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.

 

 

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.

 

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.