My pal Barbara and I met in Virginia for a few days to visit Monticello. An avid gardener and garden-planner herself, Barbara had wanted to tour Jefferson’s home for a long time.Read More
How do I write about Cape Breton? I came to Nova Scotia thinking it was all one country, but Cape Breton is a world all its own, and I totally fell in love with the place.Read More
I didn’t forget to write about Niagara Falls, but I do think it's one of those places that you have to see in person in your lifetime. I really don’t believe I have any words that are adequate to describe it; if you haven’t been there, you should try to go.Read More
Last night, I went on a guided after-dark hike. Not something I’d ever have done alone—go walk in the woods after nightfall, so I am glad the interpretive rangers took us out.Read More
I am riding around with New York Plates, and that often seems to be a conversation starter. One morning, I met a couple from Missouri named, improbably, Bill and Melinda Gates—no relation. Over a few minutes of chatting, we realized that we all planned to end up in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park that evening. I had a reservation; they did not. She said, ”We’re retired. We don’t plan anything ahead of time.” We wished each other safe travels and went our separate ways.
Three o’clock that afternoon, I was in a solitary “Look Off,” a place where there is a great view, and enough room for a couple cars or RV’s to pull in. All of a sudden, I hear Frank Sinatra bellowing “New York, New York.” And there’s Bill and Melinda with their sweet old dog, balancing all four paws on the back seat. They’re laughing their heads off, and said that they wondered if they’d run into me again, so they found that song on the iPod and had it ready all day. We all laughed and sang a chorus together then, they went on their way around the mountains, and in a bit, so did I.
Later on, I checked into the campground, didn’t much like the spot I was assigned, so I came back out to the ranger booth to get a site upgrade, and there’s The Gates’ checking in. I walked up to the back of their truck singing, “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere…” We laughed some more, swapped site numbers, and invited each other to visit.
I was wiped out, and eager to be horizontal, and, I don’t have a dog that needs walking, so I didn’t go out again that evening. Next morning I cooked this chicken cutlet, shallots, garlic, and zucchini thing I’ve been making in a red pasta sauce. Had some tricolor tortellini to go with it. All morning as I chopped and cooked I had a fantasy of inviting “my friends” over for lunch, but when I walked over to find them, they were gone. I kept looking for them, hoping they were just out sightseeing, but I guess they’d moved on. I had some real pangs of loneliness for a bit there, until I became re-acclimated to my own company. Funny how attached I can get to some of the folks I meet out here. The guidebooks on The Art of Solo Traveling didn’t have a chapter on this phenomenon. My imaginary friends in my head. We had a couple nice moments together. Wherever Bill and Melinda are, I sure wish them well, and their little dog, too.
I have been planning to camp in Nova Scotia's Kejimikujik National Park for a few years now, but the number one fear I had, and have always had, was about camping in bear country. Most of my life, I was a tent camper, and as a New Yorker, I mostly camped where we had raccoons and chipmunks to contend with.Read More
Labor day without labor! Woohoo!
