La Posa South – Minor Adventures – January 2019

The next several days at our camping area at LaPosa South, south of Quartzsite are marked by lows in the 30’s and highs in the 60’s – not bad for January, but generally too windy to spend much time sitting outside.

Morning and evening walks in the desert happen almost daily for me, as I find myself very drawn to the stillness. I like the openness without barrenness, always finding interesting trees or rocks or flowers to take photos of, but it is the ambiance that I wish most to share. The morning “quiet time” routine of inspirational reading and writing that I had established in Monticello is harder to maintain here, so my quiet time is now walks in the desert.

Morning light on the trees and shrubs along the arroyo

After repairing his drone, Clifford takes it for a flight… and it gets away from him, becoming a smaller and smaller dot until it disappears.

Clifford takes drone for a flight

Well, this is a bit discouraging, but Clifford knows by line-of-sight which direction it has gone. Clifford, Rollie, and I go look for it, with a starting point a couple of miles past LaPosa South. Rollie and I go one direction along the trajectory line, inquiring of campers if they have seen a drone, but no one has. We are hoping it didn’t crash into someone’s RV. Clifford goes the other direction along the trajectory, back toward our campsite. As he’s walking in the desert, using his binoculars to scout around, he comes across a couple of RVs a ways out from LaPosa South and he approaches a man who seems a bit unfriendly. Turns out Clifford is near the area of a nudist colony and the guy thinks Clifford has come to spy on the nudists. After a bit of conversation, the man is finally convinced that Clifford is indeed looking for a fly-away drone. The man’s cousin and husband who are camped nearby might have noticed a drone, and the fellow will inquire of them when they return from town. Clifford describes where we are camped without much hope that anything will come of. Keep in mind there are thousands of RVs camped in the desert south of Quartzsite.

The next day after plotting a distance as well as a trajectory, we plan to go search again, but before we leave, a pickup comes up our driveway (we are quite a ways out from the main part of LaPosa South). Turns out the couple in the pickup are the cousin and husband of the man Clifford talked to yesterday, and the drone had landed in their driveway. They had taken it inside, but the fellow Clifford talked to didn’t know that. He happened to mention talking to Clifford, and sure enough, they have the drone and set out to find us. So the drone is returned, none the worse off for its adventure.

Drone returns home

Another not quite so fun adventure is our trip to Lake Havasu City, about 90 miles to the north. We are going there to buy a Mr. Buddy heater, with plans to stop for photos on the way back to Quartzsite and lunch at the casino near Parker.

Driving to Lake Havasu City

The Lake Havasu City Walmart is on the north end of town, but before we get there, as Clifford steps on the gas to merge into the correct lane of traffic, the Suburban starts steaming, big time, with the heat gauge rapidly going up. We barely make it to the Walmart parking lot, coasting in and stopping at the outside edge.

Rollie and Clifford assess the problem and it appears that broken motor mounts allowed the engine to jump enough to break a housing that holds hoses to the radiator and heater. We check out the Walmart auto supply, but they don’t have the right part. A nearby Toyoto dealer orders the part for us and we have lunch at Subway while we wait for the part to be delivered. When the part arrives, it is the wrong size and won’t work. We are back to square one, but now it is mid-afternoon. After much searching and some ingenuity, we come up with a series of garden hose parts and clamps to jury-rig (thanks to Rollie) the hoses so as to be able to drive without overheating the engine. This has taken hours, many trips back and forth to Walmart auto and garden centers, and me taking Ninja for long walks. It is after dark and the guys are working by flashlights before it is all back together and we head to camp. No photos and no stopping at the casino for a meal.

Working by flashlight

Other than the drone adventure and Suburban misadventure, which both ended well, we continue our projects. I do more editing, look into starting a website for Ang, and write a couple of blogs. Rollie and I play music almost every day and cribbage after dinner.

Cribbage after dinner and tonight I have a winning hand!

