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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!

Bears

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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A Love for the Land

I have so much love for this place I don’t even know where to start. To my readers, some of you will get it, and many of you might wonder what the heck I see in this place in the middle of nowhere. After all, it’s not the sexy California coast. But the coast is so transient, at least for me there is no soul or history or stories that connect people across generatiohs and time. Honestly, I have not even known how to write about the land here in the middle of Canada. There is so much history, beauty and love here. But maybe you will all relate when I say, it’s because family is from here. The places we “grew up” tend to stay romanticized in our brains and hearts. As I try to decide if I will continue ownership of some family acreage, I waffle back and forth in my mind. How much is family? How much is heart? How much is a great business idea? Does it even matter if it’s good business? Writing about stuff ussually brings clarity so I figured I’d attempt to share what this place is about to me with you. You know by now I’m not great at brevity but I’ll try.

This 80 acres is a small part of a century plus farm that my father grew up on just before you get to Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, Canada. I wish I had, maybe will start, taped my dad telling all of the old stories. Maybe I can convince him to write a book. My mom is documenting it in photo albums. First of all I found it kind of fun that my grandma and grandpa were rebels in their marriage because one was Swedish and one Norwegian and mixing like that was a bit rebellious…. and well…. if you look at a photo of me, you can guess why I find that fun. Anyhow, there are more stories than I can write about here, but I’ll say their farm to me was that magical place we ventured to every summer from the states. We drove out of the the big city of Chicago and headed north to spend time with, I don’t even know… maybe 40 some cousins? We knew that if we drove to the farm, that is where eveyone would be. Anyone coming through stopped there and Grandma would have some good food cooked up, my dad’s brother Uncle Lenny who farmed the place since Grandpa had passed would always have some old barn that had to come down, so there would always be a huge bon fire, and there would be more cousins than anyone could dream of to chase through the woods catching fireflys, riding horses, and going on other adventures. The rest of our stay would consist of going from farm to cabins on the various lakes visiting. We’d have coffee, ruhbarb, tons of saskatoons, and more. I mentioned earlier in my blog the trendy “farm to table” was going on long before it was a thing in our family. It was rare we had to go into town to get fresh vegetables to eat. As kids we would also get to shoot rifles (at targets of course), “drive” the car through the fields, even ride up in the old tractors. All of the farms in the area were owned by family.

There are so many more stories about that, but as anywhere, things change. Farming is expensive and hard work. Over time, once my Uncle passed, the farm, like many around, rented out the land to farmers who would come in from elsewhere and farm the land. Connecting meant relying on cell phones that may or may not come in, and driving around and catching people at home. There is a two lane paved highway that takes you up into the area about three hours northwest of Winnipeg. From there you’ll find a whole maze of back gravel roads that look like nothing is there, but in reality, there is so much. Driving these roads and figuring out where everything is, is a lot of fun too. Many farms have shifted into recreational venues, such as camps and golf courses. There are several gorgeous golf courses, of which many of the areas’ summer visitors come soley to participate in the tournaments etc. Traveling on these back roads, you’ll also find the remains of an era passed, like the old Tales School House. My father used to ski to the old one room school house in the winter and ride horseback in the summer. Of course, some come up here to their cabins to enjoy a little R&R. And then there is the old church and graveyard where most of the folks from the past are burried and many present day celebrations happen, like family reunions.   Sometimes the loss of all of our loved ones sinks in but I choose to keep seeing all of the beauty that exists from the grain fields, to the prarie flowers (wild, planted and weeds), to the wildlife (which I will dedicate a different blog entry.)

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The local tourist attraction that brought people in from all over the world, and eventually attracted Elkhorn Lodge just outside of it’s boundaries as an RCI spot was Riding Mountain National Park and Clear Lake. I always love the story about my grandpa builing the first cabin on the lake. If Minnesota is Land of 10,000 Lakes, Manitoba must be Land of 100,000 Lakes. There really is no shortage of lake fun, from kayaking, fishing, swimming, skiing, hunting and simply enjoying beautiful sunsets all over.

