Hiking Tales from Living the RV Lifestyle

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Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

“This book was a great find for me, my husband and our two cats! Ironically, not knowing the writer at all before I stumbled upon this book, we lived in the same town. This book crossed off so many great points. If you are in the market to sell it all, buy an RV and travel, or like us just looking to buy an RV incorporate it into our traveling lifestyle with the possibility of it becoming full-time down the road this is a great read. In this book, Donna has given us so much to think about, what avenues and options that may be out there for us for the short-term/long haul. The check lists, omg those are the greatest! There is nothing worse than ruining your vacation over a thousand dollar mistake and these checklists are ways to help you to “try” not to do that…

And last and for the best part, Zeus, the cat. Yes people, cats… they are very great travel companions and trainable. Donna confirmed that our two who are leash and harness trained will be welcome on the open road and at campgrounds across the US. Phew… that’s all that we needed to know. So as Willie Nelson chimes in to the radio before we hit the road folks… ‘On the Road Again’ Safe travels and I sure do hope you enjoy this book as much as we did.

Posted by an Amazon customer

My new book,  Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 13 Hiking:  Our Favorite Pastime about one of our favorite hikes in Washington state. 

Skyline trail in Mount Rainier NP

Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State

Having visited Washington a few years ago, Jim and I had been to the Olympic NP on the coast, delighting in a mountain ridge hike, but we had missed the inland Mount Rainier NP.  Driving from our campground in Silver Creek, Washington, we headed to Mount Rainier NP, anticipating more evergreen forests, and historical sights, but not expecting to be blown away by another spectacular hike. 

Winding our way up to the Henry Jackson Visitors Center, we ventured outside to discover the trail head for the Skyline Trail.  Looming above us, the peak of Mount Rainier at 14,410 feet, the highest mountain in the Cascade Mountain range, was shrouded in a ring of clouds.  At first, the trail descended down, leading us towards the Myrtle Falls.  We strolled by fields of wildflowers, admiring a summer day in the mountains.  Gazing down at the falls, we contemplated going any further.  It was mid-afternoon on a brilliant blue sky day with hours of daylight to go.  I am so glad that we decided to continue the climb. 

As we hiked higher and higher, the flowers grew more in abundance, and flowed down the hillsides in a rainbow of colors from the purple lupine to the magenta and scarlet paint brushes, from the pink monkeyflowers to the white lilies.  With the high peaks above us still covered with the remnants of ancient glaciers, we were greeted with green vistas of fields and evergreens wherever we looked.  The Tatoosh Mountain range glowed in the distance like a ribbon of fairy tale castles.  Its rocky pinnacles didn’t seem real like a mirage of mountains.  

Along the path, animals and birds greeted us.  Stellar jays with their brilliant blue feathers and distinct voices swooped down from tree to tree.  A solitary eagle circled over the cloud-covered peaks.  A young doe ate her late afternoon lunch by the side of the trail.  Furry marmots meandered through the fields of flowers, munching off the tops of flowers with a relish for their colorful salad. 

At the height of summer in the mountains, rivers sprung from the slopes, and wound their way down through brilliantly colored mosses of green and gold.  Wherever you looked, you could see rivers circling into pools of water, and then spilling over edges into waterfalls.  In the distance, rain poured down on a hillside, and in the midst of a sun break, a rainbow broke through the clouds, spanning across the green hills.  It made me wonder if there wasn’t truly a pot of gold beneath its colorful ribbons.  On our drive back down leaving the Skyline Trail behind, I looked up, and through the clouds, Mount Rainier showed her weather-beaten face.  It was the perfect ending to a day spent honoring that mountain. 

Every time, I turned a corner on the Skyline Trail I wondered what miracle I was going to see next.  It was one of the most magical hikes I’ve ever been on.  Since it was a Sunday afternoon, there were quite a few families out on the trail, and groups of college students.  All different nationalities and cultures walked along the trail.  And everyone greeted each other with similar amazement at all the natural beauty that surrounded us.  It made me hopeful that the national parks could have a higher purpose of bringing people together from diverse backgrounds in coexistence with a mutual love of nature.  It could certainly be a starting point for Peace.  If we could all stop and really see this planet Earth that we call home, knowing that it’s up to each one of us to take care of our planet, and in doing so, we would be taking care of all living beings including humankind.  As John Lennon once sang, “Imagine.” 

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

 

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Living the RV Lifestyle – my new book is now available

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Donna’s latest book can be found on Amazon.com  and as a Kindle E-reader, Click here to go to the Kindle store.

“Guide books have their place and uses but I love personal stories and the feelings that are evoked from personal images and favorite things. Your stories, Donna, take me places and allow my mind to paint its own pictures that are colored by your descriptions and perceptions. I feel like I’m with you in your RV in Utah and all over the USA, and that’s fun! You’re a good writer. I look forward to reading more.” 

Susanna D. from California

My new book has been born –  Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  This 167 page book is a combination of practical advice on RV living as well as personal stories from life on the road, giving you an idea of what it’s really like to live the Full-time RV life.

The excerpt below is from Chapter 13 Hiking: Our Favorite Pastime about my time visiting the lowest and highest points in the contiguous 48 states, and how they were only 130 miles apart.

