PART 1: We Get on the Road
PART 2: Hot Springs, Arkansas
PART 3: Adventures with Starr
PART 4: The Tennessee Loop
PART 5: The Intensive with Starr
PART 6: The Way to North Carolina
PART 7: The NorthEast Loop
PART 8: Washington D.C.

PART 9: Movin' West to Columbus
PART 10: We Cross the Great Plains
PART 11: Montana Adventures

PART 12: Oregon
PART 13: Northern California
PART 14: Central California Adventures

PART 15: Southern California Adventures

PART 16: The Return

Part Two; Hot Springs, Arkansas continued...

Shungo and Aylar

On the way back to the RV park, we stopped at some big crystal stores and picked up a couple of small crystals as mascots/protectors for the truck and the RV. We had been discussing the option to give our vehicles names. The moment we mentioned giving the truck a name, we both felt it respond! “Yes” it said, and it was if the truck suddenly was brighter and lighter. We scratched our heads over this. Metal is inert is it not? Of course, the truck is used, and if you’ve ever had a used vehicle, it does develop its own quirks and personality. When we were parked and settled in an RV park and ready to go on an adventure in the truck, we both noticed that the truck was like an excited big dog – wagging its tail madly and panting with anticipation and delight. We distinctly feel the pleasure the truck gets if we go on some less-traveled roads and let it loose. The pickup in this truck is enormous and the engine is loud, but riding high above the traffic or speeding down country roads in canyons of trees, we both feel free and exhilarated.

So we mulled over the name. We thought of naming it Ayla, from the lead character in the Clan of the Cave Bear. Ayla, if you read the book, is adventurous and seems to discover everything – fire flints, horseback riding, travois, etc. We asked the truck if it liked the name. We felt it was okay with it but it wasn’t quite right, because the truck was definitely male – it’s a macho style truck after all. So we added an “r” on the end – Aylar, making it kinda like the name Skylar. We both got the distinct impression that the truck’s personality actually enjoyed having a name! Go figure! The RV is now “Shungo.” Shungo is an Indian word from a tribe in South America that means “from my heart to yours.” So now we are traveling with Aylar and Shungo. Eventually, we will have Shungo painted on the side of the camper.

RV Camp Life

By the end of the day, we’d we walked around the camp and explored the nature trail, the laundry room etc. Everyone waved as if they knew us. And we were pulled into many spontaneous chats before we returned to our trailer. After staying here for a few days, we saw with pleasure that RVer’s are a special breed. They evidently are used to temporary “communities” and make the most of it, having fun meeting all the different people they may never see again. There is virtually no crime known amongst them. Everyone is laid back and upbeat. It was very nice to feel so relaxed around strangers. A very friendly redneck (self-labeled!) was delightful and sweet. He was working here, away from his wife and two kids, and loved company. We enjoyed listening to him speak in his “country” social vernacular. The accent, the rhythms and the unusual forms of speech riveted our attention. This was fun.

There were three major demographics we found in this large camp. First, there were workers who lived permanently there in trailers, awnings hung with Christmas lights. Their families may be elsewhere or with them as they fulfill a temporary or longer term job contract. Most of the RV’s in Jasper fit in this category.

Below is a picture of Cloud Nine taken from across the back of our truck.

Then there are the retirees, couples who usually drive a big motorhome bus pulling a sedan. They are in their mid to late ‘60’s. There is little work to do with a motorhome of size because everything is automated. They pull into their spot and push a button. The bus automatically levels itself. A few of these couples have 5th Wheels like we do, and have to fuss and put planks under the tires, measuring with a level like we do. It’s a strange sensation when the RV leans to a side. You always feel a little off-balance. Most retirees generally relax a bit and then drive away in the car and come back later. Later in the day, they sit outside in their chaise lounges with their small dog if they have one and watch passersby. Reminds me of my childhood where the old fellers would sit in rocking chairs on the big front porches of their Victorian houses and holler to every other feller passing by. Many just relied on this as if it were TV and the rest of the time looked into space. I didn’t understand that then and I still don’t now. What are they thinking about, just looking nowhere? And why do they go to all the trouble to travel here and then do little or nothing? A puzzle. Here in Cloud Nine, several couples of retirees came in groups. Parking next to each other, they would share cookouts and travel away for the day in caravans. Several of these were full-timers on the road. What a life!

