Saturday, August 29, 2009

load 'em up, head 'em out

Laramie, Wyoming is not my favorite place. I have a little soft spot for it because my son Danny went to school there, at Wyotech, and now is a happy Volvo Tech in Seattle. Thank you, dear Laramie, for that. We stopped for one noisy night in the KOA by the highway, which inspired us to get up early and hit the road once again. We decided on what looked on the map to be the scenic route. It was scenic alright, but in a strange, moon-prairie sort of way. Wyoming is not like any place I've been before. It's the wild west. It's cattle country and farm country. It's huge and wild and wind blown and very, very beautiful...

I like to stop at least two nights in each place, preferably longer. Driving every day is hard on our bodies, and on my sanity. And a drive day is only that. Drive, set up, eat, sleep, get up and drive again. I like to have some time to explore a place, meet the locals, sample the cafes and pubs, and even set up the studio and get some work done. We can't do that on a "one night stand". But sometimes the payoff at the end of the day is worth it. I've always said I wanted to live on a river. Twice now on this trip, my wish has been granted. The first time was back in Needles, CA. Total surprise. And now we find ourselves here in Dubois, WY, at a pretty little KOA on the Wind River.

What you see here is the back yard of our camp site. It doesn't get any better than this, or of it does, I can't begin to imagine how. I sat there until the sun was nearly down and the mosquitos got as hungry as I was. Rick brought me my shawl and refilled my wine glass, and I just stayed put, watching the water roll on by, while I sat still, in one place, the ground solid under me. What is it about a river that feels so good? I hear about negative ions and all that, but I don't really understand it. I just think it's a kind of Divine Perfection, better than any kind of drug or therapy, the way a river will flow on by, taking my worries and weariness along with it. And if I listen, a river will talk to me too. Things are changing fast in this world, maybe faster for some of us than others. It's hard to keep up sometimes, but a little bit of good river time now and then can sure help.

Today we'll drive through the Grand Tetons and on to Yellowstone for two nights. I think we were lucky to get a reservation on such short notice, but then, we do live a charmed life. I've never been to either of these places before, so I'm really excited to get back in the truck for another day of... driving!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

we'll bring the wildlife

We're getting ready to leave Taos tomorrow. Picked up Daisy, the cat, from Deborah and Thomas's last night, along with a plant they'd been tending, and a pile of mail. What great friends to take care of our stuff like that. Next stop, Kathleen and Kat's, for a wonderful dinner in their outdoor kitchen. They're having major remodeling work done on their house, and have been cooking on the back porch all summer. It's really quite charming, and of course, it's always good to see them.

We had Daisy in the truck all evening, and did a quick strategy planning on the way home, to see how we might work him into our little dog world without too much stress for any of us. We worried and plotted needlessly. Good old Daisy-boy (yes, he's a boy) moved right in like he owned the place, which he probably does. We set him up with his litter box in our tiny bathtub, and his bed on the top bunk, above the dogs. But being Himself, he nudged Lucy aside and made himself quite comfortable, thank you...

So no worries. Bet he won't even need the Kitty Xanax. Think I'll save it for myself. And tomorrow we'll head north, thinking we'll breeze through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone on our way to Seattle. See you out there!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

might as well dance

The Rio picnic was rained on, but not rained out. We had a grande time, and were happy we'd remembered to pack Gortex and umbrellas along with great food and wine.

Katy and Jaap, before the rain hit.

Katy in her Paris raincoat, and Rick in Gortex.

Karena and I were the height of fashion...

Jaap and Rick are both great hoopers!

And of course we danced in the New Mexico rain!

Today we have a few things to do in town, and then... you guessed it - a little dinner party with friends! I am getting kind of tired.

Monday, August 24, 2009

another day, another party

Ho Hum... another fabulous party with fabulous friends and fabulous food and drink... how much of this can a girl take?

Just kidding! We had yet another blast last night, thanks to Karena's birthday hospitality, and the willing spontaneity of this fine group of friends. It was a spur of the moment gathering, pulled together gracefully with almost no planning at all. Even the semi-plan to spend the evening outside by the fire had to be flexible, since the recent dry spell has been broken, and the New Mexico Rain has returned...

