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 arrived in Independence, MO on May 7th and I count as “jumping onto the trail” on May 13- so here I am 34 days in…
In the spirit of transparency- I totally ran out of fruit and vegetables. I have some dried fruit that I add to my granola, but I had nothing fresh.
Now, I just so happened to be researching an episode on scurvy. This is one disease that scares me! It's preventable until....
If you don't get enough fresh food; veggies, fruit, especially vitamin C, You could contract it and don't KNOW you have it until your gums start bleeding, and by that time its too late... you've got one foot in the grave! So I freaked out a little bit and binge bought some produce. Oranges, lemons, pineapple, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes.... let's just say that my little RV fridge was PACKED!!
I have been eating it frugally to make it last, and it may sound silly, but I feel so much better just knowing I have some! Lol! Sometimes knowledge is dangerous!
I am almost out of my half and half that I use for my coffee. I have half dozen eggs left and I am really really sad about running out of them. They are a staple food in my diet.
I have only eaten one pound of my 25 pound supply bacon, so I should be good there. And I have 4 pounds of hamburger that's frozen- so I'm saving that. (They had to kill the cows last! Lol!)
I have yet to tap into most of my dry goods purchased specifically for my journey- I broke into a new coffee and sugar. I'm still sparingly working through what I had already before I came to MO and I am over budget by $117. I blame that on my Memorial Day blunder and gas prices have jumped to over the $3 mark. I really wasn't anticipating campgrounds to be so expensive either.
For Nebraska, and Wyoming (which is coming next week), they have an EXTRA fee to be able to use their parks for camping, or the national and state landmarks and what not. For Nebraska, it was "only" $48 for the year,or $8/day... For Wyoming, it's almost $100/annual! And you'd need a pass for everything I want to visit while I'm going through their state! I was not expecting that, and it's gonna set me back.
I realized that the original pioneers coffee was still in bean form so when THEY brought 15 pounds of it, it was heavier… but when I bring 15 pounds of it already ground… I think it should last me well into the winter! Oregon and beyond! Plus there’s the time bonus! I don’t have to roast mine, then grind, then brew… I just scoop. I’m so spoiled! Coffee was also a longer lasting item for them as well. It was one of the last reminders of their “civilized life” and they made it last well after the food supply ran out.
A replacement for coffee along the trail as suggested by Randolph Macy was dried horsemint. I’d be willing to try it. There's actually a couple different recipes for coffee substitutes that I'm curious about. (Acorns??)
I keep “waiting” to get away from population so I can perform all the experiments that I have on my list, but I guess I need to settle into the idea that people really are everywhere and I’m just going to have to do these things under the scrupulous eyes of onlookers. Let them judge as they may.
I am still excited about trying all my recipes, Do I think I’ll run out of anything? Maybe sugar… that’s my first guess. Lol
I think my issue will be that I will get bored with my fare.
I’m not a fan of bread in general, and the thought of eating some form of it every single day is not exciting to me, but, it probably wasn’t to them either… at least I have refrigeration and don’t have to pick the worms off my bacon before I eat it! Lol
So things I have to decide… do I cheat and get more creamer or do I wait until their next opportunity they would have had to purchase supplies.
And “technically” I could have brought a cow with me, so I would have a steady supply of cream and milk… yes, I think I’ll go with that story because I have a recipe for ice cream they made on the trail which is the ONLY way I’m going to survive if I come across snow…
I am really learning so much on this trip. I have read stories and I read regularly now from their letters and journal entries and what a difference it makes! I can now see what they saw. I feel what they felt. When the talk about the fierce winds and how it whipped up dust- I am literally feeling it! It's surreal!
And when they talk about passing certain landmarks, I get downright giddy when I have passed them too. They are always on my mind. I am always thinking about how they would have thought or felt or reacted to things.
Today, for example, the temperatures reached 104 degrees. No joke and it's only June. It's extra hot these days, I believe because of the black pavement, but we can always escape the weather. I am always safe.