The third category we’d see show up mostly on the weekends. Young families with small children would park with their small RV and during the day everyone would be away. By dinnertime or just after, the kids play with the other kids along the street or ride little tiny scooters that were just soooo cute! They would squeal and play joyfully into the long growing summer twilight while the adults sat around and smoked and talked. Sunday they’d be gone and the camp would get quieter again.

Then there was a minor demographic we discovered on the last week we stayed at Cloud Nine. The Poe family had their reunion. They arrived one at a time over a couple of days period and parked together in one section. The group of about 40 rented the hall/rec center for their get-togethers. One of this group’s license tag said “Poe Folk.” Where I grew up in small town Tennessee that was slang for the poor people or “poor white trash” so I was surprised that someone actually paid for this tag or identified with it. When I realized that the two were actually Poe’s, I found it hilarious and clever.

When you RV, everything has to be done on the road. Since we didn’t take along a washer-dryer, we had to use the park’s laundry facilities. At several parks, they were outside under an overhang and rusty. One, in a National Park, had wasp nests and spiders over the washers. Fortunately, Cloud Nine had a very nice small laundry room with two washers and two dryers. You know by now that we do not like the smell of fabric softeners, but we found that most everyone else did. So our wash began to smell funny. Fabric softeners have a LOT of toxic chemicals in them, so I’m amazed to see how these people put two and even three little sheets of fabric softener into the dryer. Then there is the scented detergent. So we decided to do our best to clean them. We rubbed alcohol into both washer and dryer, and that helps cut the annoying petrochemicals. However, if you really want to get rid of odors in the washer, you have to run a whole wash with no clothes and a lot of straight alcohol in it. (This is a tip from an environmental consultant.) Then you can put your clothes in the second load.

I found that I had brought hangers and supplies with me that were inadequate to handle laundry processing in such a small space, but we managed and even installed a laundry line in the little bathroom. You gotta be willing to adapt and be flexible and creative to coexist happily in such a small space. The whole size of the trailer is smaller in square feet than the one room in which we had previously had our whole office, filled with furniture, computers, file cabinets, and supplies!


Our Hot Springs Adventure; Crystals and Awesome Nature

I’ll let you in on the news now. We left Hot Springs after the conference but returned there. Instead of doing another section on Hot Springs later, I thought I’d share some of what we did there later, now. The amazing crystals and magical nature walks!

The Hot Springs area sits on some of the richest quartz crystal mines anywhere, so there are many crystal stores with outdoor fenced areas filled with tables of crystals and colored glass. Here are a few pictures from one of the stores of us looking at the outdoor display. Crystals that have been baking in the sun on tables will generally feel pretty clean and clear energy-wise. The ones inside the store building include the museum quality ones and the little dinged pieces that sell for hardly anything.

The Coleman Mine, out on the northwest side of town, is known for the brilliance and clarity of its crystals. If you want to dig crystals yourself for the experience of it, it’s only $15 a day. However, it’s hot hot work outside chipping away at big dirty piles dumped in an open area. The most beautiful and museum quality crystals are found in veins, just like ores, petroleum etc. The miners chip away at the mountain side with their big equipment searching for a vein. The clay soil they mostly get will contain some crystals, loose or embedded in clay clumps, so they haul it over to a big open area and dump it. Then people prospect in it with a hand shovel and a handheld 3 pronged garden “claw.”

When the mine people find a vein, Shane, who’s been doing this for 35 years, go in with special tools to do the delicate work of lifting out the beautiful crystals. Shane can remove 40,000 pounds of beautiful crystals out of a good vein in a week! Daniel with new friend Art went over for a morning and spent 3 sweltering hours in the hot sun poking around in dirt. There were some interesting small crystals in their haul but nothing striking. Art browsed the wholesale area and bought an enormous cluster that must’ve weighed over 1500 pounds and another one around 400 pounds – stunning and amazing pieces of multiple crystals in their matrix. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of them. However, here are some pictures of the mines which Daniel took while he was there. You can see the various stages of pulling out clay and rock with the hope of getting crystals. The last picture shows the prospectors scanning for the best place to dig next.



