Tuesday, December 27, 2016

12/27/16-Finding Water on the Road

A lot of people ask me how I find water on the road. Well, there’s actually a myriad of ways and I share some of that in my short video below. But here on my blog, I also want to share with you some details around finding water on the road.

I carry at least 9 gallons with me and my furbabies and I go through an average of 1.2 gallons/day. Of course that varies with the weather and temperature because we drink more on hot days, but even then we usually can last a week doing remote camping without having to fill up.

To fit them under my drawers and the shelf they sit on, I have to use the short one-gallon jugs. You know, the kind that milk comes in. It is getting more and more difficult to find gallon water jugs in that size that are sturdy and have screw-on lids. Trust me, when you live in a van or an RV of any kind, you don’t want to haul around water in those crazy flip-off lids. Unless you like cleaning up messes that is. They leak, they’re so flimsy that even with elevation changes they come open and if they tip over, well, you have an instant lake. So, a lot of my water jugs are former milk jugs.

I number them. I number the lid and the carton so that I can match them back up easily. You’d think that if you have a bunch of containers, same brand, same size, same everything, that the lids would be interchangeable. Well, evidently they are not. Put the wrong lid on the wrong container and you end up having leaks as they jostle going down the road. Not fun. So, I number them.

A lot of people use the 6-gallon water containers that I show in the video. They are great, and they fit perfectly in the well of my van at the side. But with two dogs (and me) needing to go in and out all the time, it’s just not feasible for me to store water there all the time. Plus, man, are they heavy when filled!

Here is the link I share in the video for finding Glacier water machines while on the road:
http://glacierwater.com/refill-station-finder/. A lot of water machines take bills as well as coins, and some will even take a credit card. More often than not though I travel with quarters just in case – for laundry and for water.

Oh and by the way, there is always, always, always a way to find and get water on the road legally. Please, please, please do not get water without express consent from the owner! That is theft of services and LEOs can and will – rightfully so – issue citations for that. Obtaining “free water” without consent is stealing, plain and simple. End of rant.

Having said that, I will say that I was surprised at the number of businesses that do allow you to get water for free. If ever in doubt though, please ask. It’s usually a pump-type spigot and I’m sure their intent is for small containers. Abuse will cause us to see the end of this generosity as well. Reportedly, there was a place in Blythe, CA that used to let people fill their containers …. until they found out a local farmer was coming there in the middle of the night filling up his truck bed water tanks! Keep it legal people. End of 2nd rant.

Here’s the video of how I get water on the road. Thanks for watching!

Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:

Thank you! See you down the road!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

12/25/16-A Very Merry Christmas, Indeed

What do these 5 things have in common? Well, I guess today’s date, and the title of this blog post give it away. Of course, they are all related to Christmas. But what does that mean exactly?

Well, here is my FB post from this morning that went with the picture of food:

This from a guy whose heart is heavy because he can't be with his granddaughters and family. Just some little something he "threw together". Wow. Can hardly wait for Christmas dinner! Thank you Robert!

I know people make fun of people that put what they're eating on FB, but look closer, feel deeper. That's not what I'm sharing here. I'm sharing love and connection. We are miles and miles away from home and family, and my friend really is grieving not being with his family, yet there is always, always something to be positive for and a way to give to others.

I have spent the morning reaching out and trying to connect with many of those in my life that keep me going every single day. I love my life AND I too am missing their actual hugZ vs virtual. Mixed blessings around the connections, so to speak. Then I get a knock at the back door and am handed a warm plate of good food by someone who just wanted to show love and care on Christmas morning.

So yeah, look deeper. That plate of food you make fun of represents a whole lot of love and well wishes to those we are missing today. Merry Christmas!!! XOXO”

And here’s the stories behind the other pics….

I snuggled all morning with my furbabies. I know that’s not the same as the pitter-patter of little feet running to the Christmas tree, or being able to wake up all cuddly warm with a loved one under the covers, but these two darling beasts ARE my family, and I love them deeply. Spending a quiet, cold morning with them watching my every move and wanting nothing more in this world than to be right where they are – here with me – meant more to me than a million gifts under the tree. They are ancient. Our days together are numbered, and I treasure every minute.

Leslie, Cathy, Steve and Beverly all sent me cards, pics &/or a gift for Christmas. Thank you! Many other friends and family members called or sent snapchats, texts, IMs, videos, pictures, etc. Thank you! There are a million ways to stay in touch these days thanks to modern technology.

I get that a lot of people bemoan the fact that long held traditions, such as greeting cards and annual newsletters are waning, but great joy is to be had in celebrating the new. We also don’t do Pony Express anymore. At Thanksgiving, my friend Robert’s family passed the phone around the dinner table via Facetime. He was able to instantly connect with them and SEE them. Sure, it wasn’t the same as being there, but what a thrill that was! He couldn’t be there in person but he was still included in the family dinner and it lifted his spirits immensely. That is a gift and a miracle of these modern times - an immense gift and blessing.

