Right Now, It’s All About the Home

I have been consumed by the fact that my home is not what I had hoped it would be and that in fact, it is less than adequate. As some of you know, I am trading in my van for a trailer and a truck. An advantage to this arrangement is that I will have a vehicle at the end of my road trip. Though I have become attached to Big Mama, I have to feel safe and because of the many repairs I have not.

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It’s a 2011 and seems completely unused. I am excited to have a home that stays put as I explore the surrounding areas – wherever I am.

We have traversed Oregon quite a lot and will continue to do so as I seek a new home for the future. I have fallen in love with Eugene, am now on the coast. (I fell in love with Portland where my nephew David is now living, but will not settle there. David moved there from the south to get a job as a Physicians Assistant.)

IMG_0330David McKee

I am definitely finding my groove in what I really want from a campground, and by extension, for my permanent home: quite. I have stayed in campgrounds where Hwy 5 is  right in my backyard.  The last two nights I have been fortunate to stay in campgrounds that are luxuriously quite and I slept for 9 hours – straight through!

This particular campsite in Lincoln City was the best! Surrounded by trees, lawn and a beautiful creek:

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Wapiti RV Park

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Doesn’t Big Mama look good? I’ll miss her.

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View from my campsite!

You may remember me writing about my friend, Deble who put me up before I left for Mendocino. Here is a picture of her and her two daughters; Alexis was a great friend of Matt’s in the early years when the family still lived in Oakland.

Deble:Alexis:SierraAlexis, Deble and Sierra in Hawaii, 2016

I was able to go on a pre-trip with Deble to the Pinnacles in June. It was terribly hot, could not bring Lympia into the caves, but through it all, Deble had good humor and patience.

Me:PinnaclesJune2016Me on one of the trails in the Pinnacles

Now, in Florence, Or., I am at a site that is so interesting. It has dunes directly behind the campground. I took Lympia out there and she proceeded to overdo it, putting me in high alert for rescuing. She took many minutes to revive as we sat in the shade of a tree. Like a moonscape, it is deceiving and weird; it must have seemed like that to Lympia as well because I believe she didn’t realize how hard it is to run on sand!

 

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Woahink Lake RV (outside of Florence,OR) resort; just yards away from campsites.

It has been interesting to see how much land there is and how much of it is free to be a lawn or a place where trees might grow-  free range trees! I think of the Bay Area and how every inch is predetermined to have a reason, to have a purpose: curb appeal for sellers; in business parks, just enough of a green space to make one believe you are not really there for business; soccer fields, two and three on a green patch; parking lots, etc. Even the east bay hills where the regional parks are, if you take a look at a map, it is comparatively a very narrow band spanning the hills from Castro Valley to El Cerrito. Feeling appreciative that as many acres were saved at all. I think I only notice the difference in spaciousness because in Oregon, there is so much land that is just not being purposefully used that you notice much more green. (And! Not as many people!) How lovely that so many acres of land are not earmarked for commercial use.

I was having a conversation with my girlfriend, Bry’Andi and she was remarking how finding a home within yourself is most important and real. I am learning to do that as I go along. It is true that I am getting more comfortable not having a permanent place. Though,   I believe Lympia would like one. It seems to be hard on her – she still hates the van – shaking and wanting to just run all the time. But, she is devoted to me, keeping me alert to  things that are not right. She’s a good friend, too.

 

Much love to you all,

Elizabeth

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The Beauty and the Beast

Aaaah. I am finally beginning to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. On the way to Tionesta we went through the Butte Valley National Grassland. Did you know we had national grasslands? We passed a place called Grass Lake – unbelievable. And, that they are protected? They were absolutely gorgeous – along hwy 97 north from Weed, CA. The grasslands could be seen to have standing water, but the grasses themselves were so beautiful and some yellow wildflowers could be spotted as well. Spectacular.

And, on Saturday in Klamath Falls, OR, Lympia and I went to an incredible city park – yes, a city park! An enormous park with courts, hiking trails, picnicking and lots of fields for kids to play in. Here are some photos of Moore Park:

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Moore Park, Klamath Falls, OR

 

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Upper Klamath Lake, Klamath Falls, OR, across the street from the city park

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Moore Park trail

I am finding more time to sit and contemplate my life because it is so dam hot! No energy to do much past 11 am. When we returned to Merrill after a day in Klamath Falls, it was 86 degrees at 4:45 pm. I do get ourselves out for hikes and rides in the early morning. While in Merrill, I walk Lympia through town around 7am in the morning and no one is around. I love it!

What I am noticing is the loneliness and missing folks I love, while also feeling very free and wanting to explore areas where I have not been. Today, as the 4th approaches, I watched families, friends and lovers get together for fun and conversation all over. It really brought home my aloneness. I have to fight the melancholy. Thank god for Lympia and those of you who are keeping in touch. One reason I think it is so easy to get down is because there is always something wrong with the van. It’s quite discouraging.