The first chance we got, we wanted to go hike in the woods, so we headed out to Ouachita National Forest outside Hot Springs. We found a trail and hiked for an hour without seeing anyone. We were able to get far enough away from the road so that all we could hear was the wind in the trees (Ah yes! This is what we want in a place to live!) and the call of unknown birds. We were delighted to find such beauty in nature, and each turn on the path would startle us in its picture-perfect loveliness. At one point, we found a portal. We walked between these stones and felt a shift of energy – Faerie Realm?

Here are pictures from that place:

Below are the stones, the guardians of the portal.


Nancy, Amy and Roy

While we were in Hot Springs for the conference, Starr introduced us to the woman and her daughter who put together Starr’s website (you’ll see that later) and we got to listen to a concert given by the husband too. Nancy is a lot of fun, reminding me of my best friend in 6th grade, Becky. After seeing some of her and her daughter Amy’s work, we hired them to redo the Galexis site and help put up our personal website (where the travelogues will be posted). She’s reasonably (okay, inexpensive) and they are very talented and fast. Faster than we can respond! If you want some help with your website that won’t damage your pocketbook, write them at info@cyclopsstudio.com or visit their website www.cyclopsstudios.com

Nancy’s husband Roy is a getting-famous country music singer. One of his songs hit #1 on the Country Music Charts in Europe. He also had two others in the top five as well. He is nominated for 5 awards by the Country Music associations of Europe. Who would’ve thought that country music is so hot over there? He is really good as a musician, and I know good clean licks when I hear them. After all, I was a pro musician who played in orchestras and pop bands in the ‘70’s. He sings John Denver songs better than John Denver! His voice has the same inflection but is even more vibrant. Those who can see such things have seen that he channels John Denver! The songs he’s written all have the imagination and depth that Denver’s had. I hope you check out Roy’s website at www.royrivers.com.

When Daniel and I went over to their home to see Nancy and Amy about the website, Roy was there bouncing the grandbaby. After discussing the site, we all got onto other topics. Seems that Nancy and Roy had been true-blue Mormons for awhile, but found themselves dissatisfied with the personal “box” the Church put everyone in. Desiring a less-rigorously constricted life, they discovered spirituality and metaphysics, and found the new freedom strong enough to choose to leave the Church. It took several years to extricate themselves from the Church, the community censorship and the doctrine – a self deprogramming as it were. Now they live in a beautiful small home on the top of a rise within the mountains in downtown Hot Springs. The view from their house is woods in every direction and it is hard to imagine they are in the middle of a city. (Yes again! This is the kind of thing we’d like in our place.) You can hardly hear the traffic pass by the bottom of the steep driveway that drops from the house to the road 30 feet below.

We all got along famously, finding it hard to stop swapping stories about all the mystical experiences we have had and the impact on our lives. We couldn’t stop until we were exhausted, but you know how much fun a magical day like that can be. We went back to their place a couple of days later for a photo shoot and Roy invited us to go with him on one of his favorite walks. The trailhead was nearby. This trail, called the “Sunset Trail,” was part of a roughly 9 mile trail wandering the mountain ridges around Hot Springs in a switchback pattern that ended with a trailhead at a scenic overlook on West Mountain, part of the park in downtown Hot Springs. (This and other many trails in the Hot Springs area are easy to find on the net.)

The walk was wonderful, the conversation delightful, and we found many areas of special high energy. In one place, circles of stones naturally placed around the path held sacred ceremony energy. I could not capture this on film, because if I stepped far enough away to get an overview of the circle, it disappeared within the trees. I guess you had to be there.

The spirit of the Native Americans permeated the path. I could almost see Indians like ghosts wandering the trail many years past. Roy took us off the main path on a side trip to Balance Rock. Seems that a metaphysical guide to Hot Springs suggests that this is one of seven vortices in the area. It was high. I saw designs in many colors not unlike ET writing, hard to describe. In fact there was an indented triangular area in the rock, which can also be a star being’s sign.

 (below) Here are a few pics Roy took of the two of us and the path.

And we’re off to another adventure! See you next time…