Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s day approaches it seems like the perfect opportunity to write about living a solo nomad life.

Last year a grandmother commented that “she admired me” for doing what I am doing.  I told her it would not be my preferred way to travel, but wasn’t going to not do it, just because I am single. Certainly a partner would be my preference, someone to share the experiences and mishaps.  

You would be amazed at how many women are solo RVers.  I subscribe to Wally Byam Airstream Club Solo Airstream Sisters (WBCCI).  The Facebook page boasts 191 members, and that is an exclusive club of woman Airstream owners.  Googling Solo Sisters or Solo RVers finds lots of webpages and blogs,  for instance RV Village lets you know when others are in your area, who have posted profiles and interests.

It is also very comforting when I meet single men on the road, or more to the point in a campground.  In Tucson, Al my neighbor to my left and I bonded over our mutual dislike for the Confederate flag displayed by the campers on my right.  Also in Tucson, Doug a widower from Wyoming who enjoyed hiking, but didn’t play golf.  I was traveling west and he was heading east.  Thankfully in that same park I met Phyllis and Chris, and they are avid golfers.

I admit, I enjoy the looks I get when I pull into a campground towing my beautiful shinny Airstream Flying Cloud, Ms. Scout.

A partner may have meant I wasn’t canoeing solo, and swimming with the alligators.   Having a partner can make backing-up, easier or give you someone to yell at.  Cooking for two is much better than cooking for one.  But sharing common hopes, dreams and bad days together, I would rather be with someone, than alone.

A few weeks back I was feeling the lonelies coming on, only to open my email and read a nice check-in from Paul.  Paul is a friend of my cousin Karen, who talks about traveling, but hasn’t made the plunge.  I have not met Paul, but we correspond periodically and it was great timing on Paul’s part, although he didn’t know it.

Strangely that same day I heard from Dave, another nice fellow I met before leaving the D.C. region.  Dave also talks about trading-in his motorcycle for an RV, and it was nice to catch-up with him.  Then Doug, a fellow RVer came my way at the KOA in Miami.  All in a single day.  Thanks you guys.  Whatever my karma is that keeps me connected or finds connections when I need them most, I am grateful for.

So, on this coming Valentine’s Day, I will take myself out to a golf course and play 18 holes.  It is still my hope I will meet the man of my dreams standing on the first tee, where he has been waiting to meet me.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Replacement STUFF & Update

PHONE & KEYS: After my unintended swim in the Everglades, losing keys and phone; $$$ later my “stuff” is back.  I had insurance on my phone, so that “only” cost $100.  A new key cost $300+.  My number is the same, and thankfully “the iCloud” restored the vast majority of my apps, pictures, and contacts.  While I hate technology, the iCloud has proven it’s worth.

Remember the 2005 JEEP?  The other day when digging through the bottom of my purse, I found the long-lost 2nd key I had made for the Jeep, costing me $250+.  I sold the Jeep last September, after the Jeep dealer on Long Island couldn’t fix it, see earlier post about replacing the PCM (aka computer).

I listed the Jeep on Craig’s list and sold it for $3,000 to a very nice Long Island mechanic, Leo.  When I called Leo to tell him I finally found the extra key and was sending it along, he told me, “you won’t believe this”.  So the brand new dealer installed PCM that cost me $1,300 in Huntington, Beach CA, was faulty!  Leo, said it took him several days with the help of the receipt I provided to him at sale, to get a new PCM.  The Jeep has had a full recovery.  Lucky Leo!   I really loved that Jeep.

However, Maggie loves Toyota Tacoma truck (Jeep replacement).  She has her own seat, because the golf clubs, tool box, and other stuff is now in the truck bed.  A truck is the very best towing vehicle because it provides truck-bed storage.

TREASURE COAST: I am on the Treasure Coast (east coast) of Florida, (Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, and Ft Pierce) until the end of February.  I spent my first retirement summer 2016 here, house sitting for best pals, Michelle & Duane.  That summer Hurricane Mathew blew up the coast, but thanks to Duane’s shutters, caused no damage.  

Maggie is enjoying our morning beach walks, and I am catching-up with friends.  We aren’t missing the Washington, D.C. winter.  That is for sure!  

 

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?

In my last post, I told you about meeting Rebecca & Barry at Starbucks, after my inadvertent swim in the Everglades.  After driving 2 hours out of the Everglades, and stopping at Starbucks, there were Rebecca and Barry.  What are the chances?

