Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Yesterday’s homecoming was bittersweet. On the one hand, it was wonderful to get back. On the other, I wondered whether being in my own four walls again meant returning to the same sense of stuckness I couldn’t seem to shake before I left.

Not a good feeling, to say the least.

Thankfully, a wise friend reminded me that it’s all about how I choose to look at it. That helped me get some quick perspective. After taking a much needed nap and stepping outside to walk Clifford, crisp Maine air, tall trees, a nearly full moon and twinkling stars greeted me. It was as if all those elements breathed together, right into me, right there in the driveway. Welcome home, they said.

With tremendous gratitude, I opened my arms wide, tilted my head back and received the beautiful offering.

Today I realized that the key to being here is not to be here. That is, to think of my apartment as base camp and get out much more than I used to -- to explore, write and be in ways that both gather fodder for this blog and fit the new sense of freedom gained from the past few weeks.

In other words, to really live. Simply getting by and existing lead to the proverbial pit where hope and faith tend to wither as depression and despair vie for position in the mind and heart.

It’s high time for living, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I have just one answer to that question.


"Are we really home?"

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Change of Plans

I've delayed writing this post for various reasons, but the time has come to get 'er done.

To be right out with it, my traveling companion and I parted ways last week, just after our visit to Foss State Park. I asked to be dropped off at the airport in Oklahoma City, and I flew to Asheville, NC -- where I am now -- to spend a couple of weeks with my beautiful spirit mom Mary.

The decision to cut the road trip short was not an easy one, and it was not arrived at lightly in my mind or heart. As I pondered it all on the plane heading east, I firmly put aside the yackety-yack about failure that wanted to invade my thoughts and instead came up with four solid reasons why I consider the trip a success.

Connecting with Bear. This is something I felt strongly led to do for two years, since a dear friend first mentioned his name. There's nothing quite like looking into the eyes of someone with whom you've connected through emails, phone calls and texts over a period of time. Or getting one of his amazing bear hugs. Highly recommended.

Feeling the freedom of the open road. There was just a sense of rightness about being on the road, able to go and do and be at will -- and as led. The day we drove down from Mt. Lemmon, following my first rather humorous and definitely memorable night in the camper, the sun was shining through the windshield, beautiful evergreens dotted the mountainous landscape around us, cool and sweet mountain air was coming in through the windows, and all felt right with the world. Or at least my world.

In short, I liked it. A lot. And I got confirmation that on the road is indeed where I want and need to be.

Getting more clarity about the rig. I now have a better idea of what is likely too little, too much and just right. A teardrop, though small, lightweight and extremely nimble, would be too small for me on a full-time basis. Definite things I need in a rig of my own: room to stand up and move around; facilities of my own immediately at hand, like a toilet, a shower and an indoor kitchen; a real bed; and room on the roof for solar panels so I can boondock (camp anywhere without electric, water or sewer hookups) at will with modern lighting and juice for my laptop and cell phone if I want it.

Go ahead and call me city girl. I own it now.

Sensing a workable rhythm. I learned that I like a good mix of being out in nature away from it all and connecting with people in civilization. Too much of the former and I'd probably become a grouchy, out-of-touch hermit. Too much of the latter and I'd likely feel a lot like I did at the airport just after parting ways with Bear and still do now, in my spirit -- hemmed in by the world.

While I feel a lot is still up in the air, one thing is for certain: It will be fun to see how all the next steps unfold.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Foss State Park

We left the flat, dusty landscape of Texas behind and entered Oklahoma. We were headed for a wildlife refuge that Bear had stayed in before, but we mistakenly ended up in a beautiful little state park next to an interesting copse of trees. Most of them had trunks that extended upward toward a branch in one continuous piece, rather than trunks that led up to multiple separate branches. I don't know if that's clear from the photos. Overall, the trees made for a spooky looking, yet cool, setting.

Speaking of cool, the wind was whipping pretty ferociously off the nearby lake when we arrived Sunday evening. But by Monday morning, we enjoyed this placid scene before taking off and heading toward Oklahoma City.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

On the Road Again

From what I read on blogs of folks who live on the road full time, not every day is exciting. There are just the average times of everyday life, like travel days.

We’ve had a couple of those.

We set out from Flagstaff on Thursday afternoon, making it to the first rest stop in New Mexico that evening. We camped there, adding another first to my list of them during this trip.

It wasn’t half bad. I actually slept the most soundly that night out of any in the camper yet.

Friday and today have also been travel days. We crossed the desert of New Mexico and now face a flat, dusty stretch of Interstate 40 through Texas. The excitement mostly consists of being blown around by the strong wintry wind, which knocked Cliff around while he was lifting his leg earlier and blew me sideways when walking out of a building.  We are also enjoying busting tumbleweeds that blow into out path. Bear likes watching them disintegrate on impact, like a snowball. It is indeed fun to watch.

I had my first truck stop shower today, too, which wasn’t half bad. A very nice trucker named Nick saw me about to pay for it, stepped in and provided a code that enabled me to get clean for free. It’s amazing how unexpected little kindnesses, especially from seeming strangers, can be so meaningful. Thanks, Nick, for the shower and for what will likely be a nice memory.

I took a bit of time underneath the hot spray, leading me to wonder if Bear is regretting telling me about what he calls teardrop time. My understanding of it is that time passes slowly, in a sort of meander where there is no rush and, in fact, hardly any time at all. I think I might be taking that a bit too literally, leaving Bear much like the country song: waitin’ on a woman.

