Where Are You From?… Right Now? Here.

Another joy of being able to move with your home on wheels is getting to decide what you would like to be involved with and simply going to live there for a week, a month, a half a year.

I had friends crash my campground with their tents, some stop in for a meal, and other come scoop me up to show me a night on their town. Checking out Meow Wolf in Santa Fe with another friend was a real treat.

Speaking of Santa Fe, how nice was it that I could come in early and leave late from The Gathering of the Creatives, a now annual gathering of creative types supporting each other through workshops and networking. It was an extra special year this year as a . couple friends joined me in Santa Fe. A writer friend came to the workshops and another girlfriend who just needed to get away for the weekend, came for a visit. People often wonder about traveling solo. Well, most places I have at least one friend stop by. The coach is big enough and divided by rooms for privacy so that a couple of days hanging with friends is actually fun. They get the back end and I stay in the front.

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The Gathering of the Creatives is a conference that brings together people from around the country and beyond who love to engage in creative endeavors. The belief is that everyone has the capacity to be creative, creativity comes in a variety of forms and creativity is what we need more of to make our world a better healthier happier place to live. I first attended last year, skeptical due to the cost but drawn in because it was my chance to meet Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way live. This year it was exciting to participate in Portland’s Intuitive Artist Flora Bowley’s workshop, as well as hear first hand from Randy Davilla President of Hierophant Publishing as well as Insights Events, the publisher’s perspective on what sells and all of the nuts and bolts that go along with it. I’ll have to say, at The Gathering of The Creatives I learned so many new things, plus, the networking was as such a higher level then I imagined it would be in that, I continue to connect and deepen relationships with the fellow creatives that I met at the conference.  I’ve started on a business plan for my art and have asked a fellow artist to mentor me. The experience was the jump start I needed to dive into my second act in life, embracing myself as an artist, and making and selling my art. Making The Gathering of the Creatives a stop along my travels was well worth it, beyond the gorgeous backdrop of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

It is so awesome to have been able to move about the country in my Airstream and show up where the opportunities are. Who knows, maybe in 2020 I’ll get my wheels rolling to a state I believe I can make a difference in by volunteering for political organizing work. Or you might find me back in another part of the country selling my artwork and a particular art fair. I’m a member of a couple of clubs so I’m heading to Colorado for my first Airstream Rally this summer, as well as my first rally for women who tow. Right now, I’m loving the idea of heading towards home for a bit. Home meaning, where family is. My J.O.B. has taken me as far from home as you can possibly get without leaving the country. I’m looking into and looking forward to being close enough to family to get to hang out on the weekend. The crazy thing is I keep making more family everywhere I go and my travel plans keep expanding.

Will I be back for a third Gathering of the Creatives? Who knows. The more I relax into this lifestyle I learn that life throws you fun surprises. You can plan all you want but there might just be a totally different plan out there waiting for you. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the Gypsy Life each day. Did I mention I picked up a job bartending here on the river? Yep . I get to add to my savings (allowing for more cross country travel) while doing something way different than I have ever done and having a blast doing it. All along the road are more opportunities than one can imagine if you leave yourself open to the universe. Always look forward but stay in the moment and enjoy the ride. See you down the road somewhere soon.

Tornado Hopscotch

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I’m a visual person and not very detailed, so for me the idea of a checklist, well… I just knew that wouldn’t work for me. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a list of things I need to do for setup and tear down. But I found, as long as nobody is interrupting my thought process, if I circle my rig and keep circling it, everything I still need to do pops out at me. When I think I’m done, I circle it five more times.

Well, I did check my window latches. I just missed checking one of the window latches. As I drove down the road out of Minneapolis I saw something funny sticking out on the side of the trailer so I stopped to check it out. The window was gone. I had not even heard it break. I hope it did not land on anyone behind me. Apparently I checked all of my windows but one. Luckily I was right next to an RV shop when I discovered it since I still had weeks of travel before I’d be back to LA Airstream where I could get it fixed.

The RV folks kindly cut a piece of plywood and Minnesota style duct taped it into place. Yes, one more use for duct tape. I know it was not good for my finish but driving with an open window would have been worse. I had a couple of options including going to an RV store in Denver that is known to have a lot of Airstream Parts, waiting at the shop I was at for two more weeks and hoping the right parts were sent and getting it fixed, detouring through Las Vegas or hoping my plywood would last me all the way back to LA.

