Yosemite and NorCal

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The weather cleared up, I did more exploring, and Yosemite was amazing- probably my favorite place I’ve been. I actually really enjoyed hiking up a moderately difficult trail to Yosemite Falls. I got a lot of great photographs. The one above was taken by Joey. We had a campsite right on the Merced River.

We had to stop in San Francisco for Joey to pick up supplies. Now we are north of Fort Bragg, on the coast. Yesterday we saw seals and tide pools. I really like the darker sand and the lighter ocean, as compared to SoCal and most every other beach I’ve seen.

Anyway, I just thought I’d drop a quick note.

A rainy morning in Yosemite

I am realizing how much I missed pine trees, and shade, and rain. It’s such a relief to be here. This is my first time in Yosemite National Park. I’ve barely explored at all yet, but I already am in love. The smell of pine, and rain, and campfires… cool air… It’s wonderful. It’s supposed to rain most the time we are here, unfortunately. Joey and I are going to take a shuttle and go exploring very soon. We have an umbrella.

The AWP Conference in Los Angeles went really well. It was good for me. I sold books, and I’m hoping to reap the rewards long-term. I met people and networked and that kind of stuff that doesn’t come entirely with ease. I’m feeling good about it.

But I’m feeling even better about heading north! It feels like we are finally free. For the longest time, everything was structured around Joey getting surgery. Then I had my big reading in San Francisco, and then AWP. Now we can do as we please. Joey’s business is going well too.

We didn’t end up going through the Eastern Sierras via route 395. It was snowy. Instead we went via route 99 and 140. We stopped briefly at Red Rock Canyon.

Last night we were watching Joey’s Firefly DVDs and we realized that a lot of it is totally filmed in Acton, where we were staying. That was awesome, but I gotta say, I am ready for a long break from the dry south west. Especially Los Angeles County. Especially Antelope Valley.

It’s funny how I have trouble recalling specific anecdotes to share. I have this vague sense of them, but they are just beyond my reach. Memory is weird.

I’ve been stressed about the anti-trans laws and sentiment in the US lately. I’m privileged to currently be able to put some space between me and the realities of civilization.

So yeah, I’m gonna get back to doing that.

OH! OH OH OH. I almost forgot! We went to a wildcat sanctuary! With tigers, leopards, cheetahs, snow leopards (my favorite). It was awesome.

Sick of SoCal

I am so ready to move on from Southern California! The AWP Conference and Bookfair is just a few days away, in Los Angeles. If hadn’t already purchased my booth, I don’t think I would have had the patience to wait these past few months. The event ends April 2nd, then we are moving on. We want to be in Oregon. I’m pretty sure we are going to take Route 395 through the Eastern Sierras to get there. It looks amazing. If we went via Santa Cruz and San Francisco, I could visit people again and maybe do some more open mics. But I think I’ll be more in the mood for nature after a 4 day conference of socializing and networking and reading. And I believe it’s what Joey wants, and probably Drew too.

Right now, we are pretty much in a parking lot. It’s an RV park in Antelope Valley, but it’s just pavement. It’s boring, but it’s just a few more days.

I’ve been practicing the guitar a lot and improving. I think I’ve improved more in the past few weeks than I have in like thirteen years of guitar playing. I have no formal training, but I found some lessons on YouTube that have been really fun and helpful. I want to start writing music again soon.

I’m missing New York. It looks like we may be returning in August. That would be really great, actually. I’d love to get up to the Adirondacks with our friend Erica and the dogs. Sometimes I’m very homesick. Sometimes I think I will need to live in upstate New York again eventually. Sometimes I think I never will. I really don’t know. Home is a strange concept.

Dealing with scary people

I want to talk about some of the crap of RV life… and ultimately, what makes it still great.

Being trans (not so visibly) and queer (very visibly) my boyfriend and I face unique challenges. It’s often hard to know for sure when people are discriminating against you. Actually, you usually know. You can’t prove it, but you know. But such is the world we live in that we second guess ourselves. So some of the crap we’ve dealt with could be crap that anyone might deal with. But when it all lines up, and you know you stand out as different, it’s hard to dismiss it as irrelevant.

First, there are the bible people. The truck that says “Final Fight Bible Radio” is still here, patrolling. A bible group meets in the lodge. There are lots of Jesus fish on cars. This leads to a generally intimidating environment.

