I am finding that since I started thinking about traveling, am reading about traveling and have been on the road, my worldview has expanded. The world seems different to me now. It is a much bigger place then it was before. It scares me and invigorates me at the same time. They say travel changes you and they are right.
Month: August 2015
Reprint of an Old Article of Mine — The Indoor Girls to Being Outside
~~ Many years ago, I used to write for Associated Content. I wrote all kinds of different articles. I came across this one, which kind of fits with my journey/sojourn theme. I thought I would reprint it. It actually has some good advice considering I never did become that outdoorsy person I spoke about. There is still time, right????
You may be asking what exactly an indoor girl is. Let me take a moment to explain my verbiage. I am the type of person who prefers climate-controlled environments, indirect sunlight, comfortable surroundings, and a chilled glass of fresh-brewed iced tea. I hate bugs, do not walk barefoot in the grass and I really, really do not like to sweat. I know I sound like a prima-donna, but really all I am is a wimp with outdoor allergies.
After all the years of purposely not going outside in the summer unless absolutely necessary, I have become soft and extremely out of shape. This month is Great Outdoors Month and I plan to start a new habit, hobby and health regimen all in one step. I am going to start hiking or, at the very least, walking trails in a park – which to me is hiking at this point. I am blessed with several wonderful state and local park systems to use (for FREE) to start my new adventure. If you are thinking of doing the same, I put together a list of things that might help you get outside too.
I have seen way too many crime shows on television where the lone jogger gets killed in the park. That is why I never jog, it is just too dangerous. Seriously, I plan to always take a friend with me. Maybe once I am secure in what I am doing and where I am going, I can go alone. It is probably a good idea to also tell someone where and when you are going. I sure sound paranoid, but it is always better to be safe than sorry!!
Shoes are very important and I don’t mean Prada pumps. A decent pair of hiking boots, and a good, thick pair of socks can go a long way to keep your feet for hurting. A little higher boot will also help protect your ankles from getting twisted if you accidentally step on something the wrong way. If you are not used to wearing boots like that, it may take a while for you to break them in. Wear them for short periods of time before your big hiking expedition. Once you get used to them though, you will appreciate the support and protection they provide.
A breathable hat is another item you may want to purchase. A hat with a wide brim will protect the top of your head from getting sunburned (which really does hurt by the way) and also protects your ears, face and hair from the damaging rays of the sun. I put my hair up in my hat and it helps keep pesky gnats away. Speaking of sun, you will need sunblock for any exposed skin. I am not an expert on SPF or what skin types need what, but that information is readily available on the internet or you can ask your pharmacist. Take the heeds seriously about skin cancer and the dangers of over-exposure to the sun.
I have always had a low body self-image, therefore, I do not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts. I am working on that, but you would be better off not taking advice from me on what to wear outside. If I had my way, I would have on a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved flannel. Try advice from an outdoorsy friend on what is the most comfortable. If the weather is hot, be sure to wear something that breathes and absorbs sweat to keep you cooler.
No matter how long you plan to hike, it helps to take a few things in a sturdy backpack. If you have any allergies or breathing issues, be sure to always take your medicine. The last thing you want to do is get out in the woods and find you do not have your rescue inhaler or other medicines. Obviously, if you are allergic to stings, be sure to take your Epi-pen. Just knowing you have the precautionary items you may need can go a long way to easing your mind and allowing you to have fun.
This may be over-kill, but I take along a small first-aid kit in my backpack. It contains bandages, antiseptic cleaners, a Benadryl Itch Relief Stick (for bug bites), burn gel in case of sunburn, miscellaneous gauze pads, medical tape, a pair of tweezers (for slivers or thorns), antibiotic ointment, and tissues (which can be used for any number of emergencies). You can add or subtract from this list as you see fit. I get all my first aid supplies at http://www.firstaidonly.com, but you can just go to your local drugstore and get what you need.
The next items to throw in your backpack are water and snacks. Remember you have to stay hydrated when you are outside, especially in the heat. Take a couple of bottles of water with you. If you do not like the taste of water alone, you can buy take-along flavor additives. Gatorade, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid are just some of the companies out there who make these wonderful, easy-to-carry packets of drink mix that are perfect for a single water bottle. Granola bars, whole wheat crackers, dried fruit, trail mix are all good ideas of snacks to take with you. Especially in the beginning, it may not take long to tire you out and you will want to have some energy foods. Chocolate and sweets are not the best way to go in this situation, as the energy burst is not sustained. That is why whole grains are a good choice, their energy lasts. You are hiking to feel better, right? Might as well eat healthy snacks too.