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I was on my way to Porter Sculpture Garden outside of Sioux Falls South Dakota where I was looking forward to boondocking for the night. After experiencing a lightening storm and power outage in Minneapolis I knew to ask the owner of the Sculpture Garden about storm shelters or safety. His response was a bit unnerving. He proceeded to recollect all of the past small towns he used to escape to when tornados were headed his way. They were all no longer in existence. I decided I’d give him a polite call just before arriving if I chose to go a different way.

Seeing a storm would cross my path to the Badlands just after staying at the sculpture garden, something inside me said reach out for help. I called a friend and asked him to look online for all of the weather reports and help me decide whether or not to stay in Sioux Falls, while I continued driving down the road. Well, turns out the storm was bigger than I thought. I took his advice. He said if I stayed in Sioux Falls I would be there a long time and I may instead want to veer south to Omaha. I let two non-refundable camp reservations go and headed to Omaha not even sure if Nebraska roads were back open since the floods from the summer before. I made it after dark (thankfully) to a dingy little KOA where someone was charging their mower on my power outlet. A tornado plowed into Sioux Falls that evening.

After setting up camp I checked my weather app again. Apparently the storms had turned and were now still headed my way, and the road I had just driven south on was now shut down due to flash floods. So, I got up while it was dark (and thankfully could not see my surroundings) and crept out of my dingy little KOA spot, returning the mower chord to my power outlet before I left.

The night before I had reached out to my facebook groups for suggestions on camping as not much was showing up along the 80. I try not to drive more than 300 to 400 miles in a day, prefering the 300 end. So to travel all of the way to Denver woud have been much more than that following a day where I had been driving under stress for over 15 hours. Well, the best suggestion I could get was in Sterling Colorado. Partly it was the best because it took me clear out of storms way. At least I thought it did.

I set my GPS in Omaha and fought falling asleep on the road where all of the rest stops were packed full with no room to rest with a 27 foot trailer. I found reception was bad on most of my trip but if I put GPS in when I had reception, it would stay in. I just could not reset it. Well, sometimes GPS likes to take you what I call the direct route, not the safe feeling freeway route. This was one of those times. I was twenty five farms back in off of the freeway, wondering why I was not seeing a brown park sign, wondering had I been tricked into going somewhere that my trailer would get jacked and I’d find myself in a cage. Yah, my mind can get pretty creative when I’m nervous and in the middle of nowhere with no way to figure out where I am.

Eventually I discovered what in any other circumstance would have been a lovely park surrounding a scenic lake. The only thing is I was the only one there. The camp host was gone and there were no other campers. Even though I had no phone reception I did get one incoming text message from my friend. It said “storms coming, take cover.” Well…. I knew I had to figure out how this weather radio I had purchased worked. It was the only night I have been able to make it work. The radio crackled “Tornado Warnings for the town of Sterling.”  Some people chase storms. I had the storms chasing me.

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The picture above gives you an idea of the beautiful eary and empty park I was in.

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And these two pictures, if you look close and follow the road in, you will finds my lone trailer sitting there vulnerable to what was to come.

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Sometimes the free flowing, go where you want, do what you want, gypsy lifestyle is not so free, even when you have planned ahead. Two reservations cancelled and a route through a completely different part of the country to honor the storm apps warnings and I still ended up in the middle of storms.

Well, I had done the best I could to watch for, avoid, and outrun storms. I was exauhsted and there was no time to pack up and find a new location. Plus, any direction I turned I would still go through the storm. So the best thing I could do bunker down and get ready for the storm right where I was. I left all dignity behind. I wanted to be comfortable when waiting for hours inside of a campground bathroom. So, I brought my pillow to lay on, snacks to eat, my books on Audible, my weather radio and my best little four legged fur baby to the campground bathroom floor. Dudley didn’t need a radio to know what was up. He was already finding things to crawl under and curl up and hide. And in reality, the bathroom was an illusion of safety. I knew what a tornado would do to that structure, but this was one time living in fantasy land was ok by me. At least I felt safe.

I peaked out a few times to capture the storm on camera. I could tell the power of the sky was not unleashing on us. Although we did get the seventy mile an hour winds and the pea sized hail. I proudly show you my little hail dent. I can’t believe I only had one. And I am also grateful that my plywood kept my home dry through the storm.

Later in the night the camp host and her husband showed up with apologies. She said normally they would come warn campers when there was a storm but the storm had hit the town of Sterling so hard their own home had been demolished. She said they had grapefruit sized hail. In town the next day everyone was walking about with their cell phones out sharing photos of the various hail that came down on their homes.

