Archives for posts with tag: relationships

Living in a sixteen foot travel trailer definitely qualifies as “tiny house” living believe you me! You MUST be comfortable with being organized and well oiled in order to get from one section of it to another as well as packing and rearranging your belongings.

I have always attempted to live in organized chaos. Raising two very challenging children alone made it a necessity because, although Carl, my son, leaned toward neatness, even he had his moments of scattered squirrel syndrome! My daughter, Ava, on the other hand, never had organized chaos. She preferred the purity of chaos out of fear of throwing something away which might be important…even junk mail…which I was to learn was a A.D.D. tendency. Ava’s father had that tendency as did my mother. My A.D.D. takes on other characteristics of the more “squirrel” variety…easily distracted by fast moving or shiny objects! However, living in this small space MAKES me stay focused because I could break my neck if anything is left on the floor or the frustration of never finding my pliers if I’m not diligent about vigilantly watching and putting things back every single time in the same place.

Therefore, I’ve developed a system of plastic removable varying sizes of drawers placed inside the cabinetry for dishes, seasoning, kitchen towels, silverware, etc. Having traveled the back roads of USA for ten years, I’ve learned you can’t predict the weather you’ll face so I’ve also developed the plastic tub way of packing for winter, spring, summer, shoes and miscellaneous needs. I use stacking baskets for immediate food needs combined with under seat storage for food supplies. And, although I got most of my organization right during my initial packing, I found the need to do a little tweaking each time I landed somewhere for more than an overnight stay or where I’d put new items when I bought something. At home, I have the rule that one new thing in means one old thing must go out. Not true here. Yet.

2017-12-8 CabDraers

Well, that rule ain’t working so well for me here as I’ve been lucky enough to hit up on some amazingly talented women here at the RV park in Bullhead City, Arizona who had true art for sale and I ain’t getting rid of nothing at this stage of the game.

2017-12-8 Quilt 1

This is a throw that Linda made. She creates beautiful Southwest Art machine quilting!

2017-12-8 Quilt 2

I asked her to make this wall hanging for me and she added some embroidery in places!

2017-12-8 Quilt 3

I’m so in love this “table cloth” which will never see any table top! I love each of these!

Also be prepared to scale down your needs to just the necessities. I decided not to bring any pots or pans as my cooking, even at home, mostly consists of frozen meat nuked to perfection atop salad. In Utah for a month quickly taught me I’d over packed dishes, glasses and cups and winter clothing. But, in my defense, I’ve hit some pretty crazy weather these last ten years where I wished I had winter clothing handy. Note to self: Don’t pack a whole tub of it!

However, I do insist on making this trailer my home with my favorite things and I’ve done that with prints of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Toulouse and Matisse art on my walls next to pictures of Carl and Ava and their own art hung with those Command hangers. I have adorned my vent hood with Ava’s favorite refrigerator magnets and repurposed my shower to be my closet with sturdy adjustable, spring rods and a plastic hanging clothes organizer, now horizontal, on the shower floor to hold my immediate- needs clothes and shoes.

2017-12-8 ShoweCloset

And, as this is the first Christmas since 2007 I’ve been excited about decorating, I bought an eighteen inch $5.00 tree complete with decorations at the Family Dollar store when I was in Utah. I added a Wonder Woman skirt which I embellished with glitter glue, made Wonder Woman ornaments from the same fabric and coated local rocks with glitter glue to spank it all up with something local and fun.

2017-12-8 CmasTree2

Wonder Woman Christmas Tree

 

As for driving through the Mohave Desert, don’t let the fact that most of it is on Interstate let it lull you into thinking there will be service stations or anything, for that matter, for miles and miles and miles! So, my rules are: watch your MPG average; fill up IF you see an exit with gas and hold on tight! I believe I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth repeating.

Also, don’t let the 70 MPH speed limit on these very straight expressways let you think you can drive any speed you want. If the winds 30-40 MPH winds with 60-80 MPH wind guts don’t slap you back into reality then the police will! The police may just not be where you think they should be! Just sayin’! Also, take plenty of water and food with you in the unlikely event of being stranded in one of those canyon vortexes where cell service just disappears when you need it most. I prefer to play it safe than sorry.