So today, was another very weird coincidence.  I checked into the KOA at Davie, FL last Friday 1/26.  The very same day I re-uncounted Rebecca and Barry on dry land.  The weather has been cold and windy, by Florida winter standards, for days. 

Today, finally the sun came out and I was feeling a bit lonely.  So, I decided to play golf.  I haven’t played in weeks, and the last time I played I walked off, because I didn’t like the course and was playing alone.

Today, I made a tee time at a golf course 25 minutes away at 1:45 p.m.  I am an afternoon player.  It gave me time to do laundry, wash sheets and make the bed, in preparation for moving north to Port Saint Lucie, FL tomorrow.

I arrived in plenty of time and met a lovely Canadian couple Jeanette and Mark.  Our 3rd player showed up and we did the perfunctory introductions.  Bob, said he was staying in an RV.  Where are you staying, I asked?  “The KOA in Davie”, said Bob.  What a coincidence I said, I am also staying there!  Bob, said he was in site #89.  Funny thing, I am in site #88.  In KOA parks, that means you are parked next to each other.

Bob and I have been neighbors for 5 days, in a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, hundreds of thousands of people.  But we only met when we showed up to play golf at 1:45 p.m.,  (for non-golfers, tee times are made every 8 minutes, with 4 players.  I am not a mathematician, so I can’t figure the odds).

I only wish I had this kind of lucky when I buy lottery tickets.  Never the less, we had a great round of golf at Bridges at Springtree Golf Club.  

But, it makes me wonder. How is it I keep having these convergences, just when I am feeling the “lonelies” coming on?

It makes me sing a favorite song, Sending me Angels.  Click the link and sing along.

“Standing on the bank of the river, By the shore
Seems like the devil’s always tryin’
To get in my door
Just when I thought I
Couldn’t take it anymore
Here he came again
My friend
He keeps sending me angels,
From up on high
He keeps sending me angels,
To teach me to fly
He keeps sending me angels,
Sweet and true
He keeps sending me angels,
Just… like… you…

Swimming with Alligators

I had not planned on swimming in the Everglades, or losing my phone, car and trailer keys.  Excited to learn the National Park Service offers a FREE guided canoe trip, we gathered at 7:45 a.m. at Nine Mile Pond to meet our Park Ranger guide John Paul.  12 of us, an even number we listened as John Paul gave a brief demonstration of paddling and steering.

Bertram the other single, a young physics student from Israel, had no canoeing experience.  Apparently, Bertram had not learned the physics of canoeing in his studies.  So, why would I suggest he be in the back and steer?  You all know how much I love to be “in control”.

We were doing just fine half-way into the trip, having just stop for a short break to drink water, eat snacks, and enjoy the quiet of nature.  I shared apple slices and granola bars with my canoeing companion.   He hadn’t been great at steering, running us into the low hanging mangroves, but the trip was taking us through very narrow mangrove tunnels.  

The next thing I knew we were tipping over and I was in the water.  Thankfully, we had only seen one alligator earlier, but waist deep in Everglades water was not a comforting feeling.  I had carefully packed a sack with 2 bottles of water, apple slices, granola bars, a bug stick, and $20 bill.  I had put my iPhone in a zip-lock bag, my car keys were also in the sack, (a Christmas gift from Michelle).

Why did I let Bertram steer, in back where I could not see him?  Why didn’t I zip the sack, why didn’t I put my phone back in the zip-lock after taking pictures?

I lost my keys and iPhone, but the bug stick, bottles of water and $20 bill stayed afloat.   No point in kicking myself.  Now I had to get back into the canoe in waist deep water before the alligators discovered us.  I am grateful I still have good upper-body strength, because boarding a canoe isn’t easy.  I did it, with fear of alligators fueling me.

My cheap Timex watch is still ticking, after a rice dry out.

I am most grateful for the kindness of strangers.  The night before I had a conversation with a woman in the next shower stall, we spoke of our pending canoe adventure, and neglected to introduce ourselves.  Lucy and husband Paul would become my new best friends.  They gave me a lift back to the Flamingo Campground and the use Paul’s cell (AT&T) phone to call my insurance company.  Needless to say, locksmiths weren’t jumping at the prospect of driving 40 miles one-way to pop-a-lock.  

Thank you, Katherine.  I bought the Airstream from Katherine and she had the foresight and presence of mind to duck tape a key behind the front panel.  And, best of all it was the door lock, I had locked – not the deadbolt, which I thought I had locked.  I was back in the trailer where my extra set of keys hung on the hook.  No insurance or locksmith needed.  And, Maggie was happy to see me.