I am writing this while sitting in an Adirondack chair, overlooking the ocean. After daily lake-swims at Keji for the past few weeks, the saltiness and the buoyancy of the ocean were a bit of a shock—well, a novelty, anyway. I walked in with my Tevas on, as the beach surface was all sharp rocks and shells. And as soon as I stretched out, “Bloop!” my feet shot right to the surface and the shoes were halfway out of the water. This made it difficult to swim, so I just floated for a while, looking around, tasting the saltiness of the water. It feels like such a blessing to be here.Read More
At 2:30 in the morning, I was awakened by an owl. It was so loud, it sounded like a very large owl—perhaps it was just very close to my window. The sound was so unusual to my city-girl ears, and so repetitive, when I first awoke, I thought it was coyotes howling at the just-past-full moon, but the sound wasn’t the “yip, yip ,yip” of a coyote, it was deep, whirring, and rhythmic. “Wuhh, wuhh, whhhu, whhutowl! Wuhh, wuhh, whhhu, whhutowl!” I love sleeping in my motor home. I have a large window right next to the bed, to let in, or keep out the night sounds, and I’m glad it was open tonight!Read More
Last night I finished reading Ann Linnea’s Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife, and this morning I chose Anne LaBastille’s Woodswoman to read next. These are both books by women who accomplished amazingly difficult things in their lives. Linnea was the first woman to circumnavigate Lake Superior in a kayak, and LaBastille’s book is about her solitary life in the Adirondack Mountains, in a cabin that she built herself. These stories helped me to elevate my thinking out of the local, mundane, stinky-freezer-level, and up to the psychic, spiritual, and symbolic nature of what this journey is about for me.Read More
Well, not really a couch, it’s a futon. My kids have worked very diligently to make me feel welcome in their home. They made up “the man cave” into the guest room. We’ve been cohabiting just fine, but its time. I want my own bed back! I was homeless for a time during my divorce—never “on the street homeless,” but living with friends, sleeping on their couches. Tommy and I shared a friend's front porch trundle bed for a while, so despite everyone's best intentions, emotionally, I was having a rough time of it. My real frustration is with Camping World in Kingston—my experience with them thus far is that they're always understaffed and over-worked. I rarely talk to the same service writer twice, and despite the RV being promised to me, all fixed and finished on Friday the 31st, they never even looked at it until about then. The timeline, like everything with those guys is unclear.Read More
I went to town this morning to get groceries and gas, and also to drive a while to charge up the House Batteries. Something is causing them to discharge about every four or five hours. This is worrisome and annoying. I have a couple of ideas about what might be the problem, so a visit to the mechanic must be added to my itinerary. :-(
Beautiful early summer morning, I was singing along with my iPod, on my way back from picking up the groceries. Suddenly, I heard a new sound, a very loud scraping sound. I immediately thought my muffler or tail-pipe was dragging, but when I looked in the rear view camera, I saw a black shape following me, and my guts clenched as I realized that my brand-new bike had bounced off the bike rack, and I was dragging it along behind the rig. Nothing for it, with a few cars behind me, I had to put my four-ways on and just drive on to a point of safety, where I could to pull off the road a bit. I was really upset, and horrified at the damage, but I had to literally pick up the pieces, and move on.
No one was hurt. The damage can be repaired. There were lessons learned: the bike-rack flexes a bit, and the heavier electric bike must be mounted on the inside slot. I need to use straps as well as bungie cords and the Velcro straps. And, it's only money.
My home is on wheels. It is five-years-old. Everything bounces and vibrates as I drive around in it. Drawers pop open and break, shades flop down obscuring my vision, creating a cave-like atmosphere—not unlike the Manhattan apartment I left, to embark on this journey. I won’t go into the entire list here, but every day, there are things that need fixing.
The good news is that I have glue, duct tape, sticky-back Velcro, small screws and nails, and a tool bag. And a little bit of money. As in any home, I guess I’ll need to keep a punch list going. Maybe I'll put up one of my old business cards: The HandyWench lives here!
What is my checking account balance? Is there a bank around? Is there a movie theater in town? Is there a laundromat in town? Was Thomas Merton one of the Queen’s favorites? Wasn’t he in jail for a time? What for? Did my friends get home safely? Was Merton part of the College of Physicians, or The Royal Academy? Who wrote the book The Jewel Box? Did Ed and Richard get home ok?
No cell service or Internet leaves us with SO many unanswered questions. From this campsite, we have to drive half an hour to get a signal! RJ asked Margaret what did people do twenty-thirty years ago, when no one had mobile phones, plus all the answers in the world in their pockets? Margaret replied that we looked things up in books. If there were no books or librarians available, then everyone had an opinion and many great protracted arguments were had about things.
Tom and John have an agreement that they won’t whip out their smart phones during a discussion, to look up answers to the questions that come up, because this actually puts an end to the conversation. The art of debate, of making up a good story to back up your position on an issue—(even when not 100% sure of your facts)—these skills are being lost as we all pull The Google out of our pockets.