An Adventure from Sea Level to over 10,000 feet

In my travels around the country, I knew I was going to see many different landscapes and seascapes – from the desert to the mountains, from the cozy harbors of the Atlantic to the expansive beaches along the Pacific.  But I really didn’t think of the depths and heights that I would be exploring in this great country.  In this month of May, I have seen Death Valley, the lowest point on the North American continent, and also glimpsed Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states.  Who knew that they were only about 130 miles from each other?! 

In the past month since leaving Utah, I have traveled through Nevada and into Southern and Central California.  From the mountains and high desert of the Utah national parks, I have traversed into the lower terrain of this country into the arid desert.  Never having lived in the desert for any length of time, the desert has been a new experience for me. 

The desert in the spring was likely the most beautiful time to be there.  The temperatures were certainly cooler, and the cacti were blooming with their strikingly simple flowers in bright fuchsia and golden yellow.  Hiking through washes (riverbeds with no water in them) alongside reddish and golden boulders, I was in another world at times.  Some of the desert landscapes resembled the face of the moon, and others looked like a tempting oasis with all the different vegetation. 

At first, I enjoyed the desert hikes around Las Vegas, and then into Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, but then the temperatures rose.  The days in the 90’s became more common, and the challenges of desert living became more evident.  Staying in an RV park near Joshua Tree NP, I saw the number of people in the park dwindle.  The RV Park, a winter retreat for many people from the northern states, had a fitness center, indoor pool and spa, and big clubhouse.  While I was there, they were almost completely empty.  It was time to move north again. 

After a week, I traveled north by the Mojave Desert, and onto Highway 395 which is also called the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway, winding its way through some spectacular scenery with the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains on one side, and the Inyo National Forest on the other side.  As I left the desert behind and gazed upon the mountains, I could feel the shift in my spirit.  The mountains had become my other home when I lived in California all those years.  I had driven this same route from the north, but never, all the way to the southern end. 

Now, I would finally discover where this incredible highway started in the desert.  I had seen the signs for Death Valley National Park, and I knew I had at least one more desert experience in my near future, but I had no idea what this park encompassed.  Driving from the west led to a more diverse experience.  As I traveled towards the park, I rode through hills that then turned into mountains. Driving a winding road through the mountains, I dropped lower and lower into the park, and finally the desert valley opened up before me.  After the steep descent into Death Valley, there were windswept sand dunes, golden canyons and salt flats that shimmered like mirages.  The temperatures skyrocketed.  Stopping at one of the visitor centers, there is a permanent large thermometer outside the door, recording the latest temperature.  A perfect picture spot.  When I was there in mid-May, the temperature fluctuated between 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  I can only imagine what it’s like in the summer. 

Of course, that wasn’t the temperature of the lowest point in the park.  Driving further down into the park, you arrive at what is called – Badwater Basin, another salt flat with some puddles, but best known as being the lowest elevation on this continent.  At 282 feet below sea level, I had reached a new low point, and didn’t realize how close it was to the highest point in this country. 

Staying in Lone Pine, California right off of Highway 395, I camped in the town closest to the highest point.  After exploring the town and visiting their film history museum and the Alabama Hills where many westerns and sci-fi films have been filmed, I decided to explore the highest point in the contiguous forty-eight states – Mount Whitney, a snow-capped peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at 14,495 feet. 

On a clear morning, it appeared to be a perfect day to drive into the mountain range for a hike.  Driving up a road on the outskirts of town, I traveled higher and higher on switchbacks, lined with rocky cliffs, and purple lupine.  That’s when the clouds drifted across the surrounding peaks.  What appeared to be a calm day in the valley turned into a snow squall in the mountains. Snowflakes drifted down onto the windshield of the truck.  It looked like I’d have to postpone my mountain hike. 

As I crested the peak, the elevation rose to over 10,000 feet and the temperature dropped into the 30s with Mount Whitney hidden by the clouds.  I thought about turning back, but not before, looking around this mountain top plateau.  And what do I spot under some trees?  Not the wildlife I expected to see, but some weary hikers, loaded with backpacks.  A couple of minutes later, they are loaded into the truck for the ride back to town.  It turned out that they were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and ran into the stormy weather so they needed to take a break to warm up and refuel. 

With my own travel plans in mind, I had forgotten about the many people who venture out each year to tackle the challenge of the Pacific Crest Trail which runs all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, over 2,600 miles.  The hikers usually begin in the spring, and hike all summer, and sometimes into the fall.  The trail starts in the desert which I had just left behind, and follows the mountain ranges beginning in central California, and then up through the Northwest of Oregon and Washington.  I had no idea that I was also following a similar route with my Bighorn RV.  Hearing these three hikers’ tales was enlightening.  It was also a good reminder for all the conveniences that I do live with, traveling in an RV with most of the comforts of home.  Even with my love of hiking, I don’t think I could take on a challenge like them though I did enjoy hearing about their own adventures.  The hikers called us their “PCT Angel” so hopefully, we can help more hikers along the way who need a break from the trail, or a ride back into the mountains.  After that meeting, I followed the Pacific Crest Trail more closely as I made my way north, and crossed the trail a few more times in Oregon and Washington.  Admiring their courage, I still wonder if those three hikers completed their goal of finishing the PCT all in one year.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. And now her latest book, a travel adventure book, Living the RV Lifestyle:  Practical Advice and Personal Tales from Life on the Road.  All of her books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.

