Category Archives: Guest Posts

(Guest Post) How to Travel with Your Dog…

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Today’s guest post is from Jenny of Here Pup dog blog (https://www.herepup.com/).

Traveling with a dog is possible, but it can be a huge challenge. However, if you don’t want to leave your furry buddy behind, the best thing that you can do is be prepared for the trip. This is also true if you are planning to dwell in your van, whether it’s full time or part time, or if the situation calls for it, or you want to experience this kind of lifestyle.

One of the first things that you need to do is make sure that there’s enough room for you and your pet in the van. You want your pet to be as comfortable as possible for the long journey ahead. Create a checklist of everything it needs and make sure you get them all packed. Some of the most important items to never miss are your dog’s medications, foods, favorite toy and blanket, leash, and crate.

Don’t forget to bring your dog’s medical record too. Do a research and get the contact information of the vets around the area of the places you are going to so you’ll have someone to call in case of emergency. Plan your route ahead so you’ll known where you can bring your dog for an enjoyable break.

There are more things to consider to make travel with your pet more fun and less troublesome. We prepared this great looking infographics that lists more tips for van dwellers and regular travelers alike who are traveling with dogs.

Be prepared on your journey with your best fur buddy with the help of this guide:

How to Travel with Your Dog without Going Completely Insane

(Guest Post) RV Living: A New Reality

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Today I have the pleasure of sharing a post by Carolyn Rose, author of the blog Carolyn’s RV Life.

It was a cool autumn evening. The sun was lazily making its way down the western sky and the smell of wood-fires and home-cooking infused the air with familiarity and reflection. On my evening walk, I passed two children playing in a huge natural yard. I noted how different it was from the perfectly manicured postage-stamp size yards, hidden behind six-foot fences that I’m used to. In the San Francisco suburbs, children don’t just play out in the open like that.

I marveled at their carefree innocence from the other side of the street. They laughed and played and hung on a good-natured and patient Golden Retriever. Not a care in the world; they didn’t even notice me. I felt like I’d been transported back to simpler times.

Bronze Cowboy--Joseph, ORI’d parked my RV at the little league fields, a few blocks away, earlier in the day and spent the afternoon working and writing and enjoying peace and solitude. I was amazed that not a single kid came to the field to play nor nearby residents to walk their dogs. And I realized, it’s because here, in tiny-town USA (Enterprise, Oregon) everyone has a yard. Their little league field is for actual Little League, not a community yard where people who live in giant houses with tiny yards and neighbors within arms’ reach must drive to get some exercise and fresh air.

Spending the day in the tiny northern Oregon town took me back to my own Upstate New York roots – the ones I fled when I moved to San Francisco at twenty-one, and never looked back. Roots that I’ve spent my whole adult life running away from and denying. In my race to run from my past, I ran from myself. I ran from my predisposition toward a simpler way of life: where the streets aren’t always paved and the clerks in the grocery store know their customers by name.

As I hobbled over the cracked and crooked sidewalks, through old neighborhoods with normal-sized single-story houses (not super-sized McMansions), and inhaled the crisp home-town air, I realized how much living in a metropolitan area for nearly three decades had changed me. I’d forgotten how the rest of the country lives; how pure and simple life can be.

I was surprised at how comfortable it felt. Like I’d walked into a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special and a world where kids are innocent and free and old-fashioned kindness and community rules the day. I wanted to wrap the town around me like grandma’s handmade quilt and fall asleep in its warmth. scenic-bridge-joseph-or

As the afternoon turned to night, I meandered through the tiny town wanting to see and experience it all. I saw, through the lighted windows of cozy homes, quaint shops and tiny wooden churches with stained glass windows, what had been missing in my city life. Family. Community. Simplicity.

It dawned on me that my big city experiences and values had isolated me from the reality of what most Americans experience daily. I pondered the contentious election, and for the first time, I understood. I understood the fear. I understood the challenges that small-town America faces and how they feel like their way of life is on the verge of falling off the cliff. I understood how they view a sensationalized version of the events in our country – and the world – through their TV screens and it terrifies them. I understood how their serene and quiet lives seem threatened. And like the crackle of a fresh log put on a dying fire, my brain awakened to a new concept of reality. And a new awareness of how relative reality really is.

