Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, the day after, the lunar eclipse

How was that for everyone last night? Beautiful view of the lunar eclipse from here, even though all the info said we would only have a partial view of it.

in the beginning
And, it was a fun way to spend some time with the neighbors. Connie called Ron and Lori to come out, we were standing in their driveway anyway for a better view, and they did. I brought over a chair and put it in the street to have a place to set my camera. They all thought that was pretty funny as I just plopped right down on the ground behind the chair and started taking pictures. I think I got some pretty good ones though, have a look.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September 26, Fall is here

The fall solstice has just passed and the blood moon is two days away. This is a beautiful time of year no matter where you are. Maybe you are in the northeast region of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with the beautiful colors of the hardwoods. Or maybe in the Great Smoky Mountains with all of those trees, or in the beautiful mountains in Japan, or like me, in the green desert. Wherever you are it is a time of transition, take a few moments to reflect on what is going on in your life, what changes are happening for you.

For me, one change is waking up in the same place every day. There was one night about a week ago I woke up in the middle of the night and I wasn’t quite sure where I was for a minute. Then there was the time I went to the bathroom, turned around to flush and picked up my left foot looking for the lever to press to flush (like the head in a boat, the flusher in the 5th wheel is near the floor). 

And it is time to start teaching yoga again. I met with Mary G., who was the one who helped me get started last winter and they are excited to have me back and ready to start classes again.

 We did go to the Tanque Verde Swap Meet in Tucson last Saturday night. It was an interesting experience. We got there just before 3:00 for the afternoon/evening session that runs until 11:00 p.m. We were just instructed to drive in and find a place, any place is fine, just stay between the white markers. I had a little bit of a plan having scoped out the aisles while we were waiting to get in. Not much of a plan needed really, just set up and start selling. We had three tables and a bunch of car parts. A guy came around and checked our ticket and told us we needed to move the truck or pay for another space, the spaces were only 20’ deep for the $15 we paid, so Jay took the truck out to the parking lot. It was a little slow for the first couple of ours and we were happy to have a giant moving truck park next to us to block a little of the wind and to give us some shade. I thought it might hide us but people were not shy at all about walking through our space or in to it to look at the car stuff. By about 6:00 there was a steady stream of people walking by, the guy on the other side of us was a regular with movies, video games and licensed collectibles like Disney princess dolls and things like that. He did a brisk business all night. At 7:00 the cars were still streaming in to the buyers parking lot, they were backed up on the street outside.

It was kind of like having a garage sale, you make your first sale and thing are going great. Then, you don’t have any customers for half an hour, then you get a wave of people looking and buying again. We thought we might leave at about 8:00 but it seemed like there were even more people then. It had a lot to do with the weather, not so hot. The wind had been blowing all afternoon, but after the sun went down it quit and it was very pleasant. Cooler temps bring out the buyers. We finally decided to call it quits at about 10:00, so Jay went and got the truck and we packed up what was left, and drove home a little richer and a little lighter. It was a late night for us and Sunday we were pretty lazy and napped after getting the truck unloaded with the remnants. 

Enjoy the fall wherever you are, embrace the change. Take time to view the lunar eclipse coming, it won’t be like this again until 2033.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, I'm so excited!!

And I just can’t hide it!!

We got a new barbecue grill! Well, new to us and it’s just what we have been looking for. You know the saying, good things come to those who wait, we waited and we got it.

A few days after we returned to Green Valley, (GV for short) we went to Blanco Elephante, (The White Elephant Thrift store) and there was the cadillac version of a Weber grill, the new stainless steel Genesis with the side burner, propane, for $325, about 1/3 of the cost of new, a pretty good deal. That was more than we wanted both in size and how much we want to spend, so we wait. A few days later, there is another Weber grill, this time it was the Spirit stainless steel version, propane fuel, side burner for $250, about 1/2 the price of new. Still more than we want. When we lived in Bellingham I did a lot of cooking on our grill and never wished I would have had that side burner.

Then the other day I went to the Vensel Thrift Shop, this is a more upscale consignment shop near La Posada, which is a big retirement village on the east side. I had a lamp to put on consignment there and on my way in the door, way off to the side, I spot a late model Weber Genesis grill like the one we had in Bellingham. It’s in good shape, pretty clean, and looks like it had only been used a few times. It had all of the grates, the rotisserie and motor and some long handled tools, tongs, spatula and a fork. And a neat mat to put underneath to keep any grease or food stains off the concrete. And it’s natural gas! All of that for $125. Okay, so we sold ours for less than that, but we had used the heck out of it for 10 years and it would have been one more bulky thing to move here. We’ll clean it up and get the gas plumbed to the back patio and be in business in no time.

