|Zelda looking relieved that we came back for her!|
It was great to have the whole crew back together for more traveling! It was really nice to just have Grania when driving across country, but I missed having Zelda to sleep in. I like the easy simplicity of having just 1 vehicle when traveling, but then love having the luxury of not taking my whole house with me when I have to run errands. Never seems to be "THE PERFECT" rig that is perfect for every situation. They all have plusses and minuses.
I had wanted to get back to Arizona early January so I could attend the entire RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) this year in Quartzsite. It started on January 10th and my timing was perfect. I got there the first day and it was already packed! There ended up being more than 500 rigs there this year someone said. I know the guy doing the permits said I was #300-something and people just kept coming and coming after that! It was a bit overwhelming this year - me not being big on crowds - but it was fun to see all the cool rigs people lived in and I met some wonderful people this year. (If you want to see some arial views, many youtubers were there this year shooting drone footage - just do a search for 2017 RTR on youtube and I'm sure you will find lots!) I still highly recommend attending if you have any interest in going full-time (or even part-time), or just want to see what it's like to camp with a group of fun people in the middle of the desert! The seminars were great and everyone has unique ideas to contribute to living this lifestyle.
|Moonrise over RTR|
After the RTR, I headed back to Lake Havasu for a few weeks and hook back up with my friends from last winter. It was fun catching up with them. The weather was better this winter - still had some cold and windy days while in Q, but actually had some warmer and sunnier ones too. I even got sunburned! Camping in Lake Havasu, I like to be in Craggy Wash, it is so beautiful there, but having mountains all around means earlier sunsets and the earlier the cold creeps back in for the night. But hey, it was SO MUCH better than last winter! And by February, it really did start to warm up and be lovely!
After a few weeks back in LHC, I was ready to hit the road again and go experience the desert and nomad life the way I had always been imaging. So I headed back south, my destination was going to be Ajo, but when I got to Quartzsite, I decided to stop and stay a couple of days first. I went back to where we had the RTR and it was pretty much abandoned! What a difference it was! I loved it! A couple of friends I met were still camped there, so I had some fabulous neighbors. I found a lovely little spot and made camp. I sat there and just let the peace and solitude wash over me and took in the beauty that was all around me.
|Zelda and Grania in our lovely little desert camp spot.|
|My "window" view of the desert. |
The palo verde tree was the only thing that provided me any type of shade - of course it doesn't grow leaves, so the shade was spotty. But the view was wonderful.
That was where I was sitting and what I was feeling when my dad passed away. I know I was meant to be in this special place for this huge change in my life. The desert has always been a place for major changes in my life. I am grateful I was here and had my dear friends close by. The next day, my friends invited me over for a delicious solar-cooked dinner and this was the sunset - my dad's sunset as I like to call it.
I ended up flying back to Ohio to help my stepmom with whatever she needed help with and just be there for her and my sister. We already knew we were going to have a Celebration of Life party for my dad later in the spring, so we could just have this time to be together. When I flew back to Arizona, I decided to stay in Q for a little while and just take in what had happened. My friends had already headed back home to slightly higher elevations, but it was just starting to get nice and warm for me in Q and the desert was starting to blossom all around me. It was where I needed to be right then. Another friend from RTR that was still in the area stopped by and I had fun trying to come up with new recipes to cook for us on Zelda's little butt kitchen. I actually got really good at whipping up healthy, inexpensive meals. It helps when you have a dinner companion that will eat anything! I spent my time walking around the desert, inventing & eating healthy meals and laughing when I had company. It was just what I needed then, to be taking good care of myself for a change and having fun.
Some photos of my walks and time in the desert around Quartzsite.
|Happy little flowers sunning themselves.|
|I love the patterns in trees and wood. I'm like my dad on that one!|
|Do you see the bird heads in this photo?|
|Saguaro sentries guarding the moon.|
|E.T. pointing to home?|
|Sunny morning in bed! Yes, it was WARM out finally! I got to have my pop-up open all night!|
(Please excuse the mess on my front counter. I have to move everything off the bed at night.)
|Full moon rise.|
By the second week of March, it was getting HOT at my little camp spot. The palo verde tree did it's best to try to keep me cool, but it was no match for the heat wave that had come. It was getting too hot during the day to do much of anything but sweat! However, the nights were PERFECT! My friends had invited me to come up to the Sedona area where the daytime temps were more tolerable. So, I said goodbye to my little spot, my lizard friends - Nubbin and Mac (Nubbin caught and ate a couple of bees! She's one bad-ass, tailless lizard!), perfect warm nights, and headed off to someplace new.
The Sedona area is GORGEOUS!! I got to the area my friends had suggested for camping, after dark (so typical of me), but found a spot in a parking lot type of boondock for the night. I had planned to leave and find a better place the next day. But when I woke up and stepped out of Zelda, this is what greeted me that morning!
|There ended up being 7 that I could see.|
|Red rocks of the Sedona area.|
I stood there and thought to myself - "I so LOVE what I'm doing with my life. Most everyone I know is fighting traffic to get to work, is stressed and probably didn't even stop to hear the birds singing this morning. But I get to start my day with this view and amazing sight. I am so glad I made this decision, as hard as it is somedays.". Every nice morning, hot air balloons sailed overhead and around us. One morning, one came up behind me and let out the hot air and I jerked up and exclaimed "WHALE!!" It sounded just like a whale blow! Then I turned around and there was a balloon right behind me. Then I cracked up. I am so weird.
