The Southwest

The past few weeks have been a blur. That’s sort of cliché to say, but it’s accurate. I can’t believe how far we’ve travelled. We went from Syracuse, down through the southeast, and then headed west. We’ve been through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and now Arizona. We’ve been doing a lot of boondocking, over-nighting in Walmart parking lots and such to save money, but also staying at some lovely parks.

Some of the more memorable moments would have to be:

  • Swimming in the warm ocean waters at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia in mid September. I love bodies of water and swimming so, so much. I’m trying to find a way to swim several times a week.
  • The wonderful audience I had for my reading at the LGBT Center of Hamptons Road in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a support group for trans folks and I read an except of my first book about the struggles, limitations, and ultimately beauty of human connection at a trans support group. So it was pretty perfect. People loved it, and I sold a lot of books. Then we stayed for the group. It was a much more positive experience than I had in Syracuse at such groups. It was really good for both Joey and me, I think. We sometimes lose our hope for community.
  • Staying at a camp in North Carolina where we had to literally be the only campers without at least one confederate flag on our RV. Yikes.
  • Things started getting really, really beautiful awesome when we arrived at Caprock Canyon in Quitaque, Texas. That’s when it started to feel like the West. They have a herd of buffalo there! I seriously fell in love with them. They were…adorable and ferocious herbavores. I. Love. Them. The canyons were also beautiful as hell.
  • At Caprock Canyon we were able to go out into the canyons and find the perfect spot to view the lunar eclipse. You can read my partner Joey’s story about that here.
  • Albuquerque was pretty cool. We stayed in the parking lot of a casino for free. But they had good gluten free and veggie options for us at local grocery stores.
  • Joey and I jumped in “the Blue Hole” which is a very small but deep swimming hole in New Mexico. The water was super cold and clear. It was fun.
  • Last night we stayed at Meteor Crater RV Park in Arizona, and now we are at another park, south of Flagstaff. It’s beautiful here too. Tomorrow we are going to find rivers and swimming holes.

Let’s talk about my state of mind. How am I feeling? Good question, self. I feel like I’m finally living a life I want. I used to always wake up every morning, feeling like today wasn’t the day. Like I was waiting for something to make me happy. I don’t have the feeling so much anymore. That’s seriously profound for me.

I’ve struggled a lot with mental health, as a trans/queer survivor of repeated sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse throughout my life. That struggle has included a lot of depression. I don’t feel depressed right now. I’m having some PTSD stuff still. Nightmares. Flashes of unpleasant childhood memories. Things piecing themselves together, slowly. I’m still very shy and anxious around people outside my family and my cats. I’m even anxious around Drew a lot of the time. But I feel like I’m living something worthwhile. There’s a lot of practical stuff that needs to be done, so I haven’t had all that much energy for creativity. I say that, but it’s not exactly true. I’m just hard on myself. Still, I feel like these adventures will inspire wonderful things. Art. I have to be patient with myself.

On a side note, I’m actually making more money from booksales than ever. The future is ever unpredictable, but I think it’s gonna be alright. This is surprisingly an affordable way to live so far. I’m privileged to have Joey, who can afford to make some investments upfront. That’s been the key. But it’s seeming to work out so far, for all of us. I’m not losing money.

Bottom line: I’m happy and hopeful. Pictures forthcoming. What I’d really love is to just install a stream of them from my instagram show up on the main page, and then use these entries for text . Maybe there’s a widget for that. I’ll investigate.

Anyway. The stars are out. The air is warm but arid and pleasant. Goodnight, readers.

Tennessee 

Nashville sunset
Cafes are a little different here.
Cafes are a little different here.
Snowflake, Roadtrippin' like a boss.
Snowflake, Roadtrippin’ like a boss.
The Mississippi River. Memphis, TN.
Our campsite view. Howenwald, TN.
Our campsite view. Howenwald, TN.

Quick quote: “I would never shave a cat, but I would be curious to see one with alopecia.” -Elliott

  1. We saw two armadillos and an owl.
  2. The GPS tried to drive us off a bridge and added an unnecessary 100 miles.
  3. We had to sleep at the bathrooms the first night because we couldn’t find our campsite.

North Carolina

I will post about my reading and a few other things soon, but for now, here are photos.

Great Smokey Mountains, near Asheville, NC
Great Smokey Mountains, near Asheville, NC
At the RV park where we stayed.
Near the RV park (Advance, NC)
Snowflake being Snowflakey.

