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.

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.

 

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.

 

CatRoadTrip Will Be Back Soon!

A quick note: November has been National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve put all my typing energy and time into that. I do plan to continue with this blog come December, with at least a weekly post. Don’t give up on me!

We are in Arizona now, staying at Lost Dutchman State Park. Everyone’s doing well, including the cats.

Stay tuned for an official update in December.

 

California at last

Currently camping/staying in: Morgan Hill, Paicines, soon San Francisco…it’s complicated. But we are in California! Yes.

I started writing this entry as a reflection on my life since I’ve been with Joey. We realized early in our relationship that we wanted to move out west. So did his son, Drew. I wanted to give you a sense of what we had to get away from in Syracuse…but I’m realizing that would take another whole book on my part. Suffice to say, Syracuse was slowly killing us for multiple reasons. We had our best friend and family-by-choice, Erica. And while that was huge…we still had to leave. The original plan was to get to California. The idea for the RV came later (though it had been a longtime dream of Joey’s, one that he had almost actualized in his previous marriage).

And so, here we finally are, in California. I suppose I could say “back in California.” I spent a lot of my childhood school breaks in San Diego, because my dad traveled for work. I also lived out here a few years ago, on my own (see my most recent book, Show Trans). But for the most part I’ve been an upstate New Yorker all my life. We travelled from coast to coast. Within a week I swam in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. It’s pretty mind boggling.

There’s an Instagram feed on the side of my blog now, if you want to see pictures. I’m finding that’s way less hassle then trying to insert them in these text entries.

Since I’m not going to reflect on how we got here– not at this time– I am going to focus on the here and now, and just what that is. Well, first actually, I will give a brief list of what has occurred the past week or so. We traveled to Jerome, AZ one evening, briefly: an artist colony in the hills. We stayed at a Cracker Barrel en route. We spent one night off of Ventura Highway, waking up to an empty beach on a weekday for sunrise. That was amazing. That’s when it all really hit me that I am here and this is life.

There has been a lot of low times. A lot of stress. I still feel depressed, often. This has been hard work. It is not a full-time vacation. And we are not rich, or even really secure yet…

But the cats seem happy. Drew has wi-fi. I’m in California. Joey’s about to have surgery in San Francisco on the 20th, which is both stressful as hell but going to be so good for him in the long run and make his life easier.

And I’m sippin’ coffee and vaping in my camp chair, putting off a little longer my plans to make today productive if possible. It’s 9 am here, and skies are blue and the air is perfect. Yep. This is the life for me.