Life on the Open Road

Life on the Open Road

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sunset Tonight

It was rainy and windy for much of today. I put on my raincoat and ventured out to walk the beach in the morning and, once I got to the end of the boardwalk before the sand, I stood there looking at the crashing waves with gusts of wind, salt water, and rain coming at me. It reminded me so much of a snow storm. I thought how it'd be good to have goggles as well as rain pants. Instead of a beach walk, I came back to the RV, soaked.

Later in the afternoon, I felt convinced that the rain had let up long enough and the sun was shining more clearly. I wanted to walk. Off I went, satisfied by my feet in the water as I made my way down the shore. I especially love the sensation of walking on the newly wet sand as the tide rises. It was a happy surprise that I walked for a few hours considering I thought it might be short when I set out. Of course, I was smiling when I saw the big, bright sun and felt its warm light on me. The birds I came across were many and happy, too, squawking and staying where they were despite my nearing them as if the food they were finding was well worth the close proximity to me.

I was so thankful for the storm to clear and glad to be back out at the beach. Here are some photos from the walk this evening which ended with a beautiful full moon.

That lovely and awesome liminal time of sun and moon at once. The moon is there within the clouds.

I love walking the beach.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On Rendezvous with Wildlife, Noticing Things, and Being Alone

A really great thing about the way I live and travel is that I allow myself the freedom to go as I please and to stay as I please as well. I have fallen in love with this place. It happened when I first came and it happened each return. I love being here. When I leave, I come back. As far as a physical location goes, I want to call this home.

I’ve lived different places for various lengths of time. I enjoy the changes and variety a lot. I don’t think of home as simply a place. I’ve lived places that don’t feel like home. I’ve lived places that I knew were temporary. Everything is temporary actually. I’ve known when it would be short term. I’ve known when I like a place and want to stay. I’ve known when I liked being someplace and would be happy to leave and return or not.

I was just talking with some rangers and volunteers at the ranger station about Wisconsin. Some had just been or were headed there for a visit. I mentioned how much I loved it and how I spent a month there last Summer. I had no idea, when I first entered WI then, that I’d be exploring it so much. There is still more to see there, though I am quite happy I got to a lot of different parts of it.

Last night I was walking the beach and my attention was drawn to this post with a light. (I’m not sure the name of this … pretty sure it has an official term.) I looked at it and did think it would make a pretty picture and then wondered to myself, is there anything there to take a picture of? Yes. I immediately noticed a bird perched on it. We’d had rain storms and it was wet looking. It looked like an eagle! *A hawk! I keep referring to it as an eagle. I love seeing hawks. I've rarely seen eagles. I'm leaving eagle because I want to since that is what I kept saying and thinking until I realized I meant hawk now.* Do eagles go to the beach? I took some pictures. I got closer. It flew to another one of those posts with a light on it and this confirmed for me that it was an eagle. I was appreciative I had looked and seen this. I love eagles and view them as a positive sign to see them. I’d seen another recently on a fence along with two other, smaller and different kinds of birds. Loved seeing that, too.

That wasn’t all that happened though. Then I saw a fin come out of the water nearby the post with the light that the eagle was on. Dolphins! Swimming in that way that reminds me of a wheel in water, circular and up and down. I was now so thankful I had looked and that this was unfolding as it was. You can see in this picture the bird by the light and the dolphins as a speck there in the water.

The bird is perched and the dolphins are to the right, sort of centered in the picture.

Here, the dolphins are on the left about above the '.I" of below.

I walked back to the campground I’m staying at. I’m at a beach campground. There is no better place for me to be right now. I love it.

Did you know that those white crabs like to run the soft sandy beach at night? Did you know they sound like mice scurrying when they do? I’ve heard mice carrying things. This crab sound is like a mouse just on its own, not carrying anything. I usually listened to music but last night, on my way back and just toward the end of my walk, I took my earbuds out to hear. I heard the ocean waves breathing and felt the breeze. As I reached the boardwalk to get back to the campsites I noticed a deer looking right at me from the grass nearby. We looked at each other. Do you know the sounds of a deer sort of snorting? Softer than a horse. Harsher than a dog. It ran off and I later heard that sound. Recently, another night, I turned my phone flashlight on and had a similar encounter with a deer near the walk there. It was startled by my light and made that sound(I want to say it chortled) and we both jumped a bit and it ran off. That’s when I figured out it was a deer. It’s really cool to see them by the beach.

