Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The year in review

One year ago today, at 5:30 AM EST, I left Island Pond. I had sold all my stuff, what I couldn’t sell, I gave away. It was down to whatever I could fit into my little motor home, me and Kali Cat. 

It was foggy, I wouldn’t have been able to see Island Pond in my rear view mirror if I had wanted to. I was sad to be leaving the place that Jake loved and the place where we had a life together, but Jake was gone, and there was nothing there for me. I tried for years to make friends and become a part of the community after Jake died, but it was a loosing battle. No matter how many hours I gave, my resources, my space and my talents, I still wasn’t included in parties, boat rides, celebrations. There was no thank you or going away party for me. I said goodbye to the few friends that I had before I left, and slipped out of IP early on a Saturday morning. One friend showed up to see me off. I have to say, my feelings were hurt that no one else made any effort. It still disturbs me that I didn’t seem to make much of an impact on anyone when I left. All that energy wasted.

I was so scared and excited at the same time. I had barely driven the RV, around the lake a couple of times, up the road a few miles…  when it wasn’t loaded up with everything owned and a cat that hated riding. I had no idea where I was going to end up, how Kali Cat would handle the new lifestyle, or if I was even going to like traveling.

My first stop was in Mt Vernon, Maine. I hadn’t gotten my navigation straightened out, and couldn’t find the road for Dan’s house. I found a parking lot in Augusta and called him to come get me. I spent three or so days there visiting with him and getting used to life on the road. Then went to Linda’s the next town over and spent several days with her. On to Ellen and Jerry’s for a week. Was a great visit with them. We did some sightseeing, went and bought some apples, and I got a load of photos in downtown Belfast. 

Falmouth was the next stop. There I didn’t have a driveway to park in and electricity or water to hook up to. I spent the first night in the Walmart parking lot. The next day we moved over to the Episcopal church parking lot for the rest of the stay. Days were spent with Susan, and one afternoon we went out on Steve’s boat and had a lobster dinner. 

Kali Cat still didn’t like riding, but she tolerated it. I hadn’t put her in the kennel since the first leg of the trip. She would hit the litter box and barf, and then she would be good for the rest of the day’s travel. Eventually, she stopped throwing up when we took off. She was really good about coming back to Ody when I let her out. I would supervise her outings, and only had to chase her down a couple of times. She spent a lot of the ride time under my seat. I was happy to know where she was, and it kept her out of trouble.

After I left Susan and Falmouth, I spent one night in the Walmart parking lot in Biddeford and visited with Dylan, Holly and the baby. I’m glad I got to see them before I left the northeast.

That Sunday drive from Biddeford through Connecticut was the worst day of the trip. Lots and lots of traffic, 10 lane highways, people passing on both sides of me with my limited visibility and inexperience, I was exhausted seven hours later when I finally found a Pilot station in New Jersey where I could spend the night. The truck stop was full, so I kind of created a spot and crashed for the night. I actually got on a wrong highway in Connecticut at one point, for passenger cars only, but I didn’t see the sign until it was too late and there was nowhere to turn around. The overpasses were quite low and I even had to drive through a low tunnel, which finally freaked me out enough to get off that highway. By then, I was lost. Got myself to a McDonalds and figured out where I was and how to get back to where I wanted to be. I used both electronic mapping an hardcopy mapping to map out my daily routes and figure out where I was going next.

I took about a week getting from Maine to northern Texas. I spent one night in a campground in Tennessee so that I could do some laundry and take a shower. The rest of the nights were spent in either a Cracker Barrel or Walmart parking lot. By this time I was using my phone and google maps, the Garmin was useless even tho I had put the southern maps on it. It was wrong more than it was right, so I stopped using it and relied on my phone.

I spent a week in Hallsville TX with Sandra and Tim. I had met Sandra online via my sister in law Judy. Sandra is Judy’s cousin. We had a great week, I had electricity and water. It felt good to relax for a few days. By then I had gotten the hang of driving Ody. 

