I love to travel. And the majority of the time, I travel alone. I am often asked questions about my adventures and I love to talk about the places I go and the things I see, but I also get a lot of questions about my thoughts on safety.
So while it's fresh on my mind- since I just finished up a trip from the West Coast- I thought I'd share a few of them here and then some tips I've learned along the way.
So, just to start- I never just wander. When I travel, I always have a destination in mind... and on the way there is pretty much the only time I am spontaneous. I do like to have at least 75% of my trip planned. I usually pull a camper, but this last trip, I lived out of my truck. (I can write an entire article on the pros and cons of just that! Lol!)
I love history, so most of my sidetrips are usually triggered from that but I am also a HUGE fan of natural beauty. I'm a sucker for a waterfall or a sunset and have been known to go out of my way for some beautiful scenery. And yes, I love being outdoors, so this kind of lifestyle fits me to a tee.
I absolutely love to travel and I am always looking for a new adventure or places I haven't been. I am working on the United States and have yet to visit other countries.
Okay, now to your safety.
I'm often asked if I'm I ever scared...
Yes. Yes I am. And there's a fine line between trusting your gut and realizing you may just be looking for things to make you afraid. Trust your gut. If you are ever in a situation and it just doesn't feel right, pay attention.
- Always let someone know where you are.
I am constantly checking in with someone in my circle when and where I stop for the night and when I leave again in the morning. Sometimes I'll let them know where I'm headed, or when I've crossed markers like state lines. Always let someone know where you are. My phone is always linked to someone else, so if anything happens, they can ping my phone... which makes sense that the next one is:
- Always have your cell phone on you. Carry it with you everywhere. Don't leave it in your car, keep it with you. You may need to make an emergency call. You may need someone to find you. You may need a flashlight. You may fall and hurt yourself... and if you ever feel uncomfortable or feel you might be in a dangerous situation- call someone and just talk with them. Even better, FaceTime them. They can see where you are and can see if anyone comes up to you and most times, it will deter anyone's interest in you.
- Always have self protection.
Now, before you dismiss this one with, well, I have a gun, hang on. If you are attacked, they are not going to wait until you fish down to the bottom of your purse or unlock the glove compartment to get your weapon before they proceed. You need some kind of weapon, whatever one you are comfortable with, on your person or in your hand whenever you stop somewhere or are alone. Always, Always, Always in rest areas. Make sure you have multiple options that are easily attainable no matter where you are. Meaning. have them in several places in your vehicle as well as on you.
A caveat to that... know how to use it. And be prepared to use it. If anyone gets close enough to me that I'm able to USE any of my weapons, I won't stop fighting until I am safe.
- Don't wear your hair in a ponytail. (Researching murders and serial killers, you learn weird things.). They look for this and will use your ponytail as a handle. Does this mean you can never wear one? No, just if you're by yourself and in a not-so-crowded space, maybe not then... or wear a low one or a close to the head braid.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Look at everything. Notice where the cars are parked. Hallways. Alleys. People.
-Don't wear headphones or earbuds. When you are out there on your own, you need all of your senses. You certainly don't want to make it easy for someone to be able to sneak up on you.
- Be aware of your cell phone usage. This falls back to "Be aware of your surroundings." If you have your head down, lost in your phone, you're not paying attention to the people around you. Also, try to have your back to a wall or lean against your vehicle while using your phone, so you have one less angle you have to worry about. And on that note...
-Women are the worst about getting into their cars and checking their phones without shutting their doors or locking them. I am guilty of this too. After I fill up the tank at a gas station, I'm usually checking missed messages or my gps... and I leave myself wide open for attack. Get in your vehicle, shut the door, lock it and then check your stuff.
-Make eye contact. Attackers look for easy prey. Shy or timid prey. Don't be that. Stand up straight and hold your head up. If you look at every person in the eye as you pass one another, it's not only a sign of confidence, but you already have a solid look at the person's face. They are less likely to attack you if you can identify them.
- Always park under a light. Make sure you can see and be seen.
- Don't let your gas tank get so low that you are dependent on the "next" gas station. You don't know what that place will be! Pick ones that are well lit and "bonus" if they have security cameras. (and clean bathrooms!)
We have to acknowledge that whenever you choose to travel alone, you are accepting that there is some risk. Something bad could happen. You choose that traveling solo is worth the risk so, even though this section might be uncomfortable, it's quite necessary.
- Security cameras. Always look for and AT the security cameras. Know where they are and always let them see you. If anything should happen to you, this will give the police a time stamp and a visual of where you were. Always look directly into the camera.
- When you go into a gas station, always say something to the cashier. The more unique the better. Ask a question. Pay them a compliment. Say something funny. Drop your change. Be memorable. If something happens to you; when the officers ask, "do you remember seeing this person?" Hopefully they will say, "yeah, that's the lady that complimented me on my hair."
- Have an ICE contact clearly marked in your phone or wallet. (ICE= In Case of Emergency). Make it easy for authorities to be able to connect to your people... just in case.
- Always let those you love know you love them, because... you just don't know.
I don't say these things to be morbid, and even by doing every single thing does not mean it will be 100% effective. But it might help.
Life is too short to pass up opportunities that make you happy or to stay in one place because of fear. But you can also be smart about it.
