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 Seven; The NorthEast Loop

What a gas!

We left Asheville the day after the holiday. Already the RV park was thinning out. Heading north, we drove across deep ravines and through gorges surrounded by the ancient and magnificent high forested mountains in the mist known as the “Smokies.”  We drove for miles without an exit, until fuel began to run a little low. Or at least I started to be concerned. The challenge for us here in the boonies was to find diesel fuel. When there’s lot of civilization around, diesel is plentiful along with other gas. But only a few gas stations will offer diesel. Generally it seems about 1 out of 6 or7. Most diesel-run cars and pickup trucks can tank up at the gas stations because the hose is the same size as for cars, just the head of the pump nozzle is usually green. Truckers on the other hand use a bigger diameter hose to fill their enormous gas tanks. Our thinner streamed hoses would take forever. All gas stations list their various gas prices up on a billboard, for economy, regular and supreme. When a station offers diesel, there will usually be a fourth listing beneath the other three. Usually this will be green in color to match the pump head.

Here’s a scene on the road through the Smokies.

So on this day, we were getting low and I was getting anxious. For some reason, I have a major concern about running out of fuel that Daniel doesn’t seem to share. I wonder if that is just a woman and man thing, because my mother and father had it and I know another couple that had it. Anyway, after I began to feel truly uncomfortable as exit after exit led further into isolated farmland or woods with no station in sight, I urged Daniel to exit where there was a diesel sign. We drove for miles looking for the station along a very nice 4 lane road into Elisabethton TN. Finally, after asking at stations and having to turn around the whale a couple of times (with Daniel getting steamed over the extra out-of-the-way trip and effort), we gassed up at a WalMart. Now we were at least 20 minutes or more from the exit we took and Daniel was getting very frustrated over losing all that time. Then I looked on the map and voila! we were in a place with a direct 4-lane connection to Interstate 81 that would take us directly up into Virginia towards our Pennsylvania destination! So the detour turned out not to be such a detour, thank you spirit helpers! We arrived at our campsite, a remote state park outside a small town in Virginia not nearly as stressed as we thought we’d be.


Ups and Downs

To get to our campsite, we had to wind through a small Virginia town and around a school to an area that seemed to be a meeting field for the town. At the office, the clerk said that we’d never get up the road to the main part of the camp. We’d have to choose a spot on the field just below the small office building. We saw several RV’s already lined up along one end of the field near the woods. As we drove Shungo over, we realized that they were all dry-docked. No hookups. They were still here from the July 4th days. There were no shade trees available so we parked in the open field next to a river that murmured and hissed pleasantly. After we set up, it began to gently rain off and on.

During a break in the rain we took our after-dinner walk towards the larger buildings on the side of the field. On the way was a small house with a marker – a local historical site. The main building behind the history-ridden house held a barn style auditorium with stage. Behind the stage were bathrooms available to campers. They had the familiar camp bathroom smell from childhood. We heard wild geese honking at a nearby spot on the river and left the buildings to look. There were about thirty geese grouped together, many with their necks extended. Then suddenly, out of the side of my vision, I sensed movement. I turned to see several small deer on the hillside behind the auditorium building. Standing in the twilight, a few does and fawns nibbled grass, keeping their eye on us. Standing sentry was a larger male. Daniel and I sent them light, delighted to respect and honor their presence. They all lifted their heads and looked directly at us. Then we casually and slowly made our way down the road by the auditorium towards our trailer. They watched and nibbled until something else seemed to rattle them and they all vanished silently, white tails bounding into and disappearing in the undergrowth. It had been yet another beautiful magical moment.

By the time we returned to our trailer, the rain had begun again. It continued through the night. Lying in my bed with raindrops hitting the roof only perhaps five feet away, it can be pretty loud. But it lulled me nevertheless and I sleep deeply, appreciating the peaceful rain. Suddenly I awoke to the loud horn of a train and jumped a couple of inches in surprise. It honked over and over, coming closer and then screamed past. Honking again and again, it eventually went chukety-chukety into the distance. Four a.m.! Why sound the whistle so many times when no one is up and about at that time? Eventually I got back to sleep and then by 6 another one came. 8 a.m. came with yet another. Not a good sleeper, I was tired. Waking up and getting back to sleep is usually hard for me. This was the first train disturbance on the trip. I hadn’t even thought of my sleep being disturbed by trains – just about everything else, but not trains!