The other thing I love so much about this life I've chosen is the people I meet along the way. Some come into my life for a short time to teach me things - about myself, about life - and then go. Others come into my life and take root and become dear friends. Both are important, but the amazing friends I've made have touched my heart in so many ways. This place I stopped at just for the night ended up becoming a home for me for the next couple of weeks. I met a small group of people who became a family there. We looked out for each other, had campfires and evening gatherings together, and one day, after a mock football game in the parking lot, I invited everyone over to Zelda for a Taco Party! My first dinner party thrown from Zelda's butt-kitchen! Someone brought a table, others brought things to contribute, and at the end of the evening, I had fed a group of about 10! What fun! I love cooking for others and throwing parties. I never expected to be able to ever throw a party out of Zelda. I had been having so much fun cooking for someone else for a change, coming up with new meals and making elaborate presentations of the meals, that I often had an audience when I was cooking! I was amazed at what I could put together on my measly budget, in my tiny kitchen, with 1 burner, and an ice cooler for my refrig. I turned my frypan into an oven and made biscuits and even chocolate chip cookies (though those didn't turn out wonderfully, still tasty, but a little crunchy). I wish I had gotten photos of some of the meals, but I was too busy trying to get the food on the table and I was usually a mess and didn't have my phone on me to get a picture. But here is a list of some of the things I made for meals: quinoa veggie tacos (my Old Mother Hubbard creation), veggie pizzas, portabella mushroom cheese steak sandwiches, ham steak with roasted garlic asparagus and mashed potatoes (friend's request), tomato-avacado-mushroom salad with homemade vinaigrette dressing arranged as a flower on a plate, eggs and bacon, omelets, french toast, fresh fruit salad, sausage gravy over biscuits (friend's request), stir-fry with homemade stir-fry sauce. I'm getting hungry just writing them all down!
One day I went to Jerome. It is a tiny town built on the side of a mountain. I was told it was a ghost town. I'm thinking, O.K., a ghost town, I'm in the west, I know what a ghost town is! So I go driving up the mountain looking for a town of old abandoned buildings. But instead, I came to this town of old buildings, but they aren't abandoned, they are bustling and full of quaint shops and restaurants. I later find out it is a "Ghost" town, as in haunted! How fun! One of my favorite places I saw was this restaurant - a very popular place!
|Someone had fun with the decor!|
|Sign I saw at a store in Jerome. |
I can concur.
Eventually, we all had to head out for new places. Most of the group was headed to Lake Mead, and they invited me to join them, but I had to head back to Lake Havasu to take care of a few things first. On my way, I stopped at the "Pie Place" in Williams again - I needed to make a toast to my dad and my friend's dad with a piece of pie.
|This time I ordered Blueberry Cream Cheese. |
My dad's favorite pie was blueberry. Turns out my friend's dad loved blueberries too.
|The pie selections this trip.|
After my time in Lake Havasu, I decided to head up to Lake Mead to meet up with my new friends before I had to head back to Ohio. I had never been to Lake Mead before, so I didn't want to pass up the chance to go and hang with friends. Glad I went. I had a fun time, except for there being super high winds and blowing dust all the time. It was making all of us sick. That is something I don't like about the desert, and it never seems to be windless (probably when it is swelteringly hot and you need the wind!). There is a young family that was part of this awesome group. I had a blast teaching the kids how to fold origami (which they picked up amazingly well!), giving them minute mysteries to solve (which they exhausted my supply of), teaching astronomy and doing nighttime activities, and doing some of my environmental education lessons with them. They did great with everything, except the flea jump - they didn't even come close to the distance they had to jump for their height. ;0) It was so much fun to get to use my "bag of tricks" again. It's been a long time! I've missed teaching.
|You can see how low the water level is here.|
|Full moon rise.|
|Another view of Lake Mead|
|Morning moon set over Lake Mead|
|Poor Zelda, she looks so tiny and forlorn amongst the giants.|
Soon, I had to say my good-byes till we meet again out there on the road, and start my trip back to Ohio. My dad's Celebration of Life party was scheduled for the end of April and I wanted to stop and visit friends along the way first. I was looking forward to seeing old friends again - especially because I was rocking a killer tan!!! - but was also sad to leave my traveling life on the road for a time. I had to find a job for the summer so I could afford to head back west for next winter. So, Ohio bound I was. To say good-bye to my dad, find a job for the summer, and try to get going on my business ideas so I can have money coming in all year long. It was a sad journey east I have to say, even with everyone I looked forward to seeing again. Everything was weighing heavily on me. But I was excited to finally get this photo! I went this way my first trip west and was bummed to not have any pictures of this town.
Next time I drive through, I'm going to get a picture of the Hooker Chamber of Commerce! :0)
Next post will be about where I landed for the summer. Once again, it is a summer of no internet or cell service where I'm camped - not even texting!! So I am actually writing this from Panera's in the closest big town. But I have FINALLY got caught up! YAY ME!!!