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Day One: Breaking Out Of The Gravitational Force Field of L.A.

Day One: Breaking Out Of The Gravitational Force Field of L.A.

Finally escaped the gravitational force field. Sunday night I packed and took care of all the last minute details including many loads of laundry until 5am. Slept until 7am. Dropped my half read copy of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History at the library and headed to Balboa Park with the dogs to collected a fresh round of plant materials, mugwort and datura. Then grabbed the white and black sages from my garden and headed to Rebecca’s ostensibly to pick up Mango, her Chihauha whom I was delivering to her mom in Flagstaff.

I was also struggling with what to do about the fact that the brand new refrigerator, all 1.9 cubic feet and $600 of it, was no working well. At Rebecca’s we brainstormed, while being mobbed with the two giant pit bull puppies as well as Nikko the wolf who has taken a shine to me but like to give love nips. After calling around and nixing Benchmark’s $130/hr minimum labor charge, Mark at Lodgemobile not answering I decided a dry run up to Valencia would give me a chance to test the rig which I felt might be overloaded.

At this point I recognized that I was stalling in fear. Not an anxiety ridden type of fear, but just resistance. I acknowledged it and moved forward, reminding myself that I might be pleasantly surprised! I had done my best to try and take only that which seemed to contribute to my experience without being extravagant. The rig is heavy since Maybelline is a bit underpowered for the job, but she did fine and even rode a bit better being loaded. Could it be that all my planning and micromanaging every detail might pay off?

Back at Rebecca’s I thought I might leave around 10pm and so went down for a sleep from 5-9. Mind you I had only had two hours sleep the night before and felt surprisingly good. Running on adrenalin. Great drug. When I woke up at nine I knew I’d never be fit to drive all night so decided to leave in the am and head up to Wrightwood to spend the day before heading out the next night.

Then I checked the fridge and saw it was 65 degrees. Not good. Called Janet and Pat made a couple of trouble shooting suggestions about checking the fuses and making sure there was ac to the outlet. I didn’t have anything to plug in that didn’t have a wall wart of some kind, but, because I had thought of everything, had bought a cheap multi-meter at Harbor freight. The first think I noticed is that the plug was half out of the socket, and so tight there was no way it had just vibrated out. I tested the socket and sure enough, no power. I tested the other one and that was good. Casita figures that only the fridge will every be plugged into it (there’s already an external outlet) so they only wired in one side. So good going both Casita, and Camping World who didn’t bother to test once it was in. Maybe bench tested it so they know the unit works, but didn’t bother to see if it actually worked in the trailer. I’m so sick of incompetence. After being on all night it actually got down to forty degrees. Just enough to not grow botulism.

Had a good sleep from midnight to seven am or so and finally got out of Rebecca’s by a little after nine.
Again, I was very aware of the unconscious fear in the form of massive resistance and generalized low level anxiety, though by now I have dotted every possible i and crossed every possible t. I had to ask myself, “Exactly WHAT are you afraid of?” Mostly I’m afraid of breaking down and having to deal with that. And running out of money, over spending my budget, which is ridiculously small. Basically $1200 a month, providing nothing big goes wrong with the property. But again, I’ve worked my ass off and spent a lot money in the past nine months doing preventative maintenance and was up to the very last day.

My impulse was to call people and talk about the fear, but I decided instead to just sit with it, feel it, and then tell myself that, for one, shit happens, and you just deal with it as it happens, and two, that I could be surprised and things could actually work out! What a concept. I reminded myself that not only I had I planned meticulously, but that the universe had repeatedly, continually showed it’s support in ways I previously would never have believed possible. I have never experienced this kind of positive manifestation. I’ve experienced plenty of the other kind. This is something new. It’s kind of like The Secret, only that seemed to be all about about money, and though money is great, that is not what moves me or what this trip is about. This was something I could get behind. Right now, sitting here in a campground in Wrightwood, with the ground squirrels and birds, the warm gentle breeze and sounds of young girls playing in the small lake with canoes, laughing in the distance I am at peace. At peace for the first time in months. I want for nothing.

