Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reconnecting With The World

When Sister Jo  and I began our sojourn, we wanted to see as much of the U.S. as possible. Horrendous weather kept us from stopping for any real exploratory time between Montana and Arizona.

Once into Arizona, the difficulty became finding a campground that was for tents as well as RVs. We were disturbed to learn that, at least in that state, many such campgrounds that accepted and catered to tenting had been closed down due to financial reasons. The few that still accepted tents, had facilities that reptiles would find unacceptable--and charged exorbitant fees for the privilege of a stay.

Finally, we found a small state park on the Arizona-New Mexico border which did have acceptable facilities where we could tent in safety and have regular showers, with water available directly across from the tent site. We at least had electricity available at the showers so that we could, if necessary, plug in the laptop and find the online world.

I know that some of you will ask, "Didn't you know that there was a problem with finding tent sites before you left?"

Well, to be honest, no, we didn't. Those closings had occurred during November, after we'd finished our research and had mapped out a feasible route along the southern tier states. Fee schedules had also risen exponentially in those campgrounds left open. Both occurrences led to tightened budget belts.

Contingency plan B went into effect.

Never travel without at least two contingency plans. They're vital to success. We've been blessed during this trip. We have so many friends and family cheering us on, giving us their support and love. That's a big factor in success of any kind.

We chose to hold up with a cousin for several days to get some writing done without worrying about having to break camp every couple of days to find electricity and wi-fi. Although, I have to say that Texas is one of the most wonderful computer-friendly places we've ever seen. Every campground here and state highway rest area is equipped with free wi-fi for the traveler's use.

How marvelous is that?

I also needed adequate time to write articles and get them submitted, and Jo needed time to work on her photos for said articles. That's why we're hold up now. It's time to put words to more than blogs and website. It's time to write for money. Travel's nice and we enjoy it for itself, but this trip must help pay for itself, too.

That's how we stand right now. Visiting, writing, submitting, querying, etc. A writer must sell material in order to feel vindicated. I'm feeling the need for some validation.

For now, I'll sign off and get back to writinig for submission.

Take care, all, and God bless.

Until later,

Claudsy and BJ (Sister Jo)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Needs For The Road and Other Considerations

It's so nice to come home for a few minutes to check in and say hello. It's been a while and we've traveled approx. 2500 miles so far.

We're taking this morning to update everything we can. We haven't had a great long opportunity to post.

We're currently sitting in Big Spring, TX. at a TA truck stop, coffee at hand, great waitress bustling around and decent music overhead--ever the Christmas reminder.

Some who've seen our car during this trip have turned away stunned by its contents. In an attempt to give everyone the proper perspective concerning our rolling household, I thought I'd give you an overview of what travels with us.

Our small HHR has an effective "cargo" space of approximately 54 cubic ft. That's 4' x' 4' x' 3'. In that space we haven crammed:

1- 2rm, 8 person, tent in its case                1- 12' x 16' ground sheet
2 - 3" roasting forks for hot dogs, etc.        1 twin mattress, inflatable w/pump
1- 5 gal. water jerry                                   1- XL, xlng canvass cot in bag
2- sleeping bags                                         1- tool kit
1- med kit                                                  3- extra blankets
2- large pillows                                           2- LED lanterns 1lg, 1sm
1- computer office for Jo                            1- writer's office for Claudsy
1- lg. suitcase for each of usCamera equipment for the photographer        
1- smaller bag w/toiletries, etc.
1- personal bag w/vitamins, meds, etc for each of us
2- lg. coffee mugs                                        Cell phones, sunglasses and necessary front seat items
1 18" x 30" x 18" kitchen box, holding 2 sauce pans, 2 skillets, 1 griddle, 1 coffee pot, 1 soup pot w/lid, place settings for 4 w/lg. salad bowl, 9 Sm. soup bowls, 2 glasses, varying spices, dry goods, and sundry other necessities for the kitchen chores.

The above inventory isn't in minute detail, you'll notice. It does give the overview of what we felt we'd need to stay on the road for approximately one year.

The hard reality is that fewer tenting camp areas exist. They're being shut down for "financial" reasons.We're having to go farther between destination points to find affordable camp facilities. Somehow, $35-$45 per night doesnt' represent "reasonable" tenting fees to us.

For any who contemplate taking the family on a summer camping excursion (with far less personal gear), please check ahead fifteen ways to Sunday to guarantee fee schedules in the areas you're visiting.

We did extensive research on destinations all over the country a couple of months before we left and ave been more than disappointed a few times. Many campgrounds have closed, many have raised fees, and others simply allow RVs only now.

Sudden changes like those above wreak havoc with travel budgets. Here in Texas, because of the extensive drought, there is a fire fan on. That means no camp fires and a camp stove is iffy.

Oh, one other thing. For any driving the highways along the southern corridor, be aware of the border patrol check points. They just had a border officer killed in AZ a few days ago and they're a bit nervous right now.

And in case anyone's curious, those stations can be as far north of the border as 40 miles or so.

Well, gang, that's all you get here today. The website and other blogs will carry other aspects of our trip so far. Check them out to see how things move.