2016-6-4CA15

California Mohave Desert

2016-6-4CA142016-6-4CA132016-6-4CA112016-6-4CA7

2017-12-8 Mojave 1

I’m seeing, getting to know and meeting so many wonderful Wonder Women on my adventures this whole year! I’m also meeting some amazing Super Men, too! I’ve been trying to put together my story of meeting these Wonder People but their stories are too deeply layered to synopsize. It just wouldn’t do them justice. For starters, I can say I visited a new BFF in Victorville, CA who randomly invited me to join him and a friend of his to attend a grief group meeting. When they started sharing their stories, I was amazed at how diverse their grief was. The woman who started this group did so because she couldn’t find the right group twenty years ago so she created one! Losses were as long ago as decades (like my son’s death) to as recent as six months ago.

It was very special sharing my crazy journey with both Carl and Ava and discussing the subject of “the” book predicted twenty-five years ago which “we” are writing now. As it has always shown me, helping others find hope helps us. Too many were in deep depression and guilt over their grief struggles. I reached out to each with my cards for both this Blog  and Ava’s Corner, Inc. in the hopes they could find encouragement in either website and for them, with this loving reminder, to send me an email to let me know how they’re doing.

And, because I don’t believe in coincidences, the fact that the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” happens to be playing at this moment in time means I need to sign off and watch my all time favorite Christmas movie. When my sister and her daughters came to visit Mom’s, I made them sit down and watch it with me! I hope it’s a warm, fuzzy memory for them as it is for me. Yup. It is a wonderful life and I’m just starting to feel alive again and that ain’t bad. And, to think last year I thought I would never get out of being depressed over all the lost loved ones; the death of Montana, my Service Dog; or my future without all of them but this year I found those voids filled with love from existing and new sources! Praise God!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

Advertisements

The minute I read about an outdoor market being open today, it was immediately declared my day off from writing. I’ve been to a million of these markets over the years and even sold my hand painted shirts and jewelry at functions very similar to this trying to find enough money for food, shelter, clothing and the likes for my daughter and I during my self-employment years. It was always fun meeting people and seeing what others were doing so I jumped at the chance especially knowing I could see some great red rocks in the mix!

2017-11-11 TuacahnMkt1

Tuacahn Market sits at the foot of the Amphitheater.

2017-11-11 TuacahnMkt5

Flowing Water divides the walkway. Nice toucht!

2017-11-11 TuacahnMkt2

Mother Nature’s version of Mount Rushmore!

2017-11-11 TuacahnMkt4

Mother Nature’s own carvings.

The layout was very nicely done, not crowded and had some boring stuff and some interesting things as well. Yeah. There were a couple of those venders who said, “My family makes these” but stopped short of “in China.” But, all-in-all, it was so worth the views, meanderings and entertainment!

And, as I was about to turn back toward the car, a Southern accent over the microphone stopped me dead in my tracks. I’d heard the young man singing and thought he was good but it was his story about how he was inspired to write his next song when he was invited to try some homemade peach moonshine! And, seein’ as how I happen to be familiar with that southern nectar, I had to turn back to hear more.

Turns out Tom Bennett hails from Conyers, Georgia, and is a young man who writes and sings a sweet southern blues! If you look closely at the picture of him below, you’ll see he plays a suitcase drum with his left foot, tambourines with his right, has a harmonica around his neck and Lord only knows what else he does up there that I hadn’t witnessed yet. He and his wife travel around doing gigs. He also writes a travel blog. I bought his album, “Tom Bennett One Man Band,” produced by Sweet Salt Records. Check him out at http://www.tombennettonemanband.com!

2017-11-11 TuacahnTom1

Tom Bennett One Man Band!

2017-11-11 TuacahnTom2

If you like the blues, you gotta buy this album!

Still hungry for a decent hamburger, I dug around on my cell Chrome and found a place called “Painted Pony” in historic St. George, Utah. And after driving around and a’ hollerin’ out at folks next to me at redlights about its whereabouts, I finally parked and started walking in the general direction they was a’ pointin’ to. Even that wasn’t easy because the reflections on the glass doors kept me from being able to read their sign but I barged right on through…tired, hungry and fed up. I done the right thang! It was all worth it.