I chose not to use air conditioning most days- I just don't like it- but even I had to turn it on so my cat would cook to death. I'll admit, it even got hot for me... but the winds do an amazing job of keeping the heat level down, so if they could find shade so they weren't in direct sunlight, it would have been hard, but doable... and here's where I KNOW where they are on their journey and I know the trees are starting to thin out so there's not much shade... and I know they are getting ready to enter mountain territory.
Which reminds me... with the prices so high, I might have to switch to boondocking here soon... little concerned about that, but I'll ford that stream when I get there...
I have used some of my propane to take a shower or two and wash dishes. I'm in a bare-bones campground so... I'm not sure how fast propane burns through, I've never really used it before, so I'll have to keep an eye on that. I'm told it will cost about $25 to refill at any Lowes or Walmart.
I also need to purchase and fill a couple gas cans- everyone I talk to says to NOT go to Wyoming, pulling a camper without at least one five gallon gas can. So... there's that...
And since I'm at it, if I do have to boondock, I found a solar powered generator that will charge my phone and laptop that's not too expensive. I'm hoping it will run a fan as well... again, so the cat doesn't die of heat stroke. I'd rather not die either, if I'm being honest. I mean, how embarrassing would that be if I literally died, on the Oregon Trail?
As far as speed... I am still WAY ahead of my pioneer self. I am tracking to be in Fort Laramie,WY for the 4th of July. It's sad to me that technically there IS no more FORT Laramie, just a tiny town and that they will probably not be doing anything super special for Independence Day... but I'll know.
This is the time I'm "allowed" to restock on any supplies, eat some ice cream, cake, maybe even a pie... have some sarsaparilla, dance and relax for a couple days.
And lastly- my writing. I have not written anything on the new book that is due out this year. The Bag of Bones Podcast research, writing, editing and recording then promoting... take SO much time. SO much... plus I've taken a few hits this year and I am struggling to get past over or through those... it's really affected my creative side... it troubles me, which doesn't help matters. I believe it will work itself out and I'll be back to my happy writing self in no time. Fingers crossed...
I know, I know, I said I was going to video all this amazing stuff, but I just can't wrap my head around it, so it's going to have to be photos. Best I can do, for right now until I get a "team" that I can hand off the editing and uploading process to.
I have put off these new recipe challenges for a time because of that- well, that and other things, like... fear. Which is silly, because, if it doesn't work out, I can just try again... these are things I have to remind my perfectionist self, because it's afraid of being embarrassed. #truth
But I purchased all of the supplies the pioneers had on their list, so I had better get to it.
I found a few bread recipes that I'd like to start with. Bread was a staple for them. The women made it almost every day. They sometimes were able to make thicker, more stout bread that would last longer and when supplies got low, they would scale back to "hard tack".
Hard Tack was a thick cracker that goes way, way back. It's pretty tasteless and was mainly used to thicken soups or be soaked up in beer or broth to make the... whatever... more filling. So supplies would last longer.
Yes, I'll make hard tack, but since I know I won't eat it the way the original recipe was made, I found a few tweaks that might make it palatable.
There's various forms of corn bread (some used it as in addition to a main meal- like with beans, and others used it AS the meal by adding bacon or ham or sometimes dried veggies to it.)
Biscuits. And fried breads. All on my list.
I found that I am missing a few things before I can use my cast iron dutch ovens... for instance, I have no way to remove the hot lid. I have nothing to redistribute hot coals... I knew that I wanted to cook outside... I guess just actually acquiring the dutch ovens was exciting enough that I didn't really think past that! Lol!
So when I get back into civilazaton, I will snag those few missing articles. In the meantime, I am mesmerized with YouTube videos and the like and can't wait to get started. Watch for the videos!!
Ha- just kidding... plenty of photos though!! Lol!
I was taught to "leave things better than you've found it." And my mother was/is a huge advocate for "be respectful of others". And when looking out into the world and intermingling with other humans, I forget that not everyone had the same amazing momma as I did.