Traveling on from Sterling I think I suffered a little storm app PTSD. Luckily it was fairly uneventful as far as weather is concerned, minus two more tornados in Arizona where they are not used to getting tornados, and a monsoon when I first got to the river, where I watched the waters rise unsure of at what point I should hitch up and leave, but everything worked out and calmed down until I got to back to California where I had to watch the app for fire warnings and freeway closings.

By the way, Airstream LA did a snap up job getting me in and out in one day to fix my window. And I use a physical checklist now, look ahead at the GPS route, and have alternate route plans. I’ve also let go of booking too far ahead in hopes I won’t lose out on any more booked money. And I plan to head back through it again back to Colorado and then down south to huricane land this summer. Hopefully my next trip through tornado alley will be uneventful in terms of storms.

Oh the Places I’ve Gone & the Time Spent With Loved Ones

I last left you on a farm field at a concert in the middle of Canada. The concert was great and since then I have had so many adventures I need to catch you up on. I’ll breeze through a few of the highlights.

People often wonder where they might stay when living tiny on wheels. I’m sure you have gotten some ideas from me already, but here are a few more.

In Winnipeg, I boondocked (sort of) on my cousin;s farm on the outskirts of the city. I say sort of because I plugged in the smallest of power chords which was just enough not to have to pull out the generators. This is where I learned there is no room for ego in the business of tiny travel on wheels. You see my cousins actually live in the city and their farm is on the outskirts of the city. Yep, they specifically told me… “Drive in to the road and then wait for us to get there. Wait. Don’t try to drive on the grass as it may be too muddy.” I pulled up and saw a flat, level, dry lawn that had me thinking it would be oh so easy for me to pull onto and turn around and be all set up. After all, my cousin had been working all day, and they would be so impressed with me that I had handled things and they didn’t have to. So, I started out onto the lawn and quickly my vehicle slowed to a stop as it sunk into the not as dry as I thought lawn. How embarassing! But when they got there, I found no time like the present to figure out if I could four wheel drive myself out of my predictament. And once again I could feel good about solving my problems that I created. With a little help from my Dodge Girl Cassidy and You tube I had all of the directions I needed to figure out how to use my four wheel drive to get out of the muck!

From the mud experience things got better. We had a lovely meal on the farm complimented by some delicious bottles of wine and caught up on life. With just a day, left we chose to spend it in Winnipeg’s Human Rights Museum. If you have never been there,  I highly recommed it. It was incredible seeing from a Canadian perspective all of the happenings around the world and connected activisim to make the world a better place.

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From there I crossed the border back into Minnesota where I spent time hopping from one friend’s back yard to the next. It was awesome to break bread with my sisterhood of union friends who sent me off on the career path that took me to California in the first place. This entire trip the biggest pleasant surprise was all of the quality time I got to spend with friends, and family who I do not always see. I go to meet my new adorable grand nephew and my nieces’ love and new husband live! All of this because I could pick up and go and then pick up and go again on to the next. There’s some pretty awesome Mexican food in Long Prarie, Minnesota. Go figure?! I also met a fellow past Californian who settled down there opening a cool little coffee hang out. Coming from California I was a little surprised at the presence of California there. I have forgotten what I ate at the restaurant but it was something I have never had in California so I had to ask the woman who cooked it what part of Mexico she was from and it turns out she was from an area further east along the border.

What a treat to enjoy good food and good company. And of course connecting with good friends who shared a great loss with me and are like family to me. If you have ever lost a loved one you will get how strong the connection can be for those they left behind on this earth. These folks will forever be very special people in my life and I am super grateful that I got to include a visit with them on my stops. Its funny, there seems to be a theme of loss for me on this trip as I transition into a new life. Whenever I needed to shed some tears I waited until I was driving down the road, as to not spoil any of my precious time with folks, or stuff myself up before sleeping, which always makes breathing difficult.

I was also reminded how generous friends are. Friends were truly excited to have me come stay on their land and I got several invites to come back in future years. Playing along the Mississipi was one of the many fun things I highly recommend finding a way to do. Dudley and I experienced our first journey through lock and dam #3…. well through any lock and dam for that matter. We had some great bar food along the way, (yes we) we learned a bit about chickens and country bee keeping, and had some bingo fun at a local establishment. Dudley also enjoyed new friends along the way. Plus we had a great time hiking about to all of our old stomping grounds and connecting with friends of more than 30 years. It was great to be back in another part of the country I add to my list of places I call home and to have so many opportunities to downsize my 50 Amp power chord to a regular 15 amp and plug in for a more comfortable boondock, and sometimes stay inside for a refreshing break from trailer life, a regular sized shower or hot bath and a real bed. Although my space in my trailer is quite comfy too, I’m not going to lie, I loved laundry that wasn’t done in a laundromat and some of the other comforts of a sticks and bricks homes like some shared meals at a real table. It was nice. So, a big shout out to all of you. I am forever grateful!