2017-11-11 St.GeoPaintPny1

Painted Pony Menus

2017-11-11 St.GeoPaintPny2

Their Grilled Tenderloin Burger hit the spot and so did their ambiance.

Back to writing again. Had enough of that getting lost stuff for awhile. Now it’s time I got  lost in this book!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

A dear friend of Ava’s (my daughter) came up to visit me in Hurricane this weekend and it was perfect…but that’s as it always is when we get together! Yesterday, we just couldn’t find that sweet spot about how to spend our day. Somehow, we couldn’t quite settle on whether to hike Zion (which we’d both already done) or revisit Snow Canyon. As neither of those “felt” right, we headed for the one book store we did want to visit which  happened to be in meander the historic part of Hurricane, Utah! We found lovely items from yesteryear lovely shops and great people, too!

Our first visit was in “Mercantile Gifts and Consignments” on State Street near Main Street. It’s a plethora of wonderful items to try, view, explore and purchase! Their “sister” entity is just around the corner called “Gypsy Emporium.” We just had to go in there! I’m so glad we did because I met a young kindred spirit who works there, Sarah Jane! Don’t forget our pinky swear!

IMG_20171104_124211812.jpg

Mercantile Gifts & Consignments on State Street. It’ a great place to explore!

IMG_20171104_124546442_HDR.jpg

GYPSY EMPORIUM just around the corner from Mercantile!

 

And found the Hurricane Pioneer Museum where we met this lovely man who had been the voice of some interesting early cartoon characters! His ancestors were part of this towns beginnings and is well versed in its history.

IMG_20171104_134738758_HDR.jpg

HURRICANE PIONEER MUSEUM

Our new friend from Gypsy Emporium recommended Main Street Cafe for our lunch and I’m so happy she did! Thanks, Sarah Jane!

IMG_20171104_150850261_HDR.jpg

MAIN STREET CAFE on Main Street! Go Figure! Great food!

And along the way, who would have thought we would come across such a magnificent display of roses trailing along the sidewalk of one of the first houses built in Hurricane in 1906? We stuck our noses in every single one of those beautiful roses! I think we were responsible for cross-pollinating some of them!

IMG_20171104_151459950.jpg

Roses in the desert? Yup!

Our new friend at the Pioneer Museum had told us to go see where the canal was built to bring the water to the newly formed town of Hurricane. We decided it might be fun to drive down that main road a little farther and look what we found…and, yes, it did involve a u-turn!

IMG_20171104_161714766_HDR.jpg

Convergence Overlook! Several Creeks come together here. It looks like a great hike but not on this day!

IMG_20171104_161725048_HDR.jpg

Beautiful canyon and mountain views!

IMG_20171104_162010140_HDR.jpg

And, look at those rocks!

We had such a great time making u-turns to find those “right” spots to explore whether it was a shop, canyon or food! I highly recommend finding this historic area and playing there for the day!

Happy Trails…until we meet again.

It’s the wonderment of Mother Earth and her ability to expand and contract in all sorts of ways which takes my breath away. And, last night when I decided I needed to get out and hike to get a fresh perspective and to also get out of this 16-foot trailer for the whole day, the only place I wanted to see was the place I picked to stay…my favorite volcanic site, Snow Canyon State Park. Even though it’s a small park, I never get bored seeing its geologic fabulousness.

I really can’t add to the adventure much but will explain a little under each photo, but, other than that, words still escape me. I’m breathless. Swept away by its beauty and power. Enjoy.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-1a

If you’re interested in the volcanic history of this place (from 27,000 years ago), then read this.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-1b

Lava rocks are sprinkled like peppercorns all over this landscape.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-2

Views are too majestic and regal to reduce to words. It’s so very quiet here.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-3

Layers of Petrified Sand Dunes of all colors!

2017-10-29 SnowCany-4

Petrified Sand Dunes

2017-10-29 SnowCany-5

Lava rock capped petrified sand dunes.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-6

Closer look of Lava rock capped petrified dunes.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-7

Layers of petrified dunes eroded away by wind and rain.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-8

Hiked up to see the Pioneer Names Trail.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-9

Pioneer Names Trail takes you to see where pioneers wrote their names & date in axle grease dating back to 1881!

