Friday, March 13, 2015

Botched Mexican Dental Work

Based on a recommendation from someone I trusted, I went to see Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Algodones, Sabali Dental Group,  for a tooth extraction and an implant and implant crown.  DO NOT go to this dentist.  Here is the story.  I really hate that I have to resort to doing this.


First I got a guy on the phone named Manuel.  He assured me that he would give me the very best price on the work of anyone in Mexico.  He also assured my safety there by meeting me at the border and walking with me to and from the dentist office.  Each time, I would tip him $20.  So I drove over 100 miles one way and arrived at the border to be met by Manuel.


Manuel is the escort/dental assistant who meets you are the border, and he is always followed by this white dog.

Manuel asked what I could afford to pay, and not realizing what he was up to, I had said I hoped to keep it under $1,000.  So before the dentist even examined me, the price got set.  For $950 he would extract my tooth, put in the implant same day, then I was to return four months later to get the crown.  I paid about 1/2 the money down.  I returned to have the work completed, and he made a crown that was ugly and did not fit properly.  So another 200-mile round trip to return and have it remade.  The second one was also ugly and felt funny.

Within 48 hrs. of returning to the states, it seemed to me it was loose, and I thought the crown was just coming loose, so I visited a dentist in Parker AZ to have it re-glued. The whole abutment and crown fell out in the dentist’s hands… with very little pressure.  Be began examining it and said the post was the wrong size abutment for the implant.  He said I should get a refund from the dentist. 


Never saw the two men flanking Dr. Ambriz.

I contacted the person who referred me to Dr. Ambriz (a relative of his here in Quartzsite) and he told me to call. I called and they wanted me to make another 200-mile round trip to let him have a 3rd try at getting it right.  I said I was not interested and wanted a full refund.   Dr. Ambriz agreed to give me a full refund. I have called several times requesting the $ and have been told, it’s in the mail…. or we will send it on Tuesday, or whatever.  I have not received even one dollar since he agreed to this in October 2014.  I have not even received the full mouth x-rays which they also promised to mail to me.

And to make matters worse, I was under the assumption that of the  $950 out of pocket to a Mexican dentist… that I could file a claim with Delta Dental of California and get some of the money back.  Turns out I could not, as I would have had to have a Mexican address on file with my health and dental insurance to do that.  So, I was just out $950, period.  This is just wrong.  I live on less than $950 a month and it has been a great hardship for me to suffer this loss.


Dr. Ambriz is on the left, never saw the guy on the right.

Dr. Ambriz knew it was wrong size abutment, but didn’t tell me.  He had about six to 8 abutments on the tray and kept trying them in my  mouth.  I asked if there was a problem.  His assistant, Manuel (not a trained dental assistant, but an out-of-work carpenter who meets clients at the border and walks them to the dentist office and then assist the dentist and translates for him), said… “No nothing is wrong, we are just cleaning it”.  They even dropped things on the floor and then cleaned them with hand sanitizer.  So, they put a crown in, the whole time knowing it was not the right abutment,  and went ahead and let me pay him the balance.  It was the first implant I had ever had and I did not know the difference.  And the last time I was there Manuel was trying to get me to hook him up with an American lady so he could marry and come to America.

All I got for $950, plus four 200-mile round trips to MX, was a tooth in a box.


Tooth in a box, value = $950.

In October, 2014, Dr. Ambriz, through Manuel, agreed to a full refund, but I have yet to see one penny.  Manuel is a sweet-talking con artist… and Dr. Ambriz comes across very sweet and respectful, but he is a dishonest untrustworthy person.  Do not trust either of these people.

I ended up going to Dr. Carlos Ruiz in Parker AZ to have the correct abutment ordered and a new, proper fitting crown made at the cost of another $1200.00.  Luckily, my insurance paid about 50% of that cost.  Dr. Ruiz even called Mexico and tried to reason with Dr. Ambriz.

NEVER go to this dentist, Dr. Ambriz, … he is not reliable, honest, nor honorable.

Beware:   Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico

He has a Facebook page… “Sabas Magana Ambriz.”  His English is poor.  He is not trained in the U.S.A. but at Facultad de Odontologia, San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora.