Click the link above and listen to the song. It always makes me cry, and lately, makes me feel like I might be missing something, might have made a mistake... This visit to Taos has been so... idyllic. I feel like something of a failure for failing to love the place enough to let it keep me. But even though we've not been on vacation away from Taos all these weeks, this trip back here is a vacation. And vacations are seductive. They make us think we want to stay forever in Taos, or Hawaii, or You-Name-The-Place, when the truth is, vacations aren't real life, and vacation places need to be left where they are, so we can go back to them when we need to refuel and revive ourselves. Driving home last night, I wondered if our Taos experience these past eight years might have been different if we'd simply lived at the north side of town instead of the south. It might have made all the difference between loving and merely tolerating the place. But that's looking back, which takes me nowhere and makes me carsick. Looking forward, I know I don't want to be old in this town, and I don't want these harsh winters even when I'm not old. I don't want the corrupt little politics or the local acceptance of endless trash thrown from car windows, in an odd disrespect for the land that so many old families claim as their birthright. I don't get it here, and I know now that for me, it's better to skim the surface, visit from time to time, and wish I could take all my friends with me when we leave. These friends we have here are some of our favorite people in the world, and lucky for them, they do get Taos, and Taos gets them.

So we'll stay for another day or two. Maybe three. We want to see everyone because we don't know when we'll be back. And when we do come back, I expect we'll love it here all over again, and wonder why we ever left. I suppose it's possible that we could make a great big circle, and find ourselves back in Taos, calling it home again, but you know... I really don't think so.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

happy, happy

Is there any better reason to drive half way across the country and back than to go to terrific parties with favorite people? I think not. The first leg of our trip was to Monterey, for the big family birthday bash. And now we're back in Taos for the sole (soul) reason of helping Deborah and Thomas celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. We're having the best time. It was well worth the drive! (Visit Facebook for a whole bunch of pictures of people you probably don't know.)

After two days of whooping it up with D&T, we're going to breakfast with our buddy Eleanore Macnish this morning, and then to Karena's this evening to celebrate her birthday. We'll get some rest when we leave Taos in a few days, on our way to Seattle for a super special wedding. More on that later. For now, the road goes on forever and the party never ends!

Friday, August 21, 2009


We're back in Taos. Only for a few days, but they're already tightly packed with friends and parties and business to take care of. It's kind of weird being back here. It seems like we just left, although it's been almost two months since we first set out. Time's a funny thing that way. Seems like forever, seems like yesterday. Maybe it's both.

It was a long drive from Flagstaff to here. That stretch of desert that blurs Arizona and New Mexico has become very familiar over the years. It looks good right now, all soft sage and red rock, dotted with deep green pinon and cottonwood. Must have been a good wet monsoon season. I spent a lot of time knitting, and a lot of time watching for hobos on freight trains. The only time I've ever seen a "hobo" was in Mexico. I guess it's not as easy to hop a train here as it used to be. Or maybe everyone has cars now. I don't know, but I always watch for that lone silhouette in the distance.

We arrived here just as the sun was going down. Nice to see another Taos sunset. We're staying out on the mesa, at the north end of town, about as far away from our house as we can be. I think it's better this way. It's like being someplace else rather than back home, but with no home to go to. We'll go by the house today, to drop off some things we don't need, pick up a few things we left in storage, and see how the renters are doing. I think we can do it all in one trip, and then be on our way to do other things. A little vacation in Taos will be fun. I was a little bit hesitant as we drove along yesterday, but now that we're here, it all seems good. We haven't come back to Taos, we've come forward to Taos.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

looping back to taos

Make a plan, and plan to change it... We're getting good at that.

We left Solvang two days early... bad internet, expensive park, indifferent-to-surly service...
Long story, which I will spare you. However, I have started to post reviews of some of the parks we stay in at RV Park It's been a pretty useful site for us. My screen name there is "kimmiles", if you want to see what I thought of the Flying Flags RV Park in Buellton, CA...

Next, one night in Needles, CA, which could have been hell, but was actually ever so nice, thanks to a riverside campsite at Fender's River Road Resort...

...and a mini tropical vacation at the Naked Pirate!

A little more desert driving today, and we've looped back to Flagstaff, AZ. I will get some beads posted while we're here! And then we'll be on our way to Taos for a few days, some favorite friends, and a great party... or two, or three...

Friday, August 14, 2009

time to roll

Today we leave the coast, and head inland to a park near Solvang, CA, slowly making our way to Taos for a few days later this month. We're not really ready to leave the coast, but we do need to get moving, and this time of year it's hard to find a spot anyplace in California, particularly in the beach towns.

This has been perfect. I asked for a place we could sit still for a week so I could get some work done. I got that, and I did the work too. Yesterday was the first day the fog cleared the whole week we've been here in Morro Bay. Like the sand dollars on the beach, it felt like a metaphor, since my own creative fog seemed to lift too. I've been resistant to work, not really wanting to do it, and not feeling any great creative urges. But the time here has changed that. Feels like I'm moving forward. What a relief.

