Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let's Clear Up Some Questions

Question Number 1. Why are people who relocate from the city to the country....

...so obsessed with images of chickens....

...and how can I capitalize on that?

Question Number 2. Same question, but substitute the word "pigs"....

...for "chickens"--NOT for "people," Roxanne!!!

And now for some less graphic questions...

Question Number 3. If an Alabaman is making an announcement of an upcoming event at a Georgia AA meeting, and the only words I can understand are "covered dish" and "ham," what time is dinner?

Question Number 4. How many points will my blood pressure go up before I can find the inbox for my new gmail account, where I'm supposed to be receiving daily emails on how to reduce stress? Help! I'm already two days behind!

Okay, that's all I got today. Your help is appreciated.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Life in the Village and Beyond

Lovely rusty garden art for sale in Serenbe

Serenbe, Palmetto, Georgia

Today is the day I start house- and pet-sitting for Sarah, who is leaving for a bike trip in Italy. I've been here in Serenbe for a full week. I came early in order to enjoy the past weekend's May Day celebration and to get acquainted with my duties and the community. Today is when I actually start walking Buddy and Skipper several times a day through the woods that surround the residential area, village shops, stables, and organic farm, as well as care for the two cats that live here, Lily and Cousteau, plus my own kitty Sonja and the home we are all living in.

It's been great to have this sort of mini-vacation in one place, without the usual questions I have while traveling as to where to go, where to stay and how much is all of this costing me. When I stay in one place, I get to focus on me for a while--my health, my business, my finances, and my thoughts and plans about the future.

Regarding my health, I've been to four AA meetings in the past few days and have gotten some phone numbers of local sober ladies. I'm looking for a dentist I can see while here for a teeth cleaning, and I'm going to go get my blood pressure checked and see if I still need to be on medication for that. I'm walking daily and eating really clean. I'm attending a weekly meditation class, and I'll be seeing the teacher for a few individual counseling sessions while I'm here. I bought two new pairs of skinny jeans in the smallest size I've worn since before giving birth to my son almost 19 years ago. (Oooh, I should've had a pic taken of me in my tight-ass jeans to put here! Well, then, you'll just have to come back for the next installment.)

As for business, I've just completed an inventory, so now I know exactly where every item is for easy retrieval when it sells on eBay, and I'm ready to donate a lot of unsold items back to charity. I'm also preparing for the upcoming farmers market, where I'll sell my quilts. Unfortunately I can't sell them this coming Saturday because I've been having too much fun here in Serenbe to finish enough quilts yet, but I'll still be here for two more Saturdays after that.

I'm also beginning to focus on my business goals for when I move to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, in the fall following the completion of my travel commitments this year. I have a vision for my mosaic art beyond what I've tried before.

When I first started doing mosaic artwork a few years back in Edmonds, Washington, I was blessed with instant success. My work was well received and I got my first solo gallery show immediately, besides selling online and through the studio where I made tiles for my mosaic installations.

Then I left my husband and my home in Washington State and moved to Eugene, Oregon, where I stayed for one year. Eugene is very saturated with artists, but there's a dearth of places to show your work, so it was a struggle to get a toehold in the art scene there. That's part of what excites me about TorC. From all reports, this little spa town is having some economic recovery largely because of an influx of galleries and artists. To become involved with this community at the beginning of this recovery is a great opportunity.

Because of its many hot springs resorts and proximity to several cities with larger populations and international airports (El Paso and Albuquerque), TorC has the potential to host art-making spa retreats. A few other organizations in town, including a yoga studio, are already succeeding with this business model.

Mosaic artwork is a perfect draw for weekend and longer retreats because mosaic is fun for everyone regardless of artistic ability. It's also a hard type of artwork to do in your home unless you're willing to devote a lot of space to a studio, which most people aren't. So offering a place where people can come and do artwork in MY studio, with instruction by other artists and myself, in a town that offers cheap lodging and relaxing spas seems like a real winner of an idea to me and every other artist/entrepreneur I've talked to about this.

