jubilee – the year that was 2017…

i had heard the word jubilee before many times, but never really gave it any thought. 

a few years back, it was my friend d****e’s birthday. it piqued my interest when she posted that she was celebrating her jubilee. i wished her a happy birthday and asked her what she meant and she told me that she was celebrating her fiftieth year.

i found jubilee to be an awesome and fitting word for embracing and celebrating fifty years of experiences, memories, friends, family, love, and life. i knew that i was turning fifty this year and that’s how i wanted to handle it…as an all out celebration of me. 

i didn’t want to be sad or depressed or caught up in self-pity. i wanted to fly high and push the envelope as far as i could. i wanted to go to new places, meet new people, and try new things. 

i wanted to tear myself out of my comfort zone and throw myself into exciting explorations and thrilling adventures. i embarked on a yearlong journey that i never saw myself capable of doing solitarily a year or two ago.

but as 2017 ends, i can see it all very clearly. and, I did it. I did it all solitarily, save for the two precious souls that were always with me 24/7…my twelve pound dynamo and co-pilot buggs and my invisible friend and co-co-pilot j**s. 

i give these two beloved and precious souls kudos and all of the credit for keeping me safe and on course. when i think about it, without either one of them on board, i could have been lost forever to sleep sickness and never heard from again.

but, here i am and they are still here too…and i still have six more months of jubilee left in me!! so, i welcome 2018. i am antsy and bored and ready to get out of this comfort zone and into some exciting explorations and thrilling adventures.

dear friends and loved ones, i appreciate and value each and every one of you!! i wish you all the very best that life and love have to offer. i wish you all to have good health and strength of body and mind and soul. i love you. happy new year 2018!!

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december 25, 2017…

today, i am grateful for… 

…great friends who support and encourage me, and who love and accept me as i am…

…exciting adventures and explorations across the country… 

…my co-pilot and constant companion,  buggs and my co-co-pilot, j**s… 

…stories, memories, photos, and videos that i’ve been able to compile of our travels… 

…a place to stay and rest… 

…my car and the independence it gives me… 

…clean laundry… 

…food to eat… 

…my phone… 

…waking up to a good dream and being happy to get out of bed… 

i am not feeling my best right now, but my health has flourished over the last year. i am a little weary, but i am also antsy to begin another adventure. i am a little hesitant about where i am, but i am ready to be a true road warrior and make it my own for now. 

i am truly fierce and independent. i am full of curiosity and wonder. i am worthy of love and companionship. 

namaste. 

***this was from yesterday. i have the flu and fell asleep before publishing. tomorrow, i will be back and try to finish my gig harbor story and try to pick up the pace a little, as i am still on our second journey. in case anyone wonders, on our way back to nevada…after niagara falls, after the ocean that is lake erie, after columbus, after the gateway arch, and a three am harold and kumar-like white castle experience…we decided to get our kicks on route 66…and landed in oklahoma on thanksgiving day…spent some time with my friend l***a…and although no longer visiting l***a, we are still in oklahoma.***

our second journey, part six…gig harbor… 

i remember cursing google and switching back to my waze app. the waze app had frozen before i ever even managed to get on the freeway…thus, the reason for google. i fucking hate google and her condescending tone. 

in that moment, i wished for an iphone and a siri all my own. that thought brought a smile to my face. i remembered my friend telling me a story, in sheridan,  about her ex being jealous of how much she loved her siri. that was a magical day. 

however, this particular day, all of my fuck ups and unrealistic time planning, shoved all of that magic right out the window. don’t get me wrong, there was magic all around me…everywhere i looked there was beauty and sweet memories of home. 

i couldn’t believe my eyes, as i drove over a hill and caught a full view of the harbor, with boats and yachts surrounded by mountains and forests. there were seagulls screeching overhead and the salty, briny smell of the sea. i was overwhelmed. 

i heard waze tell me that i had reached my destination, so i parked where the location should have been. i didn’t see net shed no. 9 anywhere. i got out and walked down the sidewalk. i could hear buggs barking and carrying on in the background. 