I was excited to finally get to see the Minnesota Airstream Park and especially loved the hospitality. Owning a share there is definitely on my mind. The park is beautiful and I visited during their summer barbecue when folks invite all of their friends. They welcomed us Airstream Style with open arms and lots of delicious food and fun drinks! More new friends were made. Likely in the near future I’ll try renting someone’s spot to see what it’s like to stay a spell. The best part being, it is so conveniently located near friends and family.

I didn’t get photos of everyone and everything because I really was having fun, living in the moment. The priceless treat for me was getting to spend some time with my mom and dad who I rarely have seen these last ten years do to work taking me clear across the country, and also the time I spent with all of my Aunts and Uncles. At the time it felt somewhat like a lot of driving because I ussually like to just go to a place and park, but I don’t regret any of the visits I made. These were the folks that made my life magical growing up, my god parents, my aunties who were fun, stylish, talented artists, some great at networking in the political world, others incredible cooks, smart, and all in all they taught me how to have fun and live a good life. And of course all of my uncles who like my father were pastors and helped teach me about having a life of faith to guide you as well as made me realize its the little things in life that bring you joy. They shared their sense of humor and laughter at some of the simple day to day things one deals with when getting older, their love, compassion and care as they cared for some of my more fragile  aunts and uncles who no longer recognized any of us in their surroundings. My autnies and uncles all shared their attitudes of gratitude, regardless of what health struggles they were deling with. They all were fully living life. The life I have, my successes I owe to all of these folks. Being pulled from the foster care system and showed what love is, being showed my own worth. What a treat to get to come back around full circle and spend time with the folks who helped me become the successful person I have become. We just never know how much time with have with folks and each visit was so special and something I would not normally get to do living so far away. I especially want to mention my dear Uncle Joe, as he has recently, since that visit passed on. I am so, so grateful I got to spend just a bit more time with him and the family. Uncle Joe, you will be missed. When I think of you I will think of you playing your saw, making ice cream from scratch, pony rides, beautiful countryside, sailing on the lake, and your pure love of life and family.

All and all I feel a stronger connection with all of my cousins, as keeping the family connected is now up to all of us. I look forward to many more visits home. Leaving Minneapolis has been a great journey that has changed how I look at life and made me forever grateful that in this Airstream Life I get to come back through and still call it home, along with all of the other places I keep adding to my list that I call home. On my way out, I had one little snag. Yep, I broke a window!

 

Jazz, Blues and Rock N Roll, Having a Social Life On The Road

MacArthurParkThe MacArthur Park Musica Festival was just one of the many fun opportunities that I have stumbled upon on my journey. When you are “on the road” and you are a city girl like me, it may seem like there is literally nothing out there to do unless staring at trees is all you need. Well my cousins were soon to show me the ropes of social life and entertainment when the nearest town is five miles in and has a population of 500.

Tucked back in the woods folks own some quite incredible homes. These homes become host homes for concerts. So, once you are in the know, as long as you don’t get lost on the gravel roads with no lighting after dark and you are able to find the location for the evening, you get to enjoy some great live music. Goes to show, entertainment and fun can show up in a variety of ways.

Also, in Riding Mountains National Park there is an awesome arts center. I couldn’t believe I was sitting at a top notch jazz concert where the keynote performer got there by way of LA and Brooklyn New York. He has now settled down in the town of Brandon, Manitoba. And honestly I often  go places where I don’t see too many folks who look like me so to see brother up here in frozen country doing his thing in music was a real treat.  It taught me you have to travel to every place you go with an open mindto all that is possible. That’s what Airstream Life is about.

Then there was the MacArthur Park Music Festival. My cousin is no stranger to this traveling lifestyle. She and her husband travel the country in their vintage VW Van. And her brother (in the photo) travels the country with his wife in a big RV while Air B&B’ing their house, near Disney in Florida. Well, it pays to talk to folks, or in this case already have those connections who know where things are hopping. Even though huge storms were headed in the MacArthur Park Music Festival stayed on as scheduled. A good two hundred folks showed up. Next time I’ll be brave and join the other rigs out on the grass of the farm and camp out for a couple days. This time I just moved my Airstream over to my cousins house nearby. The musicians come from all over, Winipeg, and North Dakota were two places I remembered. Tnere was also plenty of home grown talent. The music went on until three in the morning. There was a larger than life bonfire and lots of food and drinks enjoyed by all. I may be wrong but I think this event was invite only. So the lessen learned was talk to lots of folks, build relationships, don’t forget the ones you have right there in your families and find out what might be going on right where you are for a dose of fun!

