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.


  1. I am glad you are finding yourself again my dear friend. It's amazing to me, although it never surprises me anymore, how easily we can get off track.

    So I choose to choose Joy every day. The Peace, Solitude and Quiet are things many people would pay any price to get. I am so grateful the good Lord has allowed me, lol, has forced me to live this kind of life. This kind of Joy was so much harder to find when I was living in cities or even in small towns. We are blessed. :)

    1. When I used to camp in campgrounds, I rarely saw wildlife, but now out in the wilderness (and I am actually only a couple of miles from a city and an Interstate Highway, I have wildlife all around me. Staying one or two days in a spot doesn't always reveal what is living there, but I have now seen a dove family, a Vulture, a covey of Gambill Quail, hummingbirds, many other small birds I don't yet know, and coyote... all from this very chair I sit in now. And full 180 degree or more sunrises and sunsets each day. How much more Joy can a person handle.

  2. Seriously? No sanitation discussions? That is what everyone always wants to know about van dwelling - how does one deal with the mechanics of elimination.

    1. Yes, exactly, Allison. Thank you for your support. I am going to continue to be myself and share as I see fit. I have learned that if I have a problem, others do too. So my solutions will help others.

  3. It is truly amazing to be surrounded by nature in all its forms. We also have a lot of little animals around here. Squirrels, chipmunks, Blue Jays, hummingbirds, even a woodpecker. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. However. The cold is forcing me to go and while my heart is breaking to leave behind the wonderful friends that I have made here and the incredible beauty of the forests around Flagstaff, I know that the good Lord has another spot of beauty waiting for me down the road.

  4. Shawn (AKA KiyakGirl)November 20, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    WIN --- groups like these are precisely why Ihad joining any kind of "club". Bah humbug. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your blog; I will be subscribing and checking out your kayaking adventures. I haven't been in my 16 ft Montauk Impex in over three years. I hurt my wrist and it took months that dragged into almost two years to heal and the thought of reinjuring it keeps me out of my boat. I will enjoy reading of your adventures.


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.