I am so appreciative of my friends and family that keep me connected in their daily lives through snapchat, video, pics, skype, etc. Every event, every moment and each detail they share – from funny and trivial to the serious – keeps me in their heartspace. That is invaluable. It is why I maintain a blog and now a YouTube channel – connection. Like the reminder from a famous commercial …. You can put a price on a lot of things, but connection is priceless. Thank you to everyone in my life that takes time to include me through technology. It is often my life jacket out here.

A Special Note:
As I was writing this blog post, my BFF and earth angel Leslie sent me a picture of her girls getting in to their stockings this morning. She took time out of their Christmas morning to send me that and some other adorable, AWE-mazing photos!!! I cried. She shared the moment with me!! Then. Get this…. Then! …. They sent me a recording of them singing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and then (!) they all said, “We love you, Debra. We miss you!” I cried like a baby. No one had ever done anything like that for me before. I am blessed and I certainly receive a lot, every day in many ways, but THAT was special beyond belief. No amount of money in the world can give that kind of pleasure, love and joy. I am so blessed. And yes, loved. Thank you Leslie. I love you all too, very much.

I had a surprise visit from my friend Glenn yesterday. What a thrill! I got a text from another friend who saw his rig at a local business so I texted Glenn to tease him that you just can’t hide when you drive a red spaceship. The next thing I know he pulled up beside my rig! He, Robert and I had a great visit and the sun came out and the birds sang. No really, that literally happened. Haha. It had been raining all morning but the clouds broke and we were able to visit in the sunshine, and the birds did indeed sing. See? Corny, but true. And once again, I got to experience a priceless connection.

The season isn’t about gifts or money or any of those things. I know that. You know that. We all know that, but this gift was extra, extra special. My laptop is/was 9 years old. Yes, 9 years old. That is an antique in the world of technology, but it has served me well all these years. Until recently. A couple of keys get stuck, one didn’t work anymore at all, and she was beginning to spit and sputter on start up and shut down. Not a good sign. And, all of that is especially not a good sign when you are dependent on technology.

Before you wrinkle your nose at my use of the word “dependent” …. Yes, I am dependent on technology. I have a brain injury. My electronics keep me connected, and healthy. They have auto reminders, I track timelines, notes to and from my doctors, among a myriad of other things, and as I’ve already stated, I stay connected. I am able to do all of that on the road through my electronics and I was beginning to fear the loss of that.

In addition to writing, just for the sake of writing, I blog and now also maintain a YouTube channel. Those 3 things not only keep me connected, they serve as a creative outlet and are forms of processing that keep my brain active. I maintain that I can do it all because I get to stay in the quiet of my van. Even if I go to a library to use their computers, the distractions are too much for me. To think about my laptop dying was devastating for me.

Then a dear friend, who wants to remain anonymous, enters the picture and voila, I have a new laptop. No questions asked, no strings attached, he simply gave from his heart. Plus it’s a monster beast exquisite laptop extraordinaire that kicks ass! I’m just sayin’. It rocks! And my friend rocks. It’s not just a laptop. It’s a lifeline. Thank you anon. I truly, truly, truly am blessed.

I know a lot of people come down really hard on consumerism this time of year. But when giving (and receiving) comes from the heart, and connects hearts, that is the true gift – AND that can’t be bad. It’s not about the dollars spent or even the ones not spent. It’s about the people and the stories behind all of that. Look closer, feel deeper.

And lighten up on those that spend big bucks. Instead of being so quick to judge whether or not they are genuinely benevolent – look closer, feel deeper.

Offer someone a plate of food today, a phone call, a recording, a song, a text, a Skype session, Facetime, a visit, a hug, a laptop, a plane ticket, a car, a plane, a house – whatever! Just give and receive from the heart.

Remember those who are grieving because they can’t be with those they love, or they’ve lost loved ones and are mourning. Remember those who would give anything just to have the gift of interacting with another person. And, remember those who just want to be left alone until the Holidays are over. We’re all in this together. We are One. We’re just walking each other home.

Look closer, feel deeper. Merry Christmas.

Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:
Thank you! See you down the road!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

12/20/16-Hunting for Quartz Crystals

I always try to check in with someone when I am going to go for a walk. So, the other day I texted my friend Robert and said, “Hey, I’m going to go hunting for crystals. I’ll text you when I get back.”

He quickly met me on the trail with a new piece of camera equipment he needed to try out. In no way was I dressed, prepped or ready for a video shoot, but I figured, “What the heck. My YT channel is about my life as a vandweller and I want it to be authentic, right? So, why not?”

Then, right after he started filming, I found a rose-colored quartz crystal just a few feet in front of me. What are the odds? It might look staged, but it wasn’t. What a wonderful coincidence. Between that and the add on at the end of the video from a find just a few days after that, it has now become one of my fav vids so far. I’ve only been crystal hunting a few times over a few weeks but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite pastimes and I already have about a dozen! I'll keep looking for more. Well, at least while I’m here in quartz country AZ.

