Learning Sofia…

Wow! I just got back from a lovely night stroll on the beach! I arrived this evening at Neah Bay & decided to come out to the festival location just to ensure I got cell & internet service. My plan was to then return to Neah Bay & come back out tomorrow on my lunch break & then work the remainder of the day. The nice people at the gate simply welcomed me in! So, I set up camp & took a little walk. Just beyond the stage where they were doing sound checks I heard what I thought could be the ocean! So I kept walking & within about 50 yards, there it was! So beautiful, even by the light of just my flashlight. The sound was higher pitched than I remember. I guess maybe because the waves right now are so small? It almost sounded like wind rustling through the trees. Obviously its been a while since I’ve been at the beach!

So I’ve had fun learning about Sofia over the last few days. Most of you know that Sofia is the name I have given to my recently purchased RV. I think its like any relationship. It starts off with bliss and goes downhill from there. LOL! No, it really hasn’t been so bad. Just I realize she’s not quite as perfect as I thought she was. Isn’t that how it always goes?

One cute thing I’ve learned is that Geb is not only a lap cat co-pilot, but he’s also a dashboard co-pilot. So adorable! And, he even knows he can’t come over to the dash on my side. He’s such a good kitty!

Dashboard co-pilot

Over E11 last weekend, we noticed that the A/C wasn’t working as well as it should be. On my drive from Mountain Home to Yakima as I worked throughout the day at various rest stops, I noticed it really wasn’t working. So I called & made an appointment for early Wednesday morning. When I took her in bright & early on my birthday, I learned that she needs a new A/C unit. Ah well… Trouble is no one in Yakima or Seattle seemed to have one. And so, I have an appointment scheduled at the end of the month when I’m in the Portland area. The good news is that I’m now over on the coast where its cool & I definitely don’t need the A/C! I actually even turned on my heater this morning. It works great!

Some of our encounters have been positive however. For example, I’m getting really good at driving her! Even though my heel won’t touch the ground (even with the seat scooted all the way forward!). I never really realized that my legs were quite that short. Oh well. I asked about it when I was at the RV shop to see if there was some way to fix either my seat, the peddles, or maybe get some blocks or something. They said to try an auto parts store. So this evening as I wandered briefly through the cute little town of Sequim, I went into the auto parts store & inquired. Nope, no such thing is made because of the liability factor. He told me to “keep on driving like a ballerina on her toes”.

I’m even getting pretty good at backing her up! The last two nights at the state park campgrounds I had to back her into her spot. AND I DID IT!! Without even hitting anything. LOL! And I had to turn around in a parking lot today after pulling in to take a picture. Managed that as well.

Looking pretty good backed into that spot!

So Tuesday night, I had just backed her into her spot at the nice state park in Yakima & gotten settled in. I remembered that during E11 I couldn’t get the oven to light. So I googled it (I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have google!) & read that you can’t use the striker knob (that’s only for the burners), you have to light it with a match or long lighter. So I got my long lighter out & proceeded to try to light it. It just wasn’t working again & again. I was beginning to get a little worried that I might just eventually set off the whole place with a fire bomb if it ever did light. So I started looking around the oven a bit more just trying to figure out if I saw anything loose, etc. That’s when I realized… I had been attempting to light the temperature gauge rather than the actual pilot light. LOL! Once I figured that out, she lit up right away! Ah well… now I know!

I’ve been to Neah Bay one time before… it was right before Michael (my 2nd husband) & I moved to Utah from Bellevue, WA. People always think Seattle is close to the coast, but in reality, its really a long way from the coast! Growing up on the Oregon coast, I had always wanted to go to the furthest most northwest corner of the continental United States. So before we moved out of the general vicinity, we did. I was pretty happy to have accomplished that goal. I remembered the road (Hwy 112) from Port Angles to Neah Bay as being a relatively long, narrow, winding road, but not terrible. Of course, that was in my mini! Driving that same road in Sofia, oh my! I really don’t remember the road to be THAT bad! Its super windy, super narrow, and has so many sink holes from slides that we were rocking, jiggling, & banging our way slowly down the road. There were lots of pullouts along the way, but the majority of the pullouts weren’t even big enough for Sofia! So slowly we carried on… And, in a way, it was like a pilgrimage coming back to this magical place.