During my time here in Serenbe and my summer in the Midwest, I'm going to lay the groundwork for this to happen. It won't be an instant thing--I'm going to have to break a lot of plates and get some artwork on display before I can open my studio doors to folks who come from far away to learn and play. But it can definitely be done, and I have everything it takes to do it, except perhaps a personal assistant with better administrative and people skills than my own.

As far as finances go, I've got to retire some debt. I used to pay off my credit card bills at the end of every month, but this past year-and-a-half since I left Washington, that's changed. I already had some existing debt when I started my trip, and the engine fiasco in San Francisco about doubled that. But when my divorce was final six months ago, I got a little settlement that should carry me through indefinitely as long as I continue to live the practical, frugal life I've always preferred and continue to work my eBay business. To get my credit cards paid off, I'm going to rob one of my retirement programs and pay the resulting tax penalties, and then switch over some investments from really safe annuities to riskier stocks and mutual funds now that the economy isn't quite as scary as it was a few years ago.

But it's not all work and serious planning for the future while I'm here in Serenbe. Roxanne and Annie came to visit me! They're a lovely couple I met through this blog and the WomenGoSolo RVing group on Yahoo. They've been boondocking in a national forest a couple of hours from here, and they came to have lunch with me at the Blue Eyed Daisy Bakery. Here's a photo of my new friends, sitting on the swing on Sarah's front porch.

And here's a picture of Cousteau the next day, checking out what Roxanne had to say about this visit in her blog, The Good Luck Duck.

As Roxanne observed in her last blog post ("Social Moths"), I have a strong will to live. I'm beginning to realize that I also have a strong will to settle back down in a community again. I think I'm really geared more toward traveling about three months at a time. By that point (which is now in my current travels), I'm ready to go home and do mundane things until the urge to hit the road overtakes me again, as I know it will. Another reason for New Mexico being a good choice for me--there's still so much of it I haven't seen yet, and it will be a good jumping off place for meeting up with VanDweller friends in Quartzite and other Southwestern locations.

But first I'm going to Minnesota to hang with my family for the summer, while my 93-year-old mom is alive, my siblings are all still above ground, and some of my nieces and nephews haven't yet gone off to make their own lives away from home yet.

So, that's my story, and at least for now, I'm stickin' with it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Living in a House Without Wheels, Day 2

T-Shirt I purchased at my last campground

Serenbe, Palmetto, Georgia

Today I am writing my 51st post and I now have 51 overt followers (plus I understand there are lurkers!). I have arrived, in more senses than one.

I am here in Serenbe, the intentional community where I'll be housesitting for a few weeks. I've been warmly welcomed by Sarah, the homeowner whose pets I'll be caring for while she bikes her way through Italy, and her neighbors. Since arriving less than 48 hours ago, I've been invited to a private AA house meeting, a Buddhist meditation group, a yoga class, a gallery opening, and an interfaith Sunday meeting. Plus I'm making arrangements to meet some other full-time RVers I've met online who are based nearby. Wow! My dance card is pretty full already!

Sarah's two dogs, Buddy and Skipper, are great guys--big labs who go walking about four times a day. Her cats, Cousteau and Lily, are also very pleasant creatures. Nevertheless, my own kitty, Sonja, seems to be better off not becoming fully integrated into the household. She and I are staying in a very nice bedroom/bathroom suite where I can keep the door closed.

I can tell I'm going to get in shape--no, let's make that "even better shape"--during my stay here. I have not lived anywhere with stairs for a long time. Here I am constantly up and down the stairs, because I'm using the bedroom upstairs as well as an office in the basement, plus there are the dog walks. I haven't been able to weigh myself for a long time, but I am pretty sure from the looseness of my clothes that I've lost at least 10 pounds in the past three months. And here in Serenbe, where there is an organic farm, I'll be eating very healthy. No meat molecules have passed my lips since my arrival. I'm also finding more time for meditation, reading and general relaxation than I've had while crossing the country in the Guppy.

