The race question

Liz Carmel Inspiration, New Mexico, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux Leave a Comment

I had a revelation this morning.

I was bundled up against the cold high desert morning — hooded sweatshirt tied tight over a Hardcore Choppers baseball cap, hands pulled into jacket sleeves, headphones on.

I was listening to Krista Tippett’s “On Being” podcast as I often do. Check it out if you get the chance.

As I walked through the subdivision-that-never-was, Nathan’s all-beef hot dog pieces in my left jacket pocket to make sure off-leash Roan didn’t stray too far chasing jack rabbits, MP3 player in my right, it suddenly hit me.

Krista’s guests were Natasha Trethewey and Eboo Patel, neither person I knew. The subject: How to Live Beyond this Election. I was dubious.  I tend to avoid politics thinking them just a Big Game that I no longer wish to play.

Anyway, as I walked and listened, periodically giving Roan a beefy morsel, something that Natasha or Eboo said triggered a sudden insight. I don’t recall exactly what it was or who said it.  Perhaps it was just the tenor of their discussion. But that moment, something clicked.

I realized as I walked and listened that it was wrong — or maybe unenlightened or unloving or insensitive are better words — for me to ask the woman at the Oceti Sakowin Camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota that blustery afternoon what she wanted to be called — “Native American” or “Indian” (Blame it on the wind). She was right.  The discussion was “common” and not at all helpful.

My question created separation. Labeling people in any way — be it by skin color or ethnicity or nationality or religion or gender preference or anything else — divides us.  It reminds me of the race question.  Last I checked, we’re all the human race.

What race are you? survey question
In retrospect, I could have asked the woman:

  • How are you today?
  • Do you live nearby?
  • Do you have any children? Grandchildren?
  • What do you think about what’s going on?
  • How can I help?

After 25 years of interviews, Oprah once said that what people really want is to be seen and heard.

I could have asked the woman something to let her know that I really saw her, that I really heard her, that I saw deeper than her skin. I could have made a heart connection. But I didn’t and for this I am sorry.

I sent a mental apology to that woman. And I thanked her for the lesson. It wasn’t the lesson I thought I learned that day — its subtlety escaped me for over a month — but it was a lesson I needed to learn.

Liz CarmelThe race question

Blame it on the wind

Liz Carmel Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota, South Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux Leave a Comment

Continued from Let the black snake lie

Monday, October 3, 2016

“So now you’re calling me ‘sensitive’?”, the sixty-ish dark-haired woman said. Arm extended, hand pointed down as if to push me away, she stepped back.

Taken aback I stuttered, “I’m sensitive too.” What’s wrong with being sensitive? Knowing nothing of the American Indian Movement, I had asked which she preferred: “Indian” or “Native American.”

“How can we understand each other if we don’t ask questions?” I was really trying to understand.  Or at least I thought I was.

“I’m tired of this conversation,” she replied, “It’s so ‘common.’”

“Do you have any grandchildren?”, I pivoted.  Too little too late. The conversation was over.

Pushed by the wind, I scuffed my Birkenstock way back down Media Hill — so-called because you could get the strongest cell single on it.  Under a gloomy sky so unlike the previous day’s hopeful blue, I walked to the Oceti Sakowin Camp’s main gathering area.  I sat down on a white metal bench, my back to the Direct Action Principles.

Direct Action Principles posted at the Oceti Sakowin Camp

Direct Action Principles posted at the Oceti Sakowin Camp


To my left — the kitchen tent where volunteers prepared meals. To its left — a white refrigerator truck. In front of me — a smoky fire — one of many smoky fires scattered throughout the camp.  You could smell them day and night.  On the far side of the fire — a dirt stage and sound equipment.

The night before I had danced around the fire to honor three members of a Canadian tribe who had traveled over 7,000 miles to support their southern brothers and sisters. A bent but not broken old man, white ponytail, cacky pants and green long-sleeved button down shirt, set the pace.

There was no dancing this late grey afternoon, just dinner prep. A man in his thirties sat down to my right. He wore a black New York Yankees baseball cap, black long-sleeved t-shirt, grey sweatpants under long blue basketball shorts, diamond studs.

“I’m John,” he said, offering his hand. He was Rosebud Sioux from South Dakota.

