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Greetings From Florida

  

Honestly I’ve never been a big fan of Florida. Seems every time I ever visited I would have asthma symptoms or get a really bad sinus infection. I have avoided Florida for those reasons.
  
I’m actually in Florida now. Doing my laundry at the hotel I am staying at. I’m sitting by the ornate pool listening to fountains all around. With a temperature in the 70s and the sun shining. I am thinking what’s not to love?

  
Everyone I have encountered has been delightful and everyone seems to be smiling. I’m sure it is a little different come the dog days of summer but for this day in mid December it is perfection.

  
I’m visiting my sister and brother in law. The lifestyle is so completely different from that of up north. Casual seems to be the word of the day…everyday. I feel like this is a perfect place to write; fresh air, gentle breezes, warm sun. I get it Mr. Hemingway, I get it.  

  
 I always figured that since I am not a swimmer and or adventurer that an outdoor climate just was not for me. Heck I do not even own a pair of shorts nor have I ever. Flip flops…don’t own a pair. But I feel a creative muse here.  

  
I was an ocean snob thinking that the Pacific Ocean was the only one to live be. I berated the Atlantic Ocean saying that it was not as pretty. I went to the beach the other day and it was beautiful. The sun was shining bright and the ocean breeze felt like a cold drink of water on a warm day.

Never had I even considered a beach lifestyle. But the last few winters up north have fouled my taste for cold and snow. I do not miss obsessing about weather reports that seemed to change by the minute. Tired I am of driving on snow and ice and praying I don’t go into a ditch. No more fretting about heating bills and freezing pipes.

I think I used winter wear to be somewhat invisible.  Being in a warm climate makes you somewhat vulnerable and I don’t like to feel that way.  But the sun actually feels good on my skin.  What a surprise.

I do not know if I will find myself here on a more permanent basis. There seem to be jobs and cheap places to live. I know the summers would kill me. I guess the way things are going in my life anything is possible. The art of discovery is starting to intrigue me. I need to throw away old theories and misconceptions and see things in a new light. Here is to finally opening my eyes and seeing things around me.

Lessons Learned on a Bus

greyhoundThis week I decided that I needed to visit my sister in Florida. I also thought it would be a grand idea to take a Greyhound so that I could experience that, for the first time, and write about it.  I looked at the ticket and saw that it was going to take 30 hours but that did not phase me.  I blew that fact off and pressed purchase.

So Monday morning Mike took me to the bus station. I was perplexed to find out it did not look like any bus station I had seen in the movies or on TV.  It was basically a one-room building with a few chairs and some lockers.  Okay I thought this is still an experience.

When the bus arrived, everyone literally ran out of the building. I immediately started to worry that I was going to have to sit in the bus equivalent of the middle seat all the way to Florida.  But luckily I found a seat and no one sat next to me all the way to our third stop (still in North Carolina).  We had to depart the bus as it was time to clean the bus.  I stood outside and wished I could be on the road and not standing in a parking lot next to a construction rental store.

A man approached me and started talking about Jesus. He was very nice but I was a little afraid of who I was going to meet on the bus (we have all heard the stories, right?).  He kept talking and touching my arm.  He told me that he served 23 years in prison and that he was so happy to have found Jesus.   He was worried that I had not eaten or had anything to drink.  He was very kind and any misconceptions I may have had were dispelled.  Then we parted ways.

I met a very large Cuban man at one of the 5-hour layovers. He was worried that I was getting cold outside when he told me there was a sitting room inside.  He then kept an eye on me the rest of the trip.  I also sat next to a tattooed young man on the way to Orlando who was the most polite young man.

I know that one must be cautious in this day and age. Bad things can happen and I am fairly shut-off to new people, especially when I am by myself but I learned an important lesson on this bus trip.  (1) Always read the schedule – a couple of 5-hour layovers can be grueling, (2) You cannot judge a book by its cover and (3) Most Greyhound stops are convenience stores attached to gas stations.  There are good people out there and I actually felt safe the entire time I was on the bus or at the terminals.

I cannot honestly say that I enjoyed the 30-hour bus ride, but it was not horrible. The overnight layover was a little hard.  It was an interesting trip and I am glad I did it.  I am flying, however, back to North Carolina.

Here’s to not judging people due to fear and the unknown and here’s to riding the bus.

Fresh Brewed Unsweetened Iced Tea with Extra Ice

iced tea

In the past, I have been very specific about certain things in my life. Iced tea is one of those things. I would only go to certain restaurants to get it because I knew who used powdered tea and who fresh brewed their tea. Getting a sweet tea by mistake would just about ruin my day. I always figured I know what I like and that is that.