What a gift I was given that day. My new life as a full time RVer put me in a place I’d never have experienced in my old life.  My new, slower RV Life allows me to get out from behind the windshield and immerse myself into new places and not just fly past at 70 miles per hour. A new town isn’t just another double almond-milk cappuccino served up by the local Starbucks barista at an anonymous interstate town, but a real, live breathing place with history and community.

Joseph CafeI spent three days in and around Enterprise, Oregon. I talked to chatty coffee drinkers in cafes, friendly grocery store clerks and helpful mechanics. I got to meet real people, with real wants, needs and concerns. Real people, with families, friends and happy Golden Retrievers. Not nameless, faceless political ideologues or Facebook trolls. But real people.

What a wonderful life I get to have by stepping away from my version of reality, hitting the road and forging my own path and a new reality. My RV Life opened my eyes – and my heart –  to a community, which, on the surface seemed so different from my old Bay Area community, but at the core, was very much the same.

Thank you, Enterprise, Oregon, for letting me temporarily live in your town and experience your reality.

About Carolyn Rose:

Early in 2016, at forty-eight years, old, I sold everything I owned, bought a 23-year-old RV and hit the road with my dog Capone. I’d spent decades building a career and a company and chasing the American Dream. After hiking 256 miles in 26 days alone in 2015, I came to accept that the life I’d been chasing wasn’t what I wanted. I was tired of living a lie; working to buy things I didn’t really need and feeling trapped in a tiny Bay Area apartment.  I wanted space. I wanted freedom.  And as a marketing consultant, I was free to work wherever I wanted. So, I took the leap and changed my life!

To read more about my journey, you can visit my website at http://CarolynsRVLife.com for more information.

Photos were provided by the author.

(Guest Post) Apple Tasting at Gopher Glen in See Canyon

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I feel fortunate today to share with my readers another guest post by my friend Laura-Marie. Her father died less than two weeks before my father died, so we’ve been supporting each other through dad grief. I really love this beautiful piece of poetic prose, especially the last paragraph. I hope you will like it too.

For the past 20 years or so, my family and I have been going apple tasting at Gopher Glen in See Canyon. This is in California near Avila Beach. (Avila Beach is near San Luis Obispo, and San Luis Obispo is about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.)

See Canyon is gorgeous. It’s filled with orchards on the right and oak trees on the left. Drive the winding road through the canyon. Go for a few miles until you get to the sign that says Gopher Glen. Park under oak trees.

fullsizerender-5Then enter the building. Right now tons of bright pumpkins are by the door.  Long ago, there was no building. There were tables out in the open. Whatever apples were in season were sitting on the tables, and a friendly worker would ask, “Do you like sweet or tart?”

“I want to try all of them,” you might say. The worker would slice a mini slice of each apple for everyone in your party who cared to try, apple by apple.

Nowadays there’s the building, which is good because it means fewer flies and bees. They sell touristy stuff in the shop: cookbooks, tea towels, tubs of caramel.  Jars of local jam. An apple peeler for $30.

Before, it was just apples and cider. The cider is so sweet and good, with sediment at the bottom of each jug. Now they have some jugs of cider frozen so it will stay good as you drive home, if your home is far away.

If you come at a good time, there’s not much of a wait. Still, ponder the blackboard that says what varieties are in season and the prices per pound. Just this year Gopher Glen became certified organic, so I think it costs more now.

Ignore the flavored honey sticks and caramels, impulse buys at the register. You’re there for apples.

Feel excited as you see there are several varieties for you today. The worker explains which are best for baking, which are best for eating out of hand. Mom only likes sweet, but you like everything.

It’s fun to try to decide which is best. There’s sweetness, flavor, texture, crispness, hardness…

When my dad died last month, my spouse Ming and I were in town as Mom grieved. Ming and I went to Gopher Glen on Halloween, which was a weekday.

No one else was parked in the lot. It was just us two and the worker, and she wore a crown of white flowers.  I wondered if she wore a flower crown every day, or if it was for the holiday. I wanted one too.