 

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Living the RV Dream – My New Book on the RV Lifestyle coming soon

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Bryce Canyon National Park – Photo by  J. Alan Jackson

This Spring, I will be releasing my new book, Living the RV Dream, a mix of practical advice for Full-time, Part-time and Anytime RVers along with personal stories of my adventures from living on the road.

After almost three years of Full-time RVing, it seemed to be the time to share what Jim and I have learned from this experience of living without a traditional home.  Since 2014, we’ve made a couple of grand circles around the country with some crisscrossing.  We’ve traveled over 34,000 miles, visited 43 states and 35 national parks altogether while camping in 65 RV parks, 3 Wal-Marts, One casino, and a family driveway.  It’s been a journey of many different experiences, and I’ve captured some of the most memorable ones in this book.

The excerpt below is from the chapter entitled – National Park Tour.  I’ll be sending out an announcement soon when the book is available.  Now, pack your bag, and get ready to visit the National Parks – the best entertainment value this country has to offer.

The goal of many Full-time RVers is to visit the National Parks around the country.  It is one of the best bargains that you’ll find on the road, and one of the best gifts that you’ll ever give yourself.   The National Parks are as varied as the states are, and yet, they all capture some unique aspect of the natural beauty of this country.  As of 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, there were 59 National Parks.  Of course, over time, they do add new ones when a National Monument, or another National site gets upgraded to a National Park (NP). 

The National Parks pass is definitely worth investing in if you’re touring around the country.  It’s been our favorite pass – giving us access to not only NPs, but federal recreational lands as well.  The entrance fees for the NPs range from free to over $30 each, making the pass a great deal.  If you’re over 62, you get the best deal of all with a lifetime Golden Age Passport for $10. You can purchase these passes right at the NPs entrance gates.  All the details are at www.nationalparks.org   (Another benefit of visiting the NPs was finally being able to recycle plastics, aluminum and even cardboard.  Most campgrounds only had limited recycling programs or none at all.  Hopefully, that will change in the near future.)    

Jim and I have been fortunate to visit 35 National Parks as of 2016.  Living in the west, we visited several National Parks, and then when we became Full-time RVers, we’ve seen many more NPs.   People always ask us what our favorite parks are, and it really is hard to answer.  The most well-known, and usually the largest NPs are in a class of their own – Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Hawaii Volcanoes are legendary. They are not to be missed, and seeing them more than once in different seasons is extra special.   The National Parks of Alaska, eight altogether, are also incredible, and I hope to make a trip to see them someday.   

One of the biggest surprises was the National Parks of Utah.  When I began this journey, I had no idea that Utah had five parks.  Each Utah NP is remarkable– Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion, all in the southern portion of Utah.  The parks are part of an area known as the Grand Circle, an area in the Southwest with the highest concentration of American scenic parklands in the country.  Jim and I were fortunate to see all five Utah parks over several weeks, giving ourselves time to explore each park, and have seen a couple now in different seasons.  Jim’s favorite is hands down, Bryce Canyon; and mine is Zion, for all the different parts from the towering rock cliffs, to the lush river valley; and the amazing views wherever you walk and hike.

When we first started Full-timing RV, our goal was to visit National Parks, and other places of natural beauty.  We began our NP tour in Florida, and visited the Everglades NP, never realizing how many more parks we would see over these years on the road.  When we plan our travel route, we check out what NPs are on the way.  If we have to make a detour we will because the parks are so worth it.  

Before visiting a park, I’ll read up on the park in one of my guidebooks like the National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of the United States while Jim reads up on-line about that park through the www.nationalparks.org . We then have a general idea of what we want to see in the park along with any hikes.  Once we arrive at the entry gate of the park, then we go over the map and brochure that we receive to get a feel for the right hiking trails.  If we have time, we always spend at least a couple of days exploring a National Park.  For the larger parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, we spent a lot more time – five days in Yellowstone with still more to see; and five separate trips to Yosemite in all the different seasons when we lived in California. 

For us, it’s about savoring the experience – seeing the major sites in the park along with doing a couple of hikes.  I’ve seen people on the news with their selfie sticks, racing around the country to see as many NPs in a year as they can, but they are really missing out on the experience of spending time in nature.  It’s not so much about doing, but more about being. To see the sunrise over Haleakala Volcano on Maui; to stand at the base of Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite in the springtime; to walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon any time of year; or to hike through the rock formations of Bryce Canyon, gazing up at these amazing sand castles.  These are moments not to be missed, or rushed through.  Take your time with the National Parks, and you’ll be rewarded with memories that last forever. This is one of my favorite National Park memories… (Just a preview of what’s to come.)

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2017
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna will  be releasing her new book, Living the RV Dream in the spring.  ♥

 

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Two Years of Living on the Road

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This October, Jim and I completed our second circle around the country, and our second year of full-time RVing.  After traveling all these months in our only home – a 39 foot fifth wheel RV, I think I’m ready to complete my book.  I’ve been compiling stories about our adventures on the road – some amazing, others overwhelming, and a few just too funny to forget.

Since our Bighorn RV became our full-time home in October, 2014, we’ve traveled over 34,000 miles, visited 45 states, 34 national parks, and 65 RV parks.  The first year of travel, we moved around a lot, staying in most campgrounds only a week.  We began our journey on Cape Cod, and made a huge circle around the country, traveling down the Eastern seaboard, and then across the Southern states, up through California to the Northwest, and then across the Northern states, back to Massachusetts.