2017-10-29 SnowCany-10

Hiked next to Jenny’s Canyon.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-11

Jenny’s Canyon

2017-10-29 SnowCany-12

Had to go back, of course, to the Snow Canyon Overlook. This was to the left of where I was standing.

2017-10-29 SnowCany-13

Yep. Had to take another pic of it. I couldn’t delete one!

2017-10-29 SnowCany-14

Got a decent selfie of my back overlooking the overlook without getting vertigo. It only took about 7 tries!

Now, back to work.

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

As a woman who always enjoyed smaller homes, I’m so loving living the rambling’ life in my trailer. It suits me to a “T” for the writing journey I’m on. It began right after Jenni (Ava’s friend) and I visited Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah in the summer. It was that pivotal moment of my remembrance of “soaring” which Jenni caught in a blink of her camera’s eye.

MeFlyingSmall

In that second, I remembered my reoccouring dreams of yesteryear of being an eagle soaring over these lands. It broke me free in a way I’ve been praying for all these years of healing. I’ve continued the metamorphosis over the weeks that followed while I worked to make my return happen with a trailer. My idea was to return to the canyon lands; however, my grandmother won out in the end. She’d “told” me I’d need to go to the desert to write. But, I wanted to be in the canyons…not the desert. However, it turns out that the canyon lands get too cold in the winter months and there was only one RV space available in a warmer climate…yep, the desert. I snapped it up embracing the fact that Grandma always wrote in the desert and to not fight the forces that be.

Hattie (Harriett) Irene Friend (grandma)

Yeah, that grandma!

Over those few months, every place I planned to go visit on my way West got hit by Harvey, Irma, Jose, raging fires, drought or an earthquake! Well, to be honest, there was no way I was going to Mexico City! All else was true. This caused my trip to get accelerated to the point I was able to get to where I am now so I could write sooner than later. Again, don’t fight the forces at work!

2017-10-22 Trlr-4

Ready to write! This is one class act RV Park with Cable TV, internet that actually works and clean facilities!

2017-10-22 Trlr-1

Facing toward the back with another one of Ava’s belly dancing scarves hanging over the window and the bunk beds on right in the back. 

2017-10-22 Trlr-2

Ava’s Belly dancing scarf serves as a privacy screen over my bed. Oh, and that’s the puppy my girls Stacey gave me after Montana passed when I said I wasn’t getting another dog! Yeah. I had to bring it.

It took me about three days to re-organize my trailer from just “get ‘er packed” mode to “get ‘er ready for living.” I hung my prints of Matisse, Georgia, Frida and Toulouse along with my pictures of Montana, Carl and Ava. I’ve made it home. It’s what I do.

I’ve already had a visiter (Jenni) in my digs and she’s coming back soon! And, thanks to Jenni, I now have a Warrior Eagle Donna Mama writing pen! It sits right beside me all day long!

2017-10-22 EaglePen

And, although I got a little writing done while I was Boulder, today was the first real day I’ve written since landing this gypsy caravan in one place for more than a few hours! It felt good to stretch my brain. Tomorrow I want to fit some real physical exercise in and more writing. It’s great to be in the here and now…alone…connecting to those who write through me.

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

 

This past week has been a whirlwind of seeing family with whom I really haven’t been able to have a direct connect with since after Ava’s death in 2012. Yes, I have “seen” them but haven’t had “quality” time to spend with them for a myriad of reasons and this visit has been wonderful!

Gosh, I’m so in love with ALL my Chirrens of blood and by adoption! And, now after this trip to Boulder, I have two more! One of whom I met at the Cork Restaurant in Boulder! Hey there, “G”!

2017-10-18 Bldr Cork

The Cork Restaurant in Boulder, CO.

I guess I should start by saying that although Boulder isn’t a city I’d visit if it weren’t for my loved ones living there because it’s just too busy, too residential, too many bicycles EVERYWHERE, it is very clean and perfect for raising children in a safe environment. It’s just not my cup o’ jo. I like dirt and lots of it.

However, I do love those snow capped mountains once you escape suburbia and a  little town not terribly dissimilar from my own called Nederland, Colorado. It’s tucked in the Rocky mountains. Like my town, Nederland has a very small residential population but have several festivals every year which can bring tens of thousands of visitors. I had a hard time visualizing where all those people would go…or even stay, for that matter…and still do!