Clifford is busy with CI research, ham radio, playing his dulcimer, and flying the drone when it is not too windy. And we all went to the New Christy Minstrel concert in Quartzsite one evening, which was good entertainment.

Evening in the Sonoran desert south of Quartzsite, Arizona

Arizona Here We Come – December 2018

Sunday December 30: Snow and forecast for snow storms delay our departure from Monticello, Utah, but we finally make our get-away on December 30th. We finish packing, say good-bye to our place, and by mid-morning we are on our way. It is 13 degrees and the landscape is snowy, but the highways are clear.

Good-bye to snow-covered Abajo Mountains
Heading south
Rugged Arizona mesas

Due to the forecast for a big snow storm in region of Flagstaff, Arizona, we push on through Flagstaff and make it all the way to Seligman, Arizona, along I-40.

Last view of the San Francisco Peaks at Flagstaff

It was a super long day’s drive for us – 350 miles, but we needed to get far enough west to be out of the storm.

A truck stop in Seligman provides a place for us to set up for the night. It is chilly enough that we use the furnace for the first time to warm Cougar up a bit, but we are dismayed that we can’t get the fridge to light. Maybe too cold? I wanted to play viola and write in the journal, but I am too tired. Since the bed is cold, I nap on the couch until Clifford, the night owl, is ready to go to bed.

Monday December 31: I wake up about 7:00, don warm clothing, and walk across the dark parking lot to the restroom at the truck stop. When I get back to Cougar, I am too awake to go back to bed, so start making tea for the thermoses. By time Clifford gets up a short while later, it has started to snow here. That was not part of our plan! So Clifford skips his shower and we pull out as soon as we can.

Mountain in the background, west of Seligman, obscured by falling snow

For the next 50 miles we are driving in a snow storm, which wouldn’t have been so bad except for towing a trailer. Certainly not ideal conditions, but Clifford is steady, and I don’t make any moves that might distract him. We are nearly out of the storm before I feel okay about taking a few photos of this rather scenic drive.

This is when it starts to get better!
Snowy but scenic drive

As we near Kingman, the snow lets up and we stop at a Petro truck stop for gas; the gas in Seligman was highway robbery, which we decided not to give in to, but it did mean running a bit closer than comfortable to the empty mark. In Kingman, lunch at Cracker Barrel is a treat and then we stop at Walmart for supplies. What a zoo! We could hardly find a spot big enough to park our rig so we could go in to shop.

Heading south out of Kingman, still on I-40, at the junction to highway 95, we pull into a Love’s truck stop for the night. It is cold out, but with the furnace and burners on, we are quite comfortable. We have a restful night here, glad to be out of the snow and eager to reach our destination tomorrow.

Life is a Journey – December 2018

I try to start each day with quiet time at the slide-out door, candles lit to provide light as I watch for the dawn and the rising of the sun turning the naked tree golden.

First rays of the sun on naked winter trees

I read poems by Mary Oliver and other inspirational works, write in the Gratitude Journal and the main journal, make coffee in the French press, always filled with gratitude at what it takes to have this cup of coffee – the trees grown on another continent, the workers who tend the trees and harvest the beans, the process by which beans are packaged and transported to the continent, the state, the town where I live. And the process by which a French press is made and how it has come to be in my kitchen. And coconut milk from coconuts grown on trees thousands of miles away. And what about the honey – the bees, the flowers, the beekeepers, and those who are responsible for packaging and delivering honey to my location. I could go on about the water and the device used to heat the water, the skill of the potter who made the coffee cup, and so on. I am indebted to possibly hundreds of people, as well as the earth, the sun, and the rain. Having a good cup of coffee is not something to be taken lightly.

A chilly start to December

Newly fallen snow provides a few opportunities for photos, and it is good to get out for a few minutes, to tromp around and feed the wild birds, mostly juncos and doves, but also ravens, finches, and the occasional flicker. A walk takes us to the old church, which doubled as the community center in the 1890’s (if I have my dates correct).