The day was beautiful and sunny, once we got up and about. A mist that had surrounded us in the night was lifting and it was chilly. A cold front? In the summer? Virtually unknown to this South Florida gal! As I was putting away the salt lamp, I suddenly noticed the floor was damp under the table. Feeling around with my hand, I found an area that was soaked, next to my seat. I jumped up and took the top off the seat. The rug was soaked throughout and it was worst in the very corner. We had a flood on our hands. The boxes stored under the seat were wet, but since these boxes held my supplements, all in plastic bottles, no product was ruined. Daniel and I threw out the boxes and removed everything. I padded up extra moisture with the rags and we got out the fan. Where was the leak? Suddenly I was displaced from my favorite locale at the dining table. Again, I was getting the message, indirectly of course, not to work on the computer, as it was too hard to find another consistent and available surface space I could sit besides.


The Riverside RV Camp

We broke camp and headed onward, following the front north. We drove through the northern part of Virginia, a region saturated with history. For awhile we traveled along the famous Shenandoah River, site of civil-war enactments at the various battlefield parks. This area held the most traditional energy, having been one of the oldest areas developed in the USA. For hours we moved through gentle rolling hills and rural communities two hundred years old. We traveled alongside the historic Susquehanna River north and arrived at our Pennsylvania RV camp, Riverside. Although the camp was on the Susquehanna, there were no free sites there with sewer. So we set up in a spot overlooking a soybean field (yes, the camp office person identified the crop for us) off by ourselves.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the Susquehanna taken on the drive.

As we went inside to push out the slides, looking forward to relaxing, I saw with horror that my upper shelf over the now-open seat has opened and spilled my box of nutritionals upside down and open into the wet carpet. They were ruined. I sat with the box for a half hour, picking out the few dry pills I recognized. Not only was I being discouraged to spend time on the computer, but now I was being shown that I should probably reduce my pill taking. I resolved to cut the supplements I took in half and see how I felt. By the time we ate dinner, sitting in chairs in the dry area of the RV with our plates on our laps, I chose to take about half the digestive enzymes I usually do. My tummy seemed to like it – “I had it easier tonight” it cooed. “Okay,” I thought, “I’ll take less from now on.”

Noise again. When I finally lay down into my cozy bed, I found that a whiney air conditioner on the top of an RV 3 spaces away was reverberating through the ground into the RV and inside my ears in a particularly difficult and annoying way. Ever since I got the tinnitus from the procaine poisoning in November 2002, sounds can vibrate seemingly inside my head, regardless of how far away they are. Planes and big rigs were usually the worst. Now here I was, creating in my reality yet another sleep disturbance with noise. I put in an ear plug but that wasn’t enough. So I put in both ear plugs. Even that didn’t work unless I slept on my back so that neither ear touched the pillow. Several times during the night I woke myself up from my own heavy breathing. Gee, the night was difficult, but I made it through to morning with just barely enough sleep.

Daylight came at 5 a.m. Robins chirped cheerily but I was already tired and in a grumpy mood. Daniel growled about it, but we decamped and moved over two spaces and recamped. We would’ve moved much further than that except that the spaces were reserved for a group. That night was much more tolerable and I was able to sleep through the machine. There was a train here too, but it only came by at 10 a.m. and didn’t make nearly as much noise as the one in Virginia. Besides, I was usually up by then. However, at 8 a.m., a carillon recording was piped over the whole area from a nearby church in the town. I could only laugh at the amazing synchronicity. Wow, what a precise and specific creation just to annoy myself! It seemed I lined up my sleep disturbances sequentially, one specific type at a time, as if I were giving myself official lessons in how to sleep through various stimuli!

The next day after we moved, the RV club began to arrive. A dozen RV’s converged on one area of the RV park next to us. Everyone evidently knew each other and parties began immediately as people helped others set up. Women busied themselves with setting up a picnic on a couple of tables pulled together in the pavilion nearby and the men discussed their trailers and built fires. We took our evening walk after dinner alongside the soybean field. It was twilight, near 9 p.m., and the lightning bugs (fireflies for you yankees) were thick over the field. Hundreds if not thousands lit up the place making the field and the bordering trees a virtual fairyland. Occasionally a whole group of them in one area would get in sync with each other and flash together. We were delighted. Another magical moment! I hadn’t seen so many lightning bugs since I was a child in Tennessee before all the toxic chemicals like DDT and development destroyed the number of insects and birds. It was wonderful to see the abundance of nature in some small way returned.



Friday we were invited to dinner by the local Galexis friend who had arranged a workshop here in mid-Pennsylvania. Elizabeth is an energy healer with a busy practice in New York City who had found a magical place in Pennsylvania where she could be close to nature and pursue her passion of falconry. Following the directions to her house, we drove through a pass between two beautifully wooded ridges (Pennsylvania seemed to have lots of pretty wooded high flat-topped ridges) and into a valley that wound around and through the modulations of altitude, small towns, and farms.