A copy of this blog post is being printed and sent to Dr. Ambriz and also to his relatives in Quartzsite.  On 3/13/15 I learned that his relatives are no longer referring people to go to Dr. Ambriz and have in fact torn up all of his business cards.  They have even notified Dr. Ambriz’s mother about what he has done to American clients.  I hope my blog will prevent anyone else from suffering the loses I have suffered this winter.

I want my full refund of $950 sent to me by U.S. Postal Money Order.  These funds can be sent to me at:  Charlene Swankie, 110 E. Center St., #1654, Madison, SD 57042.

The day I receive the refund in full, I will remove this page from the web and internet.  If I do not get a full refund within a reasonable amount of time, the link to this webpage will be sent out to a greater circle of people.  Right now I have 180 followers on this blog, and 265 friends on Facebook.  All of them will be asked to share this blog with others and to warn everyone they can.

This blog post will remain live on the web until I get my full refund.  If I collect new information and complaints from other Americans and Canadians, I will post them here… below in the comments.

First posted, Friday, March 13, 2015.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Preparing to Break Camp - 2015

My friends have left Quartzsite and my funds are low due to dental work I got caught up on this winter.  It's time to prepare to leave Quartzsite.  It's going to be a slow painful tedious process.
Work I had planned for the van this winter still needs to happen: 1) replacing the trailer wiring connection, 2) repainting the roof rack, 3) installing a mounting platform inside the van for new t.v.

Other projects are incomplete, like downsizing rocks, although I did leave about 20 gallons of rocks in a friends yard yesterday.  Completing and downsizing genealogical documents and photos I have hauled around in the trailer for six years.  Each and every rock is hard to part with, especially when you find something like this:
It's the lower jaw with teeth of a prehistoric fish.  How cool is that?  I'm told one recently sold for $300.  The money would be nice right now but I think I'll keep it and go back and look for more.

My 10x10 canopy was intended for a shady place to work, but ended up being just a place to pile things.  Working on folding up and repacking this area today.  Wind is knocked the heck out of the canopy tent... and I have grown tired of the noise and jealous of the small camps of my friends.

I have things I did not have when I arrived here in Quartzsite in September. The outdoor rug is one. Now the process of breaking camp has begun and I will need to find places (or make space) for the new things I purchased. There is only one hope for doing so, and that's to downsize.

The little table I built from scrape lumber I had on hand, as a place to put food when folks come over. It has worked well as a place to sort rocks too. It just rests on top of the wheel fender and the two legs will fold down flat. All that was in the trailer when I arrived, so it will take up no additional space when I leave.

Having my friends all leave gave me terminal itchy feet and I want to be back on the road.  Time spent this year at Bob Wells' RTR made me realize I am happier with just the van - camping, rather than this large camp I had this year.  I left my stuff in my large camp and just drove out to RTR for the occasional visit or overnight, just with my van.  It made me feel freer again.

It will take me days if not weeks to get loaded back up and then what?  I can't find things to get rid of, things I no longer want.  I am frustrated by having my only external hard drive stop working and the thought that I may have just lost years worth of scanning really irks me.  That's the genealogy legacy I was hoping to leave behind.  This is painstaking work, a small stack of data and photos takes hours to process and sitting that long gives me a pain in the butt and neck.  I don't know the solution.  Living outside, you can't just spread your genealogy out to sort it.  I may need to rent a room in a town that has a gym and swimming pool, so I can just unload all the genealogy, set up printer, scanner, and two new external hard drives so I can complete this family genealogy project.  That's been on my mind as a possibility for a couple years.  If you want to contribute to the genealogy project and help me retrieve the data off the old external hard drive and purchase two new external harddrives, you may use the Paypal donation button in the upper right corner of this page.

Breaking camp is made more difficult by the fact the trailer and it's contents may be heading to one location for six months and the van, kayak, bike, and things I need will be going with me to other locations for six months. Means you have to think it out well, or do without. What goes where? The process has begun.
My hope now is to process as much rock as I can.  I.E. that mean to trim down all the slabs I have to shapes I want to work with, thus reducing the amount of weight I put back in the trailer.  That in itself will take up most of the "rock time" I have left this season.