Every day I try to discard something – give it away, take it to 2nd hand store, or toss it into the trash. Often it is just something small like an old cassette tape that I know I won’t listen to again. It is more about the process of letting things go, which has always been hard for me, but it gets easier with a steady practice of it.

Morning view from the sliding glass doors

I edit, send agent queries for Princes and Priests, write blogs, send texts with photos to family and friends… The days slide by so quickly I can scarcely capture them in a journal or with a few cell pics.

As the days go by, Clifford spends hours and hours in the lab. We also get the CI quarterly newsletter out, which is a big item to take care of before leaving.

The lab is a busy place

The snow melts and preparations are made for travel, including a storage rack on the back of Cougar.

I have decided to write a 2018 letter and make greeting cards this year. Our move to Utah and our travels this past year might be of interest to family and friends. I use old prints for the cards, some taken with film camera as far back 1995. It is a big job getting the software and printer in action again, but I hope recipients enjoy getting a real card in the mail.

And then more snow. It is fun to decorate the bush outside our front door, but we had not expected this much snow in December,

Snowy days in Monticello
Decorating the bush in our front area

We watch the weather closely, and our departure is delayed as we see storms forecast that will cross our route making travel unsafe. We had thought we’d be in Arizona for Christmas, but the day is spent quietly at home, lighting a candle for Christmas Eve and watching the snow falling, wondering if we might not make it out of Monticello.

Christmas Eve
View from the sliding glass door on the evening of Christmas Day

In the morning, I am enchanted with the loveliness of snow-laden trees before the breeze comes up, but wondering when (or if) we are going to find our way clear to leave this winter.

It is December 30th before we finally make our get-away. It is 13 degrees and the landscape is snowy, but the highways are clear. We finish packing, say good-bye to our place, and by mid-morning we are on our way to Arizona where winter is more tolerable.

Six Months in a Nutshell: November 12, 2015 to May 7, 2015

November 12, 2015 to May 7, 2016: One week short of six months, over 4000 miles, and hundreds of photos later, we have returned to Wallace, Idaho. It was a memorable six months, not only because we traveled so far, but for all the places we saw, the places we camped, people we met – family, old friends, new friends, and angels in disguise.

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Terry at Sunrise in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona – our furthest campsite from Wallace, Idaho

I took photos every day, sometimes only a couple, but most days lots of photos; almost every day I posted a journey post on FB with photos, sharing the journey with all who cared to join us in this way. I hardly ever missed a day in spite of power and internet restrictions that accompanied us most of the time. I suppose it would have a more relaxed trip had I not set this as a goal for myself, but seeing the world – what is most beautiful or most meaningful – is what I do. Seeing a beautiful sunset or morning light on a mountainside or hoarfrost on pines is not just a neat experience for me alone; it is an experience that demands to be shared.

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Sunset at City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico – an Experience that demands to be shared

Clifford studied, researched, or worked on research papers every day that we were not actually traveling. He acquired sophisticated portable scientific instruments to compliment the portable lab. His dedication to his work did not waver, even given the limited space he had to work in.

Once we returned home, I saw that for many people the last six months were same-o-same-o, little ups and downs, nothing really different, nothing outstanding. For me, the last six months were filled with ups and downs, also, but they were Big ups and downs, events and experiences that gave depth and quality to my life. I am enriched by having done this journey, not knowing from one short time period to the next what we might encounter: beautiful weather – or snow and cold; great photo opps camping and hiking – or only a few shots through the tinted window of a moving vehicle; being well – or not being well and having to deal with it; spending days and days with no one but Clifford – or meeting people: some just passing through and some whose lives will intermingle with mine onward; beautiful camping spots where I’d love to stay forever – or a Walmart parking lot where I have to pick up trash just to be okay with being there. It wasn’t always an easy journey for me, but it was a good one. Living in an 8 x 16 foot space with someone day-in and day-out means some compromises, but it also makes me much more appreciative of what’s comfortable and convenient, and more accepting of what’s not. Things are less about good or bad, like or don’t like, and much more about It Is What It Is, and being grateful to be a part of the process. Of course, for a very long time I’ve had the intellectual understanding of the importance of being appreciative and accepting, but now it is a deeper part of my being; it is not so much something that I have to work at as something that I am: Happy for No Reason – not all the time every day, but on a more on-going basis than I’ve experienced before.

