DOG’S BEST FRIEND

Dogs are great ambassadors in campgrounds, especially Maggie.  Maggie takes her job of greeting people very seriously and takes offense when someone walks by and doesn’t stop to say hello.  Walking a dog is a great way to meet neighbors and new friends.

Take Phyllis and Chris in Tucson, we met when Phyllis was walking Molly and I was walking Maggie.  We struck up a conversation and learned we also loved to play golf.  If not for Maggie and Molly, we may never have met.  I look forward to seeing them again this winter in Tucson.

I met Liz because she was walking her dog Roxanne on Capitol Hill.  Roxy reminded me of my Mother’s dog Aussie.  Both Australian Cattle dogs. 

Each time Liz and I met on the street I would stop her and pet Roxanne.  It wasn’t until the third or fourth crossing when Liz and I actually engaged in conversation other than admiring Roxanne.  I was dog less at that time.  Liz told me she had recently moved to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  “Where did you come from”, I asked?  “Anchorage”, she said.  “Who are you?” I asked.   How ironic, we lived within a block of each other and both of us were from Anchorage, Alaska.   Liz was reporting for the Anchorage Daily News, and we had many Alaska friends in common, but hadn’t known each other there.  We became great friends, and I became Roxanne’s dog sitter when Liz traveled.  Liz met and married Tim a few years later and moved to England, Japan and Colorado Springs before returning to Washington, D.C. in 2013 to become the Alaska Public Radio Network reporter.  Roxanne died shortly after their return, I was so glad to share Roxanne’s final days with Liz.  She was a good girl.

Roxanne’s Memorial Brick at Congressional Cemetery.

It took me over 15 years to get another dog, after putting my dog Hanna down in 1998.   I decided after all these years it was time for another dog.  “If you want a friend in Washington, D.C. get a dog”.  Four months of searching on PetFinder.com for a non-shedding 50 lb dog, I found Maggie in Ashland, VA.  The Bark Dog Rescue a community group found Maggie and two puppies running along a rural road, no tags, collars or microchips.   

Dog rescue groups can be a bit  neurotic.  It is bad enough to be rejected by men on Match.com, but to be rejected as unsuitable to rescue a dog!  No back yard, out of state, no kids, needs the companionship of other dogs.  Some groups require home visits, and references.  Thankfully, the Bark group was sensible and anxious to find homes for abandoned dogs.  I was so lucky to find Maggie, and she rescued me.

Maggie & Lola

Liz got Lola shortly after I rescued Maggie and they bonded living together, waiting for Tim to arrive after finishing his Air Force Service in Colorado.  Maggie misses Lola during our travels but enjoys meeting new people in campgrounds.  She doesn’t care for other dogs like she loves Lola.  They are BFFs.  

I have been so very lucky adopting rescue dogs.  Hanna came to me from the Anchorage Pound.  Like Maggie, Hanna loved to travel and was great riding in cars.   As an Alaskan dog Hanna also was great riding in float planes to the King Bear Lodge on the Yentna River for summer salmon season.  Maggie has swum in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

As a single woman traveling alone in an Airstream people often ask if I am afraid.  Really?  First, if was afraid, would I be doing this?  Two, Maggie is by no means a guard dog.  I consider campgrounds safe places and always introduce myself and Maggie to the neighbors.  Walking Maggie two or three times a day offers the opportunity to meet fellow campers, and they get to meet Maggie which makes her very happy.  

A couple of years ago friends spent many months traveling in an RV.  When I asked them if they met nice people in campgrounds, they both responded NO.  It was because they didn’t have a dog, I am certain.  They didn’t experience loneliness because they were traveling as a couple.  Maggie is a great traveling companion, but not a great conversationalist.  She does help me meet people, in her role as dog ambassador.

 

WAS THERE VOMITING?

YES, I am afraid there was.  My years in Alaska gave me many opportunities to fly in small private airplanes.  Tim’s Mooney is a sports car of private small planes, it is fast and high-tech.  Did I mention small?

