Month: July 2015

Day 5 – Buffalo, Wyoming — Again

Have you ever gone somewhere in your life and when you got there you just knew it was right?  That is exactly how I felt when I rolled into Buffalo, Wyoming a few days ago.  I mostly came here because I am a huge Longmire fan and I just had to have lunch at the Busy Bee Cafe (one of Walt Longmire’s favorite places to eat in the books and the show).

This is the official Busy Bee Cafe Logo.  I do not own its rights but use it respectfully in my blog.

This is the official Busy Bee Cafe Logo. I do not own its rights but use it respectfully in my blog.

I did not have lunch, but I had breakfast and the server, Kia, was perfect!  The food was great, the atmosphere welcoming and the weather was beautiful.  Before the Busy Bee opened, I met a gentleman who transplanted to Buffalo and he told me history of the town and why he loved it here.  He stopped to talk with me on his way to Bible Study at 6:30 am.  I was impressed.

The people at the KOA Buffalo (as I mentioned in a previous post) were absolutely wonderful to me and I felt as safe here as I did anywhere.  The campground was fun, clean and accessible.  Road Lesson:  A clean, hot shower is worth more than gold!!

I kinda got an inclination that maybe I had found a “home”, a place where I could fit it.  Small town living with lots of caring individuals and the opportunity to become an active member of the community through volunteering.

I spent the day in Buffalo today trying to find a place to live and a job.  If it was meant to be, it would happen.  In the process, I met a lovely artist woman at the Chamber of Commerce outpost, a group of women involved in local businesses and the sweetest real estate agent who so very hard to help.  The day was full of meeting and greeting.  Unfortunately, it seems that it was not meant to be as nothing quite worked out.

What was I thinking….trying to do this on the spur of the moment without any hint or preview.  I just fell in love with the history, the town and the people.  I do not want to leave, but I cannot afford to stay.  Maybe I can come back.

As I read my posts I realize that I sound very negative.  I honestly am not that negative of a person.  So during my downtime today I got real introspective.  I realized that I, much to my dismay, I am a romantic by heart.  I romanticized this trip like the trips of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson and Robert M. Pirisig.  As Hunter would say, this trip was to be my “high water mark.”  I was expecting everything to change because of it.  Then my true self, the realist, stepped in and kicked me square in the pants and demands to know what I was thinking.

Because of those unrealistic expectations I am experiencing disappointment. When I was younger I was full of wonder and awe.  Although a bit jaded, I still had that feeling that life was going to end up like some sort of sappy Disney movie.  Then, I guess, you have to grow up and become responsible and pay your bills and be contributing members of society.  That is all fine and good, but the heavy weight of responsibilities moves wonder somewhere else, somewhere not easily accessed.

So I realized today that I am not negative so much as I am too much of a realist.  I no longer want to be a realist.  I want to have the wonder back, I want the awe back but I think I have to do it in a way that is not quite so Pie-in-The-Sky.  Just like the perfect chocolate chip cookie dough, you need the right amounts of each ingredient to make the perfect cookie; too much of one thing or too little of another will ruin the entire batch.

I am hoping I can change my perspective to reflect the perfect mix of romantic and realist.  You actually need both to keep from messing the situation up too badly.  Sorry it took my almost a week to figure this out, but maybe this knowledge will bring about the change I am looking for.

Thank you for listening….Buffalo, I still love you..I hope to return!!

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Day 4 — Yellowstone National Park

The water in Yellowstone is amazingly blue and so beautiful.

The water in Yellowstone is amazingly blue and so beautiful.

Now for my trip from Buffalo, Wyoming into Yellowstone National Park.  I was excited because of all the wonderful things I heard about the park.  Getting there was a lot harder than I had anticipated.  The mountain grades were so hard on the car and I was just not experienced enough to know how to drive them.  The scenery was breathtaking, there is no doubt about that, but so was the drive.

Mike had purchased for me, online, a National Parks pass which allowed me into the park for nothing which was quite nice.  I can always visit other National Parks for a year.  It is a great idea if you are thinking about visiting a few National Parks.