Hearing the sounds last night, I thought about how I usually walk and listen to music and how much I enjoy doing so. I love the rhythm and the way it feels to walk like this. I briefly thought about the sounds I was missing by doing so and I stopped myself because I wasn’t missing anything. I loved listening to the music. I knew the ocean sounds were there. I just chose to tune into something else. I wasn’t missing anything. When I’m feeling happy doing whatever I am doing, I’m there. I’m fully there. I’m not thinking about all the other things I could be doing or all the other things I love to do and that I’m not doing right then. I’m there. I have preferences. I know I love being at the beach lately and I feel there has been tremendous benefit from spending so much time at it. There has been benefit in tuning into it as well as tuning it out.

I see butterflies pretty much every day. Gopher tortoises are out and about and far faster than one might imagine if familiar with the idea that they might be slow. They aren’t. I’ve seen a baby sea turtle and I’ve seen the sign for where there are eggs so we can look and not get too close. I’ve seen darker crabs in the water and along the shore.  I've seen horseshoe crabs and stingrays. I've seen lots of creatures I don't know the names of. I’ve seen cardinals and other birds. I’ve seen cats other than the one I live with. I’ve seen dogs, too of course.

There are lizards, however, I haven’t seen them as often. I’m excited because the new site I just moved to today has a tree! I am very excited about this because not only do we get a bit of shade even in the daylight, animals like trees! And my cat likes to watch them. Perfect!

As I was walking last night and noticing these things, I was thankful because I know that things like this are everywhere. There are all sorts of opportunities for us to rendezvous with what we like and want to and it’s just a matter of paying attention to them and being receptive of noticing.

I’ve written about traveling solo and the connections and in the moment experiences I’ve had that have been so much fun. This is the same thing. That quick view of the dolphins rising and then submerging is exciting. It’s brief, even if I watched them cross the water so saw it repeatedly. It’s a tiny bit of my walk and my day. It’s also the thing that brings such satisfaction to the walk and a bit of a thrill. I know the water has lots of dolphins yet I don’t always see them. I know those moments are everywhere throughout each day yet I don’t always meet up with them and recognize it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time alone lately. I see people when I go out and I’ve been staying at a campground more than ever before and enjoying it. I like being alone. I like being in fun company. I like being around animals and nature. I adore the beach. I am not feeling lonely in the slightest. I’m not missing anything. My days are satisfying yet if you ask me what I’m doing, I somewhat short for words. I’m enjoying myself. No matter what I’m experiencing, or how I am feeling, at the end of the day, I’m really enjoying myself. That really is all that matters to me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Come Rain or Shine: Some Perks of Rain as an RVer

I'm parked in a lot filled with stores and restaurants in a very heavy rain storm. A drive was appealing so I've headed down a road I'd been curious about for a while. What better time to explore than in a downpour? Obviously this is a popular opinion as you can see by the view from my dashboard:

There was more traffic in the intersections and town areas. There were also trucks which are fairly common to see, carrying trees from the forest along here. 
I thought I was heading North and it turns out it was South! Anyhow there are many benefits to the rain from my perspective. You really can't rain on my parade in the proverbial sense because I love it. Aside from the hydration for the land and such, here are some of the reasons I appreciate it as an RVer: 

  1. It washes the RV! Especially the sand from being by the beach, or the dirt or leaves or what have you when in other places. 
  2. It's a great way to check for leaks. No need to freak out if you find water inside at a window or fan vent. Make sure they are fully closed tightly because the wind and rain can make its way in if they aren't. 
  3. It cleans the under body to drive in the rain and have the water splash up.
  4. It's likely cool enough to cook in the daytime. 
  5. It's cozy and comfortable inside and I can watch the drops moving along the windows and hear the various sounds of it hitting the fiberglass and metal and glass and other parts, all creating unique and beautiful sounds. 

I mentioned recently that from the warm location point of view, it's a pleasant change to have a stormy day amongst the usual sunshine. Part of why I enjoy it is because it is different than the norm. There's so much about the rain I love and throw in these wonderful claps of thunder and brilliant flashes of lightning and what a great time it makes for! 