Visiting with Lucy and Paul later that evening, they both mentioned how Bertram was not paddling, and leaning over the water.  After we had our swim, I had heard Paul give Bertram a few paddling tips.  Paul told me, “he wasn’t really paddling and you were doing all the work”.  Paul was impressed that I could paddle as fast as I did…no consolation.  I wish my friend Marilyn Park had been with me, we would have been a great paddling team.

I look forward to visiting my new-found friends Lucy and Paul, when I visit Bellingham, WA on my next west coast journey possibly summer of 2020.

Here is the really funny ending to this story.

Waving good-bye to Lucy and Paul as we pulled out of the Flamingo Campground the next morning, I drove east two hours to Florida City and stopped at a Starbucks before entering the Ronald Reagan Turnpike & Toll Road for Ft. Lauderdale.  Waiting for my triple shot latte, I heard a lovely Englishman say, “Glad to see you have recovered from your swim!”  You have got to be kidding!  Barry and his companion Rebecca were sitting at a nearby table.  Karma, Kismet, or just plain luck, what an encounter.  Our National Parks attract visitors from all over the world. In addition to Bertram from Israel, there were four people from the UK on our canoe trip.  Nearly half, five out of 12 people were from aboard.  Our National Parks are a global treasure.

Since my iPhone is swimming with the alligators, I asked Barry and Rebecca if they could share a few photos from our trip, which are posted here.  Rebecca also writes a blog on hiking, Wild Pilgrims.   I hope our paths cross again.  Thanks Rebecca for the snaps.

I hope to see all my new-found friends Lucy and Paul, Rebecca and Barry somewhere again.

Tomorrow, I visit the AT&T store.

SHUT-DOWN

My friend Cathy (we go back to college), pointed out that a government shut-down, should mean EVERYTHING SHUTS DOWN.  I TOTALLY AGREE, even when I have a Everglades National Park reservation (on Tuesday 1/23/18).  This is what I found on the National Park Service website:

Our Apologies…

The Recreation.gov website is not available due to a lapse in funding for the federal government.

We will keep all reservations in the system intact until the departure date has passed in the event you would like to use any part of your reservation. If your reservation falls completely within the time frame of the lapse in funding, full refunds will be made. No additional cancellation fees will be charged to the customer for reservation cancellations as a result of facility closures.

We invite you to return to this site as the situation evolves in order to obtain additional information about how services and reservations may be affected.

The vast majority of Americans don’t think about their federal government, until they need or want it.  I  think about government workers local, state and federal, every day.  Weird but true.  I spent my professional life in their service.  I respect them and believe in the service they provide.  Certainly, I have experienced horrible, awful and terrible public service.  I have to bite my lip, when it occurs. 

But this week, proves my point.  Our elected officials: President, Senators and Representatives have failed the American people.  The Federal Government is shut-down, and they are still getting paid.

But the military, federal corrections personnel, police, and the transportation security administration (TSA) to name a few, will report to work and NOT GET PAID.  There is something terribly wrong, when workers don’t get paid for working, and elected officials – their bosses – get paid for failing to do their jobs.

You all know where I stand, I am a Democrat. 

I hold both parties responsible.  The Democrats are a disappointment, the GOP is a disgrace.

Democrats are using the same playbook that lost the 2016 election – identity politics.  They have set-up a Sophie’s choice.  Pitting poor children (CHIP) against undocumented children (DACA).   Both groups lose.

The GOP is so incredibly disciplined they have their talking points and stick to them – no matter what the facts.  I watched them every day for 17 years until 2016, when I could not stand it anymore.  Even before Donald Trump came to town.

So, while I sit outside the gates of Everglades National Park, I think of all the federal government workers who are not getting paid.  Some are reporting to work and some are sitting at home waiting to be told to come back to work.

There are so many problems the political sound bite cannot encompass. 

Why is the Federal Government Shut-down? 

Because Congress has failed to: 1) pass a Budget; 2) pass 13 Appropriation bills, that fund the 13 federal agencies; and, 3) follow regular order.

They spend too much time raising money and not enough time doing their jobs, getting to know their colleagues and working together.

Democrats are using undocumented children.

Republicans are using the military.

Common ground is what they are missing in today’s federal shut-down.

Of course, Trump as President is impossible for both his GOP colleagues and Dems.  It is impossible to shame a man, who has no shame.