These aren't in any order, I just added them as they came to me... and yes, I follow each one. I love my family and as much as I love going out to wander, I love coming back home to see their faces. So I try to be as safe as I possibly can.
I hope these help you too.
Follow your heart. Make some memories. Have adventures! Leave a legacy. You only get one time around so make the most of it!
I have tried for decades to keep the two very distinct sides of my personality separate. I am very much a Christian and yet, there's a darkside to my creative vein.
I have always been drawn to the dark side of history. I'd dive into the outlaws and the gangsters, and then as I got older the serial killers. But the mainstream of my life was/is very clean and shiny... I am quite the rule-follower and do my best to see the best in others and lead with love.
I decided that I was so fascinated at how others function SO differently than myself. My study of the brain began here.
I eventually decided to allow the dark side some creative space knowing that God made me and knew ahead of time what He was getting himself into! Lol!
When it was suggested I create a podcast, I had to figure out what topic I could legit dive into regularly and never get bored of. History. That was easy. I love American history and am still a bit resentful of my teachers for not fanning this flame in my youth.
I knew I didn't want to do serial killers, I don't want to turn them into rockstars. They are still evil creatures and their acts are not something to celebrate, but with all the fascination of true crime and serial killers, I knew there were others (thousands upon thousands) that liked to dip their toe on the dark side. I gave myself permission to create the Bag of Bones Podcast. Revealing the dark side of American history.
Murderers, outlaws, tyranny, battles, hauntings (I do love a good ghost story!), folklore, racism, tragedy, and straight up stupidity. So things don't get too dark, I add in some quirky and strange stories that may have been swept under the rug that make us question how our species have survived some decisions. Lol.
I am having a blast. I spend a huge amount of time diving into my weekly episodes to bring you well researched and as factual information that is available to me. I read tons of articles, books, documents and court transcripts to give me every opportunity to bring you the facts from our yesterdays. I am in LOVE with my podcast. (Am I allowed to say that? Lol)
I believe I come at every single episode with a heart of integrity, not just to glorify the ugly and headline-grabbers. Many episodes are meant to shine a light on how we, as a country thought and believed, so as not to forget... and repeat. Other episodes are biographies that reveal so much more of the subject matter than just the "crime" or "tragedy". Some are very difficult for me. I am sometimes more sensitive than I should be if I'm going to share these stories. Other times, I let you see my opinion ... I tend to be quite sarcastic, I'm told...
But I love 99% of my podcast... not what happened, but the opportunity to share it with others in a way where (hopefully) it will NOT be boring and just regurgitating facts and dates. These moments in history involved real people, real emotions, real choices, real consequences... our history IS people.
All that to say, I was happy to discover that many of my Christian friends and followers enjoyed the Bag of Bones Podcast.
I was so worried about that because I am billed in every book store and webpage as a Christian Author... and I still am... but then, I just veered a little sideways. I thought I was going to have to build an entire new website to cater to this new whim of mine and honestly, that still would be the best option, but instead, I decided to embrace it. You never know who might come in for one thing and get intrigued by another.
Many have suggested that I use a pen name for my dark side activities, but then I decided that because I am very hands on... very much involved with my following, that might not be such a good idea. I love getting to know my fans and readers. Sidenote: I'm hoping to go another level of connection and sign myself up for more book tours and conventions in the future- SO, I might as well not use a pen name since it's going to be Elizabeth Bourgeret that shows up to all the things... I might as well have my name on all the things.
Yes, this does offer a bit of confusion when people are researching me, but... I will do my best to be very clear about each promotion.
I'm entering in to my third year of the podcast and am still learning, but I'm going to treat it more like a business this year than a hobby. So, if you are already a fan, keep an eye out for a brand new newsletter, merch and other ways to interact.
Also- because I can't help myself- I will be launching new novels that will fall under the Dark Side category. I've suppressed it as long as I could! Lol! The story ideas just wouldn't stop coming! I must write them down! So, with books AND a podcast AND merch, I will be a more welcome attendant to conventions and festivals.
You'll see the reflection in the website, there will be a Dark Side section that will outline all the Bag of Bones details and release information on the books that fit there.
Whooo!! That feels good to get it off my chest and actually make a decision! Not that I need permission or approval, but I never want to alienate someone who is new to my world and this decision has been rattling around my head for at least three years, so it's nice to be able to move forward.
That being said-
So watch for some changes on the website and for new merch and books coming your way on both the Christian side and the Dark side.
You can't truly appreciate the light without experiencing the dark.
(Pretty sure that's my new motto, because it is 100% accurate. I would have never been saved had I not first had to walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt.)
If you haven't tuned in to any of the Bag of Bones episodes, do me a favor and check them out. I promise you, there really is something there for everyone! I do my best to warn against the really bad stuff... so go ahead, cross over to the dark side... (ooo... that sounded really creepy... I love it!)
Bag of Bones Podcast can be found on any podcast platform. We really are everywhere! New episodes almost every week. (I had to build in breaks this year because it is really very work intensive and I get a little swallowed up, but I will average at the very least 3 per month.)
Follow on Facebook or Instagram and you'll be tapping into my warped, sarcastic sense of humor.
And as always, keep checking back here, as to the new developments! I'm super excited to share these new stories and episodes with you, my friends.