From the entrance to the exit was a line of bumper to bumper cars, vans, motor homes, buses and trucks.  I would assume that if I had actually had a plan for seeing the park, instead of just winging it, things may have gone smoother.  But as it was, I was panicked from all the traffic and was not able to enjoy the sights as much as would have liked.

My advice; if you want to see Yellowstone, have a plan.  Do not just show up and expect to have the time of your life.  There are a lot of people visiting at any given time and it can be overwhelming to be in such crowds.

On the way out of the park,I got turned around yet again and ended up on a dirt road (and I use the term road loosely).  It was really a path that a car could fit on.  Then all these large SUVs appeared out of nowhere going really fast.  It was like a scene out of “Men in Black”.  I soon realized after quite a bit of time on this path that there was a very swanky restaurant on the road and that is where the SUVs were headed.

The road finally spit me out in Jackson, Wyoming.  I was so exhausted from white knuckle driving all day, I luckily found a lovely camp ground in Victor, Wyoming and spent the night.

My observations on Yellowstone are probably not that of most.  I had not made a plan and it really did not work this time due to all the people and vehicles in the park.  Planning is imperative for this type of trip and if you plan, I am sure the experience will be better.

After yet another crying session, wondering if I have done the right thing, I decided to go back to Buffalo, Wyoming.  I really liked the town and wish I would have stayed there instead of going to Yellowstone.  Lesson learned.

I took I-90 back so as to miss he huge mountains and give Devi a little bit of a break.  It was a lovely ride back and it did a lot to calm my nerves.  As I got back into Buffalo, I stopped into the KOA I stayed at a couple nights before and I was EXTREMELY lucky to find out they had a cabin available.  A cabin was just what I needed to regroup and rethink.

Thank you to Shawn and Mickie, the hosts at the Buffalo KOA, and the entire staff for saving my sanity and giving me a place to shower, wash some clothes and basically just chill out.

This trip is much more grueling than I had anticipated and I am going to take another day to rethink things. I will let you know what I come up with!!  Thank you for listening!!

Day 2 – Dubuque, Iowa to O’Neill, Nebraska and Day 3 – O’Neill Nebraska to Buffalo, Wyoming

Somewhere in Iowa.  Big Sky, beautiful country!

Somewhere in Iowa. Big Sky, beautiful country!

Today I am going to combine Days 2 and 3, not because there is not much to say (there is so much to talk about) but I do not want to get too far behind.  I have to admit that this trip has taken some twists and turns, some I anticipated and some I never saw coming.  All my research and reading about car camping did not prepare me for the reality of it all.  I thought I could adapt a little easier than I have….it is still a work in progress.  I am enjoying it but lack of sleep, time changes and weather changes have really thrown me for a loop.  Oh well, all part of traveling on a budget!!

Traveling Route 20 instead of highways has been a blessing!

Traveling Route 20 instead of highways has been a blessing!

I cannot believe how beautiful Iowa is.  I remember driving through it as a teenager and all you could see were pigs and corn.  My adult eyes now see lovely, large fields of life-giving corn and soybeans.  Amazing green lush carpets of vegetation.  Peaceful scenery and huge blue skies.  Iowa, you surprised me!

One disappointment in Iowa (and it was not Iowa’s fault).  As a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan, I was thrilled to find one of his homes (The Walter Estate) in Cedar Rock.  Unfortunately, I was closed.  I was going to jump the fence but figured I did not have enough bail money if I got caught.

Nebraska's overwhelming scenery

Nebraska’s overwhelming scenery

I just drove through Nebraska, but the scenery was truly breathtaking.  The foothills in the distance, the high altitude and the overwhelming views from every angle took me by surprise.

I Love LONGMIRE!

I Love LONGMIRE!