Bird Sightings:

Acorn Woodpeckers abound
Bush Tits of course
Dark Eyed Junco, possible the Oregon variety with buff breast.
Stellar Jay
And the usual suspects…

Encounter of the Native Kind

First day on the road July 29, 2014 made the grade up into Wrightwood without too much trouble. The visitor center is a gorgeous stone building built in 1926. Left the dogs and climbed the stairs. No one else here and seemingly no one around. I looked around at the displays in the lobby, nothing of note but a stuffed Red Tail Hawk. Finally I said, “Hello?”
A fellow came out of the back room. Looked to be native. Long salt and pepper pony tail, beautiful dark skin and kind, soft eyes. I told him I was looking for a place to rest and sleep until this evening before doing the push across the desert. That I had escaped L.A. and was headed out for a year. Well that did it. We had an immediate rapport. He told me how when he had come back from Viet Nam in ’74 he had traveled for a year getting himself together and getting back to the earth, his mother. Because he was a vet he was able to get a job with the Forest Service and finally got a permanent position in ’96. He had three years to go until retirement and like me about a year to go for the Senior Pass. (Damn I could save a lot of money if I was just 9 months older.) He talked for a while in a very intimate manner about himself. I asked if his earings were shell casings and he said, “Yes. 22 casings with rattlesnake bone,” and that he had earned his warrior status by fighting. He also had a breast plate made of AK47 shells, buffalo bone, torquoise and coral. I would love to see that. He said it was heavy and when you wore it you had to stand up into it. Proud. Some people came in with questions and he motioned to me and said, don’t go away. 
He said, “I have something for you,” and went to the back room and brought back a long bag from which he pulled a wooden native flute. “I’m going to give you a song for your journey.” He began to play, beautifully. I closed my eyes and stood reverently. I was being given a prayer. A sublime moment. He played for maybe five minutes during which time no one came into the office. 
He had the slow, deliberate manner and it slowed me down too. We talked some more about many things. He said that living in the city was like living in a box, like this room. He indicated with his reaching arm. That there is no place for your creativity to blossom. I told him that was a lot of what this trip was about for me. That I had my beads, my books and my guitar. Well then he perked up. Told me to make simple things, like this, and he pulled a small, beaded deerskin medicine bag from inside his shirt, “and then your creativity will take over.”
All in all it was quite an experience. This was the first human I encountered, the first morning of leaving L.A. The energy exchange between us was enchanted. Once again I was blessed by the universe, Mother Nature, Earth Mother. I was going to say it was heavy. But it wasn’t heavy. It was intense in it’s depth and quietude. Whoa. Or aho. Oh, yeah. His name tag said, J.R. Spiritwolf.
The vibe stayed with me throughout the rest of the afternoon as I rested under the willows and let the earth seep back into my body and soul. 

My Dad and the Ethics of Hunting and Meat

Sunday. Woke at 6am and truck stopped at my drive and stayed there. I’m wondering, what the hell are you doing dude? I need to go out and pee. Dogs want out. Another PU stops. I look out the window behind me and see six bull elk browsing their way across my camp. Whoa! Magnificent. They were just grazing and very slowly making their way across. Well one of those yahoos must have radioed back to the others because for the next hour and half there’s been a steady stream of ginormous 4×4’s going by, with guys dressed in full camo, slowly cruising, binoculars in hand, looking for those elk. I don’t get the full camo while driving a huge, loud, bright red 4×4. Does wearing the camo render one’s truck invisible? Do you really think you’re gonna get a shot off from the front seat? Do you really think those elk are gonna hang around waiting for you? These hills are filled with elk. Get off your fat ass and take a hike! At a stroll, those elk are doing 3-4 miles an hour. At an easy trot probably 10, so they are loooong gone. I’ve seen what may even be the same group a week or so ago up on the mesa behind me. Nights are getting a little chillier so they are probably starting to move down into lower grazing. Pretty soon these yahoos can get up in the morning, put on their camos, sit at their dining room table with their morning coffee and just wait for a bull to stroll through their backyard. Where I’m camped is little more than a backyard of Flagstaff. I’m only 15 miles from town. I can hear Route 89 and see the settlement of homes a mile or two away from here. (I’m roughing it.)

Bow season is open. You betcha I’m wearing my Day-Glo yellow running vest when I go hiking later.

I’m not opposed to hunting. It’s just the way it’s done these days. A little rant here. My dad was a hunter in the best sense of the word. One buck, one bullet. When I as a kid he hunted for eleven years with his friend Al Holzer and Al’s dad, who we called Oppa, a German immigrant who had left Germany in the late 30’s when he saw the writing on the wall. He and his wife, Omma, ran a general store and butcher shop in Phoenecia, NY, which was then a tiny hamlet. Now there is a big Buddhist meditation center there because of it’s beauty and remoteness.