Welcome to my Dark Side.
Bag of Bones on Apple ITunes
Bag of Bones on Spotify
Bag of Bones on IHeart Radio
This is a reprinted article from September 2012.
Unfinished projects. Unpacked boxes. Incomplete story-lines. Unpublished works. Story of my life.
The book, Captive Heart, that is currently being published has been sitting on my shelf for years. Untouched, unloved and unseen by the public.
It is really easy to hide from success if you stop just short of it ever becoming a possibility. Thus, all of my unfinished projects become a protective wall to hide behind so I never know how success could change my life for better or worse.
Why would anyone fear becoming successful? Doesn't everyone dream of a small amount of fame at some point in their life? But what happens when you get it? Will you be ready for everything that goes along with it?
Granted, success comes in many levels (not everything has to be the paparazzi kind, it could be something as simple as losing weight or, I don't know, publishing a book...). It also depends on how much value you attach to it. If you give your end goals too much weight, it can in turn, weigh you down.
If you are hoping that your success validates who you are making you feel that you are finally smart enough, thin enough, rich enough or popular enough the weight of success can become more of a burden than a reward. Not only to achieve it, but to maintain it!
If your success is just another check mark of things to do before you die, then you will be able to enjoy and relish every moment that comes from it. You will feel Success- Full.
But , more likely, it will come and go like many of our successes (promotion at work, winning the bowling championship, quitting smoking) that we don't take the time to acknowledge or celebrate therefore creating the stress that comes from a bigger success. We don't know how to handle it! We never feel Success-Full.
Add to that, all those details that come with success. The ones you don't really think about when you're picturing the accolades. Failure. New responsibilities. Time constraints. Criticisms. Being in the spotlight. Maintaining. It's no wonder we end up subconsciously sabotaging any success we might have.
I personally tend to put a lot of weight on success. I feel I have to prove something to myself and to others, that says, "I CAN finish something. I CAN turn my mistakes around. I CAN learn from my past and create a better future."
So for years, I have engaged in, what I recognize now as self- sabotaging behaviors to make sure I would never reach the levels of success that would make me have to face such challenges. It's easier to sit back and dream of the "someday I will..." than to actually go after it and possibly fail while the world looks on waiting to see the outcome.
I had become a Master Procrastinator. Cleverly thinking of ways to do anything but what will take me closer to my end goals. I would compromise my goals and tell myself things like, "I was probably going to fail anyway so why bother trying?" Have you been there? Not going to apply for that job... join that gym... open that savings account... Most of the time, this fear happens subconsciously. We don't realize exactly WHY we aren't trying harder, just that it's easier to find other distractions.
Failure, or rather, incompletion, I can deal with. Success was too terrifying to even attempt.
After all, everyone faces failure. That makes it a common denominator. And it IS true that you will learn more, gain more long lasting wisdom from failure than you will from success, but is staying in that "comfort zone" of failure enough? We all have that gene in us to WANT success, and DREAM of a better life even if it means something as simple as getting a degree, buying a new car, being debt free... But success... who teaches you how to deal with success?
You've heard the saying, If at first you don't succeed, try, try again? But what happens when you DO succeed? Where's the clever saying for that? Who teaches you how to deal with new-found resentment and labels from others? How to juggle the new responsibilities that come with the outcome of your success? And what if you don't like it?
Don't get me wrong, I consider myself Success-Full. I have learned to acknowledge and appreciate the smaller, daily successes. (It lead me to create my How to Feel Success-Full lecture series.) So it doesn't have to be an all or nothing feeling that could very well rob you of the pleasure of your accomplishment!
But the publishing of this book, my very first, is stretching me to a level of success that I have not had as yet and a whole new list of "consequences" that I'm not so sure I'm ready for!
I had subconsciously trained myself to stop short of becoming too successful for any number of the above mentioned reasons. And while my past has taught me the lessons that I now pass on to others, and I wouldn't be who I am today without it, I don't know if I'm ready for the scrutiny, the judgement that comes along with decisions I've made long ago, and just my works in general.
My friend Mary Spezia pointed out that maybe God is using me for this very thing. He wants me to face this fear, and teach others... But when I tell her that I'm not ready for that (already making excuses for avoiding success), she assures me that God will make me ready. Simple as that.
I am a born-again Christian and believe me, I fought Jesus every step of the way. But He saved me for a reason, and if my mistakes might be able to prevent others from the same, that's not so bad right?
So, here I am at the crossroads. This is where many of us sit. Regret for the past and fear for the future. I can either push forward and greet success without fear or stay on the same path, hiding behind my wall of unfinished projects... regretting it forever.
I choose to move forward. Face my fears, keep procrastination at bay and see what God has in store for me. I'm putting my book out for people to read, I've created this website to widen my audience, I've added new topics to speak on...
Then again, my book may not even sell, no one will read this website and no one will hire me to speak anymore and all this fretting will have been for nothing.
Oh well, if at first you don't succeed....
Ten Years Later...
I'm sorry to say, I still struggle with procrastination. As we approach the 10th anniversary for the release of Captive Heart, my very first novel, I have to admit that I haven't found the secret to combat the fear of success. I still catch myself before allowing my reach to go beyond what I feel I "deserve", and stop short of launching programs that I feel can bless others.