These are my 2 best finds so far. Watch the short video to learn how. Happy hunting!

Photo courtesy of Robert Witham

Photo courtesy of Robert Witham


Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:

Thank you! See you down the road!

Monday, December 19, 2016

12/18/16-A Look Around Ehrenberg AZ

Ehrenberg is a census-designated place in La Paz County, AZ. It has a population of approximately 1500, and has the distinction of being the 1st exit across the Colorado River from CA. Ehrenberg straddles I-10 and is approximately 5 miles from Blythe CA to the West and approximately 20 miles from Quartzsite CA to the East, and approximately 45 miles south of Parker AZ (the nearest WalMart). The locals might disagree with me but aside from many RV parks, it basically has 3 businesses: a Flying J, a Best Western, and the infamous Laundromat and Mall.

I say infamous because everyone goes to the Mall. It is a convenience store, mail center, and a laundromat. Plus you can get showers there. It is THE place in Ehrenberg. That’s Mark, the gatekeeper and manager of the Mall in the pic above. He is so awesome, and so friendly – always smiling. I featured a pic of him with his wife, Esthervic, and his daughter, Solenn, in a post last June. You can read it (here).

Ehrenberg is a winter mecca for nomads. In January, it’s average high is 67 with an average of only 43 for the lows. You can throw a rock and hit a Canadian. (Sorry, that’s a local joke, but you can see why.) It has become my winter home away from home and I really like it here.

There is far too much traffic for me in the other nearby towns. I boondock on BLM land, and am currently camped with Bob Wells and company. I go to nearby towns to run errands and replenish supplies only once a week. If I can get it done in Ehrenberg, I stay here. Even if I have to go to one of the other larger, nearby towns, I go once a week and quickly get back to my remote camp.

In my latest video, I show you around the small town/census-designated place. I show you how to rent a temporary mailbox for the winter and even have packages delivered and held for you! There are two places to get propane, and I show you the laundromat and showers at the Mall as well. Even if you’re not a nomad, I hope you enjoy this video of my “hometown”.

For more information on dispersed camping in Ehrenberg, including coordinates, cell signal strength, a driving tour and more, go to my friend Robert’s awesome site (here). Do me a favor please – leave him a comment and tell him you bounced over from here, okay?

Bob Wells, as always, has wonderful information about this area on his blog as well (here). After all, it’s his stomping grounds. We are all gathering here to enjoy his upcoming 7th Annual Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. It grows and grows every year thanks to all that Bob does and the many lives he touches. Many of us, me included, are able to enjoy this life because of him. What a joy and blessing it is to be out here two winters in a row now. Wow.

From freecamping.net, here are two links for more free sites in the area: Tom Wells Road and the Colorado River.

This should give you everything you need to know about camping around Ehrenberg, and why I like it here. It’s my own little Winter Wonderland.

Happy Holidays!


Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:


Thank you! See you down the road!

Friday, December 16, 2016

12/16/16-My Story and My Van Interior

When I first started living in my van (10/8/15) I was sleeping on the floor. Well, not directly on the floor. I had a camping air mattress. Every night I would air it up and every morning I would fold it up. It was a pain in the patooty. Trust me.

I also started with totes on the floor and no real organization. Nor did I have a heater or a stove, and no insulation. I also didn’t have a way to keep my electronics charged, and what’s worse – I didn’t even know I needed those things when I first got started! My how times have changed!

I now have a bed, 9 drawers supported on shelving platforms, a kitchen – complete with a stove and pantry, insulation covered in beautiful fabric, and a wonderful heater. When I’m boondocking, I run a 100W Renogy portable solar panel, complete with a converter and inverter. While I’m driving, I have a wonderful system that charges my house battery off my alternator through a continuous duty solenoid! Wow! That’s a mouthful! And that’s way over my head, but you can watch the video of the solenoid installation (here) on Bob Wells’ YouTube channel. I will have videos on my channel soon about the insulation and how I stay warm, but right now, here’s an overview of “my story” and a look at my van interior.

I also share how I got my brain injury, and a little about my personal history.

I hope you enjoy a glimpse of my life as a vandweller. Thanks!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

12/15/16-We Are Earthlings


We are not Republicans v Democrats. We are not economists v eco-friendly. We are not We the PeopleIndigenous-The People. We are not religious v heathens. We are not right v wrong. We are not gay v straight or any version thereof. We are not left v right. We are not conservative v liberal. We are not family members v family members, friends v friends. We are not Americans v Americans v Russia. We are not Syrians v Syrians v Russia (well, maybe – present time). We are not refugees v citizens. We live on ONE planet. We don’t own it! It is the only home we ALL have, and we ALL need to start acting like it.

We are here for a very short time. And we need to improve it, not battle to destroy it.

We are Earthlings. Damnit. Stop it!