Today there is a May Day festival here in Serenbe, which is a fundraiser for the local charter school. Sarah's house is less than a half block from the festivities, so as I sit here on the porch, I can hear the sweet sounds of Southern rock and the happy voices of hundreds of people, plus one kid who seems to be screaming because her pony ride ended too soon. I'm having a relaxing day, airing out my quilt tops on Sarah's porch, talking to folks who stop by. I met with Paige, the manager of Serenbe Farms and the Saturday farmers market, and I am accepted to sell my quilts while I'm here. So this week I'll be getting them assembled and tied. I'll be here long enough to make some more, too, and I hope I can scare up some more vintage fabric while I'm here.

It is very interesting to live in a house after three months of being on the road. This home is really nice, and I could write paragraphs just about the functionalities of the kitchen appliances alone (but I promise I won't!). Being here makes me think of what I've left behind in my life and, while I'd sometimes like some wallspace to hang some quality artwork or the luxury of a bathtub, I am grateful for my life today, exactly as it is. I have the freedom to visit places like this and be a part of them for a while. Idyllic as Serenbe is on this celebratory day, I am sure I will be ready to move on to new adventures when the time comes. I'll leave here enriched in so many ways.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Historic Georgia and My Last Night of Camping (For a While!)

A bottle tree, which African-Americans believed
attracted and captured harmful spirits

On a mountain in the woods...

Tomorrow I will reach Palmetto, Georgia, one of the major destinations on my trip. I'll be spending several weeks pet- and house-sitting at Serenbe, an intentional sustainable community that has a bountiful organic farm, restaurants, an inn, a farmers market, housing, stores and galleries, and a nonprofit institute that seeks to bring it all together--the arts, nature, culture and people.

I don't actually need to report for work until next week, but there are cool things going on at Serenbe this weekend! There is a Spring Harvest Festival that will raise funds for the local charter school, as well as a gallery opening on Saturday night. So I'll get a chance to get to know Sarah, the person whose pets I'll be caring for, and a few hundred of her friends, before she takes off for Italy next week.

These last few days of heading north through western Georgia have been some of the most interesting of my entire trip so far. I spent a night at Devoncrest Travel Park near Albany and then visited Plains the next day.

Devoncrest, by the way, is a great stop if you need any RV repairs. I'd exhausted every way of duct-taping and wiring on the old door over my propane tank compartment. At the RV park, they created a new locking metal door for me out of an old metal RV vent cover--for $25! I thought this was great, 'cause I saw at least two guys working on this project for about an hour.

Plains was great except for the 100 degree weather and nasty gnats. I toured the Jimmy Carter childhood farm and, as luck would have it, I once again arrived at a museum just as a school group was starting a personalized tour, so I got to tag along and get far more insight than I would have from just wandering through the site myself. I got a real sense of why President Carter has such strong Christian values and love for the land and the American people. He worked hard from the time he was just a little kid, sometimes walking 6 miles to sell peanuts in town and nearly always having his meals interrupted to go open the store that his family ran on their farm for local folks who would walk over for a plug of tobacco or a pound of sugar. He got up at 4 a.m. nearly every day of his young life to go catch the mules so the day's work could begin. His childhood friends were all African-Americans, and he became keenly aware of his opportunities when they parted at the gate each day--Jimmy heading off to high school, while his friends had to stay home and work.

I also visited the public school that both Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter attended, which is now a very nice museum covering not only their childhood, but their return to Plains in 1953 after Earl Carter died. They had to take over the family business, which had fallen into such disarray that they actually qualified for public housing the first year they were back home. They quickly turned things around, though, by a combination of hard work and seeking education in agriculture and business. Jimmy had wanted to continue his Naval career, but instead became a farmer, engineer, inventor, and politician. He still teaches adult Sunday school at the local Baptist church several times a month, and anybody is welcome to attend his class. I think I would have liked and admired everything about this man, even if he'd never been the first President of the United States that I voted for as a young adult.