I am a constant student and continue to search for the final answer that will heal everyone's anxiety about facing fear and dare I say, even embrace it. I'm still searching. A few more novels under my belt and a podcast, I know that I am called for more. I have to learn to trust in my capabilities and trust in my purpose. But it is not a magic pill, or a motivational quote. It's a daily, constant work.
Ten years later, I say again... don't give up, roll with the punches and don't be afraid to try again.
We are called to love. We all need love and we all want to love.
But sometimes the thought of giving love can be a bit scary. What if the love you send out isn't returned? What if you do more for someone else than they do for you? What if they flat out shun your love? What if they weren't the person they lead you to believe they were? What if they accept your love and then suddenly, take it away? Then what?
The beauty of love is that it is meant to be given liberally, without any strings attached.
You can't make others love you. You can't expect love to be returned. It would be nice, but not always a reality. And what's more, their version of what love is may not match yours. Which is why love, should you choose to bestow it should be unconditional.
What that means is, I will love you no matter what. No matter what kind of day you're having. No matter if your breath smells. No matter if you've hurt me. No matter if we disagree. No matter if you've left the cap off the toothpaste... again. Conditional love is based on terms: I will only love you if you do X, Y & Z. But if you don't, then, I'm off the hook. I don't have to love you.
The downside to this, is many times, the other person doesn't even know what the X, Y & Z conditions are and sometimes we can't even put them into words. We just know when they haven't been met and to "punish" the other person, we can withhold our love... it whatever form that may be.
Loving someone unconditionally doesn't mean that you are required to "put up with" unhealthy behavior. You don't. Let me say that again because it's so important...
You do not have to tolerate poor, or abusive, or unhealthy behavior- ever.
But you can still love them. You can remove yourself from the situation in however many degrees you need to feel comfortable. You don't have to be "with" someone to love them. You can separate from them and still love them.
In the case of a marriage, you can see that things are not "working" and sometimes that leads to divorce. That can still happen and you can still love them.
In the case of family... sometimes you have to put up boundaries to protect your heart and soul or your growth or safety, but you can still love them.
Friendships will come and go as the seasons. People may fade in and fade out. Others may end badly, that doesn't mean you can't still love them.
You get to choose what your love for other people looks like. It's not a one-size-fits-all.
The underlying current of every being is love. We are all searching for it. We all want to feel it. And we all want to give it. It doesn't always show up in passionate, romantic love, it's also small forms of love. That shows up as kindness. Compassion. Empathy. A quiet smile.
Relationships are part of the deal. Some interactions you just want more of. You crave that friendship. You clicked with that human in a romantic way. Your family member is your best friend and confidant.
What keeps those relationships vibrant, is love. Yes, yes, there's more to it than that, but we all know you can only "fake" love for so long. So if the love isn't there, is it really worth pursuing?
Inevitably, sometimes a relationship doesn't turn out as we had hoped. Again, we have no control over what the other person feels and does. And when your passions don't match, it's a painful thing. There could be anger. There could be resentment, betrayal, loss.... It hurts. And it will hurt for a while. Even though you feel, that for your own safety or sanity, you never want to love again, don't let that happen.
You are so much better than the people around you that have chosen to hurt you. And yes, I say chosen because that's what it is... a choice. 1st Corinthians 13:4-7 makes it very clear of what love is, and what it isn't... if you're ever in doubt.
And it is too, a choice if you decide to stay within the relationship, or let it go. Only you can decide that.
Should you chose to go, I hope you can look back and say that you gave love. You showered that person or persons with so much love that when the dust settles they can't help but see it.
Let all things you do be done in love because it's the only thing that really matters. Even in anger, don't let your anger go so far as to step outside of love.
Yes, you can be angry. Raging angry. But it's how you respond... how you react. Don't ever choose hate if you can help it.
It's lonely on the highroad, but love is never wasted. Let it be a sprinkling left behind you that you can look back on and others can see where it leads. Those who need love, just might be looking for you.
You have a purpose and you have a calling. You are called to love. Don't go through life keeping that love all to yourself. No matter the consequences, choose to love.
This is going to be such a hard post to write, so bare with me...
Things have shifted. And in a big way. Things don't always go as planned, and... you have to shift. The emotion is still really close to the surface so, I apologize if it spews out across the page, but... you've been with me this far, and you're still here so this won't be the first time. Lol
To start... my husband left me in February this year. I knew I was taking this trip alone so, that was just that. If I'm being honest, I didn't give myself much time to work through that grief because I'm a master of being busy. I am always going, doing, creating... all the things. Being a life student and a relationship coach... it is really hard to swallow that my own marriage wasn't a perfect and lovely textbook example. It is humiliating, if I have to put a word on it. It feels like I learned nothing if I couldn't even see and remedy the issues in my own marriage. I must be a terrible relationahip coach.
What they don't tell you in your relationship classes, and you have to pretty much figure out for yourself is that... sometimes, you can't control another person's actions. And by sometimes, I mean, MOST times. You have no control over someone else's choices.
I had no control over his leaving me... I just had to decide how I was going to respond and what I was going to do next.
Fast forward to half way through my trip...
