Thursday, December 17, 2015

12/17/15-Mittry Lake AZ

A few of us are at Mittry Lake for a week or so because the night temps in Ehrenberg are forecasted to drop down to 28-32. Brrrr. That’s too cold for me.

The pic above was taken a couple of days before we left Ehrenberg. A caravan member and friend, Colvin, drove us into Blythe so Bentley could go swimming in the Colorado. Ironically, I didn’t get a pic of Bentley swimming, but that’s Nonni enjoying her usual ankle deep wade. She is not a water dog or swimmer. Bentley is though. And as soon as he heard we were headed to the river, he was ready to go. There’s a reason GO is his middle name.

He also enjoyed the drive to Mittry Lake – almost as much as his mom. It felt good to be on the road again, but I was glad we were following Colvin. For awhile, our route was a straight shot down 95, and I could do that with a GPS, but once we got through the military base we made way too many turns for me to be able to do it on my own.

Along the way, I was struck at how jagged the mountain tops are compared to Ehrenberg and Quartzsite.

It was surreal to see the military displays along the way. The base does testing and training in the nearby Yuma Proving Grounds.

It doesn’t disturb the peace and beauty of camping here.

But, unfortunately, the first day was nearly a disaster for me. First off – I got stuck.

Real stuck. Ray drove me to the Chevron, the nearest gas station/store (~8 miles away) to meet the tow truck driver. Thank you, Ray!

Before calling the tow truck, we tried many different ways to get it out ourselves. Colvin and I dug (and dug), and placed wood under the tires. He also poured water on the sand and we even put tarps down for traction. Thank you, Colvin!

But the sand was just too soft and deep. The tow truck wouldn’t even drive on the road where I was. Way to go Deb! 

During all of this, some kids in a 4 wheel drive also tried to pull me out, but we realized soon enough that something wasn’t right in Denmark. We dubbed them “meth heads” and sent them on their way.

But they came back. In the pic below, Colvin is trying to explain to them why they can’t drag a tree out of the ground for their campfire – especially one from the middle of Ray’s already established campsite. They were literally going to go for one of the live trees in this pic. One of the boys said it was okay because his Uncle works for BLM. He also wanted to know what the difference was between using a live tree and a dead tree. Colvin's response to that was calm and priceless, "One's Dead. One's Alive."

The girl that was with them, trying to keep the peace, literally shouted out the window, “Let’s just go find another tree to pull up.” Now that's just not something one hears every day.

A little later, here they came. Dragging a tree and yelping it up. Well, what was left of the poor tree by the time they drove for a mile or two.

Unfortunately, they set up camp in our area down by where I was going to park for the night because it was the only area left that didn't have loose sand. They were ferrel. I did not want to camp anywhere near them, and by the time I got unstuck, it was getting dark. I got really stressed out about where to park. Fortunately, there are facilities just down the road with a large parking area. Colvin suggested I go there for the night and off I went.

It all made for a very long, stressful day. I thought I was handling it okay until I started trying to settle in for the night. When I travel, I put my solar panel and camping table on the bed. They were still there. Plus, I had pulled a lot of things out from under the bed when I got stuck to get to my emergency roadside bag. Bottom line, my van was a mess which meant I had to rearrange everything for the night, including my heater. It was all difficult to do from within the van. It would have been easier if I could have opened the doors and set things out while I rearranged, but I was in an unknown parking lot, after dark, by myself. No way was I going to do that.

I finally finished, and was already fighting back tears when I realized I had not eaten since breakfast. Much to my dismay, I then also realized I had stacked everything in front of the bins I use for a pantry. There would be no dinner for me. I fed the furbabies (glad I didn’t cover up their food!), and started crying. Hard. And once I started, it seemed I couldn’t stop.

I began wondering whether or not I can really do this. I’ve only gotten this far because of all the wonderful people in my life (past and present). I felt great remorse and even shame that it takes a village to support me. This life requires self-reliance and I realized that I didn’t have a clue how to do this on my own. More tears.