Crossing the Mason-Dixon Line (Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia)

Alright, so we finally left New York State! Wednesday night we slept in a Walmart parking lot in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Then we drove about 200 more miles on a bunch of backroads, trying to avoid tolls. Not a good idea in retrospect. Bumpy as hell and very stressful for Joey, the captain. We stayed over at Cedarville State Park in Brandywine, Maryland. It was nice, but unfortunately we received alerts on our phone that the air in the general D.C. area was fucked up and people were advised not to go outside. So…we moved on pretty quick, and drove another 150 miles to Hampton, Virginia. We’re staying over at a small state park. We’ll be here a few days, because I have a book reading in Norfolk on Saturday.

I haven’t been to the south since I was a kid, and I have virtually no experience in southern states. Joey and Drew lived in North Carolina and Florida for a while. I’ve practically lived in upstate New York all my life. So this is pretty exciting to me to be somewhere very different, even if we haven’t done or seen much yet. Here is a small sampling of what I have seen so far.

Elliott's Tire and RedNex Guns and Ammo, somewhere in Virginia
Elliott’s Tire and RedNex Guns and Ammo, somewhere in Virginia
Trees at Cedarville State Park in Brandywine, MD
Trees at Cedarville State Park in Brandywine, MD
Truck for, um, Kegel…fruit. Lancaster, PA
Truck for, um, Kegel…fruit. Lancaster, PA
Surprisingly beautiful scenery I woke up to in a Walmart parking lot in St. Clair, PA.
Surprisingly beautiful scenery I woke up to in a Walmart parking lot in St. Clair, PA.

Buffalo, NY

We are now staying in Western New York, not far from Buffalo. This RV park we ended up at is kinda awesome. I definitely prefer this to the last state park we stayed at. It’s definitely kitschy, but unpretentious. There is a petting zoo, and a small lake with swimming and canoe rentals, a mini golf course. It’s been an amusing stay, with the background sounds of the occasional goat or donkey. We are also near a firing range, so the occasional gunshot goes off.

Quick quote: “I just realized something. Goats are kind of like dogs that don’t lick you.” -Drew

People here drive weird old trucks and golf carts around. There’s a redneck vibe, and I definitely got a weird looks from people when Joey and I walked the cats this morning. But no one has been outright hostile.

I have wifi! I worked most of the morning. I’ll probably go skateboarding and for a dip in the lake again soon. I’m feeling pretty content. This is still a big adjustment, but so far I am happy.

1000 Islands and a Walmart Parking Lot: Northern NY Journey

So we are officially living full-time in the RV now. We stayed up at a state park in the 1000 Islands. Highlights include

  • No wi-fi for several days
  • My phone is dead, forever
  • First time I saw a praying mantis
  • First time in a 30-foot canoe

Now we are in a Walmart parking lot in Northern New York State. It’s been a bit of a rough start, but everyone’s doing pretty good, including the cats. Lack of cell phone means lack of easily accessible camera, and thus, I don’t have any pictures just yet. Brain is also tired, so I am short on amusing anecdotes at the moment. Stay tuned.

Oh, and apparently I can write three books before age 27 but I can’t put away macaroni and cheese leftovers in a bag. Somehow the bag ended up inside out and there is cheese everywhere. I…don’t know what happened… But the others had a good laugh.

Salmon River Reservoir: Richland, NY

We’ve been spending some time up in the Tug Hill region. This place is really beautiful. Rocky beaches, great for swimming. We’ll be staying up here for a week or so eventually, so I’ll have more to say then. Right now I’m honestly thinking about some upsetting news stories I just read- about yet more trans women, of color, being murdered. I’m feeling very privileged to be able to do this, particularly as a trans person. Life has been really hard for very long. It’s kinda stupid how meeting the right person has improved so much for me. Not that it fixes everything…It just bothers me that people can’t get unstuck in this country (world?). I was stuck for so long. I still don’t have much money. But I have relative freedom now. I have support. Anyway. I’m feeling very privileged, and a bit sad, and scared. I still feel unsafe, often. A part of me doesn’t want to reveal where I am on things like this blog. A big part of me would rather just disappear. But I do think it’s important that all different types of (trans) people write their stories. And I also can’t help writing and sharing. I could just do it in a notebook, but that’s less satisfying for me than it used to be. So I keep writing. In other arenas, I’ve been sharing more about my mental health, and past, and family of origin. It’s…scary. It’s hard to shake off the feeling that something bad is going to happen. But that’s life.

Anyway, here are some pictures.

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I’ve been feeling like the region around here is haunted. I know that sounds silly. Sometimes a part of my brain opens up and I find myself believing in the supernatural. It’s usually when my brain is seriously processing past trauma. Anyway, we were driving home the other night, through the country, and I saw three figures in the road. I was about to yell out to Joey to look out, when they disappeared. it was a man, a woman, and a child.

Joey’s currently hard at work with all the practical aspects of making this motorhome thing happen. I want to be more helpful in that area. My brain is in the clouds. It’s going to be ridiculously hot today. Lately I only really feel good when I’m under water. I should…work on that.