i spied a small sign with an arrow pointing to a small parking lot down a semi-steep hill. at the bottom, i saw the restaurant, my friend’s car, and my friend waiting patiently for me. i waited on the hill for someone to leave and then pulled in. 

i was exhausted, frustrated, and embarrassed. she had invited me and reconfirmed the time with me and i agreed to it. however, by the time i finally arrived, i was nearly two hours late. i exited my vehicle and gave/received a nice hug. 

more tomorrow…i’ve got the flu and don’t feel my best and it’s difficult for me to write about something that i don’t really understand…how i could’ve fucked up so badly…

our second journey, part five…fife to gig harbor… 

once my co-pilot, buggs and i, finally crawled into bed at our motel 6, in fife…i realized that i still needed to check my email and set my wake-up alarm. 

my friend, whom i was having brunch with the next day, had sent me a confirmation email and asked if eleven am would be okay. i answered, “yes.”

at that point, it was 0330 and i really should have been more realistic about time, my exhaustion level, and common courtesy. 

this friend was very important to me. she invited me to brunch after not having seen me in over a year. i was looking forward to seeing her and catching up. 

however, i couldn’t sleep and my whole body felt like it was vibrating, as if i was still driving the car. i was tired and frustrated and decided to write to j**s.

after crafting a somewhat mysterious, ambiguous, and vague email. i set my alarm for 0800, which i thought would give me plenty of time to get ready, be on time. 

before falling asleep, i felt something coming on. my whole body hurt, my feet were throbbing, and i felt incredibly dizzy and nauseous. i crashed hard. 

i awoke at 0800 and took buggs outside. i had my clothes out and toiletries ready. I then packed everything else up and loaded the car up. 

i kept feeling a weird pinch in my lower back and an electrical type pain radiating down my legs. i pushed forward, as quickly as i could…showering and dressing. 

i looked and looked for both my pill box and my deodorant. i found neither. i was panicked as i looked at the clock…time was getting away from me. 

i finally figured out, that i had forgotten both my meds and my deodorant. i sent my friend an email letting her know that i was running late. 

i threw the rest of my stuff into the car and drove to get gas and ran inside the store to buy deodorant. i got back into the car and put deodorant on. 

i then sent my friend a link to track my driving progress and eta in real-time. i said, “okay google, take me to net shed no. 9.” i got onto the freeway and sped away. 

however, i then received a text that said that i was headed in the wrong direction. i was so fucking mad at google and at myself for being an unrealistic moron. 

i could actually hear r*****d’s words in my mind…”you stupid, fucking moron!!” and in this case, he would have been absolutely, fucking right. 

more tomorrow…this one hurts…it’s still a sore subject with me…because i fucked it all up… 

our second journey, part four…forest fires to vancouver to puyallup to fife…

…we drove on and began encountering even thicker smoke, ash, and soot. i may have dreamt this or it may indeed have happened, but i think that i was talking to s***h on speaker phone. i don’t even remember anymore. however, i remember that the sky looked funny and the air was thick.

the beautiful forests that i remembered, were on fire. it was an absolutely surreal scene. the road going up the mountain was steep and winding. the sun was beginning to set and the colors we’re incredible, vibrant, and eerie…the smoke played with the sun’s rays and somehow changed the light. 

the lighting and backdrop changed with every turn around a bend and i couldn’t help but to imagine what beautiful photographs i could possibly make with my camera…instead, i made them in my mind. there i was shuttling pets, talking to s***h, and making mental photographs. as i kept driving, i noticed that things we’re moving everywhere. 

not cars or people, but fire and trees…racing and falling and falling and racing. other things we’re moving too…in front of the car ran a doe and then a buck…a family of soot covered quail…a pair of chipmunks…and then something nearly unrecognizable darted out. it was covered in soot and ashy, it had wild eyes, and ran…it was terrified. all i could really make out was a snout and curly short tail…i think that it was a pig. 