“I don’t know why I’m here,” he began.  “I guess I just wanted to see it with my own eyes.”

“Me too,” I replied.

” — I ask people what they want to come from being here,” he continued, “how they want this whole situation to resolve itself. Most can’t tell me.”

I mentioned the pipeline workers, their kids and mortgages. They needed to work to support their families, just like everyone else. John agreed. He liked to look at all sides of an issue. But he wasn’t always like this he said.  When he was 25 years old, he almost went to prison.

John and his brother got black-out drunk one night and stole and burned a man’s van. After spending time in Reservation Jail, the Federal authorities came for John two years after the crime.  “The Federal Government has jurisdiction on Indian lands,” he told me.  I didn’t know that.  “I was facing 20 years in a Federal prison.”

“It was 2006,” he said, dark eyes going back to that moment of deepest, darkest despair.  “It was around 1:30 AM. I was on my knees, scared to death. I didn’t want to go to prison.  Please don’t let me go to prison I cried over and over again.  And then a sense of total calm came over me.  I felt His Grace and Mercy.  The Creator saved me that morning.”

John wrote letters to the van’s owner, the judge, his mother — begging for forgiveness. Freed, he vowed to be the best man he could be.  “I’m not perfect but I do my best,” he said.

John’s search for The Truth began that day. He read the Bible three times, quoting passages to me. He asked religious men — medicine men, priests, pastors — to explain The Creator, the Creation Story. He got different answers from each. “There should be One Truth,” he said. “One Truth.”

I didn’t talk much, just listened.

“You should read ‘Crazy Horse’ by Joseph Marshall,” he said. “I had to read it twice to really understand it.”

“Thank you,” I said as John finished his story, “I will. Thank you for talking with me,” I added. “I was feeling a little down. I offended a woman earlier today.”

“That’s not hard to do here,” he said, smiling. And then he was gone.

Intending to stay at least another week, between the lack of Internet which was being jammed — 4G yesterday, 3G and 1X today — the 30- to 40-mile-per-hour winds and vicious rains which slammed into Pegasus’s 16 tons, and the unpredictable energies carried on the wind like smothering smoke, I left camp the next day.

I couldn’t stay. This wasn’t my place.


Even though I’m back in Deming, New Mexico, my Heart remains up north.  I send Big Love and Light to All in accordance with The Highest Good.

Love will prevail.

Liz CarmelBlame it on the wind

Let the black snake lie

Liz Carmel Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux

Saturday, October 1, 2016

While waiting for my laundry, I stopped in the Prairie Knights Casino gift shop, looking for a t-shirt that said something like “I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux” or #NoDAPL.  Unsuccessful, I informed the young black-haired saleswoman that they really needed to sell such t-shirts.

“Not everyone who works here supports the effort,” she replied.

What I initially considered “political correctness,” I came to realize was compassion. They didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I arrived at the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the Big Camp, around 10:00 AM. Located in a large meadow, the Big Camp includes Red Warrior Camp.  I was a little leery about staying in the Red Warrior Camp until I read Sitting Bull’s definition of “warrior.”


Three young men greeted me as I guided Pegasus down the dirt road into the main camp entrance. I slid the side window open and looked down at them.

“We’ll have to search your camper,” one said, dark eyes smiling.

“OK,” I replied, recalling the posted prohibition of weapons and alcohol. I had the latter but not the former.

“Just kidding,” he laughed. I laughed too. “Park anywhere,” he said, waving Pegasus through.

After two false starts — the first ending with me driving Pegasus down the side of Facebook Hill past two horse pens, the other with me parked for less than an hour at the edge of the camp near the second exit — I ended up parked in the middle of the camp at the end of Flag Row.

Hundreds of tribal flags stood at attention on both sides of the main drag.  I was kitty-corner from the Direct Action Tent where they had daily training meetings, and down a dirt road from the Medic Tent.  Four Port-A-Potties, one handicap, stood at the ready.

My front yard at the Big Camp

My front yard at the Big Camp

My neighbors to the right were a Standing Rock Sioux family with two small boys and a teenage girl.  They lived nearby but stayed at the camp most nights in a low dome-shaped tent layered with tarps. Gap-toothed eight-year old R. told me I was “old.”

“I can tell by this and this,” he said, pointing to his neck and hands. R. and his little brother G. fed Roan hot dogs and left three small milk bones on the ground outside our door.

