Friday, November 28, 2014

What I am NOT Thankful For!


Chef Steve, lowering the turkey into the deep fat fryer.  Took 45 min. to cook that bird.  It was yummy.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving 2014, and I spent it with my “vanily.”  That’s right, VAN-ily.   (Van + family)  There were about 40 of us gathered off grid in the AZ desert with no services.  My friend, Steven, was the Host and Chef with the Most.  He did all the work of preparing one of the best thanksgiving meals I ever had.  I prepared an apple/pecan cobbler that was to die for.  It was a great meal and good time renewing old friendships and beginning new ones.  I got to meet three new tribal dogs, Kaylee, Cody, and Max.  So, you would think I would be happy.  But it’s just not so.


Just at dusk, this horrible cloud of smog blew in from the west, agricultural dust from CO River Valley, ATV and Mountain bike dust, and truck fumes.  I had to retreat to the van, put on a mask, and run my A/C until the cloud passed.  How is that fun???  This I am not thankful for.

I woke in the night with allergic reactions to dogs, dust and the pollution.  My eyes were itching, my nose was running, I was stuffy and having trouble breathing.  I was also up all night peeing gallons (???).  What the heck?  Why does my price for having fun have to be so high?  This morning, I came to the realization, one I have been fighting for a couple years, that I would not be able to continue to gather with the tribe for the desert dinners and for RTR.  My allergies have just gotten too bad.  In the future I will be remaining in an isolated camp alone, and will try to remain healthy enough to endure the exposure I get from dust of the rock club itself… and avoid any other allergens in the future. This I am not happy for.  Hopefully, I will not have to give up the Rock Club, my original reason for coming to Quartzsite.  That I would not be thankful for.


Cody (Bob Wells new dog) and Kaylee (Lori Hicks new dog), playing besides the chairs.

I love dogs. They know it and all want to come to me.  I have to be mean and firm and cruel to them to keep them away.  They want to romp under my feet and kick up dust that I have to breath, so I have to be mean and wear a mask.  That is not fun for me.  This I am not thankful for.  We had half a dozen dogs at Thanksgiving dinner and I expect a minimum of 2 dozen at the RTR, most will be allowed to run loose and pee on whatever they wish.  One peed on the canopy of my blue chair, while it was down.  Some clubs, like WINS has a rule against bringing your dogs to the meeting circles and meals.  There will never be a rule like that for RTR, so I will just have to stop attending after this Jan. 2015.  I have to choose between the RTR and my health.  It is unfortunate, but that is just the reality of it.  The dogs have more rights and freedom than I do… this I am not happy for.

I am hoping the year will end on a better note, but am stressed out about that as well. My son had his 3rd hip replacement on his right hip in two years.  That 3rd was in November, and when he went back for a check up  and to get staples out a couple of days ago, they discovered his femur had fractured.  This I was not thankful for.


So December 2, his daughter is having open heart surgery, and on December 3, he is having his 4th hip surgery, to go in and wire his femur back together.  Astonishingly, he reports that he is having NO pain at all.  I believe the pain would be unbearable, so his body and mind have shut it all down.  This is very stressful for me.


A tooth in a box… cost $950.00

And then there is the botched Mexican dental work that I am having to pay to have redone in America.   $950 out of pocket to a Mexican dentist… only to have the final crown fall out two days later because he used the wrong size abutment (and he knew it was wrong, but didn’t tell me and went ahead and let me pay him the balance).  He agreed to a refund in October, but I have yet to see one penny.  This I was not happy for.  NEVER go to this dentist… he is not reliable, honest, nor honorable.

Beware:   Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico

I want my blog to be upbeat and all about fun and adventure, but I swear 2014 is making that a real challenge.  I will make one more post in 2014, and I promise you it will be a happy fun one.  Stick with me, my dear followers.  Swankie will be swankie again before too long.  And if you pray, please keep my son and granddaughter in your prayers.


It might be a genetic flaw… we laugh and get silly when serious stuff happens.  I would be very thankful for all the prayers you can send their way.  They both deserve to have full and happy lives, even if I don’t.  This I would be very thankful for.  Thank you.

I’ll be back, Swankier!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Who Am I???? Where do I belong???


First, my apologies for not posting in a couple months.  It has been a confusing and overwhelming time for me with family medical issues, car mishaps, and emotional entanglements.  I feel ungrounded and lost.

This morning was the first Orientation Meeting for the Rock Club.  I was asked to attend and help with new members and in the Lapidary Orientation.  So, showed up as I said I would, only to find the other volunteers knew nothing about me.  They shoved a bunch of instructions at me, the guy leading the Orientation appointment me  THE “Shop Foreman”… and so I tried to do as I was asked only to find the other “instructors” looking over my shoulder at everything I was telling others… and correcting me.  I found it confusing and so after an hour or so… I felt the urge to flee and so I fled.  They really did not need my help, and I guess the way I learned things is different from the way they are teaching things now, so I will require some re-training before I allow myself to be put in that role again (I AM NOT a “Lapidary Instructor”… I need far more training than I have had for that role), if I do ever allow that, again.