Straight of Juan de Fuca Sunset

One good thing we’ve learned together is that traveling in the evenings as we do the traffic is much less than if we would travel during the day. It makes the traveling kind of nice to have pretty much open roads. Especially on roads like Hwy 112; I only had to pull over 2x in 60 miles to let anyone go around me. That’s pretty good! And, its good that no one was on the road with me tonight. I totally did the tourist thing! Yup, I stopped Sofia in the middle of the highway (there was no turnout spot around) and took this picture of the elk. LOL!

Roosevelt Elk!

Anyway, I’m happy to have finally arrived, to be in one spot for multiple days, and to enjoy the festival that starts tomorrow. I’m planning to get up early to take a walk on the beach before work.


All Accross the PNW

It surprised me, really, as I drove along… memories kept cropping up all across the PNW. Upon reflection, I guess it makes sense; I’ve lived in an awful lot of places throughout that whole area & have traveled quite a bit throughout it, too. My 2nd day on the road started at the truck stop in Mountain Home, ID. I woke up early on Tuesday because I wanted to make it all the way to Yakima & felt like it was too far to drive just in the evening. After staying up working to get this blog set up until 2:30am that morning, I proceeded to then wake up at 5:30am & start driving. Just a little bit excited, obviously!

As I drove by the National Guard base in Mountain Home, I suddenly remembered a time I had visited there with Rich, the worst boyfriend of my life! Yuck, thinking of him was not the best way to start a morning with my eyes still blurred from lack of sleep. Although then I also remembered that if I hadn’t of dated him, I never would have moved to Idaho in the first place. And, after him, Idaho was actually a pretty good time in my life. And so, I thought instead about the last time he went to that base for his 2 week duty. I pack all his stuff into boxes & told him as soon as he got home that he had to move out. Maybe it wasn’t the most eloquent way to handle the situation, but I was young & at least I got myself out.

The Center for Birds of Prey in Boise caught my eye. I remember visiting there with my dear mentor, Kay. She was the interim hospital administrator during my last year in Council. She was the first person in my professional life that really believed in me & saw me for my potential. She was also super supportive in helping me through leaving Jason, my 1st husband. She lived in Boise, but during her year as the administrator, she had an apartment in Council as well. About 6 months after I had met her she invited me down one weekend to her home in to Boise. Looking back, she was probably trying to help me remember life outside of Council. I’m sure she saw at that time that I needed to move on with my life. We had such a fun weekend together. We went to the Center for Birds of Prey, out to a really nice restaurant for dinner, & then to the alternative movie theater. Such a nice change from small town living. Mostly what I remember about that weekend is her just sharing… about her life, all the struggles she had been through and different paths she had taken. She hadn’t had an easy time of it, yet she did it. She was so successful and so smart. She was a huge inspiration to me that I didn’t just have to stay stuck in a bad marriage in a small cow town. I could go do whatever I set my mind to. We discussed it and she advised me that in order to really be able to get to where I wanted to be I was going to have to return to college & finish my degree. Looking back now, I’m eternally grateful for her advice.

Further down I-80 are signs to Hwy 95 – lots of memories up that highway. Council is up there, about half way between Weiser & McCall. I lived there for 5 years. One of it with Rich and the other four were spent dating & married to Jason, a cattle rancher. Bits & pieces of my time with Jason flashed through my mind. There were lots of good fun times with him – riding for cows, calving season, brandings, BBQ’s, and crazy times at Wilson’s Lounge. He really was a good guy overall, its just a shame what alcohol can do. It was an interesting learning experience for me as I had never really been around alcoholism before & didn’t know anything about it. Needless to say, I learned that I don’t want alcoholism in my relationship.

I was excited to see the Snake River at Farewell Bend. My mom, dad & I stopped there on our way home from visiting Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, OR. I contemplated attending there to get my 2-year degree in Horse Training. Now that would have resulted in a quite different life, wouldn’t it?! Anyway, we stopped there. It was a huge thriving truck stop & several motels. The diner we ate in had bison burgers; it was the first time I had ever eaten bison. And so now, I’m driving along, craving a bison burger. Not really thinking about the fact that the last time I had eaten there was a little over 20 years ago! I come around the corner & see… boarded up emptiness! I couldn’t believe it. Gone were my dreams of having a bison burger that day, as well as the dreams of all those people who owned those small businesses or worked there. Wow. Even when I lived in Council the truck stop was alive & well. Then I realized how the last downturn in the economy really had hit small businesses in the small towns. Tragic.

