We have been on the road for virtually two months. We’re traveling in our camper with our nine-month old cat Tao. We’ve hung out in places and moved on from others. We’ve seen stunning snow capped mountains set side by side dry barren deserts and have realized the drought-depth the southwest is experiencing is years-deep. Living in the northwest where we are inundated with perpetual gray and torrential rains, it’s difficult to image a world without water, but the southwest lakes and rivers are dry. Climate changes are cyclical, obviously heavily influenced in the current time frame by man-made factors, however in tracing history, it’s fairly easy to correlate drought with the migration of the ancient ancestors of the Navaho, Hopi, Zuni, Apache, and other southwest tribes, who were once referred to as Anasazi.
I have perpetually observed each town and city we’ve traveled to, through the eyes of the inhabitants- could I live here? Would this be someplace I could settle in and connect to the world? Or I ask myself, “Why do people live here, what would drive someone to stay?” America- rich in diversity, place and perspectives, is an amphitheater of cultural amalgamation, polarity combined with unity. It’s a plain fascinating place to visit.
Along the southwest journey I’ve collected a few useful tips and ideas beneficial for the open road:
1. Carry quarters. Always. You might not have the luxury of change machines. Laundry on the road is usually a cultural experience; being prepared is a wise choice.
2. Travel with tools. Things perpetually break down; having tools saves time and money. Or travel with a handyman who can do it for you.
3. Be prepared. Too many people show-up ill-fortified for multiple changes. We’ve had snow, record lows to 110 in the desert. Can’t have too much or too little. And hiking shoes. I love it when I see individuals hiking in flip flops. Are you kidding me? In snake country?
4. Never leave your wet towel hanging somewhere accessible to critters or use it before shaking it out. Tao started flipping out, running in circles before he jumped up on the bed. I was on the bed realizing something major was terribly a-miss. I saw this giant, long tentacle snaking around his stomach and front leg. He rolled, throwing a giant grapefruit sized spider to my pillow. It was an adrenaline rush. I actually feel the poor spider was as freaked as the cat. The speculation was it came in on the towel and attached itself to the cat. Needless to say, it took Tao three days to be comfortable in and around the bathroom. He stayed vigilant to another attack. And yes, the ending wasn’t happy for the spider.
5. Have back-up! My accounts were hacked into including my social security number. I have spent hours at a bank in Tucson sorting out the sordid mess. Everything and I mean everything, credit cards, debit, checks, had to be canceled. I’m traveling solo. I always travel with an additional credit card from an alternative bank. That one hasn’t worked even with a 2015 expiration, as the bank decided to issue new cards. They will all be waiting for me on my return however not helpful from three states away. Have definitive financial back-up!
6. Expectations. Keeping expectations open is important. Releasing perceived ahead-of-time expectations creates a new road of possibilities. An example is, in doing shows, there is the expectation of meeting new clients and doing readings. At Albuquerque the show was new. Patrons came searching, seeking information combined with cautiousness. Once I let go of strict expectations, focused on selling books instead of readings, books flew off the table, people signed up for my blog and I connected to some great new people.
7. Open up to what the universe has to offer: Be flexible. We’ve stayed longer in places based on the energy and moved leaving reservation money on the table based on the ” feel” of things rather than the expense and logic of it. It’s paid off in a richer experience.
8. Trust your instincts. Literally. Trust in one of our greatest challenges. It’s easier to move into worry than to stay grounded in trust. Tao got out one evening. Darkness was descending. We had no clue where he was. My first inclination was to move into worry. I shifted into trust, connected to him sending him love, asking him when he was coming back to the camper. I got the message, twenty minutes. I cleaned up the camper keeping busy. Twenty minutes later, Tao showed up true to his word. Pure awesomeness.
9. Organic foods. Traveling out there in the back country, finding organic foods can be a bit of a challenge. More local stores have small organic sections which is great, but beyond Wholefoods, good ol’ Safeway, found in most places, has an organic section you can rely upon, including eggs, and chicken. Very helpful and healthy.
10. Data. It is worth the expense to sign up for cellular data. Wifi is not always reliable. It has been worth every dollar spent having internet access in the back country doing research on upcoming locations and staying connected to loved ones. Interesting side note. ATT says you can talk to anyone in the US. Ironically ATT is not ubiquitous to the valley of the sun, the “Enriches state.” Most areas are “off network.” I was restricted for most of the time in Arizona , other than in Phoenix and Tucson, from using data. Not easy when you’re trying to run your business.
11. Buy local honey. Not only will it enhance your tea, it will help insulate you from local allergens, such as dust, tree and shrub pollens. Besides you meet the culturally and historically steeped bee/honey people from the area.
12. Get out of your tent, RV, motel room. Interestingly enough, many travelers stay insulated and isolated. We’ve met the most interesting individuals by getting out there and saying hello and listening to their stories.
13. Love the people you travel with. When confined to small spaces for long periods of time, relationships can become strained. Even if you don’t like the person at a particular moment, love will override, the strain will lessen and the journey will once agin improve.
Southern Colorado is our location for the holiday. We’ve now turned the corner and are heading west. We will be back in our home territory sometime next week. It’s been a healing journey, a trip of inner work and transformation, especially for my stage four prostate cancer husband. Life is interesting. Life is good.
Cosmic sunshine to you.