Next stop Wyoming…I am in love with Buffalo, Wyoming and I will tell all next time.  I promise to have more stories and pictures next time.  I am learning to adapt to areas without Wi-Fi and typing in the car.  I am an old school typist and I seem to take up lots of room when I type 😦  I thought I would just pop into a Starbucks along the way and update the blog, but I have yet to see one since I left Illinois.

Thank you for your support!!!

Day 1 – Cleveland to Dubuque, Iowa

Day 1 – Cleveland to Dubuque, Iowa

Finally, I get to start writing about the trip. Here goes:

Well, my first couple of days were a mixed bag for sure:

Thought I was downsizing, seems like an awful lot of stuff to take.

Thought I was downsizing, seems like an awful lot of stuff to take.

I was planning on leaving Saturday, July 25 but I got a late start, so Sunday ended up being my new launch date. The plan stood to get from home past Gary, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois and then somewhere after that. The ride to Gary, Indiana was lovely, the weather was great. I was feeling very optimistic about my latest life choice. Then I took a wrong turn and was stuck in Chicago traffic for over an hour. Not just traffic, but stop and go and almost get hit a few times traffic. I was freaking out and was low on gas (my bad!). I do not know how I got so turned around. Sammi, my GPS, was just about as confused as I was. I considered turning around and going home but I did not.

A gift from my friends and a great way to start my trip!

A gift from my friends and a great way to start my trip!

I got to Dubuque, Iowa at the end of the day. I had a city campgrounds in mind but could not find it because of lack of signage. But I called the number and the camp host came right over to get me. He was awesome and put me close to the front. The temperature was very hot so I rolled the windows down and quickly taped up some screens Mike had made me to keep bugs out and cool breezes in. It worked perfectly. As the sun went down, the temperature went down also. No sounds but the songs of crickets, passing traffic and the melodic sounds of a faraway train. This semi-outside experience was a first for me.

My view from my very first campsite!  Very close to the water!!

My view from my very first campsite! Very close to the water!!

Unlike at home, there was no television, no loud refrigerator, and no other household noises. Just the sounds of nature and a little traffic. It was so incredibly peaceful. I have yet to be in peace mode, I am still in stress mode, but it will come to me. Soon I hope!!

Devi did a great job camping!!

Devi did a great job camping!!

As far as car camping, I have never done it but I had an “idea” of how it should go. Boy, was I wrong. I struggled with getting comfy, staying cool, trying to get undressed, eating (dinner last night was snacks given to me by a friend) and generally getting used to sleeping in a SUV down by the river (yes, I was really next to the Dubuque River). I fought and struggled for a couple of hours, but then got my “blankie” out of storage and my pillow and drifted into dream land. Just needed some comforting items.

I never realized how beautiful Iowa is!!

I never realized how beautiful Iowa is!!

Unlike at home, there was no television, no loud refrigerator, and no other household noises. Just the sounds of nature and a little traffic. It was so incredibly peaceful. I have yet to be in peace mode, I am still in stress mode, but it will come to me. Soon I hope!!

Amazing Iowa Sky!

Amazing Iowa Sky!

I learned a lot last night and feel like I am well on the road to becoming a car camper aficionado or not. This morning I woke up reorganized the car and started on my way to Nebraska.

Just a cool bridge -- looks like modern art.

Just a cool bridge — looks like modern art.

As I think back on the last few days, I am very impressed with how beautiful this country is.  The corn fields of Iowa are amazing but also feed us and feeds the farm animals,  fuel our vehicles and have been known to be a main part of certain adult beverages.  Corn as far as the eye can see and it was truly stunning.

Sammi, my Garmin.  She can be chatty at times :-)

Sammi, my Garmin. She can be chatty at times 🙂

It Is Not Goodbye, But See You Soon!!

Had a few delays, just finishing a couple last minute things and I will be off to start my adventure.  Love you all!!  Thank you for your support and all your kindnesses!!

