.

You can grow on the road, you can reflect if you’re that sort of person. You can be mesmerized by beauty, you can fly out the windshield and be part of the clouds, the trees, the rivers, the deserts, farmland and industrial land, tiny towns and huge cities. You can think, you can cry, you can scream, you can dream, you can simply feel the power of your vehicles’ wheels rolling, the engine pulling you. This must be why I am able to face uncertainty, I stand taller, walk quicker, the confidence that others see in me, it must be real. I have fear just like everyone else but what is there to do when it’s just you, or I mean just me, and four dogs. I solve problems, I figure things out. With an RV something always needs repairing,  I am proud of keeping my RV running, smiles on my dogs faces. I can get angry at myself or even at my dogs but no one cares and when I’m rolling again and then perched in somewhere beautiful the days are just the right length. I’m never bored, tired at times maybe, sometimes lost, but never regretful.

 

Homeward: Nevada to California

This will be my last posting of travels for this roadtrip. There will be a summary and maybe more especially about my little leisure travel van and all my dogs and me and the state of the environment, the weather, driving.

I leave St George and continue to Las Vegas on the I-15 about 2 hours. I visit a friend, we meet in a very large park in one of two large dog parks. He and I sit in the shade watching the dogs romp, then they pile around us. It’s full of grass and sitting under the tree on the ground with a bit of a breeze it doesn’t feel so hot. We chat for a while, walk over to the pond and back and I head on stopping for the night a bit before Barstow, it’s another mediocre KOA. I fill the propane on my rig, I’ve already emptied and cleaned the black and gray tanks, buy more water, take a shower in the camp bathroom while their  plumbing screeches uncontrollably. I tried the pool, it has too much chlorine, is too cold and too dirty.  I bemoan the loud traffic, the cigarette butts – gonna let my KOA membership lapse. I don’t sleep well. I wish the sites were facing the desert instead of the highway, seems really stupid that weary travelers are placed near the road they just left and for which they will soon return. I walk around Calico Ghost Town, 3 miles from the KOA before they opened. It’s cute and in my head I half plan a return when the weather is much cooler but Ghost Towns are not my thing. Cool, the Ghost Town has an RV camp, saw 3 campers there, it’s quiet, likley very hot but has power. Should’ve stayed there. I looked around Barstow a bit then Apple Valley where I get a coffee. It’s dusty and dry but soon the marine layer will cover the blue of the sky and mingle with the particulate matter of the Los Angeles Basin. The women running the shop are lighthearted and accommodating adding 2 extra shots to my cappuccino since they couldn’t figure out how to not make it so milky. First time I’ve had a 4 shot drink…  turns out I’d need it fighting non-stop gridlock all the way home from the San Fernando Valley to my coastal fog laid town.  The women invite the dogs out of the hot van onto the porch. Mason stays behind, he’s content to wait.  Three hours after that I’m at my Mom’s house in the S. F. Valley and she makes me a perfect light lunch. I’ve lost about 10 pounds. I don’t expect it to be noticed since I’d gained that weight in a few months at home and now am simply back to a more comfortable weight but I know I will gain it back once I return anyway. The dogs are so happy, I think even Dino, my mom’s Lagotto is happy. I can’t wait to get home, to the coastal fog, check on my plants, let the dogs do their own thing, but I don’t know yet it will be another 3 hours of gridlock getting there. I think I will sleep well but it turns out I still barely sleep at all and my headaches and anxiety-angst return and swallow me in a prolonged post trip slump. Maybe I should go on the road again.

Driving through Las Vegas, Nevada

This KOA did have a nice large area for the dogs but no play equipment as they advertised, still my gang all know what a dog park is and were eager, pulling me along, to check it out.

I watch people arriving for work at the Ghost Town. It won’t open for at least an hour.

 

The coffee drinkers.

Yep, everyone’s here and on the road!  LOL

Approaching Grandma’s house the dogs get all excited 🙂

The desert begins before you leave Grand Junction Colorado and Fruita and then it continues. Restful break in Green River State Park. The Park is along the Colorado River and enclosed by a golf course. The Rangers hiding out in the air-cooled kiosk gave me a map and directions to a swimming beach for the dogs, turned out however after doing my hiding from the heat and daily thunder storm, then walking all over the State Park, sticking our feet and up to our tails in the water, this mamma, that’s me, didn’t want to drive any more that day so we played BALL on the nice green grass at our over-sized site.

Waiting until it gets cool enough to go out and play.

Coffee shop in Green River, Utah; somewhat amazed to find this. Coffee wasn’t really all that drinkable but they tried and the place was cute.

Driving

Speed limit in Utah is 80 mph, for me it’s about 60 to 65. It’s still very windy.

Climbing plenty of hills. Still early enough not to need the air conditioner. RV is driving great. Yesterday’s drive was tougher with stronger winds, higher passes to cross and scorching heat.