Not knowing what I would do or where I would go the next day, I began contemplating the worst – hanging up my keys and accepting a life in community living or an assisted living environment – without my dogs. I couldn’t bare it and cried even harder. Such a drama queen! But the tears and fears were genuine.

During all of this my friend Kyndal had checked in with me and we were messaging each other. In the middle of that, a car pulled up outside and I could hear someone walking up to the van. I froze, held my breath and put Kyndal on standby.

It turned out to be Colvin coming to check on me. I am so blessed to have so much support. He stayed to visit and walked me through my fears. Step-by-step he got me away from the ledge I was on.

We came up with some strategies that helped me feel more confident should I ever get displaced again. I had forgotten that in my van I’m safe, and I'm home. I can always drive to any parking lot that allows overnight campers or truckers, the nearest truck stop, or any number of backup plans we came up with. From there, I can figure out what to do.

Colvin decided to park next to me for the night. I no longer felt afraid or helpless, and I rested easy knowing I wasn’t alone.

The next morning brought the beautiful sun, as it always does. It was very symbolic for me. Light always follows dark. Note to self.

Colvin left to see what was going on back at camp, and soon after, I did the same. I stopped to take this pic along the way.

The meth heads were gone. All that was left of them was a grill they left behind and the poor trees they had mutilated.

Meanwhile, Ray and Neon had built a fire at their camp, and invited me to join them. Colvin was already there. Then Ray fixed us all breakfast! What a wonderful way to start a new day.

After breakfast, I picked out a nearby spot, and began setting up camp.

I don’t know how long I will get to enjoy this life, but I now know that I’ll be okay if I ever get displaced again. The confidence that this knowledge has given me makes everything I experienced that first day well worth it.

For the rest of the day, I pretty much just sat and enjoyed the view. You can't really see the lake in the pic above, but it's there. In fact, a few yards from my van is a pier. The panoramic pic below is from the end of the pier so that you can get a better feel for my newest backyard.

Since that first day, Mittry Lake has turned out to be full of blessings, and has become one of my favorite places on earth. It will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Monday, December 7, 2015

12/7/15-Sunday Goodness

Most days end with us sitting around a campfire - even if we don't light a fire. Thanks to Colvin, we had a great fire Saturday night.

Sunday morning, we began the day with a group breakfast. Thank you Bryce for hosting yet another great get together. He cooks up a mean sausage gravy (yum) with biscuits cooked in the grill (perfection). Thank you Barbara for cooking the delicious eggs, and thank you Michael for the groceries that made it all possible!

Michael, James, Kyndal & Colvin

Barbara (& Chloe), Fred & Ray
Bob brought Cody too.

Cody and Nonni love playing together. All dogs were on leash so it was such fun to see them playing - even in standing formation. They wrestled several times for quite awhile but unfortunately my video is only a few seconds long because my phone ran out of memory. You can still tell they were enjoying themselves. Nothing ferocious here!

That afternoon, Fred fixed the locks on my doors. They were whacky. I had to lock the doors from the outside with a key, and then they wouldn't unlock from the inside! I don't know what they used to haul in this van, but it must have been valuable for them to remove the manual locks. Also, as you can see, the tint on the windows is almost black and they have grid iron protection. With my locks fixed, I'm now super safe and sound. Thank you, Fred!!

Almost every night we enjoy beautiful sunsets. With good company, good food, and doors secure, I enjoyed wonderful slumber.

And this is the view I wake up to every morning. Life is good, always.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


We went for a long walk this morning, and I was thinking about a hateful comment posted on my FB page. It was very disheartening, and I felt sad. Sometimes, we humans get so worked up over events, people, places or things, that we forget we are but a speck in this universe and that our time here is but a nanosecond on the eternal timeline. How can we possibly think something is so important that it is okay to be cruel or think of ourselves as separate from one another and all that is? It was a good reminder for me..... We are One.

I kept walking, and walking, and walking. When I took the pic above, we were on a high ridge and I could hear nothing but the wind. That gave me the opportunity to stop, still my mind, and experience how vast it is out here. And that helped me remember this next pic which, ironically, is from FB (several years ago, source unknown).