Hence, I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September 16

Where does the time go? We have been home 10 days already. Finding our routines and figuring out how we will be spending our time. The biggest thing is to finish unpacking, specifically the garage. Jay has discovered he brought more stuff than he needs here so he has been busy sorting, pricing and listing on Craigslist car parts and tools he no longer needs or wants. There is even talk of taking a truck load of stuff to the big swap meet in Tucson, the Tanque Verde Swap Meet. If we do that there will be a few things I’ll take too. 

The lightening of the load seems to be a continuous process even though we make a strong effort to not buy a bunch of stuff to bring in to the house. That was one thing that being on the road and living in a small space taught us. How little can I live with? What do I really need to have around me? While I still enjoy having nice things, I am sticking with the one in one out theory. 

geodes made of felt. I would have loved to buy this, but I
own a felted pincushion. How many do I need?
There is only so much space in our home and neither of us wants it to become cluttered. I saw something the other day that said “seek to become, not to acquire,” and thought, that’s it! Without having all of the stuff to take care of I have more time to explore my creative side. To play with my camera and taking photos, practice my banjo,
work on my quilt and knitting projects, to exercise my body and spend time with friends.
 While we were traveling it made being in the moment and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells more accessible instead of thinking about shopping for that next souvenir. It’s the memories that mean more than the thing that will sit on the shelf gathering dust. 

The memory of that delicious lunch at Cafe Pontalbo in the New Orleans French Quarter, 

Leslie and Jay in North Dakota
 seeing Mt. Rushmore with my Mom and Chuck, meeting Leslie in North Dakota and spending time with him showing us his town and learning about his life,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Progress on the home front

Over the long weekend we spent time at the house getting things put away. Jay decided it was high time to unload his little S-10 to make some more room in the garage and to get it where he can work on it. Yahoo!! (which is different than Ya-hoo, one who exhibits bad or antisocial behavior).

It took us about 45 minutes to get it off the trailer. It doesn't run so it wasn't as simple as just firing it up and driving it off the trailer. He got it in to position then thought, WWJD? (that means 'what would Jess do?') Get a strap and a come-along and pull it off the trailer. I get to steer, with little to no brakes. And it's about 95 degrees. So he's pulling on the strap, and I'm in the driver's seat, sweating away waiting for the tilt that will roll this baby on to the floor. Waiting, waiting. He pops up to tell me that the back wheels of the GMC truck are off the ground!

A few more pulls, and shifting of the blocks so it doesn't roll forward and finally he gets it to that magic tipping point where it will roll off the trailer. I have both feet on the brake pedal because he told me it's a vacuum system and there are no brakes without the engine running. But, if I press real hard, we'll have some brakes. Voilá! Truck on floor.

He gave her a good bath outside and vacuum and dust the inside. Soon will be ready to roll.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dumpster diving, Oklahoma style

So, I have this story I want to tell you. I wrote it while we were in Elk City, OK. It really was entertaining, for a little while.

Elk City, hmmm, spent more time here than planned. There was a snafu with the mail. I notified our mail service two days ago to please send the mail here. Small town, one post office, easy to find. We pull in on Friday straight to the P.O., no mail. So we go off to find the Lake Elk City park that allows RV parking for four days, free, with power. Sweet deal. We’ll stay here until Saturday, get the mail and move on. 

Saturday comes and I go to town to see about the mail. No mail. And no more until Monday of course. What’s up with that? We haven’t had to wait this long except for the mix up in New Orleans. Well, we’ll have to wait until Monday. It’s a nice enough spot, on the water, a nice breeze in the heat and pretty quiet, except all of the traffic to the dumpsters. 

Yep, it’s a regular exchange place. You know the old saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. They define it well here. All day long people come with a couple of bags or whole pick up loads of garbage and put it in the dumpsters at the park, there are three within sight of us and a couple more around the park. Some times there will be another car parked in the shade near one of the main drop off points. As soon as the dumper leaves, they get out and go through the dumpster and pull stuff out and cart it away. It was a strange thing to watch, but entertaining too. 

One time, after a dumper left we were dying to see what he put in there. From our vista there were books, electronic stuff, rugs, like the end of an estate sale or a garage cleaning. We found 100 foot cloth tape measure, a set of speakers, a set of encyclopedias, 2 small area rugs, pillows and some other plastic stuff. We left it all there went back to the trailer to watch. Within minutes a car pulled up, two people got out and picked it all out, packed it in to their car and went on to the next two dumpsters! This activity went on all day long. The other part of this that I found interesting is their residential garbage collection system. They have dumpsters in their yards. It looked like 3 or 4 houses would share one, but they were right at the curb in the rural areas and in alleys in a housing subdivision. I couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t just put the stuff in their own dumpster instead of driving all the way down to the park to use the dumpster there. Maybe they are charged by the pound.

