Eight Days at Blackwell Island

Kaliento Behind A Short Tree

Two great friends, their laptops, and Splash, the Wonder Dog, in an RV (that’s us, above) parked in northern Idaho for more than a week… What could possibly happen? For the action/adventure crowd, there probably wasn’t much. But, if you’re someone who considers napping, writing, walking, talking, and eating, to be legitimate “things,” as I do, there was plenty going on. And that was the whole point.

Bets–my fine, refined, elegant, and all-around lovely and beloved friend–has been a “full-timer” in her rig for more than fourteen months, traveling around North America with her sweetie and her dog, staying as long as she wants, anywhere she likes, considering the weather, and barring medical emergencies and/or necessities, which have cropped up–and more of those than any of them had anticipated. Her decision to do this, her success in doing it, and her love of doing it, are a source of fascination and wonder to me, since my own current journey has been pretty much physically situated at home. But we are similar pilgrims, and it was wonderful to have time together as our voyages continue.

She drives a 2010 Ford 350 pickup truck, hauling a thirty-four-foot fifth wheel trailer. And that’s a BIG TRUCK. As it happens, she found her Big Truck while visiting me in western Connecticut. There we were, two seriously middle-aged women, walking into Colonial Ford, Truck Division. The sales people looked slightly bemused; finally, one of them, with an audible sigh, rose from behind his desk, and asked if he could help us. “Yes,” said Bets, in her most elegant and refined voice, “I’m looking for a truck–a really big truck.” That got their attention. And, thanks to Sal, a salesman who obviously takes both trucks and women very seriously, Bets got her truck. A few months later, she was on her way.

It was only eight days that I was a visiting “RVer,” almost three thousand miles from home, and, although we didn’t actually GO anywhere, I think I got a little taste of it. (No; it wasn’t the “Thelma and Louise” thing, and I knew it wouldn’t be. Those days are well behind both of us.) As an RV Tourist, I observed a number of interesting things:

First, it should be noted that all RVs are painted with grand swoopy designs, often including a “sunrise over the mountains” motif, sometimes with an added eagle or the occasional coyote head, in no more than three of four colors: black, grey, taupe, and beige–all on a white background. You will never see azure, or celadon, or burgundy, or–god forbid–coral. No political statements, not even this time of this year. No advertisements. No refrigerator art by the grandkids. Occasionally, you may see the names of the owners, and their pets, on the front doors. (“On the Road With Ralph and Anna, the Switzers, and Little Coco,” for example.) Many of the trailers themselves have names, such as “Adventurer,” or “Cimmaron,” or “Montana.” I saw nothing called “Key West,” or  “South Philadelphia.” Evidently, they are named for the dream, not the origin. My personal favorite was “Luxor”… As in the temple, I presume.

Somewhere out there I imagine a single graphic designer charged with trying to make large, horizontal, refrigerator-like objects look like they are NOT large, horizontal, refrigerator-like objects. In my personal opinion, that individual has been far from successful. The whole idea of “RV camouflage” I consider to be an exercise in futility. In comparison, the trailers of most eighteen-wheelers, commercial buses, and even rental U-Hauls, are an exhilarating symphony of graphic imagination and capitalist exhortation. Twelve-foot-high ice cream cones! Forty-foot-long, exquisitely rendered, fields of fresh produce and smiling children holding glasses of milk. Little Debbie, bigger than life. Peter Pan! A real missed opportunity for self-expression (or at least the making of a few bucks for travel expenses), it seemed to me.

The rigs arrive and depart very slowly, almost as if they’re trying to sneak in or out without being noticed–which seems silly, given than they are sized from large to enormous, and that the attempts at camouflage have been so unsuccessful. There is a lot of attaching and detaching involved in both arriving and departing. Anything detached upon arrival must be re-attached upon departure, and vice-versa. These things are too many, and the execution of them too complicated, for a first-time visitor to really comprehend.

Often a rig would pull in, and a couple of people would jump out to do all that detaching and attaching. Then they would disappear into their rig, and not be seen again for days. Lights would go on in the evenings, and off again in the mornings, but nary a living soul could be spotted. (I was assured that things are much more communal in warmer weather.) These people evidently do not have dogs. It fascinated me to think what they might be doing in there, hour after hour. But I was a visitor, and curious about all kinds of activities that are probably none of my business.

On the other hand, those who do have dogs are out at least twice a day, and are a very convivial lot. Sometimes four or five will clump up together for a pup-fest. All dogs are discussed according to their breeds (small white dogs are especially popular), their behaviors, and their barking frequency. The dog walkers are big on waving hello, and don’t mind being seen in the mornings, out unashamedly in their pajamas and slippers, carrying the obligatory plastic bags. My impression was that, as a group, RVers, in their fluid and ever-changing communities, are often more cordial and responsible neighbors to one another than are some in my absolutely stationary one.

There was much to learn: the difference between the “grey water” and “black water” tanks, and the requirements for the disposal of the contents of each. How to measure how much is left in your propane tanks by pouring hot water over a gauge on the exterior. The great advantage of a pull-through site–no backing up and maneuvering required. An entirely different meaning to the term “hook up” than the one currently in adolescent usage. The existence of “workcampers”–RVers who travel around and work temporarily, maintaining an RV park, in exchange for staying there. The fact that it’s perfectly reasonable to put your clean clothes next to the kitchen sink when you’re getting ready to take a shower. The fact that it’s possible to have a very full life with a daily infusion of mail, bills, and catalogs arriving at your door. And the amazing realization that exactly four plates, four cups, and four glasses, are all the dishware any two people ever really need.