I began allowing the sadness to burn off and replaced it with love and gratitude. Eventually I was able to also love and appreciate the person that posted the discriminating comment. In my contemplation, I was reminded that everyone has the right for their feelings and needs to be heard. It was quite an experience to fully realize just how small we are, individually and collectively, and at the same time feel the great peace that comes with connection to Oneness - the great "I am" that is all there is. In that, we are each unlimited and powerful. And, there can be only love.

I turned around to head back home and in the distance I could see our campsite. For now, there are 7 rigs here: 7 people and 3 dogs. The rest of the caravan is camped down the hill in various places. In the pic below, my van is circled with a heart. The closest rig to me happens to be one of the largest rigs in our caravan (black arrow). If you click and zoom in on the pic, you might be able to tell that the other visible rig is a Prius (blue arrow). The dots in the distance were final reminders for me of vastness and Oneness.

Whatever you drive, or don't; Whatever you believe, or don't; Wherever you may be in this vast universe, I hope you know you are loved. And yes, even when you spew ugly, you matter. We all matter. ALL of us. We are One. Namaste.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

12/3/15 - I Was Scared

This was the sunset our first night in Ehrenberg. Awe-mazing!

Turn to the East, and this was the view. I love my home. And my backyard.

The entire area is speckled with quartz.
In between sunsets, the temperatures change dramatically.

In fact, our last night in Quartzsite, it dropped to 28 degrees. Brrrr! Running the heater on high that night didn't help much - even our bottles of water under the bed iced over a little. And, I caught a cold. I've spent the last few days here in Ehrenberg recuperating. And, as is always true, I've had a little help from my friends.

Barbara loaned me a space blanket to wrap around my air mattress, and Fred loaned me a queen comforter to wrap around - well, everything. The extra layers helped immensely so even if it drops to the 20s again, the furbabies and I will be ready. Bryce cooked homemade chicken soup for me yesterday. Yummy! He tells everyone in camp that it was his soup that made me better. He may be right. It was that good.

While I have been holed up in the van, most of the caravan members have been making trips to town. I was aware that I was growing increasingly concerned that they would all finish their errands before I got well. Sure enough, this morning, I was told everyone is staying in camp for a few days. Unfortunately for me, at minimum, I will need water before next week. So my concern this morning grew to fear and was headed toward becoming a full blown panic attack when I realized I needed to stop. Just stop. Breathe. And meditate.

You might be wondering what the big deal is. Well, normally, it's not a big deal, but something about being sick made me feel vulnerable and alone - even though I had wonderful people looking out for me. That feeling grew into something that made me scared to go to town alone.

It's one thing to get in the van and head west from TX to AZ. That was a straight shot and I did that fairly easily. It is towns where traffic and the motion can cause me to have seizures or symptoms. Plus I had not been to this town before. And, I had not left this camp before. In fact, it occurred to me that since leaving Texas on October 8, I have not had to navigate in a new town on my own at all. Someone has always been with me to show me the ropes.

The thought of going to a new town by myself for the first time petrified me. Actually, it paralyzed me, but we have to have water, I need to do laundry, and go grocery shopping. So I began my morning meditation to try and "conquer" the fear. It wasn't working. I wasn't able to slow my thoughts or my breathing or my heart rate. My palms were still sweating.

I decided to do something else for awhile, and I reviewed my friend's weekly article. His opening paragraphs are about fear. Isn't that awe-mazing? I love how Spirit shows up in our lives. You can read his article (here), and this is one of the sentences that helped me calm down and start connecting: "When we are in fear, there is no clarity because there is no conscious connection with Spirit."

Thank you, David Howard. After I finished his article I was able to meditate and eventually (by mid-afternoon, grin), make my way to town. The guys in camp all let me know that they would be standing by and I could call anytime if I needed help, but they were purposefully not offering to go with me because they also wanted me to know that I could make the trek to-and-from camp on my own.

Earlier that morning, when I had realized I was on my own (before being able to pray and meditate), I was hurt and even somewhat angry that no one was available to go with me. Several had said they would be, whenever I was ready, so where were they when I needed them? I had a ton of judgments going on in my head, but I know when there is one finger pointed out, there are 3 more pointing back at me. I knew the problem was within. I just didn't recognize it as fear at first.