In that first year, we wanted to see as many national parks as we could that we’re on our travel route – that came to 25 parks with still so many more to enjoy.  In the second year, we’ve spent more time in two places – staying in Florida for 5 months during the winter, and then traveling to Utah where Jim worked as a Camp Host for 4 months during the summer.  In between, we visited a handful of national parks, but began to see more historical sites with continuing to visit family and friends along the way.

After all these weeks of living in an RV, Jim has gathered a huge amount of technical experience and common sense about the RV lifestyle.   This past summer, he worked as the main contact at a campground – guiding people to their campsites, taking care of the landscaping, maintaining the campground and keeping the peace among the campers and all their pets.  Five days a week, Jim was on call for sometimes 12 hours a day.  His efforts did entitle us to a free campsite with all the benefits as well as collecting a paycheck after being semi-retired for about two years.  During those four months, he learned a lot about the camping experience, and what to do differently the next time around.

His hands on experience also gave me the idea that more people would be interested in a book on the RV lifestyle if it included some practical advice, and handy tips for those newbies on the road.   I can still remember my first weeks on the road, and how nervous, I became if we had to back into a campsite, or stay overnight at the Walmart parking lots.  Now, I can stay in just about any campground, knowing that I can always move if I want a different view or another experience.

I can honestly say that I never saw myself as the most adventurous person, but so many people commented on how adventurous I must be, to sell my home, and get rid of most of my belongings to live full-time in an RV.  It has certainly been the experience of a lifetime.  I can picture myself continuing to do this part-time for several more years especially when I have a more traditional home again.

In December, Jim and I will be heading south once again to a new place, a campground near Ashville, North Carolina.  Jim will be working part-time for the winter at the campground, handling special projects that require more of his carpentry skills – all in preparation for what’s to come in the spring – when we build our home on Cape Cod.  I’ll be continuing to do my counseling work, and working on my next book on the RV lifestyle.    And so the journey continues…

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book on the RV lifestyle.  ♥

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My Cat, Zeus, the Road Warrior

Zeus, the tree climber

Like Steinbeck with his dog, Charley, Jim and I were fortunate to have Zeus, a traveling cat – not just a cat who tolerated traveling, but who seemed to even love it, more than I did at times.

In California, I never took my cats with me on vacations, or even on road trips.  I always called up a friend, and later a pet sitter to keep an eye on my cats while I was away.  I didn’t think of bringing them with me because I usually stayed in hotels or resorts that didn’t allow pets.  I didn’t realize how many people traveled in RVs so that they could bring along their pets on summer vacations and week-end getaways.

When Jim and I finally sold out home in California in June 2014, we decided to drive back to Massachusetts, and take Zeus on his first major road trip.  We had taken him away for a long week-end once, and he seemed to do well.  But driving cross-country was the big test.  Zeus did better than I could have ever imagined.

Since December, 2014, we’ve been traveling full-time around the country with Zeus. Most of the time, he quietly sits on my lap, or on the back seat in the truck, only getting antsy when he needs to eat or take a bathroom break.  I even get out his leash, and walk him at rest areas if he wants to go outside.  At most campsites, Zeus can’t wait to get out and sniff around just like all the dogs we see at the campgrounds.

Eventually, we have seen other cats.  But most of the time, they stay in their RVs, and sleep in the big windows of their Class A Mobile homes, or peek out of windows in the Airstreams.  Zeus also has claimed his favorite spots in our RV – sitting atop his scratching post next to the dining room table, or on the back of the recliners, and even in the cubbyholes of the RV.  He likes to try new spots so that he can have different views of the outdoors.  Of course, the outdoors is his favorite spot.

Zeus on his perch at Holiday Hills

At first, Zeus didn’t mind moving around every week, or two.  But by the end of our first grand circle of the country, he started to grow tired of the constant moving.  I could usually tell by when he’s sleeping on the bed, and opens one eye in the morning, and gives me a look on moving day:  “Like you gotta be kidding!  We’re moving again.  Didn’t we just get here?”

Now, we’ve been staying in more places longer which gives him a chance to really get to know the campground even if the neighbors and their pets keep changing.  At each campground where he’s stayed longer, Zeus has created his walking routine which varies slightly, but most of the time, he checks out the same spots, usually ending up on the picnic table, waiting for a brushing.  I guess cats are also creatures of habit.  Right now, as I write about Zeus, he’s waiting for his nightly walk.  Morning and night, and sometimes mid-day, he ventures out, ready to see the new arrivals at the campground, and to check out the local birds.

Zeus’ presence on this journey around the country has been a calming influence at times, and comforting when I’ve been moving around so much.  His constant loving attention has been reassuring especially when I left behind many of those creature comforts that make up a home.  Living more simply was one thing, but living without Zeus was never an option.  He’s made the trip more entertaining even with his challenging moments.   Zeus began this trip at age 14, and is still going strong at 16.   I’m hopeful that Zeus will be with us into his 20’s.   Traveling wouldn’t be the same without him.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

 

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Saltwater in my Blood

Jack Conway - Two

(The view of the Weweantic River in Wareham, Massachusetts.)