Elizabeth’s house was perched high upon a hill with a spectacular view of the valley around. The house itself was no ancient farmhouse but only a few years old, so it had all the most up-to-date amenities. Decks were plentiful so that one could see the view from different places around the house. Behind the house rose the hill into woodlands to the top of the ridge. We arrived prepared with hiking clothes to cover us, as Elizabeth had mentioned the presence of poison ivy. I don’t know if I’m allergic but I certainly don’t want to test it and find out! We arrived, drank some water and changed into our hiking clothes, and began hauling ourselves up the steep incline of the trail. The woods were young and the trail scarred due to dirt bikes. She said that she no longer allowed the off-road machines onto her property, which made her unpopular with the enthusiasts but allowed a sense of peace and protection to enter into the forest.

Here’s a panorama of three snapshots blended together so you can get an idea of the scope of the view. This was taken from above the house at the edge of the trees in the “back 40.”

Galexis had confirmed that there were some energy portals on her land near the top, so we worked our way there, Elizabeth pointing out the more magical places she had discovered. I enjoyed going to each place and standing in the various energies. My spirit helpers were obviously very excited about this walk and started chatting to me about the various spots. Here was a faerie meeting place and over there a place of education and information exchange. When we got to the top I could feel a “pull” like a vortex. The guides were adamant to sit down in a particular place. I did, and soon went into trance. Galexis spoke about the place. ET’s would come here as it was a portal bringing them onto the planet. There are many of these portals around the planet and virtually all of them were silenced when their local conditions became hostile due to development or some other human violating activity. This portal can soon be reopened and bring extra consciousness back into the planet. Maybe ET’s will return here. Galexis discussed a few other things and then we returned down another trail.

Elizabeth told us she had trapped and was training a young hawk she named Kittyhawk in the ways of falconry. We were fascinated. Trapped birds used in falconry remain essentially wild and will hunt with their keepers by flying after and catching prey that they look for together.  I was impressed that such powerful creatures would be willing to return to the tethers and a cage after tasting such freedom, but the keepers give them good care and feeding.  You know how wild animals are attracted to consistent and secure food and shelter - in fact most people are too! So once we returned to the house, we changed and headed out to see the Red-Tailed Hawk captured last December. Part of the reason Elizabeth was living here was because she was apprenticing with a Master Eagle falconer, one of fewer than 50 in the US who has a golden eagle, who lived in this area.  Elizabeth has been in falconry for four years.  Since she could not keep a bird in New York City, where she lived for 20 years, she traveled to visit falconers around the US and experienced falconry in both Mongolia and the Czech Republic.

Kittyhawk’s hawkhouse was a renovated outbuilding situated to the side and lower than the house. We tromped down through the thick grass with the camera and peered into the large external cage attached to the shed. Elizabeth called Kittyhawk a  “she” because the hawk was bigger than the usual size for a young male and the shape of the body more like a female of the species, though no DNA testing had been done to make certain of the bird's sex. The small house or "mew" in falconry terms, she told us, was used as a shelter when the weather was truly inclement as well as a nightly roosting place where the hawk puts herself to bed each night.

The large airy double cage with a corner perch called a "weathering area" was accessible for the bird's use whenever she wanted and she spent most daylight hours there. We peeked inside to see the sleeping area. Kittyhawk was sitting on the perch in the smaller of the double cage outside. Carefully we got closer. I had never seen a live hawk up close. She was moulting into a more mature coloring and not in much mood to be admired. However, once Elizabeth went inside, she moved about with some wing-flapping and I could hear the amazing strength in those wings. Sometimes she looked at us curiously and sometimes she glowered. All in all, she was a magnificent creature, proud and strong. We could also see the connection between her and Elizabeth. It could be felt particularly strongly when Elizabeth would hold her close and place a hand on Kittyhawk’s breast. Kittyhawk would become calmer and the two would “talk” in telepathy.

Here’s a picture of Kittyhawk on a mobile perch outside her weathering area.  She wore traditional leather anklets threaded with leather straps to which a leash attached then tethered to her perch.

We returned to the house for dinner and Daniel helped supervise and prepare the chicken and I the salad. Simple repast with good company is always a treasured experience. We watched twilight and then night fall over the beautiful land. We talked until I began to fall asleep (and I’m a night owl so I know it was late!) It was a wee hour by the time we had wended our way back through the wilds to our trailer and collapsed delightfully spent in our comfy beds.



Saturday we headed over to the Cosmic Sage Bookstore in Montoursville Pennsylvania. Connie, the owner greeted us and took us to the room in the back where we would hold the workshop. The bookstore wasn’t all New Age. It also had an Irish theme. It seems there were a lot of Irish in the area, enough to buy various interesting Irish things – imported stones from Ireland, books about Ireland and “proud to be Irish” types of things. Fun. I picked up a few used books for interesting metaphysical reading. Again, as I have every time I see cute Irish stuff, I wish that my very Irish dad could had lived to the time where being Irish is okay, popular, cool. When he was young, it was almost a shameful thing, kinda like being “poor white trash” or something unpleasant like that.