Another item I pack in my backpack is a small, personal fan that runs on batteries. I know, I am such a baby. I tend to get over-heated very easily. Taking a short break, drinking some water and cooling my face have extended the amount of time I can be outside. Let’s face it, if you are used to sitting in air conditioning, hiking in the sun is going to take its toll at first. Be a little easy on yourself in the beginning and take those items with you that can create a bit of comfort. You can also buy neck wraps which you cool overnight in the freezer; they stay cool all day and help dissipate heat which helps keep heat stroke at bay. They are reusable also and may be a good investment for your hiking arsenal.
Don’t forget your cell phone in case of emergencies or to take pictures of the beautiful scenery you will be experiencing. A lightweight flashlight is a good idea. Lastly, you will need to take an open mind. Being outside in nature can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get used to the song birds singing, the humming of wings flapping in the wind, the smell of flowers, the cool breeze that comes just when you need it most, and the unbelievable peace you can experience outdoors it will all be worth it. Plus, you just may feel better!! Happy Hiking!!
My New Personal Motto
California: Harsh Yet Beautiful
I had mixed feelings about California. The Pacific Coast was stunning, the traffic was horrible, the drought was (and still is) devastating and the scenery was amazing. The California that I remembered from my youth was not the California I saw on this trip. But nothing stays the same, everything changes. Plus memories tend to soften over time. I was surprised at California, but I enjoyed my time there also. It was sad, beautiful and a wonder all in one.
Post shout out: I pray for all the brave men and women who are fighting the fires in the West (not just California). We did not see a fire, but drove through the smoke created by one and it was amazingly thick and made it hard to breathe. I cannot imagine fighting one of these fires up close. I pray for the safety and that this drought might end soon.
Dubuque, Iowa – My First Attempt at Car Camping
A large part of my Epic Journey was to do the trip spending as little money as possible, learning to live with less and going without a lot of extra comforts. Car camping seemed to be my best solution as I am not much of a tent camper. My first attempt at camping, many years ago, did not go well and I ended up sleeping in the car rather than a tent, so I naturally figured I could drive across country sleeping in my car.
It was an interesting concept, although not very well thought through. But Devi was my home during this trip and I did sleep in her several times. The original concept was to have an air mattress in the back and sleep on that, but I ended up bringing too much stuff and could not do that. In Dubuque, I slept in the front seat and that proved rather crampy. After that I would clean out the back seat and sleep there. That worked a little better.
In future adventures, I will have to re-think the entire car camping process and come up with a little bit better way to do it. I still feel it is a viable way to camp, it is a lot less expensive than motel/hotels but to just think you can curl up and go to sleep in your car every night, without a plan, is not very smart (no one ever said I was smart when it came to camping).
During the first night of car camping, I stayed in the Dubuque, Iowa, City Park. It was actually a lovely site right by a river. I watched barges go up and down the river and heard the strangely comforting sounds of trains passing by in the distance. The cost was perfect at $12.00 per night and I felt completely safe there. I would definitely stay there again as it was a truly lovely location.
Cedar Rock-The Walter Estate-A Frank Lloyd Wright Home-Independence, Iowa
I blame my Humanities instructor at Lakeland Community College for my love of Frank Lloyd Wright. Before taking that class, I had no idea who the man was or what he had done with his life. Then came the assignment to visit Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania and it all changed. I became a fan of the man and his architectural style immediately. Whenever possible, I try to see one of his beautiful homes when I happen upon one.
Many, many years ago, Mike was working in Phoenix for an extended amount of time and I went to visit him for the weekend. We decided to visit Wright’s winter home and school, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale. But, alas, we got there too late and it was closed. I never did get to see it.
As I was driving west recently, on my Epic Journey, I saw a sign for Cedar Rock, The Walter Estate in Independence, Iowa. I was thrilled and got off of Route 20 to make the short trek to the home. This was a Monday and guess what? The estate was closed on Monday. I never got to see it. Maybe another time.
So I took a few photographs of what I could see and I thought I would share them. I do not really have much luck when it comes to visiting the Wright homes but I am going to continue to try. I hope to add more to my list than just Fallingwater. But I guess if that is the only one I ever get to see, it will be enough.