My neighbors to the left were a thirty-something couple in a rainbow-painted Blue Bird school bus — Water is Life, painted in neon blue on the port side. Teenage brothers J. and J. introduced themselves.

One brother wanted to move to the “whitest place he can find” and play Xbox all day. The barefoot other brother wanted to return to the “old ways.”  Both were bored.

“You’re bringing me down,” I said, sending them home. “If you have such a negative outlook, it’s already over.”

Roan and I stayed at the Big Camp two nights.  We walked around the entire camp, crossing the Cannonball River twice to check out the Sacred Stone and Rosebud Sioux camps tucked into the hills.

Camp locations in Cannonball, North Dakota

Camp locations in Cannonball, North Dakota


As always, Roan was a conversation starter.  I called him “Dog Who Loves Horses,” and then “Dog Who Was Almost Kicked in the Head by Horses.”  We both loved the horses.

I talked to a lot of people, some Native American, some not.  Some people were there for the duration.  Others, like me, were just passing through.  All had their stories, many shared those stories with me.  I was there to listen and learn.

To be continued

The Standing Rock Sioux call the Dakota Access Pipeline “the black snake.”  Inspired, I designed this t-shirt:  Let the black snake lie.

All proceeds from sales will go to the Red Warrior Camp’s GoFundMe campaign. The price is $30 plus $4.99 shipping and handling. Sales end October 31, 2016. Please click to order.  Thank you.

Let the black snake lie t-shirt

Mni Wiconi – Water is Life. Show your support as a Water Protector.

Liz CarmelLet the black snake lie

No more, no less

Liz Carmel Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux

“I’m sorry about the water,” I silently said to the girl’s back as she walked on her toes through watery grass back to the trailer.  She had come out to fill a tin coffee pot.  Two other pots sat on the grass near the water spigot.

I had connected three hoses to the spigot to fill Pegasus’s 115-gallon freshwater tank.  I was moving to the Oceti Sakowin Camp tomorrow and wanted enough water to dry camp for a month.  One of the hoses dripped, pooling in the grass.

Greed isn’t an attractive quality I would tell Roan when he begged for dog treats.  And now here I was being very greedy for water.  Ironic considering I was here in the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to support their stand to stop a pipeline that threatened water.

Coming within a half-mile of the reservation, the $3.8-billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would run across treaty-guaranteed lands, through sacred sites, and under the Missouri River — the tribe’s main source of drinking water.

Any spill — and there would be spills, there always are — would not only wipe out the tribe, but affect the water supply of countless others.

I met the girl’s mother yesterday when I arrived at Prairie Knights Casino and Resort RV park.  A dusty white pick-up made it difficult for me to back into spot 10.  I knocked on the Cougar trailer door.

“Could you please move your truck?” I asked the slender woman who opened the door, “I don’t want to hit it.”

She was in her late 30s or early 40s.  Long dark hair flowed down her back in a low ponytail; green scrubs covered tattooed arms.  She was Cheyenne River. “We’re here until the end,” she said, not smiling, “We woke the Beast.”

The Beast is greed.  Greed rooted in fear. Fear that we won’t have what we need to survive.

But why do we fear so?  Is it because most of us have grown up in a society that teaches us from day one that competition trumps cooperation every time?  Survival of the fittest and all that crap?

I felt ashamed in my 41-foot diesel pusher with its washer and dryer, my inane “Peace. Join the Evolution” and “Meditating on Peace” t-shirts, my flimsy yogic philosophy.

Why had I driven almost 1,300 miles in four days?  What was I even doing here?

I was an impostor.  A big fat fake.

The call to downsize came again, this time louder.

Have only what I need.

No more, no less.

For more information:

The New York Times.  “North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why,” 26 August 2016.

Huffington Post.  “Standing With Standing Rock and Sacred Stone Camp,” 22 September 2016.

Wikipedia.  “List of natural gas and oil production accidents in the United States.”

Follow on Facebook:

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Sacred Stone Camp

Red Warrior Camp

Unify No DAPL

Liz CarmelNo more, no less

My summer vacation

Liz Carmel Colorado, Family, New Mexico, Roan, Travel, Wisconsin

Did you miss me? Did you wonder where I was or what I was doing? Or, were you otherwise mired thigh-deep in the throes of your own end-of-summer vacation?