Today, after I filled one tire with air (a slow leak!) the (abs) and brake light went on. My heart sank, because I had specifically asked the mechanics to check levels of all fluids, etc. I am guessing it’s brake work that is needed. One encouraging note is that the rv’ers say there is ALWAYS something wrong or needs to be fixed. Whew! I really was beginning to feel that I had made a huge mistake. But, with an RV this old, it’s gonna be like this – apparently!

It’s been a little over 2 weeks. I can look forward to enjoying more and worrying less, right?

Lots of love,

E

 

 

 

 

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Staying in Touch

IMG_0219The four of us the day I left Oakland. I cried all along the way to Guerneville.

There’s always so much happening when traveling, it seems overwhelming to keep up on what to share and what is not that interesting or important. All of it seems great and important and I want to share it all.

I am in Weed today, off to Tionesta, near the Lava Beds, making my way into Oregon on Sunday. The trip here was exciting, beautiful mountains, Trinity River, Redwoods and gorgeous skies. My van did not like the uphill climb, getting too hot and forcing me to turn on the heat. Lympia was absolutely  miserable. Last night proved to me she had too much of 105 – 106 degree temperatures in Redding and Anderson, CA. Her breathing and heart worked very hard to calm down. Today, she’s much better.

My van was in the shop (!!) all day yesterday at a Camping World. They were great, very dog friendly and were wonderful with Lympia. But, it was not a very active time for her.

So you can see, it’s a mixed bag of responsibilities and seeing this beautiful land and people. The people I have met along the way are also very helpful, always offering advice and tips. I am grateful for that. No conversations as of yet, have been particularly deep or interesting but friendly, nonetheless. I anticipate this changing as I create more of a routine in my days, staying longer and doing more. Right now, I am just getting to Oregon for the month of July (which, I had not thought about the 4th and the holiday, so finding a place to stay has been challenging!)

4:20 pm: left Tionesta, a dive. Now in Merrill! 87 degrees! Too hot still. Here’s some photos I neglected to post earlier:

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Here’s a happy pup on the beach in Mendocino. I could let her run wild!

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Gorgeous Mendocino cliffs and ocean.

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Seems like years already!

After leaving my home of 20 years, I headed northwest to Guerneville. I know it’s not that far (just 1.5 hours), but starting fresh on my long trip, it felt far enough away.  I needed to decompress after the emotional departure. It was a wonderful way to start my journey, coming into the loving arms of my uncle and cousins.

Our time together was so relaxing, so fun and very nurturing. I felt very fortunate to be a part of the McKee family. One cousin, Tom,had only been in San Francisco back in the early 70’s and so we did a touristy day walking Chrissy Field and Ft. Baker, a fine leather shop owned by Julia (Jim’s significant other) on Union St., Lombard St, and Coit Tower. Wonderful day. We also did some wine tasting in Santa Rosa.

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Jim, Tom, Walter, Diane, and Lori – missing: Lynn.

Leaving after a quick 6 nights, I headed back to Santa Rosa to the loving home of my friend Deble. The only picture I have of this time is of a family of ducks at the resort/spa we spent time at soaking in the sun and swimming.  I still need to transfer it from my phone to the computer!

The highlight of the past few days was seeing Isabella and Courtney for dinner in Berkeley.  What love!  This photo was taken just a day or so after Isabella (Alaya) was born in 2007.

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I was back in town for an ordination: A Catholic Women Priest: Joanna Truelson , who was my Course in Miracles facilitator/teacher. What a moving event that will most likely prove to be history.  (Pictures hopefully, to follow.) What was striking for me was when the garb was placed on Joanna, her robes and beautiful scarf, it seemed to me she was becoming someone who had holiness, had spirit and love emanating from her. Though I had seen this in her before, the formality seemed to solidify her position and intentions.

I really have to sync up my picture-taking, transferring to the computer and this blog. You’ll just have to check all the blogs over again! I didn’t want too much time to go by before you started worrying if I was still alive.

I am off to Richardson Grove, just south of Garberville following the coast up and into Oregon. I hope to be more consistent and more frequent as the my year goes along.

Stay tuned, lots of love to you all.

 

 

 

 

 

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Big Mama, Lympia and Me

I will be traveling in a Roadtrek 200 Popular, vintage 2003 with my dog, Lympia. It sleeps 2 and there will be visitors along the way from my community who will share this mobile home.  I look forward to seeing Renee, Olga and Allison in Oregon. Jane, Michele, and Amy will join me in Washington state. In Canada, Amy and Laurie will hopefully meet up with me. Others are scheduled around the country and I am so glad because I know I’ll need a Bay Area shot in the arm every once in a while.