 

Earlier I introduced you to what I call The Original Tiny Home. When we first came up here we camped in a tent at our lake spot. We felt so lucky to finally get a cabin…. which can’t be more than 100 square feet and used to be used as an old hunting shack. My mother worked her charm and creative eye on the place making creative use of space like todays modern day tiny homes, and really making it a beautiful place to live for the summer. In this photo it’s getting a scrape down for one more layer of fresh paint. Before we grew into bigger cabins and buildings like our boat house, this charmer faced the lake with a big screened in deck with that modern day idea of making a tiny house seem larger by bringing the outdoors indoors. Today, with an eery absence of mosquitos, fireflys and dragonflys we no longer need a screen. Who knew I would miss flying insects.

Anyhow, today there a few relatives my age still coming up to cabins on a few of the lakes. My parents are a couple of the few “oldtimers” who are around and have all of the stories and history. My dad was the youngest and he and his sister are still here. My grandpas original lot is still in the family. We still have some farming relatives who fill us with pies and cakes and coffee forcing us to go for hikes in the woods. But there is a noticeable change. Now there are official hiking trails to enjoy, trying to capture a little of the history and landscape. And there are lots of new people that would not even know our family name. The nearest town about five miles away still has about 500 people, I think, but not many familiar names there anymore either, and the old drive in movie theater is gone.  Most of the young folks went away to university and then needed to find jobs so live further away in the more populated parts of Canada. It kind of reminds me of the floating island peopleI wrote about earlier, from Lake Titicaca in Peru. Maybe that’s why I felt such a connection when visiting there.

One thing I definitely learned from my folks is the importance of love, love of family, community and history, and love of the land, as well as a strong faith that will carry you through anything tough. In these photos I can still see the two teenagers that met years ago. I’d say those values fit quite well with my love of Airstream life.

Somewhere down the road, there may be some parking for my RV friends and family… if I choose to keep that small plot of land in the family. I had hoped to decide on this trip, and am still sorting out, what kind of Airstreamer I am. Am I a true Nomad, or do I have a couple of landing spots that ground me to my history? Do I boondock on my own land or do I want to boondock across the country in National Forests? Can I offer boondocking here, if I don’t come up every year? I have learned over time, if I don’t have a clear answer in my head, I dont’ have an answer yet. However, was it a sign, walking into the local coffee and art spot, Poor Michael’s, that I ran into my cousin’s kid? This would be my cousin who owns the rest of the farm, where the original homestead farmhouse sits. I’ll have to reach out and visit with her. Funny, maybe things have changed, but maybe they haven’t! The land still brings us together.

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In the words of Gerald O’Hara: “The land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts”…..Gone With The Wind.”

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Banff…. Need I say More?!

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We made it safely to Banff and thouroughly enjoyed a few nights camping there. I got to experience “Airstream Love” there, and thus have signed up for my first international rally next year in Loveland Colorado. We met a few other Airstream owners as well as RV enthusiasts who reminded me of the generosity, kindness and goodness that exist in people. It was fun swapping stories about our setups and sharing things we had learned. At one point I even turned around to discover that even though I had not asked, one of my neighbors had taken it upon themselves to bring over some tools to fix my steps which were sticking. The campground we stayed at was at the end of town with a shuttle service into town and lots to do. There were deer everywhere, as well as beautiful wildflowers like the wild roses. On the trip in, contrary to what I found on the internet, there were plenty of pullouts timed perfectly to let the cars who wanted to go fast pass by, as well as fences to keep wildlife from leaping out in front of your car. There were even bridges that were landscaped to allow the wildlife to cross the highway safely on above the traffic.  The one bridge that gave me anxiety was the Kickiing Horse Bridge. Obviously I had both hands on the wheel so you will have to google for the dramatic photos of that bridge and imagine our tiny Airstream sailing across it with the two brave warrior goddesses inside! Ha! Ha! But serisouls, Lake Louise, Banff, that whole area is better shared with you in photos then in words so this will be my briefest written entry. Enjoy.