My husband's health is failing. He suffered injuries while serving his country and they are tired of being ignored. In short- his vertebrae is crumbling and trying without success to reframe his bones and muscle structure to still give him support. It's not working. He's going to require surgery (or series of surgeries, and if it sounds like I'm making light of it, please understand that it's my defense mechanism. )
I need to get back and take care of my husband. I love my husband and this is that part "in sickness and in health" that I agreed to whether he did or not. I believe in marriage and I want a happy marriage, but I can only do what I can do. And do it to the best of my ability without judgment, or punishment and in an unconditionally, loving way. And what I need to do is get to Alabama to get my husband through this surgery and physical therapy on the other side, in the most loving and supportive way I know how. God is pretty amazing and is capable of turning this marriage around at any point, so I walk in faith.
No dates have been set, as yet for the surgery and I have come to realize that I will no longer be able to travel. It's a hard pill to swallow since I've worked so hard to finally get here and now I have to put it to rest. I am so very thankful that I was able to have this one last bang of a trip. (Sidenote: This is WHY you don't wait until retirement to follow your dreams or do the things your heart tugs you toward. Don't ignore it. Don't wait... you might not get the chance "later".)
I am beyond grateful that I got to follow The Oregon Trail... It wasn't the trip that was originally planned, but I'm not sad. I saw so many things. I learned so many things. I made friends along the way. I learned things about myself that I would have never discovered otherwise. I got to "meet" all of you. These memories will set me up for a very long time.
I have yet to go through all the photos, something to look forward to.
A lot of new wheels have been put into motion.
- I cancelled the PostCard Club.
As I have mentioned before, I did not receive an income from the Club, and more times than not, it cost more than it brought it. Plus, I will no longer be traveling, so it seemed the right thing to do.
I have decided that all the members will still get their ornament and the 2020 group will still get their digital copy of my book A Devil's Errand when it is released. I will still send out all the postcards for the month of September and for those who purchased for the full year, I'll send along other gifts instead to make up the difference.
- The History Revisited Facebook Group.
The group... oh... this is hard... I have enjoyed my time with you so much and I have loved getting to know you throughout the years. And those who popped in every once in a while... I saw and appreciate you too!
Seeing as how I'm about to be a full-time caregiver, I feel the best course of action is to delete the group as I won't have the time to keep up with it and again... not going to be traveling or visiting historical sites until further notice.
I will still be producing the Bag of Bones Podcast, for those of you who need your history fix. I'm going to turn all of my (spare) attentions on that and my author life. I'll be writing books, coaching and maybe creating some new writing or history courses, I don't know. I have no idea what my future looks like, but my writing is everything so it will continue in some form or another.
I would be so honored if you would follow me on my Facebook page(s)-
Elizabeth Bourgeret- Author and/or Bag of Bones Podcast
Perhaps we can continue our friendships there.
If neither of those are a fit for you, please know that I will miss you and again, have enjoyed beyond words your participation and presence in my life.
- The Wildwood Conestoga
I am grateful that I will get to visit with my children (both in MO) and my family (mostly in AR) before I get settled in Alabama where my husband and his family reside.
The Conestoga will be sold next month. It has served me well, kept me safe and the new owner gets a new set of tires! Lol!
What a good, mostly sturdy companion it turned out to be :)
Money is about to get extremely tight, so I am downsizing in every way.
I have been so blessed and so ridiculously grateful to have been able to come on this adventure. It truly has been an adventure of a life time and I am beyond thankful that I was able to make it to Oregon.
I have earned my Coast to Coast title and being an ocean girl at heart, that's no small thing.
I have SO many new story ideas that have come from this trip so I will never run out of book tasks. And being able to see what they saw, feel what they felt, touch the flora and fauna, cry with their pain, celebrate thier victories... I promise you to give their stories true depth and emotion so you feel as if you are there. Witnessing the land and their crossing (even the California route too!) I will have SUCH an advantage to creating an authentic Oregon Trail Series.
So, I am blessed. I'm not upset. A little sad, (okay fine, a lot sad) but I know that I will continue to be blessed in other ways, because my God loves me, and shows me everyday.
So I walk... and drive... in faith.
Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for being my penpals.
If this could NOT be a good-bye, but just a transition... that would be really great.
So... not goodbye... I'll see you on my author page or the Bag of Bones page
And don't count me out... there's more to come from this plucky author, I promise...
Is there really such a thing as a day of rest anymore? Could a fast paced world go backwards to a time when being with family, going to church and unplugging was a priority?
I don't think our "world" would participate, but... could I? Could I set aside a day every week in which I reset my body and mind and rekindle my relationship with God to a primary relationship instead of a secondary? Worse than that, if I'm being honest... because it's currently, often... a when I think about it relationship, or when I am in need. That's not what I want.
I have the opportunity for the first time in my life to set my schedule my own way... I am ... retired from the work force. Ooo... that felt good, I need to say that again....
I am retired from the workforce.
Now.. I get to build my life my own way.
So far, being the workaholic that I am, I just spent more time on the computer. Always researching, learning, creating, building and on this trip, it has really affected me. I need to slow down. My body started letting me know. Headaches, eyes hurting, backaches... just an overall weariness. Add that to traveling, stresses of said travel, and there was no time to... rest.. recuperate... and worship.
