Tag Archive: Heavy Wind


Amiss in California

I remember California’s majestic beauty far more from my earlier years. How I loved its solitude, the natural arches, cliffs and wide open beaches of the shoreline, tall trees in dense forests, rock outcroppings and wild rivers. From deserts to ferns; from orange groves to fields of flowers.  I remember wild open spaces, the awe of nature and long distances between cities. Today as I drive in the roads are typically terrible and crowded. For whatever reason the fast lane is smoother, with less potholes, rumbles and dips which makes it awkward. I give up the slow lane and just let the faster cars go around me. The rips in the road even have the trucks moving over and/or doing the road maze dance trying so hard to avoid that roughness. It ratchets heavy vehicles giving nasty jarring lurches to anything inside. Thick traffic is the norm with pedal happy swerving motorists.

I thought I could spend the night at the edge of Bakersfield, I wasn’t prepared to find camping at $70 and higher..  Yep, CA prices. I can’t boondock or dry camp as I need power to run the air conditioning and the heat, I need space to run and walk the dogs so it’s easier, simpler to use a paid camp, but I expect $12 to $29; have been paying more but $70!  Considered detouring to Lake Isabella but the sky was stormy, intensely windy with blinding sand so I opted to the I-5 for a quicker journey.

 

Spent an uncomfortable night in Coalinga stuffed into an unused cobwebbed site between full-time residents, I heard fights and the lights were left blazing all night. I left before first light not bothering with the bathhouse or dumping my tanks. Walked and fed the dogs at the next restsop, washed my face and had a glass of water.

Found these fields near the campground, wanted to walk in them but decided to stick to the road. On the other side of the RV Park was a large empty lot which would have the better place to spend the night. A few big rigs were doing that, it was behind a large gas station and store. Approaching the RV Park trash marked the path like landing lights.

A random street in Tracy, California

The non-usable bathroom next to a well used playground at a big park in Tracy. Great idea kids, and no bathroom. BTW it was Spring and not Winter but still not open. Nice park though, had a lovely walk, the dogs of course rolled and rolled in the grass, they were laughing and happy.

Most coffee and breakfast spots were closed in Tracy on a Sunday. There was one restaurant open at 9 am. it’s down this path which is in the downtown area. I’m hungry!

Turns out all these people were hungry too. Too long a wait for me, darn. Maybe a few more places could be open? Everyone can’t be in church? Isn’t this CA and not Texas?

Daisy the cow.

Hmm, this was in Placerville. I thought about buying that beer just for the can.

My friend patiently waiting for me while I bought a cappuccino. I was in a new temporary habit of getting myself a cap and snack in each city I stayed overnight to compare the quality and artistry of the offerings. A fun and innocent adventure.

Lee and Craig’s place and my darling girl Olympia.

Home away from home, the sewing room. Very Comfy 🙂

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Camping at another KOA in the rain.

I headed south towards I-40 driving briefly though Fayetteville as I wanted to camp at one of the State Parks. Forth Smith was the closest: not only was it SUPER WINDY it was isolated with no Wifi and other than the joy of being blown around if you didn’t have a boat there was not a lot going on. I decided the weather wasn’t right.  I don’t mind being inside my little camper with the dogs on an inclement day but I like to have somewhere to walk during breaks other than sink deep mud, stickers and burs. Soggy gunk automatically transfers into my van hoping for a free ride to California no matter how many paws get wiped. I drove in and out  of local towns, walking with the dogs when the rain and wind allowed. Wound up at a KOA. It was muddy but I managed a spot with some gravel, a view of the fields and masses of colorful birds. Couldn’t do the hiking trails with wading in calf-high mud but the KOA dog park worked out great and afforded a long conversation about “bad” breeders and some tragic tales with another breeder camper. (Please if you breed animals be responsible and if you don’t know what that means, get yourself some fixings for stuffed animals. You can smooch these together in any way you like; stay away from living creatures! Got it?)

This was one of those times when I parked “backwards.” My RV is not quite 20 feet so if the “camp” side (that’s the side with the picnic table where my double side doors open (parked correctly) means that there is not a nice view out the back doors/window, I turn around the other way. Don’t care how many campers watch with amusement as I vie for the right angle. With only one of me this sometimes means backing a little, then getting out to check, going forward, changing angle and doing it over until I’m satisfied.  My power cord is long enough to wrap around from the power side (the side with the RV connections) to reach the campsite power box and water supply.  If I want to use the septic I’ll turn around in the morning before I leave to drain the tanks.

