You can’t get better weather than this…It is 73 degrees out with just a slight breeze in the air, and I am listening to Anna’s Hummingbirds competing for best dive bomb, with that lovely squeak at the end of the dive. The male hummingbird flies straight up into the air, and when it reaches the top of the ascent, it tucks in its wings, turning upside down and plummets straight down, head first. At the end of the descent and as it arches back up, it is believed that the wing has a hollow opening that emits a bell like chirp, almost like a flute being whistled. The males perform this ritual to attract a mate. Callie and I are sitting outside on the back patio appreciating all that nature has to offer. She has long resisted the urge to hunt birds because I have yelled at her so much. Now she blinks quietly and enjoys the spectacle in a very relaxed trance, just like me.
After an intense day of Trump’s Muslim ban, I had a lovely drive around Borrego Springs with Callie and Michael. I needed to get away from all the hate and anger spewing out of the Trump White House. Just check out Callie’s love for living in the moment… with all this evil playing out, may goodness prevail!
I am an American, and I am very troubled by the events unfolding with our new President. When I post a blog, I try to keep religion and politics out of the equation. They both seem so polarizing and lines are drawn in the sand, and each side feels that they are on the right side of history. I for instance, know for a fact, that toddlers have shot and killed more people than terrorists last year. But the events unfolding all over the world are so concerning to me, that it almost feels too frivolous for me to be writing about my silly adventures with my cat, Callie. Yet with all the chaos and evil going on around us, a touch of humor and levity might be just what is needed in these dark times. It is obvious to me that even with writing down my thoughts, I am torn between the seriousness of the state of affairs in politics and religion, and the need to find some joy and light in the darkness. I am new to blogging, my daughter suggested I start this blog with my darling cat because she thought there would be an audience out there that would appreciate the stories I could tell, and that it would be a good outlet for my artistic expression. I am an artist, and have always used the visual to create, but writing is relatively new for me. I was not a good, conventional, student, and my parents moved back and forth from Minnesota to California twice during my formative school years. I am a voracious reader though, and have always been in awe of a good story told. Libraries seem almost sacred to me and if it weren’t for the writers of the world, our stories would only be passed down verbally. I love to write, and have discovered how beneficial it is for me to express myself in this way. When I started TravelswithCallie this summer, what I first noticed, is that bloggers are from all over the world. Borders don’t seem to matter as much. It is the shared love of a subject and a story told, and the wonderful option to have your story “liked” by readers that is so rewarding. There is a kindness bestowed by the reader to the blogger, that is both touching and humbling. Most of us just want our basic needs to be met. We want food to eat, shelter from the storm, clothing on our backs and that our families be taken care of. Artistic expression comes out of pain and/ or joy. It is a feeling that needs to be shared. There seem to be forces mounting that want to take these basic needs away from us. So, I want to be vigilant and mindful concerning these forces. Our planet can no longer afford to be abused. We are not the only species on this planet and the list goes on and on with the abuses the earth is currently subjected to. Ignorance and darkness cannot be tolerated. Upon reflection, I just want anyone reading this post to know that I am saddened by what President Trump is doing to our country, but heartened by the protest that is mounting in opposition to the hate, greed and fear being used to dominate all people. It is important that our desire to be heard and our thoughts be uncensored and not silenced by fear and evil on both sides of the argument. We are better than that! I know it just by having blogged for 6 months that we are better than that. I will continue to write about my adventures with Callie and can only hope that good will prevail and that peace may one day be restored to this beautiful world that we ALL live in, and need to SHARE…..