My friend Robert lived in Cambridge, NY, and has lots of family there still. The village area of Cambridge-Greenwich endured a heartbreaking event yesterday when two young boys were playing in the snow and one lost their life due to what can only be called a very tragic accident (news article here). My heart and prayers go out to all that this loss affects. The mother of the boy that died also lost her mother just that morning. Doesn’t this put things in perspective? Love is all that matters.

And that pales in comparison to the lives and children lost in Aleppo. In this stirring live video, a University professor, Abdulkafi Alhamdo, says goodbye as the city is seized. His surreal goodbye, as he knows his life is minutes from ending, is titled, “Please Remember Us.”

We are our brothers’ keepers. No exception. We are all ONE – abroad, in the SD plains, in the snow banks of MA. There is no separation.

My friend David recently wrote an article (here) and in it he states:
“Love as an attribute of our Divine Nature is the movement of God Energy in, through and as us. It is the Energy of the Divine that we can consciously connect with and allow to flow freely through us.”

If you believe that, as well as the following, then you have to live it. You have to be it, without exclusion. We don’t get to pick and choose who and what, when and where we apply it. Nor do we get to stand idly by and say nothing, do nothing, while the world goes mad. At least I can't.

courtesy of vanderflue

If we love one another, truly love, then the wars against one another stop (globally and personally), the hate crimes stop (implied and overt), the differences pale and the fears lessen. In that, all is well, always.

Got it? Good. Now, stop it!


What has this got to do with vandwelling? Well, it seems the further removed I am from mainstream society, the more it assaults my senses when I enter civilization. I apply the word civilization to people. Although it seems to me “civil” is becoming a lost art – if we let it.

We went to town the other day to run errands. During that trip, Robert, my friend and fellow nomad, coined the phrase, “It was an assault on my senses.” There were people everywhere – hurrying, seemingly looking out only for themselves as they made their way rapidly to who knows where – and never making eye contact. Always fast, fast movement. And loud. Everywhere, there was piped in music. You couldn’t even talk at the gas pumps the music was so loud. And there were marketing monitors yelling at you from the store aisles. And people were rude, rude, rude to one another. I literally stopped in the middle of the store and watched for awhile. People acted like they didn’t have time to be nice. Then, when I intentionally waited for eye contact with the clerk to thank her after she checked me out, she seemed baffled at first. Then a broad smile broke out. It is possible. We just have to remember to connect. It is so valuable. Give someone a smile today.

I headed to my van and was literally bumped into physically, 3 times (!), as people crowded to get in and out of the door. Why? Have I lived in my van so long already that I’m the only one that notices how insane society/civilization can be?

And the next day a little boy would lose his life in a snow bank. The day after that, Aleppo would reportedly fall - another travesty in world history.

I can’t eat out anymore. Almost every restaurant has at least two TVs going and/or piped in music streaming over every table. Plus, every time I go to town I hear people arguing – insisting that they are right – whatever it is they are talking about at the moment. And it gets ugly. Friends are parting ways and families are getting divided. The rifts and chasms are growing. I watch everyone and I wonder, “Do they not see it? Can they not hear it?” In many ways, we are headed to another civil war if we are not careful. Did we not learn anything from that as brothers chose sides and killed each other in our first civil war? I’m not making that up. It’s our history! And it feels like it is getting ready to repeat itself.

It is such a glaring difference from being in nature and solitude, living in my van, that perhaps I see it more clearly or experience it more deeply than some. But not all. I know many of us are hurting. Many of us have heavy hearts. Many of us are determined to change it for the better. That actually gives me hope. We have to see that it exists before we can do anything about it. For those that recognize what I’m saying, please join me in turning it around. Affirm that we are Earthlings.

Love never fails. In that, neither will we.

Monday, December 12, 2016

12/12/16-Skippy Dee-Doo-Day

back door morning delivery of
Huevos Rancheros

That first picture is how my morning ended as it rolled in to a pleasant afternoon, but it is certainly not how it began.

I woke up skipping this morning. Skipping = struggling cognitively (stupid brain injury). At least I knew where I was when I woke up today – which, as I shared in my last blog post, was not the case Saturday morning. This morning I slept in until 9A – at least 3 hours beyond my norm, and I was tired and sluggish. I tried to make coffee and put equal in the filter. I stared at that for a few minutes and decided to leave it in there. I then added the coffee but when I poured the water into the filter it ran over – all over my counter and on to the floor. What the heck?

So I cleaned that up and then stared at the filter for a few more minutes trying to figure out what went wrong. I decided it must be the equal clogging up the filter, right? So I tried again with coffee in the filter sans the equal. By now it had taken me 45 minutes to try and make a cup of coffee. I was sure hoping it was the equal that had been the problem and I’d have my first sip of caffeine goodness soon. But, nope. It wasn't that. Again, coffee spilled all over the counter and on to the floor.

cof fee ever y wheeeere!

Turns out I had left the lid on my cup. I’m not even going to share with you how long it took me to figure that out. Stupid brain injury. I’m trying to make friends with it, really I am, but some days it’s easier than others. But all is not lost. I got a knock at my back door as my neighbor delivered those huevos rancheros pictured above. OMGosh, they were so good! Thank you Robert!

