Sunday, September 30, 2012

First Day back on the road…


Moon rise over my van last night as I hooked up and pulled out of Rifle, CO.


This morning I stopped in at a Health Food Store and the clerk said:  “It’s a beautiful day, be sure to get Outside.”   OUTSIDE????   I been outside for four full months.  Told him I was not going to feel guilty about not being outdoors today.  Then I went and swam laps in a hot springs pool (Glenwood Hot Springs Pool) built in 1888, soaked awhile and hit the road.  Have been wanting to do that all summer but it costs $15 a day.

The drive out of Glenwood Springs CO eastward is pretty nifty… very narrow winding  road with steep canyon walls and…


… with a river running through it


…and an interstate (I-70) running through it


… and Amtrak running through it.

The grade up over the mountains gets to over 11,000 feet… and is a pretty tough haul for SwankieWheels and the trailer.  But we made it… sometimes only going 30mph.  As I drove off southeastward… I felt a twinge of pain that I was not going northwestward  to be with my son during his hip surgery.  But he is an adult and has family to care for him… and I need to stay true to my own dreams. Our legacy to our kids should be… to be true to ourselves.  That’s not always easy.

I have been trying to make a route map in Google Maps but don't find
it very user friendly, so here is my tentative route:
Hays KS
Wichita KS
Pawnee OK
Rogers AR
Springfield MO
Little Rock AR
Jackson MS
Mobile AL
Wellborn FL
Texoma TX
Sanders AZ
Show Low AZ
Quartzsite AZ
I come up with about 3700 miles. I'll be lucky to have the gas money
to accomplish this all in October plus maybe the first week of
November but I'm giving it my best shot.

Once I get to Quartzsite, I will spend the winter there, with
exception of a trip to Monterey Bay, California in Jan. 2013.
Some folks I really really wanted to visit are just too many miles off
this route to make a stop to see them affordable this trip. I'm so

By the way, I no longer sleep in houses, so if I am visiting you, all
I need is a level place to park my van home (+ 12' trailer). I have
COPD and can't deal with pets and things that come with indoor living
(just regular house dust, etc.).
I have reviewed all the notes I can find about places to kayak and
people to visit, hope I am not forgetting anyone or any place.


Fall colors are at their peak and the Aspen are loosing their leaves.


Today I made it through Johnson Tunnel (at about 11,000 ft) all the way past Denver out onto the open flat Eastern plains of Colorado.  Yeahhhhh!

Visit my Amazon store
- a portion of the sale will go to supporting my kayaking adventure.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Letting go is so very hard to do…

computer desk 019

Just getting computer set up in van a couple years ago.
It did not like the vibrations of being OnTheRoad. 

Today, I cannibalized my old PC… it was dead but I figure I might be able to get a couple dollars out of the parts which did not die.  I been dragging this thing around the country with me for a couple years… and today it is over.  I kept thinking, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out!”  See, I built it, and today I unbuilt it.  I’ll price out what these pieces are selling for and make someone a good deal of them.

PC, RIP.  Anyone need an almost new LCD Monitor????

Also being donated to the local vacuum cleaner store, unknown to them, tonight is my Rainbow Vacuum Cleaner which is about 20 years old.  Prior to buying it I got sick all the time, repeated bouts of bronchitis.  After I got it, I rarely got ill.  I still hate to part with it but I need the space and besides I get enough good fresh air out here… I think I am good to go.  But it is hard.

It almost like loosing a good friend, or in this case, two good friends, but I sure like the extra space that has appeared inside my trailer.  Today I sorted most of my stuff and got rid of some of it.  Tomorrow I will load my Kayaking gear, wet suit, etc. on top of the van inside the kayak.  Then I will be ready to depart Rifle, CO.


Father and daughter. 
She really looks like her daddy in this photo.

Oh, and my eldest granddaughter just moved away from home and into an apartment with three roommates.  I’ve been saving a collection of things to give here when she got her own place… so I will mail a package off to here soon.


My bouncing baby boy, bounced too much
and now needs a new hip.

And speaking of that, how is it I can have a grandchild old enough to leave home?  And a son who is having a total hip replacement next week???   I’m not that old!!!!


2002, I was OLD, but 2012, not so much.