Which is doubly bad, because no one is FORCING me to work. I have no "boss", no set schedule.
I am getting ready to revamp my entire business. I'm going to attempt to fit it around my life instead of the other way around. I miss my children. I miss reading and just staring at a sunset.
After this trip is complete and I actually reach the end of the Oregon Trail... I'll be... beginning again. Things will be a little scary. Unknown. Un- planned. Wide open, I guess...
Can a workaholic in this day and age commit to "not working" for one day a week? No computer. No social media. No creating, note-taking, researching, writing, recording, promoting...
I'll be honest, I'm skeptical. But, always one for a challenge...
I can see the benefits, but habits are hard to change.
One day a week... I can do this right? (I'm actually kind of laughing at myself right now... why am I "dreading" this attempt? Why am I not running at it with both arms open? This may be harder than I thought!)
Yes! I deserve a day of rest.
It was all part of the Master's plan and since I don't have to sacrifice any dead things on any alters, it's the least I can do, right?
Most people take showers for granted. You turn a knob and things happen. You're in your own, private bathroom and have hot and cold running water that you can adjust to be your perfect temperature.
You can take a quick shower, a long luxurious shower. A stand there and cry shower. Just let the day run off you shower and you may even turn your shower time... into a soaking bath...
I miss that. As much as I love being out here on the road, mingling with nature, living the minimalistic life... boy, do I miss a good shower.
You never know what kind of shower house you'll get when you pull up into a campground. Some are nice, clean and functional. I like those. Others, you have to pour in handfuls of quarters just to get enough warm water to wet your hair. (These are the worst! You're spending half the metered time waiting for the water to even get warm!! Oh! I hate those and will usually pass and just save my quarters and take a hobo bath instead.). Some only give you a small amount of hot water and you have to alternatively rinse- turn off- wash- turn on, rinse, turn off- wash- turn on, rinse, turn off...
I've also been in ones that you don't get to choose a temperature- what comes blasting out at you, is what you get. The water automatically turns off and I've had to stand there and wait for it to build back up again to quickly rinse. Or you run out of hot water completely and have to decide, do I dare rinse in the ice cold, or do I stand here letting the soap dry on my skin and wait for the water to heat back up.
And then there's the "other" things like- no shower curtains, (what is up with that?), showering while side stepping spiders, other people, teeny-tiny showers where you have to squeeze your arms together just to turn, shower heads that barely drip on you and others that have laser focus and can peel your skin off if you stand still for too long... And heaven help you if you forget one little thing. (It doesn't matter WHICH thing, the shampoo, the soap, the towel, a scrubbie, your under-garments... it will ruin an otherwise tolerable shower!)
It's an adventure every time.
Every once in a while you come across a campground that doesn't want to "punish" you for your life's choices.
This one campground in Wyoming, the Sleeping Bear RV Park had bathrooms that... made you feel like home. It was self contained, toilet, sink and shower. Nice light fixtures, beautiful floors, a heating fan, bamboo floor mat to step on when you exit the shower... and you can even rent, big fluffy towels for $1. (Camping people don't usually get big fluffy things, because a) they take up too much space and b) cost too much to wash and dry - so we usually do without the soft, comfy things in exchange for the thin, quick to dry hand towels)
This place made you feel that when you opened up the bathroom door, you would have walked in to someone's home that you were perfectly comfortable being at. (Which is wasn't. It had four of these happy, homey pods set up in the back half of the main office)
Showers are simple things that can not only get you clean, which, let's face it is a necessity. (I wish everyone felt that way about them) but when you are able to just relax and let the water sprinkle down over your head, it releases all kinds of happy endorphins. It' releases stress. It makes you feel... good. And we all want that don't we?
So if you're in habit of taking those quick showers because you're always in a rush to get someplace else... do me a favor, take your time. Let the falling water do it's magical trick and make you a happier human. Don't take your shower for granted... for my sake.
It's hard to believe that I have only been on this adventure for two months! It feels like I've been out here for at least four. I've been spending like it's been four! (#funnynotfunny)
I was supposed to check in around the 11th, so I'm a few days late.
I was whining about gas prices being a whopping $2.54 per gallon and and I was struggling with that. I just had to fill my gas tank at $3.79 per gallon. Having $70 and $80 gas trips are the norm. (and that's probably about half a tank!!). So, that's the biggest change from last month to this.
The second, is the campgrounds. It's getting more difficult to find spaces available. I realize how great camping is and I'm excited that everyone else is finally figuring that out, however... it is leaving very little space for me! Campgrounds in the midwest average in the $20- $30 range... the further west you go, you start at the $33 range and it can go up from there... WAY up. The highest I've seen was $112. PER NIGHT! And that did not come with any thing special. It's crazy. I mean, really crazy. And I didn't budget for that... so I am SO over budget.
I am down to one pair of jeans that don't have rips or tears in them. To be fair, they were old to begin with. Pretty sure I haven't bought a pair of jeans in at least ten years. But I sure have been rough on them! I love my jeans. They are my favorite thing to wear, year round. And out of all the clothes, I packed, I pretty much only wear the same 6 or 7 outfits. So, if you'd like to rub it in that I didn't need all the things I thought I would need, this would be a good place for that... because coming right behind it is the kitchen items.