It took me until noon to get everything cleaned up, get the dogs fed, and get settled to where I felt like my day could begin. And it’s a beautiful day here in Arizona – a sunny 72 for a high and in the mid-50s at night. Life sure is good.


It’s probably pretty clear that I’m symptomatic today and need to stay close to home, but here’s the real caution for me right now – every time I have a seizure, like the one I had the day before Thanksgiving (gratitude blog post here), it takes me longer to recover and I recover less – not quite ever getting back to where I cognitively was before the seizure. That’s scary, and I refuse to give up, claiming instead that it is reparable. Which leads me to the rest of the story.


In my video embedded in the gratitude blog post listed above, I state that I am cutting back, getting back to what heals me – and for me, that is nature and solitude. It’s also writing. I think my soul is playing a twisted role of Oliver Twist and saying, “More of that please.”

So I resigned this morning from my role in a friend’s life, and that left me saddened yet hopeful. My world keeps getting smaller and smaller yet I believe it is the only way for me to heal and prolong life – more importantly – to expand the quality of my life.

And it’s not just about me. A good friend that I called this morning helped me remember something I always tell others, “Even in airplanes they remind you to put your own mask on first.” If I am to be of service, if I am to be love and expand love during my days on this earth, I need to be centered and whole.

And so my world keeps getting smaller.

Smaller to achieve expansion... hmmm... Is it a conundrum or a dichotomy? I don’t know. It just is what it is. I encourage you to give up anything that is not in the flow and serving your Higher purpose. Trust. Believe me, I know it is not easy. It's scary as shit - especially when you live in a van in the middle of the desert. And, it is the only way. Listen to that still small voice. It is never wrong. In that, all is well, always.

See you down the road my wonderful readers.

Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:
Thank you! See you down the road!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

12/10/16-My Quartzsite FAVS and Socialize vs. Seizures

Enjoying the best Chorizo Breakfast Burrito at
Taquerias Los Amigos in Quartzsite AZ

On my YT series, My Life as a Vandweller, I posted the following video yesterday.

That was a fun way to end a challenging week after having had a seizure the day before Thanksgiving.

We are now back in Ehrenberg, AZ where many are beginning to gather before going to the annual RTR, Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, hosted by Bob Wells. The RTR will be in Quartzsite, January 10-22. However, for directions to the area where many of us are camped now, and to read more about the RTR (including rules, FAQs and to get the current RTR schedule), go to Bob’s latest blog post on his CRVL blog (here).

Such fun! I’ll see you down the road!

Just a reminder and for any new readers:
The rest of my blog post deals with my TBI and HS. Not all will be interested in that so I separate the topics purposefully in case you want to stop reading here. It’s your choice and it’s all good. Thanks for being here!


I am really looking forward to seeing familiar faces and making new friends this year in Ehrenberg and at the RTR in Q. And, especially with my recent health scare, I have to be cautious. Anyone who knows me knows that I love people, but more and more I have to limit contact. That makes me sad. And it is what it is and I have to honor my needs. So I bought some magnetic white board sheets and put a sign on my van yesterday. I think most people will understand. I hope so. I mean no disrespect nor do I want to alienate myself from this wonderful community. It’s not that I don’t want to socialize; it’s just that seizures suck.

an actual sign on the side of my van; ugh

For example, I woke up this morning and did not know where I was. That’s actually not an unusual occurrence for nomads. We move around enough that often locations, stores, towns and days tend to roll together and we lose track. For me, it’s a little different though. I woke up and realized I was “lost.” At first I thought I might be in OR. Then I remembered that the weather was getting bad there so I looked out the window. Nope, not OR, desert. Pahrump? Are we in Pahrump? There are wild horses in Pahrump. I looked out the window again. Nope, not Pahrump, no horses. I decided to rest. I closed my eyes, concentrated on my breathing and did my best to relax and meditate. In a little while I remembered Quartzsite! Nope, not Quartzsite. Then finally, ahhh, Ehrenberg! I’m in Ehrenberg. That is not a normal nomad process. That’s due to my TBI. So I get to do things like put up stupid “Please Do Not Disturb” signs.


How do other “shut-ins” do it? How do we maintain connections and yet maintain our health? I’d really like to hear your ideas my wonderful readers. Any and all ideas. Technology makes it easier, but I don’t want to become a hermit or a recluse. I will if I have to, but I don’t want to.

The schedule at the RTR is rigorous. There is a lot of activity over a 10-day period. Right now, I’m thinking that I may be able to attend 1or 2 classes and maybe 1 social event. That’s it. Out of about 50 events scheduled, that’s not very much. But it will be my all.