I have no idea where Callie picked up her guilt when it comes to being held lovingly in Michael’s arms, but guilt is what she feels. Ever since Michael had his hand surgery, and to add insult to injury he developed bronchitis after a lengthy cold, Callie has taken it upon herself to stay close to him and see that he heals properly. If I walk into the room and she spots me looking at her, she startles, leaps out of his arms, and races a safe distance away, only to start grooming herself. I haven’t done anything to warrant this guilt, and I am doing my best now to make her feel safe and unjudged while conducting this sordid little love affair with him. I have decided that it is best to give her plenty of noisy warning before I walk into the room, and I am careful not to make eye contact with her when I do. In fact, I make sure to avert my gaze and talk to Michael facing the other direction. The only thing I can think of that could possibly be making Callie feel guilty about her love for Michael, is that I am her primary caretaker, her slave, and I have been doing it for the past 5 years. When we reluctantly adopted her as a stray, it was me that took it upon myself to feed her, groom her, and clean out the litter box. I also took the time to brush her and try to keep her clean and free of excess fur. It is also understood that I am capable of reading her every signal and that we communicate with each other effortlessly. Michael hasn’t really had all that much to do with Callie before he retired. He would come home exhausted after a long day at work and sit in front of the TV. I believe what is happening now, is that she has discovered that Michael is trainable, and she is schooling Michael in the delicate art of getting what she wants; which is hours of uninterrupted petting! This is something that I am not so keen to do. I am busy and active, I move around a lot, and I don’t take the time to hold her for hours at a time. So Callie has found her ideal slave-masseuse who will cuddle and pet her for hours at a time. She also has stopped shouting at Michael! She use to raise her voice while looking up at him as if she thought he didn’t quite understand what she wanted, making it necessary to meow louder. Can you hear me now has turned into an expectation that he will fulfill her every desire. Now I haven’t stayed married to Michael for 37 years, and together as a couple for 40 years for nothing. Callie has only been around for 5 of those years, but we both obviously think he is a keeper! It would be a win-win if Callie and I could just agree on how to share him unconditionally. Then her sordid little love affair could come out in the open, and we could all get along famously!
Yesterday late afternoon we scooped Callie up from her nap to test drive the RV. It was a lovely day in Borrego Springs with temperatures reaching up to the high 60’s and the sun still low in the sky, turning the Santa Rosa mountains a beautiful shade of purple. The shadows were long and deep and the desert is at its best after many days of torrential rain. You can almost sense the relief of the red ocotillo and sage, and all the plants that will be able to germinate and grow in the spring because of the rain. We headed over to Christmas Circle and then on to Club Circle at about 35 mph. Borrego Springs is a tiny desert community and there are no stop lights and very few stop signs. Most are yield signs and you have to be extremely vigilant when entering an intersection because where there are few accidents that do happen out here, many prove to be fatal. People get a sense of complacency because there are so few cars out on the road. But having said all that, driving around at 35 mph is the perfect speed for Callie so that she can hang out the window and not have the wind blow too hard in her face, and in her ears. Her curiosity is endless and it is so much fun to watch her take in the world and all that it has to offer. She can’t get enough of it. The RV handled really well and Callie was able to walk around and explore inside the RV while we were driving. She still preferred my lap though, and loves to stand up and hang her head out the window. This was our test drive in anticipation of many adventures soon to come. It was a big success!
We picked Callie up Tuesday morning and I had a good laugh with Carol who works in the cat section of Holiday Pet Hotel. She told me things about Callie that only someone who has spent time with her would know. For instance, Callie loves to have her tummy rubbed and will flop over so that you have good access to her white underbelly, but you have to pet her a certain way. You cannot talk and pet her at the same time, and you definitely can’t become distracted while petting her. She picks up on it right away and will get up in a huff and walk out on you or even bite you gently if she thinks you aren’t doing a proper job of it. She has strong opinions and will let you know what she thinks, and whether she likes it or not. She also likes to groom you in return, and will give you a facial with her rough tongue if you are so inclined. Callie loves to be held and will purr loudly and chirps and let’s out little throat noices that are unique to only her. She really expresses herself quite clearly and if you are at all in tune to animals, you will understand her needs.
It felt really good to have her back in our lives again. The whole reason for picking up the RV is to take it out camping with Callie. She loves adventure and driving in the car and I am hoping the RV will be exciting and fun for all of us…. can’t wait for our first adventure…..