Omma was a fabulous crafts person who inspired me greatly. She taught me the European way to knit so that the needles do the work and one doesn’t have to “throw” the yarn. She made ceramics with clay that she dug from Muddy Brook and rag rugs on a big loom. Oppa would take the 10 or 11 year old me on nature walks and show me where the deer had browsed the branches off the winter trees and a fawn had died because it was a harsh winter or where the larvae of trout lived under rocks in Muddy Brook. Oppa drove a war surplus Willys jeep that would shake the fillings out of your teeth. Even at 10 I knew they were “my” people; kind, observant and in tune with the natural world around them. In summer we would go up to the “old” cabin, a log cabin way up the hill that was only reachable in summer. In the winter Omma and Oppa lived in an apartment over the store. I remember it was warm and there was a bear skin rug, probably a bear that Oppa had killed himself. In later years as they became too old to deal with and maintain the old place they build a more modern A frame in the meadow at the turn off the very steep and rocky road up to the old cabin.

The old cabin was made of logs and rocked a little when you walked across the floor because the porcupines had chewed one corner of the log foundation. There was a cast iron stove in the kitchen, the big kind with four “burners” and an oven. The cabin was very because it was built under the protection of giant, old growth firs. I remember sitting in the dark living room listening to small radio and hearing Simon and Garfunkle’s Sounds of Silence for the first time.

I always wanted to go hunting with my dad since when I was small I was a Daddy’s girl, and we hadn’t yet come to the years of conflict and mental illness. One summer Al’s family and ours spent a weekend at the old cabin. We were shooting cans with a .22. I haven’t shot a rifle now since my teens, but I was a very, very good shot, much to the dismay of the macho husbands of some girlfriends. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as they say, since I have my dad’s eye as well as his army medal for sharpshooter. Legend has it that he was a sniper during the war. Like most of his stories there is no way of ascertaining the validity of any of his war stories. They all seem to contain some truth along with a lot of contradiction. At any rate, we were target shooting and little chipmunk came down the tree. I don’t remember exactly how I cam to shoot it, whether I was challenged, or if I challenged myself, but I shot the chipmunk dead with one shot. I had conflicting feelings about it, so in order not to “waste” his life, I decided to skin and dissect him. I had shot him in one side of the gut and out the other, so the skin was actually not much good for anything, but skin him I did, separating the skin from the underlying fascia (a skill I was later to use in human dissection) then stretching the skin on a board and salting it to dry. I then started to take him apart, as well as a unsupervised 10 year old can, looking at his organs, and how his food was oozing out from the holes in his little stomach. It was all very queezy but I willed myself forward so that his little life would not be in vain. After I had done, it was time for dinner and what was up was rare hamburgers. I didn’t have much appetite at that point and as I remember skipped dinner and had very bad dreams that night. I lost my desire for hunting that afternoon. As sad as it was for the chipmunk, the experience of taking even one little life, changed me for life.

I am not a vegetarian. I know the meat I eat has been killed and possibly not in the most humane way possible, all though we can always try to vote with our dollars and where we purchase our meat. I have eaten game meat, moose and wildebeast, and found it delicious and nothing like farmed meat. But I think I would be a failure as a person killing and dressing (such a polite word for gutting and skinning) even a chicken. I still struggle with the fact that I eat meat. I tried being a vegetarian for six years and then I just craved animal protein so much I caved. As I’ve gotten older it seems to be an almost daily necessity. I remind myself that I am just a piece in the circle of life. Soil feeds grain which feeds insects which feed fish, amphibians and reptiles which feed mammals which feed us and the greater carnivores. And as omnivores we are just in the middle of that food chain with other small mammals, coyotes and the like. Some day the worms will eat me. The great carnivores like wolves and big cats are really above us in the food chain and indeed we could be food for them. But as a society, of which I am part, we are so out of balance and out of our place in the pyramid, that I have that social imprinting in my relationship to meat. Compounded by the brainwashing of industrial farming. I think that society has HAD to divorce itself from knowledge of it’s meat source because knowing with every bite what the last days were like for the animal one is eating, would really kill the appetite. No pun intended. Which is why in the supermarket you can’t find meat that looks anything like the animal that provided it. Maybe in the asian and latin barrio markets, where whole smoked ducks or goat heads hang in the window, but even that is fast disappearing. The only animals one sees in the supermarket are pictures of happy, frolicking pigs or “contented” cows. The size of this deceit is staggering. I’ve often said that if people want to eat meat, they should kill it themselves. That would keep it in perspective. What if you went to the store and bought a live chicken, took it home, wrung it’s neck and plucked it? Or a pig? My God would it be a different world. I can only dream. And feel like a hippocrite.