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After reading Leaning into Love, by Elaine Mansfield, I am ready to walk/drive into my new life. It was a great read and I am so glad I read it before I left on my trip. Her experiences were similar to mine as we both had a great long-term marriage, 2 kids, and she felt she was in the shadow of a great man. My husband was a great man, too. He was a director of an independent school and a spokesperson for the national progressive education movement. He wrote Loving Learning, How progressive education can save American schools. I highly recommend it if you are interested in the way we educate our children and how we can spearhead social justice through teaching our kids.

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This is a 2012 picture of Tom I took while we celebrated our 33 wedding anniversary in Truckee, CA. It was a beautiful day, a wonderful trip and I took great pics of my love!

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It’s all about relationships

I’ve just said good-bye to a group that has been meeting alternately in my home for over 15 years. This last meeting was poignant and sad for it signified that the changes I have set in motion are not in the future or unreal: it is now and it is final.
A Course in Miracles is Christian and so for me to be involved was a kind of disconnect and a little silly. I don’t know anything about Christianity, nor religion per se, and have always felt that religion was not related to my life. However, these particular women have always made me feel welcome, loved and respected.
They are mostly Catholic women (including one who is about to be ordained a woman priest*)  who have loved their religion, albeit with some exceptions including an inordinate amount of guilt; ignoring women who have played significant roles in the religion; etc., and are very connected to the ‘Holy Spirit’. I am learning to know what it means to be spiritual through this avenue and find it very elusive. But because I am in a group with these beautiful and wonderful women, I feel the importance of sangha.
The Course emphasizes forgiveness and love. This I can get behind. The love part has helped me begin to see the beauty and worth in everyone thus making it easier to forgive. Forgiveness is tough – but when I have been able to achieve this – I really feel relieved and experience a new lightness with a touch of peace and patience.  Right now we are reading Richard Rohr’s * Immortal Diamond.  This reading has allowed me to understand deeper the incorrect thinking that has been characteristic of religion and in particular, Christianity. It seems, in one of his major themes, that the ‘church’ has left the personal connection to the divine up to and only with Priests and other hierarchy.  Rohr writes:

Science is no longer our enemy; instead quantum physics, biology, and other academic disciplines are revealing science as probably our new and best partner, much better than philosophy ever was. If something is spiritually true, it will also be true in the physical world too, and all religions will somehow be looking at that “one truth” from different angles, goals, assumptions, and vocabulary, as will all of the disciplines of any great university. If we are really convinced that we have the Great Big Truth, then we should also be able to trust that others will see it from their different angles – or it is not a great big truth. 

In my tradition (I have been training at Spirit Rock* in their Dedicated Practioners Program) the sangha is one of the three jewels: the Buddha, the dharma (teachings)  and the sangha, or community. So, from this perspective, it almost doesn’t matter what our orientation is, just as long as we find within ourselves wise effort and the rest of the Noble Eight-fold* path points.
All this is to say I have gotten so much from my ‘religious’ friends and have felt so held in love and will miss them terribly. I hope to attend a conference where Rohr will be presenting in New Mexico, where I will see some of these great women once again.
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The Miracles Group: Sue, Joanna, Kathleen, Sandra, me, Olga, and Catherine

*Richard Rohr’s site:

https://cac.org

*Spirit Rock Meditation Center:

https://www.spiritrock.org

*The Noble Eight-fold Path:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html

* Catholic Women Priests

http://romancatholicwomenpriests.org

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Preparing for The Big Trip

So much has been said about traveling around the country with a dog and in a van or RV. I am not doing anything new. But, I am surviving post Tom. Nothing could be more difficult.

 

My heart is aching for a life I once had and now I must turn away from all that I knew and loved. To begin this journey, I decided to physically take myself away from the life I so comfortably loved and lived for over 35 years. I am wrenching myself away because it is really difficult to make this decision to leave all the folks I love so much.

Why would I do this? So many people ask me this with incredulity. I feel I must face myself, my fears, and allow my heart to open again. I have let it close because of the pain. My trip may help me find my heart again, find whatever spunk and aliveness I had before Tom passed.

I loved Tom with all my heart. He was a rare soul, kind and wise and very loving. It is because of him that I am able to take this trip at all. He and I planned to do this together when Tom retired from his position as director at Park Day School. There for over 35 years he had developed a great love for the staff, parents, and children who came through the school. His relationships were paramount to his work and it was reflected in his dedication and deep caring for the direction of this progressive school.

We had intended to do this trip when he retired, but we both knew that it would be impossible to leave. I did not have the chance to try and pry him away as he developed cancer that consumed him in 2014.

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