We are hanging out at said truck stop in Amarillo, waiting to see a friend of Bear’s who will be driving through here in a couple of hours. Bear also got an unexpectedly necessary brake repair done on the trailer while we’ve been here, taking further advantage of that teardrop time.

As promised, here are some images of the ponies (Jeep) and stagecoach (teardrop camper) that keep us moving and sheltered on this trip.

Here's the yurt we stayed in for a couple of nights. It's like a big, round, sturdy tent with a floor and a raised ceiling.

Clifford really loves being outside, enjoying the air and sunshine.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The drive from Flagstaff to Sedona took us down a windy mountain road flanked by evergreens. It became clear that we were approaching Sedona when beautiful rock formations began to peak through the trees and a feeling of peacefulness settled over me.

I had poked around on the internet to see where we might want to visit, given that we had just part of an afternoon to spend. We chose Red Rock Crossing, where one site said Cathedral Rock, walking trails, a river and a vortex could be found. I couldn’t imagine visiting Sedona and not experiencing a vortex.


Red Rock Crossing is part of Coconino National Forest. At the gate, we paid the admission fee and the gatekeeper, K (yes, that is her real, full name), told us that we could have a map of the place for $1 more  or the dog. 

We took the map. But it is always interesting to see what kind of offers Clifford’s cuteness inspires. 

The closer we got to the vortex, the more I felt a low-level buzzing in my body, starting in my feet and radiating upward. I didn’t make the connection with what I was feeling and where we actually were until we were sitting in the vortex area and looking at the description of where it was located. Overall, the sense of peacefulness that I felt driving into Sedona expanded the longer we stayed in Red Rock Crossing.

The sheer beauty of the place needs no explanation. Here are some images of Cathedral Rock, both as we approached and up close and personal.

Vortex area is in the rocky foreground

And here's a shot of Clifford in his perch after a rough day at the Sedona vortex "office." Forgive the blurriness. I took the pic while the Jeep was moving.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cooling Off

After spending a couple of days in Tucson, where we met up with a good friend of Bear's and some amazingly hospitable friends of friends, we fled the heat of the desert and headed north to the cooler temps of the Flagstaff area.

Along the way we stopped at Montezuma Castle, a multistory dwelling built into a cliff that was inhabited by Sinagua farmers until about 600 years ago. It housed 35 or so people in its heyday. There's a neighboring dwelling, Castle A, that housed about 100 people. The Sinagua farmed the land below and, from their vantage point in the cliff, were able to defend themselves from enemies and potential attacks. 

Seeing trees full of autumn colors was quite welcome after the dry, dusty, predominantly cacti-populated landscape we had come from, and the air was sweet and welcoming. 

Here's Montezuma Castle:

It was nice to see that dogs were allowed in the park. With the heat, we have not been leaving Cliff in the car. In fact, we've been sneaking him in to restaurants and coffee shops with us. Bear said that Cliff's carrier looks very natural on my shoulder, like a tote bag, and most folks wouldn't guess that there was a dog in there. He's right. And Cliff is so quiet that the incognito act has been working. 

In terms of where we're staying, Bear got us some pretty sweet accommodations at an Air Force recreation area with his retired Navy credentials. We're staying in a yurt for a couple of nights, which is another new and fun experience for me. More on the yurt to come.

From what I see so far of Flagstaff, it has a funky, cool vibe. I don't know how much poking around we'll do while we're here, but I can see coming back here for a visit at some point in the future.

Over and out for now. Happy election day, y'all.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

City Girl

Well, I'm told that for my first night in the camper, I did pretty well for a city girl.

It was a quintessential scene: We got settled in the teardrop's cozy interior, snug with a newly purchased sleeping bag and pillow. Just as I was about to fall asleep, a full bladder beckoned and would not be denied.


I got bundled up to ward off the chilly mountain air and trundled off with a flashlight, providing my host with no small amount of amusement. The rest of the evening was a mix of adjusting to new quarters, tossing and turning, and a experiencing a mild case of claustrophobia. Thankfully, I did manage to sleep pretty soundly when blessed slumber did descend.

I have no doubt night two will be better. I certainly will be better prepared, in more ways than one.

Clifford, on the other hand, did not share my challenges getting acclimated. He found comfy spots to settle in and snored like a champ. Case in point:

We parked in the center of Mt. Lemmon, Arizona, a small mountain town about an hour above the city of Tucson. On the ride up, we were treated to stunning sunset and city light views -- the kind that I had imagined would be part and parcel of this experience. Unfortunately, my iPhone simply could not capture the grandeur of it all.

But here are some images of my canine munchkin making fast friends with Bear, our friend and host, during our first couple of days:

I'll post some pictures soon of the stagecoach (teardrop camper) and the ponies (Jeep) that provide our shelter and transportation.

Until then, I'll close with many, many thanks to all of you for your love and support, and for following along. In particular, Clifford and I send a huge thank you to Jana and her family for so graciously taking care of Belle, my big beautiful black feline girl who would not have appreciated being dragged across country and back, to say the least. Tami, much gratitude for helping us get to the airport on time, and getting hearth and home in order. Meghan and Annabelle, thanks so much for looking in on things at home while we're gone. Melanie, I can't say thank you enough for all the ways you continue to be a blessing to me (tingles included).

I guess this trippy business does truly take a village!

Ciao for now.