As I traveled towards the middle of the country, I followed the highway in my Rand McNally Road Atlas, loving the big picture view of my trip.  When I opened the page to the map of the whole country, the town of Junction City, Kansas was literally in the fold of the map.  I traveled there to check out an RV that was on my husband’s wish list.   

Entering Kansas, Jim and I drove on a meandering road that went up and down over small hills with cornfields unraveling off into the distance.  We were visiting Horizon, a specialty RV manufacturer that only made custom mobile homes.  The company was near Junction City, Kansas.  After our tour of the plant and checking out a couple of used mobile homes, we went out to dinner in town.  It was a college town so there were several restaurants and bars, more than I would have expected.  But the whole time I was there, smack in the middle of the country, I had a claustrophobic feeling that the ocean was too far away.  I haven’t always lived near the ocean, but in the Gold country of California, I could get to the San Francisco Bay in a couple of hours. 

Staying in the middle of the country made me realize that I really needed to be closer to the ocean.  When you’ve grown up in a place like Cape Cod, it’s challenging to live without all those bays and beaches that line the New England coast.  Away from the ocean, I always did feel like a fish out of water which makes sense with a name like Fisher. 

My Father, Donald Fisher, grew up literally on the water with the high tide washing up under his house in Spile City in Onset, Massachusetts.  This ramshackle collection of homes was named for the piers that they perched on alongside Broad Cove, leading to Dummy Bridge.  Another curious name which described the dummy cars that once ran along that bridge.   

The seacoast village of Onset was part of Wareham which is considered the Gateway to Cape Cod.  Later, I found an old magazine called, The Compass which wrote about a stone marker that had been placed in 1739 on the border of West Wareham and Rochester, MA.  This stone rock engraved with the words, Cape Cod, marked the true beginning of Cape Cod where the soil turned sandy, and the scrub pine trees popped up, replacing the taller pines. Of course, this marker came along long before the Cape Cod Canal which was a man-made division for the Cape, and obviously not the original beginning of Cape Cod.   I wish I had found this magazine earlier when I was in college, and one of those “summer people” on Cape Cod told me that Wareham wasn’t part of Cape Cod.  Now, I could share this bit of history with her.   

My Mother, Doris Fisher, also came from Cape Cod, having grown up in West Wareham and Rochester as a young girl.  Her childhood home literally sat on the border of the two towns, where you could cross the street and be in Rochester, or cross back, and be in West Wareham.  Even though she had grown up that close to the ocean, she hadn’t spent a lot of time at the beach.  Her parents both had to work to make a living, and my Mom was left in charge of her siblings to make sure they did housework as well as homework.  Her childhood wasn’t a carefree time at the beach like my Dad who called his childhood in Onset like “living in one big playground.”  His life wasn’t idyllic either, having lost his Mom when he was not even two, and losing his own Dad in a sense since he wasn’t around a lot.  Lucky for my Dad, his grandparents raised him well even if they did give him a great deal of freedom as a boy.   

My Father, shared that love of the outdoors and the ocean with his three daughters.  And truth be told, I do believe I inherited saltwater in my blood.

That’s why, my dream is to spend the summer and fall on Cape Cod.  Living near the ocean once again would be like heaven for me. 

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

 

 

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Traveling with Steinbeck

Walking Zeus in Fort Pierce, FL

In the midst of my journey around the country, I discovered John Steinbeck’s book, Travels with Charley: In Search of America about his own trip with his faithful dog around the United States.  Like Steinbeck, I also have companions on my journey, my husband, Jim, and my only cat, Zeus.

In his late 50’s, Steinbeck decided he wanted to take a trip around the country to see the America up close that he wrote about so often in his novels.  He felt like he was out of touch with the country, and wanted to explore the different regions, climates, terrains, and re-connect with the people.  In order to not have people recognize him by his name, Steinbeck decided to not stay in motels, but to travel the back roads in a camper.  So he had a custom camper built on the back of a brand-new truck – his own personal turtle shell.    He outfitted it with all the basics and more – a double bed, a four burner stove, a heater, refrigerator, a chemical toilet, and lots of storage.  The storage cabinets overflowed with all the items he thought he might need including tools, emergency food, writing supplies, reference books, all those books that he meant to read, and on and on.  Like most people who travel this way, he overloaded the camper, taxing his truck.

What I found most interesting was when he began his journey.  Steinbeck writes that he planned to take this trip right after Labor Day in September.  He thought it would be a quieter time to travel with all the children back in school and their parents back to work.  But that year, his trip was delayed due to a hurricane.  Staying in what he called “his little fishing place” on Long Island, New York, Steinbeck ended up experiencing the brunt of this hurricane.  Almost losing his favorite sailboat named after his current wife, Fayre Eleyne.  Luckily, Steinbeck and his family along with the sailboat survived the storm, and he decided to still head out on the trip in late September.  The hurricane happened to be named Donna, and took place the month of September that I was born in 1960.

Steinbeck wrote about driving north from New York to Massachusetts, visiting one of his sons at a prep school.  He may even have driven close to the Cape Cod hospital where my family celebrated my arrival.  I found the coincidence intriguing.  There Steinbeck was, heading out on his journey around the country.  And I was just beginning my journey on the earth, named Donna.  Not for the hurricane, but named after my Dad, Donald Herbert Fisher.

