This Fulltimer is Staying Home!

Hey Folks! Here’s a little piece on what stay at home means to me right now. First of all, what is “home” for a fulltimer? Well, in my case home has been wherever my trailer is. People ask me where I live and I point to the trailer. Right now my trailer is here in the Sonoran Desert. As someone who has been enjoying a nomadic life, sitting still can feel confining. I have had to learn to travel in my imagination, keep the company of myself and explore more deeply who I am and what is important to me, furthering what I started out doing in my original downsize. I have had to learn to be ok getting still and quiet and hearing what my fears and anxiety are gifting me to learn about myself. Everything I have been through in the last couple years traveling as a fulltimer, I believe has prepared me to be right here, stying put, in the desert, one of the most spiritual places I know. I have let go of lots of material things. I believe this has prepared me to go deeper exploring what I value, and what guides me to be a better person once life speeds up again. I know I will look back on the pain and suffering of this time and realize, as in everything difficult, it was giving me an incredible gift.

Right now I have disconnected the battery and am staying still in this river home, while my trailer sits behind me. Staying in this ghost town of a park has allowed me to save precious cash in case things get really tough. It has given me the luxury of a full size refridgerator at which my spinach stayed fresh for one month. Yep! Unbelievable. In my trailer I would have had to get fresh vegies every few days. I get joy from the small things! It has also allowed me to store up on staples like beans and rice, canned spam and canned fruit and veggies if needed. It has kept me healthy and safe.

Sitting still here has given Mr. D. room to run about free indoors, vs his usual back and forth in the one hundred square feet of trailer, although I’m not sure that he really cares. My dog does thouroughly enjoy our morning desert walks and acts like my daily alarm clock if 6:30 am comes about and I have not gotten up yet. I’m guessing as the sun rises earlier that will be 5:30 am, but that’s ok. I enjoy our time as much as he does. I mean who would have believed I would be going for four and five mile hikes into the desert daily. We photograph the sights, commune with burros, track bobcat prints in the sand, collect wild flowers and add to our collection of rocks for our rock garden. Sitting here has allowed me to go within and find my inner strength and courage to be there for my loved ones from afar, and to be there for myself. We are never guaranteed tomorrow and I am grateful each day for everyone of us who is still here.

The photo below is of the closest neighbors I have had up until now, Bob and Dee. They head out to their home parking in Oregon in a few days and I wish them safe travels. All things happen for a purpose and having had these two here is no exception. Dee gets all of the credit for showing me how to navigate the hikes in the desert, how to appreciate small desert finds, and how to build up my organic garden.  It would not be appropriate to share her age. I’ll just say she is a rock star and when I started hiking with her I knew I had to step up my game, and I’m forever thankful. These two have become family. They are both what I call givers, and have taught me to be more of a giver myself. We look out for each other from a distance,  and keep each other’s spirits up.

I also have had the luxury of an outdoor space to create more paintings and show my artwork. Getting lost in my creativity is my favorite way to soothe my soul while all of this craziness goes on around me. I actually hosted a six feet, wear your masks art crawl. Yah, Bob and Dee were the only ones around to come by but it was fun. You have seen some of my pandemic pieces. Here, you’re getting a sneak peak at one piece that has not been released yet and will be on show in an online art exhibit May 1st. I encourage you to look for notice of that and see works from my community of artist friends. All of the artists out there, photographers, musicians, comics, painters and more, have helped me keep going.

“Patron Saint of the Earth” Acrylic on Canvas 16 x 20

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I never thought of myself as an off grid gal but I’m picking up some new skills that will help me get there. I’m working on growing as many vegetables as I can in containers and learning how to blanch them.  Sitting still has allowed me to do that. If you remember when I first went on the move I gifted many of you my beautiful plants and pots. I love seeing them doing well in your gardens. But I am also glad to have some of my own again. As a fulltimer, I am a full believer there needs to be more opportunities for us to have a base camp, or a place we call home that we can return to  when feel the need to sit still.  I love my plants, yet they  are too difficult to take with me. If I could have them in a place I consider to be my base, I could come back to them.

I am picking up other skills such as dog grooming. YouTube is amazing! And here’s a shoutout to UPS for delivering my top of the line grooming tools. I think I did quite well. I’m not sure that my dog would agree that I now possess this as a skill though. If you’d like to see what he has to say check it out here.