Obviously, I was having a wonderful holiday with a dear friend, and so was only tangentially involved with some of the “real life” stuff that must inevitably be handled: haircuts, doctor’s appointments, dog grooming, truck repair, family responsibilities, itineraries, banking, and so on. But, with the ability to be clear about what you need (Bets has long been incredibly good at that), and with a cell phone, a laptop, and the absolute confidence that there are good and capable people everywhere, those things get handled.

I began to question the point of all the “stuff” we have at home in Connecticut. And, “coincidentally” enough, my husband had just ordered a dumpster (every woman’s secret desire, no matter what else you might hear), and had begun cleaning out the basement before I left. When I got home, I found he was also reading a book called “Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.” (And this is a man who has been absolutely fact-driven, as long as I have known and loved him.) Evidently, the Universe will have Her way with all of us, in Her own good time…

So I came back to Connecticut, and Bets headed down to Reno, to work full-time until the election with OFA, helping get out the vote. Guess that makes her a “workcamper” for Obama. Yay!

We won’t all make exactly the same kind of journey she’s making, but we can sure as hell get ourselves in the move, each in our own way, to live our lives exactly as we believe they are meant to be lived. And, while were at it, let’s put the pedal to the metal, and move FORWARD!

The celestial clock ticks ever onward, and we’re all on some highway or another.


The Elephant

Sometimes the Elephant IS the Room


   I’ve been thinking about this for some time. There are still a lot of unanswered questions in my mind about the current GOP candidate for the Presidency of This Great Nation. 
   Yes; he’s been hounded to show more than two of his Federal tax returns, and has held fast to not doing that. We’ve given up on that. (Shame on us.) He’s been asked about what exactly he did at Bain Capital; not much information there, either. Did Bain “create” jobs, or destroy them, under his leadership? Or both? Was he still involved with Bain while he headed the Olympics in Salt Lake City? Not really clear. Maybe yes; maybe no. Did he vote in Massachusetts when he was actually a California resident? Could be; could not be. Maybe he really did live in one of his son’s basements for a while… We seem to have given up on knowing quite a lot about this person who promises so much, so glibly, and so vaguely.
   It has long seemed to me that this is a man who would really rather be doing almost anything other than going out there, sometimes even amongst the forty-seven percent of us who are, in his opinion, indolent slackers, shaking hands and holding up the babies of people he doesn’t even know, for heaven’s sake. Why is he doing it? What’s in it for him? There must be something.
   Here are a couple of thoughts… He’s doing this because he’s had a lifetime of success ferreting out businesses that can be stripped down, made to look financially promising, and then selling them at a great profit for himself and his partners. If that’s what he does, and does well, then the many States of this country must look like the greatest plum of all. Just ready for the taking, and the stripping, and the selling, one by one, to whomever makes the best offer.
   Or, he’s doing it for his faith – to legitimize his historically-persecuted Church in the eyes of the nation, and the world, at long last. This is, in my opinion, the Something That Dares Not Speak Its Name – the elephant that may be the actual room. I believe that his faith is very important to him. But he won’t speak about that, either. If his faith is driving him, we deserve to know that. It matters. It would impact his governing, if he’s serious, and all of us would be the subjects of that governing. The beliefs of his faith would be legislated to rule the lives of all of us – maybe slowly, but inevitably.
   When I am presented with someone who will not, or cannot, speak about what matters most to him, about what he holds closest to his heart and soul, I find myself facing a cipher, an unknown quantity. And this is not a person I would choose to lead my country, or myself. Anywhere. Ever.

Scared Sacred

Scared Sacred

“Scared/Sacred… Just move a few letters, and it all makes sense…”

That came to me from somewhere. Is it really that simple? It might be. This is where I’m starting: Not really knowing, but doing, anyway. Moving around the A, the Alpha, the beginning. And, right now, that’s all I know.

This blog began its birthing at the Blackwell Island RV Resort in northern Idaho – a long way from my home base in Connecticut – in mid-October, 2012. But its gestation period has been a long one, borne along by the urging of loved ones, and by my finally getting tired of my own excuses for not doing it. Those excuses have been many; some of them I’m sure you’d recognize. I’m good at finding or creating excuses for not doing all kinds of things. All those excuses are still quite near, looking over my shoulder, hoping they still mean something. They no longer do, and that makes all the difference.

So far, so good.

This is the beginning of this blog, but it is far from the beginning of my lifelong journey from being “scared” to knowing the “sacred.” Now that journey has brought me to this vast internet of unknown and untried opportunities, skills, possibilities, challenges, and whatever else might be out here… Of course, I’ve dabbled around in it a bit for years, but this is different. And it’s a little scary.

It’s also very much sacred. It’s my belief that we humans are charged with experiencing and sharing with each other at least two very important things: Community, and communication. Celebration and concern. Our parties, and our souls. This is the path of Spirit… On the web, as everywhere else.

I’m taking what I like to think of as the “Star Trek Approach” to blogging: “…to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where [only several million other bloggers have] gone before…”

A few things you may expect to find here as time goes by: more drawings (mine); photographs (also mine); demons and little monsters (mine – and maybe yours); opinions about everything from politics to spirituality and morality to being a woman to growing older to loving oneself and others (not only my opinions here, but those of others who move me, as well); travel stories; some funny stuff; links and books and other blogs I like, and hope you will, too; and whatever else may crop up as this blog gets its own life going.

Let’s see what happens – that’s the whole point, isn’t it?