Then the other day I was at the pool, and some guy kept going on about “homos,” loudly. Another day at the pool, I decided to go use the public shower afterwards. I’m a trans guy, with no plans for bottom surgery. I have female genitalia on an otherwise male body, and that’s usually fine with me. Still, showers usually have locked doors, and I’ve had top surgery and I’m on T, so I’m not that worried about it. I do know that I am read as effeminate, which is fine by me, but I try to play it safe. Still, a shower in an empty locker room felt fine. There were no locks on the doors, just two curtains. One lead to the changing area, the other into the shower. So two barriers. As I said, I’m the only one in there. The shower water is running. And suddenly someone punches the shower curtain. Meaning someone has entered the first curtain. I’m startled as fuck, but I manage to yell, “Excuse me!” And I hear some scrambling and nothing more happens. No apology or anything. I’m standing there, dissociated, trying to figure out what happened. All I can say is that someone was likely trying to startle me, or possibly worse and thought better of it when I yelled.

When I snapped out of it, I quickly dried off and went outside. There was only one guy out there. A middle aged white dude, smoking, who quickly started walking away. I followed him, and watched where he went for as long as I could.

The next day, Joey and I were hanging around the pool, waiting for our laundry to finish. Joey was about to lay on a lounge chair but when he sat, he realized it was soaked with rain water. Another older white dude, with a military hat and a pony tail, walks by right at this time. “What, it’s just a little water and dirt,” he says, in a sort of would-be-friendly teasing way. Joey laughed and was like, “Well, I’m already soaked, might as well just jump in the pool right?” The guy kept at it. “It’s just water. Just sit, you wuss.” This time his tone was nasty.

Today we were driving, and another old white dude pulled us over to yell at us for speeding and saying he has our license plate number and will report us. We weren’t speeding. He wouldn’t step away from the car.

And after that, someone dumped Joey’s laundry out while it was still running.

Add to this, we get dirty looks when we go for walks. This RV park is getting really frustrating. Unfortunately, it’s really convenient because Joey needs to get work supplies in Hollywood, and I have my conference coming up in LA. It also is basically free for us, which is…necessary. But I’m really sick of this.

We got away boondocking near the Kern River. This was going well. We visited the hot springs again, and people around weren’t bad. Just hippy types. Then, one morning, someone bangs on our door and windows at like 7 am. “Knock knock anyone home?!” Obnoxious, not even giving us any time to get up before knocking more like crazy.

So it’s these two like 30 something year old white dudes,  clearly (and later, admittedly) on meth and who knows what else. The first thing they say: “You guys aren’t cops are you? You aren’t gonna give us trouble, are you?”

They had a flat tire, and their car is parked right next to where we are camping. They are just all around rude and demanding we fix their problem. Joey helps because he wants to get rid of them. There are two girls with them. One is passed out in the back seat, and they are trying to coax her out to go down to the hot springs. “Fine, we can find some pussy down there I’m sure,” one says. “I’m so horny I’ll hump a tree.”

Some other guys show up. Hippy guys. “Hey, you guys got any spare pussy?” the douche bags ask. Hippies are unimpressed. “No.” “What, you don’t wanna share?”

I sip coffee and make it blatantly clear that while Joey will be taking their tire into town, I will be here with the RV and all our belongings.

“Hey where’s my coffee?” douche bag one says.

“I don’t know.”

He laughed but looked pissed off. “Your buddy has no sense of humor,” he said to Joey. He proceeded to offer him drugs, which Joey declined.

While the douches were at the hot springs, Joey asked the girl in the backseat twice if she wanted a ride to town, in case she was in trouble. She declined.

Then we hightailed out of there, not wanting to be there when they came down.

You get very pretentious people in RV parks and camp spots, and also very desperate people. We don’t really fit either mold. Both can be unsafe and scary.

But ultimately, that is the great thing about RV life: we can always drive away.

Catastrophes averted (Southern California)

This month can best be described as “catastrophes averted.”

First, my reading in San Francisco went great. After that, and a second reading in Oakland, we headed south to Wilderness Trails RV Park, in Menifee. We stayed there for two weeks. The first week we met up with a friend Joey made in Arizona. And then…Mittens went missing.

Mittens is our tortie/calico/polydactly kitty. She is usually more timid and serious than Snowflake. She always looks grumpy, but she is a healer. She is drawn to people in pain and soothes them. She’s also incredibly intelligent. She got off her leash at night and went missing for three nights. We put up flyers and handed the out all over the campground. People were very nice and helpful- we were actually surprised. We made friends with a woman, her 16 year old son, and their dog, who searched as hard, if not harder, than we did. When we finally found her, she was in the RV storage area, hiding under a rig that looked a lot like ours. Same year and model. I’m telling you: smart kitty.

I’m still thrilled to have her back. With all the strays and coyotes around, after all that time I really thought she was gone. It was horrible. She is a member of this family. I couldn’t imagine pulling out of the park without her.

