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Daffodils & Orchids… March 5, 2016

Orchids (from Walmart) and Daffodils (from my garden).

Orchids (from Walmart) and Daffodils (from my garden).

…seems a fitting name for this mixed-medley pictorial of what I’ve been up to, am doing, and look to accomplish in the sweet by and by <grin>.  The inspiration for this namesake, pictured at right, greeted me every morning at breakfast for nearly a week. And even now, the Orchids still bloom.

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Pretty blossoms dapple a flowering shrub in my backyard.

Lots of stuff is starting to blossom here in the Ozarks. Springtime and Autumn are my most favorite times of year. Daytime temps are in the 60s & 70s, nights are in the 40s, and sunny blue skies are common.

What more could anyone ask…???

Part of the enjoyment for me is being able to get outside and play in the yard.

Pictured below is the view of my yard, looking north from my house.  There is a circle drive around island of trees in the center. My RV, “Louise” (’02 GWV 20′) is on the left and the yellow trapezoid-thingy marks the spot where I would like to put a permanent RV pad.

Area where I would like to install an RV pad..

Area where I would like to install an RV pad..

Closer look at where I'd like to put an RV pad.

Closer look at where I’d like to put an RV pad.

Composted mulch

Composted mulch

Right now, in the area where I want the RV-pad, there is  HUGE pile of composted wood-chip mulch which I am now trucking by wagon-loads to top-off various flower beds such as the one (below, right) alongside the driveway to  my garage.

One flowerbed done... and a zillion to go .

One flowerbed done… and a zillion to go .

Note for the record that I LOVE my little wagon. It has proven itself as an amazingly useful utility not only for landscaping chores and but also for getting a trunk-load of groceries into the kitchen in one fell swoop…!!!

Anyway, the lovely rock planter has now had winter debris removed, a nice thick layer of composted mulch added, and Zinnia seeds planted. Also, I’m thinking that the oak pallet (in the background) might make a good base for a nice broad entry step to an RV when I get the new pad installed.

And behind that, if you look real close, you’ll see the right rear quarter-panel of my Tib… and the rear of my son Adam’s motorcycle.

Coldframe on deck.

Coldframe on deck.

The coldframe, at left, was constructed with an old bathtub, some plywood and a storm door, all of which came to me free at one time or another and — thanks to me being a ‘collector of things that have value’ — ultimately came together as this fun place to grow stuff.

Dill and Basil seeds planted in the freshly mulched coldframe.

Dill and Basil seeds planted in the freshly mulched coldframe.

This year, as you can see on the right, I’ve planted some dill and some basil. Now all there is to do, at least with this bed, is keep it watered and watch it grow.

Still, my yard is (to quote Bernie) YUGE…!!! Way more than I really want to handle by myself… which is why I am so thankful for the assistance of my darling daughter Shawna who is a big help with all sorts of household stuff.

And now, with the weather so appealing, the outdoors to-do list is long. In addition to moving all the aforementioned mulch, I have a bunch of flower seeds to plant and some maintenance work to do…

Anybody wanna come help…???

Seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

Seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

FYI: All the seeds in the ‘kitty litter’ bucket were harvested from last year’s plantings -and- various roadside patches that caught my eye. The boxes-and-boxes of wildflower, zinnia, and other blooming seeds were purchased at the end of the season last year for 1/2 off… so the whole batch only cost about $5.

Unhinged gate.

Unhinged gate.

Other little projects to be tended in the not-too-distant future: The gate — leaning oddly to the left in the pic at left — has come loose from its hinges. Not a big project… just  one of many that takes time.

Anyway, enough about work… even though it mostly feels like play. As a closing note for this time around I’ll share a pic  of the two beautiful designer-art pillows my son Adam gave me for my 67th Birthday…!!! He said he thought they would look good in my RV… and I think that, as usual, he’s right…!!!!

