Saturday, August 5, 2017

Mayflower Ship to America

In three years, one month and 11 days, the replica of the Mayflower ship will set sail to America.  Three of my ancestors were on board the original: Richard Warren, James Chilton, and Mary Chilton.

Some of my relatives have expressed interest in joining the Mayflower Society to commemorate the 400th Anniversary.  I have complied the information I have on hand that may help Beaty relatives, descendants of Mary Chilton (suppose to have been the first female to step foot on Plymouth Rock), fill out their applications for membership.  I have created a .pdf file of this information and will make it available to my relatives if they send their information to me at

I have only complied the lineage from James Chilton's daughter Mary and down.  You must be a member of that line to get my file as it contains documents of more recent relatives.

You will still have some work to do.  It has taken some people two years to get approved. I, personally, am not a member and have little interesting in "joining" groups of any kind.  So you best get busy if that is your goal... to join by the 400th Anniversary.

Joining Mayflower Society:

Read more about the Mayflower Story -

Monday, June 19, 2017

Getting My Kicks on Route 66

Ha, I live on Route 66.  I just got a P.O. Box and that is the address.  HA!  I just think that is funny.  The story behind it, not so much.


I came to the mountains near Flagstaff AZ to escape the heat of lower elevations. I needed to get onto free boondocking lands where I could begin finalizing plans to hike the Arizona Trail, unloading my trailer, repairing gear, fixing stuff, etc., without having to do it in public area.  Fine, found all that, now to get a place to receive packages since people are beginning to send me gear off my Amazon Backpacking Wish List ( ).


I had been told by another vandweller that some folks got mail in Parks.  So, I went there and asked at the gas station near Exit 178 off I40, about receiving General Delivery and packages. I didn’t know there was another option at the time. One would think they would tell you if there were any restrictions as to the type of packages they could accept, USPS, UPS, FEDEX, etc., I asked, but they didn’t tell.  So I got the proper wording for the address and got on line and put it in Amazon and sent it to my SD mail service.  Two friends ordered gifts off Amazon, and immediately got word back there was a problem with the address.  (WTF???  Excuse me.)

Well, I went back in at 10am Sat. (Mail counter only open til noon on Sat.) to pick up the 2 packages, but they were not there. But UPS tracking showed they were there, received on 6/15 and signed for by the owner. I left, double-checked the one UPS tracking number, and returned insisting that the owner signed for it on 6/15 at 4:57pm. They gave me ONE package then. Turns out it was not the one I was expecting and so I checked that tracking number and learned it was delivered the same day as the first one. So where was the first one???  I went back again... they had hid them from me, not putting a notice in General Delivery folder for me, until they could talk to me and tell me NOT to have packages delivered there, not even if I rented a P.O. Box from them. O.K., they been talking to me about this for two hours now, where is my other package??? Finally, after standing and staring at the owner for 15 minutes, she casually says to the gal in the mail room, will you get her other package for her????  Only USPS packages would be accepted for me there. Well, I had discussed that with them in advance too… that ordering from Amazon, you had no way to select which carriers would be used.  One employee had even told me to call Amazon Customer Service and talk to them.  I told them there was no phone number for that… and she insisted there was.  I double-checked Amazon site and could not find one.

Altogether, I spent three hours going back and forth, getting on line, checking up on tracking numbers, only to find they could have given the packages to me at 10am and I would have been out of their hair.  So by 1:30pm, I was finished with them and on down the road to the General Store to rent a box there.

No automatic alt text available.
Parks in the Pines General Store, an old photo from their Facebook page..
Established in 1906

That stove, neat thing… it’s a replica and it is electric.

So, back (I had had breakfast there after not finding my packages at the other place – a Super Burrito-made two meals of that) at Parks in the Pines General Store (Facebook - I rented a box. This is a brand new service… they are now an official Postal Annex… and so new, that many of the boxes are still unrented and the software is still being learned by the people working there.  I got to pick my own box number… just by looking to see which were empty.  These folks, Cary and Susan Asel, are great and so very sweet.  Susan even offered to let me leave my rig there free while I am section-hiking the Arizona Trail.

They also have a Deli there and the food is really very very good (got a Hawaiian Pizza last week to take back to camp and made four meals out of it.). 


There is a sitting area inside and outside.  And you can call in to order food in advance or to go.  Great deli…. … see their menu.

I asked it I could call in weekly to see if I had mail, since it’s over seven miles one way from camp, and Cary said I could call in anytime. By this time, he is using my first name, like he had known me forever.  And they will also email me when mail comes in. What service!  I think they are capitalizing on the lack of service and bad karma given out at the other place.  I overheard men at the tables outside talking about how great it was to have this new Postal Annex run by caring people.


Oh, also, they have hitching racks outside for horses and do get riders.  I also noticed a lot of motorcycles stopping by.  This is my new home.  I’m adopting all of them.