The worker kindly assisted us as we sampled all of the apples. Mom had told us she wanted five pounds of the sweetest. Ming and I favored Heaven Scent and Arkansas Black.

When we got back home to Las Vegas days later with our apples, I put one on my Day of the Dead altar as a symbol of the season and as a symbol of all the times we went to Gopher Glen with Mom and Dad. It was our tradition to go on my birthday every year, September 20th. A fall ritual for us.

Nowadays there are picnic tables outside where orchard visitors can picnic or sit chomping on their newly purchased apples.

Apple tasting is like wine tasting but more wholesome. And I think of wine tasting as for rich people. Apple tasting is for just about anyone, young and old, if you can get there.

The workers treat everyone with kindness, as if the workers were apple counselors–they are trying to help you find the apple that’s right for you.

Lug paper bags full of apples to your car. Carry heavy, cold cider jugs. Take an apple out of a bag and rub it on your shirt. Take a bite. There’s nothing better. This is life.

The photo was provided by the author.

(Guest Post) This Is the Story of a (Kind) Girl

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Today’s guest post is from Devan, an internet friend of mine. We haven’t yet met in person, but I hope we can someday soon. Devan kindly offered the following inspirational piece to me for use during this busy time.

I had been at work since before 9 AM and it was now after 8 PM. All I really wanted to do was settle in for the night. Unfortunately, toilet paper is an unforgiving need when you’ve run out. As I made my way through the drug store near my home, I could hear an unusually loud woman talking about the price of Oreos. Then, as she must have passed the liquor aisle, she spoke about a particularly raucous night involving a cheap bottle of vodka and a hat with a feather in it. No matter where I went in the store, her voice carried. I heard every word as if she were talking to me directly. I shook my head and rolled my eyes, marveling at the inappropriate public display.

With large 9 roll pack of toilet paper under my arm and medicine for a developing headache firmly in hand, I headed to the front of the store. As I rounded the corner to the registers, I saw the loud woman and her quieter female companion had beat me there.

They were a colorful pair. The loud one was very tall and curvy. Her leggings were black and white striped and she wore a short shirt that showed her bare belly. Her hair was shoulder-length, wild, messy and frizzy. She wore a huge welcoming smile to accompany her gregarious nature and carried herself with enviable confidence. In one arm she carried a large box of tacos from the restaurant next door (it was $1 taco Tuesday), a backpack in the other.

The quiet one was shorter, had a robust figure, and wore a generously sized t-shirt and yoga pants. She had long straight unkempt hair and was very pregnant. She too kept a smile on her face. It was a bashful awkward smile, but it radiated warmth. Her eyes looked down most of the time, glancing up shyly on occasion. She was rolling a small suitcase on wheels behind her.

The cashier was a cute young girl named Ashlee with unnaturally red hair, several tattoos, and facial piercings. Because of her alternative look she often got strange glances from customers. Yet she never seemed to get frustrated with anything or anyone.

As I stood in line, I found myself growing frustrated with the 2 women in line in front of me this particular evening. They had no sense of urgency at all and had questions about everything. Ashlee, as usual, began friendly small talk while checking out their purchases. During this small talk, it was determined that the women had gotten a ride there, but didn’t have a ride home. They laughed that they were short on bus fare as well, after getting food and milk, so they would be walking home.

To my complete dismay, Ashlee enthusiastically encouraged the women to allow her to pack their backpack and suitcase in the most optimal way, to prevent having to carry anything too heavy. As I stood there aggravated and just wanting to leave, Ashlee proceeded to work their items into their bags. She carefully placed the heaviest items in the rolling suitcase and the lighter ones in the accompanying backpack. It took much longer than if she had simply put everything in the store bags and left them to deal with it, but the women glowed with gratitude. Ashlee then asked for the awkward box of tacos they were carrying and slipped them into a bag for easier transport. The women left with big smiles on their faces and, I assume, began their journey home.

As the women left the store and I approached the register, Ashlee greeted me with that same kind smile and an enthusiastic “Hey! How are you today?” My grimace quickly melted into a broad smile. I forgot all about my aggravation as we chatted and she swiftly moved me through the checkout. As I was leaving the store, as I often do, I felt appreciated and valued. Not just as a customer, but as a human being. The same feeling the two women in front of me were likely feeling as they left the store.

