2 months, 2 fires, 2 puppies

Honey's puppies
Honey’s puppies (Photo: K. Pitera)

What sounded like gunshots woke me. The window at the head of my bed was wide open — pop, pop, pop flowing in on the cool breeze.  I heard similar noises a few evenings before but they stopped and the night fell quiet again. This morning, the pops were followed by shouting, swearing, more pops. A dog barked himself hoarse.  I looked out the window and saw a fireball. Oh shit.

I got up, pulled on sweats, called 911. Roan was under the table — his safe place.  He had slept through a lightning strike in southern Alabama and Fourth of July fireworks in Milwaukee. This was different.

I grabbed my headlight but didn’t need it. A waning full moon lit the sky. I walked down Low Road towards the flashing lights then turned around. The fire department and police were on the scene.

On my way back to Pegasus, I stopped at A. and J.’s camp, kitty-corner from where I was parked on the northwest edge of the Travelin’ Pals Club. I had met the young couple and their black and white Siberian Husky the day before. They seemed cool and I knew they were up. Their car light was on when I walked down Low.

“Hello?” I called softly towards the now-dark SUV.  J. opened the back passenger door. They were bedded down, Zoe tucked in safe and sound.

A. had run towards the fire. Their friends were camped nearby.

“I tried putting the fire out,” he said, “I grabbed a bucket but it was melted.  There was nothing I could do.” Thankfully he grabbed a propane tank.

“There are crazy people out here,” I said.

As soon as the slightest hint of light lit the eastern sky, Roan and I were up and out. Our walk purposely took us past the now burned-to-the-ground Coffee Camp. People were moving about in the gray pre-dawn.

“Does anyone know about the puppy?” I asked a man making coffee in the back of a van. G.’s dog Honey had a litter of nine in December. B. had one. The Coffee Camp was his place.

“They didn’t make it,” a female voice shouted from somewhere.

I learned that two people and two puppies were in the Coffee Camp.  B. came tearing out of his trailer with just a thermal long-sleeved shirt on; someone gave him pants before he was arrested. A woman escaped the inferno as well. The puppies didn’t. Both were Honey’s.

C. and E. had been at Slab City for only 18 hours. Head and body draped in a blanket, E. stood, quiet. Their camper was parked across from the Coffee Camp. I hugged E., C., and another guy and then walked back up Low Road, crying for the puppies.

Fire is the weapon of choice in Slab City. People get “burned out.” Set in the late afternoon a few weeks ago, the last fire destroyed a small travel trailer. A man in a dark red pickup towing a trailer with an ATV came back to a smoldering wet lump. He told the firemen he wasn’t surprised. Seems a man in a brown van had threatened him. Something about his dogs.  Set at 4 AM, however, this fire was meant to kill.  And kill it did.

Rumor at the Oasis Club later that morning was that B.’s mom may have set the fire. Or maybe it was a manufacturing accident. Does it even matter?

Roan and I left Slab City a few hours later.

Peace be with us

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors. If there is to be peace between neighbors, there must be peace in the home. If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart. — Lao Tzu

I’m on constant edge these days.

San Diego Harbor Cruise. From left to right: Me, Tom, Teri, Renee, Tony.
San Diego Harbor Cruise. From left to right: Me, Tom, Teri, Renee, Tony.

Perhaps it’s because I just got back from eight days in “sunny” San Diego.  Teri and Tom flew in from Milwaukee to visit Roan and me. We had a non-stop week:

  • Temecula wineries,
  • A southern harbor tour and lunch in Little Italy with cousin Renee and her new beau,
  • Eating at Souplantation and Roberto’s and Denny’s,
  • Shopping for flooring at Lowe’s with Teri’s help and musical instruments at Guitar Center and Alan’s Music Center with Tom’s help.

Perhaps it’s my onerous To Do List:

  • Write this blog post;
  • Go back to The Sun Works to get the leak discovered during a torrential downpour in El Cajon, an eastern suburb of San Diego, fixed;
  • Go to Salvation Mountain to meet with Ron, a journeyman floorer, to talk vinyl planking;
  • Dump and fill tanks;
  • Work on my new business, Pegasus Speaks Designs;
  • Learn a new-to-me autoharp;
  • Practice songs for acoustic nights at California Ponderosa and the Oasis;
  • Book flights for my cousin David’s mid-March wedding;
  • Schedule a conference call with an editor to discuss my book;
  • Find out what’s wrong with Roan’s nose…
El Cajon weather 20 January 2017
I arrived at the El Cajon Elks Lodge in a torrential downpour. The region got about two inches of rain the week we were there.

Or perhaps it’s the uncertainty that permeates the atmosphere.  The world reflects back a collective disquiet.  Can you feel it?  Mother Earth does; weather is odd all over.

Whatever the causes, I feel harried and hurried.

All I want — all most people want — is peace. But how do we find peace in a world where we’re bombarded by bad news a nanosecond after it happens, where talking heads scream at each other across studio tables, where up is down and down is up?

Peace begins in our hearts. If we can find peace through whatever means work for each of us —  be they walking or reading or dancing or listening to Solfeggio frequencies or running or yoga or… we can pass the peace on.  We can increase global peace  one iota at a time until all the iotas add up to a tsunami, flooding the world in loving kindness.

Peace. Join the Evolution.

Peace - Join the Evolution t-shirt
This and other “Wear the Word, Spread the Light”™ t-shirts are available from Pegasus Speaks Designs.


Note to Self


all possibilities
now and for always
Divine Creation
all that is/was/ever will be
and so are you


Note to Self

This and other designs — including my Wear the Word, Spread the Light™ t-shirt line — are available at Pegasus Speaks Designs — my new online Society6 storefront.  Please enjoy.