They even filled a six gallon water jug for me, and Susan carried it to my van because she saw I was having trouble with my shoulder. I offered to pay for the water since everyone in this area has to pay to have water hauled in, but they would not take my money.  I am trilled to find such nice people here.  I plan to hob-knob a bit with the locals and see if I can’t arrange shuttle service to trailheads in the area.  I have a feeling some of these folk would love to help me with my goal to hike the entire 800 mile long Arizona Trail.

The other place gets NO MORE of my business. NOPE.


Yes, I am having my kicks on Route 66.  So if ever you are out looking for your kicks on Route 66, don’t pass up Parks in the Pines General Store (  It is a true treasure.

TEAM SWANKIE - Gifts from supporters.

This is a test.  I am trying to learn how to place Amazon ads for items I have received.  This post will be edited and expanded with more details and reviews of each product.  Consideration is being given to creating a TEAM SWANKIE t-shirt for those contributing to the cause.

Turns out it is pretty easy to do.  

 This post is a draft...

Silicone TeaKettle (Thank you Carl Palme)

Coolibar UPF 50+ Women's Beach Hat - Sun Protective (Thank you Jana Norris)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Reviews (Equipment, Supplies, Companies) (updated 5/30/17)

(updated 28 May 2017)

My Spot Device has gone on 50 kayaking trips and all hiking trips. 
It will make the 820 mile hike with me as well. Worn like me, but still working.

I am adding a new tab to the top of my Blog where I will be posting reviews of the equipment, supplies and companies I have done (or am doing) business with in hopes it will help others make good choices in the future.
I will be listing reviews by others as well as my own experiences.

1) Outdoor Spirit, Outdoor (avoid this company altogether)


Shoes - Hoka-Mafata - ONE-ONE - REI  (review in progress)

Power Bank made in China, sold by Outdoor Spirit.   DO NOT buy this product. 
I found what appears to be the same product on Amazon called Solar Charger, X-DRAGON Portable 10000mAh Dual USB Battery Charger Power Bank (on left) one I bought from Outdoor Spirit on right).
Here is one review I took off Amazon: 
1.0 out of 5 starsUseless...
BySeanna Quanon March 11, 2017
You have to plug it in to charge it, and then you have to place it in the sunlight to fully charge the solar part of it. Once you do that you can use it. If you plug it up on your phone and it dies, you have to complete the process all over again. I don't know how many times I thought it was charged, and it was not. Plus the clip on the back broke really fast...
I concur with Seanna and most Amazon reviews say the same thing.  You can look up Solar Charger, X-DRAGON Portable 10000mAh on Amazon and read them for yourself.
Outdoor Spirit marketed as being used for backpacking but the clip on the back of the device will not hold the product on a backpack.  It would not even stay on with my figure going gentle under the clip.  And laying in full sun all day, it did not send a charge to my cell phone.
Outdoor Spirit also has a video on their Facebook page with shows how it all works, but they do  not point out this clip on the back… and make it look like you can fasten this to your backpack securely.  You can not.
When I contacted Outdoor Spirit for a return authorization and full refund they denied me saying I to prove it was broken first.  It is NOT broken, just poorly designed and falsely advertised.  I informed the company I would not buy anything more from them and would advise all my Blog and Facebook followers to do the same.  Yet, they continue send me annoying emails trying to give me discounts on more of their junk.
Also, instructions that come with the device are pretty useless. Here they are.  You can see from the penny used for scale, how very small it is. 
Since I can not return it or get a refund, I am trying to peel the Outdoor Spirit label which covers up the entire back of the package to see what information is there.  The label is such that it is design to come apart if someone tampers with it.  I will update what I find.

 I finally got the label peeled off... and the translation is so poor (from Chinese) that I can not even understand what they were trying to say.  Do you?

And here are the specs they had covered up with their big label.   Why would you cover the specs up???

(posted 5/26/17 and updated 5/30/17)

Backpack - REI - Venus (review in progress)

 SPOT-Device (review in progress)

This is a first generation device and still works.  I wrote SPOT to ask how new one differ and got this response on 5/30/17:

Extreme tracking has all of the same features as basic tracking but allows you to vary your track rate down to every 2 1/2 minutes where as basic allows tracking intervals of 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes. The device that you have in the photo is the first generation of SPOT satellite GPS Messenger. It is no longer manufactured but is still supported by SPOT. Can we help with anything else? Thanks, The SPOT Team


Arizona Trail Guide - written from South to Northbound.  I am going to suggest that a North to Southbound book be written, as some folks like me, have trouble reversing the directions.  You not only have to reverse each paragraph in each chapter, you have to reverse each sentence in each paragraph.  I get easily confused trying to do that and although I would rather hike North to South, I will have to stick to South to Northbound to keep from getting confused or lost.  I am sure I am not the only person on earth to have such a problem.

(this review is in progress 5/30/17)

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on 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... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in Spring 2017. In training now for the hike.