Monday, April 30, 2012

Thank you for helping me get to Colorado job.


My new pet (or dinner?).  Do you know what it is?  Landed on the hood of my van as if to welcome me to Colorado.  NeatO.


The view outside my van doors:


Thanks to the folks who helped me get to Colorado, now I am here and the road is not opened and I can’t get to the campground where I will be working.  I could have up to two weeks wait time (that means two weeks without pay).  So I’m looking for more work in the meantime.  Here are the two sketches I just finished today.


An 8 x 10 pencil portrait of ONE face, or ONE pet for about $40. Send scanned (high resolution) photo to me for advanced approval and qoute. Once I accept the photo I'll doctor it in Photoshop to crop out  unwanted things and send you a photo mock-up of how I envision the sketch. When you approve of the mock-up, you can deposit funds to my PayPal account... using My PayPal account.  See samples of my work on last post.

I have still not been able to replace those two bad tires but at least they did not blow on the road.  However, I’m not so sure what will happen when I head up that mountain road to my job site.

Bad planning on my part. I am endeavoring now to set money aside each month into an emergency fund... and will be able to contribute almost all my income to that fund from May-October.

Also, I do excellent photo restoration work.  If you have an old photos you want restored, send me a high resolution scanned image for a free QUOTE.  SAMPLES.

Thank you in advance.

Charlene (aka SwankieWheels)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Payday… two days away.


I’ve been camping around Elko NV at various store parking lots… just waiting out the two weeks before payday… and day after tomorrow is it.  Yahooooooo!  I think I gotta go over those mountains to get to Salt Lake City, UT.  It’s been so cold here.  Uggghhh!


A couple of days ago, I splurged and bought Frosted Flakes (see photos below). Last night I splurged and got dinner from a Chinese place… rice, sesame chicken, and seafood combo, and two egg rolls.  Oh boy, did that hit the spot.  And I got a couple fortune cookies:

1) You’ll accomplish more later if you have a little fun this weekend.

OK that fits.  I had fun this weekend, sleeping in each day, doing two sketches for pay (total $100.00), listening to music, watching some t.v. shows, and going to bed early.

I’m ready for MORE accomplishments.

2) Next full moon brings an enchanting evening. 

Gotta go look that up, just so I don’t miss it.  Hum, May 5 will be the next full moon.  That is the day I am suppose to arrive at my summer job/home.. at the campground.  Ya think I’m a’gonna meet a fella????  Maybe not.  Maybe I’m just going to feel really enchanted when I reach my summer home.


Today I will finish the two sketches I’m working on and then do an inventory of all the food on board.  My plan for Colorado is to only come down off the mountain about once a month.  That takes a bit of careful planning.  Anyone interested in seeing the food inventory and the one-month plan for food purchases???

Today is my eldest son’s birthday… he is 46.  WHAT?  How can that be?  Happy Birthday, Chris.


Chris in 1966, Teheran, Iran.


Chris’ daughter, Zoey in 2008, Wenatchee, WA.


Chris in Tehran Iran, 1966.  So that made me hungry for Frosted Flakes… something I haven’t had for years.


Chris and his girlfriend, Jenelle, hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail together… this at Crater Lake.


When I got my Master’s Degree, Chris drove back to Indiana from Maryland with me for my commencement.  Thanks, Chris, that meant the world to me.  Wish your brother and Tori had come too.


Chris and Jenelle hiked the whole Pacific Crest Trail in five months.  Guess they figured they were compatible after all that and so they got married by Elvis in Vegas.


Once a backpacker, always a backpacker. 
This is their first child, Zoey.  Too cute.


Zoey and mom on left,
Mom and Dad with son Will and daughter Zoey on right.

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Beautiful Zoey at Christmas.  Reading and books are their favorite activities.  They get two stories read to them each night before bedtime.  They’ve asked me to only send books as gifts.

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This is the first time I ever saw Will… and isn’t that the greatest smile.

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Will and I had matching haircuts.

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Zoey really loves her baby brother and is so gentle with him.

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Grandma really loves Zoey’s little brother too, but wasn’t so gentle with him… first time I picked him up out of his car seat, I caught his finger in the buckle and made him cry.  Made him cry???  I made myself cry!  Thank goodness he won’t remember it.

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It doesn’t get any better than this.  Not even tomorrow.  Chris and Jenelle, you are beautiful and are great parents.  Thank you for the wonderful gifts you have given me… Will and Zoey.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ely, NV to Elko, NV

What a beautiful drive.  My friend told me to be careful on Highway 93 as there was nothing out there.  He was right… nothing but snow-capped purple mountains majesty, blue skies, open rangeland that stretches on forever.  Best thing I saw though… and could not capture on film was an eagle on the ground with some prey in his claws… having at it.  Gosh I wish I could have caught that image.  Safe in Elko tonight, enjoying the lower altitude and warmer temps.


I did a video clip of the mountains but have trouble loading video to my blog.  I will work on it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Las Vegas to Elko, NV (a major transition)

I arrived in Henderson, NV feeling tired and decided the traffic was kinda freaking me out after being in the desert for six months… so I found the nearest large casino/hotel and just mellowed out a few days. Rested, I decided it was time to go find my brother, since he had not responded to any Facebook messages or emails.  Last I knew, he worked at the Tropicana… so I went there.  Ugh… traffic.


