Anniversaries and Adventures

Three days before Labor Day weekend officially began, I headed out with my camper, dogs, and anticipation from Prescott, Arizona to my hometown of Carbondale, Illinois. Awaiting me was the 30th Anniversary of the punk rock house that was my second home-away-from-home when I was in high school. Last time I saw a lot of these folks was just five years ago for the small 25th (and first) Anniversary shindig. But there were a few folks going this year that I hadn’t seen in around 25 years.

Before I could see all those people, I had to get there. I try to avoid campgrounds, but since I was barreling across the U.S with a short time-frame, I wanted something definitive to hold onto for my first night. I stayed at the Storrie Lake State Park in New Mexico that first night. It was a lovely area with both campground camping, and a primitive area right next to the lake.

Wed. Aug. 31st

Since it was drizzly, Pugsly and I settled in with a good book.

Thurs Sept. 1. The second night I stayed at a wonderful spot in Kansas at Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area.

Another lakeside spot, but this time the weather was much more cooperative. I got in early enough to take the dogs exploring a bit.

Up the road a short ways is a boat ramp, and in the evening a man launched and did some evening fishing. That lake was so lovely, I stayed at it on the way back too!

Sunrise at the lake

Friday Sept 2. I arrived at my mom’s house in one piece, said my hellos and we took the dogs for a walk to the old punk house. There have been shows in this house continuously for 30 years. It’s amazing it’s still standing. Actually, the porch was replaced a number of years ago because it was starting to fall in. This anniversary had turned into a real spectacle, with the current residents obtaining city permits to block of the street, build a stage, and have a street party. I wasn’t terribly excited about our humble beginnings being turned into a festival – with street shows, bands at two different bars, and shows at the house – but I figured see how it all goes.

Mom got me sushi fixin’s and made most excellent sushi rice (gotta waft the rice as you add the vinegar to make it sticky but not clumpy) and I made a roll for dinner! Yay mom!

The house had been painted black for the occasion. Quite fitting.

“30 years of stupid” is a great summation.

This basement is where I spent many evenings during my formative years. It hasn’t changed much. It’s amazing the floor hasn’t collapsed down, or that the earth hasn’t just swallowed this house of noise to rid itself of the pests.

My poor cell phone couldn’t get very good night shots, but suffice to say, it was great! So many bands have passed through those doors, there really was no way to showcase many of them if this had been held in just the basement. I am still impressed by how well-organized the whole weekend was. Kudos to the young punks. (geez, I sound old.)

It’s amazing how people you knew 30 years ago so often look just like the kids you once knew. Memory does amazing things with recognition. My old friends look like the same punks I knew 30 years ago. Sure, a little weight, some wrinkles, a touch of gray, but I barely see those changes in my dear, long-time friends.

and I made friends with a dragon!wA3oC498dLK7g6KIlpzzJMogBEUBQVknyeImn-Lm

In Carbondale, Il. “Castle Park” aka “Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park” was built by a dad after his son died.

My mom and I went through a box of old photos and found some gems.

a beaver home on Snake River 1978?

my dad and me…not sure where

I stayed through the weekend until Tuesday morning. After living in the arid South West for so many years, I’d forgotten not only what summer midwest humidity feels like, but also how ferocious mosquitoes and other bitey bugs are out there. I think the first one to bite me told his friends that there was fresh meat in town, and they all came to feast. Ow!

Tuesday Sept 6th. morning it was time to go. The dogs were overwhelmed.

Pugsly’s enthusiasm knows no bounds.

I went back to Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, but it was very windy all night so our night there wasn’t as nice as the previous visit.

Wed Sept 7. This drive back was more leisurely and I found that not having to worry about time made for a much more fun adventure. My daily destination was more flexible and relaxed. It was great. I had two things to accomplish: visit Valley of the Gods, Utah and make it back to Prescott, Arizona by Sunday.

I couldn’t find much for boondocking in Eastern Colorado in my searching before the trip, and probably should have posted up in some forums for advice, so I stayed at another campground. It was pricey, difficult to find a level spot, and not terribly scenic.

We did get a lovely sunrise, however.

Pugsly was happy to have a new, homemade quilt gifted to us by an old friend back home.

Thurs. Sept. 8th. On the way to our next campering location in the mountains of Colorado, we stopped for Thai food in Poncha Springs, Co! Thai take-out! How cool is that? My Pad Thai was fairly bland, but having Thai take-out at camp was absolutely lovely.

The high plains nestled in the heights of the Rockies feel very different the low plains of Kansas or Oklahoma. There’s a finite space up there as the open range slopes upwards into the mountains. The Rockies are intimidating. Driving through the mountains I felt invasive, as if the mountain range could decide to close its yawing mouth and swallow me whole at any time. I felt I must ask permission to tread in this elevated wilderness, and go lightly lest I disturb a sleeping giant.

It seems that almost each new campering location becomes my new favorite. This was no exception. See my camper there to the right?

Sometimes I wonder if my mind really cannot take in this amazing beauty. Whether it is the mysteries of the forested hillsides of the Rockies, or the vast expanse of the desert Southwest. With my eyes open to it all I don’t know that I’m truly feeling the brilliant beauty that I witness. The views reflect against the sun into my eyes but sometimes I wonder if the intensity makes it very far even though I want to have it envelope and overwhelm me.

Instead, I read.

Or try to….

Friday Sept. 9th. Friends in Denver suggested I go visit. Since it was only a 2.5 hour drive from where I was camped, and I had time(!). I took a detour north. What a great thing to be able to do!