Back to my dad. He hunted for eleven years. The first year he shot a medium eight point buck and the antlers hung in our house for ten years. Ten more years he hunted, and nine years came back empty handed. He hunted with Al and Oppa up near Phoenicia in a place called Slide Mountain, very rugged territory. They would go out for several days together, splitting up and then, making rough camp in the woods. Hunting season in NY is in November. Often it snowed. Good for tracking, not so good for sleeping. When he came back empty handed there were always the stories. Sometimes he saw nothing, sometimes they were too far away. Sometimes Al or Oppa got a buck and we had some venison. One year a large deer teased him and stood perfectly still, a perfect shot, but with it’s head behind a tree and important parts in the bushes, so for the entire time he couldn’t see if it was a buck or a doe and held his shot. Finally the deer walked out of the bushes and it was a doe with a fawn at her side. Year after year it was the same. In the eleventh year his luck was to change. He was alone, sighted a huge buck and had a clear heart shot right behind the shoulder. He took his shot and was sure he had hit his mark but the deer bounded away. He had hit it. He was able to track to blood a short way to where the deer finally fell. He cocked his 30.06 and approached slowly. The deer leaped up and antlers down, charged him. He took another shot, and the deer fell in front of him. His first shot had been good, but the big buck had kept going on his adrenalin unfathomable will to live. There was a question of whether the second shot had even been necessary, but better than being gored. After ten years my dad’s patience and integrity had finally paid off. The buck was 165 lbs, eight huge points and a record for the area.

That was the last time my dad hunted. I was probably fifteen or sixteen at the time, and he was sliding steeply into the mental illness that would take his life. But this is the legacy he gave me: a deep understanding, appreciation and affinity with the natural world, extremely keen observational skills; a great sense of direction, ability to track and read weather. I am happiest when I am using those skills in wilderness.

So guys dressed in camos, looking with binoculars out of giant crew cab 4x4s on a well maintained gravel road just seem a little ridiculous to me.

As a P.S. I saw something online about there being several “quiet areas” in the Coconino National Forest here in Arizona.

“There are three unique recreational areas on the Coconino National Forest. From August 15th (bow hunting season) until December 31st each year, the areas are special: they are open only to foot, horse or bicycle traffic for the purpose of providing a unique, non-motorized recreational experience for the public.

Hunters, (the recreation group who requested this special area designation), desire areas where they can hunt on foot or horseback without the intrusion of motorized vehicles. Also the value of the area during these special periods for wildlife, horseback riders, hikers, mountain bikers and other forest users cannot be overlooked. Wildlife for example benefit from the absence of noisy vehicles through stress reduction, much the same as you and would, (I would add, especially during the rut in the fall!!!) yet may still be hunted in these areas during regular hunting seasons. The hunters who prefer this “back to basics” approach, where the presence of a vehicle does not favor the hunter’s success, and where the hunter’s skill as a stalker and woodsman are everything, believe that “this is the way it was done in the old days” (pretty shallow explanation) before people started “ROAD HUNTING”. In order to provide the experience intended, driving in the area to pick up a bagged animal is not allowed during the vehicle closure periods.” www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/coconino/alerts-notices/?cid=stelprdb5357868

Yesterday I went over to Sunset Crater just before sunset. In a scenic turnout overlooking the lava fields I found three guys each with $5000 spotting scopes looking for deer on the mountain across the highway, approximately 5 miles away. That is some serious assistance. (And some very expensive meat.) They said they were bow hunters, the season being open here now, and one had his pretty blond wife and kids with him, wife and kid dressed in full camo. And in the hunting section of Walmart there is camo in pink for the ladies. Isn’t that cute?