And now, here I am, writing about my trip around the country, taking the reverse route of Steinbeck’s trip.  He traveled north, taking the northern route across the United States, and circling back through the south, and arriving home in New York City.   I left Cape Cod in December of 2014 heading south, and making a big circle around the country, and returning to Cape Cod in September, 2015 before heading out again on the road in November, 2015.  Steinbeck left in late September 1960, but his trip was barely three months, returning just before the Christmas holiday.   He didn’t spend as much time in each area of the country, but he did seek out his favorite spots.  His goal was also to spend more time talking to people along the way.   While I was more interested in catching up with family and friends along the route while visiting the national parks, and savoring more of the natural beauty of the country.

We had different goals for our circular route of America.  But I still find it amazing that I made this trip in my 50’s as well.  Steinbeck felt a need to do this journey on his own – perhaps to prove to himself that he wasn’t too old for solo adventures.

I have traveled with my husband, Jim, and our devoted cat, Zeus who was as great a traveling companion as Steinbeck’s dog, Charley.  Maybe even more so because Zeus left his home in California more than two years ago.  Since then, he has endured over 18,000 miles of riding in the truck (while we traveled over 30,000 miles), and has lived through various climates all around the country.  Zeus survived a close call with a tornado, a hail storm, numerous rain storms, a brief snow squall and lots of sunshine on the road.  He may not have been the ambassador dog like Charley, greeting people on the road.  But Zeus does attract a lot of attention, walking on his leash as he explores river banks, woodland paths, and sandy beaches.  It seems many people haven’t seen a cat walk on a leash with such ease and grace as Zeus.

Now with the arrival of summer, I notice more families at the campgrounds, showing up with their campers piled high with their toys of boats, bikes, fishing poles, inner tubes and on and on.  They set up their campsite, and kick back and enjoy their summer vacation.  For me, it’s a different experience.  I’m not on vacation from a 9 – 5 job.  This is my life – living full-time in an RV, and traveling around.  This is my home where I write, watch television, surf the internet, cook meals, walk the cat and still take time to enjoy the camping lifestyle.

This summer has been different with Jim working as the Camp Host for the Holiday Hills RV Park in Utah.  We are staying in one campground with some responsibilities – the main one being to stay put in one place, and be on call the days that Jim is working.  Being a responsible person, Jim still maintains the work ethics of his corporate career.  He may begin work a little later, but then he’s available some nights until 10 pm, putting in 12 hour days.  I have to remind him to take breaks throughout the day, and that he doesn’t need to work so hard.  It’s funny how some habits are hard to break.  By Labor Day, I think we’ll both be ready to head out on the open highway again which is right outside our door.  We’ll be back to exploring and living the full-time RV life.

And yet, I can sense a new beginning on the distant horizon.  We’ve met some people who have been living the full time RV life for years, but they also seem to have favorite places that they return to as well as visiting family and friends around the country.  I imagine the new beginning will come into focus when our time at the campground nears its end.  It always seems to involve going through at least one ending before the new beginning shows its face.   And so the journey continues.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

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Time to Reflect

RV Desk in Coalville, Utah

From the window of my Bighorn RV, I can see cars, tractor trailers, and other mobile homes flashing by on Highway 80, heading East and West across this great expanse of a country.  I’ve driven parts of that highway from California, and all the way to the east coast.  I know the small towns that sit alongside that freeway. I am in one of those small towns now, just for the summer – Holiday Hills, a truck stop RV park where people camp for one night on their way to one of the national parks; or spend the week-end, escaping their lives in the city for a quiet respite by the river.

Now, I sit, gazing out at all those vehicles passing by.   These past two years, I’ve been on so many highways that sometimes I still sway back and forth like a person who gets off a ship after a long sea journey.  For now, I am staying put in the Holiday Hills in Utah for the summer, with only short drives on 80.  As much as I relish the time being in one place, I also like knowing that the highway is right outside my door.  If I miss life on the road, I can jump in my car, and head east for Wyoming, or west for the bigger cities of Park City and Salt Lake City.  I could also drive right back to my old hometown of Grass Valley, California in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

If anyone had told me that after all these months I would still be traveling around the country, I would have thought they were crazy.  And yet, here I am two years after selling my California dream home, living in an RV which has become my only home with my husband, Jim, and our traveling cat, Zeus.

I still miss my California home – a sprawling contemporary house with loads of windows, and a redwood deck all across the back of the house.  The cathedral ceilings in the house, and the view of the foothills in the distance, fed my desire for lofty places.  In that home, I wrote two books, and had a home-based counseling practice for seven years.

What I miss most is my dream office that Jim helped me to create in that home.  After walking through the mahogany front door, French doors opened to the left into my office.  My oak desk faced a wall with book shelves all around me.  A cozy gas fireplace warmed the space on chilly winter days.   A table for two sat by the arched window for intimate astrology and tarot card readings while a plush recliner invited clients to reflect on their current lives or take past life journeys.

