And still I dream

I have a dream. Not the Martin Luther King, Jr. kind of dream — although I do dream of a time when all people are judged by the contents of their hearts rather than the colors of their skins — but a dream nonetheless.

The Florida Mountains and the Chihuahuan high desert ecoregion were home to the Apache Indians. (Photo: K. Dianne Stephens)
The Florida Mountains and the Chihuahua high desert were home to the Apache Indians. (Photo: K. Dianne Stephens)

In my dream I’m sitting in the shade on a stone patio behind a small off-grid house —perhaps a yurt or geodesic dome. Cool morning breezes fluff my hennaed hair. To the east — the Florida Mountains. Roan, paws and belly damp from a dip in the horse trough, saunters over, eases down.

A man — in my dream he’s a cowboy — comes out of the house carrying two cups of coffee — one tablespoon of flavored cream plus a sprinkle of cinnamon stirred in. Just the way we like it. We sip in silence as the sun pastel-paints the Sleeping Dragon.  Another day in paradise. The man and I smile. Two needles in a haystack we.

Horses greet the day, neighs carried on the wind.  The man has fed and watered them or maybe I have. We’re both early risers. Our favorite time of day. A new beginning every dawn.

Home.

Two coffees later, I retreat from the sun to the coolness within to eat breakfast or perhaps I’m fasting until lunch this day. Then off to my office space to work. Perhaps writing or drawing or answering emails or ordering hay.

Or, maybe this day an impromptu road trip in Pegasus to the man’s friends’ winery in northern New Mexico. The old war horse wants to run. He hates it when I call him “old.”

But who will feed the horses? A neighbor boy who looks up to the man like the father he never had.

Or maybe no road trip this day. Maybe the man will jump on his UTV and ride the property, his dog riding shotgun. Or maybe we’ll ride the property together — his and her horses, his and her dogs — a much-needed break from the computer screen.

Maybe we’ll plan the book tour. He’ll drive Pegasus or…but I don’t want him to be an accessory to my life. And vice versa.

So Roan, Pegasus, and I will hit the road, missing the man every second of every day until we’re all back together again.

Home.

Time passes. Dogs and horses long gone. The man and I slow down. No more road trips. Nothing else to see and why leave paradise?  Why leave home?

The man dies on a Tuesday. I hold his hand, look into his eyes as he takes his last breath, and say, “Over and out.”  I die on a Wednesday.

Our spirits shoot into the Great Void.

“Welcome home!,” They call out to us.  “Job well done! Come join the party!” And into the Void we go.

Home.

BUT.

But.

But the man in question (“Too”), the man who helped inspire my dream has gone. Following his own dream. Perhaps to return, most likely to not.

And still I dream.

My summer vacation

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…

Bees can’t swim

“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.

Settling into the OC

I’m feeling much better, thanks for asking.

I’ve been in Orange County for 10 days now and am getting used to the frenetic energy of the place — the traffic, the noise, the nightly fireworks at Disneyland.

The first weekend of YogaWorks Teacher Training went well, despite the long days. Roan was very patient, waiting for me to come home around 7 PM both Saturday and Sunday, to let him out and feed him a much-belated dinner.

The Garden Grove Elks Lodge (A) is near three YogaWorks studios: Costa Mesa (B), Huntington Beach (C), and Newport Beach (D).
The Garden Grove Elks Lodge (A) is near three YogaWorks studios: Costa Mesa (B), Huntington Beach (C), and Newport Beach (D).

YogaWorks has several studios. Three are a 30-minute or less drive from Garden Grove: Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach.

I like Huntington Beach the best; the neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly with stop signs on every corner and easy and free underground parking.  Costa Mesa is the location of the weekend day-long classes. Located on the fringes of Fashion Island, Newport Beach is too crowded for me, with cars circling for the elusive spot.