The last day there, Monday, still no mail. Turns out they didn’t send it last Wednesday. They didn’t send it at all. After more frustration in trying to decide what to do we decide it’s time to head for home. I call the mail service and have them send the mail to Green Valley. We’re going home. But not before another truck comes up and off-loads into the dumpster. 

A nice vintage pole lamp, a hollywood bed frame, more books, paint cans and caulking tubes. Likely the end of an estate, paint the house, clear out the remnants of junk and haul it to the park dumpsters. We pulled the lamp out thinking about salvaging it, but we are trying to get rid of stuff, not add projects. The pole is wood with a fancy finish on it that got damaged likely when they threw it in the dumpster and would need some repair. We set it outside the dumpster at dark and it was gone by the light of the next morning.

 By the way, did you see the moon at the end of August? Beautiful, super moon.
another dumpster along the edge of the road

and a giant bug looking for a ride. It was about 3" long.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September 5, home

Yep, we came home. Everything is okay, not to worry. I think it started for both of us after we left Hot Springs. We were doing what we want to do, wandering around, but we were getting tired of deciding where to go and how to get there. Like with the Route 66 idea. It’s a fun idea and we did end up following the route, just doing it on the interstate across Oklahoma. The view is exactly the same, flat prairie for as far as you can see and the old road is a stones throw from I-40 so we took the better road.

After our night in Kingfisher we went to Elk City to get the mail. There was a little problem. It didn’t get sent when I asked for it to be sent. But, we didn’t find that out until Monday. Three days here. And another day, because by the time we found out it was 1:00 and we had gone for a drive to Foss Lake State Park for something to do. At any rate, we decided to stay one more night then head out early Tuesday morning. 

We stayed two nights more out after getting to Valley of Fires Recreation area in central New Mexico. I had some time to write, but of course no internet, so this is what I put together there:

Jay woke up at 3:30, I did too, there was a car driving around in the park(Lake Elk City Park). He couldn’t get back to sleep so he went out to the couch to keep an eye on things. We want to get an early start today, but not that early. I got up about 6:30 and find him sleeping on the couch, so much for that early start. 

We finally get on the road at 8:30, heading west on I-40 towards Amarillo. We’re going to skip going to Palo Dura State Park, there’s always another time. In driving across this portion of Texas we are on the largest flat area at this elevation in the United States, driving towards the second youngest lava flow in the continental United States, about 5,000 years old. (Yes, Mt. St. Helens made a mess, but it didn’t flow any lava) 

rest area in Texas, also a tornado shelter
coolest rest area ever

We make it to the New Mexico state line at lunch time and gain an hour, now in Mountain Daylight Time. I am already feeling better. The vista is amazing, mountains in the distance with the low blanket of green at the foothills, interspersed with the wheat colored grass. This is the place I want to be. We continue west to Santa Rosa, then head southwest toward Las Cruces. It’s a long drive, but the road is good and not a lot of traffic. Earlier on the map I had seen Valley of Fires Recreation Area. I vaguely remember seeing this before as some place we need to explore and right now it’s within reach. We make that our goal as we drive in to the sun. We get to the park at about 5:00, I think. It depends on which time zone you’re in. And whether or not you miss the last turn on to SR 380, duh. Big green sign, Junction with 380 and I don’t turn. Yep, I’m driving for a change. Long straight road, I can handle that. 

Valley of Fires east view
This was our longest day of travel, 9 hours. Driving, 2 stops for fuel and a break for lunch. No naps and alternating drivers helps. We made it 450 miles, from Elk City, Oklahoma to Carrizozo, New Mexico. As I am parking the rig I think to myself, finally, we are somewhere I really want to be. I could stay here a week, easy. And we’re going home. But, we can always come back especially now we know what it’s like here. It’s BLM park so the fees are low, it’s clean and the views are stunning.

west view

lava flow

Ruby is by my side while I write. I guess that officially makes me a writer, to have a cat sitting on my desk while I write. 

We got home on Thursday, September 3, in a ridiculous rain storm from Dragoon, about 2 hours east of Green Valley, all the way home. I was driving and it was exhausting, but we made it without incident even with the other idiot drivers out there.

And no worries. We are not done with the adventure and I am not done with writing. I have more stories to share, so while I’m sitting here in sunny Arizona, (well, it’s been raining since we got back.) I will put together some other stories and more pictures of the trip. 

Oh, I know you’re curious, how far did we travel and how much did we spend?

11,411 miles
$8,500 for fuel, food, cat food and litter, entrance fees, fun stuff, yoga, golf and camp fees.
I read 3 more books,
finished quilting all of the blocks for my Hawaiian quilt,
free camped 51 nights,
on the road 116 days,
and met a bunch of really cool people.

Here's a few photos of the nature at Valley of Fires and stay tuned for more wanderings.

400 year old juniper tree at Valley of Fires
who's looking at who?

happy cats

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