November 1, in Washington D.C. was 70 degrees and sunny, but there were also 25 per mile wind gusts.  That means the ride up to 5500 altitude and down was bumpy.  Once we were above the clouds it was smooth flying.  We flew to Richmond Executive Airport in Virginia for lunch. 

But the climb up in the Mooney reminded me of my flying in Mark Rowland’s Piper Cub in Alaska.  Cubs are made of fabric so you feel like you are flying in a kite getting tossed around.  I  vomited onto the control cables that run between your feet, because there was no bag.   We needed to clean the cables with Q-tips.  More than you want to know I am sure.

I was very gratified when Tim’s wife Liz called from Alaska while we were on our seconds at the King’s Korner ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT barbecue buffet.  “Was there vomiting?” Liz asked.  Tim laughed and assured Liz there was.  Thank goodness Tim’s plane is equipped with barf bags.

Funny how after you toss your cookies you feel so much better and ready for lunch. 

In Alaska, where I lived from 1968 – 1995, I was very fortunate to have friends and family with planes.  A popular Alaska bumper sticker reads, My 2nd Car is a Cessna.

To really experience Alaska, flying is a necessity.  Around the dinner table my sisters and I like to regale friends with our tales of piling into Erv’s 172 Cessna and flying off for a couple of hours of fishing.  It was the Alaska version of TV show Gilligan Island, where the theme song goes “this is the tale of castaways…on a three-hour cruise”.

One bright and sunny July Saturday sister Kerry and I climbed into Erv’s 172 to go fishing for the day at Johnstone Bay, a beautiful cove on Resurrection Bay across from Seward, Alaska.   Erv was a master of landing on beaches, especially on tricycle gear!  We landed just fine, but needed to push the plane higher on the beach, because the tide was coming in.  The sand got soft, so Erv climbed in and started the engine to help move the plane through the soft sand.  Opps!  The nose of the plane tipped into the sand and about 3 inches of one end of the propeller flew off.  Just then it began to rain.  Kerry and I were dressed appropriately for a sunny July day in shorts and tank tops.  “No worries” Erv said, “we have survival gear”. 

This was our first adventure with Erv, who had recently moved in with Mom.  The survival gear consisted of freeze-dried packages that all were very old and punctured, a 2-man pup tent and two sleeping bags.  Great, except there were 3 of us.  Also, there were no utensils, with the exception of Erv’s hunting knife.  Laying together in the tent, we all laughed that none of us had the foresight to bring a book!  We had nothing to read while waiting for our rescue.

Luckily there were salmon to be caught in the nearby river, which is what we came for.  We caught lots of beautiful delicious Sockeye Salmon while waiting to be rescued.  Sockeye Salmon spawn in lakes.  Johnstone Bay is a picturesque, covered with purple Lupin and wild Sweet Peas.  The lake was a short walk from the beach.

We were rescued, and a mechanic and new airplane propeller were flown in to save the plane.  I always say the salmon we caught ourselves on average ended up costing about $500 a pound.  This trip made it very easy to buy Erv Christmas presents for years to come, freeze-dried food, utensils and books.

We survived and have great stories to tell, thanks to living in Anchorage, Alaska for 27 years, and Mom marrying Erv.

Thanks Tim for a great day and supplying the barf bag.  It will be a while before I climb into another small plane. Airstream travel suits me best.

This post has been edited (11/20.18) because my memory of names is failing.  Erv pointed out that the correct name is Johnstone Bay, not Half Moon Bay, which is in California.  The rest of the story is correct as far as my failing memory remembers.

NOT ALL CAMPGROUNDS ARE EQUAL

You aren’t listening.  My friend was trying to convince me about the wonders of boondocking.  He was mansplaning, and not listening.  Boondocking is camping on open public lands far from other campers and conveniences.  I have no interest in boondocking.  NONE! 

I camped in Alaska, flown into remote wilderness, my favorite place Montague Island in Prince William Sound.  So I have done boondocking, and don’t have any interest in camping without running water or electricity.  I now enjoy full hook-ups: water, electric and sewer.  It isn’t as cheap as boondocking, but it is far more enjoyable and very comfortable.