2017-10-17 Neder-1

Yup. Small town, Nederland, CO

But for the festivals, I could, for a moment, see myself living in this little town because of the wonderful people I met there! Here’s a shout out to Winston, Chris and all the other people we met while we were there. It’s worth a trip there but check out their  it’s festival schedules first!

2017-10-17 Neder-RenWoman

Of course I had to go into the Renaissance Woman store in Nederland, CO. I told the owner all about our Atlanta Little Five Points area and their annual Halloween Parade!

2017-10-17 Neder-Wings

When my sister and I were traveling the turquoise trail, we ran into a similar shop like this so it was only fitting for her eldest daughter and I to go into Wings of Lace Boutique, Nederland, CO and do some shopping! Hey, Chris!

2017-10-17 Neder-Solta-Mark?

Remember what I said about bicycles being EVERYWHERE! Here’s proof! This is Solta Restaurant, Nederland, CO and the young man behind the counter looks like a young man Mark’s twin. Mark was like a son to me and chose to leave us way too soon and has been on my mind a great deal this month.  Both were from Austin and moved to Colorado! I almost fell out! 

After seeing all the mountainous terrain of I-70 West of Boulder, CO to Green River, UT via I-70 from studying Google, I was quite apprehensive if not anxious about driving it. However, my niece’s husband, who is extremely familiar with this highway, talked me down out of the tree with some good info. And I’m so very glad! The trip West was marvelous! My favorite park was driving through the river gorge, but that is always my favorite part of any drive!

See what you think!

2017-10-19 I-70-1

I-70 West – First snow capped view!

2017-10-19 I-70-2

Mountains galore!

2017-10-19 I-70-3

River Gorge driving just shivers me timbers!

2017-10-19 I-70-4

Golden trees everywhere!

2017-10-19 I-70-5

I be comin’ ’round the bend!

2017-10-19 I-70-6

This just doesn’t do it justice but…

Well, this travelin’ woman is just about done in for today so, Happy Trails…until we meet again!

Eagle Nest, New Mexico is so wonderfully peaceful that I drove out of my way for my R&R. The lake is nestled in the bowl of these wonderful mountains. The town is small and quaint and affords one of the activities I enjoy the most about my travels which is meeting and getting to know locals. And, it was this pristine, magical place that helped me prepare for what came next!
2017-6-4 NMEagleNest3

Mountains surround this valley

2017-6-4 NMEagleNest2

This lake is huge!

2017-6-4 NMEagleNest1

Mountains in the background hugging this lake filled valley.

2017-6-3 NMCimCanStPk1

Cimarron Canyon State Park was the prelude to Eagle Nest.

Driving from Eagle Nest, New Mexico to Boulder, Colorado just about did this ole Road Warrior Eagle in! The wind all along I-25 was as challenging as Texas but instead of 18-wheelers (of which there was NONE), I was faced with getting behind open cattle trailers with every excrement known to a cowhand flying onto the front of my windshield  coupled with crazy California-type drivers jumping lanes. Add to that 30-40 MPH winds slapping me around all the way up to just outside of Denver. 
 
So, I stayed in the far right lane to avoid as many of the Cali-type drivers as possible opting for the cattle excrement!
And then…the 40 MPH crosswinds came. Just like Texas…cattle trailers and all. I fought the whole scene for hours…and then Denver. There are almost as many aggressive, inconsiderate, rubber-necking drivers in Denver as LA based on population ratios. Their rubber-necking would put Georgia’s to shame. FIVE MILES of traffic was backed up going both north and south because of a truck on the side of the road being loaded onto a wrecker! For real!
I thought that, once past the clog, all would start to flow again especially now that the cattle trailer had exited but I was so wrong. It was start/stop, cut in front of me all the way into, in and past Denver. Silly me, I’d forgotten this type of I-25 insanity from my 2016 trip to Boulder or else I would have found another route. Yup. Will remember this one, won’t I! LOL
However, this ain’t the good part yet. This 30-40 MPH crosswind stuff is what makes me a Road Warrior. It was the turn off toward Bounder onto Highway 157 with 60 MPH wind gusts that broke me down. I was tired before I got there, but like the ole barn mule, I could see the barn and smell the feed in the bucket. My family was close now so I fought onward.
That wind was BRUTAL and unrelenting. I thought it was going to flip the trailer over. I’ve driven about 150,000 miles on the backroads and expressways on these trips since 2008 and this was the first time I experienced the “full” monty of white knuckling, gut wrenching, orifice puckering driving. When I pulled up at my niece’s house, tears ran down my cheeks and my whole body was shaking. None of these Chinook-type winds was predicted on any of the three weather websites I checked right before leaving Eagle Nest.
Understandably, I have no new pictures from this last leg of my episode but I’m still standing, I have my truck, my caravan and reservations for the next legs of this amazing trip. So, I’ll repost my own reminder that I’m running with the big dawgs!
2017-10-10BigDawgs