Sat. Sept 10. After leaving Denver, I headed towards Valley of the Gods. Since the weather forecast said highs of 93°F, I decided I’d go spend some time in Durango and try to arrive at the VotG just before sundown in hopes that it had cooled off to a more reasonable temperature. One of the nice things about the desert is that once the sun goes down, it cools down rapidly. Unlike the sauna that is southern Illinois.

I got a salad to go in Durango, and we lounged across from the bicycle path, next to the Animas River.

When I got to the Utah state line, I pulled in to take photos with the camper and dogs. Instead, I found this group of young travelers from “all around Europe”. I took a group photo of them with their cameras, and got one with my own.

I headed into Valley of the Gods, but it wasn’t late enough in the day and it was still painfully hot.

Instead of staying and suffering through the heat – and making the dogs suffer – I headed south to the Navajo National Monument.

When I was 9 years old my mom and I visited the Navajo National Monument south and west of Kayenta, Az. It is a canyon and cliff dwellings, among other amazing sights. During that visit, I saw a desert storm on the other side of the canyon and a subsequent rainbow. It transfixed me. I remembered that moment, but not the location. A few months ago my mom told me where that moment happened. It’s been on my list to visit since.

Betakakin Overlook area. I got set up just in time for sunset. That further glow is the canyon.

In the morning, Argos and I took a little walk

but didn’t make it down to the overlook before it started to drizzle.

I was hoping to see another rainbow, and the folks at the Visitor Center said I just missed one. That was good enough for me!

We took a short walk past the Visitor Center, but Pugsly got tired before we made it to the cliff dwellings.

I’ll be back soon.

Sun. Sept. 11. It is only about a 3.5 – 4 hour drive back to my cottage, so we went right home from there.

Every time I go on the road I learn something new. This time, I got to rekindle old friendships, visit with my family, learned more about how stress-less campering can be without time pressure, and worked on being flexible. A few months ago, I would have stayed at Valley of the Gods even with the painful sun because that is where I’d planned to stay. I might not have gone to Denver (and had a great time with new and old friends) because it hadn’t been in my itinerary. The ability to be flexible and know how to find good locations to camp is necessary to cultivate. As usual, while indoor plumbing is nice, I wasn’t ready to come back to the brick and mortar.


I have a lot of stuff.

Downsizing from a 2400 square foot house to an 800 sq foot one bedroom made me realize how much crap I’ve accumulated over the years. Lately, I’ve been thinking about selling or donating a chunk of my stuff. I have been feeling bogged down by it all, hampered and made heavy by this accumulation. I’ve been starting to feel like the junk lady from the movie, “Labyrinth

I am can get okay with selling my beautiful Danish Modern sofa and desk, I can get rid of unused clothes, and sort through my boxes of random collected crap. But I’m having a difficult time with the idea of parting with my books. It’s amazing how much of my identity is wrapped up in this stuff. Especially my books.


I suppose they have been with me the longest, so they are old, comfortable friends by now. Some of these books have traveled with me since I was in single-digit years, some I have read and re-read and re-re-re-read. I have a book that my 4th grade teacher gave me, “Where The Red Fern Grows”. I have read it every year since then (and I still cry at the end. Shhh, don’t tell anyone). I have books that my mom wrote and bound for me, a book my uncle illustrated and wrote for me, books of theater and philosophy and science fiction – all of which have had great impact on how I view and think about the world around me, my relationships with other people, and my core values.

How can I get rid of these treasures?

Some friends have suggested I just get them on a digital reader.
Not only would that be cost prohibitive – I’ve collected this small library over the past 30 plus years – but something is lost in the translation for me when I read a digital copy. I feel this loss moreso with companion books than I do with a new reading. I can’t imagine reading “Where The Red Fern Grows” on a computer. Page lifting and travel has worn the old book. My hand-me-down-first-edition Oz books have that certain ‘old book’ smell. I have half that collection, my cousin has the other half, so not only do I have the wonderful tactile sensation while I hold those old hardbound copies, but I have a connection with my dear cousin, and to our parents who gave us these books.

I am a person who doesn’t sit still for long. I move. I have lived in dozens of towns in my life. There is a thrill to encountering a new city, and discovering it’s secrets. Having a lot of ‘stuff’ doesn’t work well for a person who likes to travel and move. Being encumbered is difficult for someone who gets an antsy feeling in her bones and motorcycles on her mind.

This is a conundrum.
I’m still working on it.

I feel the need to have a disclaimer about the disorder of my books. Usually I organize them according to genre, but I have yet to do that since the latest move. 🙂



There is an affliction some of us have. It’s called wanderlust. It’s compulsive and powerful. Some of us learn how to work around it, but it’s still there causing insomnia and impulsive weekend road trips.

Those of us so afflicted see a desolate road or a dark highway and there is a pull in our chests to take that road wherever it winds. The feeling often starts with a musing of “where might I go if I could go anywhere?” Perhaps some time in the evenings is spent tracing routes on GoogleMaps. I used to have a road map of the United States hanging on the wall across from my bed. I would lie in my bed creating points from A to B to C to D to E, when I should have been getting my good nights sleep for work the next day.

Then there are days where tracing routes on a map isn’t enough and I have the tingling in my muscles that make me get up and GO.
Sometimes I have a companion for these jaunts.

and sometimes it’s just me.

I’ve had this feeling for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my mom and I drove from southern Illinois to Berkeley, California and back more than a few times. For many years, my favorite sunrise was looking out past a field while standing in the parking lot of a Howard Johnsons somewhere in Oklahoma. I love that forever sky.

I’ve done that trip and many more. A lot of them alone, starting at age 17. Once I get past the first day of driving, I settle in to a comfortable rhythm. That is where I love to be – after the first day of settling in, and before the anticipation of immanent location arrival. That is when I leave my stressors behind and have no particular destination except for the next place to gas up, eat, or find lodging.