Each spring when I lived in Council, Jason & I with a bunch of friends would get in our pickups & head down the grade from Bear, ID to the Snake River in search of the 1st buttercups of the spring. It was always such a fun trip! That grade road was exceptionally scary – one lane with few turn outs. It worked pretty well except when another rig was coming up the grade! Some springs you could find buttercups higher up on the hillside, others, we’d find the 1st all the way down in the canyon depending on what kind of spring it was. Its kind of funny; a lot of people don’t know about Hells Canyon. It is the deepest river gorge in North America & is about 10 miles across. Its pretty spectacular in its own way, of course not nearly dramatic as the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, but impressive none the less. One time my sister Beth went on a rafting trip down through Hells Canyon. We went over & visited her on the night she was camped by Oxbow Dam. It was such a fun evening seeing her in “my neck of the woods!”

I finally stopped driving that morning around 8am at a rest stop by Huntington, OR. I stepped out of Sofia & smelled the air – it was permeated by sage brush! Oh, I love the smell of wild sage brush; smelling it was always one of my favorite parts about riding for cows. I savored the moment for a bit, then climbed in & sat down ready to start my work day. I turned on my wifi without a problem, started working, & left the memories behind… just like that! (For then!) At lunch time I decided to continue on my journey rather than hanging out at the rest stop & drove to a rest stop just east of La Grande, OR. I was so happy to be driving through that area. The area between Baker City & Pendleton I think is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I love Blue Mountains & the Wallowa’s, all the trees & the lush meadows. I’ve always somewhere up there would be the most perfect spot for a cabin.

After work I got out of Sofia to do my walk around to make sure everything is secure before getting back on the road. There was an elderly gentleman on a motorcycle parked right next to me. “Where ya headed?” he asks. “I’m going to Yakima tonight”. The sky is has some pretty crazy thunderclouds around & the wind has picked up significantly. “Do you think its raining up there?” he asks. “I think its fairly likely”. And so, I hit the road & head up the Blues.

The Blues Thunderstorm

Sure enough… not only was it raining up there, but my goodness! A crazy thunderstorm, complete with lightening, high winds & buckets of rain! It is an interesting predicament to be in driving up a windy canyon in a big RV in those conditions! I was happy once I passed the summit that I left that storm behind. Whew! I had weathered my first storm! Felt great – I am gaining confidence!

Ready… Set… GO!

I have to admit, I’m pretty excited about life right now. I’m in a parking lot at the Pilot truck stop in Mountain View, ID and its my first night out on the road in Sofia.

Last weekend, I did a trial run to Element 11 (our UT regional burning man event) in Grantsville, UT. Things went pretty smoothly all things considered minus a few minor mishaps (some decorative molding flew off on the freeway, ran over a lane marker at entry – I swear those lanes were designed for mini coopers, not RVs!, and I almost backed over a 5” rebar sticking out of the ground while trying to get settled into just the right camping spot). After settling in, the festival was incredible! I did complete my 1st day of work in my “mobile office” on Friday & everything worked seamlessly! What an awesome weekend! I’m also particularly glad that I had my dear friend, Merb, along with me for that adventure.

And so, after a quick clean-up last night and working today, we hit the road exactly at 4:36pm. Me, Sofia, Geb, Nyssa, & Athena (my goddess card – will write more about her later). The trip went by so quickly! Probably mostly due to sweet texts I got from friends wishing me well on my journey, as well as phone calls with my two sisters & my mom. I recently switched phones from AT&T to Verizon, specifically for traveling because Verizon has such better coverage. And, I was not disappointed! I never lost a signal all the way from Salt Lake City to Mountain View.

Geb & Nyssa did great! They were a little nervous on their 1st trip in Sofia out to Element 11, but this time, they just took it in stride. Geb sat on my lap a lot of the way. Nyssa has claimed the top bunk above the drivers’ seat as her own. When we finally did arrive in Mountain Home I took them out on their leashes for the 1st time. They were so cute! Nyssa doesn’t really know what to think about the whole harness & leash thing, but Geb did pretty good. He just didn’t like being constricted to a small space – I think he wanted to go run up a tree & really explore!

The sunset tonight was so pretty… I stopped outside of Bliss, ID to take a picture. I realized that I’m going to be able to see almost every (if not all) the sunsets for the next 4 ½ weeks! So often I get busy with things inside & I’m not outside to enjoy the sunset. I realized that driving in the evenings (as I am doing because I’m working during the regular work day) I will get to see & appreciate the sunset each day. Perhaps when I finally get back home I’ll be able to fit in a few more sunsets, taking time out of my busy scheduled to just slow down & enjoy the beauty nature shares each day.