Twin Turtles

Twin Turtles

(((hugs))) ~Christine

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gozarks goes mobile February 22, 2016

This morning, immersed in the riverside quietude of Maumelle Park, sipping coffee (lightly laced with Irish Cream), pseudo-watching ‘the news’ on airwaves TV and puffing, occasionally, on a corncob pipe stuffed with “Tin Star Menthol Pipe Tobacco” (yes, I still enjoy the ‘rush’ of nicotine <smile>), I imagined myself to be on the road to Somewhere Else and imagined what I would be doing along the way.

With ‘along the way’ being ‘any place’ that I might like to relax for a week or so as I travel to Somewhere Else…

And with knowing that my travels will be more comfortable by me ‘earning my keep’ as I go…

Thus I thought about what I am good at and would most enjoy doing to accommodate such a mutually beneficial business transaction and decided to simply go mobile with my longstanding credentialed skill-set in graphic design, promotional copy-writing, special event production and strategic marketing… updating or designing new logos, brochures, custom newsletters, website content, display ads, etc. (as was my professional mainstay for decades up until 2011) as I move about from place to place.

So, over the next short while I’m going to put into practice the marketing strategy thus designed <smile>, the first step of which shall be to develop a promotional flier for ‘gozarks goes mobile’… and when I have it done, I’ll pass it along to RV campgrounds along my projected route to Somewhere… which, given I can get all my ducks in a row, will be to Alaska for the summer… wow… wouldn’t that be a hoot…!!!

PS: Here are a couple more pics from my Maumelle Campout… FYI: for more about this darling daughter, click here

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Shawna (aka: my youngest daughter), me and (in the background) “Louise” (’02 GWV 20′).

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Yes… it all tastes better when kissed by Mother Nature and partaken al fresco… 

 

On the path of figuring things out. November 8, 2015

Filed under: COMMUNITY,EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,health — gozarks @ 12:34 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I felt pretty crappy for a few days this past week, which annoys me and my longstanding policy is to cope in silence.

What annoys me, however, is not the ‘coping in silence’ part, because when I feel like sh*t there is nothing that anyone can do aid my recovery beyond extending the same courtesy to me (and I to them) that we would in the course of any routine activity.

This old rocker has been in my family for as long as I can remember. It was my grandmother's favorite chair at our family's cottage on North Lake. Now, with the springs re-tied, new padding, fresh polish and new fabric, it is my favorite chair, too.

This old rocker has been in my family for as long as I can remember. It was my grandmother’s favorite chair at our family’s cottage on North Lake. Now, with the springs re-tied, new padding, fresh polish and new fabric, it is my favorite chair, too.

What annoys me is that when flights of (what I have come to think of as) ‘phantom pain’ seemingly take control of various parts of my anatomy, it is difficult (if not impossible) for me to do almost anything, and I find all impediments to my free-will liberty hugely annoying.

The good part is that laying prone, napping and quasi-dreaming, wrapped in blankets with a bean-bag-back-warmer, vests me with lots of time to think.

To wonder and speculate, more accurately, about what I would do if conditions such as this came upon me whilst I was on the road, traveling solo. And so, having actually lived in my RV sufficiently to know how things work and what must be done to sustain, as I languished in my comfy bed at home I imagined how my movements and actions would be different if I was (at that moment) on the road.

And what I realized was that I would have done just as well. Some things would have been, perhaps, a bit more challenging. But some would have been easier. And I would recover, just as I did here at my sticks & brick abode.

Or (I stretched my imagination), perhaps being immersed in the new environs of life on the road would somehow magically mitigate the ‘phantom pain’ that has sporadically interfered with my modus opperandi since my ‘death event’ back in January of this year.

More realistically, reflecting on how I felt 6-months ago, my hope and belief is that over time the renewal of my good health will continue.

Anyway, aside from the above the last couple of weeks have been highy productive. For one thing, I completed my most recent assignment for The Municipal, which is a story about Berne, Indiana, slated for publication December 1st. FYI: I now have two articles in print with them, one each in their September and October 2015 editions.

Also made serious progress tending to ‘little things’ for Louise, such as sealing and refinishing the edge around the sink, doing a heavy-duty flush of the gray- and black-water tanks and determining the cause of an intermittent leak in the gray-water system which is next on my list to fix.