A beautiful prayer for travel:

May it be Your will, Lord my God, to lead me on the way of peace and guide and direct my steps in peace, so that You will bring me happily to my destination, safe and sound. Save me from danger on the way. Give me good grace, kindness and favor in both Your eyes and in the eyes of all whom I may meet. Hear this my prayer, for you are a God who hears to the heart’s supplication and communion.Blessed are You, Lord our God, who hears prayer. Amen

Okay…Big World Here I Come!!!

Great Food Alert — El Patron, Middlefield, Ohio

I know I posted today, but I just had to do a short one.  Mike and I had some unexpected errands to run today so we treated ourselves to a late lunch/early dinner at our favorite local restaurant, El Patron, in Middlefield, Ohio.  Let me start by saying, the entire wait staff has always been great and we have never had a bad meal there.  We just love it!

Today we were greeted by our favorite wait person, Mauricio.  His smile lights up a room.  He is genuinely a wonderful person and we have had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years.

I was tasked by a co-worker, Jenny, to try my first ever Margarita.  Since I can no longer drink beer (gluten) and I am not much of a wine drinker, she thought a Margarita would be perfect.  Mauricio offered some great advice and I drank my first strawberry Margarita.  It was really good.  Great suggestion!!

My first ever Margarita.

My first ever Margarita.

Then our meal arrived.  I almost always get the Fajita Salad, it is my favorite.  Today, I got a special surprise.  I looked like a work of art.  I hated to eat it (not really, it was great).  I just had to take a picture of it.

My special Fajita Salad!

My special Fajita Salad!

After we were done eating, Mauricio came by and we told him that I was leaving for some time and we thanked him for all the kindnesses he has showed us over the years.  He sat down with us, talked, showed us pictures of his girlfriend and just really had a nice time.  Both Mike and I were so touched.

I just had to write about how important it is to take a few minutes and actually connect with other people.  If I had my way, I would probably never talk to anyone because I am afraid they will not want to talk to me or afraid I will not have anything of interest to say.  I thank Mike for bringing me out of my shell because I have met so many wonderful people who I would have missed in my life.

Mauricio and me.

Mauricio and me.

That is a big lesson I am expecting from this trip.  To learn to open up to the positive experiences and open my heart to people I do not know.  You NEVER know whose path you are going to cross and what difference they can make in your life or vice versa.  Thank you, Mauricio, for sharing so much with us.  We are touched.

Check out El Patron at:  El Patron Middlefield Ohio

Do Not Stop Daydreaming!!

This is not my design, but I am respectfully using it in my blog...oh how it fits perfectly!!

This is not my design, but I am respectfully using it in my blog…oh how it fits perfectly!!

Today…I am three days from launch. In three days, I will start my Epic Journey. As I sit here, I know I have not done enough to prepare, I know I am going to be forgetting something, I am seriously starting to wonder if I can do this and I am crying at every post on Facebook. What a mess I am!! I guess, though, that is a normal way for someone like me (shy and timid) to act before doing something so absolutely crazy.

I was thinking…I used to daydream of driving on the open road, never had a destination in mind, just driving with the radio blaring and the wind in my hair. Then life hit and the responsibilities started. My daydreams then became filled with things I forgot to do at work, or when I would fit a load of laundry into my schedule. As the years passed, more and more I forgot how to daydream.

One day, not too long ago, I realized that something was missing in my life. I realized that the lazy Saturday afternoons of reading a book by an open window with a slight breeze blowing had gone. I cannot remember the last time I even read a book for pleasure. After a crazy day at work, if no one was home, I used to turn up the radio loud and pretend I was on stage singing (badly, of course); that has not happened in ages. When I was down, I used to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies and pretend that I was a kid again and that my mom made them for me like she did so many times before her passing. Sound weird? Maybe, but these were all things I did to comfort myself when I was sad and overwhelmed. Funny thing, the more sad and overwhelmed I got, the less I did these things.