Running with the Big Dawgs!

YEEHAW!

 

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

I had such an amazing experience this past summer traveling the West, Northwest, Canada and Northeast that I decided to buy a travel trailer and “gypsy” it up a bit and get back on the road! Like my BFF says, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, get off the porch!” Well, I’m officially OFF the porch and running the the big dawgs now!

2017-10-09Trailer

A little gypsy is a good thang!

2017-9-4 WolfPupQnBed1

And more is mo’ bettah!

2017-10-10BigDawgs

Running with the Big Dawgs!

Crossing Tennessee and Arkansas just about wore me out and that ain’t an easy thing to do! I got wind, rain, mountains, more wind and 18-wheelers by the millions trying to blow me, my truck and stuffed Wolf Pup off I-40 but I wasn’t going to quit! I made it safely to the lovely Ivy’s Cove RV Park in Russellville, Arkansas. If you’re planning on doing this kind of traveling, I recommend picking a place ahead of time to arrange for a spot as soon as you know what day you’ll arrive. It’s helpful to be specific with where in their RV park you want to be placed…near the bathroom and a pull through…etc.

As a GoodSam RV Elite Member, I have access to their wonderful website to get all the information I need to contact any of the parks (in or out of their system) to help me make my arrangements so I’m not stuck at a truck stop (like I’ve found myself doing back in 2008) sleeping in my truck. I must say that every truck stop where I’ve resorted such measures was years ago and great experiences as long as you tell them upfront you’re alone, tired and to look out for you. Now that we’re in the age of magical access to internet via our phones, there’s no real reason to have to do the truck stop thing, however, it is an option. I also hear Walmart still allows parking lot parking but I haven’t confirmed that.

I’m so very surprised to find that there is such a great demand for these RV parks! I noticed back in 2010 when I had my pop-up that there were whole families living in these places. I assumed, maybe incorrectly, they were forced to live there in travel trailers because of the recession. I’m thinking now that it’s more of a lifestyle decision as more and more families are home schooling their children to find alternative lifestyles and I’m loving that!

After getting over the giddy feeling of sleeping my my travel trailer for the first time around 1:00 AM, I rested better than I have in months! I was raring to hit the road again  to cross the rest of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

As for Arkansas, I love the fact that they have “Toad Suck State Park” and the most amazing Great Country station 107.3 which got me across half of Oklahoma. Yup. Willie, Hank Jr. and Sr., Johnny (Cash) and all the good ole’ boys from yesteryear had me dancing in my seat!

As I travel, I love to find “mom & pop” places to fill up both my car and stomach! I found I could do both at Exit 270 on I-40 West (and East) in Checotah, Oklahoma at Campbell’s BBQ & Country Store. Turns out they have 100% gas and the best beef brisket with sides of slaw and pork-n-beans! It kept me going all the way to Amarillo! Yeah, baby! Tell them “Howdy” on Facebook (Campbells Country Store)!

2017-10-11 OkBBQ1

Campbell’s BBQ & Country Store at Exit 270 West!

2017-10-11 OkBBQ2

Deal of the century and the best brisket West of the Mississippi! 

2017-10-11 OkBBQ3

And, then there’s the chair!

All I can say about Texas: brutal cross-winds, a billion 18-wheelers, intense gas-guzzling white-knuckle driving and exhaustion. I actually watched the needle on my gas gauge drop rapidly as I limped along toward Amarillo! I just barely made it to a truck stop with the gas warning light staring back at me for those last ten miles. It was weird. The best part of that day was pulling into the Amarillo Ranch RV Park and the wonderful people who helped me get registered even with their internet down and get me outta there this morning! Now I’m fully trained (compliments of them) in black and gray water disposal! Hahaha!