Turns out, I didn't really need all of those, either. In all fairness, I was supposed to be doing a heck of a lot more cooking! I still have yet to use either of my dutch ovens. The propane stopped working in the camper (yes, there's propane in the tanks), so I have no stove (or hot water for that matter). If I can't heat it up in the microwave, it has to be eaten cold. Or I have a crock pot, so I've been making chili a lot.
So, yeah... all of my mixing bowls and baking tools, pots, pans... just being carried from one place to the next.
Which means my food supply is still in pretty good shape. Since I was ready for the thought of not having much fresh food, I haven't had to go to the store for much. Since I am the worst pioneer ever, I gave up on trying to ONLY do and eat what they did, because I can't cook outside. (Turns out wildfires are a HUGE thing this way and it's no joke. They don't allow any type of out door flames during the summer.)
So, I will probably go home with 90% of my flour and 80% of my beans that were purchased for the trip.
I've eaten out twice this month... if you want to count gas station food. And I have cheated with bottles of Pepsi about 8 times. (In my defense, they sell vanilla Pepsi here, which I can't get in the midwest, so I splurge... plus it helps ease the pain of the gas price I just paid!) Other than that, I just buy my half n half for my coffee. I need to get some veggies here soon. All the produce markets are open and I love me some fresh produce! (And still don't want scurvy.)
The Wildwood Conestoga has really taken a beating for some reason. Do the manufacturers not know that the camper is going to be set up and taken down over and over again? Don't other campers do this? It shouldn't be so fragile! It shouldn't be having so much trouble. It's only a 2017!
So, I've already mentioned my propane tanks. (No hot water, and no cooking flame), now my rear legs won't extend, so I have to figure out how to deal with that. My ball hitch either won't lock onto the ball, or won't let go! So we have this dance every single time in hooking up and unhooking to make the ball hitch fits just right. It's so aggravating!
I rarely use the air conditioning, (that could be the problem) but I had it on yesterday because it was 106 degrees and it whined the whole time... and when I turned it off for the evening, some exhaust fan (somewhere) was blowing and whining... I don't even know.
I've had three flat tires. Two on the trailer and one on Xander. (I had to get four new tires for Xander, because they were all close to going out, so I bit the bullet and did that. Ouch, but I feel safer. I do still have to buy a new spare tire for the camper just in case it happens again.)
The temperatures here are SO hot and dry, and even though I don't speed on the highway, I'm afraid of the tires over-heating or something happening. I've had to call my insurance roadside three times so far on this trip, so I can't imagine what my premium is going to look like next month. Ugh... the price of chasing your dreams.
Let's see, what else... nope, still. no videos. Not gonna happen.
I haven't written the new book either. I'm just so busy taking everything in! Every morning though, just as I am coming into conscience my brain is writing. Not that I can remember by the time I get back to my computer... but it IS up there... so there's hope. I'm thinking that once I am finished with this trip, all the ideas and senses and feelings and characters will come bubbling up.
I've also been thinking about creating a book about the actual trip- talking about what I've learned and sharing some photos... like a more complete and orderly History Revisited on paper... and also a journal/planner for other people who are getting into the camping thing. I really do love this life. (And I will be so sad when I reach the end of this trip. It's all coming too fast. ). But for others just getting started or want to document their trip but don't know how or what to say.. this journal thing might help... that's just an idea though...
So, if you're reading this and are not yet familiar with my writing style, please don't see complaining. (Okay, fine, there might be some, because this life is sometimes hard!). This is mainly documenting. I just like to keep track of stuff and I thought you might want to see the other side of things as well. I'm sorry it's not more scientific... probably why it comes across as complaining, but it's really not.
I am so happy to be doing this. It is such an adventure and I am learning so much. And not just historically speaking! I am learning more about me every day. I've discovered that I'm a lot more afraid than I thought. It's one thing to talk a big game, it's another thing to be out here facing those fears (or side skirting them) on a daily basis.
This is something that will keep me company for years to come. I have SO many pictures to go through and I can't wait to cover my walls with them!
This history and this country is absolutely amazing. I am seeing things I've never seen before and actually seeing and feeling and using all my senses, gives me such a deeper understanding to those pioneers who have traveled this road over a hundred years ago. I am so honored to be. able to do this and be able to write about if for years to come.
I will do just about anything to see ALL the monuments wherever I am traveling. Caveat to that is if I'm pulling the camper, I can't very well whip over to the side of the road to see the historical marker sign. But if I'm out and about, heck yeah, I want to see them all!
So I have to tell you about my adventure today.
I went out in search of the Oregon Buttes, that the pioneers used to guide them on their way. They could see them for miles and miles and pointed their wagons right at them to help them navigate the South Pass. (This was the only place they could get through the mountains) It was a landmark that way a high priority for them to see, and so it became so for me.
I was GOING to be content, grabbing some picture from a distance, but a woman that was working at the visiter's center of the South Pass City, told me theres a little known road that could get me closer.
I asked, "Are there signs?"
She said, "Yeah, I mean, you'll have to look for them and then there's a monument..."
There it was... I had to do it.
So I take off down this dirt road... I can see them... WAY off in the distance... I could have been, should have been happy with that... nope. There's a monument.