In my current Bighorn RV, I’ve re-created a sacred space for my work.  I have a walnut-stained wooden desk perched in front of double windows with a corner window by my side.  The view outside my window is a changing landscape even when I am stationary. There are mobile homes coming and going, and trucks sliding up to the gas pumps, or parking for a longer break at the Best Western next door.  On my desk, I have some of my favorite objects – a crystal, faceted heart that a friend gave me when I published my book on the Type Four, the Romantic along with a simple framed quote from another friend encircled with purple Irises, reminding me of the value of friendship and my love for those stately purple flowers.  A gold-framed photograph captures the underwater beauty of a nude woman floating in a sea of purple with a swirl of gold embracing her.  The picture is entitled, “Lost Equilibrium” – an apt description of my time on the road.

Being an astrologer and a Libra, I am well aware of my need for a sense of balance in my life. In the past, I treasured my daily routine, and the peaceful harmony that I created in my home sanctuary.   Since beginning this journey around the country, I have found my equilibrium tested in so many ways.

My daily life has become more like an improvisational jazz piece zigzagging in all directions.  As I try to keep some of my comforting routines of meditation, reading inspirational books, journaling and daily exercise; I find myself, having to relinquish one or all of these grounding habits of mine.  Depending on the day, whether it was a travel day, or one of those one night stops, I might only be able to fit in one or two daily rituals. In this life on the road, I have cut down to the barebones of what is really important as far as rituals, and also in material possessions.

A gifted writer and spiritual teacher, Meghan Don wrote recently in her newsletter about her own experience with the ownership of the material in this life.

Meghan Don wrote, “Over the last couple of weeks I have been shown that nothing I own is mine, nothing at all. They are all as divine gifts coming and going as are needed. There is no need for grasping onto, nor fearing their replacement if they are let go. Even with all my traveling and having so few material possessions I have noticed a very subtle attachment to a small portion of my life – maintaining an independence apart from my divine nature – and ultimately keeping it in another compartment that “I” manage!

I have always known the flow of the divine energy in my life, and that everything came from this divine flow, but somehow there was still this little part that had claimed ownership of certain things given.”

I can relate to what Meghan is writing about, having given up so many material possessions when I left California, and again in Massachusetts.  At first, I felt the loss of all those objects especially all of my books, and then I began to realize that I had read all of those books.  I had experienced the wisdom of all those books, and that I really only needed a chosen few to take with me on the road.  The rest of the books, I sold, donated or gifted to others.  The material will always come and go.  The material is only energy that flows in and out of our lives.  If we’re not attached to those things, we do get to experience them as gifts when they do show up when they are needed.

I love how Meghan ended her newsletter with the thought, “We are all wealthy in so many ways, and perhaps most of all when we remember that we too ‘belong’ to the divine. May we bask in this knowledge and allow all gifts of every spiritual and material nature to come our way, resisting all urges to make them ‘mine.’”   Thanks Meghan for sharing those thoughts.

When her new book, The New Divine Feminine: Spiritual Evolution for A Woman’s Soul comes out in August, I will enjoy reading it, and then passing along the wisdom to others.  (If you’d like to pre-order a copy, go to Amazon.com.)

May you savor the many gifts that come your way this Summer.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

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Small Town and Big City Lifestyles in Utah

Holiday Hills in Coalville, Utah

When I drove away from my home in Grass Valley, California in June, 2014, I never envisioned that I would be living the life of a gypsy.  For 10 years, I had lived in Grass Valley, and letting go of that home was only the beginning of a series of letting go’s that led me to my Bighorn RV and my tiny home lifestyle on the road.

This coming June, I will have lived in my Bighorn RV on the road for 1 ½ years which doesn’t sound long especially when I remember all the places I’ve visited, and the experiences I’ve had.  All those memories could easily have taken place in just one lifetime.

I wouldn’t say that I am an expert at living on the road, but I have experienced enough to write a travel memoir.  That is going to be my summer project while my husband, Jim has his first job on the road as a Camp Host for the Holiday Hills RV Park in Coalville, Utah.  It’s a small campground, only 40 campsites alongside the Weber River which feeds into nearby Echo Lake.  The campground is surrounded by green hills where cattle and horses roam within the sight of the cross-country Highway 80.

Since arriving here the end of April, I am struck by the contrast of the surrounding communities.  The town of Coalville is tiny compared to the larger surrounding cities of Salt Lake City and Park City.  The downtown of Coalville consists of one Main Street with storefronts, and homes from the turn of the century.  I walked into the Summit Furniture and Mercantile Company, the local general store which was built in 1908, and still run by the same family.  The hardwood floorboards creaked under my feet as I marveled at all the items for sale from groceries to Levi jeans; from Mother’s Day cards to cowboy hats.  The store included a small butcher shop as well as a selection of hardware items.  It truly was a general store.   In town, there are only a couple of family restaurants, and the only chain restaurant that I’ve noticed is Subway.

After my trip to downtown Coalville, I decided to go explore the nearest big city of Park City, Utah where the Winter Olympics in 2002 took place.  Under the looming snow-covered mountains, I entered a whole other world.  Talk about culture shock.  Driving over from my campground, I stepped into a world that reminded me of the San Francisco Bay area.  In one sprawling plaza, there were all the shops, and restaurants that I remember living with in the Bay area.

I stopped at one Starbucks to get a coffee, and experienced the afternoon coffee rush hour.  There were students, mothers with young children, and working people all lined up.  I commented to one young mother about the long line, and she told me that it was always like this in the afternoon – the time in between school being let out, and before all the after-school activities had begun.  She then proceeded to ask her two young children what they wanted for their afternoon snack.  They both got chocolate milks, and then a banana muffin, and a chocolate croissant.  Along with her personal coffee order, I think I heard the Starbucks barista tell her the order total was $20 something.  The young mother then began socializing with all the other mothers who were also waiting in line for their re-fueling for the second half of their day.