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Enough said. This Mountain Mama is signing out and once again…. thanks you for your follow and shares!

A Police Escort in Kelowna

The drive from Eastern Washington across the border and up to Kelowna was probably the easiest part of the drive so far. It was fairly flat and basically followed the river with scenic views. The border patrol were the nicest I have ever experienced. They just asked a couple questions and then told me to have a nice vacation, which for the record is not my typical experience. I was thrilled. As I approached downtown Kelowna I realized that I had simply put “Kelowna” into google maps and not my cousins address, and that I was literally headed to downtown. You don’t want to head to the downtown area of a city while towing an airstream, as the streets will be crowded, narrow and hard to maneuver. Plus it was rush hour. Well, I lucked out, I saw an area of the current block where nobody was parked. There were just people hanging out along the street. I pulled over to figure out my next move. How would I find my way to my cousins’ home with no internet or phone service?

So one of the guys on the curb says to me from outside “nice trailer!” (You’re going to have to imagine the tone…. um… yah… I probably shouldn’t be parked by this group of folks hanging out.) Well, I figured it can’t be that bad. I mean this is a common scene in LA. All of a sudden this guy rolls up next to me in his car and starts to ask me if I’m lost, then changes his tune to “you must be lost.” He tells me I picked the worst neighborhood to pull over in. (I don’t think he knew I’m from the LA area and have seen a lot more than what Kelowna has to offer. ) He asks if he can help me in a tone, that makes me realize he is an under cover cop. I explain what I was trying to do and he simply says.. follow me. Apparently I was way over on the wrong side of town because he took me completely across town. I got to drive in all of the commuter lanes that normally I wouldn’t be able to drive in. He drove me right up to the house. Talk about service.

I spent a couple lovely days at my cousins with her and her boyfriend who has quite the green thumb and a lovely place. We also got to hike about a bit in Kelowna where there were lovely parks around the lakes. Dudley even got to go for a quick swim in an attempt to chase down some ducks, or maybe they were geese. If you have never been to Kelowna I highly recommend you check it out. It really is a beautiful place.

Now that the Canadian Rocky Mountains were the next part of my trip you’d think I would really be freaking out, especially since rain, snow and construction were in the forecast. I did feel a bit responsible knowing I had another life to bring safely through the mountains. Apparently the last rock slide was cleaned up and the highway was open but they had built the Kickinghorse Bridge about one hundred feet above the old road. Somehow that did not make me feel better, yet, I was not freaked out. I had a calm sense of peace about this segment of the trip. I realized, what ever was going to happen would be what happened and there was no need to worry about it ahead of time. I did text a whole bunch of friends asking for prayers for our safe travels.

The trip was beautiful, and even though there was rain and snow and an occasional mud puddle that rendered our windshield view blind, along with construction in places, all was well. I stayed in the moment and enjoyed the ride. Because of the rain alternative speeds were posted…. NICE! and contrary to what the internet says there were plenty of nice safe pullouts along the way.

One sad note that left us both a little rattled was that just after we made it through the mountains, we learned someone behind us had a fatal accident in Revelstoke, closing the highway. A sad day for them and their family. For me, I felt immense gratitude that we were delivered safely.

Four Dead Batteries!

 

 

On my Aunties’ apple farm in Eastern Washington  near the Columbia River and not too close to any kinds of shops, none the less an Airstream shop…. I learned a valuable lesson. The scenery was beautiful, and I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle so of course I was excited and let myself get distracted. Note to self for future, always follow my set up/tear down list, don’t talk to anyone until I’ve checked it over more than twice, and then, check everything again!