I try never to travel on the weekends as there seems to be heavier traffic and people get upset if I don't want to go 75 on the highway dragging my camper. (Now if it was just me and Xander - my truck- I'd be all over it!)
So, that usually leaves me in campgrounds over the weekend.
Normally, I don't mind. I love hearing the kids squealing in the cold water and playing into the sunset. I love seeing that families are spending time together. I love the smell of a good campfire and grilling of their fresh catch of the day. I love that people still appreciate nature... sort of... and that "camping" is still a thing that is sure a tradition that will carry on into the future.
This weekend, there was such little regard for others and zero respect for the grounds and the nature around it. It just makes me so sad. Who taught you that this is okay?
There was trash, broken bottles and cigarette butts all over the place. People left their wrappers for the brand new floaty devices all over the beach.
People drove through the campgrounds- despite there being signs, despite the children running around- too fast or in the wrong direction! Would it take SO much time out of your life, just to follow the rules?
While I was out walking a vehicle sped past me and kicked up all kinds of rock dust, but also shot a rock out that hit me in my leg. That sucker hurt! I have a lovely purple bruise commemorating the moment and a regular reminder, every time I accidentally bump it, about that rude human.
If you want to play music at your campsite, that's fine. But don't assume everyone else needs to hear it. And, in the same instance, if you are in a neighboring campsite and the music is not to your liking, is it REALLY necessary to play YOUR genre even louder?
The bathroom... oh... please... just... can't you just... you know, be considerate of others? Or at the very least take responsibility for yourself and don't assume that it's someone else's job to come along after you and clean things up.
And please... keep an eye on your children and pets. Neither are meant to be left in a vehicle while you go out and play. No other explanation should be necessary. And if you keep your pets on a leash or lead, there would be no need to scream and yell obscenities at them because they are not staying in the invisible parameter of your space.
All of these things, state parks especially, are here for your enjoyment. Please stop doing the things that will make the state parks decide that it's just not worth it anymore.
We all have different ideas of what we want to experience in our campground vacations and we all have a different idea of what a good time is. Please! Go camping! Have a good time! Create awesome memories for your children and yourselves- but don't rob others of theirs.
Please don't make my state parks unsafe for me, I would just be so sad.
Consider this a public service announcement.
-Pick up your trash.
-Respect others and their space and property.
-Take care of your littles, furry and otherwise.
-Leave things better than you find it.
And our state parks will be here for years and years to come.
Rant over. Have an amazingly beautiful day.
This morning I had a private prayer meeting at the sunrise service. It was just me, the Platte River, the sun sneaking up over the plains and God. The birds were the choir and a slight breeze kept the heat away.
The brand new sunlight caught the mist coming up from the water and gave it warm etherial look.
Per our usual conversations, I begin with gratitude. How thankful that I am that I can take this journey. It's come at a high cost, and I never want Him to think that I don't realize it. I also know that there will probably be a high cost when my travels end, and I let him know that I accept that too. I am grateful for the littlest things like a safe place to sleep and the beautiful orchestra of nature around me, but I am most grateful for an audience with Him.
Because, and I'm sure He knows it... it's not long before I begin to fret about all the things. "How am I going to afford this?" "What happens next?" "What if this... what if that..."
His answer, is always the same..."Let me take care of that, you take care of the things that are in your control."
At which, I instantly felt the tiniest sting of reprimand.
Am I doing all of the things I'm supposed to be doing? Maybe... but am I doing them to the best of my ability? Probably not.
I am easily side-tracked with the latest, newest idea and I usually chase it down for the length of my leash to see what I can do with it. Sometimes I have no business being there. Sometimes I can find a few nuggets to make the things I do better and sometimes, I think that I have the power to bend time... that's my biggest problem, I think. I WANT to do all these things, so I TRY to do all these things, but it turns out that I have the exact same number of hours in the day as everyone else. I'm not SUPPOSED to be doing ALL the things apparently. And He waits patiently until I can come to our meetings for Him to tell me so.