Take care and God bless. Thanks for stopping by to check on us. Hopefully, I'll be able to write sooner next time.

Until then,


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hanging Out in Southern California

That's right! We're hanging out in southern California with a writer friend and her hubby. Mikki has welcomed us into her home and we've had a blast since being here. It was well worth all the bad weather to get here.

We've known blizzards, rain, fog, and everything in-between. We've been at the beach to watch the tide come in and hear the breakers that told us of the rip-tides. We've been to Morro Rock to see the rookeries, after which we had a great lunch at The Great American Fish Company. Jo says it's clam chowder is to die for.

We've been up the Eagle's Nest, a winery outside Paso Robles. The Nest is built as a castle, complete with water-filled moat and hundreds of acres of vineyards. This area as become the lower Napa Valley. It's wonderful here. We've got sunshine right now; such a rare treat over the last week.

Tomorrow we'll be heading down to the LA area to see more friends and to catch the I-5 again. From there we'll go down to San Diego and turn east.

Our adventure is beginning with good karma for the future. Our goal is San Antonio by Christmas.

Until my next update in, hopefully, less than a week, take care and God bless. Have a wonderful week of your own. See you soon.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Now You See Me...

This will be my last transmission for a few days. The desktop and its accoutrements will be going to be turned off tonight and go into storage tomorrow morning.

Saturday we’ll be heading out for the West Coast and destination South from there.

Yep, one more day before we move out. We’re so excited! Last minute items to take care of tomorrow will take little time.

From now on, I’m going to shoot for at least a weekly update; more often if I can manage it. The updates will consist of all sorts of things; weather along with traffic reports, sights taken in during the drive, speculations about traveling now versus during the warmer months of the year, and sundry other items.

I wanted to say a temporary farewell until my first update. Hopefully, that will be within a few days as we move down toward LA.

Terrie managed to snag me during trip preparations and talked me into doing the interview. It was fun and I enjoyed her questions. I hope you read it and enjoy.

Take care during these next few days, and I’ll drop in with an update before another week is out.

Until then,


For those who haven’t read my interview with ICL’s own Terrie Hope, hop on over to:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Taming The South, Literally

Not long ago a young writer friend of mine asked a wonderful question. She had an idea for a short story or novel (I can’t remember which now) and she wanted it set in the South. She asked, in essence, how would she go about making it a real southern story for the reader. How could she make it sound like the South.

Several of us gave her one or another explanation. I’m going to give another one here for those who’ve asked themselves something similar. I’m going to talk only about the South, though, but the application works for any region of the world if you work at it.

When you grow up in or around the South like I did, you learn that the region isn’t just accent, dialect and humidity. All of those are part of it but only a part.

The South is a feeling, an attitude. It announces itself with the gentle morning mist rising from the bluegrass in early morning just as dawn is breaking in the summer. The moist softness of that warm air that passes across the skin like silk sheets on a muggy night sighs a greeting, teasing the face with caresses.

The South is the laughter erupting from the kitchen as women cook the meal that will burden the long wooden table with the weight of its caring bounty. It lulls the mind into daydreams on the sound of murmurs as the men folk reminisce on the porch after the evening meal. Those same cooks have their clatch of recipes, children’s tales, and worries long with the community news around that now unburdened kitchen fixture of a table.

All of these things combine to produce the atmosphere of that region of this country. Some find the speech, the people, the lifestyle too slow and lazy-seeming. Reasons abound for this misconception. The summer heat and humidity forces a body to slow down. Rushing around like most northerners would bring about heat-exhaustion and distress in the deep South.

Many in the north dismiss the genteel hospitality expressed by households down South. Nevertheless, hospitality still reigns supreme in small towns throughout those green and fertile hills. Whatever a family has is shared with those in greater need of it. A person will never go without food when in the presence of a Southerner. The attitude is modeled from birth to death. It is as natural as breathing and sometimes has a far greater lasting effect.

History has molded and shaped the people of the South differently than it has others. When many of the South knew that the Civil War was lost to the North, they packed up their families and as many good as they could manage and sailed away, never to return. They sailed ever southward. In the end they came to rest along side a great river in a land far more vast than any they’d ever known or seen.

Today the Confederate flag still flies over their city. The founding families still speak with the soft southern drawl and the ladies are still genteel. Their city is now one of the most unique in Brazil, South America. They called it Americana.

The language may be Portuguese now, but the attitude and customs are Old South. Corn bread and southern fried chicken remains a staple. It’s difficult to claim that the South died, when so many emigrated with their culture intact.

These examples are some of the things that make the South what it is and how it feels. Any book that portends to be of the South must contain it all and more to be successful. I learned it early, which was fortunate. I always recognize someone from the region, though not always the correct state.

For the writer to produce something believable about any region, great attention must be paid to the tiniest details of the atmosphere, gestures, personal by-play between people, and all the rest. All of it together produces the right feel, the right atmosphere.

That’s my take on things today. I hope I have given someone, anyone a better look at one aspect of creating reality on paper.

Take care all. Talk to y’all later.