Barker 4-Wheeler Tote Tank, also known as a “blue boy”
Barker 4-Wheeler Tote Tank, also known as a “blue boy”

This week, in addition to yoga classes and homework, I used a “blue boy” for the first time to dump the black and gray tanks.  Matt helped me. There was a bit of a situation with the blue boy being overfilled with black water — we had to empty the overflow into two buckets — but it wasn’t too horrible. I’ll dump weekly and all should be well.

And, I extended the patio awning for the first time since buying Pegasus in 2012, with my neighbor John’s help. It’s not very high, and I’ve already hit my head, but it provides shade for Roan.

Roan under the patio awning, Garden Grove Elks Lodge
Roan under the patio awning, Garden Grove Elks Lodge

And, I bought a cheap rug at Big Lots for Roan to lie on under the patio awning. The lot here is asphalt and he’s getting very dirty.

And I’ve received several packages c/o the Garden Grove Elks Lodge thanks to Luann who “runs the place,” as Jack, the RV host, says.

Weather forecast for Garden Grove, California, January 15-20, 2016.
Weather forecast for Garden Grove, California, January 15-20, 2016.

And I’ve finally found weather I can live with — highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s and 50s.

And Roan’s made friends. Jack can’t walk by without Roan getting up and greeting him, looking for the biscuit he knows Jack is carrying.  And although I haven’t seen it, I’ve heard that Matt likes to spend time lying on the ground petting Roan.

And I’m getting used to the constant background hum of traffic on the busy streets and nearby Garden Grove Freeway, the 22.

YogaWorks_logoAnd I’m feeling more comfortable with training and what is needed to get certified to teach YogaWorks yoga. In addition to 200 class hours, 5 manuals, and 4 books, I have to take 16 YogaWorks classes — 8 with a YogaWorks trainer — and 1 Iyengar class.

And, cousin Renee and her friends generously offered to be student guinea pigs once I know more than a few asanas (poses).

So, I’m good here in the OC, thanks for asking.

How are you Dear Reader, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing?

What came first

I envy Roan. From what I can tell, he doesn’t aspire to be bigger or better, a more enlightened canine version of himself with a purpose he can get behind 110 percent. He’s satisfied, or at least he appears to be most of the time, with his life. Walks in the morning a few times around the RV park, Taste of the Wild food that he wolfs down like he’s starving, lying outside on the half round coco coir doormat for hours on end.

Roan lying outside Pegasus at LoW-HI RV Ranch in Deming, New Mexico
Roan lying outside Pegasus at LoW-HI RV Ranch in Deming, New Mexico

I, on the other hand, am a different story. I’ve been feeling down lately. But what came first — the suffocating ennui or a lingering nasty cold?  “I don’t get sick,” I tell people, quickly amending it to “I rarely get sick” because sick I am.  I can’t remember the last time I was this sick.

brown eggWhat started as an innocuous tickle in the back of my throat escalated overnight into a full-blown fire.  I quarantined myself, skipping the RV park Thanksgiving potluck dinner for which I made Pistachio Ambrosia, my daily walk, the Pink Store.

Every time I think of something to do — practice the guitar, set up a Blue Yeti USB microphone that I waited for over two months to be an Amazon Gold Box Deal of the Day and try out Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software, go to the Friday night “Singles Night Out” organized by Brian, the new LoW-HI RV Ranch manager who introduced a thankful park to hot buttered rums from decades living on a boat — I want to go to sleep and wake up someplace or someone else.

This past Wednesday, desperate to get out of my tiny tin home, I drove an hour east to the big city — Las Cruces, or “Cruces” to the locals — to use a $100 gift card at Target. Several motorhomes with cars in tow passed me heading west on I-10. I looked at them wistfully, forgetting for a second that I too had wheels, that I too could be heading west. Which I will be doing in a few weeks to spend Christmas with my cousin Renee in Chino Hills, California. And then yoga teacher training starts the first weekend in January.  I just have to get through a few more weeks.

In the meantime, I crank up the tunes and dream of hot buttered rums.