I spent last night at another RV park near Americus. It was a totally forgettable place, but it had hookups, which are essential here this time of year unless you've had time to acclimate to the warm temps, which I haven't yet.

Then today I headed to Andersonville, the Confederate prison where nearly 13000 Yankee soldiers died in just a little over one year due to overcrowding, poor nutrition, bad water, worms and sometimes outright murder. The most interesting aspect of Andersonville to me was the museum which is dedicated not just to the Civil War, but to all prisoners of war. It was fascinating to learn why it's so important whether a prisoner is designated a POW or called something else. If he is a POW, he is entitled to certain standards of treatment under international law. Unfortunately the designation of a prisoner is usually determined by his captor. I could have spent more time at this museum, except it was full of rowdy 8th graders. Unlike the Alamo, the staff did not insist on decorum or a show of respect for the fallen.

I also enjoyed the small town of Andersonville, where the local historical society has the smaller Drummer Boy Museum. And the cafe has $1 ice cream cones!

Since tonight is my last night camping for a while, I decided to splurge on a nice state park. F.D. Roosevelt State Park is up on Pine Mountain, about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta. It's a huge park with lots of recreational opportunities--hiking, boating, fishing, a swimming pool, cabins, camping, horseback riding, and more. After two very hot, humid days, it is great to be in the woods.

FDR's "Little White House" is also located in this park, and I'll take a quick look at it tomorrow before I head up to Serenbe. I remember seeing footage of this place on a PBS special about polio a few years ago. I may get a swim in before I head out, as well, because my drive should only take me a little over an hour.

There have been many interesting things to see as I've wandered through this part of Georgia--the soil that's redder than a new penny, the small towns where I didn't see another white person except maybe the cop, a bottle tree, and the unusual foods that I tried (cracklins make me sick to my stomach and boiled peanuts are just plain yucky, but the peaches, sweet potatoes and collard greens are awesome). A true history buff could probably spend months in Georgia and never get bored.

So, my readers, the focus of this blog will change for the next few weeks as I stay in one place. I expect there will be no interruption of the adventures, however!

Monday, May 9, 2011

In Georgia and So Done With Interstate Freeways

Visiting Cindy Mitchell in Tallahassee!

McDonald's, Camilla, Georgia

I'm having my afternoon Senior Coffee at McDonald's, which has become a tradition now when I have a driving day. Decent coffee at a decent price (81 cents here), plus a free refill and free wifi, usually an excellent connection--you just can't beat it.

Yesterday I finally completed my easterly travels along I-10. I have driven this Interstate off and on for the last 3000 miles of my journey. I first got on I-10 east of Los Angeles, on my way to the Palm Springs area. I got off it to head to the northern parts of Arizona and New Mexico and later to head down to parts of the Gulf of Mexico that are not on the freeway. But some days have been completely freeway, especially the last few weeks.

Rather than head northeast to Georgia a few days ago, I did a couple hundred extra miles on I-10 in order to visit my friend Cindy Mitchell in Tallahassee. Cindy and I have known each other for years from playing Babble online. For the uninitiated, Babble is a clever word game played by a bunch of really smart, funny people who have known each other since the earth cooled and the Web began. It's sort of like competitive refrigerator magnet poetry on steroids. It's what got me to surrender my resistance to joining FaceBook, the world's biggest time-waster, because I didn't want to be left out when other Babblers were talking about the cute pics of their grandkids that they'd just posted.

I am so glad I kept going east so I could finally meet Cindy in person, as well as her sweet husband Michael and their delightfully nutty youngest kid, Morgan. I just loved them. They welcomed me with a fabulous vegetarian meal and then we went for a walk around a local lake and took a drive downtown so they could show me the capitol. We had wonderful chats that could've gone on a lot longer if I could've stayed and they didn't have to go to work and school today!

