Monday, November 30, 2015

Post Holiday Wishes, Moon Rises & Daily Challenges

Sorry for the quiet this last week.  With traveling to find a new boondock and getting set up just before the holiday, I didn't get a chance to scope out the library in town to recharge my computer.  No  electric, no computer, no posts.  That's how it is folks, living the life of luxury in a teardrop on the road.

As a late well wishing to everyone, I hope you had a wonderfully fun & belly-filled
Save the Turkeys Day! 

And that you all did your part on behalf of turkeys everywhere and ate Tofu (They were very close to being our country's national symbol you know!) .

I did move north last week to Lake Havasu City, where there are a few more stores available to get some things I needed.  It is a nice city and beautiful area and has lots of places to explore.  Though I'm not a "city" gal, I do like to see new places and check out what cool things there are to see and do, and LHC is small enough to not overwhelm me.  It has been a nice place to plop down for a bit, while I work on some projects and work out kinks in my set-up.

Cactus windows - very cool idea!

Upon finding a spot with an amazing view, I was welcomed by a flying, tiny, sparkly green neighbor who liked to show off his brilliant neckpiece.  He has a couple of lady friends, but isn't very gentlemanly when it comes to sharing the feeder I put out for them.  I have chided him about this on several occasions, but he seems to be ignoring me.  I told him he would be sorry come mating season!  Maybe he is this way because he has been disgracefully named like the ladybug. . . he is an "Anna's" Hummingbird.

On the second day at my boondock, I met a fellow full-timer who has been on the road for a couple of years and is very well-versed in many aspects of the simple, full-time lifestyle.  She has been a great source of information and ideas and has been helping me come up with a plan to hopefully get my solar system set up sooner and less expensively than I originally thought; and has already become a good friend too.  It's nice to meet someone who shares similar perspectives on life and who is well-versed with this full-timing lifestyle to bounce ideas off of.  I have appreciated all her help & friendship more than I can say.

Morning Moon Set

One thing I like about what I'm doing with my life is that it challenges me almost every day.  Sometimes those challenges are small, like trying to drain the water out of my cooler without soaking the car or myself while trying to get it to flow into my water jugs; and sometimes the challenges are a bit larger and harder to find a solution to - like trying to stay warm in the tearbaby during the cold weather we have had here.  For most full-timers, they have bigger rigs with built in propane heaters or generators to power electric heaters, but for my little tearbaby, I don't have many options.  I don't want a generator.  Too loud; too costly; too big to store; have to haul and store fuel; not my thing.  I thought about a small propane heater, and my friend lent me her Mr. Heater "Little Buddy" to try out (I had been considering one of these), but it turns out it is too big to sit on the counter in my teardrop and I don't have enough clearance on the floor to run it safely.  So that leaves just me. (Yep, always have to do everything myself.).  One nice thing about a small teardrop is that your body heat does eventually heat up the interior space - EVENTUALLY!  Yes, it is a bit nippy on these cold nights at first, but by morning I am pretty much snug as a bug in a rug under all my blankets; that is until I have to take my morning constitutional - which is outside.  Brrrr! isn't quite explicit enough to describe the brisk experience some mornings.  To help keep warm in the evenings, I have been boiling water in the afternoon and storing it in my thermos for hot tea and I even got out my gloves to keep my hands warm - which are always cold.  So far I have managed to survive these cold nights, but am very much looking forward to nights warmer than the 30's.  Cold evenings and mornings make me a slug.

Evening Moon Rise

One thing I have been enjoying is the night sky and the moon!  The full moon rise just before Turkey Day was amazing.  Watching it come up over the jutting rocks in the evening and then set over the opposite cliffs in the morning has been one of my greatest joys.  The other night my friend and I even witnessed the biggest shooting star either of us has ever seen.  It was so bright and glowed green as it fell though our atmosphere.  Truly spectacular.  These are the things that we so often miss in our day to day lives, but I feel they are the things that can bring such joy and wonder and we need to make them more a part of our lives to help us keep focused on what is really important.  So, take some time to stop and smell the roses - figuratively and literally.  Give yourself a little joy in your life every day.  It does make a difference.

And for those of you who have been wondering what mutant eggs look like, here you go!

Mutant Eggs

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mutant Eggs and Subatomic Particles - YUM!

The past couple of days have been relatively productive.  I have been doing more reorganizing, purging and food prep.  After being held captive in town all day Friday and a windy day on Saturday, I never got to deal with all the groceries I bought.  Not to worry, nothing went bad, I did toss the perishables in the cooler with ice, but that's all I did.