On personality tests of any kind, and believe me, when you have a TBI, they put you through the ringer on tests, I score 50/50. Always. I’m split right down the middle in characteristic traits. So I’ve always been social yet an introvert. I’ve always been communicative yet withdrawn. Two sides of the coin always at play with me, always. This is no different. I love people yet have always enjoyed time alone. I want to socialize and am outgoing yet I’m an introvert and require solitude to recharge. There are many like me. That’s nothing new, but now I have a brain injury that complicates the conundrum. Too much external stimulation has devastating effects for me.

For example, I may not even be able to eat at Silly Al’s anymore (the pizzeria mentioned in my video).  Even with earplugs, it was too loud for me last time I was there. Plates start spinning in my head (virtual ones, not real ones), then my vision blurs or I get vertigo (or both), probable nose bleeds or worse yet, a seizure. In TBI speak it's called sensory over stimulation or flooding, and (here) is a semi-technical explanation from one of my go-to resource sites. Bottom line, it’s not worth the risk.

Also, a friend that I travel with recently told me they are convinced I have bionic hearing. I had not been able to come up with a description of what I experience, but that is as close as any. I can hear a straight pin drop from a mile away. Okay, well, maybe not that acute but I can hear every little thing around me, and then some. I can eavesdrop on quiet conversations far away from me, without even trying to, and believe me I don’t want to. I can hear nearby lizards walking across the desert ground. Nope, not kidding on that one. I really can.

I haven’t made it back to TX yet to talk with my medical team about this, but I’ve been doing some research. It is evidently quite common for those with a brain injury to suffer hearing loss yet there is also a small percentage that can have amplified hearing and even eyesight. It appears I might have hyperacusis (noise sensitivity). It’s a self diagnosis at this point, but it sure fits.

I have become like the character, Radar, on the historical M.A.S.H. series. I will be looking at the sky for a plane or a helicopter long before anyone else realizes there is one anywhere near. If people are camped near me, I usually end up wearing earplugs 24/7. Otherwise I hear every little step they make and I’m aware of everything they do. It is fascinating, and it can be painful. It definitely adds to my need for quiet and solitude.

So there you have it: The rest of the story. Here I am getting ready for the largest annual gathering my nomad community has, still trying to wrap my head around my TBI symptoms as they progress, and still trying to find that balance of self care and not disappearing completely.

Ideas? Suggestions? Thoughts? Thanks! KOKO! XOXO!


Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:

Thank you! See you down the road!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

12/8/16-LTVA and Quartzsite-Ehrenberg Area Camping

I wrote a blog post last year about how Quartzsite grows from a sleepy little town of approximately 4,000 to an influx of at least 1 million in one month! That’s crazy! You can read that blog post (here) as well as see some of the wonderful things I experienced last year at my first RTR. If you dare, you can even hear me sing a little Karaoke by scrolling down and watching the video on that blog post. If you dare! LOL.

I will be at the RTR again this year, January 10-22, and recently camped in Quartzsite for a week. Here’s a video from my YouTube channel about that. In this I share with you some alternatives to dispersed camping and take you on a short tour of the LTVA.

I want to remind everyone that if you are attending the RTR, please remember the 14-day limit on public lands. That’s why I didn’t mind paying $6/day for drydocking during my recent stay at Rice Ranch in Quartzsite. You don’t want to get banned from being on-site at the RTR and you have to register with the camp host so DON’T TAKE A CHANCE!

The rule, according to the official site (here), is that you can only camp for 14 days of dispersed camping, continuous or cumulative, in a 28 day period, then you have to move 25 miles and cannot come back until day 29. That’s why you can generally camp in Ehrenberg and then Quartzsite.

There are many areas around Q and E for dispersed camping, but here’s directions to where a large group of RTR folk generally camp in Ehrenberg.

Take Exit 1 (yep, the 1st AZ exit as you leave CA), and go through the roundabout until you can head east down the access road (south side of freeway). About 1.5 miles down that road, that includes a sharp right curve, you will come to a Y – stay to the right; the left goes to a construction pit. Go a little over another mile and you will come to another Y. Hang a left there. In that area you will see a lot of rigs and people already gathering for Bob's arrival. You can park near people or as far away as you want. Last year Bob parked on the left-hand side of the road but I have no idea where he will be this year. You can come join everyone else though.

For more information about free camping around Ehrenberg, check out this article on the rubbertramping site (here). 

I hope all of this helps and gives you some alternatives so that you can come to the Ehrenberg/Quartzsite area without maxing out your 14-day limit prior to the RTR.

We’ll see you down the road!


Please be sure and check out my YouTube Channel here:

Thank you! See you down the road!

Monday, November 28, 2016

11/27/16-Guiltless Gratitude

Sunset Reflecting on My Van
Ehrenberg, AZ 11/26/16

I have carried a deep, dark secret that has weighed on me. Until now.

In Unity, we believe that we co-create with Spirit. My dream to live fulltime on the road was born in 2011, the night I created my first blog post. You can read about it (here).

My last blog post shared a little bit of what it’s like being out here on the road while coping with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). You can watch the video and read about that (here). What I’ve never shared is that I have always felt guilty for not being able to work, and I've carried the deep-seated fear that somehow I am responsible for creating my disability that got me here.