However, the fait accompli with which I am most pleased is that I finally finished reupholstering my (maternal) grandmother’s rocking chair… and I do hope the quality of my work does her artisan sensibility for attention to detail proud.

And one other thing, my advocacy work with friend Vicki (who you’ll remember from Maiden Voyage: Lift Off) is steadily moving along, and an outline of one major project we’re forwarding is now available for public review at our Team JAKE blog. If you have a few minutes I hope you’ll give it a look and let me know what you think…!!!

Until next time, may the bliss be with you… (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Workamper Rendezvous October 27, 2015

The Workamper* Rendezvous in Heber Springs, Arkansas, last week (10/20-22/15) was amazing… They – being head honcho Steve Anderson and his awesome crew of family and friends — fed, entertained and educated us with a smorgasbord of creative wisdom and delicious expertise…!!!

Education, education, education filled the halls and meeting rooms of the Heber Springs Community Center while the 2015 Workamper Rendezvous was in town.
Education, education, education filled the halls and meeting rooms of the Heber Springs Community Center while the 2015 Workamper Rendezvous was in town.

FYI: This event is NOT just for those who are (or would like to be) earning an income while living full-time on the road. Even though all the info is geared to assist those who choose to explore this dream, anyone who enjoys camping in any kind of RV could definitely learn a lot.

I, for example, learned much more than I already knew about the 30amp electric system in my RV. Excellent info that will save me tons of $$$ on needless repairs precluded by a few ounces of preventative wisdom.

I also learned the legal difference between a domicile and a residence… Do you know…??? <smile> Because if you don’t and you happen to fit a particular demographic profile, you could be wasting big money paying taxes that you are not legally obliged to pay…. thus proving that sometimes, ignorance is not bliss…!!!

And the social environment of the whole event was wonderfully convivial. Attendees were mostly in the 40s-to-70s age range; retired (or soon to be), or already ‘living the dream’ of freewheeling independence, earning their keep through various means as they wander scenic byways, tour national landmarks and mosey through life at a pace uniquely their own.

The convivial crowd of workampers and wannabes gathered at the Rendezvous.

The convivial crowd of workampers and wannabes gathered at the Rendezvous.

Which sorta-kinda describes almost perfectly the overview of ‘living life’ that I envision and am enacting for myself as my transition from full-time mom and head-of-household-working-professional ebbs away from the sacrificial duties of titles and tasks, flowing into the realm of ‘whatever I choose to do next’.

As anyone who has already made this passage knows, it could be likened to navigating the Straits of Magellan, tossed about by shifting gusty winds, feisty currents, the narrowness of the channel through towering rock cliffs and the deceptively beautiful wailing of emotional sirens.

Me and my darling brood (left to right): Adam, Patty, mom (aka: me), Shawna, Shalom, Josh.

Me and my darling brood (left to right): Adam, Patty, mom (aka: me), Shawna, Shalom, Josh.

My personal crossing from the ocean of family responsibility to the sea of doing for myself began just over 4 years ago when my youngest darling daughter turned 18. And in fact, that day of emancipation had been envisioned from the birth of my eldest child… at least from the standpoint that I as a mother had one very important job to do: to prepare my darlings for adulthood; to make sure they were as equipped and as ready as I could coach them to be to take on the joys, challenges and responsibilities incumbent of adult life… on their own.

And now, with all of my darlings living their own dreams (and happily thriving), I am in what long-ago colleague Alan Lakein would call ‘the end game’ of my transformational journey and I am ‘trying on for size’ the doing of things that I have for (lo, these many years) imagined I would be doing ‘after’ my kids were grown.

Thus as my Maiden Voyage was (to me) all about proving to myself that I and my rig were up to the challenges of solo RVing… attending this conference was (for me) all about finding out how easy (or difficult) it is to attend and participate in such events given my mode of transportation. And under this heading, I really learned a lot.

These full-timers live in style and tow their 'garage' (which houses their auto and an office) with them.

These full-timers live in style and tow their ‘garage’ (which houses their auto and an office) with them.