First, on Saturday I did some reorganizing in the van and tearbaby between wind gusts and buzzing ATV'ers.  I know I was in a big ATV riding area and it was the weekend, so I did expect to see and hear them constantly, but what I would have appreciated is that they didn't ride through my camp area!  Where I was camped was a HUGE open area with plenty of places for them to ride and stay away from my space.  The area is for everyone, and a little common courtesy and respect to others using it too would go a long way.  Oh well, I'll chalk it up to boondocking lessons learned.  Onward and upwards!

The beginning of many I'm afraid!

Sunday was actually eerily quiet from the constant roar of motors and the wind was pretty gentle so I decided to work on food prep, cooler set-up and kitchen reorganization.  First order of business was to hard boil my eggs (the ones I bought at the store!).  Not many cooking tasks can be simpler than this - put eggs in pot, cover with water, boil.  Two ingredients, 1 pot . . . easy peasey!  But I can't do it!  For the life of me, I just don't understand why I always fail at this obviously simple cooking task.  Out of 12 eggs, 3 peeled perfectly, 3 peeled almost perfectly, and I was left with 6 strange looking 'alienesk', roundish, white, mutilated blobs ready for the next zombie apocalypse.  Probably close to 1/4 of each of those blobs are still stuck to the shells in the garbage.  It also took me like 30 minutes to peel all 12 eggs!  I have tried various cooking times, let sit times, peeling methods, and nope, none seem to give me 12 perfectly peeled eggs.  My sister says it's the eggs' fault, not mine, and since she is younger and smarter than me, I'm going with her wisdom.   

My cooler.  If any of you looked back through my early posts you would have seen my dilemma about which cooler to buy and my addiction to plastic food storage containers.  As for my cooler, I ended up going with the Coleman Extreme 5 day 52 Qt.cooler.  I chose that size because I knew I'd need a lot of ice to keep my food cool and would still have space for the food, but I had been worried lately that it was going to be too big.  It does take up a LOT of room in my car.  I also ended up bringing a file box of plastic food storage containers as well, cuz you never know what size, shape or color you'll need for the job at hand.  Well, after buying two 10 lbs bags of ice for the cooler and some "need to keep cool" food (including my mutant eggs!), I realized yesterday as I attempted to organize it that it isn't too big (inside) for my needs at this time.  I also discovered that my plastic food containers may not be the best for use in the cooler after all, they take up space and are never quite the right size.  I found that zip-lock type baggies might be the way to go for items on top of a few plastic containers.  I also have a tray that sits along the inside top groove to hold veggies and stuff I don't want right down on the ice.  It seems to be working so far though I do foresee some challenges in my future with it however.  Time will tell as we get better acquainted.

My cooler in it's Alien Suit

Today is moving day.  I hitched up and left my first boondock this morning.  Sad to say good-bye but exciting to be off to explore new places.  First stop however was the library and their free electricity and wi-fi!  I am still sitting here, writing this and waiting for my slow computer to finish it's meal of delectable subatomic particles.  The wi-fi is nice too - saves my data - but it also allows me to try to figure out the Kindle Fire my dear friend gave me as a going away gift.  I have never used one before and I thought it would be pretty simple and self-explanatory, but I'm just not getting it.  I did manage to download some free ebooks today, but I thought I could download free movies to watch as well, but from what I can tell it will only allow me to stream those, unless I actually purchase the movie.  Can anyone out there shed some light on that for me?  

Ooo!  We are at 100%!!  FINALLY!  And it only took 4 hours.  We certainly give those lightning chargers a run for their money!  

Time to head out to find a new boondock!  

Friday, November 20, 2015

And the Game is Called on Account of . . . A Bomb Threat!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I just can't make this kind of stuff up!  I was considering moving from my campsite due to the increased ATV traffic, but how can I possibly leave now?  Things are just starting to get exciting!

Saguaro at the Parker Public Library
Let me back up.  

Yesterday I headed into town to take care of some chores; laundry, post office, grocery shopping and find a place to recharge my computer.  Well, I started at the post office and got set up for receiving mail while I'm in the area, then headed over to do my laundry.  Here's something I don't get, I'm in the desert where water is supposed to be scarce and it only cost $1.50 to do a load of wash.  I was paying $2.50 for the same size load in Ohio, and I was basically on Lake Erie!  What gives?  Not that I'm complaining - I'll gladly pay the $1.50.  After laundry I found the local library and they kindly allowed me to hang out there and use their wi-fi and electric to charge up my computer so I could continue to bring you these exciting posts.  AND they have covered parking made out of solar panels too!  Parker Public Library, you ROCK!!  Unfortunately it takes a long time to recharge my old computer and I only got it to 80% before I needed to book it back to my campsite before dark.  I didn't want to get lost trying to get back to my spot.  So, grocery shopping had to wait.