Times they are a changing. I no longer have the luxury of having that mindset. I used to wear two or three outfits a day, now I wear one outfit for two or three days (as long as it stays clean). I used to have a pantry full of food, much of which I would never get around to eating. I would only have organic Half and Half in my coffee. My bathroom was full of bottles of scrubs, astringents, lotions and many other concoctions that I felt I absolutely needed to have. I never realized how wasteful I was.

Once you decide to downsize, you have to start rethinking everything; what is really important, what would be nice (if you had the room), and what is completely ridiculous to carry. I wanted to have just what I could carry in Devi (my Mitsubishi Endeavor). So I got rid of most of my stuff and packed up Devi and found that I still had too much stuff. Now I am in the midst of downsizing yet some more.

The point for me is that I always thought I had all this stuff that I could not live without and I had to live in a non-bending, specific way. I have learned one bar of soap washes my hair and face as well as my body; I no longer need soaps for different body parts. Three shirts and two pair of pants can make complete outfits for over a week. There is no room in the car for junk food (that is a fairly new rule and I do not always live by it…but I am trying) and so on.

I have a little respite today, so I am going to try to consolidate and get rid of a few more things. I will consider what is important or has some sentimental value and what is unnecessary. I will probably look back sometime today and wonder how I ever got by with my old way of thinking. I am embracing this new lighter lifestyle as it just seems more organic. Please do not get me wrong, I have a long way to go but, at least, I am on a path-not sure if it is the right path but it is a path. Learning to live with less and without a lot of extra conveniences is a process and I am assuming it is one that is learned over a long period of time.

For today, I will forego a few more of those “things” I thought I had to have and learn to embrace it. If I am out and about today, I may stop at Mickey D’s and get a fresh brewed, unsweetened iced tea with extra ice (a girl cannot give up everything)! Here’s to living with less and loving it!!

 

 

How to Find a Host Family for a Farm or Home Stay

Helping Others

 

Lately, I have been talking about the Farm or Home Stays I have been participating in. I have been asked how one finds people who need HelpXers (as we are called). It is easy, through an online site called Help Exchange (or HelpX for short). The following blurb is straight from the Help Exchange Website and describes the theory behind the program much better than I ever could.

 “Welcome to Help Exchange (HelpX)

HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.”

 “HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts.”

The only difference is that I have decided to stay within the United States (I cannot even imagine the mess I would be if I was traveling abroad). If I was interested in traveling overseas, that would be an option. There are all kinds of working opportunities as well as locations. Some places need experienced help and others are willing to teach, train and coach you to learn a new skill.

The program is amazing as are the people who participate as Hosts. They are awesome and generous. This is a great program for young people to learn about different cultures and learn all kinds of skills, but it is turning into an option for more experienced (dare I say older) people who want to get off the corporate treadmill and start living an alternative lifestyle. I have run into more and more “older” couples who want to ditch the mortgage and the stuff and hit the road.

HelpX is a great way to give back and pay forward. It opens doors to let the participants help each other as well as people who are in need of assistance. I want my life to start being about others instead of always being about me (if you have read past posts, it really is all about me).

So what have I learned so far from my HelpX experience: (1) How to lay field stone and gravel to make a mud-free walkway, (2) How to make better a better food product by using sustainable and organic means, (3) How to paint a porch, (4) Goats are really fun to take care of, (5) How to make coffee with a French Press, (6) The more you move the better you feel, (7) After all these years, I am still allergic to hay, (8) Some outside people do not understand the concept and are not trusting of your motives and so much more. This journey has just begun, so I am looking forward to what other lessons I will be learning. Here’s to a wild ride!!

The Weird Alternate Universe That is The Laundromat

laundromat no 2

I love going to the laundromat; it is like “me” time when it is not busy. Now when the laundromat is busy, it is a different story. A few weeks ago, I found the Hilton (or, at least, the high-end Holiday Inn) of laundromats.   It was a Saturday night, when I suppose other people actually have places to be, and I was able to do my laundry without much fanfare. I was able to read a book guilt-free; I mean what else are you going to do? The experience was truly relaxing and nothing out of the ordinary.

I went to the same laundromat a week later and it was a completely different story. The “mat” was full of people with LOTS of laundry. One couple was using eight double-capacity dryers….how many clothes is that? I cannot even imagine folding and putting all those clothes away. I can do all my clothes in a single load which is one advantage of living with less!!