Make a left at the highway. Once you pass the rest area and cross over the Sweetwater River, you'll make a left.
Uh... no signs.... I go a little further, cross the Continental Divide... Now I KNOW I missed it.
Turns out the only sign of any kind, is a street sign. So, I head down the gravel road in search for the monument.
It said it would be about 10 miles, so I knew to be patient. I was only going about 30 mph, and the roads twisted and turned every which way, uphill, down hill... and I could see the buttes in the distance, getting closer, and closer...
I am snapping pictures left and right, because I just can't wrap my head around all this beauty. It's just breath taking. I'm stopping, taking pictures, inch forward...
I'm getting some really amazing shots of these buttes and then the gravel road turns to a dirt road. Pause. Do I go? Do I turn back? There is literally. NOTHING out here. No humans, no other vehicles, no phones, gas stations, or cell service.
Maybe the monument is at the base of the buttes? That's how it's been at all the other places... I keep going and then, suddenly there's a heard of pronghorn antelope! I've been waiting my whole trip to see these!!
I finally decide to stop and turn around and am looking for a safe place to do this. This road is NARROW! So I slow down even more and then around the next bend, is some of the most beautiful scenery!! I know I keep saying that, but in my head, I can't understand how the next curve can be more beautiful than the last curve!
And then I think.... NO ONE gets to see this! This stuff, right here... this is like a private show! I am literally in awe, I can't even describe it.
I had to upgrade my cloud storage after this trip!!
Okay, okay, let me fast forward, so the dirt road eventually PASSES where the base of the buttes would have. been. (I never got to the base, but the road I was on. was now veering away from them all together. I had to turn around... no really, i mean it this time. So, reluctantly, I did.
I drove a few feet and a pack of wild horses WITH A BABY runs across the road in front of me!! Omigoodness! It was so ... so.... I couldn't get out my camera fast enough. I did get some, but... again... this was just for me.
I had to give up the monument, and while I might have been disappointed for maybe a minute, so many other things made this side trip SO worth it!! The views, the scenery- these mountains were painted!!! They had blue and red and peach colored stripes!! My God, is an awesome God. And they are hidden back here along a long, long (LONG) dirt road. I feel so very priviledged. (I will be sharing many of the photos in the History Revisited facebook group if you're curious.
On the way back, after getting back to the gravel, I look to my left and down this tiny little dirt driveway, is a stand. I start cracking up laughing. Is that my monument???? I whip the truck and pull up next to it. There it was... my monument/plaque to let me know how important the Oregon Buttes were to the pioneers.
And to think... if I HAD found the monument when other normal people would have... I would have missed the whole show.
And if just this story alone, doesn't have you believing in miracles and that He watches every step... then here's the rest of the story.
When I'm almost home, a warning light pops up on my dash. I can't do anything right now, so I go straight back to the campground to look it up. Tire pressure.
I'm so tired and worn out from this trip, but decide to go check it out, because I have another long drive tomorrow.
My rear tire on the driver's side is FLAT. Not low... F. L. A.T.
I call the good folks at the Roadside Service, I pay lots of money to every year and they send a guy out. Fixed. No problem.
But- IF that tire would have gone flat out there on that dirt road... I would have been in serious trouble. There was no phone signal. There were no cars passing by. There was nothing.
I am so thankful that God was watching over me and got me safely home. I do believe in miracles because I witness them on a regular basis, this time, today, they were happening to me.
The Pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail from the 1840s - the 1860s didn't have GPS and for those early trips, they barely had maps!
What they did have are mile markers. No, not the ones we have today along side the highway, but they had all natural landmarks that they could use to guage their direction, how far they've come and to help others that come along behind them.
Just like being at Ft. Laramie on the fourth of July was an important date for me, reaching some of these other landmarks were equally worth celebrating.
The halfway point for the Oregon Trail, is agreed upon my most to be Independence Rock.
This spot is in the middle of nothingness of Wyoming. There are huge, beautiful bluffs and buttes pushing up from the ground and settling in with such character and raw elegance, but then there's this one, that kind of sets out on it's own. It's somewhat smooth and if you look at it in just the right way, it resembles an elephant that lay down to take a nap. You can only see it's back, but it's unmistakable.
And... I have reached it.
So, the folks that decided to name this beast Independence Rock, did so because it's where THEY decided to stop to celebrate the birth of our nation. which means they completely missed out on all the fun at Ft. Laramie, but... who am I to judge? Lol.
This became a signature point as well. This rock, however is hard granite, so unless they were willing to get out the tools to carve their name in deep, most just fell back on grease to paint their name. Sadly, most of those have washed away from the weather and time. There is an interesting collection of names still visible at one end of the rock which has since been protected with fencing, and plaques have been hung here as well.
It's SO cool to see, I still get goosebumps writing about it.
I was going to climb to the top, but was only wearing my flip-flops. Not good climbing shoes. Although, if it was cool enough a barefoot climb would have been possible. It was not, however cool enough.
And I found out later that there are a ton more names carved on top. Had I known that then, I probably would have made a greater effort to dig out my tennis shoes.
In spite of that, here I am... at the halfway point. My trip to Oregon is half over. I am both excited and quite sad. It always just seem to go so fast, even though I'm striving to make distance, I don't want it to be over.