Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why, why am I kayaking the country!?

I just ran across this set of photos clustering in a folder by themselves.  I realized they told a story all by themselves.  I don’t know why they were in the folder together, or if that was my intent so I am putting them here… because I think it is an important story.

In the Spring 2001, I met my second husband-to-be.  We planned to be married in June 2001… but we married in the hospital in May 27, 2001 and he died in surgery June 4, 2001 (now I don’t write that to make anyone sad).  I cried for almost a year. I was suicidal.


To get my mind off my grief and try to reclaim my life, I took my little granddaughter, Tori, on a cruise to Alaska.  Somehow that didn’t quite do it for me… but this photo kinda kicked me into gear… realizing I am only happy when I’m outside.  The above photo and the one in the raft below were only taken about ONE month apart.  Yes, hard to believe.


So after the Alaska trip, I began working on my plan to downsize and become mobile.  The process can be painfully slow, especially if it involves two knee replacements, a car accident, two shoulder surgeries, and misc. other uncontrolled events (like trees falling through the roof of your storage unit in Washington state when you are in Califonia, or a month later after you moved your stuff into a new storage unit and returned to California, the new unit floods and you have to return to Washington again… this time buying a trailer and hauling what’s left away from there)  but I just kept the goal in mind and kept plugging away.

Eight years later, there I am camped in Quartzsite, AZ awaiting the arrival of other vandwellers… with everything I own is in tow.

2010_01_Quartzsite 014

Bob Wells took the below photo a month or so later… and it sums up the transition for me… I hope it does for you.  The moral of this story, is if it is your dream to live a mobile life – just keep plugging away at it.  Keep the dream in sight.  I think it saved my life.

2010_02_28_ 122


(story of the name Swankie… my mom was a Bevis, she married a Beaty, and I married a Bailey first time – oh someone has got to change this pattern Bevis, Beaty, Bailey… so it was nice to finally get a swankie name – and that was really his name David Swankie – the love of my life)


  1. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing & inspiring.

  2. Laura, you are most welcome. I hope others will do as I did, give up the remote and the couch and LIVE. Afterall, it's true, we only get one chance at it.

  3. You are awesome and I am so glad that you are doing what you want...and need to do in this life. I wish we spent more time together in Q this year, but I guess it will be something to look forward to. Love you MA

  4. I am so happy you are "doing" this life! So many people wait for so many things and it's great that you are doing what you feel and what you need to do! I wish we had spent more time together this year in Q, but I guess it's just something we'll have to look forward to. Love you MA!

    1. Love you too, my darling pseudo-daughter. You are precious to me. And I have never been so happy.


Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
Visit me on https://www.facebook.com/swankie.wheels. 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.