Mainly, that having a very mobile (20′) van-type RV does give me easy access to convenient parking at an event. However, with the RV being my only transportation -and- my home, it is neither easy nor convenient to get involved with ancillary activities that take place away from the main event.

For example, there was a solo RVers meet-and-greet held at a park pavilion one evening which I would have much liked to attend. Yet the fact that the gathering was (for me) too far from my campsite to walk, and that driving there meant I would have had to back-into my campsite when it was pitch-dark decided my fate.

On the other side of the coin, I loved the camping experience. In contrast to other sections of the park which were full nearly to capacity, the section I chose for my 3-night stay was empty, save for Louise and me <smile>. Thus things were blissfully quiet -and- I felt no compunction about turning up the volume on my radio when the spirit so moved me <grin>.

The dwelling inside the stately bus is truly glamorous... Thus the term coined to describe this lifestyle:

The dwelling inside the stately bus (pictured above) is truly glamorous… Thus the term coined to describe this lifestyle: “Glamping”.

This area of the Dam Site State Park campground was bustling with big rigs.

This area of the Dam Site State Park campground was bustling with big rigs.

Back to the downside, I learned very quickly that the duties of being a solo RVer take precedent over and may interfere with the desires of an event attendee. Thus a couple of times – mainly because I am ‘old’ and simply cannot cram as much action into an hour as I once did – I found myself doing necessary routine RVer chores instead of attending a conference presentation.

And it also became self-evident that in order for me to pursue my envisioned ‘home ranger’ lifestyle in a long-haul manner, that I will have to allot time not only for travel, routine maintenance, sleep, general housekeeping, provisioning, cooking & eating, etc. -and- time to ‘do stuff’ (like visiting places and enjoying events), but that I must also factor in ‘time to write’… because, of course, this is the gold nugget of my personal work-camper plan… to supplement my retirement income by peddling my wordcrafting charms… <grin>

The 'empty' area of the park that I had to myself for my 3-day stay.

The ’empty’ area of the park that I had to myself for my 3-day stay. And yes, that is the lake in the background… which gave me a great view from my bedroom/living-room window…!!!

So, that is my current story <smile>, except to note with great glee that my eldest son, Adam, has now officially moved to Austin, Texas, where he has (as of yesterday) commenced employment as Field Services Engineer with Crushing Tigers, Inc. Wow… not too shabby for a homeschooled boy with a post-grad degree from the hands-on school of hard knocks…

Yes… I am very (very, very, very) proud…

Until next time, (((hugs))) and happy travels… ~Christine

*The term “Workamper” is a registered tradename of Workamper News.

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Maiden Voyage: Suzy October 17, 2015

Suzy and I have been friends for nearly 15 years. We met when gozarks.com was in its heyday and she contacted me (as editor) with some questions about the region of the Ozarks where I lived as she had a hankerin’ to move.

Suzy's hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed.

Today, Suzy’s reclusive residence in Izard County sports a hand-laid cobblestone paver-brick floor, tougue-and-groove planked walls, handcrafted mini-4-poster bed. Hard to believe this was once a dirt-floored pole barn.

Which she did, to a small (neglected) house on the Middle Fork of the Little Red River that she (amazingly) hand-crafted into a sprightly manifestation of elegant utility, homespun charm and humble grace. Replete with simple touches of user-convenience and common sense, every necessity of living life comfortably was delightfully woven together as an accommodating home.

We lunched there several times over the course of many months, in her charming kitchen, next to the massive stone hearth in her ‘open floor plan’ living room, over which she had hand-carved a mantle to read: “This is my rest forever. Here I will dwell because I desire it.”

The email from Suzy that came with this pic: "This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like,  but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I'd never seen these, until I grew some. I'll save seeds, if you want some."

The email from Suzy, about a month ago, that came with this pic: “This photo shows a gaillardia in bloom. These are domesticated wildflowers, and they grow in even poor soil, resist droughts, and really require no care at all. The foliage just looks weed like, but butterflies do enjoy hovering around the flowers. I’d never seen these, until I grew some. I’ll save seeds, if you want some.”