I tried to only drive three or four hours a day, roughly 250 to 300 miles. Any more than that and my eyes would be too tired to be able to see to drive the next day. So it took me two days to get to Elgin, TX down near Austin to visit with Maryellen, a childhood friend that I hadn’t seen in 30 plus years. I spent a week with them, had a couple run in’s with fire ants, saw my first scorpion and a huge spider. I was ready to leave all the creepy crawlies behind by the time I pulled out. Was a great visit tho. I’m so glad I had that on my list.

The following week, Kali Cat and I spent at Magnolia Beach in Texas. It was hot, humid, but we got to park right on the beach. Was fun watching Kali Cat check out the beach and see all the water. I could only spend one week there as I didn’t have a toad and couldn’t go get supplies. Once I broke camp, I might as well keep going. Unfortunately, leaving Magnolia Beach is when Kali Cat got sick. She was peeing blood. I had originally planned to head on to the islands further down the coast, but had to make a change in plans to find a vet  and a campground for a couple of days. We got her all fixed up and settled in to the campground in Rockport TX. I did some wandering around on foot. Saw jelly fish, my first dolphin, and just generally enjoyed having AC, water, electricity and cable TV.

Once I was sure Kali Cat was feeling better, we hit the road again. We spent a week at Bottomless Lake State Park in Roswell, NM, a week at Elephant Butte State Park, and another week at Leesburg Dam near Truth or Consequences. By then I was starting to feel the need for a toad. It was too much of a pain to break camp to run to the store, and there was nothing withing walking distance. I had wanted to go to the UFO Museum in Roswell, but it was 14 miles from the camp ground, and wasn’t open when we finally hit the road again. 

I had ants in the rig in Magnolia Beach, a raccoon climbing my screen door in Bottomless Lakes, mosquitos in Elephant Butte and Leesburg Dam state parks. But Leesburg Dam had some great walking trails and a museum withing walking distance. There was also a dollar store that I went to on my bike, and I walked it once too. It was about a four mile round trip. I had actually started to loose some weight by this time. Lots of walking, hot, not eating a lot, and what I was eating was healthy. It felt good.

I spent about a month in Yuma in Howard and Barbara’s yard. I had only planned on spending a week or so, but they were happy to have me there, and I had ordered a scooter to use as a second set of wheels and wanted to wait for it to arrive. After four weeks of waiting, I gave up and bought a tracker. Got that hooked up and hauled to Quartzsite two days before Thanksgiving. Howard and Barbara had invited me to stay for Thanksgiving, but I was ready to move on by then. Kali Cat got to roam the yard and climb the mesquite tree in Yuma. She also experienced the wild chickens that wander around there.

The rest of the winter was spent boondocking at La Posa South in Quartzsite.  Kali Cat was not allowed outside because of the coyotes, but she was sick again and it didn’t really seem to matter to her. We had seen the vet in Yuma a couple of times. Xrays showed that she had a mass in her bladder. Since she was already 18 years old, I decided against any surgeries and to let nature take it’s course. We had several more visits to the vet here in Quartzsite, and I decided her traveling days were over. But I was tired of not having running water and started looking for a lot to buy so we could park and have all the amenities. I saw this place and decided to buy it. We moved in in February. I lost Kali Cat in April. She had gotten so bad, that I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep. I cried for days. I still miss her. But she got to spend her last days in comfort in a non moving house eating tuna and very expensive cat food. My days were about making her as comfortable as possible. She was my last connection to Jake.

So, I have been here in Mountain View Resort since February. I have met a lot of nice people, made some good friends, and life is pretty much everything I knew I was missing in Island Pond. I don’t regret leaving there, it was the right thing to do for me. There are a few people I miss and I do miss all the green grass and trees, the rolling hills, but I don’t miss winter. I do want to do some more traveling. I am hoping next summer I can afford to do just that. I need to get Ody sold and find something smaller I can hook to the back of the car. I’m not getting another cat, as they dont’ travel well and I have a feeling there is more travel in my future. 

In the short time I have been here, I have done more, made more friends than in the 15 years I spent in Island Pond. I feel welcome here, and am included in events. It doesn’t matter that I am single. No one cares or feels threatened by it. I have learned so much, have seen so many different things since I put Ody in gear and drove away from IP. It was the right thing to do. 

Will be interesting to see what the next year brings.