Prickly Pear

This morning I decided I might look for a spot farther down the road in an area less desirable to the ATV'ers after I returned from my trip to Wally World.  I figured I'd be back by early afternoon at the latest so that would give me plenty of time to scout out a new boondock and move.  Little did I know that my game plan was going to go kablooey!  As I headed for home loaded with groceries, there was a fire personnel truck blocking the road.  The nice young man got out and told me the road was closed due to a hazard up ahead.  He wouldn't tell me what kind of hazard, but that it would be 2, 3, maybe more hours before the road would be open.  You gotta be joking!  So I went back into town, got something to eat, and tried to kill a couple of hours (thus the cactus pictures here that I took around town for my little nephew who loves cacti right now).  I would have hung at the library again & got some work done, but sadly they are closed Fri - Sun.  

After a couple of hours, I headed back, hoping I could get through.  Nope!  This time a police officer was blocking the road and told me the road would be closed for 2, 3, maybe more hours due to a bomb threat!  I know I've only been in this area for a couple of days, but for the life of me I can't figure out what anyone would want to blow up out here!  Maybe an old mine in hopes of finding gold or the big white P on the mountain side (though a bit audacious, it doesn't seem to be hurting anyone).  Don't get me wrong, with all the craziness happening in the world right now, I greatly appreciate the time and effort the police, fire department and bomb squad went through to make sure it was safe for us here.  I am humbled by their courage and willingness to put their lives on the line daily.  Thank you!

Momma cactus and baby

Anyway, after a little over 5 hours of waiting, the road was reopened.  It was dark.  I did find my way home and to Zelda (she is hard to find in the dark desert).  I think she thought Grania and I abandoned her; she seemed relieved when we returned.  Not much of what I had planned was accomplished today, though I did see a roadrunner run across the actual road this morning!  Oh well, gotta roll with the punches.  So this evening, as I type this, I am sitting outside under the stars and moonlit sky, the wind is kicking up, but has a warmth to it.  A lovely end to a bizarre day.

Sunset from parking lot waiting for the road to open

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!  WOO HOO!  What a ride!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I Think I OD'ed on Vitamin D Today

Well, I believe we left off with me freezing my buttkus off!  Monday morning was damn cold and I of course was given the campsite farthest away from the bathrooms!  It was not a pleasant jaunt.  When I got back to the tearbaby I decided to crawl back into bed with my heating pad and get warm before making the trek back for a hot shower.  And let me tell you, it was one of the HOTTEST hot showers I've ever taken.  After my body was sufficiently warmed up we were off to find warmth in places south - Parker was my destination, with an extended sunny forecast in the upper 60's - 70's. . .  PERFECT!

I arrived at my very first official boondock about 2:30 Monday afternoon.  I was following recommendations from a website for free camping spots I had been using as I traveled out here, and after a few minutes of apprehension wondering if I would be able to actually identify a legit boondock, I came across a couple of other trailers already parked in the area.  I decided to make this my home for now, but as far away from the others as possible.  After trying out a couple of spots I found one that gave me a gorgeous view in all directions.

View to the north from my campsite

I was finally back in the desert.  It has been 30 years since I last camped in the desert, but back then I was living out of a backpack & sleeping on the ground under the stars with a group of students on a college field study program that ended up changing my life.  Being back here is like running into a  dear childhood friend, familiar yet you have to get reacquainted.  After "setting up camp" on Monday (really only doing the very basics), I just sat and tried to absorb that I was really here.  I don't think I have fully absorbed it all yet, even after 2 days.  That's O.K., I want to go slowly, to savor the moments and the changes in myself.

Last night there was a most beautiful sunset.  The blue in the sky was one of the most gorgeous shades of blue I have seen, I'd call it close to cerulean.  The clouds were pink / purple then changed to pink/orange against that blue and WOW!  The show was just amazing.  My picture doesn't do the colors justice.  One other thing I had forgotten from my last time in the desert is the way even a little moonlight illuminates the landscape.  The light color of the desert floor helps reflect the moonlight like snow covered ground and makes the desert glow.    

