Friday January 6th, 2017 – There is a sprinkle of rain in the early morning, very welcome in the desert, here at City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico. Even though it is very windy, I go for a walk in the rocks, but I should have left sooner as there is not much time between dawn and sunrise.
Today my main project is getting bills, cards, and donor gifts ready to mail. The wind dies down in the mid-afternoon, enough so that I am able to play cello on the sunny side, which I haven’t been able to do so much here at the City. Talk to my daughter Becka as I walk in the rocks at sunset, and finish reading “Last Juror” after dinner.
Saturday January 7th – It is sunny, but only 25 degrees as I go for a morning walk in the rocks, taking photos and even doing a little video. It was suggested that I do that and post it on YouTube to show the interesting places we see. I think the shadows are too deep this early in the morning, so will try another video later in the day. I have a fun time capturing starbursts before the sun is too high in the sky.
After breakfast we go to the Faywood post office to mail stuff and do a last check on mail we may have received. In the afternoon I do some editing for Ang (Novels of Shannon – a really great series for epic fantasy fans) as well as preparing and posting blogs on my website, blogsite, FB, and Twitter. I love seeing these interesting places, which are the basis of the blogs and photos, but what gives them meaning is being able to share with family, friends, and strangers who might not ever be able to travel to these scenic locations. In the evening, I go on another walk in the rocks near sundown; a video at this time of day turns out better.
Sunday January 8th – As usual, I go for a walk in the rocks on this sunny and milder morning.
I work on the CI email today and am very glad to get that out of the way. I post blogs and then we sit outside – the first day warm and calm enough for us to do that. I am even able to play cello outside on the shady side.
Even though the sunset colors are not great, I love walking in the rocks and meander about, happy to be there.
I am sorry that today is our last day here, but it is time to move on.
Tuesday January 3rd – the sky is kind of skummy looking this morning, so I don’t go for a walk in the rocks, but make tea and write in my journal.
After breakfast, we go to the Faywood post office. Back at camp, I spend most of the day editing Princes of Purt, the next book in the Novels of Shannon series by Angela MacDonald (an excellent and exciting epic fantasy series, for anyone who is interested), editing photos for my next blog, and posting past blogs on my wordpress blog site. It is not quite warm enough to play cello outside, so spend the rest of the day reading “Last Juror.” Clifford continues his studies.
Wednesday January 4th – I make tea, put it in a to-go cup, and with journal in hand, I head to a picnic table in the rocks. Once I get to the rocks, instead of sitting and writing, I begin hiking around in a different section of the rocks. They are an endlessly fascinating labyrinth just waiting to be explored.
Back at the campsite, after breakfast, I cut Clifford’s hair, as it is warm enough for us to do this outside. By time the temperature is warm enough for the cello, it is too windy out, so no playing cello today. Blogs and editing take up the rest of the day; I’m grateful for the electricity that allows hours on the laptop. I walk in the rocks at sunset, but don’t take many photos, as the sky is, unfortunately, is too streaked with jet trails. After dinner, I continue reading “Last Juror.” Although I might prefer to edit Princes of Purt, I don’t do good editing later in the day – too many little things slip by.
Thursday January 5th is a better day for photos as I walk in the rocks at sunrise. There is only a brief window of time to get photos with the special warm light of sunrise on the rocks and a bit longer window to play around with catching starbursts of the sun as it clears the rocks.
My organization project today is cleaning the fridge, which I do right after breakfast. More editing and blog writing, as well as checking email. Although it was calm in the early morning, it is super windy all day long, so no cello again today. Surprisingly, the wind calms down at sunset, so I have a pleasant walk in the rocks before dark.
Sunday January 1st is Day 87 of our winter journey. For the first time at City of Rocks, I have a morning campfire, as it seems an appropriate way to start the new year.
The location is not ideal, but it is the intent that counts, so I sit by my little fire sipping hot tea until the rain drives me in. Now, I know how to have a good campfire in the rain, but in an RV park (which the electric sites are) surrounded by $100,000 giant 5th wheels and motor-homes, that is not the ideal place to have a good roaring campfire. And besides that, I can’t read or write in the rain.
I have only enough time for breakfast and then head to the Visitors Center for the planned New Year’s Day hike with a ranger. I join a very small group of hardy souls and off we go for a 2-mile hike in the rain. It was not a terrifically scenic hike, but it was fun.
Back at camp, I see how many of my projects I can do with the limited bytes per day: send an edited chapter to Ang, post a blog/photos on my website with a link on FB, post an older blog to the blogsite and twitter. Got that done with less than my daily allotment – hooray.
Toward sunset, Clifford goes for a walk in the rocks with me; I stay longer to eke out the last of the sunlight for photos.
We have nachos for dinner and I start reading a Tony Hillerman novel. A very good 1st day of 2017.
Monday January 2nd I am up in time to see very pretty sunrise colors.
As I walk in the rocks, I find several depressions in the rocks that have filled with water from the recent rains.
Today is an errand day, so we head to Silver City as soon as possible. Adobe Cafe, the bank, and Walmart are the only stops, so we are back at camp in time to enjoy the afternoon. After putting groceries and sundries away, I pick up the book I started reading last night and read the rest of the day, nearly missing a very vibrant sunset.
After taking a few photos, I finish reading the Tony Hillerman novel and start reading “The Last Juror” by John Grisham. Kind of a lazy day for me.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.