First Month R&R Outside Flagstaff:

First Month R&R Outside Flagstaff:

Well, have been on the road for a month now and am finally feeling rested after spending most of that time camped in an open Ponderosa Pine forest north of Flagstaff. It was a great place to base out of while I recovered from the deep exhaustion of the move. Rain and thunderstorms the first days allowed for long naps and lots of reading, but the tiredness persisted. After ten days I went into town to take care of a lot of annoying business requiring wifi. The next day I was exhausted and required a three hour nap in the afternoon, telling how draining our connected, over managed lives can be. Over the next three weeks when I went to town (some great coffee and book stores here!) I spent many hours online, getting back to camp after dark totally spent. I did do an open mic at Firecreek Coffee, playing a couple of songs on dobro, and had all my weak points sharply highlighted for me, thank you very much.

And so the days sped by. A typical day looked like this: Wake up with the sun, which means 5:45, walk dogs, make tea, journal, some Gyrokinesis or yoga, read, sketch or paint, maybe some beading and most days a good long hike, not necessarily in that order. The forest here is laced with both marked Forest Service roads and unmarked logging roads, and one of those became my favorite hike for it’s (mostly) gentle elevation gain and varied terrain. There was a sheer rock cliff into which poured (I found out later) several upper drainages. It had fabulous striations from black to sand and pale gray and green from lichen. I returned many days to unsuccessfully try and sketch and paint it’s beauty. Even though it was monsoon season, the rain I experienced was of the drizzle variety, so I didn’t get to see it with rushing water. I know from a past experience that sometimes it rains so hard here that the road washes out. In 2010 there were two huge fires, human caused, camp fires gone bad, that scarred entire mountain sides, causing evacuation of the homes several miles away. It must have been terrifying to see whole mountains in flames behind your home. As a result there is severe flooding, but not quite so bad as when I was here in 2012.

So our hikes went through lots of burn areas where the dead trees have since been snapped off by high winds and which look pretty devastating. However they are also laced with fields of wildflower fire followers, notably Mullein, Rattlesnake Weed and some Aster varieties that look like various Black Eyed Susans and Daisies. Tiny Ponderosa Pine are trying to find their way to the sun, but it will take a hundred years to replace what has been burned.

Our hikes involved many long stops to investigate flora, a little fauna, majestic views and the ever changing and dramatic skies. I didn’t have to leave camp and go hiking to find things of interest however. There is more natural life to be seen here in a square yard of earth than in a whole city block. I was interrupted while doing yoga to watch a carpenter ant determined to carry a pine needle five times the length of his body over gravel and rocks, equivalent to me carrying a twenty five foot kayak over a boulder field. Simply amazing. There was a bright turquoise stink bug, butterflies, gall wasps, yellow jackets, honey bees and more. The rain launched a new round of tiny, inch long horned lizards. Little Pygmy Nuthatches, Mountain Nuthatches, American and Common Goldfinches, Mountain Jays, Stellar Jays, and a plethora of small gray and brown birds I could not identify because I’m still waiting for my binoculars from home, feasted on the insects in the decaying trees. Crows, ravens and a variety of hawks and eagles cried from above. Every morning and afternoon I was buzzed by a couple of hummingbirds either in my hammock or at the trailer window, making their clicking sound along with the extremely loud cidadas. There’s no water here which has a downside, but the upside is no mosquitos! I re

Rarely deer and elk came through or near the camp. It was more common to find tracks in the morning, which I could follow for quite a distance. There is bunch grass all around so they come through to graze. It’s about 8000 feet here so it’s also the time of year for them to start moving to lower elevations. In the month I was here I could feel the change in season coming as the rising sun came up a bit later and further south, changing the angles of sun and shade on the trailer windows in the morning. And there’s just something in the feel of it. Something unspoken and subconscious. Also here are bobcat, cougar and javelina, all of which I was happy for Iggy not to run into. At the vet in Flag we saw a Cane Corso who had mixed it up with a Javelina and they are an Italian cattle and swine dog that is supposed to be able to handle boar.