Sunset Magic

The one thing I HAD to do was to try to get organized.  Dealing with all my stuff (yes, I still have too much) on the drive out here was making me crazy.  I never really got to organize everything before I left.  When I arrived on Monday it was still quite windy, which continued into Tuesday making it difficult to work on things.  Today when I woke up, the wind was gone so I deemed today to be "Operation Organization Day"!  I started by setting up both of my small tables and laying out a tarp, then I proceeded to barf out all my stuff from the car and trailer.  I don't know about you, but I love being organized, though don't always like getting there.  Depends on what it is I'm trying to organize.  I do well with the big stuff, but when I get down to the nitty-gritty little things and paper-stuff I lose it - not the stuff, my mind and patience!  Add to the mix that I still am not sure what I do and don't need yet, and you have one crazed camper!  Needless to say, it took most of the day to clear off the tables and tarp and I'm really not sure that I'm any more organized from when I started, but I sure did move a lot of stuff around!  Oh well, I found a couple of things I had lost, so I guess that was something.

But the best part of today was the temperature - it was up in the mid 70's (almost hot in the full sun actually) with a gentle breeze.  The most perfect weather for me.  Yes, I did OD on vitamin D today and enjoyed every minute of it!  THANK YOU Weather Goddess!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

And we're driving, and we're driving and we're driving, and we're stopping.

Well the last three days have been a whirlwind to say the least!  I had so wanted to just take my time and explore as I made my way to SW Arizona.  But NO, the Weather Goddess, though very gracious and giving of lovely weather for the first 2 weeks of November, decided that she had held back winter long enough.  So I had to hightail it across Kansas, the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas, across New Mexico and Arizona in 3 days!  We are all exhausted - Grania especially!

On Friday, November 13, I cut diagonally across Kansas - driving directly into the wind the whole way.  I stopped for a break at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center and Cheyenne Bottoms Refuge just north of Great Bend, KS.  If you are in that area be sure to stop by - especially in the spring and fall.  It is one of the main stopping places for migrating birds - shore birds, song birds, waterfowl, you name it, they probably stop there.  Give yourself most of the day if you want to go out and explore the areas of the refuge - you will need a car to do it or I believe they do offer tours.

View of the refuge from the Education Center
After stopping to explore, I made my way to another free campsite in Meade, KS at their city park.  It was a very nice park with playground, pavilions, open green space and an area for RV's.  No hook-ups, but it did have a bathroom with heat and running water.  Unfortunately, someone came and locked them in the evening, so when I got up in the morning I was met with the dreadful surprise.  But, not to worry, I used my secret agent skill I learned in college and got in.  No, I didn't pick the lock or crawl through a window.  I never actually unlocked the door at all, but I did open it.  Potential unpleasantness averted.  Phew!

Evening Sky at my campsite in Meade, KS
On Saturday, I continued through the last little bit of Kansas into the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles "Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain" and right smack into me.  I checked my gas mileage for this leg of the trip and it was about 14 miles per gallon!  Ouch!  There were Kamikaze Tumbleweeds shooting out across the road.  I admit, I did hit a couple of them, but not to worry, they all miraculously survived and continued tumbling onward.  I have been having lots of laughs along the way with the names people give their businesses.  There was the "Kum & Go" gas station chain in Iowa, the "Toot 'n Totem" gas station chain in Texas, and then the best one so far, the "Hooker Inn" in Hooker, Oklahoma.  Maybe it's a Hollywood thing, like stars giving their kids names like Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen, Jermajesty and Zuma Nesta Rock.  Com'on people, think before you name, don't drink before you name.  

I had scouted out another free campsite just west of Albuquerque in the parking lot of a casino.  Hey, it was free and ya gotta try things sometimes.  It was a COLD night in Zelda.  I even sprang for a cup of hot chocolate this morning to warm up - not something I ever do.  From Albuquerque I was going to only go to Winslow, AZ, cuz hey, there's a song about it so that's a good reason to stop in my book; but the weather forecast for Flagstaff called for snow tonight.  I didn't want to take the chance of having to drive through that tomorrow so I changed my mind and decided to push through to Kingman, AZ.  I did however get to drive through snow showers around Flagstaff.  I guess since I'll be in SW Arizona for the winter, that was my winter snow for this year.  I can handle that, especially after the past 2 horrible winters in Ohio.

A dear friend of mine, who happens to be from Arizona, recommended The Pine Country Restaurant in Williams, AZ, about 30 miles west of Flagstaff, so I thought I'd treat myself to something hot to eat for a change.  The food was delicious and the pies are amazing!  


Williams is a lovely, quaint mountain town and is the gateway to the Grand Canyon.  I wish I had had more time to spend there and explore.  Definitely a place I will have to go back to when the weather is nicer.  It is right on Historic Route 66 and was the last section that was decommissioned in I believe 1984 it said.

