Toot Toot

On the one hand, if you toot your own horn, it can look self-serving and narcissistic.

On the other hand, if you don’t toot it, who will?  Besides, who cares how it looks?  We’re beyond looks here!

With that in mind and with Christmas around the corner, I offer up two suggestions for anyone on your list who enjoys ebooks.  Both are short, easy reads and both are very reasonably priced.  They can be found at my author page on Amazon’s ebooks site, which is pictured at the start of this post (link:  http://www.amazon.com/author/carolevans).

The 30th Day:  A Life Journey Novella is centered around the true story of a dear friend I interviewed earlier this year at our winter campground in Florida.  Rebeccah’s life journey shows how generational struggles and family connections mold the clay of our being and, most importantly, how forgiveness can free and inspire us to reach beyond.  The interviewer in the story is a fictional character who is inspired by Rebeccah to reconcile her own family history with her life choices of today.

Billy:  A Campground Chronicles Short Story is my own story, based on experiences this past summer while camp hosting at a campground in Tennessee.  Billy, a special needs teen, stayed at the campground with his family for two weeks.  The story offers an inside view as camp hosts, rangers, and campers all must find ways to deal with Billy’s antics and behavior.  It also shares a life lesson and a beautiful gift that he gave to me.

Whether you purchase the ebooks or not, thank you for reading my blog and keeping me company on my little journey.  A friend and blog-reader once commented that he was surprised at how such a private person would publicly share and reveal so much.  I hadn’t thought of that before, but after giving it some consideration, my response is threefold.

First, as a solo traveler, writing is a natural and cathartic way to share my thoughts and give voice to my words.  Even a loner gets a little loopy after too long a time talking to thin air (or the dog–love you Dawny).

Second, when my friend made that comment, I was slightly flummoxed.  I didn’t realize that I was sharing that much personal stuff.  My main goal has been to remain honest and real, but I suppose if you read between the lines, you can find some personal tidbits.

Finally, this blog has been a safe place where the readers, many of whom are friends, offer caring support and respect.  Just simply by “listening.”  I do appreciate that.  I appreciate you.  And it surely does ease the sharing part of things.

On that note, here is a toot-toot to all of you, wishing you a very merry Christmas, the happiest of holidays, and bountiful blessings in the coming new year.  Tooooooot!

Weather Ops and the Road to Oz

Thanksgiving has passed, winter looms, and I prepare for the next leg of our journey.  It is time to pull out the maps, the computer, and my trusty yellow legal pad.  In addition to researching campgrounds along our route, an important part of planning a long trip is to have an eye on the sky, especially when traveling at a dicey time of the year.

Even when I lived in a traditional house that was firmly planted on solid ground while the weather swirled all around it, I was very attracted to keeping up with weather reporting.  Regularly developing crushes on some of the local weathermen, I found a certain red-haired fellow named Bob Ryan to be charmingly goofy.  Reliable or not, he was my fave.

Bob has since retired, I moved into the full-time RV lifestyle, and now I have many more options (vis-a-vis the weather, not weathermen).  Lots and lots of options.  First and foremost, when bad weather starts swirling, I can pick up my house and scoot off in search of more pleasant conditions.  Picture Dorothy’s house navigating the tornado with Dorothy (and Toto, too!) at the helm, aiming for the lovely land of Oz.  This is an attractive thought as I sit here bundled up in layers.  Nighttime temperatures have been dipping below freezing, a sure sign that it is time to seek Oz . . . or perhaps Texas.

I remember previous years when planning to leave Virginia to head southward, Atlanta had a crazy early winter ice-snow storm that snarled up traffic for hours.  Tennessee had an entire stretch of interstate highway populated with motorists stranded for days by a freak snow storm.  It is wise to be particularly watchful and careful at those times when seasons are shifting feet, one to another, restless and capricious, unreliable to the core, like a flying monkey on crack.  Even the marvelous Bob Ryan could be forgiven for having a hard time predicting what the skies would bring ‘twixt the seasons.  (Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!!)

Therefore, I have taken matters firmly into my own hands.  I have two travel options to Texas, one through Tennessee and Arkansas, and the other further south, through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  I will decide which road to take after checking my weather sources a day or two before setting out.

Below are three of my favorite weather websites and apps.  There are many, many more out there.  Some are probably better than the ones I use.  My point is simply to show what kind of meteorological info is within easy reach of our mere mortal fingertips nowadays.  No weather-wizards needed!

The Weather Channel’s website at www.weather.com:  Easy to pull up daily, hourly, and 10-day forecasts for any city of your choice.  It automatically saves the 10 most recent locations you have checked.  I use this every day to check not only my own weather, but what is happening where friends and family live.  The driving hazard map shows where ice/snow/etc. is on the roads.  The hourly feature is particularly helpful when you need to figure out how much time you have left to walk the dog before the weather turns.