With Love and Thanks.

Liz Carmel





Christmas Eve in Slab City

What do you do on Christmas Eve in the Sonoran Desert, specifically Slab City? You’re off-grid, a few miles from Niland, California, population 1,000, give or take. Brawley, the closest city with a population large enough to warrant a Walmart, is 30 minutes south.

I don’t know what you would do, but I can tell you what I’m doing.

First things first — walk Roan in the pouring rain. Yes, it does rain in the desert. Come back home, dry off, and turn on the radio. Today — all acoustic Christmas music courtesy of Sirius’s Coffee House. Please enjoy one of my favorites — Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.”

Feed Roan then myself. Today it’s two eggs with Swiss cheese and coffee. I fire up the generator to run the microwave and Keurig. Although I got 660 Watts of solar installed this past week at the Sun Works — thanks Solar Mike and Billy — it’s been overcast ever since and the house batteries are low. Only I would have solar installed on the shortest day of the year.

solar panels on roof
Four 165-Watt EverbrightSolar panels on Pegasus’s roof. Note the yellow electric car.

I turn on the Olympian Wave 8 Catalytic Heater and propane water heater to get warm and clean.  Post-shower turn the water heater off.

Feeling better, I boot up the PC and check Facebook — I admit it, I’m hooked — and email. Then walk over to one of the two teal trailers to find Barb. She’s in the kitchen, wrist deep in pie-making for tomorrow’s feast. A retired bookkeeper, Barb layers the perfectly sliced apple slices just so.

Barb comes over to help me make an apple pie — Dad’s recipe — and then goes back home. No layering just so here.  “If you do anything exciting this afternoon let me know,” I tell her. She says she will.  (I haven’t heard from her yet.)

I dump the apple peels into a shallow compost hole — already replete with lemon rinds and other vegetable remnants from feast prep — then get a shovel from Barb and cover the evidence with dirt.

Is this a beautiful apple pie or what?

Back home, I clean up my floury mess. I promised Shirley and Jerry a slice of homemade apple pie. This is their first Christmas on the road.  I bake the pie when the sun drops for the day; the oven warms.  Who am I?

Back to the computer to write this post. Tired of the gusty wind, Roan wants in.  Wind advisory until 7 PM. At least the winds blew the clouds away. I check my batteries. Thanks sun.

Tonight, I’ll Skype with my family.  I may go to the Range — a primarily outside venue — tonight. All venues including the Oasis Club, Slab City Hostel-Motor Home, and Slab City Library are half-in, half-out.  Most of the time the weather cooperates. Today, not so much.

Enough about me. I hope your day is good and that you are enjoying yourself and the people you are with.

May the Love and Peace of the holiday season permeate the air this day and all days.

Back to the warm

It was getting too cold for me — although Roan loved it — in Deming, New Mexico. One morning it was 13°F. Ouch! So, after having to delay our departure 10 days due to two more repairs — bringing the grand total spent on repairs and maintenance this year to a whopping $7107.13 — but hey, “It’s only money,” right? — we left New Mexico last Friday.

The first day on the road was great — we did about 330 miles stopping for the night at Holt’s Shell Truck Stop in Gila Bend, Arizona. The second day was rough. We battled winds up to 40 MPH all the way. The Imperial Dunes blowing onto I-8 plus construction and detours made the trip more exciting. There was so much sand on the freeway at one point that I dropped down to 35 MPH and put my flashers on.

We made it to the Fountain of Youth Spa RV Resort (FOY) early Saturday afternoon.

Located about 13 miles north of Niland east of the Salton Sea in the agricultural power house Imperial Valley, FOY is a beautiful park with lots of amenities and activities. It’s in the middle of nowhere yet manages to attract repeat customers — many Canadian — year after year.

Fountain of Youth Spa RV Resort
Pegasus at the Fountain of Youth Spa RV Resort in Niland, California. The Chocolate Mountains are in the background.

There is a ton to do here — bocce ball, cards, dancing, karaoke, hiking,shuffleboard, tennis, pickle ball, farmer’s market — the list goes on and on. I’ve personally enjoyed the hot spring mineral pool (aka the “lobster pot”) for soaking, the salt water pool for swimming laps, the steam room for pore clearing.

First-timers at FOY pay a special rate of $9.95/night for full hook-ups through December 15th when the price goes up to $45/night. My plan, unless I get a job teaching yoga here, is to relocate to nearby Slab City just east of Niland on December 16th.

I got an estimate to install 500 watts of solar from The Sun Works, enough to run everything but the air-conditioners. (Yes, I sold the Yamaha TW200 I briefly owned back in Deming!)  “Solar Mike” Gohl is one of the best when it comes to installing solar on RVs.  He likes to say that he buys high and sells low.  Works for me!

Slab City began its life as Camp Dunlap, a training ground for desert warfare during World War II. With daytime winter temperatures in the 70s, the concrete slab-speckled, off-grid area has become a haven for snowbirds, most sporting solar.  I’ll stay in Slab City aka “the last free place in America” for a bit.

I probably won’t tag along with the WINs (Wandering Individuals Network) to Martinez Lake north of Yuma, Arizona for Christmas and New Year’s. I probably will head east to Quartzsite for the Big Tent RV Show 21-29 January 2017.  Of course, plans may change at anytime.  Go with the flow and all that.

Enough about me.  Whatever your plans and wherever your location, Dear Reader, thank you for spending another year with me. Your comments and loving support have meant a lot. I hope the feeling is mutual.

Now off to “Karaoke and Pizza Night.”