After sharing my last post on FB, one of my earth angels, Rev. David H Howard, shared this as a comment:
“Oh, Sweetheart. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. As I watched your video I was remembering how you shared with me your dream of van dwelling long before it manifested for you. Your Soul knew even then what you needed. I am so proud of you for holding to your vision and for seeing it through. You truly live the lesson I gave today on Hope. I'll send you the recording. I am thankful for you in my life. Joyous blessings my friend. I love you!”

I read that and cried and cried. Years and a million pounds rolled off my shoulders and freed my heart from the guilt I have been carrying for over a year now. I wrote the following as my reply.
Wow, David, angel mine. You just gave me the BIGGEST gift, maybe ever. I love the way Spirit shows up in you, through you, as you. "Your Soul knew even then what you needed."  
Being the human that I am (grin), I have carried a heavy burden of guilt, in spite of my efforts to transform it, that I may have somehow manifested my injury to get me on the road. Since, as you said, it was a dream of mine long before it manifested for me. I set my intention in 2011 to retire in 2020 and hit the road fulltime. Here, in this moment, it does not look at all in 2016 like I thought it would post retirement. Did I co-create this? Did I manifest it? Did I "do" this to myself? All questions I routinely ask myself. In one loving paragraph you released my heart ache.
My neuro specialists have said that their best "guestimate" for the development of my hippocampal sclerosis (HS aka scar tissue on the brain) "probably" began around 2000 presenting initially as symptomatic in 2005 from the initial impact in 1995. I love the twist, the "in touch with reality" loving perspective that Spirit/My Soul/God/The Universe knew that I would need to heal and live out here, in nature, in my van. And Spirit took all of that information to give me my dream in 2011 so that I could be prepared when this day came. Wow, oh wow.
I am completely puddled dear David. I hope you understand the depths of your gift. I didn't subconsciously co-create the escalation of scar tissue so that I could live my dream. My dream manifested so that I could live. Period. Tears of release and gratitude are flowing. "Joyous blessings indeed." I love you too.

And with that, a new day dawns and I no longer feel that I am weighted down by tons and tons of guilt holding me back like I'm tethered to a colossal anchor. I have always been grateful for my blessings, and now I no longer feel guilty about them. I live in a van. I get to see glorious sunrises and sunsets, and I am joyFULL.

Michael Buble sings it best, “It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. And I’m feeling good.” I make no apologies for what the Universe has given me.

Sunrise, Ehrenberg AZ 11/27/16

Friday, November 25, 2016

11/25/16-Behind the Scenes of "Why I Am Grateful To Live In A Van"

I put a video on YouTube today as part of my Friday series, “My Life As A Vandweller.”  It is titled, “Why I Am Grateful to be A Vandweller” and you can click below to watch.

Before you watch it, however, I feel the need to share that it is not your normal upbeat video you are used to from me. I had a friend shoot a clip of me in the throngs of being symptomatic from a seizure. I thought long and hard about whether or not to share this video publicly, but the truth is that the only reason I would hide it is because I was afraid of you, my viewers, and my blog readers; the public in general.

I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating (at least to myself), I will not make decisions based on fear. I feel the fear, and gather information, and then hopefully make an educated decision, but I will not let fear as a standalone factor be my decision maker. I cannot.

So, here it is. I hope you are not too shocked.

Before becoming a vandweller, I tried all that I could to remain independent. I even tried living with my ex as a roommate! Now that should tell you something. It was an unmitigated disaster, AND I am grateful to him for the offer. I also stayed with my sister for awhile and I even tent camped – in August and September – in Texas. The heat and humidity were unbearable but since I was no longer able to work and could not afford housing, I was desperate. I will share more later and offer it here on my website as a tab called, “My Story” but the bottom line is – even though a few offered to let me stay with them for awhile (which meant it was only temporary), I can’t stay in homes where there is a lot of noise. My seizures were getting out of control.

I had always planned on living this life – just not this way. When I was still working, I bought a vintage Class B and was in the process of remodeling her when I was told that my life as I had known it had probably come to an end. Wow, talk about dreams going up in smoke, quite literally since Fiona (my name for that rig) had an electrical fire right around that same time. But I wasn’t ready to believe my doctors yet so I moved in to a trailer some friends bought for me to live in. I am so blessed!

That worked until I flooded it, and about that same time I could also no longer work even a part-time job from home. So, it was a slow decline for me to end up tent camping until my disability status was approved.  Now I’m getting to where it is difficult for me to be around people. Period. I have to be very careful and limit the stimulus in my environment. Fortunately, that is possible out here. Unfortunately, my world is getting smaller and smaller and I worry that people will not understand. I also sometimes miss not being able to be more social. Sometimes.

I have a disability. And I have to accept that. You’d think I’d be in to acceptance around it by now, but I’m not. I’m getting there though.