Things that stand out:

  • Snowy as we leave Idaho with Blazer and Pony (our small pop-up), our departure from Belgrade, Montana is delayed by several hours due to snow, more snow changes our itinerary by time we reach Wyoming.

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    Postcard pretty, snow in Belgrade delays our departure after visiting son Tye and his lovely family.

     

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    Crossing eastern Montana, snow forces us to change our itinerary.

    Mid-Wyoming snow storm and cold temps at Glendo State Park provide photo opportunities that are exciting for me, but also contribute to both of us becoming sick. Clifford recovers in a few days; it is weeks before I fully recover. Daughter Becka and a friend from Santa Fe provide warm dry lodging when I needed it the most. Thanks!!

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    Snow storm in Wyoming with Pony (our pop-up tent trailer)

     

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    Hoarfrost on PInes
  • Heading south: several inches of snow at Three Rivers campground north of Tularosa, New Mexico, but it is great being here until Goliath (the news-worthy blizzard on December 26th) comes raging through, nearly wiping us out.

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    Sunset on the Sacramento Mountains

     

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    Sunset on the Sacramento Mountains

     

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    Goliath Approaches

     

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    A day later, Goliath begins to abate and we are still in one piece, more-or-less.

     

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    Goliath has gone, leaving both destruction and beauty in its wake.
  • The search begins for a hard-shell RV, not an easy task given our restrictions. We go all the way to Phoenix, Arizona, to get Terry, an older, but sturdy RV that falls within our budget, weight limit, and floor plan. We narrowly escape a near-disasterous incident before we even get out of Phoenix, but back at Colossal Cave outside of Tucson where we are camped, we set up home in Terry and sell our much-loved Pony.

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    Terry: a 19-foot older RV is a great find.
  • Desert camping: Colossal Cave, Arizona – having been here before, we knew we liked it.

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    Arroyo at Colossal Cave running with rain water

     

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    Special treat while at Colossal Cave: visit from Katie and her kids

     

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    Campsite at Colossal Cave surrounded by saguaros

    The Sonoran Desert National Monument southwest of Phoenix looks bare and desolate as we approach, but I fall in love with it: two weeks of solitude with long walks and campfires to warm the chill morning air.

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    Falling in love with the Sonoran Desert National Monument

     

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    Campfire in the Desert

     

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    Rock mosaic made from Sonoran Desert rocks gathered on daily walks

     

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    Sunset in the Sonoran Desert National Monument
  • The Carnicom Brothers Reunion in Tucson, Arizona.

  • Cochise Stronghold, another place I fall in love with, as well as feeling a special connection to this rock mountain. I become friends with the camp host and others with whom we stay in touch.

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    Morning Light at Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains of Arizona

     

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    Sotol in the Dragoon Mountains

     

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    Hiking in the Dragoon Mountains
  • City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico – what a really cool place to camp for two week.  While there,  I meet a woman who has become a special friend – I expect we will meet again on the road.

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    Cook’s Peak from City of Rocks at Sunrise

     

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    Sunrise at City of Rock, New Mexico

     

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    The Moon Setting at Sunrise in City of Rocks

     

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    Blazer and Terry – Camping at City of Rocks

     

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    Great Horned Owls at City of Rocks at Sunset

     Leaving Arizona, Percha Dam State Park, New Mexico, is the first campground where we have plugged into electricity.  We catch up on projects that need power and internet.

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    The once powerful Rio Grande is but a shadow of its former self – Percha Dam State Park

     

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    The mesa on the far side of the Rio Grande, seen from Percha Dam State Park at sunset.