 

A lot of my other fulltiming friends have also found a parking spot that allowed them to stay put. Just because we can jet set across the country in our trailers doesn’t mean it would be appropriate. There are so many frontline workers risking their lives to help the rest of us that sitting still until there is a vaccine, is my way of saying thank you, I see you.  Thank you to the nurses and doctors and the scientists. Thank you to the truckers. Thank you to the delivery folks. Thank you to the grocery store and gas station employees. Thank you to the law enforcement and security folks. Thank you to my local park employees. Thank you to the workers in the fields keeping food on my table. Thank you cleaning people who are doing the seriously dirty work, and the folks working the morgues. Thank you to the folks at the post office for delivering my essentials. Thank you to the internet company workers for keeping me connected. I know I am missing someone who is putting their life out there for me. I know there will be plenty of time to be on the move again down the road.

I believe in people’s right to protest, but one has to ask, what if they got it wrong? Is that worth people dieing? Stay safe my friends and give me a facetime, Google Duo or a Zoom shout out if you’d like to “travel” via phone, see the desert and keep entertained as these quarantine times allow the scientists to find solutions for us.

Pandemic Parking

So we’re in a Pandemic. Little did I know my “Tiny Adventures” would take me here. I guess it’s still a tiny adventure. I mean the virus is so tiny it mysteriously leaps through face masks and flies around the world unseen befuddling scientists and experts. Looking back at posts and drafts I had to chuckle as I read some of the comments I wrote. “Expect the Unexpected” was one of my possible titles. I talked about “being flexible and being open to what life puts in front of you”. I imagined the twists and turns I would be taking my blog on. I shared my  “grattitude for time spent with loved ones”, and relief on “overcoming my fears ” of things like my first tow through the Canadian Rockies while it was snowing, or my story about tornado hopscotch. I dreamt about all of the places I would journey to around our beautiful continent, and all of the creative possibilities for some land that I have. Well, little did I know what was right around the corner. And the crazy thing is, I have to remind myself when fear arrives and starts to cripple me into a frozen state, that still, little do I know what is right around the corner. Not knowing brings me back to the here and now. I feel like my whole journey has been a spiritual one of taking risks and stepping out on faith to fully live life in the present moment. It’s been a journey that ironically has prepared me to live life to the fullest in the presence of death , enormous loss, sorrow and global disaster. It has reminded me that in spite of the things happening around me, the sun always rises, life goes on and I have a choice to enjoy this fleeting moment that I get to be here.  Surviving this, living depends on the simple fact that I have a choice in how I think about things. This gives me hope and keeps me joyful. That keeps me breathing.

I was reflecting and felt so grateful as it felt like everything I expereinced in the last four years, two years of downsizing and two years of travel, was preparing me for this moment. I’ve had to grapple with what is most important to me, shed off things that were no longer useful, learn how to be resourceful and learn from my mistakes in a new way of life, find new ways of getting groceries on the road when I couldn’t unhitch and drive somewhere, take care of my health when far from my trusty doctors and medical support system, learn how to stay safe when isolated and stay connected and in community. I have had to face my fears and do things anyway, learn to really live in the moment, appreciate and be grateful for the beauty around me, and get handy and more confident with DIY projects. I have learned to really love time with myself as well as love who I am. I have had to learn a whole new way of budgeting and handling finances since when you are on the road you are booking things sometimes a year in advance and dealing with other unique finance challenges. As a side note, I have to admit its killing me to not be able to take advantage of the diesel prices I’m missing right now! Ayway I have also learned some new skills picking up side gigs here and there where I didn’t have an important title and I could learn to humbly be of service to others.  I have learned how to ditch my “shy” and make friends out of strangers some of which began as internet friends. All of that and more I know is helping me now.

I’m creating a regular routine, which while it lasts, starts with a dog walk, then a cup of coffee and some reflection and meditation, then a five mile hike in the desert, followed by getting a project done. I make up projects for myself and my neighbors. They have joined in the fun and make up projects for me too. And I have found there is a lot more time for making art. I try to connect daily with three people and I incorporate a zoom meeting here and there and spend minimal time on the news in the eveing. I cook all of my food, eat healthy and drink lots of water.  I’m working on starting an organic container vegetable garden. Every few days is cleaning day.  I dress up once in awhile just for kicks. Every night I try to get a solid nights sleep.

Thank you, thank you, thank you….. for reaching out to me and checking on me to see if I had a safe place to be. Reaching out reminds us that we count, somebody cares about us, we matter.  As for parking, I do have a place. I was planning on making the desert my homebase and parking in a park along the river. Instead I have parked my trailer in storage in a park along the river and am living in my boyfriend’s river home. Seeing what was coming he convinced my stubborn, independent don’t need anybody ass that it made sense to try to find ways to live smarter right now and since I was fortunate enough to have the option I  seized it. In doing this we minimize costs and combine resources. I hope folks are thinking creatively how to do the same… lean on each other… help each other.  I also recognized that if I wanted to have some back stock of food, my tiny trailer refridgerator and freezer was not going to cut it. So over time I have been able to build up food resources here allowing me less of those deadly trips to the grocery store. Remember folks it is this week that advice tells us it would be smart to even avoid grocery stores as we head towards the peak of the effects of the virus. Since my guy is mostly in LA working on the frontlines I’m mostly here by myself, with a few other folks who have not left for the summer. When he’s not there, we are quarantined together following all of the advice I hope you all are following.