What I got in touch with is that I am terrified I am not going to be able to make it on my own out here. One of the advantages to being a vandweller is that we can turn the key anytime we want, and move. Only I tend to get stuck. I start thinking about all the "what ifs". What if I need to drive to town and can't? What if I'm not always able to travel with people that can and are willing to help me? What if I can't do this and I end up in assisted living? Instead of staying in the moment, and staying connected with Allness, I drive myself crazy over future "what ifs."

Again, from my friend's article: "I was comforted by the gentle reminder that I do not have to figure it out. All the worry and struggle .... is the ego's way of keeping me caught up in the idea of an 'I' that is separate."

My friends did me a favor by not being available today. (Thank you, Spirit.) Earlier this morning, when I admitted I was afraid, my sweet friend from Ethiopia, Ray, asked what he could do to help. Which, before I could even reply, he immediately followed up with, "Other than go with you. Because I really think this is something you need to try and do on your own." Yes, Ray. Thank you. I was getting that loud and clear from the entire universe.

I explained that I did not know how to find the road. From where I parked, it was not readily apparent. And that was embarrassing for me to admit because I clearly drove to my campsite just 4 days ago, but finding my way back to the road was a different story. Once he understood my dilemma, he patiently walked with me from my van all the way to the road, step-by-step, literally. Grace made that walk with us and I felt completely loved and supported in every way. A great peace came over me. I know I am blessed. We all are actually, even when we're not in touch with the knowing. That same grace, love, support, peace and blessedness is always, always, always there.

I was finally ready, and eventually made the drive to town by myself. It was so late in the afternoon I didn't really get anything done, but I scouted everything out. I drove there successfully and made my way back okay. What a celebration! Coming back, I was stopped by another caravan member (staying at a different campsite), and was told that I was on the wrong road. I made a quick call to our campsite and Bryce drove down to lead me in. Turns out, I was on the right road after all. If I had trusted, and listened to Spirit, really listened - I would have known that.

Still, the outing was a huge success. I will go back tomorrow and get my laundry done, and collect water. I'm not going to worry about grocery shopping. That will have to wait for another day, and I don't have to figure it out. I am not separate. I am One with all that has ever been, all that will ever be, and all that already is. So are you. We are One. There is nothing to fear.

In our camp, whoever wants to, gathers at a specific rig each evening around 4:00 to visit for awhile before the sun goes down. We call it "Happy Hour" and it is just that - an hour of happiness. We laugh, we celebrate, we exchange ideas and information. I thanked them tonight for the opportunity they gave me to be courageous.

As I watched the sunset tonight, I listened to Michael Gott's song, "Nearer Than the Air." I am no longer able to sign the song in its entirety, but that didn't stop me from celebrating. With tears flowing I closed the day with no fear. I felt only love and gratitude for this blessed life I lead in Oneness.

Monday, November 30, 2015

11/30/15-A Lot of Firsts In Quartzsite

We will leave Quartzsite tomorrow and head to new campgrounds outside of Ehrenberg. Quartzsite grew on me, and I will miss it. I am also looking forward to seeing what my new backyard looks like. The pic above was my view as I drank my morning coffee. Aren’t they adorable? I will try to take a similar pic from our new home site. I think it will be fun to compare.

I had a lot of firsts while camped here.

It was my first time to see the town of Quartzsite. It is an eclectic gathering of peeps, including the town’s naked bookstore owner. Nope, not kidding. Bare to the bones except for a sock. He has a FB page (here), and that's as close as I've been.

It was my first time to see Seguaro cacti up close & personal. Click (here) for facts on this beautiful, ancient cactus.

 First time to see and gather quartz stones...

First chance in decades to get a hug from my friend Tracy that lives in Santa Barbara, but came to Quartzsite to see me. Thanks again Tracy and Johnny! Love!

First time to see the Goodyear Blimp in person, even if it was high in the sky, far away.

First time to find BLM land on my own – even though my van couldn’t get to it. Ha!