As I do, I jumped off the interstate onto the backroads at Amarillo and headed for Eagle Nest, NM. I do love me some New Mexico and the only reason I didn’t stay in the Santa Fe and Taos areas were due to inclement weather issues. I need to get to Colorado, visit some VIP’s and get back south before weather turns nasty. Heck, there’s still snow remnants in northeastern New Mexico! Anyway, next time I’m this way, I’ll find a place where I can stay for longer when weather is more appropriate for my rig! LOL

As for now, I’m in R&R mode and catching my breath before heading for Colorado.

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

It’s interesting and pivotal, at this very specific time in my life and in history, for PBS to air the Ken Burns 10-part series on Vietnam.
Donna Woodward Friend SrPic 1965

“Before” – Senior Picture, 1965

Why was watching this series pivotal for me? Well, in 1965, when many of my school chums were being shipped off to fight an unwanted battle on Asian soil, I was fighting my own “Vietnam” battle of being a pregnant 17 year old on the streets to fend for myself, engaged to the wrong man, met the right one who was MIA in Vietnam, married the wrong man and gave birth of my son, Carl. The other layer of the story was my father was so insanely angry at me for getting pregnant he came looking for me with a gun to kill me. Yes. Kill me, my fiancé and my baby.
Early that 1965 magical insane summer, my fiancé, Ray, joined the Army. That bitter sweet last night with him before he left for Bootcamp, held all the images of a tearful teen 1965 movie…pain, love, hurt, joy and mixed messages of a future with a scrambled past. We talked about what would happen if I became pregnant but neither of us truly believing it could/would happen. We, obviously, were delusional.
It was during the months after Ray left, that I started questioning my choice of a future and husband. I had a good job working part-time as a Legal Secretary for two general practice lawyers and going to Georgia State University while living at home. I wanted more independence so my oldest brother co-signed on a loan for me to buy my first car, “George.” It was a black 1960 Karman Ghia convertible. It had no heat if you weren’t moving forward but I sure loved dropping that convertible top on those waning summer days! That’s when I realized I just wanted to be engaged and not married. After all, I was in college,  working and feeling alive.
It was one of those wonderful summer nights when I was driving “George” around with the top down with a friend that I met Dave. Dave was a 6′ 2″ drink of well water who had a loving spirit, was well educated and in the Army. He was the catalyst for my break up with Ray. My time with Dave helped me further realize how I was cutting myself short in a more mature way…like a real future with a career and Dave.
And, although both Dave and Ray were in the Army, only one went to Vietnam.
And, again, I lived yet another, more painful last night…but, this time with Dave. He filled my heart with a future and a terrible sadness of loss later multiplied by my yet unknown pregnancy. It was a during those months that I later had an older friend tell me I might be pregnant. It was such a shock to think I might be! That’s weird, I know, especially knowing I was was raised on a small farm but I truly never connected the dots because I lived in a teen haze of invincibility as most do/did.
My letters to Dave (which numbered many) went unanswered. I was glued to the news to see what was happening 10,000 miles from home.
In the meantime, my first gynecological visit was to find out I was seventeen and pregnant. My life started falling apart at the seams at that moment (and hasn’t stopped in the 50 plus years since).
As soon as I got home from the appointment, I called Ray at the Base and told him of our predicament. We secretly plotted an elopement. He was stationed in North Augusta, South Carolina where one only had to be eighteen to get married without  parental consent. I was one month short of eighteen.
So, armed with a “doctored” birth certificate,  I drove “George” to North Augusta, SC, picked up Ray at the Base and immediately headed to the JP’s office to get married. Well, my fraudulent birth certificate  didn’t pass the muster of the Judge’s secretary. I came home pregnant, sick and worried out of my mind as to what was going to happen next. Ray went back to Ranger training camp.
It was that next weekend when my “Vietnam” started.
The next morning after I came back from my visit to SC, I woke up with sick. Dad guessed I was pregnant and immediately flew into an “Incredible Hulk” kinda’ rage.
Because our failed marriage attempt, Ray had gotten leave again to go to Atlanta so we could plot our next elopement steps. Mom came into my room and sat on my bed next to me and proceeded to tell me Dad was convinced I was pregnant. I broke down and said I was and that Ray and I had tried to get married that weekend but had failed because the the parental consent thingie. We cried and hugged. She asked if I wanted to get an abortion. I told Mom from some outside source, in an out-of-body kinda way, “This child is meant to be born.”
Mom then.told me about Dad’s rage and to pack some things and not come back until she told me it was okay. She said for me to call her later and, if Dad answered the phone, to hang up. She knew Dad and his rages all too well. What she didn’t know was that Dad  was already blowing a gasket much like Vesuvius. When I called, she answered. She said she’d never seen Dad this crazy and that he’d  gone to his arsenal, gotten a gun or guns, and was hunting for me and Ray. He was going to kill us both. Well, all three of us.
We hid all night in “George” in a parking lot behind some buildings on Fourteenth Street. I’ll never forget how scared and cold we were.
With the help of some older “Hippy” types who I’d just met, Ray and I had a place to hide for a few days. Mom, in the meantime, got the parental consent  paper signed I needed for Ray and I to marry.
I drove to SC again; Ray and I married on his nineteenth birthday.
I was seventeen, alone, pregnant, living with those Hippy folks near 14th Street in a run down apartment and working for those lawyers. Those Hippy folks took me in with open arms, fed me, gave me a baby shower and helped me find an apartment I could afford.
And, in all fairness to my siblings, they were living their own stories, living in other cities and/or were caught up in their own lives, nightmares and futures. I know Mom fought hard to keep Dad from killing me. She told him he’d better leave town until he calmed down enough to be a father and grandfather. He headed West and stayed there until right before my son, Carl, was born.
How did I survive the first of My “Vietnam” years? I truly don’t know because my part time job working for two lawyers as a legal secretary typing petitions and handling a two man law office paid me an astonishing rate of $.75/hour. It took every penny to pay the $36.63 car payment and $65.00 rent in my Hippy-ville apartment overlooking Tenth Street near Piedmont Park where I walked my leashed rabbit down to the park after work.
TO BE CONTINUED…