Also, in looking out for my dear furry companion there is more space for him to run around in doors when we need to stay inside. It will be easier to keep him cool. The less stressed I am the less stressed he is. I am so grateful to have a dog to care for… reminds me of the roll of tiger in the boat in “The Life of Pi.”

I’m not going to lie, I was a little sad unpacking my trailer and cleaning it for the shutdown. I had to make sure it was ready for the intense heat it will be sitting in here. I was disappointed to cancel my first two rallies in Colorado, Airstream and the We Can Tow It rally for Women who tow. Even so, I know this was the right move. I just came out of three days of fighting off intense panick, depression and grief having now lost five people I know to the virus…. and one close friend to other health issues that I’m sure were complicated by the fact they dealt with them during this time. But I am well. I am strong. I have support around me. My faith carries me. My companion dog gives me comfort. My partner does all he can to help me stay safe and in the moments we do see each other we leave it all behind and stay in the joy of getting to know each other. The birds sing to me all day and the desert soothes me. And as for my tiny adventures they will continue in my new living space, and one day I’ll take my rig back out on the road for some more adentures. Don’t get me wrong I’m still about living tiny. This place is a little bigger than mine but it’s still requires minimalist living, so it feels like its just the next leg of the journey.

I have actually been in stay at home mode before the actual order and am ending day 28. My spirits have stayed upbeat. So as I accept this is my life right now, I am finding ways to still contribute, connect, feel joy and dance in the beauty of this planet. I’m loving my loved ones with all of my heart while they too are still here, and I’m finding ways to live life on life’s terms. I hope you are too. I love phone calls in the morning so if you need some human connection call, give a shout out, facetime share our geographies, lift each other up.

As you can see, the Tiny Adventures of ElisaMG continues. It just looks a little different than expected. Thanks more than ever for following.

 

County Parks & California Fires

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So one question I get a lot of is where do you stay? Where do you park? One way to stay somewhere is through the County Parks system. Of course there are State Parks, where you typically need a state park pass, and National Parks which the same would apply. There are also a lot of gems in local County Parks.  Especially in California, a state that is not super RV friendly. Most parks in California only allow you to stay for fourteen days at a time and also have a limited number of days you can stay in a year which means if you want to stay in California you need to know how to dance about to different parks mixing it up.

On my way to my winter parking location, once I used up my allotted time in Bonelli, I travelled a few miles away to Riverside County’s Prado Regional Park Campground. I was happy about a more reasonable price. I loved the spaciousness around my site. I literally sat by my fire pit in pj’s enjoying down time with myself and I had tons of privacy. I loved that I’m still not far from surrounding cities and my friends could all come visit when I wanted company. There was lots of space to hike around and enjoy the lake views. At night time there was a nice view of the city lights, and, I felt safe from all of the fires popping up in all of the surrounding neighborhoods. Plus the camphost gifted me free firewood, and let me know in spite of the surrounding fires we were in a safe area to have campfires.

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Eventually I knew I would have to get on the road. Once again, I was keeping an eye on my routes, the wind, and weather reports as well as the locations of the fires. Getting caught up in that was definitely not a goal.

In my last days at the park, the only thing interesting was this faint sound of an announcer on a megaphone every once in awhile in the distance. I thought what is that? Is there some event going on somewhere close? Hmmmm….When I finally listened carefully to it and made out what they were saying….. “Prisoner number 65411….. bla bla…. bla bla… bla bla”…. I broke out cracking up. Will I go back there? Um….. yah…. time will tell. We’ll see what else might be available if I find myself in fire filled Southern California again. I’m still laughing.

Back on the Bluffs of Bonelli & Learning the Importance of Cholks

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Ummmm… yah… here I would learn a lesson I should have gotten day one. I looked back through my videos of my introduction to my trailer life and felt a little less stupid since this lesson was not underscored. But still…. it became so obvious after I almost killed myself and all of my RV friends down on the lower hill. By the way, I never told them, so until they follow my blog, they will never know their lives flashed before me one night.