My return to my Road2Reinvention travels began in early October.  I have stayed in four campgrounds; two public and two KOAs.  

Turkey Swamp Campground in Freehold, New Jersey was my first night back in Scout after her repairs at Colonial Airstream, at Lakewood, NJ.  It is great to be back in my comfy bed with Maggie on her blanket, she keeps my feet warm.  Turkey Swamp is a very nice county park with water and sewer and a convenient dumping station.  The bath house facilities are large and clean and there was a great deep sink for washing out pots and pans for tent campers.  From there I drove to Green Lane, PA for a Bus Depot event.  I planned to meet DC friends Liz and Tim in their VW pop-up.  Liz wasn’t able to attend due to late breaking Alaska politics, so it was just Tim and I.  The Bus Depot is a VW pop-up camper event and about 20 VWs showed up.  Don’t visit Green Lane Park, the facilities are TERRIBLE!  Campsites are nice size and wooded, but not level, and the bath facilities were gross.  I was happy to move along, and visit my friend Carol at her home in Coopersburg, PA.  We walked door-to-door for Susan Wild running for election to the U.S. House.   I was very heartened to speak with a woman who said as a lifelong Republican, she would be voting Democrat for the first time in her life.

Next stop Cape May KOA, and happily Liz and Tim both joined me there, with Maggie’s BFF Lola.  We celebrated dinner around the campfire complete with S’mores.  Cape May is a lovely little village and seaside resort at the tip of southern New Jersey’s Cape May Peninsula. The village is full of grand Victorian and gingerbread houses.  We toured the Emlen Physick Estate, a museum with restored interior from the era.   

An hour ferry ride from Cape May to Lewes, DE and on to Chincoteague Island, VA, were the ponies live in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (passport stamped).  I was lucky to see two ponies in the distance, too far away for an iPhone photo.  I gave my card to a photographer and asked if he got a good picture would he send it to me. The two ponies looked remarkably like the horse described in Misty of Chincoteague, a favorite childhood book.  Misty was described as a brown pony with a white spot on her back that resembled a map of the continental U.S.

Both Cape May and Chincoteague KOAs are nice camping facilities.  Especially Chincoteague with Glamping tents to rent, for those who want to camp, but sleep between clean sheets. 

I appreciate  the large clean bath houses with lots of hot running water.  The weather has turned cool and leaves are falling.  

I am returning to Washington D.C. tomorrow for two more weeks.  Scout’s hot water heater isn’t working so another visit to Airstream in Virginia.  Then on to North Carolina for Thanksgiving with family.

I am looking forward to southern travels and finding warm weather.  I really dislike the cold, and it feels like winter is coming on, too soon.

Joan Baez

Traveling by Airstream trailer I hoped never to fly commercial, but this weekend I found myself winging my way to Raleigh, NC on Southwest Airlines.  Back in March my eldest sister Becky and I bought tickets to take Mom to hear Joan Baez in concert.   It is a very late Mother’s Day present.  I had hoped to be in Scout, but repairs continue in New Jersey.

I am so grateful we did this.  Joan Baez is 77 years old and is on a farewell tour until next spring.   She performed in D.C. Friday night, the day after the continuation of the Judge Kavanaugh confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  While she certainly didn’t plan her concert to coincide  with a Supreme Court confirmation.  She looked to be enjoying the protest in the Hart Senate Office Building.

Baez told the audience she met the woman who had spoken to Senator Flake in the elevator that partially resulted in his proposed compromise resulting in the reopening of the FBI investigation.  I worked with Senator Flake on immigration reform and I am sadden he will leave the Senate at the end of the year.  His departure is understandable, he can’t get elected in Trump’s Arizona.  Senator Flake loves the institution of the U.S. Senate and worked with Democrats to get the deal.  Flake is a true conservative, but he is a very decent man.  I hope his deal results in the withdrawal of Kavanagh, but I doubt it.  On stage, Baez said she was inspired that the majority of protesters were millennials, but she laughed when she said they didn’t know who she was or her music.  A pity. 