After the flatlands turns scenic. Yep, that’s another car.

More traffic! Don’t expect services or gas stations or repair shops. Keep your gas tank filled and your vehicle in good running order. Bring your own snacks and refreshments.

Civilization. I didn’t need gas but was a gas station here. Gathering of trucks and plenty of trash even though they’d  positioned trash cans as drive by…  I used those, just drive close, unroll the window and plunk.

Found a dog park in Hurricane Utah. Can you tell it’s hot. I’d already checked in and secured a full service site at Sand Hollow State Park. I’d been sent there from Quail Creek State Park, all the electric was taken.  Next time will try Snow Canyon State Park, petrified sand dunes, wow.   At first I wasn’t pleased with Sand Hollow, the powered sites are up on the hill, my spot way up at the top, the roads are all black asphalt.  That darn heat colored my perceptions, feels like it’s 120 but it’s not that hot. Later when I returned from St George I fell in love with this Park even though it another reservoir. Dogs got to swimming twice 🙂  If I stayed would have rented a boat and just floated.

Day and evening use park above St George, Utah. Would be totally fun to hike and explore but just letting the windows down am blasted with what felt like the insides of force blowing glass kiln. Windy, humid and hot red! Probably somewhere around 103 or 104 but felt hotter, maybe it was.

St. George, Utah, is nation’s fastest-growing metro area.

The ground was too hot for my dogs to walk so I could only take a quick look.
Red Hills Desert Garden.  Check the link (Find Plants) for the plant species that grow here.  Free Admission.

Pioneer Park

What brings people to St George?

Back at the reservoir.  The Park is large enough that even with lots of activity and families there are quiet areas, at least right now.

Taking the Park road to the other side.

Our first swimming spot. Warm, blue waters and red sandstone. Primitive camping to full hookups, swimming, boating, fishing, ATVs, red dunes. 20,000-acre park, mostly on USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There’s a store / restaurant  with ATV’s, UTV’s, kayaks, paddle boards for rent. I had a breakfast burrito there. Nice chat with the woman in charge, she had to met the dogs of course and of course, she hopes to retire soon too and really liked my little camper van.

Back on “my’ side of the Park. Some hiking trails, boat launching and easy access for the dogs to swim. This was late in the day and everything was closed, when I returned in the morning it was bustling. Come July and August this place gets mobbed.

View out my bedroom window.

My dinner table for the night. No campfires.

Diner courtesy of Redmond Farms, Organic Farm to Table store in St George.

On the top of the hill at the park, one can see new housing developments everywhere.

America’s Fastest-Growing Urban Area Has a Water Problem
JAKE BULLINGER MAY 18, 2018
As St. George, Utah grows, it will have to cut down on its high water consumption or pay handsomely for it—or both.

When Latter-day Saint migrants arrived in Utah in 1847, a verse in Isaiah served as consolation to them in the dessicated landscape: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

Lately, the desert has blossomed nowhere more than the St. George area, in the state’s southern reaches. The city is a picturesque outpost, with red-rock desert framing bright green lawns and golf courses, all built around the stark white Mormon temple in the center of town.

Brigham Young’s adherents came here to grow crops, primarily cotton—hence its reputation as Utah’s Dixie. Today, that ceaseless sunshine is luring so many tourists, retirees, and students that St. George has become the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country. According to Census Bureau data released in March, the metro, home to 165,000 people, grew 4 percent between 2016 and 2017.

“Six million people visit the area every year. As people visit here, some of them decide to stay,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. The area remains a retirement community, “but we also have 33,000 students K through 12, and we have a fast-growing university [Dixie State University].” Healthcare is a booming industry, and, like many growing cities, St. George has a section of town earmarked for tech companies. Mixed-use developments are popping up downtown. The growth likely won’t slow any time soon: State demographers believe the area will surpass 500,000 residents by 2065.

As is the case with other growing desert burgs, St. George grapples with water-supply issues. But the challenge here is unique. Remarkably cheap rates mean that residents of an area with only eight inches of annual rainfall are using tremendous amounts of water. An average St. George resident uses more than twice as much water as the average citizen of Los Angeles.

Political leaders at the state and local level view this primarily as a supply issue. Their preferred solution is a gargantuan $1.4 billion pipeline that would connect the region with Lake Powell, a reservoir along the Colorado River. With the aid of pumping stations, the pipeline would shuttle water over 140 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The goal is to store 86,000 acre-feet a year in nearby reservoirs and aquifers—more than enough, officials say, to meet the demand of the growing population and decrease reliance on the dwindling Virgin River, currently Washington County’s primary water source.

“We certainly are committed to conservation, but we don’t think that gets you there alone, especially with the organic growth and the tremendous in-migration that’s occurring in the Southwest,” said Ronald Thompson, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the wholesaler that supplies water to St. George and other cities in the county.