Due to my lack of skills in uploading videos, if you want to hear some of the music…. go check out my Instagram. I’m going to upload the videos there and keep photos for this post. My instagram handle is @TinyAdventuresOfElisaMG

 

 

Oh My! What Big Teeth You Have! Bears, Wildlife & Airstreaming

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I read way too many Reader’s Digest bear stories when I was growing up, and therefore had an almost paralyzing fear of running in to them while camping. I knew bears if not fed by humans instinctively would run away so I was more afraid of what would happen to my trailer when sitting out alone. After all it was marinated in delicious smells like bacon and pork chops. My Service Manager at LA Airstream did say he had only seen two instances where a bear had torn into an Airstream. Burt in my logic… that was two too many!

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I smiled and said “Oh, what… did they leave the door open?”

He said “No, bears don’t go through doors, they ripped it open like a tin can. But the odds or so against anything happening to you.”

Yah… that didn’t help.

I read everything I could on bears, and of course all of the attacks kept coming up. Go figure! There was the park ranger who had bear spray on him but the bear was on him in 15 seconds so he didn’t have time to get it out. He hit the bear in the head with his hatchet. But he had to repeat that performance as the bear charged twice. He was glad to escape but felt bad discovering later that the bear was a mama bear.

I spent time talking with the REI experts, and invested lots of money in way too many “bear canisters”. I was told to put food and bathroom toiletries, and basically anything that had a scent in it and place the canisters several yards away from the trailer. Well, they were good for dog food containers, and extra stools to sit on at the campfire, and even an elevated desk for my laptop so I could write this blog. However, I’ve given a few away as they emptied seeing that I couldn’t put my stove or microwave in one, boh of which were loaded with good smells. I also chickened out and parked at the cottages by the lake instead of boondocking in the middle of the field.

Well, I saw bears daily. They were almost always mama bears with triplets. This was the year of the bear in Manitoba. All of them were quite beautiful, some were cute. I was in awe at how they moved, dancing across the ground, flopping up trees in three graceful swoops of their overly long arms, always quiet and always fast. Honestly, I come away with no new real wisdom except what is already out there. Absolutely don’t engage. They need to keep that sense of fear of humans as another carnivorous animal. Someone said bears can smell that we are meat eaters…. I don’t know about that, but I did keep my distance and have incredible respect for their power, grace and beauty.

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Dudley? The National Parks had said do not take small dogs on trails as they will irritate the bears and may cause them to charge. Great! Well…. he felt it necessary whenever he found bear poop to put his little doggie poop right on top of it. And if he realized the bear was nearby, his voice would lift up in loud barks. In the photo at the beginning of this blog all three little cubs were hiding behind the tree they had climbed with only their paws showing, until Dudley barked, at which in unison they all peeked out. Mama bear stayed hidden below. Thankfully we were in the truck.

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On the night we heard a pack of coyotees howling, Dudley took his best coyotee stance and howled and howled right back. If I can ever figure out how to add videos I will add that. It was quite funny. The coyotees actually stopped howling.

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I guess the lesson learned can be summed up in this final bear photo. Don’t feed the bears, or wildlife for that manner. Don’t make them familiar with humans. Keep a respectful distance and they will too.

The biggest threat to Dudley was the birds that would swoop down on him when he was sun bathing on the deck. And of course, if we had seen a Bull Moose, they are known to be much more dangerous. Large buffalo, horses and fox, we viewed from the safety of our vehicle. The fun part was all of the variety of wild and domestic animals that we did see. If you love that kind of thing, head to Canada somewhere near or in Riding Mountains National Park and you won’t be disappointed.

My fear of bears, has lessened just a little, at least Black Bears. I think I’ll leave grizzlies for someone else to write about!

New Domain Name

Hi Followers! I just wanted you to know I added a new domain name. My new domain name is TinyAdventuresOfElisaMG. If you are like me…. you are now likely going “what?” “huh?” Well short version…… I am slowly learning how all of this blogging and social media work and I didn’t like the original name I picked. So this name will make it easier for folks to find me. I just wanted you to know it’s still me. Also… if you have friends who just follow by waiting for the next Instagram post, or facebook or twitter post, please encourage them to actually follow the blog by clicking on “follow” and adding their email. I am the only one you will get an email from and only when I post. I promise. 🙂 Thanks for your support!

Elisa

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