I think we'll be coming back to the coast. Want to explore the Oregon coast too, and it should be easier after Labor Day, when the rest of the country goes back to school and work. Of course there will be the European RVers, but still, I think things will slow down a bit in the parks, and maybe we won't have to work so hard at finding places to stay. We really need to get a generator so we can "dry camp" for a few nights between expensive "full hook-up" parks. It's high on the wish list. Just need to sell a bunch of beads so we can pay for it, and that, of course, means I have to make them. It's a pretty simple circle of life in my world. I couldn't ask for more... or less. It all seems pretty well tuned at the moment. The only thing I might change is my hair... Petty, yes, but in humid places I look like a walking shrub. Thank God for scarves, and that I'm not afraid to sport my inner Keith Richards...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

trickle up

Walking on the beach in Morro Bay last evening, Rick and I picked up dozens of beautiful, perfect sand dollars. They were everywhere, just waiting to be rescued before they'd be crushed by waves or feet and turned into sand. There were other people on the beach, but they didn't seem to see the sand dollars. Maybe they weren't looking. I don't know. Maybe these were super-power sand dollars that were invisible to anyone but us. We filled our pockets and carted them back to camp where we spread them out all over the picnic table. As I changed out of my soaked jeans and jacket, it occurred to me that these pretty little treasures might be a metaphor for the abundance we have all around us, if we just tilt our heads and look at it from a different angle. Sand dollars, real dollars; there's plenty of both to go around. We all just need to learn how to see them, and to pick them up when we do.

My brilliant and beautiful cousin Mitzi came up with a great idea - The Trickle Up Theory Of Economics. Check it out here on YouTube:

I think it might work. We are all in this together, so it seems logical that we can all help each other get what we need and want. You know how I feel about waiting for "someday"... it never comes! I feel the same way about waiting for someone else to fix my problems. Not likely to happen.

So watch the video. It's short and to the point. I'll go hammer some silver, and see how I can make use of the Trickle Up Theory to everyone's best advantage. It should be as easy as picking up sand dollars on the beach.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

hearst castle

Rick and I both grew up in California, but neither of us had ever been to Hearst Castle. As a kid, I imagined it to be a dark medieval thing, but it's actually about as opposite to that as can be. I was almost hesitant to go there, thinking I'd feel poor and pathetic afterwards, living in a trailer and all. But the light and beauty of the place lifted me, and I came away wanting to go back for another of the four available tours, so I could soak in some more. Our tour guide, Bev, was really great, telling us all about the place, and about William Randolph Hearst's obsession with building, collecting art, and changing his mind. She also connected on a personal level with the group, making me wish we lived next door to each other. I think we'd be friends. As we got back on the bus at the end of the tour, she looked at me kind of sideways, and said, "You look like a little artist". Well, that just made my day. Sometimes I'm not so sure what I am. Nice to have someone help me out with that every now and then.

The amount of stuff was overwhelming to me, being in this downsizing frame of mind lately. But I had to admire the beauty of the place, perched up on its hill, with the ocean far below in the distance. I'm a big fan of water features, so these two swimming pools really appealed to me...

And it just tickled me to see the humble bottles of ketchup and mustard on the mile-long dining table, alongside the gold-rimmed Blue Willow China. It made that foreign world of obscene wealth seem accessible and even sort of friendly.

I've never wanted to live in a place like that, and I'm happy to report that I'm still satisfied and comfortable in our little trailer. But I have to admit, I would like to be invited to a party up there on the hill. And, I think people like that need some good beads...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

hello, cookie

I feel a new obsession coming on. It's probably only temporary, as obsessions will tend to be, but I don't mind. I'll ride it out and see where it takes me. After living in the desert for what seems like far too long, I'm suddenly completely smitten with the deep, wide, salty pacific ocean, and everything connected with it. I'll spend as much time walking along its edge as I can get, or gazing off into it from the pier of any little town we find ourselves in. The hems of my pants are always wet, and I don't mind. I restrain myself from pointing out every seagull, sandpiper, and pelican that does anything remotely interesting, including flying, and I allow myself to point out all the seals and dolphins, because I don't recall seeing so many of them when I was on this coast as a teenager. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention, or maybe there really are more of them now. It looks like a healthier ocean than I remember, and I'm happy to see that.

