Monday, April 27, 2015

Gems of Quartzsite, Arizona

Quartzsite, Arizona, the "Rock Capital of the World", has a population of less than 4,000 until January, that is.  Winter turns Quartzsite into a mega gathering place, drawing thousands of visitors in RV's and tents.  From winter residents and snowbirds to vendors, artists, and musicians; annually, it becomes a swap meet mecca!

If you don't mind large crowds, you can shop to your hearts content as you'll find everything under the sun
for sale here:  crafts, kitchen wares, quilts, leather goods, tools, jewelry, hats, shirts, books, DVD's, food, food, food, and gems and minerals from all over the world.  Shows abound: the Desert Gardens Annual International Gem and Mineral Show; the Sports, Vacation, and RV Show; the QIA (Quartzsite Improvement Assn) POWWOW; Quilt Show; Southwestern Art Show Roundup; Gold Treasure and Craft Show; and many other shows including the Author's Fair at Reader's Oasis Bookstore.  Outdoors, there is the Masters Tough Golf Tournament and the Desert Bloom ATV Rally.

The Grand Gathering-The Legacy is one of the last events of the winter season.  Last year, a new entry in Guiness World Records book was created when 631 grandparents and great-grandparents joined together to create one giant, human "Q" (for Quartzsite).

I, however, missed all of these festivities.  I didn't arrive in Quartzsite until the small desert town had dropped from about 2 million back to its normal population.  There's very little to see or do once April arrives and RV sites close down until cooler weather returns in the late fall.  The biggest attraction that I found was Reader's Oasis Bookstore and it's owner, Paul Winer; otherwise known as the Naked Bookseller...or the Naked Man.

When I pulled up to the bookstore, I really had no idea what to expect.  I hadn't bothered to do any research but had simply been told about a naked man in a bookstore that I should go see.  I certainly didn't expect to have a very interesting, if slightly awkward, conversation with a naked man!  I turned around from getting Lillie out of the Jeep to see an old, long haired, bearded, rail thin man in a straw hat, flip flops, and a crocheted...package pouch?!  I said the first thing that came to mind, "Nice tan!".

Walking into the bookstore was a treat!  So much to many books!  Books, albums, tshirts, cards (artwork by Paul himself), games, gifts, and a piano!  We talked as I wandered.  I could have spent hours digging through the sprawling nostagia but he had an afternoon gig at the VFW to get to.

Back in the 60's and 70's, Paul was a bare-assed, boogie-woogie and blues pianist and comedian known as "Sweet Pie".  Forty-two years after retiring, he's been thrilled to put on several concerts with his original blues harp player, "Old Willie Boy" Will Perone.  Recently in New York City, they played to a full house at the Public Theatre.  Check it out: SweetPieJoesPubNY.  On this trip, he met NY's infamous Naked Cowboy whom he bragged to me was much less naked than he!

Paul has been naked in public for 55 years.  Naked is just the way he's dressed.  His skin has always been
hypersensitive so clothing is more like a costume.  He's been arrested numerous times, mostly for his nudity.  However, he's won 68 court cases!  This man of comedy, art, music, book appreciation, and what will likely be his own published book of stories had me oblivious to his nudity...almost!

A friend who was with me is considering crocheting some "c*** socks" to sell...or not!  Google the Naked Man himself and you'll be entertained...go to the Reader's Oasis and you'll enter an insightful world created by an open mind!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Extended Growing Pains

I just found out that I lost what respect I might have had with some people close to me by choosing my current lifestyle!  Apparently, there is a huge dynamic of change for them that they have to come to terms with or reject.  I'm finding that the latter is the norm for most of us who are doing this.  Rejection!  And here I thought my previous lifestyle was far less respectable!! 

It's a well known fact that change is hard.  That change is catastrophic for some, debilitating for others. For some, it's just plain fearsome!!  When in fact, change should be accepted as a lesson!  After all, it's a course of living...everyone changes.  If they don't, they're dead!  This form of change isn't "running away" for most of us (as we're accused of), it's running to who we see ourselves as to live the lives we dream of.  We move ever forward through our fear; it's empowering, it's scary as hell, and it's growth.  It's life on our terms!

It's easy to sustain, to keep on keeping on in our cookie cutter lives.  That doesn't mean we're happy or fulfilled.  It means that we are paying the bills...we are living the lives that everyone else expected of us.  For those of us, like me, who didn't hit the road prior to marriage due to: 1) lack of information (it was 1980, folks!!) or confidence, 2) being in love, or 3) following the timeline rules; it's way overdue and I've endured years of sustaining.  The thing is, I didn't see it while I was in it.  Just like I didn't see how controlled I was by my ex-spouse until months after we were separated!!  Once divorced, kids grown, money in the became my priority.  Travel was where I was happy and ever changing...ever peace!  I learned where my future lay.  Wouldn't you do what you could to pursue that?

I was never a camper....simply a travel addict.  In preparation for my eventual escape overseas (once my old, sweet Lillie had passed), I'd bought a light weight, 2-man tent.  That happened only 4 months before I was laid off!  How odd is that??  Once I did a solo camp trip a few months later, I was hooked!!  That alone, to me, was WEIRD!!  Timing, I've come to learn, really is everything!

Meeting people is a major highlight of my life!  It's become much more interesting in my current lifestyle
though as it seems we're all so different....ok, that's an understatement!!  In a "normal life", we meet people through work, spouse, school, church, parties, etc.  Now, I meet people from every walk of life, state, country, education level, and career!  Those working on the road are writers, editors, web page producers, graphic designers, and a load of other work at home type businesses or unemployables (ie. graduates with masters degrees).  Or they are people who simply work at what they can find along the way.