Lunch with Suzy was always a delicious treat for me, still being immersed in the parenting and homeschooling of children, the duties of caring for my disabled husbnd, and the breadwinner agenda of a professional work-a-day-world.

To just sit and relax in the company of another intelligent woman, swapping stories of times past and hopes yet to come, was like going on a picnic in a different universe.

Then it came to pass that she was literally flooded out. The river rose terribly high, twice in one season. Her household was decimated both times. And after recovering from the first intrusion, when the second deluge came barely a heartbeat later, she knew it was time to move.

For a while then, she relocated quite near me in the city of Fairfield Bay. But during this time we were both rather busy with other stuff in our respective lives – me, with navigating through a divorce and moving my brood to the abode where I and two of my five adult children continue to reside, and she with similar though different lifestyle evolutions.

We kept in-touch with email and when she announced plans to relocate to a remote chunk of land in Izard County where she would realize her dream to be a self-sufficient homesteader, I celebrated for and with her.

I visited her remote hide-way once, soon after she’d settled in to her bare-bones L-shaped polebarn with a dirt floor. Completely off-grid, water was pulled by the bucket from an ancient hand-dug well, the single working remains of a farmstead that had thrived here, an hundred years ago.

She planned to camp inside the polebarn, which she’d designed, had constructed by a local contractor and equipped with a wood stove, over her first winter while she figured out the parameters of her envisioned home. And now, on my homeward-bound travels, I would be getting a chance to see more than photos of what she had accomplished.

We had, however, determined that it would not be feasible to take Louise up the driveway to Suzy’s abode as it is passable only by vehicles with a lot of undercarriage clearance and quick maneuverability, like the 4-wheel drive pick-up truck she drives. Thus we chose to meet at the local Post Office, which closes at noon and seemed a good spot to park Louise while Suzy ferried me to her home for our visit.

Yes, Suzy does (finally) have 'running water' -- a la the 'gravity flow' system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

Yes, Suzy’s mountain hideaway does now finally have ‘running water’ — a la the ‘gravity flow’ system she installed, which she fills from a large reserve cistern filled by rain.

This was a good plan, except for the overhead wires… which I almost (but not quite) learned more than I care to know about, the hard way.

That is, when I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that there were some electrical and phone lines high overhead, draped from the top of a tall pole at the front corner of the parking lot, near the street, running diagonally across the parkong lot to the back-rear corner of the building… but factually, I didn’t really give them much thought.

At least not until I got out of Louise, preparing to get in the pick-up with Suzy, and noticed that the low end of the lines were now resting on the upper-front fiberglass roof of my mobile abode.

Thus my next move was to calculate how I might-could backup to be clear of the lines without inadvertently taking them down…

Which I was, ultimately, able to do <smile>… but not without some very careful maneuvering.

And me chastising myself for being so stupid as to having gotten myself into such a fix to begin with – and at the same time congratulating myself for having recognized a potentially bad situation and having figured-out a ‘no harm done’ solution.

Ah-h-h-h… the challenges of RVing….!!!

The short ride back into Suzy’s dominion was every bit as rugged as promised. Had she intentionally constructed some sort of modern gauntlet to keep unwelcome visitors at bay, she could not have done better than Mother Nature’s protruding ‘wash board’ of tree-roots, gaping gullies, dry washes, and jagged terrain.

The 'volunteer' butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy's vegetable-scrap compost and produced a good harvest.

The ‘volunteer’ butternut squash vine sprouted of its own accord from ground enriched with Suzy’s vegetable-scrap compost.

But then, like a mirage in the wilderness, the gentle harmonious homestead she’s sculpted comes into view; unassuming; a simple modern metal-sheathed structure with a pleasant screen porch, surrounded by a patchwork of garden spots, blooming flowers, and running vines.

Step through the unpretentious doorway of this handsome polebarn and enter a custom tailored wonderland of clean lines, well organized structure and methodical fancy.

The walls and towering ceiling of the large L-shaped living area are precisely fitted tongue-and-groove, the masterwork of which one cannot truly tally without knowing that each board was sawed by hand and patiently installed over months of diligent physical pursuit, as was each stone-paver in the hand-laid floor, each plank in the raised woodfloor section areas, and the design of each piece of handcrafted furniture, such as her mini-4-poster bed.