After that, we planned to boondock in the Santa Barbara mountains. First we visited family in Santa Barbara. When we headed into the hills, the roads were not good. The forest ranger website said they were…but they were not. They were steep and covered in rocks, with no way to turn around for miles. Our engine gave out on a particularly steep incline. We managed to get it to start again and up to a safe area, where we left the car and many belongings, to reduce weight. It looked like it might storm, which would have been very hazardous, so we took the RV back down the hill and into Carpinteria. Drew has an aunt there, and we parked on the road by her apartment.

The next week was a mess of getting the RV repaired, retrieving the car, staying at motels, having the cops called on us (long story), dealing with insurance, and general hectic days.

But, we have our home back and it works fine. The step got busted, beyond repair. Everything else is fine. Now, we are at a park in Acton once more. That’s north of Los Angeles. We are still hanging around here until my conference at the end of March. Then we are getting to Oregon as soon as possible. We are all ready to be done with California for a while.

It’s been 6 months on the road, by the way, and nearly a year since I started this blog. Not bad.

 

A trip to Oakland, depression, etc.

I feel depressed. It’s annoying. I feel like I should be in a good mood, because things are going fine. Better than fine. Last night was the Oakland Queer Open Mic. It was a really good event, and I played two songs and read a short except of one of my essays. I’ll be back next week as a featured artist, reading, selling, and signing my books.

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A photo from the Oakland Queer Open Mic (credit unknown)

In a couple days, I’ll be a featured reader at the San Francisco Queer Open Mic. I’ve wanted to do this for a while.

For some reason, no matter how many events I do or things I publish or whatever, I feel disconnected and empty.

I’m traveling. I have a great boyfriend. I have great cats. My books are being read. I’m not stuck in Syracuse. I take antidepressants. Why aren’t I happy?

Sorry, I suppose it would be more interesting to hear something else. But this is how I currently feel. I’m trying to get through it anyway and do things to take care of myself. It’s funny, when I don’t have any readings going on, I feel unsuccessful and mopey. When I do, I feel like I just gotta get through them.

I’m going to try to fix this. I need to look at what I’ve done in the past and apply it to the present. Otherwise this just spirals.

It’s difficult.

Until next week. Hopefully I cheer up. Meanwhile, we’re still in Manteca, at the RV park. I’m going to try to seriously work on fixing this negative thinking in the morning. I want to be more open to people. I just don’t honestly know how. Even if I see people and try to socialize, there’s this wall. I need to examine that.

Arriving in Manteca, CA

We have moved further north to Manteca, California. It’s between Modesto and Stockton. About an hour east of Oakland. Last week we stayed in Paicines and briefly at Morgan Hill. Joey and I also visited friends in Santa Cruz. We went to a karaoke night at a bowling alley, on a Tuesday. I got wasted and did lots of karaoke. I never want to drink again.

Here are some photos of our cats in the cuties box.

I guess WordPress lets you put stuff in circles now.

I am tired of winter. I always thought it was the snow that got me down. No. It’s the short days and lack of sunlight, even here. I’m really ready to move on from California for a while, but I’ve got a reading in San Francisco on the 22nd. After the SF reading, we’ll be headed back to Southern California, where I’ve got a writers’ conference in March/April. I’m looking forward to both these things. But I’m really looking forward to checking out Oregon this spring-summer.

Oh hey, if you live in San Francisco you should come see me read!

Oh and I’ve started playing this…Sigh.

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Oh, and today at Morgan Hill we found a pork chop in the sewer at the dump station.

???

The end.

 

So much wildlife in Paicines, CA

So this week we’ve been staying at an RV park located sort of in the middle of nowhere, inland California. We’re further north, so it’s less drouth-y and that’s a plus. It’s been nice having electricity and water hookups again, and there’s a public shower that’s pretty decent. We recently got a tent room thing and an electric heater, so that’s been pretty awesome too. Joey and I use it as a workspace.

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Joey and I have gotten up every past morning and gotten coffee at the lodge. I’ve just wanted to be around people lately. It’s weird, because it used to be Joey who was so eager to make friends and I was reluctant. Usually it’s just us and some of the workers though. I really want to meet more people. A part of me wishes we went with going to Quartzsite, but I have important writerly things coming up in San Francisco and Los Angeles that I’m excited about. Maybe next year.

It’s kinda dull here, except that there is an abundance of wildlife. We have seen at this park:

  • Two great-horned owls, several times
  • Dozens, possibly 100+ quails, all the time
  • Bobcats, twice
  • Hares, several times
  • Flickers and Woodpeckers, all the time
  • Mule deer, several times.

The following are all pubic domain images, because I was not lucky enough to capture photos of any of them.