We left Las Cruces, New Mexico at the crack of dawn and drove another 650 miles to home. I drove about 400 miles of it to Gila Bend off of the 8 West, and had perfect weather and was able to use the cruise control so I didn’t go over the speed limit. Michael took over at Gila Bend and the closer we got to Borrego Springs, the more ominous the weather became. By the time we headed west on the 78, storm clouds started to build and the temperature dropped into the low 40’s. It was raining hard when we pulled into the driveway, and it has been raining ever since. We were going to pick Callie up from Holiday Pet Hotel today, but have decided to pick her up tomorrow because of the weather. Tomorrow will be the big day to see Callie again. We miss her! It has been a week and a half and we had only expected to be gone 5 days max. Our short trip was extended because we wanted to see New Orleans and escape some of the worst winter weather. It turned out that we just left the south in the nick of time. Mississippi and Georgia had tornados blow through large swaths of neighborhoods and we were within 5 miles of some of the damage when we left Alabama. We experienced severe weather while travelling through Texas and the RV handled itself pretty well with high winds, torrential rain and thunder and lightening lighting up the night sky. The winds rocked the RV and at times it felt like we were going to loose control and be blown into the other lane. Fortunately it handled well enough and we got home safely.
I am really tired after a long two days of travel in extreme weather but would like to post a paragraph or two before I pass out on my pillow…
Michael and I checked out of Jude Park in New Orleans around 11 am and headed over to the Cajun Pride Swamp Tour for a noon boat ride and it was not a disappointment. Our guide was fabulous and his Cajun accent so strong, Michael kept looking over at me for an interpretation. He was also enthusiastic and knowledgeable and it was obvious from the beginning that he loved his heritage and wanted others to appreciate it too. It was an hour and a half tour and we saw turtles, alligators, an osprey, Cajun cabin, and cemetery that dates back to 1915. One Eyed Jack, an alligator protected the cemetery and was a favorite of the guide. He had been through many fights and had the scars to prove it. Our guide passed around an 18 month old alligator for those that wanted to see a baby up close and personal and he was full of interesting history about the swamps. It was well worth it. We ran out of time but managed to drop by San Francisco Plantatiom before heading to San Antonio, Texas In extreme weather conditions most of the way.
We managed to pull into a long haul truck stop around 11pm and tucked the RV in amongst 20 or more trucks. I could hear them coming and going all night and developed an appreciation for this under appreciated class of hard working people. In the morning, most were gone.
We left San Antonio with me driving for 200 hundred miles before Michael took over because of 60 mph gusts of wind and snow and hail. It was scary but we managed to get to Las Cruces, New Mexico around 5:00. We did traveled well over 640 miles.
Found a fabulous RV park called: Dalmond’s and Shirley escorted us to our spot next to her in the park. She has two adorable dogs, Baby and Xenia and pink plastic flamingos on her front porch that I will need to take photographs of in the morning.
I will post photos of park in the morning. It is 45 degrees out and very cold and windy. Good night to all… we are safe and sound.
Today, Michael and I ventured out in the RV and spent all day at The National WWII Museum. The museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world, why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means for all of us today, so that all future generations will understand the cost of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. I certainly was….My father was a war hero and served in the infantry in 1944 at D-Day 40 and the Battle of the Bulge. He was wounded by shrapnel as a Sargent and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his heroism. He never talked about his experience in the war but always said he had received a million dollar wound because he survived where many others had not. He also met my mother in the hospital while recovering from his injuries. She was an X-ray technician and they fell madly in love and raised a wonderful family. Both my parents have passed away several years ago but left behind 7 daughters and 1 son. I am fith in line and love being in the middle of a large family. I have the luxury of having older siblings that I can learn from, and younger ones that I can boss around. My siblings are all still very close and we just had a reunion a little over a year ago when I turned 60…
The museum was extraordinary and we watched a film produced by Tom Hanks called: Beyond all Boundaries which was very informative and super sobering. I wasn’t able to wrap my head around Adolph Hitler but when you see the film, it shows you just how much territory Hitler had managed to control before the Allied Forces were able to push back. What heroic men and women they were that served in this war. So many casualties on all sides. It was horrific.
