Friday, November 8, 2013

Becoming the Best I can Be!

doug_begleys_smallPhoto by Doug Begley
I'm in Quartzsite now and in the process of setting up camp. You know you are back home again in Quartzsite, AZ when you drive by the only bookstore in town and see a naked man.  Yep, I’m home.
Here’s my journal:
Oct 27, 2013 - Quartzsite update. I arrived about an hour ago and took the nickel tour of town. It's a freaking ghost town. Two RV campgrounds have closed down and property is for sale. No signs posted at the rock club and I am wondering if anyone is even here yet. I'll find out tomorrow. I got the two local papers and will read them tonight. I arrived here two weeks later than this last year and there were RVs all over the desert. Very few here now. There is no BLM host at the land 2 miles west of Loves. There was one at Hi Jolly BLM land.  There was no host at Scandan Wash BLM land. IMGA0660
On the way from the California Coast I stopped off in LaQuinta CA for a nice visit with my sister Cathy and her son Robert. 
10/30/13 -  Oh boy, the nesting instinct is coming out. I don't yet have a permanent camp, my meetings today have been postponed a week, so came home to catch up on email and Facebook, only to get so sleepy I had to take a nap. Woke up with the urge to make pecan/banana bread, and some rice (to use up my sisters homemade chili on). I feel so domesticated.
The last five years being a vandweller has really changed me. I used to be afraid that life in a wheelchair would be impossible for me, that's why I fought so hard to regain my health and walk right again. But in the past hour, I have taken a bath, washed my hair, checked my email, got dressed, made breakfast and ate it without getting away from this chair... oh, and flirted, and washed dishes, not necessarily in that order. Anything is possible. So, in case I ever get to that stage again (thinking of buying a wheelchair), I ain't gonna worry about it. But yep... adjustments would be required, but as good Facebook friend said, “You are not going there"!” I’m working very hard to be sure I don’t go there.
Gathering MY Stuff

But I did go to Paulden, AZ where I left my trailer last Spring – over 300 miles of driving in one day (and I don’t do that anymore). Got my STUFF (cargo trailer with rocks, lapidary supplies and equipment, bike, tents, canopy).... yahoo almost time to set up my winter home in the Quartzsite desert. Can't wait.  Man, it took me four hours to drive up there, two hours to get the trailer ready to go, then Victoria Walker (my trailer-sitter) treated me to a great lunch (thank you), and then five hours back. I made a wrong turn and had to backtrack 10 miles, and of course I had to stop and take photos. It was very nice to arrive safely back at my friend's camp in Quartzsite, too tired to unhitch.

Vickie was the second person I kayaked with and Arizona the second state I kayaked, at Watkins Lake in Prescott, AZ.

10.31.13 – Took Doug to Petroglyphs
Had a drive out to walk around some Indian petroglyphs with neighbor Doug Begley... and felt incredible compared to two years ago when I went there with The Good Luck Duck. What an amazing life I’m living.


There are petroglyphs on those rocks across the Wash...

I come to Quartzsite each winter to learn about making jewelry, it is only a coincidence that Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) began happening here too. But, right now I need to be close enough to walk to town in a reasonable amount of time and I get tired of hiding from Clyde (BLM employee/ranger) and trying to be legal. I need to be able to unpack, set up camp and relax and have a home to come back to after a hard day of sawing rocks and cutting stones, and polishing stuff and making jewelry, etc. and so forth. RTR is only two weeks out of the whole winter. And as much fun as the RTR is, I do have a life outside RTR. Rocks come first and I get to do that ALL winter long.

New Goal for after my 50th State Paddle (Hawaii)
Training for the Arizona Trail (820 miles) means I have to toughen my feet and tone up my legs (which don't get much workout sitting in the kayak), and also train my back to carry a 40lb pack. I want to work up to being able to hike 10 miles easily, and carry the 40lb pack easily. If I can do that, I can do the AZ Trail. Means I have to give up candy bars, snacks, and cokes and eat right. Oh Boy, tall order, but that's exactly what I need, TALL ORDERS,  to make my life worth living.


11.1.13 - This morning I began a journal for my Arizona Trail Training... to track my efforts. I took a little food, two bottles of water, a jacket, hat, sunglasses, chap stick and headed out to walk. Steven SoulRaven CA-Dotd's dog Zeke set out with me. Zeke is used to doing this from this location... and goes as far as he wants and then returns home.


He lasted about 30-40 minutes and then I was alone. I don't know how far it was. I took a lunch break... and should have sent a spot message out from there, but didn't think of it... all I know is I left camp about 9:15 and returned at 12:30pm. Feet a little tender, breathing great, legs great, back and shoulders ache... and need more work. But it's a start.

The 3 hr. hike this morning made me so sleepy I had to take a nap, and then I got so hungry it woke me up, so I had to eat, and now I'm so rested, I can't go to sleep at bedtime. I don't know about this new fitness level I am trying to reach???  Is this really going to work?


11.2.13 – Took a hike with Bryce today.  Zeke went along for a ways, but then went back to Steve while we were having a break.  Got bored I guess.  Zeke hates flies and they were beginning to annoy him.  Bryce and I had a good hike and good conversation.  I think we hiked about four miles.  I’m feeling good.


11.3.13 – Today, Bryce biked in from the RTR location to Doug’s camp (about 6.5 miles) and then together we biked and walked to the Indian Petroglyphs and back to camp.  Doug loaned me his bike (transportation central) With hiking we did around the ruins, I estimate it was about 5-6 miles.  Now I am tired… three days of working out… and tomorrow I will rest, get a shower, meet up with my friend and register for the Long Term Visitor Area, go find my campsite and set up my winter home.  It’s all good.

This day, Doug also blogged about my Solar Oven -
It doesn’t get any better than this, until tomorrow. I can become my own best person. Coming home is a good thing.

Recap of My Transition in Becoming Healthy
I seem to remember there were lots of baby steps along the road, but for me, what motivated me out of a sedentary life to a free full-time life on the road was establishing a BIG DREAM, a picture bigger than life itself. Such a goal may feel meaningless in the beginning but soon takes on a life of its own. For me, after not being able to walk in 2005, it was setting off in 2008, after bilateral knee replacements and recovery… to Kayak America. It didn’t mean much in the beginning, but I never considered it impossible. Soon I was living to fulfill the goal. In May 2014, I will kayak my last state, #50 – Hawaii for my 70th birthday. My son and some of my friends are going with me to celebrate the completion of the Adventure, and my birthday as well. I did not plan it that way, it’s just the way it came together.

As I finished my 49th state, Alaska in August 2013… I wondered what I would do next. A friend had been talking about hiking the Arizona Trail. The idea would not leave my mind because I had never thought such a thing was possible for me… but suddenly it was decided… I could and would hike that trail… and I must begin training for it now in order to hike it in Spring/early summer 2015. A new dream/goal was born. I’ve never felt more fit or alive than I do now, being free on the road, and free to dream and free to live. By the time I complete the trail, age 71, I will be the MOST fit I’ve been in my life. Who knows what new idea will come into play then… I’m wide open to any possibility. Not too shabby for an old 300 pound lady who could not walk 1/2 block eight years ago.

Left: California 2008, Right: Arizona 2012
OK, I’m bragging a bit ’cause I’m swankie… and that really is my last name. I’m proud of where the name came from, I’m proud to have it as a handle, and I am thrilled where it is taking me.  (Thank you David Swankie.)

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.