Dear Reader

Dear Reader:

Please excuse my recent silence. Dead in the water and all that jazz. Did you notice my absence or did it seem like just yesterday that you read about our  misadventures in Slab City?

It’s not because I don’t love you anymore, or because I don’t care, or because I have other, more pressing things to do. Actually, I have been busy with other things. Like you I’m sure. Things like taxes, maintenance on Pegasus, margaritas in Palomas.

And it doesn’t help that time lately seems to be both accelerating and standing still at the same time. Do you feel it too, Dear Reader?

Anyway, Pegasus et al have landed back in Deming, New Mexico, our home away from home. We’ve been here since late February and, apart from a quick weekend in Columbus, Ohio for my cousin David’s wedding, we’ll be here until.

Until when is anyone’s guess.

Until I get bored and feel the need to move.

Until it gets too hot and we head north through Colorado and South Dakota to Minnesota and Wisconsin for the summer; then Indiana, Ohio, and my old home in northern Virginia for the fall; then Arkansas in early October for a workshop; then back west.

But what am I up to now?, you ask. What has kept me so busy that I couldn’t write? What, what, what?

What exactly am I up to as I sit in Pegasus, boondocking for a mere $85 a month — can’t beat the price — orifices snapped tight against the wind and sand storm.  Strategically parked nose to the east, tail to the west, open slides to the relatively calm north. Even Roan is inside. Just another spring in the high desert.

What am I doing? I’m writing a book based on my blog posts from the past three years. The book will also include select comments from you, Dear Reader, as our journeys dovetail — ebbing and flowing before forking to the four winds. It’s a beautiful thing when journeys overlap. It reminds us how we are all more alike than not.

Anyway, back to me. My book will either be called “Becoming Me Again” or “Life Wide Open,” like the poem of the same name I wrote back in September 2014.  Oh, how time flies.

I’ve compiled a 62,300-word manuscript and am looking for expert outside eyes to help me with the next steps. And, unless someone comes knocking at Pegasus’s door with a hefty advance, movie deal, or both — I plan to self-publish.

So, long story short, if I go radio silent for a bit, please excuse me, Dear Reader. I still love you and think about you often. The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.

With Love and Thanks.

Liz Carmel

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.


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.”

Taking a dump

After class on Friday and an intense weekend of YogaWorks Teacher Training, I’m taking a break from all things yoga today. So, what am I doing instead?

Well, first it’s gorgeous here. Sunny and the 70s and I sincerely apologize to my friends back in the D.C. suburbs who got buried by two feet of snow this past weekend. I recall post-blizzard Sourwood cul-de-sac parties drinking mulled wine and coffee and Bailey’s as we tossed broken branches into a fire pit. Fond memories but I’m glad I’m not there now.

So, as my friends back east continue to dig out, I walked Roan, did a much-needed load of whites with bleach, checked my email, drank a few cups of coffee.

Hearing commotion through the front open door, I wandered out in my t-shirt and flip flops (I can’t resist) to see what was up. Monday seems to be “dump day” here at Garden Grove Elks Lodge #1952. There are several approaches to dumping the black and gray tanks and all are used here.

Some folks simply pull in their slides, unhook their rigs, drive around the parking lot to the conveniently located dump station, use a standard 3-inch slinky sewer hose to dump, drive back to their spots, back back in, and set up things all over again.

Others, myself included, aspire to dump in place, without all the unhooking, moving, and re-hooking nonsense.

Flojet portable macerator pump
Flojet portable macerator pump

John uses a Flojet portable macerator pump. A macerator pump connects to the RV’s sewer outlet and grinds up sewer waste into teeny tiny pieces. Waste and grey water are then pumped through a 5/8″ or larger garden hose to the dump station. The macerator pump is powered by the RV’s batteries. John uses about 40 feet of hose which the lodge has. Cost: $203.59

Sewer Solution
Sewer Solution

Joe, on the other hand, uses a Sewer Solution to dump his tanks. The Sewer Solution uses water instead of electricity to produce a jet pump system. Like a macerator pump, it uses a garden hose to dispatch the waste and grey water to the dump station. Cost: $72.99

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

I’m asking a few RV technician friends which they recommend. In the meantime, Matthew uses the tried and true Blue Boy to dump my tanks. Cost: $10 and homemade baked goods.

Yes, I realize that such elaborate discussion about dumping sewerage is neither sexy nor glamorous but it is an important part of the full-time RVer’s life, especially when you don’t have full hookups.

Ok, so what else have I done today?

Well, Monday is “breakfast for lunch” at the lodge. I joined Jack, the RV camp host; Matthew, his able assistant; and neighbors and new friends Joe and Mary Frances (known to her friends as “MF”) for lunch. I had two eggs over easy, hash browns, grilled steak (for Roan), and waffles. Cost: $6.45.

Now I’m back in Pegasus, listening to jazz, writing this blog, and enjoying the beautiful Milwaukee summer day.

Stay warm everyone, wherever you are.  And whatever you do — don’t eat the yellow snow.