Well, now that I've gotten so close to where my petsitting gig is (southeast of Atlanta) and I'm here early, I can get off the dang interstate and just explore. So I've spent today tooling along the backroads and stopping in small towns to look at their antique stores and thrift shops. I'm taking a meandering route up the west side of Georgia so I can visit Plains, the home of Jimmy Carter, the first president I ever voted for as a young adult, and Andersonville, the Confederate prison where over 13000 Yankees died during the Civil War. Clearly I must also try some boiled peanuts while I'm here.

Thank you, my dear readers, for the positive feedback on the manic quilts I've been making when I'm in the woods by myself. My new sewing machine isn't as heavy duty as the ones I've owned in the past, but it does the trick. I constructed one more quilt top this past weekend at a campground near Pensacola on my way to Cindy's. Between the three quilt tops I made before leaving Oregon and the ones I've made along the way, I think I'm up to nine or ten now. I'm going to start putting the backs on and tying them over the next few days so I'll have some ready to sell at the farmers market in Serenbe. And I plan to keep making some while I'm there, too.

Now that the push to get to the East Coast is done, not only can I take back roads, but I can also start concentrating on some parts of my life that I've kind of put on hold for a while as I traveled. I'm going to sell more on eBay, diversify my investments, buy some new health insurance (my old coverage will end soon, six months following my divorce), pay off my new engine and other credit card debt, etc. My goal is to solidify my financial position so I am debt-free and can make a fresh start as I enter the next phase of my life.

I'm planning to use Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, as my home base starting in the fall. My intention is to arrive in New Mexico ready to hit the ground running--I'll definitely re-start Soaring Sun Studios, my mosaic business, among other goals. It won't be the end of my travels--New Mexico is too hot for me in the summer, so I'll keep exploring with the Guppy. But hopefully my travels will have a less frantic pace to them once I've relocated, and I'll have more to share in my blog about my artwork.

In the meantime, I'm heading to Serenbe for my three-week pet-sitting, quilt-selling, and egg-distributing gig ("Egg-distributing?", you ask? Stay tuned!) and then will meander wherever I darn well please on my way from Georgia to Minnesota, where I'll spend the summer visiting family and friends. I wonder if I can avoid interstates completely for the rest of my travels?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Opposite Corner of the U.S. from Whence I Came

Finally, I "caught" some seafood, at Rouse's Grocery in Biloxi, MS

Holt, Florida--Friday, May 5th, 2011

Let’s see, when I last wrote, I had a dragging back bumper, and everything that required electricity in the cab was kaput…no headlights, horn, radio, turn signals. Lots of unsafe potentiality there. Whenever I was on the freeway, I was really scared that the bumper would fall off completely and drivers behind me would be injured.

I’d tried to get some help in a couple of towns, but it was fruitless. I finally figured out that it is a bad idea to start a conversation with “motorhome” and “electrical problems.” Nobody wants to deal with that. But there are lots of good old boys (GOBs, as my friend Roxanne calls ‘em) who can weld, so that’s the place to start.

I began to have better luck near Biloxi, where I spent a couple of nights at Martin Lake RV Park, just outside Ocean Springs. The RV park staff referred me to a welder who fixed my bumper and then referred me to a shop that specializes in automotive electrical problems. All of my problems got solved for a total of about $200, which was a relief to me, having run into much more expensive problems earlier on my trip.

I loved Biloxi and really want to return to it sometime when I'm not running around getting my vehicle fixed, like for a vacation. Beautiful beaches, fun casinos, historical sites—oh, and the food! When I was out running errands one day, I stopped at Rouse’s grocery and bought some fresh shrimp and crabs that they’d just boiled up and had a fantastic picnic lunch in my Dolphin.

I still have to get a little follow-up electrical work done, but I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal. Now the radio works, but I can't hear it because I only have one speaker which fell off the door after hanging there by a wire for a while. So I think getting a pair of working speakers hooked up would be great and I'm looking for just the right GOB to help me out with that.