On one hike I decided we (Iggy,Henry and I) could follow up the game trail at the rock drainage south and up the opposite ridge and be able to circle around and meet the other trail to the west. Oops. It turned out to be a bit steeper than anticipated. A lot steeper actually, but the footing was good so we went slowly and switchbacked up. Little Henry, the ten pound Pomeranian/Chihuahua amazes me in his ability, at fourteen, to effortlessly pick his way up the steep hillsides. When we finally topped out we were in a severe burn area, a nasty nest of Mullein and Rattlesnake Weed I couldn’t see from below. The drainage leading to the rock water fall was much bigger than anticipated and was actually a deep cleft between two ridges and uncrossable. I still hoped to be able to circumnavigate the drainage but it was going to be longer than anticipated. The afternoon thunder clouds were building and the temperature was dropping fast, a sure sign of rain. For expediency I carried Henry through the rough, burned area toward some open forest where we picked up a logging road. At first I thought it might go north back down the ridge, but the road dead ended and the ridge was way too steep. So I resigned myself to the long way round, hoping it would lead where I hoped. We doubled back and started the big circle. The forest, the light, the sky were all stunning. I had to make choices at various crossroads and without compass (or water or jacket, which I DON’T recommend) followed my gut to the west. We passed a huge mountain meadow of bunch grasses and my eye caught some movement across the meadow at the tree line. I shushed the dogs to watch a huge bull elk slowly, majestically walk along the trees and finally springboard up and over the ridgeline. Luck was with us. We were downwind and the grasses high enough that the dogs couldn’t see the elk. A couple of beats after he disappeared, as I was relishing that experience, four more bulls came into view and passed along the same track as the big boy. It was a great sighting. The rut will start in another couple of months and those bachelors won’t be so friendly.

We did eventually make a big circle to the south, then west and north and were able to find a place where the drainage was shallow enough to cross and we picked up the trail again. We made it back to the Forest Service road a mile from camp just as the thunder started to roll and the rin began to fall.

On the last weekend I awoke early and needed to go outside to wee, but there was a pick up truck stopped right at my camp. A second pickup stopped and I wondered what the heck they were looking at. I turned to the east, behind my trailer to see six bull elk grazing not a hundred feet from me. They slowly, calmly walked through camp and the meadow to the north and disappeared into the tree line. Fantastic. Except that one of those guys must have radioed his buddies. For the rest of the morning at least twenty huge 4×4 crew cab pickups stopped at my camp, with guys dressed in camo glassing the area for elk which were now miles away. I learned a new term, “road hunting.” Bow hunting season is open now for deer and antelope but not for elk until November. I bought a day-glo orange cap and watch cap that I will cut head and leg holes in for Iggy. Arizona has the most lenient gun laws in the country and there’s a lot of “shoot anything that moves” mentality in some of the hunters.

If you’d like to read my essay about the ethics of hunting, meat eating and memoir of my dad click here:

After three plus weeks of R&R I had regained some energy and overstayed my welcome in the forest. Back to the city and Camping World for repairs, wifi and groceries, also a much needed stop at the fabulous Flagstaff Aquatic Center for a long yoga session, swim, hot tub, shower and finally laundry.

Next stop an incredible day through the painted desert, destination Arboles SE of Durango where my friend Betsy Bracken lives waaaay out there, designing her fabulous 2B Jewelry. Stay tuned..!

Escape from L.A.

Thanks for checking out my blog 89NorthtoNirvana. Between being exhausted, being busy and having very limited access to wifi it’s taken awhile to choose the right platform and get this thing airborne. The first installment may be a bit long and/or boring, but I wanted this to be the unfolding story of a life journey (albeit it condensed compared to my personal journal) so bear with me as this beast lumbers to get off the ground. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by the trip!