I know one protester who is not a millennial, my dear friend and former colleague Madeleine.  Madeleine took the picture of Baez, and also got arrested with a big smile.  I should have been there with Madeleine.

Baez sang my favorite song, from her Big Guitar CD written by Steve Earle.  Christmas Time in Washington, the lyrics made me weep:

“It’s Christmastime in Washington
The Democrats rehearsed
Gettin’ into gear for four more years
Things now gettin’ worse
Republicans drink whiskey
And thanked their lucky stars
He cannot seek another term
They’ll be no more FDRs…

The unions have been busted
Their proud red banners torn…

So come back, Emma Goldman
Rise up, old Joe Hill
The barracades are goin’ up
They cannot break our will
Come back to us, Malcolm X
And Martin Luther King
We’re marching into Selma
As the bells of freedom ring

So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow

I heard Baez in the 1970s.  Becky and I were strolling in downtown San Francisco and came upon a demonstration, Joan Baez was singing acapella and her voice reverberated over the civic center. 

Her voice was beautiful than and is amazingly strong at age 77.  Baez sang the anthems of the 1960s. Progressives, dare I say Liberals, still need anthems to inspire.

The trip was well worth it, even if I did have to fly.   Hearing Baez sing I Dreamed I saw Joe Hill, and Forever Young was wonderful.  What a voice.

Here is a link so you can listen too, and the full lyrics are below.

Christmas in Washington

It’s Christmastime in Washington
The Democrats rehearsed
Gettin’ into gear for four more years
Things not gettin’ worse
Republicans drink whiskey neat
And thanked their lucky stars
They said, “He cannot seek another term
They’ll be no more FDRs”
I sat home in Tennessee
Just staring at the screen
With an uneasy feeling in my chest
I’m wonderin’ what it means
Chorus: So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow
If you run into Jesus
Maybe he can help you out
Come back Woody Guthrie to us now
I followed in your footsteps once
Back in my travelin’ days
Somewhere I failed to find your trail
Now I’m stumblin’ through the haze
But there’s killers on the highway now
And a man can’t get around
So I sold my soul for wheels that roll
Now I’m stuck here in this town
Chorus: Come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow
If you run into Jesus
Maybe he can help us out
Come back Woody Guthrie to us now
There’s foxes in the hen house
Cows out in the corn
The unions have been busted
Their proud red banners torn
To listen to the radio
You’d think that all was well
But you and me and Cisco know
It’s going straight to hell
Chorus: So come back, Emma Goldman
Rise up, old Joe Hill
The barracades are goin’ up
They cannot break our will
Come back to us, Malcolm X
And Martin Luther King
We’re marching into Selma
As the bells of freedom ring
So come back Woody Guthrie
Come back to us now
Tear your eyes from paradise
And rise again somehow
Songwriters: Steve Earle
Christmas in Washington lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management

City vs. Campground

Ironic, I live in a travel trailer and spend the majority of my nights sleeping in campgrounds far from a city center.  I love cities.  I dislike driving and prefer public transportation.  18 years living in Washington, D.C. traveling to work on the METRO either underground or on the X2 city bus. 

I enjoyed my commute, reading the newspaper (a real paper, paper), or a book.  Washington, D.C. is the most educated well-read city.  Sure, people had ear buds in their ears, but the vast majority of us were quietly enjoying our commute reading a paper or book.  More recently reading on phones or tablets.  It isn’t easy reading a newspaper when sitting on a crowded bus.  The other great part of public transportation is walking to and from the station.  In the suburbs people drive to a parking lot and ride into the city.  But living in the city allows you to walk to a bus stop or METRO station.   Watch-out for the commuters with ear buds, they can’t hear and will run into you.  I want to yell “Look-up!”  Better yet, “unplug”!  Enjoy your surroundings a beautiful city, great architecture, trees and parks — even monuments.  

