It feels great to be on the road again! I didn’t leave Alaska until Halloween, and even now there isn’t much snow. But it was already way below freezing when I left and I’m happy to be in warm sunshine again. I traveled slowly south, and finally made it back to San Carlos. I’m happy to have good internet and my phone works so I still feel connected. For Thanksgiving I heard from all three of my children, so I know they and their families are good, no worries.
As usual there have been some glitches and unexpected expenses. The house batteries weren’t holding the charge like they should, so I invested in new ones after I got to Arizona, also had an old ceiling fan refurbished, both urgently important. These expenses made the first month’s finances very tight. Fortunately I can camp cheap, so lie low and patiently wait for deposits to arrive. I love my solar panels that make me completely independent by providing all the electricity I need for daily life. I wish I could do more repairs myself, and keep trying to learn more about how everything works. I had a kind neighbor help me track down an electric glitch that kept my water heater from lighting. It has been touchy ever since I bought the rig, and have received many kinds of advice about what was wrong with it. Finally it turned out that the suspect switch was okay, it was a connection in the ignition board that was dirty, probably had been for years. Fortunately I had a can of contact cleaner and could take care of it myself. I’m delighted every time it fires up perfectly now.
I’m thrilled with my Millenicom internet, especially since it works in the U.S., Mexico, Canada and most places around the world, with one SIM card for one price. I feel the need to be connected so that I can enjoy my free life alone. In addition this program saves rollover gigs to use later. I was skeptical of their T-Mobile GSM but the company is expanding rapidly, and it covers more areas all the time. Best of all, these are very nice people with excellent customer service and I like them very much. Highly recommended. I still have AT&T prepaid on my cellphone which charges by the minute, which does work in Mexico, but I’m not a big phone talker.
My dearest friends write often, sometimes every day, and it’s great to have wonderful women to anchor my wandering life to the person I have always been. I can’t imagine living without these bonds, and hope they live forever! We share joys and pains, successes and frustrations, recipes and books and hopes and ideas. This isn’t a vacation anymore, it has become normal life. Life rules: never rush, create and savour slow food, take easy long walks with my dog Cheyenne, read good books, listen to daily podcasts for news and feature stories, watch downloaded videos, and sleep soundly in my lovely traveling home. My heart and body thrive on low stress and high contentment.
I read online journals from other travelers who post updates almost every day, with photos of everything they see and almost every meal they eat. Some are in Europe now and I’m envious, must go soon to see my grandkids in Germany. But for now I’m committed to my old lady dog and must be satisfied with vicarious adventures abroad. I’ll never post updates every day, realize that most of what I write is for my future self, but appreciate those who like to share my adventures.
It was nice to stay in the Arizona desert for a week getting adjusted to my traveling mode of life, and was in a perfect place to see the Super Moon! Nice spot for photos, lots of birds too.
Cheyenne enjoys this traveling life too, and stretches out between the bed and sofa for a comfy sleep at night –
I stayed a couple weeks at the beach in Puerto Penasco where peddlers walk the beach endlessly, trying to make some money from the tourists or even from each other, and their colorful efforts make great images. Although I rarely buy anything I tremendously admire their determined energy. Everyone works so hard, while maintaining wonderful cheerful attitudes and constant optimism. Of course while traveling anywhere one must be smart about leaving things out and be normally careful, but I do feel comfortable in Mexico.
I meet interesting people all the time… this happy couple are Mexican, but live in Phoenix. They have been married 43 years and never stop talking and laughing, having fun together and are obviously best friends. Nice to see them cozily camping on the beach next to me.
Something amazing happened to me! I took a long walk with Cheyenne to the hardware store, hoping to find some magnets to try to fix the catch on my screen door. We walked a total of 3 1\2 miles, which was good for both of us. On the way to town I passed a peddler along the street selling bracelets, smiled and told him “Quiero Nada”, I don’t want anything. We went on our way, and were gone almost an hour. On the way back I heard him shouting from across the street, “Do you remember me? I remember you!” I figured he was just trying to get my attention, but waited for him to catch up anyway. He told me that he remembered me from years ago at Melaque, near Barra de Navidad, in 1989 or the early 1990s. That’s about a thousand miles south of here. He said he never forgets a face, that he was just a young kid, and I gave him some breakfast. He knew it was me! I don’t exactly remember him, but yes, I was there – some TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO – and probably talked to young people as I always do. He said he has a great memory for faces. Now another quirky part — on this walk I had been listening to a podcast of The Hidden Brain, about people who have amazingly “super” memories for faces! Police Departments and Federal Customs are finding them to hire for special services! These are the sorts of coincidences that I really love. Unbelievable, huh? I love this story, and I must remember it! Life is so full of surprises! Unlikely blessings.