When I got to my car and opened the door to get in, I glanced back over my shoulder to the store exit. The elderly lady who had been behind me in line was walking out of the store with a beaming smile, her small bag in hand. I knew the smile that brightened her face was because of Ashlee. In less than 10 minutes, Ashlee had touched the lives of 4 women with her positive, kind, and compassionate nature. She had definitely changed the mood of everyone’s evening. More importantly, she made me realize how frustrated and judgmental I had been toward the 2 women in front of me. I laughed at myself the entire drive home.

I often think of the two women in front of me that day. I wish I had been more patient and kind, perhaps offering them bus fare or a ride home. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for Ashlee. I am grateful for this experience, reminding me the importance of basic kindness and the impact it can have on each person we encounter. Now, when I interact with anyone in line at the store, waiting at the DMV, in the Dr.’s office, etc., I try to remember that no matter how crazy my day may have been, someone is having a struggle that is far worse. A kind smile or gesture just might lift their day a little, just like Ashlee did for me.

Devan is a 40-something single female blogging online as Xsyntrik Nomad (xsyntriknomad.com). Committed to the dream of a simple but adventurous life, she is rarely found in one place for long. Her preferred ‘home’ is a converted van in which she can freely explore every corner of the country, with her two feline companions in tow. Devan is a positive living enthusiast who strives above all else to live a happy, kind, and inspired life. She hopes to motivate others through her writing and by sharing her journey.

(Guest Post) Cows & Boy Scouts

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Thank you to Blaize for allowing me to guest blog for her today.  We met Blaize while camp hosting in Sequoia National Forest this summer.  We (Jeremy & I and our 2 dogs Dakota & Crosby) traveled from Ohio to California and now are staying in Taos New Mexico.  We live in a converted school bus and are enjoying our traveling adventures!  I do not currently have a blog but I do write and the following is something from our stay in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff AZ. We camped there almost 2 weeks and most days we had a huge area all to ourselves…but not this day.

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Tent pitched too close to the author’s bus, viewed through the windshield.

I woke early.  The first up actually.  Don’t gasp!  It happens, regularly even since being on the road. I think I am still operating on Ohio time, or perhaps I’m more in tune out here.  Getting up closer to sunrise, going to bed early…not too long after dark. That, however, is beside the point. As I said I woke early. Usually I have my coffee and sit on our front porch, aka driver seat of the bus, and enjoy my three-sided view of the forest, scanning for wildlife in the growing morning light.  Not this morning.  This morning I have woken to the multitudes of squealing children. “Boy Scouts, why’d it have to be Boy Scouts?” I mutter in the spirit of Indiana Jones. I roll over. It appears we have been invaded by a family troop excursion.  Dozens of tents and pick-up trucks now dot my view. One in particular has set up their tent not 50 ft from the front of our bus.  Seriously? There are acres and acres of open space here.  He has set up closer to our bus than to his own group.  Camping etiquette folks: Give a camper their space!

The group arrived yesterday while we were doing “town” stuff.  I almost wish we had been here when they arrived.  Surely the barking of my dogs would’ve encouraged a respectful distance.  Maybe Crosby will pee on their tent which has so obviously been placed within his territory.  Actually that prospect is pretty likely. The thought makes me smile and consider letting him out and maybe not watching him too close for a minute.  A wave of guilt passes over me and then quickly recedes as a pack of wildings run squealing through our camp.  Boy Scouts always conjure up images of Lord of the Flies for me.  It’s unsettling.  In the woods they are downright frightening.  I’d rather camp next to a pack of wild coyotes than in the midst of a group of Boy Scouts.

Suddenly an angry low of a cow cuts through my thoughts and the melee of the boys.  If you don’t think a cow can sound angry you’ve not spent time around wild forest cows.  Out west cows roam everywhere, especially on National Forest land.  Around any given corner you can encounter a cow standing in the middle of the road.  Many of which have large horns…and attitude.  This one sounded very angry.  Not the gentle moo of a cow contentedly chomping grass, but an almost roar.  Think bear growl crossed with a moo.  This cow was seriously pissed.