My rock work table has remained fairly well organized and I just got it cleared off, and downsized the rocks out there by 50%, a decision made easier by the fact a friend in Quartzsite said I could leave rocks in her yard. So, should I change my mind, I will be able to go get them when I return. I hope to downsize rocks I keep in the trailer to two containers only. Maybe a 3rd for tools and supplies.
My camp feels like a disaster area right now. Wind is knocking everything over. I will need to make one more fire to use up wood I have on hand. I'll take burnables and build a fire after I get through sorting stuff.  I have things I did not have when I arrived here in Quartzsite in September. The outdoor rug is one.  The little table I built from scrape lumber I had on hand, as a place to put food when folks come over. It has worked well as a place to sort rocks too. It just rests on top of the wheel fender and the two legs will fold down flat. All that was in the trailer when I arrived, so it will take up no additional space when I leave.
Breaking camp seems to be more on my mind these days than doing rocks or genealogy.  My plan is to make one last trip to Florida and the southeastern states when I leave here.  I won't be in a rush... I'll have to pace myself with incoming paydays and outgoing gasoline expenses.  I am also taking my bike and kayak and plan to kayak as many places in Florida as I can as I make a loop around the whole state.  Will be stopping to visit friends before returning to Arizona. 

Now I just realized I have lost the card out of my cell phone.  I went to copy some photos a friend sent me, of me working in the Rock Club Lapidary Shop, and did not have the option to save the photos to the card... because the card is missing.  What the heck.  I am not having a good season.  First my slide and photo scanner stopped working, then I lost $950 by trusting a dentist in Mexico, then the external hard drive dies, and now my sims card is missing.  Think I'll go back to bed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Turning Over a New Leaf for a New Year

I’ve always gone out of my way to help others, gone the extra mile, I guess because I needed the approval and acceptance of other people.  This is probably because of old baggage, the need to get the approval and acceptance I never got from family as a child. Guess what?  I am no longer that lonely sad child who needs to keep doing that.  I approve of and accept myself, finally.  I have pondered about New Year’s resolutions, and woke this morning realizing that this is mine… to be true to my own best self.

Who is that self?  No longer will I be the person who changes my schedule and goals and plans to accommodate others.  My life is very full, I have a busy schedule of things to do and places to go.  I am sure along that path I will meet others who will dove-tail into my life without me having to compromise what I want and need.  I am through going the extra mile to fit into other people’s schedules.  Done, all done. Yesterday, brought that in to clear focus for me. Do I sound like an old curmudgeon?  Well, just maybe I am… and if so, I am o.k. with that.

Where’s what happened yesterday.  I reported to the Rock Club to work a morning shift as a rock sawyer.  It’s hard and grimy work, and I just love it.  There has always been great satisfaction for me in hard work.  Sometimes my back hurts.  I get very dirty, a problem when you live in the desert with no hot running water for a shower.  But I love it.  And yesterday I got a real surprise while sawing one rock… when this pattern revealed itself… and I suddenly knew why I volunteered for this grimy work.  I immediately informed my supervisor that I had to buy that slab… and paid the $3 for it.  I love this rock.


A tree in a windy storm??

At noon I was off duty… and went to my van in the parking lot to check email and Facebook messages as a lady I know from Facebook was planning to come through town mid-day, layover, and go on to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show the next day.  She had been asking me about where to camp, boondock, eat, etc.  I spent a good bit of time making recommendations online.  So, I figured I’d save the time driving back to camp so that I could meet up with them this afternoon and see her new van.  I had work to do in the van… anyway.  So, looked online for an hour for messages from her, sent my phone number to her, went back in the rock club and left my phone number there for her… and then decided to grab a sandwich and “do genealogy” until I heard from her.  I could easily do all that without going out of my way for her or driving any extra miles.  No problem.

Got my food, parked over by Hi Jolly monument, and began working on eye-straining genealogy data entry into  If you have done any of that, you know it can be pretty intense.  I can’t watch Facebook and do this work too.  So for the next four hours I worked.  My phone was on.  I got no call.  At 5:30pm, I closed down my genealogy work, and checked back on Facebook.  The lady had gotten on a few minutes earlier, hardly “mid day” as she had told me, and said she was in town and gave me her phone number.

So at 5:40pm I called her.  They were at Family Dollar and said they were going to stay at B10 campground that night so they could have electricity to make coffee in the morning…. not boondocking like they had said. All the time I spend answering her questions and giving her ideas and recommendations, for what?   I told them I was only a couple blocks from there and would meet them there.  Forty minutes later they had not arrived at B10.  I thought I saw their van go past B10.  I was getting aggravated and was tired and hungry again. A morning of hard work in the rock mines (i.e. sawing rocks) and a whole afternoon doing eye-straining data entry made for a tiring day.   It would be dark soon and I needed to get back to camp as I can’t drive after dark, so I went home. (and no hot shower waiting for me when I got there).