i kept driving because i had to get my passenger, a pit bull named asia to her mom in puyallup. as i drove, i found myself saying silent “prayers” for all of the animals and forest creatures. the tears we’re streaming down my face. i just felt so bad and powerless to help them. we just kept driving. it was dark by the time i drove through tualatin. 

i saw the family fun center miniature golf and go-karts. i felt a lump beginning to develop in my throat, as i remembered going there with someone that i used to love. lake oswego appeared and i remembered delivering willamette week newspapers there every wednesday with k***y. it was becoming harder to swallow and i had to work hard to choke back the tears. 

i passed the exit for capitol highway, right after the terwilliger curves, and there she was…my city at night swathed in purple light reflected off of the willamette river. the bridges strong and sturdy joined suburbs to downtown portland…the steel bridge, the burnside bridge, the broadway bridge. i could see the max line running…lloyd center, the old rose garden, the pearl, my old skidmore fountain building, and the motherfucking white stag sign. 

i could barely see to drive. tears were streaming down my face and i began to sob. i approached the green,  i – 5 drawbridge, which connects portland to vancouver by bridging the columbia river. as i drove over the bridge, i saw officer’s row, the old academy building, and the exit off of the freeway to my old home. i lost it…that was my home for twenty years. my dogs we’re within five minutes of me. two of my exes we’re located five minutes west or east. my friends we’re there, my school, my heart. 

i am not going to lie or sugarcoat. it hurt just as bad seeing all that i had lost…(all that was taken from me…all that i love) as it did seeing all that i knew would be lost or taken from me that day that i was put on a train for montana. it fucked with both my heart and my head, but i kept driving until i got to hazel dell. i was going to be sick and stopped at my old mcdonald’s to vomit. i then pulled myself together, walked buggs and asia, and pointed the car toward puyallup and the address that asia’s mom had given me. 

it was 0130, when i pulled up to the puyallup address that i had been given. i texted and called, but asia’s mom was an idiot and gave me the wrong drop off address twice and then had an attitude with me. she finally agreed to come and meet me. i had done her a favor by hauling a huge box of stuff from tahoe with asia and she had agreed to give me one hundred extra dollars. 

she pulled into the parking lot and i unloaded the giant box and carried it to her car. she unloaded asia, put her into her car, and then got in herself. she reached out her hand and said, “here.” she put cash in my hand and sped off. she shorted me the extra money of course, but there was really nothing that i could do about it. i had a room reserved at the fife motel 6, so, we headed to fife, unloaded, and tried to go to sleep at 0330…

more tomorrow… 

a wild and crazy ride…

i know that i am still working on our second journey, both in writing and photography. there is so much left to show and to tell you all. i can’t wait!! but here i sit, in the middle of america on my way back to nevada from journey three and i am just full of emotion.

i feel a multitude of things right now…gratitude for a safe trip thus far, for myself, buggs, and passengers (lex a white german shepherd, log an orange cat, and bo a black and white attack cat)…gratitude to ryan, bill, and nathan at tuffy’s automotive in fort wayne, indiana for spending all day from 0930 until 1630 replacing my burnt out alternator and scraping my melted serpentine belt off of the pulleys and engine and in the meantime allowing myself and buggs and lex to occupy their waiting room, bringing the dogs water and providing buggs with a coat to lie down on…gratitude for r*****d, who kept insisting that i buy the extended warranty on my car, when i made that purchase…gratitude for m***n and c***s being so kind and understanding about my car breaking down and being patient when their pets arrival was delayed by a day…gratitude for my waze app always showing me the speed limit and keeping my speeding more in line…gratitude for my co-pilot buggs, who is a real trooper and is completely adaptive to every new situation and new person or pet that he meets…gratitude for my co-co-pilot j**s, who can text me through anything and almost any situation. she has been a real blessing to me and i wouldn’t want to imagine a life without her texts in it… gratitude for all that i have in life: a place to live, a car to drive, clothes to wear, a bathroom to get clean in, food to eat, improved health, improved strength and stamina, adventures to go on, friends that love and care about me, stories to tell, and photos to share.