Between camping, some of us stay with friends, family, or couchsurf (stay in the home of strangers) for free.  Those of us on the road have been accused of being "moochers", "freeloaders", or worse.  So I wonder, exactly what are these people doing when they visit friends and family and have to spend the night there?  Are they mooching?  Freeloading?  Well, I guess it's "different".

Creature comforts are what you make of them.  Since being out of my tent, I'm in luxury with my lil Shasta!!  I don't have a shower so I've learned that four days is my limit to go without.  Most days I'm not doing much to generate sweat so it's mostly an oily hair thing!!  The thing is, we've all gotten used to water pressure, hot water, and accessibility to getting clean...but the bottom line is we don't need anything but water and a little soap.  A solar shower (a bag that you put water in and set out so the sun can warm the water up) has no water pressure but it'll do in a pinch!!  And please don't disregard the portable potty!!  I'd be in big trouble...or flashing folks...without it!

I do understand that my friends and family worry about my safety, whether in a tent or in a camper.  I also know that they haven't done what I'm doing nor have they walked in my shoes.  Put me in front of a television and I scare myself at how many hours I can watch it non-stop!!  THAT scares me!!  Put me back in the bar drinking and dancing 4 to 6 nights a week!!  Yes, that scares me...well, frankly, I couldn't hang that often anymore!!  Throw me back in the gray, windowless office with other miserable people.  That depresses me!!  I read more, the sky is my church, and though I'm currently out of shape, I'm spiritually stronger.  It is also amazing how much respect that I get from my peers being a woman, traveling solo!

Selling and giving away everything, storing only family history, leaving everyone and everything close to me, doing what I've never done before in possible dangerous situations...I respect ME!  I don't need anyone's approval for my lifestyle choice.  I don't need their respect either, though I'm saddened that it's even an issue.  What I do require is self-respect, dignity, pride, peace, and happiness.  If that's not good enough for others, then I will accept that...I accept that they are in another place.  A place I've been before.  A comfortable place...with for raising a family...a place of stability...a place where the only change is in conjunction with a growing family, neighborhood, or career.  A box that I no longer fit in. A place full of fears.

There is nothing wrong with any of those things, I've lived them.  Now?  If not respect, then try to accept, allow, bless, endure, praise, or watch like a horror film my adventures.  That is what my life is now, an adventure!  Why would you want me to live anything but?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ode To Shantilly

I stepped out for some air with my old, sweet Lillie;

Then turned around and what did I see?

On a side of silver, a black and red Zee!

Definitely the cutest home that ever could be!

No bigger than ten plus three, the smallest of the family RV.

Since 1968, she holds close the travel and family memory.

Those who've loved her know her possibility!

Neglected for a while but not a fatality;

A new beginning for a vintage beauty!

New stories unfold daily in the shadow of She.

A warm, embracing glow invites curiosity.

She has changed and grown the person who is me.

Home is where I park it in my own Shantilly!!

Friday, April 3, 2015

You Don't Choose A Life...You Live One

Day in, day out most of the human population wakes up and does whatever they do in the mornings/afternoons/evenings to prepare for several hours of work so that they can pay the ever present bills.  The ever growing bills.  Stress rules unless they are one of the very few lucky enough to love their job.  Life expectancy reduces daily, expenses rise as does the inability to pay them, divorce rates rise, suicide rates rise, and general lack of happiness becomes the norm.

Change.  However you do it, change is a life saver in every way!  

I started this journey with a tent, a jeep, and my sweetheart old dog.  Though I'm now in much fancier accommodations (1968 Shasta 14 footer), the journey continues.  I'm luckier than some that I meet along the way in that I have an IRA and access to retirement in a couple of years.  The ones I've met who don't have learned how to make their way through a little bit of work and a large network of "friends".

Just as I depend on my fantastic network of friends and family and strangers (couchsurfing), they depend on complete strangers and a large network of like minded web friends.  While I'm paying for RV memberships for 10-50% off "RV Resorts", they sharpen their knowledge of boondocking (free) campsites.  I do the same, as well, but if the weather or my state of mind is not conducive to lack of electricity, I do have the luxury to find nicer accommodations.

Either way, with full hookups or parked on Walmart pavement, we have much in common!!  We have made the choice to live our lives as we feel it should be lived!

I had a fantastic condo, a multitude of amazing friends (they are still there for me!), great neighbors, a well paying job....but I wasn't fulfilled....not truly happy.  As my friends know, I am addicted to travel!  I typically went to 3 countries a year.  My happiest times were when I was planning my next trip (which was most of  my day!).  Relief is the best word to explain being told I was laid off.  When you're only working for the dollar, misery is inevitable.

I'm no longer working....much less for the dollar.  When I do work, it's for the pure need to make a buck to help pay for food or gas.  The only part of working that I enjoy is meeting new people.  That is one thing I couldn't do people in my life!

I certainly didn't choose to be miserable so I changed my life by deciding to live it to the fullest.  Fear happens along the way and I choose to hit it head on, as should everyone!!  Give me a beautiful sunset, Lillie snoring at my feet, a thick steak on my puny grill, and a breeze any day over a windowless, gray office and an unfulfilled boss!

Random thoughts in southern California from a very content and relatively young woman!

"NO FEAR!!"  Words to live by!!