Now I am at a point where I wonder if I can even let go of the responsibilities long enough to daydream again. I want this trip to turn me around and shake me up. I do not want to be the person I am now. I used to be, at least, somewhat optimistic, I used to laugh a lot more, I used to sit and think about things and now I only feel like a shell of a person with very infrequent bursts of happy. This has nothing to do with my outer life. I have an absolutely wonderful husband, great friends and family, a roof over my head, food on the table, etc. I know I am VERY blessed. This is more about the inner person, like a garden I forgot to water.

Just saying that out loud seems selfish and self-centered. That is not what I am trying to get to either. But I do not feel as if I am the person God wants me to be. I have let my past and my failures and all the negativity take away my sense of self and sense of purpose. It does sound like some babble from the 80s about “finding yourself.” It is hard to explain and yet I feel compelled to share my story in hopes that it helps just one person.

So it has become decision time…either continue on the road I was on that I can only see ending at a bitter, lonely life or make a drastic change. Keep getting angrier or finally find inner peace. Always be sick and tired or find health and vitality. Be negative all the time or feel blessed no matter what. Feel restless every single day or learn to be content in the now. These are the issues I am struggling with along with a few others. As the old saying goes…I sick and tired of being sick and tired. I need a change, I need to daydream again and I need to become a better person.

Over the years, I have gotten rid of many of my possessions. My things started to own me and I did not like that at all. Things were given away, thrown away or some were sold. I started with the things that meant the most to me because I knew it would hurt the most and it would also build the most character. Now I am down to just plain junk which no one wants. That is what I have to do inside myself; I have to get rid of the clutter and baggage that has accumulated over the years. I need a clean slate, a fresh start and a way to start over inside my own head. I am going to start by daydreaming again, go back to simpler times and enjoying the simpler things in life.

I have yet to see how the road changes me, but I think it will be an interesting ride.

Thank you for listening!!

Absence Does Not Mean Forgotten

This is not my design, but I am respectfully adding it to my blog.

This is not my design, but I am respectfully adding it to my blog.

I learned a very valuable lesson today and I wanted to pass it along. Just because you do not see someone all the time, it does not mean that you (or they) have been forgotten. Case in point: I am leaving in about six days to start my Epic Journey and my lovely and beautiful extended family organized a get-together to wish me well on the trip.

As a child, I attended many family reunions and always enjoyed seeing my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. We would always have a good time and laughed a lot. There never was any drama and everyone always got along. There were no fights, like you hear happening so often.

Then life stepped in and things got complicated. People married, babies were born, jobs were taken, bills had to be paid and family reunions were put on the back burner due to everyday time constraints. I know this is just a process that happens to all families as priorities shift and free time becomes a premium. I did not see my extended family very often over the past years. Christmas cards and funerals seemed to be the common ground for a time.

Then the magic of Facebook reunited me with a couple of cousins, then more were friended. Then there was a forum that we found to re-connect and become involved in each other’s lives again. It was great. As my trip started to come to life, my lovely family stood behind me and offered their support. A group of us met today and even though many (many) years had passed; it was actually like no time had passed. We hugged and kissed and laughed and talked about everything. It was purely magical.

I realized on the way home, talking with Mike, that bonds that strong do not just simply go away. They continue, maybe dustier than before, but they stay strong. I have many friends from a past job that I have also kept in contact with and when we meet it is the same…like we still see each other every day.

Growing up, I loved and adored my older sister (I still do by the way). She was ten years older than me and she made the decision to go into the Air Force when she turned 17 (almost 18). She left home when I was young. She traveled the world and lived several places abroad. Her life was the life I lived vicariously through. I could never have done the things she did and her strength inspired me to believe I could take my trip now. The point is we have not seen each other a lot over the years, but yet when we talk or email (sometimes that is all we have time for), it is like we have never been apart. That is amazing to me the bonds humans have.

Today, I realize just how blessed I am to have family and friends who truly care about me and whom I care for in return. Time passes, but those bonds do not pass. Today we have unique opportunities for reconnecting and I now realize the value that those opportunities hold.   As my trip progresses, I want to keep in touch with my loved ones as I realize this trip is not just a solo journey as I originally thought, but a journey involving many more people than I ever imagined; some I have known all my life and some I have yet to meet. I get it now; I used to think if you did not see someone that they were out of your life. I could not have been more wrong. Minor pauses, if you will, are all the time apart is. Today I vow to turn off the pause button in my life and really start re-connecting with loved ones, friends, myself and God.