I have been given a great deal of success and growth with my podcast, Bag of Bones. I love it. I really love everything about it, but I'm not utilizing it as best as I could. Meaning, I'm spreading out, instead of digging the well a little deeper. I jumped into a second podcast before Bag of Bones was even a year old and one, both are extremely research intensive, and two, I wasn't able to give them the amount of time I need to bring forward the quality I desire. So, with heavy heart, I am cancelling the release of Trails of History. Maybe postponing it? I don't know, but for now, it needs to come off my plate so I can continue to grow and nurture and monetize the podcast I have currently.
The other thing I need to remove right away is the more public version of the Writer's Lounge. I am moving this branch of my company to a more niched down version. I am discontinuing the Facebook group. It takes a huge amount of time creating daily posts for people and it's just not being used. And I am also discontinuing the League of Authors Membership site for this year. I love the concept of this- but it's just too big for me to deal with at the moment.
I am going to switch my focus to smaller group coaching to writer's who are ready to get their first book written and published. Many people SAY they want to write a book but few actually put in the time and effort to do so. I want to work with those few and help them with all the crazy transition stuff to make it a dream come true.
And then finally, my readers have been most patient with me, allowing me to follow this path and that- not having a new book from me. I need to get back to that. I owe you all A Devil's Errand that was supposed to be released in May, but I will do my best to get it released before the end of the year.
So keep an eye out, these transitions will be happening slowly throughout the website. Things will disappear and new things will pop up, fear not... all part of the Master's plan...
I've never been so happy to do the dishes!
I have been without running water for a little over a week now and nothing makes you more grateful for the things we take for granted like having to be without them!
The hose for the water going into the Beach House busted and the hot water heater decided to call it quits as well. In all fairness, it was over thirteen years old, so it had every right.... however...
I ordered the necessary parts thinking that they would be here in two days (I mean that's why we pay the extra for Prime, right?) only for it to take five days. Ugh.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to function with no access to water? No bathrooms, no showers, no clean dishes, no coffee, no cooking, cause you can't rinse your dishes, (it IS sugar ant season and they are everywhere here in the South!!), no drinking water, no washing your hands.
There were times I would absent-mindedly still turn on the faucet expecting magic to happen...
Today, my hose came in. I hooked that sucker up so fast and turned on all the faucets just because I could... and water came out. It was a miracle! I heated some water up on the stove and set about doing my dishes. Such a glorious task that I will not complain about ever again! (Okay, at least for a week or so...)
This got me thinking about all the things that we take for granted. Being grateful doesn't have to be for something amazing or life shattering! Sometimes I think that we need something short of a miracle to remind us to be thankful. And then we chalk it up to luck. But life, in general is filled with uneventful days sometimes blending one into another. And yet, in the midst of our complaining and trudging through what feels like mundane lives-even on the worst days- we wake up in the morning, and our eyes take in the sights around us. Without any extra thought or effort from us. We take in the inside walls of our home. We're surrounded by "things" that bring us joy, comfort, security. Our heart is beating and directing our insides that serve us the best that we can.
And when we get out of bed, our legs support us and keep us upright. We flip the switch and darkness becomes light. Pushing a button gets the brown, flavorful liquid of life bubbling and gurgling away.
Take in that deep breath... because you can.
Feel the rain on you skin. Close your eyes, hear the birds sing their songs.
What are some of the things that you are thankful for that you take for granted?
The love of a faithful pet? The sweetness in your children's faces? (No matter how old they are.) A best friend? A key that turns the motor over on your vehicle? Tastebuds! A well-prepared meal. Money enough to cover the bills. That hidden money in a coat pocket. A reliable job.
Everything might not be where you want it to be at the moment, but there is SO much that you can be grateful for every single day. Every. Single. Day. I mean, I still don't have hot water, and I probably won't for a while until I can afford a new hot water heater, but life is still good.
Life is so good.
Don't let a day slip away without taking notice of those things that make your life just a little bit better.
What are you grateful for today? Right now, in this moment?
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