 

 

The end of 2015

This is our last night staying at Williams Hill Campground. It’s free to camp here, and the view is beautiful. We are up in the hills, overlooking forest and farmland. We’ve been here 4 nights, and it’s been chillier– like in the 40’s during the day and 20’s at night. Before that, we were staying again on the Rincon Parkway in Ventura for Christmas. It was nice to be back on the ocean. I bought a skim board and I’m looking forward to getting better with it.

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Williams Hill BLM

We stayed in Acton for a while before that. The campground is in a valley of hills. Acton is a small town town of Los Angeles, where lots of movies and TV shows are filmed.

Before Christmas, we were in Carpinteria. We visited Drew and Joey’s aunts. I’m growing close with them as well. It’s nice. My social anxiety is getting a lot better the longer we’ve been away from Syracuse.

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The beach in Carpinteria

I do miss home sometimes. Well, Syracuse isn’t exactly home now. The motorhome does feel like my home for the most part. More than anywhere else. But the location of Syracuse does hold my past. It’s kind of like missing an ex you know wasn’t good for you.

We’re talking eventually about buying land somewhere, so we do have a permanent base somewhere. We’ll be exploring that this spring and summer when we travel to northern California, Oregon, and Washington. I’m really looking forward to when the weather is warmer so we can go further north.

For now, we need to stay between San Francisco and Los Angeles, for author events I am doing in January and March.

Oh, and the cats are well.

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Mittens and Snowflake in the RV.

Tomorrow is New Year’s. We don’t have any plans, besides refilling our water bottles and my cards.

California (Morgan Hill, Ventura) and Arizona (Quartzsite, Mesa)

When last I wrote an entry, we were just getting to California. That was almost 2 months ago. Most of October we spent back and forth between two RV resorts in southern Silicon Valley. We traveled to the San Francisco Bay area and some other places nearby, like Santa Cruz. Joey had his surgery in San Francisco on the 20th, and we stayed over a few nights in a hotel.

After Joey had healed some from surgery, we stayed further south in Ventura, on the Rincon Beach parkway. This was a bunch of RVs parked on the side of Ventura Highway, with beach and ocean on the other side. This was incredible, to wake up and fall asleep at the ocean for a couple nights. We also visited some of Drew and Joey’s family.

In November, we headed back to Arizona, staying first briefly in Parker, where I swam in the Colorado river. Then we met Joey’s dad at a primitive camp called Burro Creek, which was located near Nothing, Arizona. That’s the actual name. We saw burros and found a small hot spring, in which I built a natural jacuzzi. That was a lot of fun.

After that, Quartzsite. It was way too early in the season. It seemed like the worst place for us. No food we could eat, nothing to really do, nobody around, no water, no wifi, often no data…just lots of rocks, and rock stores. Yes, stores where you can buy rocks, and that was about it. I wouldn’t call them stores either…More like elaborate yard sales. We plan to go back when more people arrive, because apparently it’s a big RV thing in the winter. Thousands and thousands of people migrate there. But it was a very crappy, tiny desert town otherwise. No offense, Quartzsite. We had some fun pretending it was Nightvale and being amused by the local papers, but that was where the fun ended. Then we found out that people camping near us had their generator stolen in the night, and that this was a reoccurring problem. This was right after a gas station clerk actually broke down crying to me the previous evening, saying “I don’t know why I moved to the desert…I hate it here…” Yeah, we didn’t leave Syracuse for this shit. We packed up that morning.

Next was Mesa, Arizona where we have been staying since in various sections of Tonto National Forest. We have stores with food we can eat, and we have been able to stay for mostly free on public land. First we went to Phon D Sutton recreation area, where I went tubing and swimming and exploring in the Salt River. Swimming in November! We saw wild horses and bald eagles. I guess technically they aren’t “real” wild horses, but they were horses who were living without humans in the wilderness, so that sounds like wild horses in my book.

We also stayed at Lost Dutchmen state park, right near the Superstition Mountains. Joey climbed them. I saw a coyote here, and certainly heard lots of them, everywhere. We were careful with the cats and continue to be.

Now we are staying on the Verde River. It’s greener (duh) and fast moving. I achieved a lifelong goal of swinging on a rope swing into the water! I also went tubing and nearly died. I lost my tube and had to use all my might to keep from getting pulled under a fallen tree in the rapids, and then to get from that tree to the shore. We are thinking kayaks and lifejackets for the future. Still, I will miss you, tube. Good times.

Joey is working on his prosthetic business, and I’ve been writing a lot. Drew is really interested in primitive skills and spends hours lately smashing rocks against other rocks. I take the cats on cat walks. We’ve met some people, and I’ve been really shy, but I’m getting better at it. Sometimes figuring out where we’ve going next and survival can be stressful, but I still rate RV life an A+ so far.