As I've sat here, I've heard some funny sounds from people dashing in and out of their cars. I also fixed lunch for myself. It'd been a long time since I'd had a burrito and this was easy: tortilla, cheese, pinto beans, mild sauce. One cast iron skillet and a few minutes later, I was set. Yum! 

The forecast suggests the storms will continue for hours. Come rain or shine, you know I'll enjoy it! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

One Pot Meal: Chili Mac and Cheese with Vegetables

I recently got a campsite at one of my favorite state parks. That night, I decided I would use a bunch of the foods I had and, upon considering what was on hand, I had an idea to make chili with mac and cheese. A quick search online where I found a recipe of just that gave me further satisfaction with the idea and a rough guide for how to prepare it. I also decided to add some vegetables to it. I only took pictures after I made it and will simply say it was very tasty and I would make it again! It’s a great option for a camping trip as everything can be made in one pot. 

Here’s what I used:

1.5 teaspoons butter
one vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground turkey 
taco seasoning (I used up what I had, probably 1-2 teaspoons) 
one can of black beans, drained
30 ounces of water
1/2 cup or so of frozen mixed vegetables 
one box of mac and cheese 

one 3 quart pot
one paring knife
one slotted spoon 
a 30 ounce tumbler for the water

Here’s what I did: 

  1. Brown the meat with the butter, chopped onion, and taco seasoning. 
  2. Add the black beans. 
  3. Add the water and frozen mixed vegetables. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add the pasta from the macaroni and cheese and cook until the pasta is ready, usually 7-9 minutes. 
  5. Turn it off and stir in the cheese packet. 

Mine ended up a bit more like a soup, however, I loved it like that and just used a slotted spoon to drain it when I put it on a tortilla with an added slice of cheese. I’d totally add more cheese in the future. It would work to use pasta and cheese, not the boxed mac and cheese, for even more flavor as well. This made multiple meals for one person and I’d say could feed at least four people with these measurements. I froze some for a later day, too. Delicious! 

The tortilla was good with it, however, I ate it plain, too and liked it just as well. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Washington Oaks Gardens State Park in Palm Coast, FL

When I was registering for my visit at Anastasia State Park, I was given a BOGO ticket for the nearby (about 30 minutes south) Washington Oaks Gardens State Park as well. This was awesome! I had previously driven by it and opted not to go in. On my last day's stay, I drove down with just over an hour before closing to check the park out. I am so glad I did!

First of all, this park is much bigger than I thought and I actually only visited the garden side, not knowing until I was leaving that I could cross the street to the beach side. I know for the next time and would love to visit again, perhaps for an event even, and I definitely feel this park is worth the entry fee either way. 

It was the honor system upon entering and no ranger was there. I decided to drive around the park, to get a sense of things and decide how to proceed. I'm also glad I did that. I saw there are trails and there is a large picnic area. What I was most interested in was the formal gardens so that is where I focused. 

The park was given to the state by Louise Young and had been her home, along with some family, prior. There is a distant relation to George Washington. The visitors center along the path of the historic gardens area is the old home. One section has information set up like a mini exhibit and the other is set like a living room may have been back when she lived there complete with an old fashioned TV playing a likely dated movie about the grounds(it was Florida nature related, at least.) I looked at the old books on the shelves, recognizing that my family had some of the same series. There are also bathrooms here. I like how they made use of the house like this. 

It was nearing sunset and I followed the map and read the various markers. What a lovely place to have lived. An interesting thing was that, as I made mental connections, something seemed familiar... then I saw an old photo and I knew it! This woman is featured in a book I read when I was younger. I hadn't heard of the gardens back then and it began to come together more. Louise Young became a millionaire by 19 in the early 1900s with her business. A photo I saw here was like the one on the cover of the book. I was more familiar with her story and this place than I'd remembered. 

The gardens and property are nice. The history and things that were done here were cool. From art to citrus production and more, it seems like it was a lively and charming place to dwell. 

They were setting up for an event the next day. Alas, I had just the right amount of time to visit the gardens and do the self guided tour and then leave by closing(8:15 that night.) One could easily spend hours here, if walking the beach and the trails, packing a lunch, touring the gardens and visiting the shop which was closed when I was there. 

I'd recommend it and I'd go back!