My truffle dogs exploring the forest in Flagstaff, AZ

The Coconino National Forest is one of the most diverse National Forests in the country with landscapes ranging from the famous red rocks of Sedona to Ponderosa pine forests, from southwestern desert to alpine tundra. Explore mountains and canyons, fish in small lakes, and wade in lazy creeks and streams.

The City of Flagstaff in the Ponderosa Pine Forest at 7,000′ makes a reasonably easy crossing over the mountains, certainly easier than I-70 over the Rockies. I recommend the Lowell Observatory unless you’re seeking flash and entertainment, then you might be disappointed. I didn’t visit on this trip but have in the past, taking the time to learn about research, construction and history of the telescopes.  In a land of ghosts, alien sightings, UFO’s, crazy weather and dark skies it’s heartening to seek for the universe out there. Where are you everyone! It’s frustrating to me to be limited to this one tiny beautiful planet. No matter how many voyages and discoveries I want more, I want what’s out there. I don’t know why but somewhere out there could be a place that might fit with the images in my head? No? Yes? Well, having reached Flagstaff I was primarily interested in getting to Northern Cal to pick up Olympia. It was time to head back.

The city itself was intensely crowded, I was unable to find parking before my patience wore out. There was an almost LA kinda frenzy, honking horns and getting cut off by zooming SUVs and jeeps.  I wasn’t prepared so I went in search of camping. Hoping to avoid high fees I wanted to stay at the County Park but the RV camping wasn’t open yet for the season, instead I found a nice (and relatively inexpensive) spot on the edge of the forest. The dogs could run naked of their leashes. I was intending to head back to the city and explore, have a coffee and browse the scene but the forest won. Frankly one store is like another and all to often they are the same stores, the same experience, a “non-place” or placelessness pervades.. Sure, each city is a constructed environment with its key symbol and narrative however the loss of place still happens with the agonizing repetition of  sameness, for some perhaps its a comfort, they never really left home, only rearranged with a different backdrop and climate (am I being silly?) I didn’t want to leave the trees. I hiked about, made dinner, watched the sunset, the stars and had an early night.

I met a few campers, a couple from Germany traveling by RV across the U.S. I ran into them again. Pulling in next to me in her Class C camper another solo woman RVer, she had a dog but it wasn’t with her. She had a space problem, too much stuff. With a small RV everything you take needs a purpose and a place. If you start allowing things to pile up in the aisle or in the kitchen or the bath area, you’re gonna be in trouble. It doesn’t take talent to live and travel in a small space it takes discipline. In the beginning when I started out I’d pack items that SEEMED so useful, even essential only to discover they were in the way. I don’t do that anymore. I rarely need to buy an item on a trip as I know what I’m going want and need and I know where I’ve stored it (most of the time), comes from experience and many hours sorting, eliminating, measuring and like a fine wine, getting the correct balance. You can’t be lazy, everything has its place.  Well you can be lazy, but that’s not my style. I’m happy when my rig is clean, the dogs are safe and there’s a sense of beauty.  I’d wanted to own a B&B, a dog and art friendly one.  It wasn’t possible yet as I travel more and more I know it would have been a perfect security and joy for me.  I don’t “relax” as many do by sitting still, I relax by motion and activity. I’m happiest when my entire day is busy. I do for my dogs what I’d do for my guests, creating a perfect space, fixing problems, cleaning what needs, repairing whatever breaks, organizing, figuring out improvements. I’m happiest making others at ease, being useful and entertaining in little doses. People that come and go are the perfect recipe. During my working days I was best at resolving intractable issues and “herding cats,” as they called it. I’m sure this is due to my past and to my inherent nature. I’m driven to fix things, solve things others say can’t be fixed, or can’t be done.  It’s tough for me to walk away, I’ve learned to, I’ve learned to sit and do nothing…  hey never mind, drifting off to other subjects. Let’s get back to this trip.


A lively Route 66 town and the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

There was a life-size human replica sitting on a chair by one of the stores. He was in motion with his hand moving up and down and looking very real. My 2 larger dogs had to place their heads (one at a time) just where the arm would come down expecting he’d of course pet them. You can image their disdain when he did not!

Early still but plenty of activity.

Love street art!

Next time will do the drive through Bearizona Wildlife Park.  Apparently it’s doable in a small RV with pets as long as one keeps their windows rolled up. “One can view larger North American mammals up-close.” There’s a walk through area as well. I’d think the dogs could stay in the van for that. Website says animals are rescued or rehabilitated. I can only hope it’s a good place for these animals, they seem to run free while the humans come to observe.

Another improvement is to do a bit more research, even if I’m in a hurry there could be things I’d take the time for.

Heading West to California.  That towel is up there on my dashboard because Jeana often likes to get up there when I leave the dogs in the RV on their own. I’ve seen Mason up there too.