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.