I’ve never actually had the desire to listen to the radio much while I’ve been traveling. I keep myself plenty entertained, just looking around at things and having my own sometimes lucid thoughts and singing a lot and making up bad cowgirl poetry and blues songs about my experiences on the road. But I also have some audiobooks and a Spanish Berlitz course along with me that I’d like to try out, and listening to local stations can be very entertaining, too.

Oh, the thrift stores in the South! They are everywhere, just like up in the Pacific Northwest where I used to have no problem acquiring enough vintage crap to furnish half a dozen antique mall spaces. I can see the potential of doing some picking at some point in the future. A truckload of the good wicker and other cottage style stuff that's available around here would turn a fine profit up north. But…getting back to present reality… these days I only buy small items for resale on eBay, and I’ve found a treasure trove of vintage designer accessories over the past few days, stopping at thrift stores I’ve just happened across.

After leaving Biloxi, I headed to Mobile, Alabama, where I stayed at a 1200 acre preserve called Chickasabogue Park. It was a beautiful setting, and I had no Verizon cellphone or Internet for a few days. I took some hikes, got stuff ready to sell on eBay, and sewed a lot. I am creating some pretty wild quilts using vintage fabrics. It is a process that is very similar to my mosaic art. I don’t make a complete plan before I start a quilt. I gather materials that I think will look good together and then I just start piecing. The process is like an active sort of meditation or perhaps a manic episode, and the results are very satisfactory to me as an artist. I get to pull texture, color, shape, and all that together, just like I do when I create mosaics. My creative mojo is really cranking out work these days, and it’s a lot of fun. It also makes me realize how much I am looking forward to staying in one place next winter so I can get back to smashing plates.

My sewing machine broke at Chickasabogue (see, bad cowgirl poetry and blues songs practically write themselves), and I despaired over taking the time to find repairs. Then I found out that I could replace my machine cheaper than getting it fixed, so today I picked up a Singer Simple for $89 at a Walmart in Pensacola, and now I am about to get back into action at tonight's campground.

It is just incredible to me that I am now in the opposite corner of the U.S. from where I started. I mean, it's no big surprise, really. I certainly took my time about getting here, almost three months. But still and all, it is quite an amazing thing to me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

East of the Mississippi...and Dragging My Rear End

Mardi Gras beads!

Sunday, May 1st, 2011, Robert, Louisiana

I wasn't going to write another blog until I had a picture of me holding a string of fish that I'd caught. However, the past few days have been rather eventful in a slow, meandering-across-Louisiana-at-Guppy-speed-with-things-falling-apart kind of way, and I wanted to catch you all up on my doings, so you'll have to wait until my next post to see those fish. (Typical fisherperson...I'm already bragging about the ones I haven't caught yet!)

I left the beach at Galveston on Tuesday morning, intending to travel a little road that runs along the sea wall to the east of Galveston, making it possible to completely avoid the Houston area. However, as they taught me in I-School, "The map is not the territory." Apparently the sea wall has been unnavigable since Hurricane Ike in 2008, but my 2011 road atlas still shows it as passable. When I came to the barricade, I enjoyed watching people fishing in the surf for a while and then took the freeway up toward Houston, circling around the outer edge of the city and continuing east on I-10.

I crossed the border into Louisiana that day and spent the night at L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles. Just as I got off the freeway, the deadly dash lights came on. My vehicle is too old to have an engine indicator light that has codes revealing where the problem is. I just have lights that say "charge" and "brake," and when they come on, it's trouble. I got settled at the Casino's RV park and did some online research. An online Toyota RV forum narrowed the problem down to the house battery, the 3-wire battery isolator, and/or the alternator. There wasn't much I could do about things that night, so I had a good dinner and took a nice swim in the lazy river pool at the Casino's hotel.

The next day I headed to the nearest Super Wally and had them replace my house battery, which had not been charging up for some time. For the uninitiated (like I was until buying this money-sucking RV), motorhomes have two batteries...the usual car battery needed to start the engine, plus a marine deep cycle battery to provide a little bit of power to the lights in the house portion of the motorhome. This means when I'm boondocking, i.e. not hooked up to power, I still have some lights, on a limited basis. I can't run any intense power-suckers like the TV or microwave, but I hardly use these things even when I am hooked up.