Not having an encyclopedia in one’s pocket is motivation to read deeply and widely, to try and retain the facts—to make connections between this event and that one. We used to invent and propose theories of sequence, history, and causality. Why let the facts get in the way of a good story?
OK. OK. So that’s all fine and good, but what IS my bank balance?
Once everyone arrived, and got over all the driving, we had a terrific time together in Maine. These folks drove ten, twelve, fourteen hours to come there and party with me. I truly appreciate what that trip cost everyone, and I was so anxious until everyone arrived safely. I don’t know if it’s an Irish thing, this looking over my shoulder for the next disaster, but I found it hard to relax and trust that all would be well, until everyone landed safely.Read More
Three PM, and I’m just finally sitting down to write! I’ve been working since I got out of bed. While I was driving from my brother’s place to this campground, Clarence Faehnstock Memorial State Park, in Putnam County, One of my drawers opened while I was in motion, and tore the slider track off the cabinet on one side. Ball bearings all over the place. I’d suspect I forgot to close it past the latch, except that this has happened before, so I put it on my Pre-Flight Checklist. Once it was an underwear drawer, and once a drawer full of pots and pans, but neither of them self-destructed like this one did.Read More
So, today I had my first mishap with the black water tank. I shoved one end of the hose into the ground where it goes, opened the hatch and thought I connected the other end to my rig. I pulled the handle and got muck all over my hand and sleeve, my shoes and the compartment where all the exterior connections for the plumbing live. I quickly closed the lever again and rinsed everything off with the “never drink this NON-POTABLE water” spigot. Now I know why that’s there. Once rinsed, I could see what happened, only two of the four pins had engaged the neck of the hose. Lucky for me the two in the front caught, or I’d have been rinsing my teeth.Read More
I got up early, battened down the hatches, and rolled out of Long Beach by 7AM. Drove to the EZ Pass Service Center in Whitestone, Queens to get an EZ Pass for the rig, and then on to Brooklyn, to have a brunch visit with Jude so she could see my new home. Traffic was dreadful, as they were doing alternating lane closure road repairs just before the Meeker/Morgan exit of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The backup started out on the Long Island Expressway, and inched all the way over the Kosckiusko Bridge. It’s so weird to me, former professional driver and all, to just dumbly sit crawling along with the trucks in the traffic jam. It’s in my DNA to back off an exit, drive over the grass, the curb, whatever, to wiggle loose, and go run through the streets to another highway that was moving. But, I’m retired now. There’s no rush, really. And there’s a cellphone to say “I’ll be there in an hour, because of the traffic.” No biggie.Read More
So, Wednesday was graduation. My last, I guess, until the grandkids start graduating. It was bittersweet, in some ways, to be stepping out of this stream. Year-after-year, we worked hard, and watched the incoming ninth-graders, as they'd learn and grow, and grow up. Seeing them again at graduation, having had their four-year-makeover from us, was always poignant.Read More
With all the books and other heavy things I’ve had to handle, and the full boxes that I was lifting and carting around, I sprained my left wrist. After the injury, it would feel like it was out of place periodically, and I’d have to apply traction (pull on it) and wiggle it just the right way & then it would pop back to being a functioning, if sore, joint again. This went on for weeks. It wasn’t great, wasn’t getting better. It ached much of the time, but I could live with it, could work with it. Until the other day when I used my wrist, and I heard, “crunch, crunch, klunk” in there. It went out of place, swelled, and hurt like hell, constantly. I couldn’t use it, lean on it, or think about very much else that was going on. My friend Di, from New Zealand was staying with me, and I was so frightened that my wrist was fractured, I was just kind of obsessed with it. I’m afraid I was not a very good host that night.Read More
I picked the rig up from Camping World in Kingston. Spent the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday cleaning it. A post-mechanic and pre-move-in deep cleaning.Read More