Next Sunday, I’ll be packing up camp here in Pagosa Springs and heading east to La Veta, CO. It won’t be a long drive … I think it’s about 2 1/2 hours according to Bing Maps … but we’ll be making a couple of stops along the way. I’d like to snap a photo of Frank at the Continental Divide as we head over Wolf Creek Pass and then take some from the scenic lookout down into the valley. If Frank’s cool with it, I’d like to take another at the top of La Veta Pass, too. The first pass is at almost 10,900 feet while the second is at 9,400. Both are along highway 160.
But getting back to Pagosa … it’s really hard for me to believe we’ve been at our current campsite for over six weeks. That’s more time than we spent in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana combined! And yet that really doesn’t register.. No, it doesn’t seem like we arrived here yesterday. That’s not what I mean. I think it has something to do with the amount of energy output. Over the first half of our little adventure, we had to change camp three times. We stayed in five motels, and traveled lots of distance, too. Throw in the heat; the stress of Frank’s 3 vet visits; dealing with all the domicile stuff in Texas and one trip to the emergency room … the first half of the journey, in retrospect, was sort of a whirlwind.
Compare that – the “Frank and Jeff Holy Hell Tour” – to six weeks of absolute bliss, sitting in nice temps, doing pretty much what we’ve done since our arrival! Frank and I have managed to continue our quest for the ultimate “slug” impersonation (Frank’s winning, but don’t tell him I said that). Aside from our one trip across northern New Mexico, we’ve managed to do … nothing. Well, that’s “nothing”, if you don’t include:
◊ Spending at least a dozen or so nights looking at the stars, including our spectacular date with the Pereids.
◊ Attending four community campfires and one pot luck dinner. As an aside, I had my first homemade dessert in almost two years. It was some kind of spice cake and let me tell you, it took almost 20 minutes to finish that one medium-size piece. It’s the little things in life, right?
◊ Meeting some good people. A few posts ago, I mentioned Kent from San Antonio. Well, we’ve made at least a half dozen additional friends from all parts of the country, too. I’ve gotten some good advice about things to see and places to check out.
◊ Making a little boy’s day at breakfast when he thought I was Santa Claus! I mentioned Frank and I having breakfast at the Muffin Shoppe. Well, as we headed back to the “dog-friendly” patio, this boy (probably around 5 or so – I’ve always had a hard time figuring out how old kids are) whispered to his mom as we passed. “Mom! It’s Santa Claus … on vacation … and he’s got a dog!!!!” I turned around and we caught each other’s eyes for a moment – so I just winked at him. He got all wide-eyed and quick turned around to his plate, as if he didn’t want anyone else to discover what had suddenly become a private moment between him and this fat guy with a dog who he mistook for a Saint!
◊ Relaxing. And relaxing. And relaxing. I can’t remember when I’ve had as enjoyable a six week period as this has been. I feel a lot better than when I arrived. It only took a week or so before I felt a sense of ease. Adding another five weeks has only helped that much more!
My anxiety bouts have lessened quite a bit. Up until hitting Colorado, I was having a couple a week. Granted, they were tapering off, but I think the biggest contributing factor was having to go “towards” something: I was headed for Texas to take care of business and that was really weighing on my mind. What if the car didn’t pass inspection? What if they questioned the whole “domicile” thing? Granted, everyone at Escapees, as well as the attorney, told me I had nothing to worry about … but of course, listening to them wouldn’t have been my style! Even here, I’ve had to deal with 3 or 4 attacks. But they’ve been quite managable with some deep breathing and positive affirmation exercises (the same ones that didn’t do squat for me in Charleston).
Anyhow, it’ll be on to La Veta. It’s about 3pm MDT – exactly one week from right now, I’ll probably be in the middle of setting up the tent. It’s going to be interesting to see how my body does having to do that again (and unfortunately, it’s going to be back to moving camp every two weeks pretty soon: once at the end of October and three more times starting in mid-December).
One thing has sunk in, though. This is the lifestyle I’ve chosen for at least the next couple of years. And now that Texas is out of the way, I can pretty much go where ever I want … within my cash constraints. I no longer have an obligation to “be” somewhere or “do” something except as it has to do with Frank’s and my everyday survival. That has been very, very freeing! It’s just a matter of managing my money. I’ve mentioned it before – at some point, I’m going to have to figure out some way to bring in around $500-$600/month. But even that hasn’t caused any real anxiety. Yet – I’ll start thinking about that this winter.
In the meantime, I’ve mapped out the next leg of our trip, from mid-March 2016 through mid-November. I’m going to post details in the “Itinerary” section of the blog. In previous posts, I’ve talked about heading back to the northeast, or possibly spending time in Tennessee and Virginia, doing genealogy research. Neither of those are going to happen. I’m done with spending summers in heat and the campground prices I’ve seen north of Washington D.C. are simply not in my budget.
The short version of “The Journey- Part 2” is that we’ll be gradually heading in a northeast direction, with stays at campsites in Texas (Livingston and Dallas again), Arkansas and Missouri before hitting Fort Wayne, IN to visit my brother. There’s a city-run campsite run that’s a 10 minute drive from where he lives. I’ll hopefully meet my nephew and perhaps a niece or two for the first time.
After that, we’ll head back west, with one more stay in Missouri before returning to Colorado for the summer and early fall. From there, we’ll head to Truth or Consequences, NM, arriving in mid-October for a three-week stay. It’s another locale I’m checking out as a possible “settle down in retirement” place.
I still need to decide where we’ll spend winter 2016: Texas or Arizona. I’m leaning towards Texas right now – I’m not ready to hit the west coast yet, and that’s the only reason I’d head west to winter. I’ve been thinking about spending summer 2017 along the U.S. / Canadian border. I’ve never been to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’d also like to take in Minnesota and Wisconsin … perhaps do that in June and then head west to Montana and Idaho for July and August. That would put me in the longitude to head back down to Arizona for winter 2017. It would also take me up to shortly before my 65th birthday. Knock on wood that I’m still able to manage this little journey by then.
So that’s it for now. Any suggestions of places to visit in the general vicinity of the places I’ve mentioned will be greatly appreciated! Specifically, if you’ve camped in any parks, state, national or private. Let me know, please.