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If you have been following me you know I started fulltiming at East Shore RV which since then has been taken over by Bonelli Bluffs. Its the same park, just not as full timer friendly. I put aside my ethics on the takeover and the changes for a flash in order to enjoy the privilege of parking in the most sought after sites in the park. These are the kind of spots with views that make your friends who think you have lost your mind, take a pause and say wow. They get it. They in a second understand why someone would fulltime in an RV. The views are amazing and you never have to hire someone to mow the lawn or work insane hours at a job to keep up the lifestyle. Anyhow, I decided I wanted to enjoy the views of the privileged parking spots in Bonelli. I have to say I had mixed emotions. I was glad to commune with my old neighbors and friends who still full time there…. although most have left. I loved the serene, meditative views. But I did feel a tiny piece of loneliness as the full timers’ community has taken a hit and no longer really exists in the physical space of the park, although it will always live on via cell phones and social media.

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Anyhow… one real lesson learned here came about when I was hitching up to leave. By now I have learned that my style is to pack up the evening before so all I need to do in the morning is get up and drive off. When attempting to hitch I realized I was on a slight slant towards the cliff. This is the same cliff that I had enjoyed the prime view for the last few weeks. Now this cliff had become a source of terror as I kept failing to hitch and watched the sun slowly setting and turning into darkness. There was no way, now that I figured out what was going on that I was going to sleep before hitching and ensuring my safety. You see, I was on a slight slant towards this cliff, which made it difficult to line up my hitch. Each time I tried to lower the trailer onto the hitch I realized it was not in allignment and I had to raise it up again. It would oh so slightly, while shaking the ground a bit with its sense of 8,000 lbs of power, slip an eight of an inch or quarter of an inch closer to the cliff. F—-! Well….. silly me did not realize, you are not suppose to remove the chocks before hitching up again. As a matter of fact, I thought the chocks were just a nice addition to keep the trailer from bouncing about on its four wheels when walking around inside and not really needed. Little did I know before this, that the chocks are something you must put down before you unhitch and you must not take up until after you are hitched back up again. The chocks keep your trailer from rolling and crashing down a beautiful bluff like Bonelli and crushing your friends camped below and totalling your trailer and killing you, if you happen to be in it that is.

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Since then, now that I live on the river where the sand can give way to mini grand canyons, I always throw down my chocks. Lesson learned… thankfully with only a small bit of movement.

BTW…. before my hitch and chock lesson I did manage to knock out one more painting. Sorry the original sold before I even finished it, and I’m happy to say I got my best price ever. I mention that because those who have a dream of doing something I have found if you believe in yourself others will too!  I do have replicas available for anyone who wants to support my love of the arts and travel. Love you guys!

“The Dance” – Acrylic on Museum Canvas, 36 x 36 SOLD!

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Listen to those Vacation Package Deals!

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When I last left you I was just pulling in to Emerald Cove, a part of the Colorado River Adventures, a vacation package membership for RV folk. I spent two hours listening to a vacation package deal and in return got twenty days free parking at one of their campgrounds. I chose Emerald Cove, right down the river from where I would end up wintering this year. Besides hitting the back end of  Monsoon season, an ongoing theme of my most recent travels, it was perfect. I mean I have been running from weather since Pismo Beach so I guess there is no surprise there.  I watched as the rushing water slowly rose higher and higher in the parking lot behind me, wondering at what point I would need to hitch up and get out of there. On occasion I would check my “ghetto wooden window” but I have to say, those guys at the RV shop in Minnesota, did me a solid as not even a hint of leaking through my broken window.

There were more fun neighbors to meet, learn from and hang out with, two large pools and hot tubs surrounding the bar and grill and TVs. I got to liking the hot dog and fries and little too much. And in the mornings and mid week when all of the party people were either asleep or headed back to their day jobs, the river was all mine. Mine and Dudley’s that is. We began falling in love with the gorgeous scenery here.

I successfully drove my trailer up on to levelers for the first time, and I learned about a lot of cool gadgets for my wish list from my new neighbors. I learned about the importance of nailing down everything outside as I lost a rug to the river and created yet one more dent in my trailer from my flying wooden patio chairs. When I saw the dent I was like “who would do this and how?!” My neighbor said, remember that wind storm last night when your chairs went flying. All I could do was laugh at myself. I also learned in the night, when the winds were 50 mph… that I am not the one to sleep in my trailer when its rocking and rolling. I spent the night walking around the campground with one of my new found friends who also wasn’t about to sleep through the crazy winds. Also with no internet or TV I had lots of time on my hands so I got to work  on painting some more pieces for my collection of work to sell. It’s really the little accomplishments along the way that give me a sense of satisfaction.

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By this time, I was seriously looking forward to my upcoming gig where I’d get to sit still for five months. I had zero regrets on the fun sitting still and listening to a two hour sales pitch gave me. As a matter of fact, I have five more free days to use up at the park, and the deal they were selling was actually a good deal if I had, had the extra money to blow and knew I might eventually want to make this area a home base. So I say, listen to the sales pitch! 🙂

BTW… if you have an interest in purchasing any of my work… original or replicas, send me a message and we will talk. Thanks for supporting my art and travels.