We managed to scratch the roof of the RV and bend the antennae while trying to park under trees on the street. The RV is so tall that you have to really gage the height of overhanging branches etc. or you will scrape the roof like we did. It isn’t that bad and when comparing this to what we witnessed at the museum, this is small potatoes as they say!
Half way through the exhibit, we sat down to eat sandwiches and salad at the smaller museum restaurant and went back for a second round of war exhibits before heading for the RV park at 4:30. We are settled in our cabin now with rain sprinkling lightly and making a soft tapping on the roof of the RV and Inhabe a candle lit while I write down my experiences of today on the blog. Happy hour comes next….
Michael and I got up at the crack of dawn, and after sipping coffee and tea by candlelight, we headed south to New Orleans. Passing through Birmingham, the flash point to the civil rights era, we solemnly looked out the window and wondered why people treat each other the way they do. So far, the south has been a wonderful place to visit and I can’t imagine New Orleans doing anything but excite us.
I drove a little over half the way to New Orleans and the RV was easy to maneuver. I had to pass truck after truck hauling super wide loads of mobile homes, and that was quite the experience. They rule the road and drive at an excess of 70 mph. If you don’t pass them by and stay ahead of them, they will pass you right up again in a flash. That was a little nerve wracking because they whip around and careen from left to right. I chose to go as fast as I could in order to stay in front of them. This put me at risk of getting a speeding ticket, so I was relieved when I didn’t.
We arrived in New Orleans and at Jude Trailer Park at 2:30 and Marla, the owner, showed us to our #12 spot about half way down the lane. It is basically a parking lot but the bathrooms are adorable, clean and she had quite the story to tell. Her godfather passed the business on to her and after having married and divorced, she and her husband, Kevin got back together again, and they love what they do running the RV park. She has adopted 12 feral cats that she fixed and are allowed to live on the property and greet the guests if they are so inclined. The cats range from beautiful to very beautiful. She has Christmas lights wrapped around railings and New Orleans is preparing for Mardi Gras which starts in February. I am happy we are visiting before all the festivities begin because it sounds just a little too intense for me.
After settling into our spot and attempting to hook up the water; which we couldn’t figure out because all the valves were open and the water would pour right back out, we quit what we were doing to get ready to go out on the town. I didn’t have time to dress fancy, but I did attempt to brush my hair and put on clean clothes. Camping has it’s own etiquette and I don’t have to look my best!…Marla drove us over to the French Quarter at 5 o’clock and we were quickly enthralled with all the restaurants and music pouring out of the shops and the overall craziness of the place. There is nothing like New Orleans and Disneyland does not do it justice:)… the aroma of beignets, a French doughnut, mixed with Creole- Italian-seafood of every kind, tobacco, and just about every imaginable scent permeates the air and the town pulses with rhythm. They have carriages hauled by mules and I was impressed with how well taken care of they looked. We had dinner at Adolfo’s Creole- Italian and Seafood Cusine, and shared eggplant parmigiana as an appetizer and flounder for the main course. I had a glass of Chardonnay and Michael had a glass of Dixie beer. Dixie Beer had to move after Katrina and is no longer housed in New Orleans. Afterwards we ran over to Cafe’ Du Monde to pick up beignets for breakfast in the morning. Last but not least we listened to blues being played soulfully before Marla’s husband picked us up to take us back to our RV.
Alas, I did not write about my experience until this morning. I am having coffee and waiting for Michael to stir so that I can feast on my French doughnut! It has been an intense week and he is sleeping in. Good for him. We have had a fantastic time. It is stressful but very exciting. Today we are going to search out a plantation to see the stark contrast of the owners lifstyle to that of the slaves.