Roan and I left Deming, New Mexico on Monday, 22 August 2016. Destination: Milwaukee, Wisconsin to visit my sisters. We left Pegasus behind, taking the 2010 Honda CR-V.

map of summer vacation 2016

(1) LoW-HI RV Ranch, Deming, NM. (2) Motel 6 – Elk City, OK. (3) Motel 6 – Springfield, IL. (4) Milwaukee, WI. (5) Little Long Lake, WI. (6) Motel 6 – West Des Moines, IA. (7) Motel 6 – Big Springs, NE. (8) Rainbow Lodge & RV Park, South Fork, CO. (9) Moriarty, NM.


Two and a half days, 1,633 miles, and 25.5 hours later, we arrived at Mary Rose and John’s house in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Sarah braided my hair.

Sarah braided my hair.

Over the next two weeks, we’d visit and catch up; go to Sarah’s volleyball games; drink Irish Coffees with freshly-whipped cream at Rochambo on Brady Street; hang out with Anne on the cool East Side; then bounce to Teri and Tom’s place in Menomonee Falls because who wouldn’t want to spread this joy around?

And we made an impromptu drive four hours north to Little Long Lake nestled in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to see former neighbors from across the Reston, Virginia cul-de-sac.  Dana and David’s lake house was packed but there was room for Roan and me in Dana’s mom’s house next door.

Roan playing in Little Long Lake, WI.

Roan playing in Little Long Lake, WI.

On a close-to-overcapacity pontoon boat late Saturday morning — 10 people, 3 dogs, clear skies, gentle breezes — I raised my spicy Bloody Mary.

“This does not suck,” I said, “In fact this is the farthest from sucking that anything could possibly be.” This much fun every day would kill me but I was on vacation.

Then back to Teri and Tom’s for “pizza palooza” with homemade pizza dough and four types of pizza grilled to perfection because any less wouldn’t be a “palooza,” before packing up and hitting the road again.

Somewhere on I-80 westbound, I decided to drive back through South Fork, Colorado. There was no reason for me to rush back to Deming and I wanted to see where Ron has spent his summers for the past 17 years.

Southwest Fritatta

Though tasty, Ron and I would not get the Southwest Fritattas again.

Bloody Marys, lunch, and coffee in Creede; white-linen Sunday brunch with Bloody Marys (are you seeing a pattern here?) at the Windsor Hotel in Del Norte where we visited post-meal with the housekeepers and Maude, the ghost of a 21-year old woman who killed herself in one of the rooms.  Yes, a man was involved.

You think after 4,231 miles we’d stay put for a while. No such luck. The day after we got back to Deming it was back on the road to Moriarty, New Mexico, a mere 273 miles north, to look at a 2004 Safari Trek 29RBD at Kay’s RV. Nice but not The One.

Kay recommended Sunset Motel on Historic Route 66 for the night. I thought of a young and energetic Mom and Dad passing this way on their cross-country drives from LA to the Midwest.

Back in Deming for about a week now, we’re ready to go again, this time in Pegasus or perhaps a smaller coach. I’m still looking…

Liz CarmelMy summer vacation

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Liz Carmel New Mexico, Poem

Eye of Horus

Eye of Horus


If this is “The Way”
Why do I hesitate?
Why do I question?
Why do I seek my bed, cheeks damp?
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Thoughts ad nauseum
Angsting over every detail
Radio silence
Anyone home???

Flip / Flop
Dry land fish dying
Stinking up the joint as only I can

Zig / Zag
Straight line not
Disgusting dizzying mayhem maze

And this is fun?
Chasing a tail I’ll never catch?
Sisyphus’s rolling stone?
An eternity of Square Ones?
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Go with the flow?
Look for signs?
Ask my I AM?
I ain’t buying it anymore!

Not that a quadrice-sighted lizard doesn’t mean something but
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
Can’t you do better than that
No offense meant / None taken
F*&% the metaphors already
Give me a clear as quartz crystal sign

Make me believe again
Make me know for sure
Yeh you Universe
I’m talking to you.
Yeh you I AM
You ain’t much better
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

I’m outta here

Liz CarmelWhiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Call the curandero

Liz Carmel Avion, Mexico, New Mexico

And if I’m never tied to anything
I’ll never be free — “Finale,” Pippin

Decisions were made. There was a new New Plan.  Yesterday.