Yes, “letting go”  feels good, but it also hurts all at the same time.  On The Road Again, da da da da da!!!!  (sign along with me…)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Laid-Off and ON-THE-ROAD-AGAIN!!!


Middle Elk Fire, Buford, CO
Taken just four miles from the fire.

This morning is the first morning in four months that I didn’t wake up depressed!  And I didn’t even know I was depressed until this morning.  Why you ask???

First day in four months I have not had to get out of bed and go clean up after dirty nasty humans… 18 garbage cans, and seven toilets.  Who would not be happy to be spared that first thing each day?

Well, I am officially laid-off. Sat. night, Sept. 22, I was evacuated from my summer job with the Forest Service due to a rapidly advancing fire five miles from my camp. On Sept 24 my boss laid me off due to low attendance ($59 income the week before the fire and $67.50 income the week of the fire).


Helicopters picked up water from the Lake all day on Friday, Sept. 21, giving me a very bad migraine.  They were very close to my van and directly overhead most of the time.

So... I am ON-THE-ROAD-AGAIN heading out to kayak the last 8 of the lower 48 states... which are KS, OK, AL, LA, MS, MO, TX, AR... not necessarily in that order. I will then make a quick visit in the FL panhandle to see my sister before heading to Quartzsite AZ for the rest of the winter making jewelry.

In January, I hope to visit Monterey CA to see folks there and kayak the Bay again. After that, maybe WA state to see my beautiful grandchildren.

Just wanted you to know I am O.K.--


Saw this beauty on the way back to work last week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Changing UP! (Thanks AstroBri)


I caught my first fish this week, but it was too little to keep.

In reading vandweller friend Brian’s recent blog post I realized a couple things about my summer experiences.  Brian said: “I am feeling a bit of a disconnect from my present and I am finding these things too much distraction.”  He was referring to his vandwelling forum involvement and his Facebook page.


Irish Soda Bread I baked in my Solar Oven.
And my work golf cart.

Being in a work situation all summer with no internet has clarified some of the same things for me as well.  I actually dropped out of the forums I was on last year some time.  Many of the people responding to my remarks were swell people, but a few bad apples spoiled it for me.  I never intentionally do or say anything to hurt others, but some members attacked me as if I were an enemy… and who needs that – especially when all you are trying to do is help others?!


My last campers gave me a trout.  Others gave me cucumbers and tomatoes.  All I contributed to this meal was the tortilla.  View of Lake in background.

Even blogging has issues... as some readers/followers get the idea/feeling that because you are publically telling your story, they (the readers/followers) are entitled to claim a piece of you or just pop up in your life uninvited.  RVSue has had that happen to a greater extent than I have, but still I was careful this summer NOT to give out my work location.  Same for the forums I belonged to and when you blog you kinda give out the message that "Here I am... take a piece of me!!!"  And ONE huge lesson I have learned this summer is that there are some people out there who feel "entitled" to do just that... or whatever they darned well please regardless of rules others must follow.  Did some people never learn common courtesy???


Well, some animals don’t know the meaning of manners… this calf busy tearing off the signs I so carefully posted.

I thought I would miss the internet and cell service, but I really have not.  Getting online once a month for a few hours is really good enough for me.  I probably won't give up FB but I find it aggravating in that when I do go back to check up on family members, etc., many of the posts (unlike my blog) are deleted before I get a chance to see them.  So, FB serves little purpose for me other than the fact that I have given family members a way to check on each other by setting up the FB page and friending them all.

Brian also said: 

I know this is esoteric and oblique, but I am not comfortable enough with what I am experiencing to name it yet. That may come later but meanwhile, I am urged outside, to look up and see what manifests as I pass along in my daily moment....

What’s that book???   Living in the Now???  I’ve been learning that this year as well… especially this summer.  As a campground host, your NOW is controlled by your guests.  Your job is to meet their needs first (and get their money), before you take any time for your own needs.  It’s actually a duty I will be happy to be freed from.  I’m at an age where I need to put myself first (something that I have rarely done in my almost 7 decades on earth).  We grew up being taught it was selfish to put ourselves before others, but I am glad I did not teach that to my boys.  I think to be successful in life/living, you need to put your needs first... and I’m glad my boys can do that (although it leaves me out here pretty much on my own).  Still this could be the ONE major factor why they are so self-sufficient and successful in life and that’s a good thing.