Truly, a testament to what one person can accomplish, alone, with creativity, intelligence and diligence… while living on a fixed (frugal) income, with no electricity, no central heat, no air conditioning and no running water… A living work of art in perpetual motion, beautifully intertwined with the elements of Suzy’s nature.

We spoke of many things, as we always do, and noshed on bagels with cream cheese. We compared notes about how new chapters were opening in our respective lives, enticing and encouraging each of us to explore new horizons, and thus she was doing some deep-seated thinking about what she wanted to do ‘next’.

With many chapters of that conversation yet to come, Suzy delivered me back to Louise and I again headed south with plans to overnight in Mountain View as the last stop on my way home. But when I got there, things changed. And that is where my Maiden Voyage saga shall continue and conclude <smile>, next time we chat… Until then, (((hugs))) and happy traveling… ~Christine

Addendum: Subsequent to our visit, Suzy decided to sell her minimalist-mansion on 40 forested acres with natural spring-fed pond. If you’d like to know more, lemme know and I’ll get y’all in touch…!!!

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Intermezzo October 12, 2015

My Maiden Voyage lasted six days. I have now been home for twelve and wow… what a lot has happened during this time. Thus, though there are still a couple of episodes of my debut adventure yet to be posted, I thought it would be good to chronicle what’s been happening on my homefront.

Starting with the here and now, eldest son Adam posted something on Facebook this morning:  How sound (resonance, frequency, amplitude) levitates a droplet of water.

Of course the fact that sound-waves have a direct and observable influence on matter is really old news, ie: singing notes of a certain pitch and volume shatter glass. But I mean, wow… some of the scientists among us learned how to LEVITATE one form of matter (water) with sound. And the implications are tremendous… especially when considering that the human body is about 55% H2O…

Anyway, a lot of the last twelve days has gone to catching-up on all the stuff that didn’t get done for several weeks, respective the sudden and long-awaited opportunity to take my Maiden Voyage. Yesterday, I began autumn clean-up in the back yard.

My backyard, mid-summer 2015.

My backyard, April 2015.

This is what ALL of my several raised-beds looked like as of  yesterday.

This is what ALL of my several raised-beds looked like as of yesterday.

By yesterday, the scene was not so bucolic as above.

For one thing, my recovery from death last January definitely put a hitch in my slow but steady giddy-up. For another, the whole death experience provoked me to reflect and introspect on what I (me, myself) really and truly want to do (see, experience, enjoy) with the here-in-now moments of my life, now that all five of my darling grown-up children are charting courses of their own.
And I realized that, while gardening and landscaping has always been a passion of mine, it has also been a family (many hands make light work) activity. And now, as more and more of the physical labor is mine alone to do, no matter how much I enjoy the doing of it, I do not wish to do it ALL of the time.
Eldest son Adam and me at the airport the day he flew-out for orientation with his new employer.

Eldest son Adam and me at the airport the day he flew-out for orientation with his new employer.

Which brings us to what has taken up much of my time these past twelve days… That my darling eldest son Adam has accepted employment out of state… In Austin, Texas, to be exact.
About which we are all elated, thrilled and overjoyed for him to be exploring this tremendous opportunity… and have been busy sorting out how things are going to work around here after he moves.
One bed (of many) weeded, planted with bulb-sets, mulched and watered.

One bed (of many) weeded, planted with bulb-sets, mulched and watered.

All of which and many other details of daily life have filled all of my days so far this month… but I gotta tell you, it sure did feel good to get my work-gloves dirty yesterday. (((hugs))) ’til next time…  ~Christine
 

Maiden Voyage: Camelot October 6, 2015

The second leg of my debut as a solo RVer had initially envisioned a visit to Lexington, Kentucky, but plans changed and on Monday, the morning of September 28th, Louise and I headed south.

As we did, I thought (just as I am thinking right now) that I feel somehow awkward – kookie-strange and weird – anthropomorphizing a mechanical vehicular means of transportation (ie: an ‘inanimate object’) as if it were human.

