What To Do First?

don_t_panic_buttonWhen facing a big project with many different facets, what do you do first? I’m big on making a general priorities list with very few details. I find the details become apparent as I go thru the project. (Same philosophy I have when writing a story.)

Soon I will start a yearlong adventure traveling across the country in an RV. As the plans for this adventure were first put together, there were many things to consider.  Then as the plans were being made a surprise was injected into the plans that made it possible to start a year earlier than planned.

So now we must hurry up and decide:

  • What to do with all the things we no longer need or have space for.
  • Getting the financial side of living set up.
  • What about the pets – can we take them with us?

And now, we wait for things to progress so we can leave. The biggest thing to be done is to sell our house. A house we truly love – it has been like living in a park for the last 8 years. As we wait for the buyer to find our house, the pressure builds to move on. But this waiting time has given us a chance to emotionally come to grips with moving from our house and selling off most of our possessions. And now we are looking forward to this adventure.

One of the questions that required a great deal of discussion was how can I continue to write while we travel. Details have been worked out and I’m seeing the future with a lot more time to write. Maybe I will be able to get busy on all the editing that is waiting for me. I hope to publish a couple more of my novels, pursue publishing some of my children stories, along with some freelance writing.

As I discussed my plans with my husband, partner in this adventure, he wondered aloud if I was allowing time for exploring our new surroundings. I laughed and said I was expecting to have more fodder for my stories.

So back to my original question, what to do first.

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No Place Quite Like Palo Duro

centipedeOne of my favorite places to camp is Palo Duro Canyon. I have some fun memories of the park from the times my family would tent camp in the canyon. Once we were sitting at the campsite table talking and laughing when my husband hushed everyone. We sat listening and heard the rustling of leaves. We looked under the table and saw what was making the noise. It was a centipede taking a morning walk. It was longer than a clothespin and about the size of nickel around. It was the first time I ever heard an insect walking.

10 Things about Palo Duro Canyon:

  1. Second largest canyon in the US at over 120 miles long, the park is 70 miles long, average width 6 miles – up to 20 miles wide in places – depth is 800’.
  2. Palo Duro is Spanish for “hard stick.”
  3. Nickname Grand Canyon of Texas
  4. Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River is the river that carves the canyon.
  5. Some the geological formations in the canyon include mesas, caves, and hoodoos (rock balanced atop a smaller base).
  6. First human habitation 10,000-15,000 years ago with the Clovis and Folsom peoples and has been continuously inhabited since then. First Europeans to discover the canyon were part of the Coronado Expedition in 1541.
  7. The park was built utilizing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) – took five years.
  8. Park covers 28,000 acres, second largest park in Texas.
  9. Using the canyon as a backdrop, the Texas Outdoor Musical has been running for 50 years.
  10. Painter Georgia O’Keeffe described the canyon as, “It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color.”

The inspiration for my story Canyon Riddle came from this place. If you get the opportunity to visit this amazing place, take it!

Watching a Sunset Not that Hard, Right?

Sunset over Lake SuperiorRecently I spent some time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and was very surprised by the beauty of the place.  One of the places I visited was McLain State Park, which is a park that is right on the shore of Lake Superior.  The park has very little cell service and is a great place to get away to recharge.

One afternoon I took the time to watch the sunset over the Lake.  Waiting for the sunset was an experience that sounds simple enough but was surprisingly hard.  I sat there on a bench (provided by the park) and waited for the sunset.  It was about a 30-minute wait – had to get there early to get a bench.  As I waited, the crowd began to grow along the shore.  People of all ages were there.

The Lake is about 20 feet lower than where we waited.  Many of the younger people and children were eagerly climbing the cliff to play in the water.  Those campers that had front row seats to the sunset were quietly setting up chairs to enjoy the event.

There was a smell of campfires burning, and you could hear the crack of a bat as some boys played baseball nearby.  Overall, a very pleasant afternoon.  I sat watching, listening, and waiting for the sunset.

After a few minutes, I found my mind wandering from the sunset to thinking about checking my Facebook account and reading some news while waiting.  But that was impossible to do since I had no bars on my cell phone.  So I sat and tried to focus on the beauty of the place around me.  It was an awakening to realize how hard it was to let go of everything.  I struggled to clear my mind and not worry about the emails that were going unread.

By the time I had relaxed and was enjoying the quiet in my brain, the sun slipped behind a cloud bank, so there was no spectacular sunset that day.  But the time was certainly not wasted, I learned a lot about myself and how hard it is to detach from the instant communications we have and expect.  Now to post this and check what is happening on Twitter.

Could it really happen twice on the same trip?

I was camping in a very nice Wisconsin county park where there was a great view of a lake, quick entrance to a lake trail, and quiet but friendly fellow campers. The first day was just like you would have drawn it up in a dream. Lots of fun, warm, no bugs, and plenty of downtime for recharging the batteries. Went to bed tired and the first raindrops hit the top of my RV. It was going to be a great night for sleeping – rain!

It rained all night and it was expected to rain the entire day. Decided to pack up and head home. While cleaning up, I heard water running, went to investigate and found it was pouring from the A/C vent in the RV (yes, I rough it in style these days). Water was pouring onto my bed! I made efforts to protect the bed with a vinyl tablecloth and towels.

Finished the clean up and my hubby was ready to drive the leaking RV to the shop and I would follow in the car. I opened the car door to find the seat was soaked. The seal around the sunroof had given way during the rain. So now, I am covering the car seat with trash bags and towels for the drive home.

So in one trip we had 2 seals fail. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. But on the positive side, I now have fodder for a new story.