Love waking to a great view and relaxing in the evening to the outer world. I leave my bed (which when retracted is a couch) all the way down or mostly down when traveling with the bed made up with sheets and blankets.  I have a 2″ foam pad  with a 2″ organic wool topper under me, this compresses but is very comfortable. Then a fitted sheet to keep these clean, covered with bed sheets and a blanket.  Over all of this is a fitted soft polyester sheet for keeping dog sand (and mud) out of bed.  If I know we’re going swimming or it’s pouring rain I have a waterproof dog blanket that I can throw on top.

Typically I buy gas at a Truck Stop, this is the truck side; there’s another side for cars and van’s like mine. The prices are always better than commercial gas stations, there is more space, proper windshield cleaning tools, useful amenities including food and showers, and one can rest without being disturbed. A few such at Pilot provide additional gas discounts with a Good Sam card. Alternatively Costco has good prices and other larger chain stores that offer gas stations. This Love’s Truck Stop was just past Oklahoma City. There were truck stops on all 4 corners, both sides of the highways and they were JAMMED PACKED WITH TRUCKS! Red ones, and pink ones, blue ones and silver ones, black ones and white, yellow and purple and on and on and on.

Oklahoma City was a mega shopping mall overlaid with Lego like freeway overpasses. Don’t most people buy things online?  Well, maybe not, what would they put in their pickup trucks?

 

Nice secure feeling, one can run for the restroom! And so many told me how they were afraid of CA earthquakes. Typical Rest Stop Tornado Shelter! Glad I didn’t have to test this.

 

I drove all the way through Oklahoma into the Texas Panhandle not stopping till I reached Amarillo. My plan to head south onto highway 9 and leisurely explore had instantly been replaced around 10 am. I was exploring Muskogge, OK, birth place of Carrie Underwood, most everything was closed so that’s when I decided to head south to 9 thinking I’d spend the night somewhere around the river or lake, maybe Lake Eufaula State Park , can’t always avoid “man-made” lakes or perhaps Fountainhead State Park, I tend to be curious and I-40 was too big a road for me.

I had known that hwy 9 just south of me was where the worst of the hail had hit, but that was days ago. It was on my mind. I pulled into the town of Checotah hoping for something open, maybe a coffee or late breakfast. I never got out of the van. The sky went from partially cloudy, a little drizzly to densely clouded, looked like it might flood which is what the posted signs said to watch out for. I pulled over and studied the map. I pulled open my weather app, turned on the radio. Those darn words, DANGEROUS weather conditions…  Oh Shit. That was happening here and hwy 9 was the place to avoid! Even as I sitting and checking on this the sky did something I’d never experienced before. It turned completely BLACK! 10 am and reminiscent of black velvet being spread out on the sky and tucked into the corners. AND IT WAS QUIET. I floored it. Go West Young Woman (hmm …   not so young woman) and Dogs, Go West. No wonder nothing was open. I was the Lone Ranger with the William Tell Overture  This RVgirl kicked her accelerator pedal and off she went. Yeah, the dogs gave me a nasty look when we didn’t get out and walk.

I beat the storm, but is wasn’t far behind me!

Have you any idea how fast such a sky can change and fill with dark clouds, rain and thunder. Can you see how the wind is blowing.

The wind pierces holes in this realm we inhabit as the cold bites inside minuscule channels of my skin.  will the world really hold together?

The reminder of my drive that day was as fast as I could go. Every-time I found sunlight it felt good, but it never lasted long. Along the highway wind turbines and cows.

“Wind power accounted for 12.68% of the electricity generated in Texas in the 12 months ending Oct 2016. …..   created over 24,000 jobs”

This Amarillo Visitor Center is permanently closed but the important stuff is etched on the door.

 

Leaving Memphis

The day I left Memphis was W I N D Y ! My dogs trust me, people say to me how much my dogs love me. I don’t know what they are picking up, but they are my priority. I treat them better than I treat myself and why wouldn’t I? It’s my job to keep them safe and happy and that means not letting us flip over or get eaten by the weather goddess. I’d looked at the map the night before deciding to head to the lake camping just north in Tennessee. I could lake-hop my way to Nashville. First though I needed propane; that wasn’t as easy to find as I’d assumed and required some driving. That’s when I discovered how WINDY is was! As the attendant filled the tank with me and dogs standing about outside ….  he made sure we all exited the vehicle, he told me of last night’s damage in various parts of the city; vehicles including RVs, homes and other structures had been damaged or destroyed. It was so windy out there talking about dogs and wind I had to pick up Mason so he wouldn’t get blown away. Once back in the van I clicked my weather apps, yep D A N G E R O U S winds to the north, darn! I could make it, I reasoned, everything was fine last night. How windy was too windy? Would there be hail? The road I’d picked looked a bit desolate. You can see where this is going. I bailed and decided (wisely) to head for the next nearest campground; this time I picked a KOA back over the bridge on the Arkansas side. On the way I stopped at the Info Station, I was feeling disappointed about Tennessee. The “info” woman was super friendly, mapping a scenic cross-section of Arkansas just for me and of course she had to come see my dogs.  Dog viewing is a standard thing; anytime someone hears about my dogs, and I frequently mention them, that person often gets excited, their eyes pick up color and their faces start expressing joy; oh, they’d never seen a Lagotto in real life, could they meet one!  That is if they didn’t think I’d fabricated a name like Lagotto Romagnolo.  My dogs are friendly so it works out. I think they are all proud of themselves and enjoy showing off.