Arriving in camp five minutes later, the moon was coming up and the sun was going down.  How happy I felt to be back home again… alone. Then the phone beeped and a voice mail message said they had checked in to B10 and were on their way up to Times 3 for dinner.  What?  They didn’t have time to check in to B10 and drive on to dinner from the time I left there five minutes earlier. It was their van that had gone past B10 while I sat and waited for them.   I texted them that I had waited but needed to return to my camp before dark… and that maybe next time I could meet up with them.  But secretly (well no secret now!) I was glad I had not waited more than 40 min.


Just how much are we expected to do for others?  Where do we draw the line?  I am drawing the line this year – that is my New Year’s Resolution.  Darn, if I stopped and went out of my way to meet everyone coming to Quartzsite who wanted to meet me, I’d never have a minute to myself.  It’s just no longer a sacrifice I am willing to make.  From now on, when I am working at the Rock Club, people can come meet me there.  If they want to join in on other activities I am participating in, they are free to do so… and I’ll make my Google calendar available to them.  I’m done.  The rest of my life is mine, on my timetable,  I’m no longer going the extra mile for anyone else.  I’m 70 and I’ve paid my dues.  I’ve got a hell of a lot of stuff yet to get done in this lifetime.  Others will now have to go the extra mile if they want to meet or spend time with me.

Here is the February calendar:  (I can see the calendar is not clear, so send me a request to be added to share my Google Calendar.)


OK, so I’m old and I’m a grouch.  So be it.  Don’t expect more from me then you are willing to give to me.  I just ain’t got it left to give.  I’m done.  Happy Trails.

My New Code for Living – Lakota Code of Ethics

Rock Club site and newsletter:

Rock Club Facebook page:

QIA (Quartzsite Improvement Association) site:

Disclaimer:  You are not required to accept or approve this message.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Someone shared this on Facebook this morning and it is so good, I am adopting it as my new code for living.


New Years Sunset

1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy - and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.

6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it be people or plant.

7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.

9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.

11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.

12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.

15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.

19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.

20. Share your good fortune with others.~

I am bookmarking this page to be on my Favorites Bar and plan to read it each morning to begin my day in a new light.  I will refer to it often to help my friends and vanily.  I hope each of you will as well.  We can make the world a better place. 

Thank you, Pamela Caskey for sharing Sande Kendrick's post on Facebook.

A new blog post will be up soon, summarizing 2014 and outlining my hopes for 2015.

Friday, November 28, 2014

What I am NOT Thankful For!


Chef Steve, lowering the turkey into the deep fat fryer.  Took 45 min. to cook that bird.  It was yummy.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving 2014, and I spent it with my “vanily.”  That’s right, VAN-ily.   (Van + family)  There were about 40 of us gathered off grid in the AZ desert with no services.  My friend, Steven, was the Host and Chef with the Most.  He did all the work of preparing one of the best thanksgiving meals I ever had.  I prepared an apple/pecan cobbler that was to die for.  It was a great meal and good time renewing old friendships and beginning new ones.  I got to meet three new tribal dogs, Kaylee, Cody, and Max.  So, you would think I would be happy.  But it’s just not so.


Just at dusk, this horrible cloud of smog blew in from the west, agricultural dust from CO River Valley, ATV and Mountain bike dust, and truck fumes.  I had to retreat to the van, put on a mask, and run my A/C until the cloud passed.  How is that fun???  This I am not thankful for.

I woke in the night with allergic reactions to dogs, dust and the pollution.  My eyes were itching, my nose was running, I was stuffy and having trouble breathing.  I was also up all night peeing gallons (???).  What the heck?  Why does my price for having fun have to be so high?  This morning, I came to the realization, one I have been fighting for a couple years, that I would not be able to continue to gather with the tribe for the desert dinners and for RTR.  My allergies have just gotten too bad.  In the future I will be remaining in an isolated camp alone, and will try to remain healthy enough to endure the exposure I get from dust of the rock club itself… and avoid any other allergens in the future. This I am not happy for.  Hopefully, I will not have to give up the Rock Club, my original reason for coming to Quartzsite.  That I would not be thankful for.