After my quiet life in Coalville, I felt like I already had a caffeine buzz even before I sipped my iced mocha.  I was in awe of all the activity, and felt like I had been thrust back into one of my past lives, living in the Bay area.  Then I headed to Whole Foods, not a store that I’ve seen too often on my trip around the country.  Again, I was overwhelmed by all the activity, and by the abundance of healthy choices.  Luckily, I had a shopping list, but I still ended up piling some extra goodies into my shopping cart.  Most people have joked about Whole Foods, and how it takes your whole paycheck to shop there.  I knew I wouldn’t be coming here too often for my groceries, but for only special treats, and healthy alternatives not found anywhere else.

After noticing more stores that reminded me of my days living in California, I headed back to my small town life in Coalville.  Still reeling from the culture shock, I couldn’t believe that Park City was only 25 minutes away from my campground.  Even though the two towns are that close, they are like night and day.

The experience made me wonder how differently groups of people can live who are only a few exits apart on the highway.  And yet, one lifestyle seems to be more affluent, and focused on material consumption; and the other lifestyle, more centered on maintaining a small town atmosphere with friendliness and a slower pace of life.

I am not judging either lifestyle because I have lived in both kinds of places.  I know the incredible benefits that I gained from living in the San Francisco Bay area, and also know the amazing riches that I unearthed, living in the Gold country of California.  Both places were incredible learning experiences for me, and both shaped and molded who I am today.

I just love the diversity of experiences in this great country of the United States, and continue to marvel at all that I’ve seen on my trip around the country.  And so the journey continues.

By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016
Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com.  Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road.  ♥

 

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Manifesting Tool for Spring

Purple Vineyard

The Eclipse energy this Spring is really amplifying this time period for new beginnings. The Solar Eclipse (New Moon) takes place on March 8, 2016 and the Lunar Eclipse (Full Moon) on March 23, 2016, but you can already feel the energy moving in. The Spring is always the ideal time to plant new seeds which includes your goals for the coming year. The Winter has been a time for reviewing the previous year, and reflecting on what you would like to create next. Now as Spring approaches, it’s time to write down those goals and dreams for the year.

Barbara Hand Clow, a fellow astrologer, created a great method for manifestation. On or near the first day of Spring, she takes her list of dreams that she wants to create for the coming year, and follows the steps below. This year, Spring begins on March 19th/20th as the Sun moves into the sign of Aries, the first sign on the zodiac wheel. These are the best days to release your intentions. If you’re not able to take the time on March 19-20, another good time is the New Moon in Aries on April 7, 2016.

First, take time to be still, and in your quiet contemplation, make a list of three to nine items that you would like to manifest, and state clear timelines and circumstances around these dreams. Be as clear as you can be, and select items that are in your best interest, and that don’t manipulate others such as your desire for a certain person. It is better to describe the partner that you are seeking without asking for a specific person.

Once you have the list, follow the technique below for each item on your list:

1. Place the image of what you want to create in your mind, and be as clear as you can with the time, the conditions, and the changes that would come from having this dream come true. Next, ask yourself the question, “If I could have this dream, would I want it?” Sometimes, you discover that it’s not something that you really desire anymore. In this process, you can clear your mind of what you don’t want, and begin to get clearer about what you really do want in your life right now.

2. Hold the dream in your mind, and do three visualizations of scenes that portray the creation happening in your life. For example, if you are seeking your dream home, envision what it looks like and feels like, and see yourself there in three different ways. Close your eyes, and picture it in your mind’s eye, and hold the image like on a movie screen, and strengthen it visually as much as you can, and then go onto the next scene, and follow the same process.

3. Once you have visualized all three scenes of your chosen dream, then you can choose to speak the words such as “So be it!” or “Manifest on all levels, now!” Follow the same technique with your other dreams, and then place the list in a special place, and allow the dreams to manifest. In a few months, you can look back at the list, and see how far your creations have come. Whenever, you feel stuck, you can get out the list and re-charge it again by following the same technique.

Barbara Hand Clow has practiced this technique for many years. Over the past five years, I have utilized this tool, and have seen many of my dreams manifest including my new lifestyle of living in an RV, traveling and working around the country. This month, I’ll be releasing my intentions in Florida where I am staying until mid-April. I have a few ideas percolating, and know that they will become clearer when I use this technique.

I invite you to give this manifesting tool a chance  You could be quite surprised at how quickly your dreams begin to come true. Blessings on your dreams for 2016-17.
By Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A. © 2016

Donna Fisher-Jackson, M.A., CHT is a Certified Hypnotherapist, Western Astrologer and Author who counsels clients through her business of Iris Holistic Counseling Services on the road at http://www.DonnaFisherJackson.com. She has published the self-help book, The Healing Path of the Romantic: Type Four of the Enneagram Personality Type System and a novel, Clara & Irving: A Love Story of Past Lives, based on the true story of a Romantic. Both books are available in a print and Kindle edition on Amazon.com. Donna is currently working on a new book – a travel memoir of her life on the road. ♥

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