Replacing the house battery did not make the dash lights go off, so I inquired at the Walmart tire and lube department as to where I could find a full-service mechanic. They referred me to a guy just down the street who fit me in immediately and gave me a new alternator for a very reasonable price. This solved the dash light problems. After the work was done, I returned to the Walmart to spend the night in the parking lot. It was a particularly good location on several counts. First, the people at that Walmart were incredibly kind to "Miss Sue," as they called me, and, second, there was a Starbucks in the same shopping center that had fabulous wifi, so I caught up on some episodes of "Desperate Housewives" on ABC.com.

The next morning, I returned to Starbucks specifically to inquire of the local folks where I could hear some good Louisiana music on a Friday night. The guys at the next table told me about Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette this weekend, just an hour or so east of Lake Charles. So I got back on the freeway and headed out, stopping at a few Goodwill stores along the way to buy some vintage couture silk neckties. When I got to Lafayette, I located the Walmart where I planned to stay that night and headed downtown for the festival.

The festival was great! I found a nice shady park bench where I could wait for the evening performances to begin, and coincidentally probably the only other Oregonians in the park also sat down there. I heard Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience and I loved every minute of it. When the music started, I couldn't stay on the park bench another second; I went up to the area right in front of the stage and danced and sang and hooted and hollered and had a great time. Pure joy!

There were other bands playing late into the night, but I wanted to get back to Walmart to spend the night before it got really dark, and thank goodness I did, because I noticed as I drove away from downtown Lafayette that my headlights were not working. There has been an accumulation of nonworking electrical elements in the front of my rig lately...recently the radio and horn also failed. So it's definitely time to find another mechanic and get some more work done.

Yesterday morning I woke up and had planned to go back to the festival, but it was raining and even after a few hours, there did not seem to be any let up. So I decided my next priority would be to go catch some fish, and I found this RV resort with a lake and boat rental in Robert, Louisiana, another 90 miles or so east of Lafayette. As luck would have it, the campground was also hosting a Swamp Pop festival yesterday, and I arrived in time to hear some more good local music.

The drive to Robert was pretty uneventful until just before it was time to exit the freeway. That's when I heard something dragging from my vehicle, so I stopped to investigate. My bumper fell off! Not completely--the left side is still welded on, but the right side no longer has anything to hang onto. Fortunately I happened to have a 1/4-mile reel of galvanized electric fence wire with me, so I got out and wired that sucker to my bent-up old ladder. This is a very temporary fix. Now I need to find not only a mechanic to repair my electrical problems, but also a welder.

So I limped into the RV park to find that the other campers were drunk and obnoxious. But it's Sunday and they will all go home today. I'm staying a second night to get in some fishing and to figure out my plans for getting some repairs done tomorrow.

Sonja has had some issues these past few days, too. I don't know what happened to her on the day I got to Lafayette (Friday), but she was definitely freaked out by something that occurred that day--maybe some shifting cargo that fell on her? When I opened up the door to get in the back of the motorhome that evening, Sonja shot past me, escaping into the Walmart parking lot, and I had to drag her out from under my rig by her tail in order to get her back in the house.

Sonja has ridden in the cabover since Day 1 of this journey, but now she will not go anywhere near it. When I put her up on my bed, she stares into the corner with her hackles up, like there's some menace there that is visible only to psycho cats.

Since Sonja clearly wasn't going to ride in the cabover anymore, I had to come up with an alternative comfortable place for her to ride. I devised a sort of cat house under the dinette where I put her food and bed, and I used a cargo net to keep things in place and make it seem cozy to my cat who would rather be inside a box than anywhere else. She seems quite comfortable with this arrangement.

So that's my status as of Sunday morning on May Day, 2011. Broken down a bit, but nothing that keeps me from moving forward. Wow, a metaphor for aging, perhaps? Heading out to buy me some bait now...