These are the views from my bed and the kitchen… Sunrises and sunsets are wonderful on this beach.. This is a great place to get fresh shrimp, and these fishing boats are out every day right offshore…
At the end of the long drive to San Carlos, I was surprised when turning down the entry road to feel like I was returning home. It’s so lovely to be back with my usual beach neighbors, in this beautiful place. I’ll put up the holiday lights, go to the big Christmas bazaar, attend Rotary meetings, maybe even ride along on a sailboat this year for the Parade of Lights. It’s so quiet and peaceful, balm for the soul.
I hope to update this journal more often, especially since there are so many wonderful images to capture and memories to hold.
late October –
I’m sharing some rambling thoughts before leaving Alaska for my next RV adventure, when I’ll update this web journal more often. I recently discovered that hosting services were dropped from Google Drive so the links to my old websites stopped working, but the data is still there. The websites are also on my computer so nothing is lost, but it isn’t public and since it’s mostly for myself anyway I won’t get it hosted again online. If anyone is interested in Romania and the Peace Corps experience I’ll be happy to provide info. Thanks to friends who followed along and supported me for all those years! I have been asked to include more stories from my decades of life in Alaska — homesteading years in the 1950s, raising children in the woods outside Fairbanks in the 70s, life back on the Kenai Peninsula in the 80s, sailing in the 90s, and perspectives about it all. Maybe I’ll do that.
Here’s the cabin in Fairbanks, photo taken when I sold it — see Pleides in the northern lights!
I have friends who are traveling abroad now, housesitting in Spain and Romania, RVing in Turkey and Morocco. I’m green with envy and my vagabond itch drives me crazy, but as long as I have a doggie companion I’ll stick to my motor home winter life and hope I stay healthy enough to wander further in years to come. The vet says Cheyenne is very healthy for an old lady dog, she’s eating, drinking, and sleeping just fine, and even walks with me a couple miles most days.
Here’s Cheyenne’s sweet face this summer, one with grandson Janek, and some of my caribou visitors who came by to enjoy my lawn.
It got down to 7 degrees earlier this week, and it’s time for me to fly south. The lake is frozen over, but maybe the ice isn’t thick enough to skate on yet.
from mid October –
I have two more weeks of what is quickly turning into winter, before I take my dog Cheyenne and head south to the motor home and into summer again. This seems like a topsy turvy life, to be able to change the seasons at will. But I’ve always liked living with weather, and this way I get at least four seasons every year, more if we count breakup. When I get tired of sunny warm southern shorts weather I can come home to Alaska where it’s still snowy through the spring. When I get enough of darkening frosty northern days in the fall, we can get on the plane again and go to warm sunny winter months. It started snowing on October 17 and melted, but snow came again and will stick. Soon we’ll head south like the birds that already left. There is a skiff of ice on the lake, soon it’ll be solid. I love this time of year, frosty at night, golden leaves on the ground, a cozy warm bed to snuggle in the dark mornings and read books on my tablet, then check the New York Times, the Washington Post, Guardian and BBC to see what’s going on in the world. After 9 a.m. the dark barely lightens the room and I get up to make coffee.
It was clear a few days ago and the moon was full. All night long it circles my bedroom and blasts through the curtainless windows onto my bed, and if I wake up to pee after midnight it’s right in my eyes. I adore the winter moonlight even more than the 23-hour daylight in the summers. Before the lake is frozen it reflects off the water and I get double. I’ve heard that other lifelong Alaskans like me also are sensitive to light and are addicted to it. Our light in the North is softer, gentler, fuzzier, kind of sideways, compared to the blazing overhead sun in the south. But this time of year we lose more than six minutes a day, so I’m already missing it.
This monlight reflection photo was actually taken while I was lying in bed, at about 6 a.m. in the morning.
My beautiful house, painted by my dear friend Jo for my birthday many years ago.
Oddly enough in the southern winters I’m up by 6 a.m. every day, puttering with coffee and downloading my daily podcasts. I’m pretty much like a chicken, getting up with the light and hunkering down in the dark. My motor home is completely powered with solar panels and the batteries get to 100% every day by about noon. I’ve heard that other RVers do fine in Alaska too, during the summers. Our sunlight isn’t strong but it’s up for long, so I’ll be interested to try it myself. I’m thinking I’ll drive my “other home” up here next spring and see for myself. Before my family arrives in June I can get out camping, and wander around Alaska after they leave in August. Maybe.
I am gradually losing friends who emailed often but have died suddenly this year. I know this is to be expected for people my age, but still it hurts and I miss them. Perhaps it hits especially hard because I am single and those friends provide stability and companionship that many get from a life partner. Cheers to the memory of my great friends who are gone, to those who are still around, and those who are still to come.
My 70th birthday! While visiting my friend Cinda, she gave me a piece of special birthday cake! Funny, but 70 doesn’t feel any different than 69, or even 55!
… and here’s my favorite photo from this summer, with my grandson (and good friend) Janek
and one more, of us when my son Peter took his fishing boat out of the water in August.