OK, Bri, you got me philosophizing here today, now I need to go wash my car, my bod, my hair… pick up my metal detector from storage and head back up the mountain to play awhile (I have run out of campers but am suppose to stay there until Oct. 21).  May paint some picnic tables if there send up supplies/paint, etc.  I hope I’ll be leaving Colorado sooner than that as I am eager to resume my kayaking, with only 8 of the lower 48 states left to kayak.


It is a beautiful area… these Rocky Mountains!  Awesome.

Adding later:

My Campers
Sheep Herds and Shepherds
Cattle and Cowboys

Monday, September 10, 2012

Have you ever heard the footsteps of a Squirrel?


I just bought an online book…  11 Steps to Living a Strategic Lifeand Step Number 10 kinda sums up my new philosophy on life/living.  Hope the authors don’t mind the Quote.  Great book… I recommend it.

Number 10 is to enjoy the good life under your own terms. Your. Own. Terms. Repeat that. This is your life and as far as we know, the only life you will have. If you spend your life fulfilling the dreams of others to the exclusion of yourself, you will be missing out on experiencing the wonderment of a new challenge, the joy of a job well done, the adventure of a path less traveled.

It does not take a lot of money to enjoy the good life. What it does take is a commitment to having fun and a dedication to pursing dreams. So go ahead, smell the roses. Figure out the life you want to live given the resources you have. Just do it!

What a marvelous summer it has been.  All my life, or since Smokey The Bear was born, on my birthday by the way, I have wanted to work for the Forest Service.  A dream full-filled this year.  How does it get any better?

Sept. 6, 2012


An American Red Squirrel, a type of Pine Squirrel, lunches on a Lodgepole pine cone. (borrowed from internet)

Have you ever heard (not seen) a squirrel running through the woods?  Can you imagine so much quiet that those little feet are making the loudest sound around you? These little Colorado squirrels are running about gathering pine cones to store for the rapidly approaching winter.  Snow will soon be here and I will soon be gone.

Red-tailed Hawk1

Borrowed from internet, but will try to replace it with my own photos, but this is exactly what I saw.

Have you ever watched a pair of hawks soaring on the thermal waves for hours, just for the joy of the ride?  So close you can see the pattern of individual feathers.  They never seem to tire.  Once in awhile, they dive to earth to catch some small critter in the meadows.  Awesome.

Tomorrow it’s suppose to storm.  Ice is in the air.  The company has the closed date for my campground as October 21.  Locals say we will be deep in snow by then and the roads closed to all but snowmobiles.

Hunters are all over the place – mostly on the free Forest lands.  Archers have arrived.  Black powder hunting begins this weekend.  No one is finding any game to shoot.


Photo borrowed from internet, not my lake, but I imagine it will look something like this.

I’ve been told the Lake freezes so deep and solid that dozens of snowmobilers will be out there racing about at speeds of 100 mph?  Wow… that would be something to see, but I hope to be in the southern states by then.  I am having a late “time-off” break after my busiest weekend (Labor Day). 


I decided to paint the bathroom floors in the old campground (not that they needed it), instead of taking my usual Tues and Weds off.  Having working 1/2 day each of those days, I took Thursday off to enjoy this beautiful place.  Unlike the weekend before, the group of campers this weekend were wonderful and healed the pain of the “bad” campers the week before.  It was my biggest and best weekend and group.


My kayak-mobile.

I’m making a real effort to enjoy the rest of my time here and am prepared to leave with one hours notice.  All my gear but my van and kayak have been moved to storage in town, since road conditions could get really bad really fast.  I can deal with that and will have plenty of food and water on hand to wait out bad road conditions for a few days, until I can get down the mountain, in case the company doesn’t call me down in time.

All the locals say that after Labor Day, the weather can turn fast.  A rancher said yesterday that within two weeks the cattle will begin going down the mountain on their own due to lack of food and dropping temperatures.  There is ice in the air and it hailed a couple days ago.  Time for blanket number 3.IMGA0376

And I just finished another sketch for a fellow school mate.  Neato.


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.