We pulled into the village of Cayucos, just a few minutes north of this week's base camp in Morro Bay, and parked in front of an outdoor wedding about to happen on the grounds of the historic sea captain's house. Parking spaces being as precious in Cayucos as anywhere along the California coast, we locked up the truck and skittered away, so as not to interfere with the festivities. The first open door we came to was the Brown Butter Cookie Company, which was much nicer to find than, say, a live bait shop might have been. We were immediately offered a sample of the famous Brown Butter cookies, something like shortbread, with a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Oh yeah... I'm still thinking about them. So good.

Wanting something a bit "healthier", we bought bundle of six big oatmeal-raisin cookies and a couple of coffees to go. The pretty woman at the counter - one of the sister-owners, I think - told us how to pronounce the name of the town (ki-YOU-cus), and went on to tell us all the nice things about the place. A few minutes later, standing on the pier, devouring our cookies, we took a good look around and wondered if we might like to settle in and stay a while. Every place we go is a candidate for Home now, but most especially, at least for now, small towns on the coast. I sure didn't see this coming. But what would be so bad about hanging out in a place with the best darn oatmeal cookies on the planet, and a nice long beach kicked in for good measure? Hmmm... I wonder...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

morro bay

I just looked it up - "morro", in Spanish, means "nose". Morro Rock, in Morro Bay, doesn't look at all like a nose to me, but it's a pretty impressive volcanic remnant just the same. I think it looks like a pirate hide-out. Bet there's treasure out there somewhere, but it's being guarded by thousands of birds. I'm not going to get too close. I'll just sit on the beach and make up stories...

Heidi met some friends yesterday. Their person told me they're all rescues. One is missing a leg, one is missing an eye, and the third was just abandoned. I think they're pirates in disguise. Heidi was a rescue too, sort of. She grew up in a sorority house in Albuquerque, and when her mom couldn't take her to her new job, we brought her home. If these other dogs let her in to their crew, she'll be the most social pirate on the ship.

We're staying here for a week, or maybe a little longer. I need time to get some work done, unless of course I stumble across that pirate treasure out there somewhere. Till then, a girl's gotta make a living. Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

Friday, August 7, 2009

the point

What's the point?, she asked me, as if I would have some ready, convincing answer. Deeply distressed that I couldn't ease her distress, all I could do was sob into the phone, blurting out inane bits of what I hoped were wisdom. Finally, exhausted, I said, I hope you'll decide to stay. I love you. It was the best I could do to convince another human being that it's worth the effort to go on living, but still I had no idea as to what the "point" might be.

Helpless and shaken, I went on with my day, and as I calmed down, I kept repeating the question - What's the point? I'd asked this in passing many times before, but assumed it was on the list of Things We Don't Get To Know. This time though, I really wanted an answer. Looking down at my own hands holding glass to the flame, one simple reply eventually came through, like a small voice, not exactly my own, and not exactly not my own. We are the hands and eyes and ears of God. We are that part of the Whole that allows the Divine to experience this reality. Could this be true? I hope so. I hope there's more to our existence than all the material goop we get so snarled up in. Turn off the TV, throw away the magazines, stop trying to be what the advertisers tell us we should be, and just be who we are. Just keep going, because we might be much more important than we can ever know. This is what I'll say today. This is a better answer.

The full moon over Avila Bay was possibly even more beautiful than the full moon over the Grand Canyon. There were pelicans flying through the light, and dolphins and seals rolling through the glittering, moonlit water. I don't know if anyone but me saw this through my eyes, but I do know, have known for some time now, that what comes through my hands is not always my own. How's that for something to ponder as we roll on down the road today? There should be a warning printed on all maps: Caution! A road trip is not always what it appears to be.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

dish it up

August 5 - the learn as you go plan

Home again, for the moment, for the night. Two nights even. We left the ease of Bruce's driveway this morning, heading south on Highway 1, hoping to luck into a nice spot on the beach we could stay in for several days. I need time to get some work done. Our third stop was at the KOA in Moss Landing, where there was no room, but the managers there, Dyann and Ken, were so nice and accommodating, they spent most of an hour making calls for us until they found us a place for two nights, just north of Pismo. Listening to them talk up the little town of Moss Landing made us wish we could stay, and when we head back that way sometime, we'll be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.

We arrived here at Reynold's Ocean Canyon Resort early enough to enjoy the last of the afternoon and evening, but I felt the need to do a little re-nesting first. We've learned a few things since we left Taos just over a month ago, and have listened to some good advice from people along the way. There's no way of knowing how to do everything at the start of something like this. We have to slog through it and figure things out as we go. Just like the rest of my life, I'm on the learn-as-you-go plan.