Cody (Bob Wells new dog) and Kaylee (Lori Hicks new dog), playing besides the chairs.

I love dogs. They know it and all want to come to me.  I have to be mean and firm and cruel to them to keep them away.  They want to romp under my feet and kick up dust that I have to breath, so I have to be mean and wear a mask.  That is not fun for me.  This I am not thankful for.  We had half a dozen dogs at Thanksgiving dinner and I expect a minimum of 2 dozen at the RTR, most will be allowed to run loose and pee on whatever they wish.  One peed on the canopy of my blue chair, while it was down.  Some clubs, like WINS has a rule against bringing your dogs to the meeting circles and meals.  There will never be a rule like that for RTR, so I will just have to stop attending after this Jan. 2015.  I have to choose between the RTR and my health.  It is unfortunate, but that is just the reality of it.  The dogs have more rights and freedom than I do… this I am not happy for.

I am hoping the year will end on a better note, but am stressed out about that as well. My son had his 3rd hip replacement on his right hip in two years.  That 3rd was in November, and when he went back for a check up  and to get staples out a couple of days ago, they discovered his femur had fractured.  This I was not thankful for.


So December 2, his daughter is having open heart surgery, and on December 3, he is having his 4th hip surgery, to go in and wire his femur back together.  Astonishingly, he reports that he is having NO pain at all.  I believe the pain would be unbearable, so his body and mind have shut it all down.  This is very stressful for me.


A tooth in a box… cost $950.00

And then there is the botched Mexican dental work that I am having to pay to have redone in America.   $950 out of pocket to a Mexican dentist… only to have the final crown fall out two days later because he used the wrong size abutment (and he knew it was wrong, but didn’t tell me and went ahead and let me pay him the balance).  He agreed to a refund in October, but I have yet to see one penny.  This I was not happy for.  NEVER go to this dentist… he is not reliable, honest, nor honorable.

Beware:   Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico

I want my blog to be upbeat and all about fun and adventure, but I swear 2014 is making that a real challenge.  I will make one more post in 2014, and I promise you it will be a happy fun one.  Stick with me, my dear followers.  Swankie will be swankie again before too long.  And if you pray, please keep my son and granddaughter in your prayers.


It might be a genetic flaw… we laugh and get silly when serious stuff happens.  I would be very thankful for all the prayers you can send their way.  They both deserve to have full and happy lives, even if I don’t.  This I would be very thankful for.  Thank you.

I’ll be back, Swankier!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Who Am I???? Where do I belong???


First, my apologies for not posting in a couple months.  It has been a confusing and overwhelming time for me with family medical issues, car mishaps, and emotional entanglements.  I feel ungrounded and lost.

This morning was the first Orientation Meeting for the Rock Club.  I was asked to attend and help with new members and in the Lapidary Orientation.  So, showed up as I said I would, only to find the other volunteers knew nothing about me.  They shoved a bunch of instructions at me, the guy leading the Orientation appointment me  THE “Shop Foreman”… and so I tried to do as I was asked only to find the other “instructors” looking over my shoulder at everything I was telling others… and correcting me.  I found it confusing and so after an hour or so… I felt the urge to flee and so I fled.  They really did not need my help, and I guess the way I learned things is different from the way they are teaching things now, so I will require some re-training before I allow myself to be put in that role again (I AM NOT a “Lapidary Instructor”… I need far more training than I have had for that role), if I do ever allow that, again.

I fled to my secret place in the desert where they are NO people.  It seems to be the only environment where I can think clearly.  I took a walk, I found the above crystal, my head cleared and I could breath easier.  I decided if I am going to be a Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club volunteer, for now… this year anyway, it will have to be in behind-the-scenes roles… like editing the Newsletter.  I have agreed to edit the first newsletter of the year… ONLY.  Have 1.5 hrs. into that and will finish it in 1.5 hrs. or less tomorrow.  Could have finished it in 2 hrs. total, if all the “news” had been turned in.

So, I still find myself asking Who Am I?  Where do I belong?  I never seem to fit anywhere.  I look back on my blog post from a year ago… and can’t see that I have made any progress.