    The journey northward begins: Camping at Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, waiting for better weather around Santa Fe, and hiking in nearby Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

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    Giant Fairyland – my favorite rock formation at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
  •  Villanueva State Park east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, bypassing cold weather at Santa Fe, (or so we thought),…..

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    Pecos River at Villanueva State Park, New Mexico

    followed by camping in the mountains north of Santa Fe at Hyde State Park, …..and more snow.

     

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    Hyde State Park north of Santa Fe – Snow Photo Opportunities in April

     

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    Snow on Aspens at Hyde State Park

     

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    I was delighted with the snow; everyone else in the campground seemed to think I was nuts, being all excited about taking photos of snow.
  • Two weeks at Santa Fe visiting friends and working with our webmaster, Kaylee, to construct a new website for me.

  • Leaving Santa Fe, we stay at Villanueva again to wait out another snow storm – 20 inches of new snow right where we are headed in Colorado.

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    Pecos River at Villanueva State Park: New leaves on trees adds color to the scene.
  • After visiting friends in Colorado, the journey is comprised of one-night stands in Walmart parking lots and rest areas, and brief visits with more friends and family once we reach Montana.

  • And finally, back to Wallace, Idaho. It is good to be back AND we are already planning our next outing. More adventures await!

Journey to the Creek; Journey Inward

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Finally, some real snow – light and fluffy, and enough to make the landscape new and magical.  Oh, we’ve had some snow and cold, but just enough to make walking icy and slow.  This time, however, it is irresistible for a photographer.  So, I bundle up, drape the camera over my shoulder and head out.  As I walk to the edge of town several blocks away, there are many beautiful snow-covered trees, but power lines and buildings spoil every photo that I want to take.  Once outside of town, I walk alongside the edge of the road, shuffling through the snow, keeping my distance from the traveled portion of the road.  It is a relief to be away from power lines and fences and driveways.  It is even better when I am far enough out of town to be beyond the concrete canal that encloses Placer Creek to make sure it behaves during spring run-off.

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Now I can walk along the bank above the creek.  And here it is that I take photos and more photos, loving the dark movement of the creek against the purity of the white snow and backed by snow-covered trees, dark and mysterious.

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As I walk and observe and take photos, I am thinking about my life at this moment.  Healing is a complex process.  It isn’t just a matter of incisions drawing closed, the simple healing of a wound.  The deeper wound is “how could this have happened?”  How do I know it will not happen again?  It took me so by surprise – I who had not been to a doctor in over 20 years – faced with a life-threatening condition.

A new lease on life has been given to me, but here I am, waking up with anxiety and going through my day with a sense of weariness.  Even though I approached all the procedures as openly as possible, seeing the process not as a war against cancer but as a journey back to wellness,  I still feel battle-weary.  Where does this weariness come from?  It occurs to me that even though I am busy every day, getting caught up with bookwork and housework that has fallen behind in the last several month, as well as helping out more with my husband’s non-profit, this busy-ness is without enthusiasm and sense of purpose.

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I KNOW what my purpose at this time in my life is, but I can’t seem to accomplish it in a meaningful way here and now.  I’ve always been a person with my ducks in a row, but now I feel that I’m floundering in a life that isn’t my own true life.  It is most uncomfortable.  Perhaps a time of being lost in the desert is okay, or even good and necessary, but it is still uncomfortable.   I have spent too much of my life being in resistance to “what is” – a long and difficult first marriage, more recently a move that has left me longing for a home that is no longer my home, and my family still too far away to give and receive the hugs we all need.

Placer Creek Snow 045It is a leap of faith to be totally accepting of this present state of affairs, to lovingly embrace my life as it is, with all of its uncertainties and ducks running amuck.  I want to be like this creek as it flows toward the sea, flowing effortlessly over and around the rocks in its way.  I want to be joyfully alive and surrounded by beauty.  This is my gift to share: seeking, finding, and sharing beauty.  So I will accept the floundering and look for the beauty in each and every day (and ignore the ducks as best I can).