I pulled into the Memphis KOA mid morning, a line of big rigs following me. How can I describe the force on my vehicle? My van would jerk hard to one side with my hands vice gripped on the wheel, I’d bash it into place and then wham it’d go the other way, like a twisting bucking bronco determined to throw its rider to the ground, esp when you add the lifting sliding effect of movement forward with the wind tunnel underneath.  A passing truck is really insane, I’m gonna call it  an earthquake machine that is coming from the air rather than the ground, it would be fun if it was an amusement park. And it was wet too.

The staff at this KOA were super nice, one of them repaired my laptop as it was set to not accept WiFi, she somehow fixed that. I was assigned a crappy space behind the propane tank (as if I hadn’t just filled up elsewhere) with a big noisy outdoor fan attached to the back of a building as my only view. Since I had a camper-van KOA decided (and it’s all in their computer) that I should not be given a regular pull through space. I find this annoying except when it’s a better location and comes with a discount. Anyway they let me move to a better spot which I enjoyed as I had the camping area to myself while the rest of the park was jammed full of folks escaping the wrath of Mommy Nature. This was my first KOA that provided dinner; you call it in and they bring it to your site. It was pulled pork which I don’t eat but I did go to the cafe for breakfast; 2 over easy eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $4.80. The KOA also provides bus tours of many sorts around Memphis, didn’t ask but a great addition would be some doggy day care. I spent the day doing laundry and listening to the wind, by night-time it finally calmed.

Nope didn’t seem to take many photos. Just picture me slaving away in the wet wind hauling laundry and trying to put the quarters in the correct slot. Ha-ha!

Traveling alone is not as alone as you might think, at least not if you have adorable dogs with you and you can smile at people. I’m often amazed at the depth folks will share. I’ve started to think of my encounters as serial friendships, sure there are conversations that are polite greeting but more often about how others survive, what’s going on in their lives, why they are at this particular place at this particular time. I meet world travelers and those that are following the sun and good weather. Some are orphaned from a stick house by divorce, deaths, lack of a job, wanderlust, kids gone, retired, working mobile, lots of things bring them outside. Lots of folks have dogs too. On the road we have a temporary bond beyond the gulf of wealth and accommodation being closer to the elements, being able to leave at a moments notice and be somewhere completely different the next day.  That’s one of the things that draws me, being able take off and whatever transpired in that place gets left behind and replaced by an equally fascinating new day.

 

There is always something to do, at least there is for me.  Never have time to watch TV and rarely time for a book, much of this is because I travel with 3 dogs and am considering doing so with all 4. I walk them many times a day, they eat twice a day and I take them to dog parks, regular parks, schools, grassy fields, places to swim, we walk together in town centers and tourist areas where they are frequently so warmly welcomed. I keep a fairly clean RV, so there is an order to how the dogs and I proceed to keep it that way. When I eat dinner if there is an outside bench and table I’ll use that otherwise I’ll take out my camp chair and table, the dogs like to be nearby although little Mason frequently watches from the comfort of the bed esp if it’s cold out and looks out from the open back door to keep his eye on us.  I enjoy just looking, watching and listening . . . the sun coming up or going down, birds of all sorts and other wildlife, trees, flowers, grasses, clouds, rain, trains, what other people are doing, how things looks, little cities and towns, open fields, cluttered building, paths that lead off somewhere, the way the weather changes and how the light is different wherever I go, seeing the highway at a distance with all those huge trucks moving about, piles of debris that collect and no one seems to care. It’s not boring, there are sometimes stars or rainbows, sunclouds, rivers, lakes, desert and bugs, mountains, the sounds made from the soil, a wire overhead or within a tiny creek . . . .   … . these things are precious; our home, how will we treat it.

Scorpions – Wind Of Change