Thank you for listening!

Changing One’s Spots – Is it Possible to Learn to Enjoy the Journey?

This is not my photograph, I am respectfully using it for my blog.

This is not my photograph, I am respectfully using it for my blog.

When I talk to friends and strangers (who are really just new friends) about my upcoming trip, I hear a lot of the same comments:

  • “I cannot imagine just being able to do what I want?”
  • “How nice it will be to make your own schedule.”
  • “All that free time, what are you going to do with it?”

And so on…As I talk about this trip with people you can see them drift into their own imaginary world of “What if”. What if I did not have to go to my job anymore? What if could travel to wherever I wanted? What if the constraints of everyday life were gone or, at least, altered?

Many people say they envy me or are jealous of me for making this trip. Many others wish they could come with me. I understand completely what they are saying. I am blessed to be able to do this trip, but I have a confession to make. I do not know how to live this new life. I am as full of wonder as they are.

Like most everyone I know, I have worked most of my life, sometimes two jobs at one time. I have spent most of my life at the whim of other people’s schedules and deadlines. Heck, I have only taken a handful of vacations in my 53 years. I am not a world traveler; I have barely left the county I live in for several years.

One of the main purposes of this trip for me is to learn enjoy life and live in the present. I truly have no clue how to do that. I realize that I never watch sunsets or really stop and smell the flowers as I am always on my way to someplace else. Whatever I am doing right now does not matter because my mind is however many steps ahead, thinking about the next project to complete. Checking of tasks on my To-Do List has always been my goal, not enjoying the journey.

Enjoy the journey. What does that even mean? It always just seemed like one of those things you say that has no real meaning, just hollow words meant to make someone feel better. Then one day I decided to take my own advice and learn to enjoy the journey. I do not think it comes that easy to most of us who are used to dealing with daily responsibilities. It has to be a learned behavior, like walking and talking.

I am not naïve enough to think that this trip is going to be all kittens and rainbows. There is going to be stress to deal with, things are going to go wrong because they always do, money is going to be tight and I will still be worrying about what is happening on the home front. I may not be clocking into a specific workplace, but I plan to work on this trip. I need to work on changing my entire thought process, change my entire life. That, my friends, sounds like work to me.

I am scheduled to leave on my trip in seven days. In the meantime, I am still working, getting my things together for the trip, preparing the house and taking care of some things that have to be done before I leave. In other words, I am not in “Enjoy the Journey” mode yet. I am still in “Get it all Done at Any Cost” Mode.

I hope I can do this trip justice. I am banking on it for so many realizations that I need to have in my life. I want this to be a Spiritual journey, a journey into living with and on less, a journey of helping others, and all around general learning how to live a more gracious life. I hope I can live up to the goals I have set for myself without making the goals the destination. I hope I can actually learn to enjoy the journey, enjoy the day, and be honestly present for once in my life. Like I said before, I have no idea how to do this but I have to give it a try!

Great Hamburger Alert!! Tallmadge, Ohio

An Epic Journey

Part of my Epic Journey is to find great hamburgers at great local places.  Found one today, right here at home!!

I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post.  Looks really good by the way! I did not create this hamburger image but I am respectfully using it for my post. Looks really good by the way!

Just traveling through Tallmadge, Ohio today and Stopped at Sammie’s Bar and Grill (see link below to their website).  Great place!!  The setting is lovely, quiet and inviting.  The burger was cooked to perfection and way more than I could eat (and I got the smaller sized one).  Great french fries too!!  Mike had the Cod and he said it was awesome!!  Mike, our server, was the best and gave us good advice about the menu!!  Overall, I would recommend Sammie’s to anyone looking for a really good meal!!

Sammies Bar and Grill

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