The website www.accuweather.com:  From severe weather to satellite to simple radar maps, this site is a blast if you enjoy maps.  I also like the feature where it will pull up the weather for a specified location for an entire month, showing the historical average highs and lows for each day.  This is helpful when I am trying to determine if someplace is likely to be a good place to feather our nest for the winter or, alternately, if Dawny and I will be able to survive the summer there.  I can look at many days at a stretch and see how things historically shift there during that month.  Oh, and yes, you can easily use the daily forecast radar map to see how much time you still have to walk the dog before that storm hits.

Weather Underground:  Many people swear by this website (www.wunderground.com), although I haven’t used it much.  What I do really like is their smart phone Storm app.  Its real-time radar display is critical when bad weather is heading your way, showing the speed and direction of bad-weather cells. The cells are color coded and show what time they might hit certain cities in their paths. If you see that you are in the path of a red cell, for example, you and that dog better head for the storm cellar.  (Auntie Em!  Auntie Em!  Let us in!)

As an aside, when I camp-hosted in Tennessee, it was a comfort to have the Storm App always in my pocket.  I often used it to show tent campers that they really should consider moving to the pavilion to ride out the storm rather than staying under that big dead tree limb with nothing but a layer of nylon over their heads.

Ding-dong!  It’s time to walk the dog.  Come along Toto… er, Dawny.   Bring your brain, open your heart, and gather your courage.  Another yellow brick road awaits.

Post-Fever Thoughts

I finally remembered to use my thermometer on Tuesday after days of increasing body aches, headaches, coughing, exhaustion, and mounting self pity.  It read 104.  Figuring I was either going blind or delirious and hoping it was an error, I climbed into bed for yet another nap.  When I got up, it was only 102.

There were a couple of days and nights that I left the house door unlocked.  Let’s blame it on the fevered brain (rather than a natural tendency to over-plan life/death matters), but I figured that if I did pass out (or on), hopefully someone would wander by to check on us before Dawny had to resort to gnawing on my leg.  It would be nice if Dawny’s rescuer could at least enter the macabre scene with ease.

Anyhew, I survived.  Dawny survived.  She sweetly slowed her pace to match my zombie marching band tempo, and we managed to fit in three small walks and a fourth nighty-night-hurryupandpee!!!-walk each day.  I also bundled up, complete with surgical mask to protect my lungs from the cold (and cleaning chemicals), and was able to do my workamping duties for a couple of hours each morning.  I took it slow, but I got it done.  The last thing I wanted was to have to somehow make up the time or risk being charged a nightly camping fee.

Today I felt almost great.  Although the cough hangs on like a convulsing scar still steaming from scalding burns, today has been wonderful compared to this past week.  So I did some laundry and housecleaning, washing away the germs that I can almost see crawling around my little house and everything in it.  I checked the water levels in my house batteries, the oil in my generator, and the air in my tires.  We are in good shape for a nice holiday outing to join family for Thanksgiving in a few days.  A week later, we will be back on the road en route to our next destination.

Yesterday I went shopping and restocked my shelves with items that I was so grateful to have had in my cupboards when I got sick.  Like a squirrel, I tend to hoard, worried about what might happen if I run out of something important and can not get more.  So, having had on hand three boxes of tea, two containers of honey, three six-packs of bagels, two jars of Airborne Super Vitamin C mix, plenty of aspirin and Ricola lozenges, and two asthma inhalers–even though they hadn’t been touched in years–looks like a flash of brilliance in hindsight.  Nah, just a silly squirrel flashing by . . . but thank goodness!

It’s never easy being sick.  It’s a bit harder when alone.  The challenge increases when you have to take care of someone and certain things, regardless of how you feel.  Take it from this crybaby, it’s ok if you curl up and cry for your Momma for awhile.  It’s ok if you are grumpy with those around you.  Do what you need to do, then get back to doing for yourself.  Drink your tea.  Take your medicine.  Get back to bed.  And when you are feeling better, be gracious to those who showed you kindness.

Fortunately I was never totally alone.  Something occurred to me about all those walks Dawny took me on.  Even though I lamented having to be out there at the time, as she lead me around on our leash, that movement helped keep the gunk in my lungs from turning into cement.  While tending to her feeding four times a day/night (yes, four–this is what works for her aging constitution), I was sure to not neglect my own need for the inhaler or tea or whatever.  It helped.  She helped.

Sometimes I think she knows a bit more than I give her credit for.  I am so lucky to have her.