Williams, AZ

As I headed to Kingsman, I hadn't found any good free campsites that met my needs.  The weather was supposed to get icky so I decided to splurge ($30!) and get a site in an RV park with electric and . . . SHOWERS!!   As I got out of the car to check in I was just about blown away!  I thought the wind in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas was bad, but this was hurricane force wind!  I am NOT exaggerating.  It pushed me along faster than I wanted to walk.  The storm was upon me and I did get set up before the thunder, rain and sleet started, but the wind was rockin 'n' rollin Zelda with me in it.  Within a little over an hour after I could feel the drop in temperature.  It is cold again.  I can still hear the wind, though it has settled down to blustery and I am wondering if I will wake up to the snow they forecasted for here as well.  I hope not.  My hot shower will be for naught as soon as I start walking back to my site.

Tomorrow I will head south to the Lake Havasu area and start looking for a good boondock.  The  forecast says once I get down that way the weather will be warm and stay that way for the next couple of weeks.  YIPPIE!  I so want to find a warm place where I can stay for a little while, get myself organized and just savor the realization that this adventure has finally begun.  Is that too much to ask Weather Goddess??

Thursday, November 12, 2015

O.K. I Lied

Well, not intentionally, but I didn't get on the road at the end of October as I had hoped.  My brake lights weren't working as I thought.  I want to know who's 'brilliant' idea it was at Dodge to not have separate wires for turn signal lights, brake lights, and tail lights???  Really, how hard can that be?  But NO, I have to get a car who's brake light wires are just a few filaments of wire INSIDE the turn signal wires!  Would that little bit of extra wire for brake lights have put the manufacturer over their wire quota or something equally absurd?  Such cockamamie designs these car companies come up with (my Ford Focus had an air filter that was $400 to replace!  And that was a low-end model car!) Well, after several more days of waiting and fixing, I finally got the brake light problem solved and can now tow Zelda legally.  On the bright side I did learn some interesting new things (in addition to the obvious wire shortage Dodge had in 2007), like there is such a mechanism that converts separate turn signal and brake light wires on a car to a combined circuit for a trailer's single lamp type lights.  That seems to be pretty common.  Of course I can't have anything common, so what I needed was a mechanism that UN-combined these two circuits going to the trailer.  Yes, I have to be difficult.  Makes life so much more interesting.

After a couple more days of madly purging and packing and repacking I was on my way - or so I thought.  [Insert minor anxiety attack on the amount of stuff I was still trying to take].  I thought I was doing so well, but when I finally got the car & trailer all packed - I freaked.  So, I made a trip to my friend's house, where the last of my belongings are stored, to purge & repack once more and I was (FINALLY) on my way to Minnesota the morning of November 3!

Grania and Zelda packed and ready to hit the road!

Two days to get to Minnesota to visit with my aunt and cousins for 5 days then I headed to Nebraska for a visit with the master craftsman who built my tearbaby.  He helped me take care of a few projects I wanted to do to the trailer and now Zelda is all tricked out!

So patient readers, today, November 12 is the first day of my new life adventure!!  It marks the first day I don't have to be any place by a certain time or particular day.  I am totally free!  It is a great feeling, but I will admit a bit discombobulating.  I am still living out of my car and trailer instead of living "in" them.  Everything is a mess.  I am making my way southwest to (I hope) warmer weather so I can set up camp for a week or two and try to get organized.

Tonight I am in northern Kansas camping at a "free"/fee-by-donation city park in Concordia which happens to have electricity (a very good thing since it's supposed to get down to about 29 degrees tonight and I wanted to be able to plug in my heating pad to stay warm in bed).  The coolest thing about this camp is how I found out about it.  I stopped at the local Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries for the next few days on the road and as I was walking to my rig a man who had just parked next to me commented on how he liked my trailer and asked if I was camping.  I responded that my set-up was my home and he went on to tell me about this city park right across the street!  I feel like I have been inducted into the full-times club now!  Locals are telling me about campsites!  Way cool.  And Kansas seems to have a LOT of free / very inexpensive camping parks - way to go Kansas!!

My "free" campsite in Kansas - right next to a National Guard Armory and a small municipal airport.  I'm not sure who gets to play in the awesome tower in the background but I sure want to! 

So the next leg of my journey will take me diagonally across Kansas to its southwest corner then through the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas and down into New Mexico - where PLEASE Weather Goddess, let me find warm days and pleasantly cool nights!

(And are you hating these ludicrously short days as much as I am?)