Stop looking for another motorhome of whatever size — I meant it this time — and improve Pegasus instead. Easy-to-maintain laminate dark grey wood-grain floor up front. Long-desired solar system up top.  As for spending the winter in Mexico, I’ll leave my car here in Deming and get a small trail bike with knobby tires to run around on.

Sandra liked the new New Plan:  “You won’t regret getting solar,” she said.

Stephanie was tired of hearing about the whole thing. “Let me know when you put money down on something,” she said as we watched Really and Roan take turns eating a stick in the dog park.

And then, last night, after the office closed at 5 PM, a white Dodge pickup towing an aluminum trailer that wasn’t an Airstream pulled into site 33 here at LoW-HI RV Ranch.

The second Avion I had ever seen in my life.

What the @#&*?

Was it a sign that I should buy the Avion or just the Universe messing with me?

Regardless, I couldn’t help looking towards site 33.

The Avion was still there the next morning when Roan and I returned from our walk around 8 AM.

I texted Ron: “Help! An Avion pulled into the park last night.”

Ron texted back: “Walk quickly away without looking and put cotton in ears to mute the siren song. Praying may help.” He also recommended a priest for an exorcism or a curandero (traditional Native healer, shaman, or Witch doctor).

“Are you trying to help?” I typed.

1972 Avion LeGrande

1972 Avion La Grande

I phoned Faun.

Faun said: “What does your I AM say?”

I asked my I AM: “Should I get the Avion?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes!.”  Ever the Grand Instigator, my I AM is more into the Big Picture and not so strong on details.

“Well then,” Faun replied, as if that solved everything, adding, “But you feeling sick to your stomach means something too.”

Later that morning, I walked over to recycling to drop off two broken down cardboard boxes. I passed the 30s row, glancing over to now-empty site 33. Whew!

But then I saw it, parked in front of the office. Lurking, taunting me, a sleek aluminum specter. I could not resist its song. I walked up the ramp to the office just as a man with a short white ponytail came out.

I told him my tale about almost getting a 1972 Avion La Grande. We chatted as he showed me the inside of his 1972 Avion. Same year, length, and layout as the one I almost bought. Same twin beds, same mirrored walls, same bathtub. His had a dinette, “mine” had a sofa.

“My” Avion’s front rock guard had blown away in a West Texas wind storm.  Kenneth had replaced his and was willing to sell the original one to me. He knew someone who rebuilt old fridges too. We exchanged information.

Back in Pegasus’s cool expanse, I called Ron. As we spoke, I had a revelation.

“Maybe the Avion came to me here in the park so that I could see it again,” I offered. “I didn’t spend much time in the other one when the owners came through town. I had a romantic idea about it. Maybe this one came here to show me the layout and that it wouldn’t be practical for day-to-day living.”

A big maybe.

Ron explained Fritz Perls’s parts psychology. The part of me that wanted to keep Pegasus and the part of me that wanted the Avion needed to have a discussion and come to some agreement.

I’ll let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, call the curandero.

Liz CarmelCall the curandero

Done looking

Liz Carmel Airstream, Avion, Maintenance & repairs, New Mexico

I’m done looking.

Over the past few months, I’ve gobbled up daily email alerts from RVTrader, RVT, the Airstreams Forum, eBay, Craigslist, Oodle.

Here at the Ranch, I peeked into Paul’s Phoenix Cruiser, Jack’s Roadtrek, Barb’s Holiday Rambler Traveler.

I decided on a Class B, and then on an Airstream, and then on an Avion, and then on a large Class C, and then on a small gas Class A, and then back on an Avion…

Dizzy?  Me too.

I wrote a list of “Must Haves”:

  • Maximum length of 30 feet
  • One slide (two better)
  • Bathtub
  • Oven — I bake
  • Interior height of more than 6.5 feet — I touch the ceiling in Pegasus when doing sun salutations.
  • Desk space
  • HWH automatic leveling system — Yes, I’m lazy.
  • Washer-dryer or space for one — Yes, I’m spoiled.

I searched for motorhomes that had all of the above. Few did.

Sunday — I drove 337 miles to Mesa, Arizona.