Rounds of squealing Boy Scout ruckus followed the bellow, and then more angry moos.  I can visualize the wild pack of boys harassing the cow.  I can hear the cow getting angrier and angrier.  Oh this is going to end badly.  More squealing, more angry moos.  Suddenly a whistle blows long and hard.  Still squealing and angry moos continue.  Another whistle blow and the squealing abates.  Another angry moo or two.  Evidently an adult has finally stepped up to control the situation.  The whistle serving as a sort of code to call in the wildings. A dark side of me is disappointed.  The karma of a cow trampling through their camp seems almost appropriate. There are a few moments of silence and then the ruckus begins again, without angry moos. The cow must have moved on, probably as perturbed by her unexpected visitors as I am.

I pour my coffee and remind myself that the forest belongs to us all. Wildings, cows and buslife hippies alike.

Later that afternoon I breathe a sigh of relief…they are packing up.  Just a one night trip.  We have our peaceful forest back, the cows are pleased.

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The author took the photos in this post.

(Guest Post) Why Phoenix?

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Today’s guest post was written by an old friend of mine who currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

It’s November 1st and finally, I believe the summer has left us. Don’t get me wrong. We will still have days with temperatures in the 80s but the evenings and the mornings are so cool and comfortable and finally wearing long pants is an acceptable dress code.

This summer has been especially hard on this perimenopausal woman in her late 40s. The temperatures have been no higher than other years and the fact that the hundred degrees last until October is normal. But my ability to cope with the warm temperatures is not what it was 20 years ago.

When I moved to Phoenix, many friends asked “Why Phoenix?” “What’s in Phoenix?” And honestly for years I had no answer for them. It’s flat, it’s brown and it’s very new and modern compared to other cities in the United States.

Tovrea Castle

Tovrea Castle

The history here only goes back to the 1940s. Convincing the city council that we need to keep those buildings from the 40s and 50s has been a challenge. Hence why everything is so new and modern. So when I find a building that is unique/different/older I get super excited and I must go inside and explore! That’s the case with the Tovrea Castle. The Ellis Shakelford House. The Security Building downtown. Luhrs Tower.

When I moved here 20 years ago, Phoenix was only supposed to be a temporary layover to my next destination somewhere on the west coast. I never intended to stay this long but good jobs, a great husband and my beautiful daughter all led to me becoming an Arizonan. I’ve not forgotten my roots. I will forever and always be a Louisiana girl. Nolagirl at heart. For that is where I found my true spirit, my true self. But now when people ask me what’s in Arizona, why Phoenix, Arizona, I can say: the Grand Canyon, street corn, fresh homemade tortillas, a sunset and

Phoenix Sunset

Phoenix Sunset

sunrise every morning and night that can take your breath away. Sonoran hotdogs. The Superstition Mountains. Home of Miranda Rights. Witnessing the evolution of a grass roots art and historic preservation community. My family. My community.

The photos were taken by the author.

(Guest Post) Three Poems by Laura-Marie

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Today I am once again happy to offer poems written by my friend Laura-Marie.

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Will vinegar kill the fern
I’m trying to kill this winter?

Awake but still in bed.
Sitting on the ottoman.

Welcome the stranger,
welcome the stranger’s phone call.

Our beliefs about our hair.
She thinks music is noise,
and she doesn’t want to hear it.

some did wrong

Some did wrong,

a hushed crime,

secret and cruel.

 

A single man

spoke the unspeakable.

Others joined in—

 

the infiltrating agents

had their evidence.

It was over.

Dream dystopia again.

 

Naked people gathered

around the piano

sang, waiting for

death the inevitable.

 

baby dream

All of the babies are girls.

I bent down to kiss one.

She slipped her tongue into my mouth.

It turned into a thorned vine

and forced itself through my body.

Thorned vines like sleeping beauty

but inside.

Laura-Marie is a zinester and peace activist living in Las Vegas, Nevada.  She likes cold brew tea, writing letters, and visiting friends.