November 8, 2013 I wrote: 

I come to Quartzsite each winter to learn about making jewelry, it is only a coincidence that Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) began happening here too. But, right now I need to be close enough to walk to town in a reasonable amount of time and I get tired of hiding from Clyde (BLM employee/ranger) and trying to be legal. I need to be able to unpack, set up camp and relax and have a home to come back to after a hard day of sawing rocks and cutting stones, and polishing stuff and making jewelry, etc. and so forth. RTR is only two weeks out of the whole winter. And as much fun as the RTR is, I do have a life outside RTR. Rocks come first and I get to do that ALL winter long.

Now, I find I am not as interested in rocks as I was then.  I have downsized the number I am keeping, and hope to downsize even more this year, IF I don’t get rid of them all.  At least… Clyde is not returning this year, and I have paid for the LTVA permit so I am legal so long as I stay within 500 ft. of a Vault Toilet.  I don’t like my camp as well this year… as I could not return to the same location due to storm damage.  This was last year’s camp:


Where my van is parked above, lies the top 3rd of this tree. So the top of the tree is no longer there to shade the carpet area. I can’t park there, I can’t pull the trailer through there, and so I have set up camp across the wash from this spot in a far less desirable location.  I am not happy.  The wind has been blowing for a week and I can’t leave my side walls down.  I feel unsettled.

This time last year I had finished kayaking Alaska, and was looking forward to kayaking Hawaii in May 2014.  I did that and was jubilant beyond words.  I was hopeful and looking toward the future.  I was pleased with the progress I made in becoming the best I could be. Below, how much can you change after six years on the road??


After kayaking Hawaii, my plan was to begin training for the AZ Trail Hike in spring of 2015. But I got derailed by getting into an unwise emotional relationship, and by family medical situations which I felt required my presence.  I was wrong on both counts, but those events costs me financially more than I could afford …and resulted in me having to delay my Arizona National Scenic Trail Hike one year.  I can not now afford to outfit myself for the hike or to properly plan it out and get fit. Now I find myself depressed… and fighting that with all I have to fight with, and the continually nagging question, “Who am I?”

I thought reaching out to help others would make me feel better, but I only get a momentary high from that, then I find myself wanting to be alone again… totally alone.  I don’t know how to fight this.  I have joined the Rock Club and offered to help in ways I felt I could best contribute.  I have reached out to another vandweller who is just launching into this lifestyle, but find myself doing an approach/ avoidance thing with that arrangement, even though I really like this person.  I have joined the Metal Detecting Club and will get out and be as active as I can with them.  But I approach something I think I want to do, and then get this urge to turn and flee as fast as I can the other direction.  What is wrong with me?  Where do I belong?


Son and Granddaughter, both on IV Antibiotics most of the summer and fall.  What the heck???

I suppose this is not new to some of my readers and may be normal human behavior after emotionally charged life events?  I.E., I have a granddaughter scheduled for open heart surgery very soon and her father, my son, having his third hip replacement surgery on the same hip in two years… about the same time.  I went to be with them this summer and help where and how I could, but did not get the feeling that I was appreciated, needed, or even wanted… so I left.  I can not afford a return trip for their surgeries, regardless of the outcomes, I can only hope and pray that the outcomes will be positive for them.


And then there is the botched Mexican dental work which has cost me over $1,000 and I have nothing to show for it but a tooth in a box.  I am trying to get the promised refund, but so far that amounts to zero.  The Mexican implant is going to have to be pulled out and all the work done over again.  Do not go to that dentist. (Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico)  Also I was under the false impression that my Delta Dental Ins. would pay for out of pocket expenses I paid to a Mexican Dentist but that will only happen if you have a Mexican address on file with the Ins. company.  So, my claim was denied.

I am just out $1,000, plus the expenses of getting to Washington state and then back south again, a trip I was not going to take this year, and have nothing to show for it but depression.  I MUST find a way to fight my way out of this depression.  Hopefully I will also find a way to write an up-beat blog post soon, about desert rocks and metal detecting…. and hopefully, the wind will stop blowing.  Without wind, I love the desert.