Live Simply – Live Elegantly – Live Truthfully
Living simply….is that even possible in today’s complicated world? I think so, but it takes a lot of work and forethought. Part of my Epic Journey includes downsizing and learning to live simply. We are in the process of trying to get out from under our house payment and find something smaller. Like so many people we know, Mike and I have spent years working for the house, the stuff in the house and other stuff in general. We have worked for years for stuff that, as of right now, we can barely give away.
The things that were important even a few years ago, do not seem important at all now. We both want to work less, create more, give back and pay forward, enjoy life a bit and live with a lot less. As I am cleaning out, so much of the “stuff” is dust laden because it has not been used in a very long time, if ever. I am sad for all the money spent on those things, it could have been put to much better use than it was.
I have just about six weeks to clear out 50 years worth of stuff and downsize to a manageable level. I am finding the task rather daunting. Until the next trip, this will be my life. I am not sure if anyone is interested in an ex-shopaholic (I had serious shopping issues for a long time) turning into live-with-less girl. I do not feel my story is anything spectacular but I do feel that so many people are wanting to live more organically and do not really know how. I am hoping to learn some life lessons in the next six weeks. I plan to share what I have learned and I hope you find it interesting.
The whole travel thing balances on the new simple living life. I cannot travel with a lot of stuff, I have to downsize in order to live out of my car and a tent (most of the time). The two ideals go hand in hand. I am so looking forward to having a life that is authentic, organic and simple. I guess my first step is to define those terms for myself as well as come to terms with money. For me, I have always had a love/hate relationship with money, now is the time to get realistic about it. You cannot live without it, but I certainly do not want to pursue it at any cost any longer.
The next six weeks should be interesting and I hope you continue to check in. Thank you for listening!!
One Night in Moolack — Newport, Oregon
Decidedly, one of the most important parts of my Epic Journey was seeing the Pacific Ocean. The night before we (Mike was with me by this time) got to Newport, Oregon, we had car camped in a Walmart parking lot and that experience was not the most positive of experiences. The next day’s drive to Newport seemed to take forever, but we eventually got there.
The weather that day was fairly inhospitable as it was very cold, overcast, windy and on-and-off raining. We decided that we would get a room for the night rather than try to stay warm and dry in our tent. We passed a small motel that stood by itself, not near any others, and we thought we would try it. We told ourselves that if it was over a specific nightly room rate that we would move on as we tried to stay frugal in our efforts. The rate fit with our parameters and we checked in.
Little did we know we were going to fall in love with the Moolack Shores Motel and with the owners, Frank and Yvette. The small lobby had newspaper clippings of Frank, Yvette and friends saving a sea turtle that was hurt and landed on their beach. They called friends and got the turtle the help and rehab it needed and it was eventually re-released into the wild. Yvette had other stories too about seals and other sea life they had saved. She explained that the reason they loved this place so much was because of their love for all things nature. Keeping the place going was truly a labor of love.
As we went to our room, Frank was outside assisting the cleaning crew by washing windows, taking out garbage and just about whatever else needed to be done. The attention to detail, in everything, was apparent everywhere you looked; from the homemade treats Yvette makes for all the guests to the individual porches with each room so that you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Each room has a theme and we were lucky enough to get the Nostalgia Room. It was full of old movie posters, pictures of stars, antiques and was really welcoming. The room had a fireplace and a claw-footed tub. After several days of tent camping and car camping, the bed looked like a dream come true.
We got settled in and decided to walk down to their private beach. It was simply breathtaking. Of course, the weather was not cooperating, but it did not matter. The beauty of the ocean could be seen no matter what the circumstances. We walked the beach without much contact with other people, the solitude was lovely. The time spent at Moolack was truly special as it encompassed several things; seeing the ocean, enjoying the beach and sleeping in a real bed. We were able to relax, stretch out and enjoy the stunning views at a place we felt really good about being at. One night in Moolack, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Rolling Down Route 66
I thought it would be fun to do a collection of Route 66 photographs. I loved driving on Route 66. It was full of history and fortitude. As I stated in an earlier post, I felt bad, at first, that there were so many deserted buildings and businesses around Route 66. Then I realized that there were still quite a few open businesses and that there seems to be restored interest in the historic route. I hope that the route can recover and that businesses can once again thrive. It is a piece of history that America cannot afford to lose.
Unfortunately, I drove right by the Cadillac Ranch without stopping. I came up on my so fast, I drove right by it. There were a few other sights I wanted to see but I drove right by. Sorry about that. Hope you do like the few photographs I actually did get. I hope to be taking the rest of Route 66 on another trip.