Monday — I looked at motorhomes at Desert Autoplex (2001 Bigfoot), Camping World (2004 Chinook), Always RV (2006 Winnebago).

And I stopped at Lazydays RV in Tuscon on the long drive back to Deming where salesman Greg tried to tell me that there was no market for a 41-foot diesel pusher like Pegasus in the “low income region.” I looked around. Marble floors, not one but two fountains in the lobby, a long row of over-sized service bays out back. No market for Class As here? Really? I left shortly thereafter.

Thursday — I spent the day at Borman Honda in Las Cruces, an hour-drive away. The InvisiBrake supplemental braking system on my CR-V had shorted the brakes. After three years. Was this a sign that I should go back to looking at trailers (one engine) or just bad timing? Deciding on the former, I came home and deleted all the searches except for Avions and Airstreams.

Round in a circle back to square one. (Downsizing…again)

Friday — I sent a couple of emails and texts.  I was ready to do the deal.

Dr. G. loved the 1984 Avion Triple Axle 34-V:

“ This is the obvious choice. Identical to the one my uncle had and my parents just sold theirs.  Without question this is the trailer and the condition is fantastic. The 34-V is the best full time and the 1984 has the best build quality. Buy this one.”

I didn’t buy this one. While gorgeous and perfect, the 34-V was bigger than I wanted. Combined with the truck needed to pull it, the length would be no less than what I have now. More an even swap, albeit to one engine, than downsizing.

Saturday — I almost bought the 1972 Avion La Grande. The owner replied to my text:

“I am really having a hard time letting go of the trailer. But what keeps tugging on me is selling the Avion to someone who will love it as much as I do. And I am thinking that would be you. We had a family meeting last evening and we all agreed.”

It almost was me. I loved the feel of the Avion. But where would I put my computer? My printer? A microwave? And I didn’t like the twin beds. I could picture the trailer in Mexico but day-to-day living was another story.  True — I could keep Pegasus and my car for a while, but the idea was to downsize, right?

Today — I’m done looking.

If my new home is out there, it can find me.  But just in case….

I created a new search on RVTrader.

Liz CarmelDone looking

Bees can’t swim

Liz Carmel Airstream, Avion, Mexico, New Mexico, Roan, Travel

“Bees like to land on the edge of the fountain and drink,” Gary, maintenance master extraordinaire and former Seattleite told me.

“Guess this one fell in,” I said.

“Guess so.”

As was his wont, Roan was playing in the fountain, cool water soothing dry paws after our morning walk through the rocky desert.

The bee in question was on its side, paddling frantic figure eights.  I lifted the small blue net off the white nail on the white pole holding a white hose.  (Gary is nothing if not meticulous.) Scoop — the bee was airborne. I lowered the net near some greenery, easing the bee out. I watched as it dried its feet and wings.

Earlier that morning I had seen my first rattlesnake. (Ron saw several in the spring. Is that why he went north or could it be the 100-plus temperatures here in Deming?).  I’ve wanted to see a rattlesnake as much as I didn’t want to.  The only ones I had seen were roadkill.

Roan and I were were taking our usual route through the still-born subdivision across Country Club when I saw something about three feet long stretched out in the middle of the sandy path. Roan stopped and sniffed. What was it? As my mind found the answer, I shouted “Roan!” and pulled him away just as the snake roused and coiled, sticking out a forked tongue. I heard a soft rattle. A safe distance away, I looked back.  The snake was beautiful —  sandy speckled yellow-green.

Mojave Rattlesnake (Photo: Steve Byland)

Mojave Rattlesnake (Photo: Steve Byland)

Based on my research, I think what I saw was a juvenile Mojave Rattlesnake (one snake sighting and I’m an herpetologist).

The Mojave Rattlesnake is found in extreme Southern New Mexico. It lives in desert or low grassland habitats, often on flat terrain. The Mojave rattlesnake is often greenish-gray or olive green, with a white belly. Its venom is highly potent.

Apart from snake-sighting and bee-saving, what else have I been up to?

Driving Mr. Lee: "The Road Trip"Well, I drove Lee and his 2015 Itasca Navion iQ to Chapin, South Carolina a week ago. It took us four and a half days to cover the 1,748 miles. I flew back to El Paso where Brian picked me up. We had lunch at the historic Rosa’s Cantina on our way back to Deming.