While driving to Glacier National Park, Montana, I kept telling my “daughter,” Jenni, about a great steakhouse I’d visited in that area in 2003. We talked about having a great ribeye steak as we hiked all over the western half of the Park because it was closer to where we were staying and had more areas to hike for the day. The drive to the eastern half was quite a jaunt of 2-3 hours each way so we’d need to plan for a whole day and part of the night to get everything packed in before leaving.

On our last full day, we got up early and hit the road for the eastern part of Glacier where I was sure the restaurant had to be. Everything we planned got dumped (boat ride on that water? NO WAY!) but what we got was even better! I’d found St. Mary’s Lake and the hike I’d loved so much before with waterfalls (can’t get better than that) AND “THE” steakhouse! It was right there all along!

I’ve been pondering on my trip and that steakhouse these last weeks and I gotta say, if you ever find yourself even near there, go for it! It’s called Cattle Baron’s Supper Club at the turnoff to go into the upper region of the Park.

However, instead boring you with more details, I figured I’d share the pictures from that night of the insides of this gloriously decorated place and our experience. Dang! I wanna go back now!

2017-6-21 MTeGCattle

Cattle Barons Supper Club

2017-6-21 MTeGCattle4

OMGosh! What a Ribeye! How are we going to eat all of it?

2017-6-21 MTeGCattle2

Huckleberry pie? Well, we split it. It’s the delicacy of the area!

2017-6-21 MTeGCattle3

Uhhhh…we both did!

2017-6-21 MT SteakHse5

2017-6-21 MT SteakHse7

Not sure if you can see the the “story board” above the tables of the Blackfeet tribe and their pictographs of before and after white people came to their lands, but it’s so beautifully done with varying “western” motif colors for each period. I thought I’d caught those but, even though it appears I didn’t, I’ll have them imbedded in my brain forever.

I LOVE the West! I always felt I was born in the wrong state. And I was. I was born in a state of confusion about the state in which I was born. I’m no longer tied to one state. I can roam all the western ones I want and still love my cabin home. I know I said this year’s trip would be the last. I think I’m slowly taking that back!

HAPPY TALES & TRAILS…UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!