After singing karaoke (for the first time in 30 years & 2nd time in my life!), I also line danced for the first time at Silly Al’s Pizzaria with Kyndal & James, Enigmatic Nomadics. Click (here) to read their blog post on Silly Al's, and (here) to watch their videos. You two are the best. Thank you for being willing to move tables 3x(!) for me, and for not losing it when I still had to use earplugs. HugZ!

The furbabies and I found a bush in the middle of the desert that was completely surrounded by sea shells and shell fossils. Hmmm, that's a first, but I think something is afoot. Ha!

I continued practicing Yin Yoga on my own – which is a first even though we began the classes in Sedona. Sorry, you don’t get a pic of me doing poses (grin), but here’s a pic of Bentley watching me do a session. That's our home on the hill above him.

I enjoyed cooking breakfast with Kyndal, the sausage queen, and our host, Bryce, the waffle king. That makes me an eggie, I guess (smile). I scrambled 54 eggs and had breakfast with about 20 neighbors - definitely a first. Sweet! Please go to Kyndal's blog post (here) for more great tales and pics from this day.

We had a memorial for one of our fallen caravan members. We miss you Bear, 2010-2015. Love you Cindy and Roger!

Several of us took a jewelry class and I made jewelry for the first time ever (a bracelet); plus we had a huge Thanksgiving dinner in the desert. There are pics on my last blog post, here, and a great video (here). Who knew Thanksgiving while vandwelling in the desert was even possible?!? I sure didn’t. Love it!

And for whatever reason, we were interviewed by 2 different film crews. Both are doing pieces on RV/Vandwellers, and they came to our camp (different days) because they have been tracking Bob through his book (paperback or kindle), and his website. Note: If we get links to their aired pieces, I’ll publish them in a future post.

Al Jazeera TV came out first. Here is a picture of the producer and reporter with Bob. (Thanks for the photo Al.) That’s my van way in the back. They interviewed many of us, but their airtime will reportedly be only about 2-3 minutes or so. It will be interesting to see their final cut. I hope we get that opportunity. (From a Google search: “Al Jazeera Media Network is headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Al Jazeera is an Arabic news and current affairs satellite TV channel.”)

Next we had a French film crew stay with us for a few days. They too interviewed many of us. Their piece will be a long-term documentary that will air in France sometime next year. Lars and Michel (Meeshell) were the nicest guys! They left to fly back to Paris the day after Thanksgiving. They were looking forward to getting back home to their family and friends. I feel bad. I forgot to offer them best wishes and blessings for their recovering city.

During my interview, Lars shared that his father-in-law has the same kind of seizures and symptoms as me. We talked about some of the tools that help with my TBI – magnetic boards with lists and reminders, keeping everything in the same place at all times, using a walking stick when needed, buying the same groceries every time, NO multi-tasking, keeping everything simple and the noise level low, and support systems in place to help with the things I can no longer do, etc., etc. I hope it helped. It would be nice to think I can give something back after all I have received. We exchanged emails and I hope we stay in touch.

Here is a picture of the van they rented while staying with us. They got it in LA. Gotta love California! Isn't it cool? That's a tent on top that folds out and stays on the roof. That's where they slept.

The caravan won’t be back to Quartzsite until January, and I will once again experience more first-time adventures, such as:

The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR), 1/5-19/2016
An annual gathering created by Bob Wells. Click (here) to read more about the event on his website, or (here) to go to the FB Event page.

The 33rd Annual Sports, Vacation and RV Show, 1/16-24/2016
Billed as the zip code with the world’s largest gathering of RVs, it takes Quartzsite from a sleepy little ghost town (almost) to a sweltering population of 750,000-1M in a month with approximately 150,000 RVs and vehicles, plus vendors. You can click (here) for more information. These are a few pics I plucked from the internet - just to give you an idea. Holy moly!

The second event is definitely out for me - way too crowded. I'm hoping to make the RTR though. I want to support Bob, and I want to learn from those teaching classes at the RTR, and I look forward to meeting more wonderful people. We’ll have to wait and see how I'm doing next year. Today, all is well, and I am grateful.