Growing up with a FoMoCo engineer as my dad, such tomfoolery was not warmly embraced… although neither were we a dull sort, but none of our several vehicles had names beyond manufacturer, make and model.

Thus my grandfather (my mom’s dad) drove a ’49 Ford Sedan and called it , simply. the Ford.

1949 Ford Sedan: My grandpa and grandma bought one of these new the year that I was born, and it was the first car I ever "drove," sitting on grandpa's lap, when I was 4 or 5...
1949 Ford Sedan: My grandpa and grandma bought one of these new the year that I was born, and it was the first car I ever “drove,” sitting on grandpa’s lap, when I was 4 or 5.  Photo courtesy AlfvanBeem – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons

My dad’s auto of choice was a ’57 Thunderbird.

I remember riding in my dad's 1957 Thunderbird. Wow... would I love to have a ride in it now...!!! ~Image courtesy Auto Trader Classics

I remember riding in my dad’s 1957 T-Bird. Wow… would I love to have a ride in it now…!!! ~Image courtesy Auto Trader Classics

But neither of these automobiles ever had any people-flavored nicknames, and growing up with this (unspoken, inculcated, memetic) predisposition tends to amplify it as ‘the norm’ – which of course it is neither normal nor abnormal for one to give a pet-name to a car, toaster, poodle, pony or computer… <smile>, but simply a mannerism of expressing a dimension of one’s own personal countenance.

And in the ‘why & wherefore’ of all-things-considered, boiling it all down to one (spectacular <smile>) reason for doing the dance I’ve begun, it is to explore those dimensions of ‘me’ that I intuitively know to exist but that have, for the past half-century, played second-fiddle to doing certain — like being a mom and having a career — and that now there are some other things that I would like to do.

Thus in the hopes of inspiring this ‘new and improved’ state of creativity in myself, I am purposefully doing things that are NOT ‘normal’ for me… like dubbing my 2002 Great West Van as Louise -and- giving myself permission to totally ‘go with the flow’, change plans mid-stream and even tell someone off without feeling even a teeny niggle of second-guessing guilt…!!!

Because the circumstances that culminated as my revised route could have caused me anguish. For one thing, I put a lot of thoughtful energy into formulating any plans I make, and this trip certainly was no exception. And there were others who were half-counting on me to be in Lexington for a day or two. So when events went counter to what I’d envisioned, it was unsettling to have to re-make plans midstream… Especially when, from my perspective, there was no ‘good’ reason that the change had to happen and was simply the result of a professional colleague doing something quite mean-spirited.

And usually, when I encounter stuff like this I tend to just let it go.. brush the dust from my sandals and move on.  This time, however, as my friend Vicki (with whom I was backyard boondocking)  became aware of what had transpired being a forthright advocate of justice for all, she said to me: “So… did you call her on it…???”

Thus I shed my political-correctness and told the unpleasant woman to go bag it… and bottom line, it felt good <smile>, kinda like I started resonating in harmony with a new frequency <smile> as I re-thought travel plans for the balance of my first roadtrip.

Bidding Vicki a fond fare-thee-well mid-Monday-morning, the drive from St. Louis to Poplar Bluff seemed a reasonable distance (150 miles) to travel in one day and I wanted to get comfortably settled into a site before dark so I could just kick-back, relax and the enjoy comforts of my roving home.

As I got closer to Poplar Bluff I googled RV parks, looking for one with WIFI and full hook-ups, and a place called Camelot RV Campground was right on my path

And I must say, I believe that King Arthur himself would have appreciated the comfortable accommodations I found there. I mean, the woman at the front desk was friendly and attentive. Registration was quick, instructions on how to connect with campground WIFI were explicit, and directions to my site, #17, and how to exit in the morning were drawn-out for me on a map.

Settling in to a site takes a bit of doing. First, you park as level as possible. Then you go around the vehicle unlocking the lockers that have the stuff you need to hook-up. All of which, really, is pretty simple – once you know how. And it is not a steep learning curve <grin>.