The Past is Just that….Past and Gone Forever
This post will have very little to do with travel, but still fits with my quest to find myself. I found a small piece of me last night in a most unexpected place, my own hometown. The only traveling involved a short trip to the local pub, but the significance of it encompasses a much longer trip, a trip that took 35 years to make.
I started life as a fresh-faced, sweet little girl who just wanted everyone to like her. I grew up in a small town where everyone knew each other and I was friends with many of my neighbors and classmates. Then, as life does, I was thrown a few curve balls that started me on a road that lead to bitterness and anger. By the time I was a teenager, I had fallen away from many of my childhood friends and had taken up with some older, more “experienced” people. I did many things that I regret to this day, said many hurtful things and ended up in situations that were life-changing, and not for the better.
I ended up dropping out of high school and pursued the wrong path for many years after that. My shame and embarrassment, I realize now, are what kept me from ever venturing out and trying new things. Firstly, I figured I would just screw it up anyway, like I did so many things. Secondly, I felt that I was undeserving of any good in my life. My view of myself was extremely dim. I tried to cover it with all kinds of band-aids, but nothing lasted and nothing changed my outlook.
As I got older, I put undue stress on myself because if I did not I was afraid I would slip back into the slacker I had been as a teenager. I was constantly under stress, of my own doing, and always unhappy and depressed. Again, life became about covering up the true feelings and trying to put on the perfect persona so that “everyone” (whomever that really is) could see how changed I was.
Then I turned 40, I was still confused about myself and my worth but I became very tired. Tired of over 20 years of trying to make up for things I had done in my teens. Tired of beating myself up every single day and tired of being the person I was. I started on a new path that held some forgiveness, it was a start. I started to accept who I really was, not who I pretended to be. I started to like myself for the first time since I was that fresh-faced little girl. The transition was not easy and I am still working on it, obviously because that is a big part of my Epic Journey; finding me.
For years I avoided seeing most people I knew in high school and definitely avoided any type of reunion. I just did not have it in me to take all the rejection that I expected to get from one of those hellish events. I would talk myself into going, then back out at the last moment. I could not rationalize why any of those people would care about me anyway. So I stayed away and inside my personal fortress of shame.
Then my Epic Journey started to take formation. As the trip twisted and turned and new ideas were put into place, I started to hear from some of my high school classmates on social media. Their words were not of disgust or anger with me, but words of encouragement and motivation. This coming from people I had not heard from in just about 35 years, they were behind me. I was blow away.
So last night, I planned to see just a few of the people I went to school with at a local pub. Nothing big, no official reunion, just some old (not age old) friends meeting to catch up. I sat at the bar completely ready to lose it with fear and trepidation waiting for…well, I have no idea what I was waiting to happen. What I got instead of negativity were hugs, kisses, laughs, encouragement, sweet and loving stories from the past and a washing of my soul that can only come from true acceptance.
As I am typing this now, I am crying. Crying tears of joy for all the love I felt last night. I learned a very important lesson in turn. After high school, everyone went on to live their own lives, some had children, get jobs, experienced illness and loss. Everyone went through their own dark times and came out the other side stronger. Here I had been sitting in my lonely, self-induced prison cell, wallowing in my own self-pity for decades, never realizing that my story in high school was only one chapter in a much longer book. It was one chapter for everyone, not just me. Life went on and new chapters were written.
Of course, now I am sad again for letting my unfounded fears keep me sidelined all these years. For me, though, I have always been a late bloomer and this chapter in my life may have been long in the making, but I got here eventually. Now I have a little more self-esteem, a little more spring in my step and a group of people behind me that I would never have expected to be there. I never let them in, and that is the saddest part of this story, but it is not the end of the story. I realize now that life is fuller when you can share lives with others; to hear their stories, to share their triumphs and care in the dark times. It means so much more than just seeing my life day in and day out with no relief from the self-centeredness of my own little world.
I am so thankful for the people who made last night possible, for without it a part of me would never start to heal and the fortress would have stayed up forever. It would have been my loss, and a grievous one at that. Maybe I can finally start to write a new chapter in my life that is not clouded with so much doubt and self-loathing, maybe I can finally see a new me and it is all thanks to people I knew 35 years ago who touched my life in so many ways both then and now. Thank you!
Also thank you to my husband, Mike, for pushing me and prodding me to take some chances. He is my best cheerleader and I fear where I would be without him. Thank you so very much!!