Living in the mini motorhome made me appreciate Pegasus more. Despite rumors to the contrary (Downsizing…again) I’m not ready to say “goodbye” to my flying war horse.   Still, I can’t picture Pegasus sunbathing on the Mexican beaches.  The new, new plan:  get an inexpensive trailer and tow vehicle and store Pegasus and the Honda CR-V here at the Ranch.

My search has shifted from Airstream to Avion — the other aluminum trailer. Built from 1956 to 1990, many consider Avions better made.  I consider them more in my price range with larger tanks. Dr. G., who maintains the Avion Travelcade Club website, is helping me look.

Dr. G. advised me to sit in a trailer alone, really look around, and wait for the trailer to speak to me. “If you get the message that you should own the trailer you will bond with it. It needs you to love and care for it. If it tells you to run you had better thank it and leave it there.”

1972 Avion La Grande

1972 Avion La Grande

I saw a 1972 Avion La Grande in person this past Monday.  I had contacted the owners a while back and forgot about it.  They emailed me out of the blue on Sunday:  They were driving through Deming on their way home and did I want to see the trailer?  I did and did, meeting them at the 5R Travel Center.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, me included.

Liz CarmelBees can’t swim


Liz Carmel Airstream, Insurance, Mexico, Money, New Mexico

I’m downsizing. Again. As much as I love my home, Pegasus is feeling cumbersome, like a big, gorgeous, costly anchor.

I wanted to go to Milwaukee but diesel to drive the 1,600 miles would cost about $960, conservatively estimating five miles to the gallon at $3.00 per gallon. Almost $2,000 round-trip. As much as I want to see my sisters, I could stay here at the LoW-HI RV Ranch for nine months for two grand.

And then there’s our plan to spend this winter in Mexico. We’ll start in Puerto Peñasco aka Rocky Point aka Gringolandia due to its heavy U.S. and Canadian winter population.  We’d move as our whims blew.

I can go down to Mexico with Pegasus — lots of large Class As do it all the time — but the thought does not appeal. I don’t want to be stuck in an RV park.  I picture myself on the beach; it’s not Pegasus I see on the sand.

And so, I began looking for a Class B, a van conversion for my non-RVing friends. I could store Pegasus and my car here at the Ranch. But then my insurance renewal dropped, a boulder in my Inbox.

When I asked my agent why the premiums went up 17 percent, she said, “Liz, unfortunately, insurance claims are at an all time high and every company is facing rate increases.” A familiar refrain. Molina Healthcare — which doesn’t even cover me outside of Wisconsin — said the same thing after increasing their rates 20 percent.

To cut costs, I could drop down to one engine. But, if I have to get a trailer, there is only one choice — the Airstream. As Ron would and does say, “I’m a sucker for beauty and form.” Ditto Doc.

Airstream Flying Cloud

Airstream Flying Cloud Series. I’ll look for a 25- to 28-foot trailer.

Jackson asked:

Why do you want to buy an Airstream? In your view, what are its pros and cons? Just curious.

To which I responded:

Pros: Beauty, simplicity, modern design, easy to tow, an active and enthusiastic community, the manufacturer is still in business, 80% of Airstreams ever made are still on the road (or so I’ve heard).

Cons: Higher cost relative to other tow-behinds, no slides.

I’ve looked at a few trailers and fifth wheels over the past three years being on the road. The Airstream is the only one I get excited about. It’s an emotional response, similar to finding the right house.

And so, despite previous plans to summer in the Rockies (Rainbow bound), I’ll be staying here in Deming where the only thing rising is the temperature into the low 100s.

As I do with any desire, I’ve begun shooting tendrils of intent out into the Universe. To be more specific, I’m researching and searching — RV Trader, Craigslist, the Airstream Classifieds. I’ve appealed to self-affirmed “crazy” Vince at A to Z Motors near Napa. I sense that he could be my ace in the hole.

And I’ve contacted a few dealers inquiring about trade-in values for Pegasus. Needless to say, the amounts quoted disappoint quite given all the money I’ve put into my home since Spring 2013. I’ll pocket the dealer mark-up, thank you.

So, that’s where it stands now dear friends and readers.

I began living as a full-time RVer to go with the wind. I’ll downsize — again — to continue to be able to follow the flow.

Liz CarmelDownsizing…again