I moved to Washington, D.C. from Carson City, Nevada in 1999.  Living on Capitol Hill four blocks from the Eastern Market METRO.  Mr. Jefferson was the METRO station manager, and instead of sitting in his glass booth, he stop at the entrance gates and greeted commuters with a big smile and a bigger “HELLO, GOOD MORNING, YOU ARE LOOKING GREAT!”  I stopped daily and chatted with him getting to know he enjoyed fishing on his days-off and was looking forward to retirement. A few years later Mr. Jefferson retired, and I missed his greetings.  I hope he is happily fishing somewhere and enjoying his retirement and union pension.  Mr. Jefferson proudly wore his union pin ATU 689 (Amalgamated Transit Union). 

In 2007, I purchased my home in North East Washington and began riding the X2 bus westward on Benning Road to downtown D.C.  The ride was a cultural experience.   I was often the only white person on the bus.  As we traveled closer to the city center other Caucasians would board, and the reverse trip white riders disembarked long before my stop at 17th and Benning Road.  By the time I sold my house in 2016, the bus was about half and half.  The gentrification of D.C. is ongoing.  In the past two years the character and construction of Benning Road is overwhelming.  Gone are the African-American Mom and Pop store front businesses.  Replaced by Whole Foods, Starbucks and luxury apartments, displacing long-term residents and businesses.

Washington, D.C. has become unaffordable to working people, the poor are most certainly unwelcome.  In the three years since I left my beloved adopted city high-rise luxury apartments are being constructed in every part of the city, especially in neighborhoods where whites would not have ventured only a few years ago.  I was one of those white people who bought a home in a black neighborhood.  Sister Robin on her first visit said, “Wow Alison, you even bet the gay guys into the neighborhood”.  My neighbor Vivian’s father was a chauffeur for President John F. Kennedy.   Other neighbors had been born in their homes, transferred down from Grandparents, to parents to children.  Jimmy Carter, was one of those neighbors born in the house he now owns, he was the Operating Engineer at the SEIU building where I worked.  The movie “The Butler” (which I recommend), depicted the Capitol Hill neighborhood where I lived.  I loved my neighbors and tried to be sensitive to the fact I was an invading gentrifying interloper.  I have always preferred to live in diverse neighborhoods. 

Washington is the world’s capitol, every nationality, offering marvelous ethnic food.  This past week I ate at a new upscale Peruvian restaurant Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar.  The food was great, especially the Ceviche!  Within a few blocks there are restaurants featuring Indian, Ethiopian, Asian, etc, whatever your taste buds and stomach craves.  I prefer a hole-in-the-wall, family owned restaurants.  D.C. is losing the character and charm of small family owned restaurants, in exchange for up-scale and modern places.

For my fellow RVers, there are campgrounds around the Beltway in Maryland and Virginia.  You don’t need to drive into D.C., take METRO into the city.  Once in the city, there are great alternatives ZipCars and City Bikes provide short-term rentals.  Duck and Trolley tourist buses.  In addition, to Uber, LYFT, and taxis.  Walking in D.C. is the very best way to see the city.

My new Airstream lifestyle means driving distances and living outside city limits.  Visiting new places and far-flung friends, and seeing this beautiful country.  I try not to patronize chain restaurants, finding small local businesses especially when I can meet local patrons and engage in conversations.  The beauty of a travel trailer is unhooking setting up your campground home, and using your tow vehicle (in my case a Toyota Tacoma truck), or using public transportation to visit points of interest, city centers, golf course or wilderness areas.  You will more often than not find me in a city center cafe, theater or museum.  Walking not driving, whenever possible.

Friends ask, “what is your favorite place?”  I can’t say I have one — not yet. 

But, Washington D.C. is my favorite city.

UPDATE on TRAVEL:

Scout is at Colonial Airstream in Lakewood, NJ undergoing repairs.  I expect to pick her up after October 1.  Delay has allowed me more time in Washington, D.C. to see friends and former colleagues.  When we are back on the road I hope to avoid I-95 and take the coastal route south from Lakewood, N.J visiting Cape May, taking the ferry to Lewes, DE, and going to Chincoteague Island to see the ponies.  Thanksgiving in Cary, N.C. with family, then cross-country to Tucson, AZ and Palm Springs, CA for winter 2019.