i feel blessed and fortunate and lucky. i feel incredibly cared about and important and special. i feel exhilarated and curious and scared. i feel most days lately, like my heart just may explode because i feel so much, all at the same time…and it nearly paralyzes me and keeps me from moving…forward, backward, or from side to side.

lately, my life has been filled with so much beauty and excitement and adventure. my curiosity and sense of wonder are nourished and fed each and everyday. the photos begin to capture all that is there in that moment, but they don’t even begin to scratch the surface of seeing the golden gate bridge lit up at night…of a blood red, smokey sunset in the mountains with the lights of bakersfield flickering down below…the stark white, salt flats of utah…the all enveloping, very fluid and saturated, watercolor clouded landscape outside of wendover…the stark bleakness of sidney…the warmth and appeal of the barns and silos and my heart pangs over the bridges of madison county sign again outside of winterset, oh how i love iowa…losing my breath as i crossed the mississippi and entered into illinois…seeing the chicago skyline lit up at night and reflected in the water…realizing how dirty, gritty, and grimey fort wayne was…the beauty of the old downtown and buildings driving into cleveland (drew carrey was right…cleveland does rock!!)…my first stop in pennsylvania made me never want to leave and upstate new york be still my beating heart…jamestown the city that gave me my redheaded, idea filled, role model lucille ball…the tiny little towns unchanged for a hundred years like warsaw and portland…the strange turnpikes and toll roads of albany, somehow fees are accumulated, but no money ever changes hands…nothing could ever prepare for the niagara river, the niagara falls, or the maid of the mist – buggs and i walked for two miles soaking it all in, being penguins gathering the perfect stones to offer someone someday – it was deeply emotional the scene of jim and pam’s wedding from “the office”…the scene of a great ocean with sandy beaches and tall, crashing waves in the middle of pennsylvania, but how could that be – lake erie – enormous, majestic, breathtaking…driving in the pitch black night, with blizzard conditions, snow and ice to get from albany to niagara falls…seeing and staying in the place of my father’s birth – columbus…driving into st. louis as the sun had just set, crossing the beautifully lit suspension bridge and seeing the arch as i drove by…all things that will be forever in my head and heart. they’re in photos too, but the photos do these things no justice!!

it’s been one wild and crazy ride…

please…

…please don’t give up on me! i’m so sorry…i have been working my ass off trying to put journey number three together. there are many individual parts that need to fit together just right to make everything all work out together.

so far, there have been some surprising and miraculous occurrences. yesterday, a woman gave a sales clerk one hundred dollars and told him to give it to the next person that he helped. well, i was the next person that he helped and he gave it to me. i was shocked and speechless. i will be paying it forward.

so, i leave henderson on sunday, headed for vallejo, ca. i’m so excited to be going back out and having another bunch of adventures with my co-pilot buggs and my co-co-pilot j**s. i’m going back to places i know well and i’m going to a bunch of places that i’ve never been.

i’m excited to be marking some more things off of my bucket list among them…niagra falls…scene of jim and pam’s wedding, from “the office.” i’m taking my good camera this time and i’m going to be taking lots of photos…and i will be bringing my tripod and cable release for some night photography.

i’ve checked the weather the whole way for each location, on each day. it looks like a few showers, but mild temperatures and no snow or ice. i will bring my carhartt coat that m****a gave me last year in iowa and i will bring bugg’s iowa coat too. this time, i won’t forget my meds or toiletries. i’ve taken care of my seat, so, my lumbar spine will be supported.

tomorrow, i am going to try to tell some more about our second journey and share another set of photos. i still have so much to tell and share. i experienced so much, in such a short amount of time. i’m forever changed and bonded much more closely with both of my pilots.

i’ve been gathering the best stones, shiny, smooth, and strange from each location that i explore. i’ve been putting them into a rock tumbler/polisher and turning them into treasures of which i will present to someone special one day. j**s calls me her penguin…bent over searching for the perfect stone…obsessed.