Welcome home, now GET OUT

When we got to Seal Beach RV Storage, I was stoked to see that Davista was just as we’d left her last December.  Flight and I had estimated at least a day’s worth of tasks to complete before redeploying in our house on wheels, so we planned to spend a couple of days at the Seal Beach RV campground before getting underway in earnest.  First and foremost was getting the water tanks sanitized for our return to traveling.  That process involved plenty of bleach, repeated filling and dumping of tanks, and patience.  I’m not so good with the latter, so it was good that Flight led the charge there.

I spent some solid time meal planning and, frankly, felt a little out of practice.  How lovely it was to be back in a small space that required solid advanced planning and no waste! WOO HOO! I couldn’t help but wonder why we have so much stuff in a sticks and bricks house…  Within 30 minutes of our relocating Davista to the campground, I felt a great rush of being welcomed home and gushed to Flight, “I am so happy to be back here!”

As we got reacquainted with Davista, Flight and I were both surprised to find the stash of clothes we had left here to overwinter was more plentiful than we had remembered, meaning we were, ahem, overstocked to some degree.  Firebolt had the greatest number of outgrown clothes awaiting our return, which we stashed in Davista’s underbelly until I could take them to rejoin their friends in Maryland a few weeks hence.  We had also sent six boxes to our friends’ house, much of which were filled with homeschool books and all contents needed to find homes somewhere in Davista.  The kids were happy to postpone schooling as long as possible and weren’t disappointed that we couldn’t collect the packages until the following day when we planned to grab dinner with our friends and make the drop.

While Flight ran to Trader Joe’s to refill our larder, the girls and I went for a bike ride. Actually, they were on their bikes and I was walking at a brisk clip and loving every minute of it.  Having narrowly escaped the latest Nor’easter, it felt decadent to be out again in my standard deployment uniform of t-shirt and exercise skort.  Our excursion halted abruptly at the gated entrance to the Weapons Depot, where this ship was loading up, and we turned back.

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As my ability to identify ships is rather dated, I am unable to classify this one more specifically than, “Um, Warship?”

More interesting than those pointy grey things that float on the water (Sorry, Papa), we saw a few signs of wildlife. The last time we were in Seal Beach I was so focused on lamenting the closeout of phase one of our travels that I paid no attention to the fact that the Naval Weapons Station partially shares a footprint with the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge.  While the girls were thrilled to be reunited with their bikes, I was surprised to see how much had escaped my notice here last go around. On our hike/bike we found a sizable discarded snakeskin (don’t care to wonder where that larger creature went), a salamander whose tail may or may not have been made shorter by Firebolt’s bike tire (she wasn’t sure), and a host of heron nests (as impressive in size as the winged creatures themselves!).  I have indeed missed our travels.

It took us less than 48 hours in Seal Beach to regain confidence in our gear and we managed an early launch Friday morning for Joshua Tree National Park.  This was the first (and likely only) place we would be revisiting on the next installment of our trek and the kids were beside themselves excited to return to the Park.  I was curious to see how well I’d be received as the last time around it didn’t go so well for me.

Prior to leaving Maryland last week, I had read Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss, a Yale-trained psychiatrist who stumbled upon an interesting premise while regressing patients in therapeutic sessions, inadvertently seemingly into past lives.  Dr. Weiss has found that unexplained phobias can sometimes be traced back to a time that predates our current life experiences.  While the jury is still out on all that I read, I was curious to learn more about his process.  My angel again suggested Google and I discovered that, while he would be speaking in Japan the following month and somewhere in Europe after that, Dr. Weiss was scheduled for a conference in Phoenix the day before we arrived in town.  !!!

Curious timing, I thought, and felt compelled to go.  I told Flight there was a speaker I wanted to go see in Phoenix on the day we were rolling from Joshua Tree and he said, “Go for it!  Take the Subaru and we’ll follow either that afternoon or Sunday, depending on whether or not they have room for us.”  Perfect – I love how a plan comes together!

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That afternoon we hiked about near our campsite and Flight and the kids climbed as many rocks as they were able to.  Keeper was wearing a skeleton mask/neck guard that he had received as a party favor before we departed Maryland.

I found his ensemble a little disconcerting, but he was keen to keep the sun off his neck.  I deferred to my vertigo’s dictated demands and didn’t venture terribly high, again happy to assume the role of the photographer.  As we were getting dinner ready, the girls were busy playing and dancing on nearby rocks.

Firebolt was stoked to begin a new whittling project and WoodSprite just wanted to dance.  On the rocks.  Better than on tables or a bar, I suppose…

While the girls were jamming to music only they could hear, I was unable to ignore Joshua Tree’s continuous unspoken invitation to depart, which again left me on edge.  Apparently, the arrival of 2018 has rendered me no less repellant to the quiet energy at home here.  After a fitful sleep (no kidding, the worst slumber I’d had in a long time), I woke up for the final time to dress and got on the road by 4:57 am.  It was just over a four-hour drive to Phoenix and the conference started at 10 am.  Despite being so discombobulated by my return to Joshua Tree, I was on time. Early, even.  Yay, me!