 

I was super excited to visit with my Aunt and Uncle and went in without unplugging my truck or turning my fridge over to propane. A voice inside my head said brought me back out a day later to check and yep, I had four dead batteries. I had not bought jumper chords for my diesel truck yet, which by the way has two batteries and would have really needed two diesel trucks, or at least one with an additional jumper to attach to the other battery. (I’m probably calling it the wrong thing. Forgive me.). The nearest shop was about an hour away for the truck and 200 plus miles for the Airstream… because yes… I drained both of those batteries too. And batteries are not cheap. Having paid for many reservations up front and lots of gas, I was near the end of my budget for this month and had just a couple days to solve the problem or cancel the whole trip as I would miss future reservations where one needs to book a year out to get a spot. In other words there would be a dominoe effect if I was thrown too far off of my scheduled travels.

In reality…. as mentioned in my last post, I had been terrified each time I got in the truck to drive and the Canadian Rockies were approaching. So inside I was feeling two things… one, could four dead batteries be the unsolvable problem that would allow me to slip out of having to drive through the Canadian Rockies? and two which was much bigger…… I was feeling stupid. I was beating myself up with all kinds of negative talk. How could have done this? How stupid am I? Why did I think I could do this? Why did I ever start this journey? How humiliating when everyone finds out how ridiculous I am! I can laugh now, but I was not laughing then. Although I did jokingly tell my aunt I might need to stay on their property and there was a starbucks in town that I could get a job at. I’m glad I can laugh now.

So, I have to say a huge shout out to some of the incredibly helpful and supportive and informative Facebook groups I am a part of. Airstream Addicts gave me lots of things to try. There was one guy who said he did the same thing only didn’t find out for three weeks. His advice was spot on. My uncle had a 14 watt charger (I think that’s what you call it.) It’s on my list of things to get. We charged the truck for 24 hours and went had fun to take my mind off of the “what ifs”. I did happen to have the adaptors for my 50 amp plug…. so I could go from 50 to 30 to 15 to my extension chord to the house which was a distance away… and plug my trailer in for 24 hours too. Luckily my beautiful “Beast” (2018 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel 4×4) forgave me and her strong capable alternator started her right up no problem! And, my Airstream recharged too. I had already replaced the original batteries so I was not stuck having to buy new.

The WBCCI Solo Stream Sisters  and Sisters on the Fly were awesome in helping me build my confidence back up which had been totally shot. The ladies shared stories of pickles they had found themselves in and how they found inner strength to solve them. They made my pickle look very small. One gal had to back uphill on  a twisty mountain road and she called other sisters in the group who all drove out to help her. Incredible! I plan to get to know all of these folks well. We are not alone. Also, the famous Jihong Tang shared her experiences Airstreaming through the tunnels in Norway which basically were the equivalent of what was ahead of me in the Candian Rockies but all underground with turn abouts, and spirals that spit her back out onto the mountain on high up bridges where solid land was far, far below. She is definitely one of my heros in this world.

The delayed time also gave me time to reach out to Airstream Canada Adventures folks and get the scoop on the road conditions in the Canadian Rockies. This guided me to YouTube videos. You can’t get more real than that!

By the way I also have to give a shout out to the Airstream LA service department employees who were not working on Sunday but took my call anyway and helped me trouble shoot and educated me a little more on electrical systems. And a huge shout out to my girl Cassidy, ex bad ass horse jockey now bad ass truck and jeep sales woman selling out of Ontario Chrysler Dodge (That’s California, not Canada)…. for answering her personal cell on a Sunday and helping me connect with fellow employees who could help me trouble shoot on the truck. I always call that dealership before a random Dodge Dealership in some other state. Love both of those dealerships. They have been so good to me.

Besides all of the lessons learned above, the main invlauable lesson learned once I got back on the road and hit the Canadian border was to stay in the moment. I can say that in my head, but to actually do it, it took me all the way up the U.S. West coast. By the time I got to my cousin’s in Kelowna and we were headed out again with a forcast of rain and snow in the Rockies…. I didn’t worry about chains, snow tires, my driving abilities or anything else. I just enjoyed the here and now, and decided if it was supposed to be my time, then so be it.  But more about that in my next post.

I’m glad you are enjoying following. If there is anything you would like to hear more about, just write on the post or message me and let me know. Thanks for helping me grow my followers. 😉