Sat., March 31, 2012: They sent me to the Rio and the Rio sent me across the street to the Palms Casino Resort. Finally found him, had dinner, and he walked me out to the street where we discovered the strip had just gone dark for the Earth Hour… that was neat.


April 1, 2012 Las Vegas Sun: For one hour on Saturday, darkness will replace the bright pink neon glowing on the Flamingo and bulbs twinkling on Fremont Street casinos as part of a global environmental awareness event.

World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour returns to Las Vegas for the fourth consecutive year, and dozens of Strip and downtown properties are participating by turning off their non-essential exterior lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.

I spent the night in the Rio parking lot as I really should not drive in the dark and woke to a view of every major casino in Vegas.  Trump Tower, Treasure Island, Wynn, the Mirage, Caesars Palace, the Rio and of course the Palms. (note to self… don’t park overnight in Rio parking lot… train tracks right beside the lot and it’s a party place for young folk who don’t sleep)

My brother and his wife, have a fancy big BIG house. I was getting fixated on T.V. again... so I had to get out of there. Also allergies acting up over his two very loveable little dogs. Why do I have to cry every time I leave someone else's pets that I get attached to?


People – T.V. watching; Dogs – Swankie-watching.


Such cute little pups (baby brother,
and his little Grayson).



Big house, lovely home and yard, and pool.  Good visit.  (Sorry to have missed my other relatives in Vegas, but I gotta go find fresh air.  See you next time around.)


Back on the road again... and what have I got... too much wind and lots of tumbleweeds. I kept thinking of the tune to the old cowboy favorite "Tumbling Tumbleweeds."  Who sang that?


A little ways north of Vegas is a spot all Vandwellers should take note of. I spotted the water and had to take a closer look. If not for the wind... I would have camped right there for a few days and paddled the whole darned thing, but after six months not kayaking, I was in no mood to battle wind and I had a headache. This is the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge and camping for 14 days is allowed and free (first come first served).. small town of Alamo 3.5 miles away. 

Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge–Valley of Shining Water.


Lots of waterfowl.  230 species… I only saw about four.  Really want to spend a couple weeks there.


They even had a Photo Blind there. Never saw one of those before. This is a special place.  And they even have petroglyphs… which I also did not see.


Can't I ever get away from airborne allergens???  A controlled agricultural burn.


This is the scenery of my child's/mind's eye... I used to draw horses running across such landscape... when I was a little kid. Who threw all my drawings away?


White River Narrows Archaeological District.  Now why the heck did I pass this up... wondering as I drove by... what kind of archaeology is out here. Duh!!!! Petroglyphs. What kind of archeologist am I???


So I made it to Ely before dark and settled into a casino parking lot. It was 74 degrees inside the van. By morning it was 47 degrees and I had three inches of snow on top of my solar panel. That had to go. SNOW... there is snow on my van????  SNOW, I tell you, SNOW! This is a heck of a coming-out-of-the-desert party. NOW, I miss Quartzsite's warmth (It is 70 degree F there today).


Something occurred to me last night… not putting my brother down or anything BUTT Laughing out loud they are very proud of their material accomplishments and possessions and they value the VALUE of things.  On the other hand, vandwellers I have met (including myself) seem to be equally proud of what we don’t own/possess and we tend to brag about how little we spend and how frugal we can live… and still have a great quality of life.  Just saying…


Other Considerations to give more consideration to:

Ely, NV. It has to get better than this... the snow I mean. O.K. some things I didn't consider: 1) where are my warm gloves and winter clothes? 2) how do I get snow off my solar panel and roof rack and trailer roof??? Keep the ladder a little more handy.

Ely gets exciting in June I guess…  with bathtub races???

I saw a parking lot next to a hotel/casino that had plug-ins for campers and RVers.  Several men were on top of their rigs this morning pushing the snow off.  Consider SNOW and how to get up to your solar panels.  You might try to avoid snow at all costs, but it can sneak up on your while you sleep.

Plan for today… or sometime this week… find winter clothes and gloves… and get the ladder out and more easily accessible.


Well, that was fun.  Resupplied.  Saw this GB vehicle in the store lot.  Found a side street up the hill near the P.O. and parked.  Heard a whiney outside… and looked out to see this…


How special is that?  It doesn’t get any better than this, until tomorrow.  (That should be me! lol)


Six months at 882' in Quartzsite. Then a week in Vegas at 2,000+'. Now Ely, NV 6,427' and next Elko NV at 5,060'. Then to Salt Lake City, UT at 4,226'. Then Rifle CO at 5,650' until job starts up the mountain near there to 9,000 feet. Good question. Can I do it. I think the headache and breathing problems were triggered by the pollution of Las Vegas valley (it's really bad folks) and the two dogs at my brother's (and the vegetative state I got myself into checking out their 'thousands of t.v. channels." I live outside because I will die inside. Already with a migraine pill and sinus treatments, my head is clearing... now to get the chest to clear up. Fresh mountain air (cleaned by the snowfall last night). Will just rest here in Ely until I feel better. Blogging, sleeping, blogging and sleeping. Lots to do in this here van-home... and I"m never bored.

Who is Swankie?

My photo
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... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.