Intrigued by what I might learn at the conference, I let my thoughts meander while the sunrise burst forth.

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It was a lovely display, and I contemplated life’s mysteries, potential past lives and stewed prunes. I rolled into Phoenix and pulled into the parking lot of the hotel hosting the conference.  Time check, 9:22 am.  Check me out – I am NEVER early.  Permit me a little backstory to explain.

When I was pregnant with Keeper, my initial gestational diabetes test results came back questionably high and it was recommended that I do a more extensive test.  This particular test requires fasting and, after an initial blood test, begins with ingesting a nasty sugary concoction (sadly, they were out of jelly beans) to see how your system handles the sudden glucose spike.  Following consuming this vile drink, you provide blood samples at intervals of 30 minutes, one, two, and three hours post consumption. After I provided the initial sample and drank sugar, I pulled out my knitting and a woman having the same test done, hers to evaluate hypoglycemia, said, “You know we can leave between the blood tests, right?”

I thanked her for the reminder and told her I was aware we could leave, but it probably wasn’t wise for me to do so.  I admitted to her that I feared I would get busy doing something else and wouldn’t get back at the appropriate time, meaning I would have to redo the test.  I assured her it was much wiser for me to stay here and knit for the three hours instead of running the risk of being late. She chuckled and, apparently not suffering the same time vortex issues, went about her day easily popping back in at the appropriate times.

There was a crotchety older gentleman a few chairs down who followed our exchange and gruffly noted, “You sound like my daughter-in-law.  She’s late to EVERYTHING.  It’s very rude.”

“Um, wow, sounds like you’ve got some family stuff to work out,” I thought before benignly commenting, “Well, I certainly don’t mean to be rude, I just try to do as much as I can and that sometimes means I run later than I’d like.”  He loftily proclaimed, “It sounds like you need some military training.”  I momentarily entertained the idea of sharing with him my military pedigree, but thought better of it and simply stated, “I’m not sure that would help.”

The additional 13 years since hasn’t helped me hone my concept of time.  Flight maintains that while I am not quite as bad as P-3 Maintenance Time, which required automatically tripling any forecasted repair times, I do tend to constantly underestimate how long things should take, often by as much as half.  I looked on the positive side of my sleeping so poorly – Thank you, Joshua Tree, for ensuring I was out Davista’s door in plenty of time.

Upon arrival, I wandered into the hotel and looked around for the conference.  Because I knew it wasn’t planned to be a small, intimate affair, I was a little perplexed by not immediately locating the venue, so I asked at the front desk where I might find the conference.  The woman behind the desk looked in her huge scheduling binder and informed me that the conference I was looking for was actually on tap for tomorrow.

Unable to comprehend what I just heard, I said, “I’m sorry, um, what?  I thought it was scheduled for Saturday, March 25th.”  And, as she was confirming that today was actually Saturday, March 24th, my brain slowly caught up.  I belatedly realized that if you were to look at any calendar, iPhone, or conference confirmation email, you’d see that March 25th is, in fact, a Sunday and that today is not yet that day.

Strong work, TACCO, strong work.

While 38 minutes early was a certainly noteworthy given my history, 24 hours and 38 minutes early was (thankfully) truly unheard of.   I wandered back out to the car, wracking my brain on how I managed the scheduling SNAFU. I blame Joshua Tree’s understated yet very clear eviction notice.  After I texted Flight and sheepishly confessed my calendar mix-up, I holed up in a fantastic local Scottsdale eatery (Modern Market) and tackled writing about some of our last travel phase.

Admittedly, I am woefully behind on our blog.  It’s tricky business when every day is a big day.  I might have caught up some while back in Maryland, but found myself consumed by intermittent travels bookended by house projects.  I can’t help but apply an observation Flight has made regarding my admitted knitting problem: “I think there’s a calculus equation that proves that the rate at which you acquire yarn will never be overtaken by the rate that you complete projects.”   While I didn’t at all appreciate his blunt estimation, most frustratingly, he’s dead on.  Similarly, I’m sure the rate at which we enjoy our experiences on the road will continue to exceed my ability to capture them in a timely manner. Sigh…

In addition to affording me some quiet alone time to write, I was able to reflect on how our redeployment is very different from our initial departure.  The biggest difference is that we now have an ultimate destination and end time.  That and our lessons learned thus far really only need to be dusted off instead of, well, learned.  Resuming this lifestyle has been far easier than either Flight or I had anticipated and I am delighted to be back underway.

Gathering that comforting observation around me, I again tried to unpack how I could have gotten my days so confused.  I kept coming back to Joshua Tree really wanting me gone.  Why was that so? I wondered.  Perhaps I had set fire to that parcel of land in a previous life?  I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out…

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