I fled to my secret place in the desert where they are NO people.  It seems to be the only environment where I can think clearly.  I took a walk, I found the above crystal, my head cleared and I could breath easier.  I decided if I am going to be a Quartzsite Roadrunner Gem and Mineral Club volunteer, for now… this year anyway, it will have to be in behind-the-scenes roles… like editing the Newsletter.  I have agreed to edit the first newsletter of the year… ONLY.  Have 1.5 hrs. into that and will finish it in 1.5 hrs. or less tomorrow.  Could have finished it in 2 hrs. total, if all the “news” had been turned in.

So, I still find myself asking Who Am I?  Where do I belong?  I never seem to fit anywhere.  I look back on my blog post from a year ago… and can’t see that I have made any progress.

November 8, 2013 I wrote: 

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.

Now, I find I am not as interested in rocks as I was then.  I have downsized the number I am keeping, and hope to downsize even more this year, IF I don’t get rid of them all.  At least… Clyde is not returning this year, and I have paid for the LTVA permit so I am legal so long as I stay within 500 ft. of a Vault Toilet.  I don’t like my camp as well this year… as I could not return to the same location due to storm damage.  This was last year’s camp:


Where my van is parked above, lies the top 3rd of this tree. So the top of the tree is no longer there to shade the carpet area. I can’t park there, I can’t pull the trailer through there, and so I have set up camp across the wash from this spot in a far less desirable location.  I am not happy.  The wind has been blowing for a week and I can’t leave my side walls down.  I feel unsettled.

This time last year I had finished kayaking Alaska, and was looking forward to kayaking Hawaii in May 2014.  I did that and was jubilant beyond words.  I was hopeful and looking toward the future.  I was pleased with the progress I made in becoming the best I could be. Below, how much can you change after six years on the road??


After kayaking Hawaii, my plan was to begin training for the AZ Trail Hike in spring of 2015. But I got derailed by getting into an unwise emotional relationship, and by family medical situations which I felt required my presence.  I was wrong on both counts, but those events costs me financially more than I could afford …and resulted in me having to delay my Arizona National Scenic Trail Hike one year.  I can not now afford to outfit myself for the hike or to properly plan it out and get fit. Now I find myself depressed… and fighting that with all I have to fight with, and the continually nagging question, “Who am I?”

I thought reaching out to help others would make me feel better, but I only get a momentary high from that, then I find myself wanting to be alone again… totally alone.  I don’t know how to fight this.  I have joined the Rock Club and offered to help in ways I felt I could best contribute.  I have reached out to another vandweller who is just launching into this lifestyle, but find myself doing an approach/ avoidance thing with that arrangement, even though I really like this person.  I have joined the Metal Detecting Club and will get out and be as active as I can with them.  But I approach something I think I want to do, and then get this urge to turn and flee as fast as I can the other direction.  What is wrong with me?  Where do I belong?


Son and Granddaughter, both on IV Antibiotics most of the summer and fall.  What the heck???

I suppose this is not new to some of my readers and may be normal human behavior after emotionally charged life events?  I.E., I have a granddaughter scheduled for open heart surgery very soon and her father, my son, having his third hip replacement surgery on the same hip in two years… about the same time.  I went to be with them this summer and help where and how I could, but did not get the feeling that I was appreciated, needed, or even wanted… so I left.  I can not afford a return trip for their surgeries, regardless of the outcomes, I can only hope and pray that the outcomes will be positive for them.


And then there is the botched Mexican dental work which has cost me over $1,000 and I have nothing to show for it but a tooth in a box.  I am trying to get the promised refund, but so far that amounts to zero.  The Mexican implant is going to have to be pulled out and all the work done over again.  Do not go to that dentist. (Dr. Sabas Magana Ambriz in Los Algodones, B.C. Mexico)  Also I was under the false impression that my Delta Dental Ins. would pay for out of pocket expenses I paid to a Mexican Dentist but that will only happen if you have a Mexican address on file with the Ins. company.  So, my claim was denied.

I am just out $1,000, plus the expenses of getting to Washington state and then back south again, a trip I was not going to take this year, and have nothing to show for it but depression.  I MUST find a way to fight my way out of this depression.  Hopefully I will also find a way to write an up-beat blog post soon, about desert rocks and metal detecting…. and hopefully, the wind will stop blowing.  Without wind, I love the desert.


If you run into Swankie out there, send her my way. She needs to help me find myself.  But I do still know how to find the sunsets.

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.