So I made a beeline to the back of the mat by the dryers where no one else wanted to sit. It was too loud to read, so I have to come up with something else to do to take up the time. The day was grey and rainy, which made the overhead fluorescent lights seemed extra bright while the spinning ceiling fans made an eerie strobe light effect on the shocking light.

I became hypnotized by the circular hum of the dryers as the clothes crashed against each other like waves in the ocean. I have never seen a washer that was front loading, so I was completely enthralled with actually being able to watch my clothes being washed; going round in circles watching them spin, then fill with soapy water, and spin again. The surrounding sounds of voices turned to a dull murmur.

My world right now is definitely in flux. Moving from place to place and relying on the kindness of people I do not really know at first. Sleeping in guest rooms, sharing bathrooms, and living out of a tote are some of the things that are new to me. Yes, it is what I wanted but I never thought about all of the realities. It is all good, I am getting used to it but I realized that the little laundromat I visited felt like home. Most laundromats have the same industrial look to them and smell like dryer sheets and fabric softener. It was truly comforting. I actually looked for excuses to go back.

My newest realization is that no matter how adamant you are about leaving your past behind, you still inwardly long for those small vestiges of comfort or reminders of a different time. For me, right now, it is the laundromat that gives me a sense of home and roots. I know that sounds really strange but it is my truth for now. Here’s to clean clothes, the fresh smell of clean laundry and the feeling of home!!

laundromat

Thank you for listening.

The Road So Far – Lessons Learned

The Road So Far

I do not own this image, but I am respectfully using it in my blog and it is a homage to my favorite show ever, Supernatural!!

 

It has almost been one month since I left the only home I have known most of my life and with very few belongings. A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I have actually learned a lot about me and about life. Here are some of the lessons that have hit home:

 

  • Plans NEVER go the way you think they will: I cannot tell you how many plans I have made only to have them change a few times into something completely different. I am learning the hard lesson of going with the flow. This is hard for me but it is a lesson that must be learned in order to cancel out all the chaos all around.
  • Strangers are amazing: I am still amazed that complete strangers will take me into their home and give me shelter and food in exchange for some work. It is so easy to live in a bubble, just seeing your own life and not venturing out much. That is how I lived my life; consumed by my problems with a very small worldview. My Hosts are bigger view people and it is helping me to see that way too.
  • Even if you get rid of most of your stuff, it is still too much stuff: I seriously downsized. I cannot believe how much stuff I got rid of and, guess what, I still have too much stuff. As you start to live a life without things, you realize how little you need to actually live. Of course, I am lucky enough to enjoy the things our Hosts have, but having lived on the road for a few weeks prior to all this showed me that I can still live good and not have a lot. It is not about living without, but about truly living with what you have.
  • Being old and living on the road is not for the weak: I have spent most of my life working behind a desk and not really exercising or moving much. Now my life consists of movement and activity. It is hard on this old woman!!! Some days I think actual work is easier than this lifestyle. Even though I am still kind of weak, I am getting stronger by the day and thinner (yippee).
  • There are days when you just plain miss a fluffy bed: Having slept in the car (front and back seat), in a tent on an air mattress, on a thin mattress in a cabin and a futon. This goes along with the previous lesson, getting old is hard but you adapt and it all works out. It is still better than sleeping on the ground which I cannot ever imagine doing anyway!!
  • You cannot go anywhere or get anything done in five minutes: the next time someone says I will be there in five minutes, expect it to be at least 20. I guess there are a few things that can get done in that time frame, but for the most part life is messier and takes longer to clean up after.
  • Buy local and meet the locals: The local people of any place are the gems of the area. I have learned to go to hometown hardware stores, fruit markets, diners and more. The local people love to tell their stories and it is a slice of Americana that we must preserve. Local businesses are the backbone of this country and need support!!

 

That is all I can think of for now. I am sure more will come to me as this crazy journey continues. In the meantime, I absolutely need to tell you about a new friend: Luke P. As I was running errands today in the rain, I saw a man walking with a broken umbrella. Since my journey started, I look at people’s situations differently and clearer. I ran and got a new umbrella and new gloves. NOTE: I am not telling you this because I am such a great person, but because what happens in a minute.

 

I stopped and gave Luke the umbrella and asked where he was going. To a town less than an hour away he told me, so we decided that it would be better to drive there in the rain than walk. On the way, I found out all the things Luke has done: walked around the country, rode his bike in snowstorm in Colorado, took culinary classes and now he is a cook at a men’s shelter. He was a respectful and courteous young man and quite the inspiration. He loves helping people and seeing new things. His worldview was amazing to me and getting to speak with him for even a short time inspired me to be a better person (which is what my sojourn is all about). I am so glad I got to meet Luke and hear his unique story. The more I travel and meet travelers, the more I grow as a person. The stories I am hearing are changing my life. Everyone told me that travel would change me, I never realized how much travelers were going to change me. What a wonderful lesson learned!!