But it does take some thinking and developing a process that works to make sure certain things get done, like plugging in to shore power, turning the propane on, connecting the tank-dump (sewage and gray water) line to the in-ground receptacle and opening the valves to let stuff flow.

Also, if the campground has cable TV, you hook-up your coaxial. And Camelot did indeed offer this free amenity, but I was coaxial-less <smile>… and even if I had thought to bring one along, probably wouldn’t have taken the time to figure out how it works… because there are a lot of various coaxial connector boxes and disconnected cables inside one of the aft cabinets which I know somehow relate to the TV installed overhead in the cab of the van, but at the moment I have nary a clue about what is supposed to connect where in order to get the TV to work…!!!

Which is not a big deal for me really, as I have no television (cable, satellite, public air waves) at home. Paid subscriptions just got too expensive for my pension-budget, and once the public airwaves went digital, my entertainment and news have all come through the Internet. Thus my keen interest to overnight at a campground with WIFI… (aka: I LOVE Netflix) and this proved to be my only disappointment.

Connectivity was intermittent and slow., making it impossible to watch even a 3-min Youtube, although I was able to get some email sent — but even that was touch and go. Had I planned on staying more than overnight at the park, I would have had to ask if this was the norm, or if something was amiss. But since I was ready for an early beddtime, it didn’t seem worth the effort.

What did seem worth the effort — and resulted in one of the most sublime moments of pure indulgence – was waking-up from an evening nap and cooking brown rice at midnight without thought or concern to whether my late-night movements were disruptive to my sleeping son or daughter who rise early to go to work…

Thus I listened to the radio, turned lights on and off, washed dishes and did whatever I wished in the privacy of my own little gypsy cabana… and abiding the principle that “my liberty to swing my arm freely ends where your nose begins” with respect for others camped nearby, I could just simply be myself….

Wow… What a hoot…!!!

7am breakfast of brown rice, scrambled egg and fruit juice kicked-off my departure routine. Then, after the kitchen was tidied and my bed made (all of which took maybe 10-min.) the 3-way refrig which had been running on shore power since I checked in, had to be switched off because I have not yet had the ‘coach battery recharge while driving’ issue redressed. Thus on this trip, while in transit I used a standard ice-chest when shore power was not available… which was most of the time.

Then the roof a/c and/or exhaust fan(s)  are shut down, turned off, curtains are un-snapped from front and side windows, decorative items (like my Mickey & Minnie Mouse Chinese Lantern that hangs above my aft table when I’m not tooling down the road)) and various electronics are stowed with items essential to navigating the day’s journey provisioned for easy access from the driver’s seat.

Outside, as electricity and sewer lines are disconnected, cleaned and stowed, lockers must be closed and locked, tire pressure and fluid levels checked, and a walk-around of the vehicle, making sure to bend over and look underneath and cast an eye to what’s going on up-top, confirms that everything looks the way it should.

Most time consuming of my exit protocol was flushing the black-water tank… which had (as I am told many RVs do) a bit of a nasty odor which we first noticed when the kids and I drove Louise home after purchase.

Son Adam substantially mitigated this problem en-route by pouring a bag of ice down the commode. And then, after we got home, daughter Shawna and I took Louise to a local park for a picnic, and while we were there we dumped the tanks… which I hoped would completely resolved the issue.

Alas, it did not. The annoying odor, though less intense, persisted. And so this time I was determined to give the tank a really thorough flush, pouring whole buckets of water into the toilet with the trap propped open, so that any residual sludge would gush through the system and out the drain. And for all of the rest of my journey home, the offensive odor ceased to exist…!!!!

And so you have the highlights of my first solo night in an RV park… 72 hours into my debut adventure with several more days yet to go. Thanks for the pleasure of your virtual ride-along company… and if you’d like to know more about what I do beyond roving in Louise, I am proud to share the happy news that I am again in print with The Municipal… in the October 2015 edition, find me on pages 24-26.

Until next time and the story of the third leg of my first adventure as a Home Ranger…… (((hugs))) and happy travels to all… ~Christine