Much love,
Kerry, Iggy and Henry

Where to start? Despite my deadline of leaving L.A. first by May 1, then June 1 and finally July 1, I finally made it out the morning of Tuesday July 29, 2014. Although I’d been preparing for nine months (or three years, or forty years, but who’s counting?) the final push required me to focus only on what was necessary for the entire month of July. My last day of work was June 26 and it was clear I was not going to be out of my apartment or clear the garage by July 1. On the 27th movers came to take my Gyrotonic Pulley Tower to it’s new home with friend and client Jeri in Redondo. I had sold the Pilates reformer a few weeks previously. I set another deadline for the incoming tenant of July 7 and worked literally day and night to get out of my apartment so that my handyman could make repairs that week and the painters could get in to paint over July 4th weekend. Even though it sounds like other people were doing the “work,” when one contracts work one’s self, it requires one to be on hand for endless decisions, supervision, provision and purchase of materials, running back to the store for more materials, correcting mistakes, buying lunch for the workers… Not much else gets done. By July 8 I was finally out, my calves were killing me from literally hundreds of runs up and down my stairs, but there was still much to do. My new Mac Book Pro was was giving me big trouble, not the machine, but the migration, all the connectivity, Apple and Microsoft authorizations, etc. and having access to wifi was essential, so I spent the next three weeks living in my garage, spending untold hours on tech support with Apple, Microsoft, mail servers and many, many trips to the “geniuses” at the Apple Store. Just getting the hard line phone turned off was a challenge. After searching their website several times for a way to turn off service (buried in the small print deep in their website I found it can’t be done online, even though when you they refer you to the website when you call). While simultaneously on hold for over an hour, I finally had to argue, ARGUE!!! with AT&T to turn of service. No, I am not moving. No I do not want my account put on hold. No. No. And no. I only know so many ways to say, “Cancel my service!” I hate AT&T! So that’s where the time goes. Just one example of hundreds.

There were many more last minute chores related to my property and vehicles. Great thanks goes to friends Betty and Teresa who allowed me to use their sewing machines in the eleventh hour to make curtains for my van and a new awning over the studio door when my 1943 Featherlight decided to freeze up. Why had I not attended to these things sooner? There was hardly a day in the previous months that did not require me to be doing something in preparation. I did lots of pre-emptive repairs on the property including tearing out lawn and putting in more native landscaping, a timed soaker system, replacing main water lines, pressure valves, new staircase, failing airconditioners, etc. In the final days both a power window and power lock on the lift gate of the van went out requiring trips to Pick-A-Part and hours of online searching to secure what may be the last lift gate lock actuator on the planet. I kid you not. I had the right front suspension rebuilt after taking the van to several shops that said it was fine, but I knew it was not. Huge difference afterward and well worth the $500. I had to go through the dozens of keys to the property and vehicles, getting duplicates made, throwing out mystery keys and setting up emergency back up systems. Hours. Not to mention the continual sorting and sifting of my belongings, yard sales, a U-Pick-It Party where I gave tons of stuff to friends, many boxes of books to the library and household stuff to Disabled Vets. It felt like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. No matter how much stuff I took out of that apartment, there was more. I will be eternally grateful to my incoming tenant Jonathan who was so easy going and genuinely appreciated the magnitude of this move, having previously done something similar himself. This went on all day every day for several months.

By Friday July 25 everything was staged, the computer problems persisted but were good enough to go. I realized I had become too complacent in the garage, mostly because of the access to wifi. (More on that later.) Saturday the garage tenant brought in his first load and was kind enough to help me get the rocket box and kayak on the van and the packing began in earnest, interspersed with provisioning trips to Trader Joe’s etc. Sunday I packed, did laundry and ran errands all day. Until 5am. Yes. That was the big push with endless things to think about. In the wee hours I was sitting on the garage floor sorting through sets of keys. I kept thinking I should just go to bed, but adrenalin was keeping me going. I wasn’t tired and I was thinking clearly. Also the trailer was parked in the alley and I didn’t want to hitch it to the van and I didn’t want to move it but I also didn’t want to get ticketed. Finally at 5am I laid in the bed in the van and slept until 7 am.

I got up and took the dogs to the park, collected some medicinal plants, dropped off my remaining library book and by then Trader Joe’s was open. By mid morning I left to go pick up my friend Rebecca’s little Chihuaha Mango, who I was delivering to her mom in Flagstaff. I realized there that there was a problem with the refrigerator in the trailer. And although I was not tired, I knew I was sleep deprived and was concerned about driving. It was hot, so I Rebecca was kind enough to take the dogs and I made a last ditch attempt to try and get Camping World to make good on their installation so a trek to Valencia was involved. They did nothing, but in retrospect, it was a good test drive because I was concerned that I was overweigh, but the rig handled well.

I came back to Van Nuys in the afternoon and decided to sleep in the trailer at Rebecca’s house and get up at 10pm to drive. When I woke up I realized that wasn’t going to happen, so we all went back to sleep and I finally left early Tuesday morning.

I’ll drop in the continuing escapades as I can condense from my journal and have access to wifi, complete with photos. Thanks to everyone who’s support has been instrumental in this journey, you know who you are, and stay tuned, the first day on the road I had an amazing experience!!!

Much love,