Leave it to me to be in the middle of the desert and forests and find a way to do too much and trigger seizures like the one I had the day before Thanksgiving. I can’t help but wonder....

What does life have waiting for me if I learn to live within my limits? What could be waiting for each of us if we learn to live in the flow and not worry? Just be.

I have come to accept that I cannot stay out here on my own, and fortunately I do not have to. I am blessed with so many wonderful people in my life. My gratitude video is ultimately about them, and about this way of life that affords me healing – when I live it day by day, staying in each moment.

I don’t get to do things by rote anymore. Even to walk across the wash to my friends’ trailer (where I had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, thank you very much Robert), I have to think about it. I have to pretend I’m OCD and check and double-check the locks, and hopefully remember my keys, and wear the right shoes for the weather. I have to remember where it is safest to cross the wash so I don’t fall – every single time. Even to make myself a cup of coffee before I go on a walk, I have to think about the 7 steps of drip-brewing a cup – each one of them for every cup. I’ve already scalded my hand once because I tried to rush the steps (and the thinking) and forgot that I’m not supposed to hold the cup while pouring the water. Yes, that is one of the steps I have to think through. So, if I’m symptomatic, I sometimes have to forego luxuries like having a cup of coffee or taking a walk or visiting friends.

AND my worst day out here is better than the best day I could have in assisted living somewhere.

That bears repeating, my worst day out here is better than the best day I could have in assisted living somewhere.

So what if I don’t get coffee, or get to go see my friends, or even take my besties, Nonni & Bentley, for a walk? It can make me sad and put me in to a tailspin if I let it, OR I can look at the good, the independence, the fact that this too shall pass, and wait it out. I can learn from it and build an even better life the next day. My disability doesn’t have to be debilitating. I suspect that is true for many with disabilities. I hope it is. It’s why the ADA was formed, right?  We deserve the chance to be accepted just as we are because we can still build good lives for ourselves. Now if I can just do the same for myself, and move into acceptance. It is what it is. And it’s all good. Did I mention that I’m working on it?

Most people never see me when I’m symptomatic so they tell me I don’t look like I have a disability. Yeah, I know. For the most part it is what is known as an invisible disability. Others that have seen me symptomatic tell me that I shouldn’t be out here as a fulltime vandweller. But what they don’t know is that if I go to assisted living, I will die. I just know it. It is that simple, and complicated. It would kill me. Within those walls my disability would still exist anyway, right?

So this Thanksgiving, actually every day, my gratitude is for the people in my life that have loved me and have made it possible for me to remain independent. There are many, and more continue to show up every day. I shared many of their pics in the video and I’m posting those pics below as well. I know I will forget some. If you are not listed and should be, please forgive me. These are peeps I don’t have a pic with (yet)...

Cynde, Regina, Roger, John, Judy, Marcia, Maxine, Mike, Michael, Cheri, Cyndi, Carolyn, Johnny, Yolanda & Scott, Sheila & Frank, the Witham clan, Brenda, Al, Lavonne, Linda, Katie, Susan, VeeJay, Cindy, Sharon, Marty, DSHS 76, Linda & Sara, Jennifer, Onna & Neon, Raymundo, Brycee, Michael, Maria, Td, Nico & Jacob, Karen, Kylie, Heather & Dave, my Unity family, Lars, Karyn & Tim, Coletta, Sherry, Robin, Roby & Suzy, Don, Dan & Doria, Linda, Bettie, Darlene & David, Judy & Billy ....

And the list could go on infinitum. You and the people in the pics below, and I’m sure many that I have forgotten, are my earth angels. Your bright lights lift me up every single day even when we’re out of touch for long periods of time. At the risk of sounding corny (and it’s probably WAY too late for that, lol), and to borrow an old song from Debby Boone, “You Light Up My Life.”

That’s why, even in the throngs of a seizure this holiday, I remain forever grateful. It’s a good life out here. See you down the road.

BFF Leslie

BFF Tracy

Fellow Nomad, Robert
Robert Witham.com

Scrapmaniacs - BFFs Cathy, Carolyn, Bobbie, Linda and Sara

Sister Sheree

BFF Connie

BFF David
Rev. David H. Howard
Blog, "In Touch with Reality"

BFF Steve

Bestie Kyndal

Fellow Nomad, Bob
Cheap RV Living.com

Fellow Nomad, Glenn
To Simply.net

My Family at Mother's 90th Birthday Party

My niece, Samariah

My Stepfather, John Whittington
the best man I've ever known
12/24/28 - 9/16/11

Cousin Gloria and her family
Representing the "Arkansas Clan"

The Baur Family

Family from my Father's side,
the Dickinsons, descendants of the Mayflower
l to r: Jane, Judy, Bob, me, EllaFaye

Cousin Sandy

Fellow Nomad and BFF, Suanne

Fellow Nomads, Brian and Cindy

BFF and Guardian to Nonni & Bentley, Keli

BFF Joanne
"The Canadian"

Bentley and Nonni

Miss Hopesies