If you run into Swankie out there, send her my way. She needs to help me find myself.  But I do still know how to find the sunsets.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Search of Solitude

Well, I lived through the drama (unplanned trip to Seattle, WA, son’s 2nd hip surgery and complications, upcoming heart surgery for my granddaughter, damaging my van requiring replacement of three right side doors, hassles with insurance company and auto repair shops, the threat of loosing my van, repairs, being “homeless,” being taken is by wonderful friends who I will never be able to repay, and feeling suicidal).  I have come out the other side, not exactly looking back on it all and laughing yet, but I’m moving in that direction.  And I have my van home back and I’m on the road again.
Once past Eugene OR going south, the world begins to feel a little more sane, and traffic starts to ease up. I knew there was a WINS (Wandering Individuals Network) gathering not far off my path, so I contacted them to see if I could join them overnight. For a few years I had thought about it, but recent photos they posted of kayaking adventures inspired me to actually stop, socialize and join signing up for a 1 year membership ...($70). There is a members' blog list, which I asked to be added to.   (Normally I add a link to things like WINS but I will not… you can google it.) The next morning I met at their hugging circle (right just what I needed a bunch of hugs from strangers)... and listened and watched, as they received instructions for the day. Everyone was happy and excited, but it reminded me a little of being back in grade school with the teacher at the head of the class and all the little obedient children paying attention. Then as they departed for the various activities, the president came up to me with a couple questions about my blog and what I needed to remove/change about it in order to be listed on their list. Sanitation... he said he could not list my blog as long as there was anything on it about going to the toilet. WTF??? Really! Here is the page in question. . I said it would be fixed but as I parted and headed down the road, I just got increasingly more aggravated by his request. So later in the day, after discussing this with a couple of my friends on FB Chat... I decided to cancel my membership application and request a refund.. I decided WINS was just not a good fit for me... and after six years of writing that blog, I was not going to change it to protect their sensitive members from the topic of "living small." Poop on that. (Pun intended).  Now if my readers complained, I might make some changes. IMGA0483 So off I went in search of solitude. Getting closer, but nope, this is not it. Water in the man-made Galesville Reservoir was depressingly low and I didn't need anything else depressing in my life right now. Onward. IMGA0470 Not a bad place, that Galesville Reservoir and it might be fun to kayak, but I don't have my kayak with me. And no overnight parking is allowed anywhere but the campground, which had only a few closely-packed sites with no privacy for $15 a night. I can do better... onward. IMGA0479 But I am beginning to see more wildlife... wild turkeys, geese flying south... etc. OK Swankie still flying south too... While waiting in Washington for my van, I became driven to get away from the cities, the pollution, the people, the traffic and find some solitude and a mountain. Well yesterday morning sunrise, through the smog... sun is off to the left still... was o.k. but I can do better.... need mountains. Air in OR down Rt. 5 was awful, burning my throat in spite of having windows closed, A/C on and wearing a mask. I had to get out of this. Onward... need a mountain.

Last evening, I spent time half way up this mountain on a paved road, little traffic, but I didn't sleep well. I knew I could not sit outside at this location and paint... so I kept driving higher on the mountain this morning until I came to this. Finally, a mountain. I have only passed two parked vehicles coming up here... and I think I will stay awhile. Maybe a day, maybe more. I need to heal my heart, my body, my mind, my throat, my soul.  I can begin to do that here. IMGA0508 A Swankie-style home. I challenge any of those WINS members to wake up to this view.. they could not even get their rigs up here. They are camped literally on the highway in Junction City, OR in an RV Dealer Parking lot. Would you trade this for that? IMGA0525 So here is my new camp. I can't make a fire and probably wouldn't if I could, but I have a very nice and clean fire ring, and I can sit out there in the morning and enjoy more sunrises. IMGA0528 The road coming in to my camp. Only the last little stretch of the road was off pavement. Been on roads much worse. And there is one low area I would want to get back across if rain threatened, but skies are clear and dry.°22'56.9%22N+123°38'12.5%22W/@42.3820346,-123.639298,439m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0?hl=en IMGA0529 Here I will finish this painting for a friend in Paso Robles. Last commitment I have to anyone else. I will then be free again. I have solitude here, to think, to find myself again. I don't know how I got so off track back in March, but I vow to work hard at never letting that happen again. Only ONE thing could make this day better and that would be if there was water here and I had my kayak. So it can get better than this, but for today, this is all I want or need. I have plenty of food and water and a cell signal. I am blessed.
(Updated: Sept. 29, 2014) Painting delivered, customer happy.

Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007 I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in 2015 solo. In training now for the hike.