We've figured out how to level this "rig" relatively easily and quickly, and Robin, who owns Classic Adventures RV Rentals in Reno, gave us some great tips. Gotta listen to a seasoned pro, especially when she's part of the family. We'd been turning the refrigerator off when we drove, because we'd read that it was safer. The problem on a long drive day was that our food got warm. Being near-vegetarians, we don't have meat in there that could become a health hazard, but it took three days to track down the source of that funky overripe brie smell. Now we leave the fridge on, and when we park for the night, the beer's cold and the cheese smells oh so nice.

My other big domestic issue was the dishes. I wanted to have "real" dishes and glasses, so we'd feel more at home and less like camping. What I didn't consider was that all that pretty Fiestaware, and the glasses and tumblers, would have to be bundled up for safe transport every time we rolled. Way too much effort for the pay-off.

So today we stopped off at Target and bought some inexpensive red plastic dishes that actually look kind of like faux Fiestaware, and some nice crystal clear poly-something wine and water glasses. Then, at Robin's suggestion, we picked up a small dish drainer that fits nicely in the cupboard. The clean dishes live in there, where they're easy to reach and don't need any special treatment on drive days. I'm ridiculously happy with these silly dishes, and have already packed up the fancy ones to stash in the shed in Taos in a couple of weeks when we're back for a quick visit.

The last thing we changed today was the lamp. I knew it was nuts to bring along a handmade stained glass table lamp, but it looks so darn good in here, and I love it so. But I could see that taking the shade off and messing with the bead fringe every time we move was going to take its toll, so now the lamp is in a box for storage too, and it's replaced with a practical black extendo-desk lamp, like the animated one at the start of Pixar films. It's a double-duty lamp to boot, good for reading in the "living room", and equally useful for the added light I need when I make beads and jewelry.

As we get ready to explore our next new neighborhood, I feel simultaneously dumb and brilliant. Dumb for bringing such impractical things along, and brilliant for figuring out what to do about it. I thought when we left Taos that we'd already whittled our stuff down to the bare necessities. Seems our needs are simpler still than we'd imagined. Too much stuff, and the wrong stuff, can be such a drain of energy and such a waste of time. Our lovely things will wait for us in storage. When we need them again, we'll give them a place they can sit still and be beautiful. Until then, the less stuff, the more freedom. Time to go find the beach!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

by the sea shore

Santa Cruz remains a sweet spot in my heart. We spent the day on the Boardwalk, and it was fun showing it to Rick, who didn't really remember ever going there. I'd done some research in the morning, looking for the best crab sandwich in the area, and came up with promising recommendations for Riva's on the wharf. It was pretty darn good, but I know there are better crab sammies out there somewhere, so the search continues. Oh darn.

I did, however, fall in love with this "cuddle fish" painting, and several other by the same artist. I wonder if this style might translate into beads somehow. I really need some new inspiration to get to work. So far, I just want to frolic on the beach, read, write, knit, eat... That's not going to pay the bills...

We spent hours on the Boardwalk, just walking and looking around mostly. We went on the Cave Train, which I love for it's absolute silliness. It's like the Pirates ride at Disneyland, only not very good. The Sky Glider is always a nice break from the crowds, with a wonderful view of the beach and the rides from high above it all.

Vintage Boardwalk attractions and people watching are endlessly amusing...

But the biggest bang for the buck will always be the Giant Dipper, an 85 year old wooden roller coaster. It's my all-time favorite, and I realized yesterday that I've been riding it for 45 years. Yikes! The first time was when I was about six. My two younger sisters and I sat in the seat in front of our Dad, and he held onto the hoods of our matching turquoise sweatshirts with one hand, and onto his seat with the other. Crazy. It could never happen now. But what a great intro to the world of roller coasters.

On the way back to "camp", we stopped at the Lighthouse to check out the surf museum and watch the surfers and sea lions.

We had dinner with Bruce and Masami (fabulous!), and then the Bead Chest came out. Masami shopped for herself and her friends, and their daughter Emily even found something she liked. I'm always happy when a Young One likes my beads. I have a hard time remembering that beads are still how I make my living though, especially around friends. I'd much rather give them all away. But in case you might want to invite us to stay in your driveway, I do give very generous discounts to people who provide us with a nice place to park and feed us beautiful fresh vegetarian food!

Today we have a lunch date and a dog walk planned, and tomorrow we'll scoot on down the coast a ways, in search of a quiet spot to make beads for a day or two. See you down the road a piece.

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