“I’ll Be Back”

I do not own this image, but I am respectfully using it in my blog.

I do not own this image, but I am respectfully using it in my blog.

I am sorry that I have not written anything lately, I have been depressed.  I have been trying to come up with something to write about but neither the ideas nor the words seem to be coming.  I feel as if I have lost my voice.  There are so many game-changing things going on in my life right now that I can barely move.  I cannot seem to get my head in the game lately.

In reality, I think I was trying to use my trip to runaway from those inevitable things I knew where headed my way.  I felt like Sarah Connor in the first “Terminator” movie.  You know the scene at the end where she is sitting in her Jeep and sees the storm coming.  She knows there is no way to avoid it; that was me.  I saw the storm coming, but I tried to run away from it.  Unfortunately, that never really works out like one would hope.

Life is a funny thing, staying stagnant is a terrifying thing but change is also a terrifying thing.  There seems to be no in between. I want to just run to my bed, throw the covers over my head and avoid it all, but life requires my presence.   So instead of whining like a little girl, I am going to maintain “radio silence”.  Hopefully the storm clouds will pass soon and I can start to write about all that has happened and what I have learned from it.

I know a lot of people who are depressed right now, please do me a favor.  Find someone sympathetic to talk with like a doctor.  Take depression seriously and seek assistance.  There are a lot of resources out there, please do not suffer alone in silence.  It is not a weakness to ask for help, it shows your strength!!  Good luck and God bless!!

Pictures with TEXT for Lemon Cove to Seligman on ROUTE 66….Hope you like!

Edited to have pics match the text! hope you enjoy.

An Epic Journey

Route 66..cannot believe I am here! Route 66..cannot believe I am here!

Day 10 – Lemon Cove, California to Seligman, Arizona (on Historic Route 66)

Well, we made it out of California.  My driving style, if you can call it that, does NOT work in California.  I drive much too slow and much to cautiously.  That ended up causing several problems with the locals.  So, needless to say, I am thrilled to be in a more rural locale.

All day, we have been bopping on and off Route 66.  We wanted to make some time, so it only made sense to stop off once in a while and see it.  All the reading I did on Route 66 said that there were places along the way in disrepair.  I am sorry to report that those reports are true.  I know there are historic groups working to revitalize the route and I hope they are able to.  It…

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Doing Laundry Now – Thought I Would Post Some Pictures

An Epic Journey

At the Clinton, OK Route 66 Museum (in my Rock Hall T-shirt) At the Clinton, OK Route 66 Museum (in my Rock Hall T-shirt)

At the museum.  Really worth seeing the next time you are in Clinton, Oklahoma. At the museum. Really worth seeing the next time you are in Clinton, Oklahoma.

Picture of the road being built.  It had to be a brutal job.  I am not sure how they did it. Picture of the road being built. It had to be a brutal job. I am not sure how they did it.

Mike by an old gas pump.  The artifacts are in pristine condition. Mike by an old gas pump. The artifacts are in pristine condition.

One of my favorite parts of Route 66 -- The FOOD served in Diners!!  Yummy! One of my favorite parts of Route 66 — The FOOD served in Diners!! Yummy!

A far away shot of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. A far away shot of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

IMG_5837 At Tinker Air Force Base outside of Oklahoma City.

Great town for great hamburgers...more on that later! Great town for great hamburgers…more on that later!

Welcome to Arkansas! Welcome to Arkansas!

This sight is native to this area--we are in Walmart Country.  Not near Bentonville, but close enough. This sight is native to this area–we are in Walmart Country. Not near Bentonville, but close enough.

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Day 14 – North Little Rock, Arkansas to Whittier, North Carolina

An Epic Journey

Today was yet another mixed bag of emotions.  I started the day fairly optimistic, ran it down hill with a mixture of homesickness and general sadness, then finished strong with lots of laughter and great conversation.

My gosh, today I even got sick of my whining.  I felt like Goldilocks: it’s too hot, I’m hungry, why can’t I sleep….oh my gosh, what is wrong with me?  I have always been a little whiny at times but this trip has really brought out my inner whiner.  What is the deal with being homesick? I started this trip with the intent of not really going back “there.”  Now all I want is to go back “there.”  I am one messed up chick.

I guess on the road you miss the normalcy of life, even if those normal activities were what was driving you crazy.  On the road everything is new and not…

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