The workshop attendees were few and the room got quite hot and stuffy with the noisy air conditioner off (we were recording), but everyone stuck with it with the ever cheerful and energetic Galexis. The topic was “Lovecraft”, and was focused on the creation and building of a love match with a metaphysical approach. It seems that although we nowadays people have the choice about who to bond with or marry, we are still attached to left-over stories of love (such as that of Lancelot and Guenivere, Romeo and Juliet) from the era in which marriages were arranged. Galexis shared about how to re-envision a love relationship without all that baggage. At the break, the air conditioner was put back on and I was able to show Connie what a Ragweed plant looked like. In fact, I knew most of the plants there, as they were again, the familiar ones that grew in March and April in South Florida – Pepperweed and the various asters, etc. The questions were truly juicy ones, and Galexis was in fine form. The subsequent meditation as usual was powerful and people felt the healing effects. Afterwards, we went out to eat at a local place.


On the Road Again…

Sunday, we headed out to a new place. We didn’t have reservations so we checked out campgrounds along the way. Pennsylvania seems to have a lot of RV parks. Enough, I guess to satisfy the RV clubbers. I selected three different parks, all within about 20 miles. We nearly passed the first one, Penn-Avon, without seeing it as we were involved in a heated argument over defending our temperaments and how put-upon we were with each other’s senses of order. I saw it and yelled “stop!” Daniel pulled onto the side of the road near some parked RV’s. The entrance was behind us about 50 feet, so Daniel started moving the whale forward and backwards so as to turn around. He kept getting close to a dumpster and when I told him that, he ignored me. I guess we were still annoyed with each other. Finally it was time to turn onto the road. I stood and watched, ready to yell stop or whatever was needed. The back of the RV ended pretty far behind the wheels, so every time we turned, we had to take into consideration the arch of the “tail.” It could swing out and hit stuff. And that’s what happened this time. The tail came close to the dumpster and I yelled “stop!” But the trailer kept going. I yelled and screamed “stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!!!!” I waved my arms and jumped up and down, but the trailer didn’t stop until it hit the dumpster and registered a three foot long deep scratch on the side. With all my noise, one of the park residents came out and offered to move the dumpster. I was embarrassed for some reason. Maybe I felt he saw us as inept. I was also upset at Daniel. Seems Daniel didn’t open the passenger side window and thus didn’t hear me. I of course assumed he was ignoring me as he has in the past. After all, Daniel has this ability to tune out sounds to be in his own space. Daniel, on the other hand, was upset with me that I had stood too far out of his visual field and didn’t yell loud enough.

We were both upset and silent as he turned around without hitting anything this time and we entered the park. Penn-Avon was pretty but next to a loud road and too shady. We would not be able to get our satellite dish working and would miss the internet. So we left and went towards the second park. Although we were quiet for a while, we both began talking more gently with each other and went to the heart of our issue. We also noticed that the accident had discharged our emotions and we both were calmer. It felt good, but now we had this scratch to remind ourselves to talk about issues without going into blame or defensiveness.

On down the road, we kept seeing ads for the Knoebel theme park and RV park. I thought already that this one may have too many children in it, but our directory indicated that it was a very big park and we might find it fun to check out the rides etc. But once we turned Shungo into the entrance road, it was evident that our RV was simply too big to get into the park. On top of that, we were sitting in the midst of a hoard of children and their parents, dressed in swimsuits or colorful shorts milling about. The noise of the crowd was a huge white noise. A friendly theme park attendant offered to take us around to the back entrance, available for large rigs. Okay, we said, and he jumped into the back seat of our truck and directed us there. However, without a reservation, there would be no spot for us. And when we saw the campground we didn’t want one! The park was full full full. People’s RVs, cars, tents and trucks were jammed next to and into each other tightly. There were no sites with water available, a necessity for us. So we thanked the attendant and slowly (and with much nervous concern about the angle of the land) turned around and headed out and away. We had no idea that Knoebel’s park was so popular since we had never heard about it before. People were camped out in fields nearby, the overflow. There must have been at least 10,000 people there. Peace and quiet, please! This was one sleep-through lesson I would prefer to not have right now.

A few miles past Knoebel’s was a town named Catawissa and the J & D campground there looked promising. We were given a site off by ourselves, which suited us just fine. Although we heard the highway nearby, it was relaxing. The night was very cool and pleasant – mountain weather. This campground had been flooded the week before and there were still cleanup efforts going on. Pennsylvania had had the worst floods in fifty years. The creek that went along one edge of the campground had flooded so badly that everyone had to be evacuated up to the local High School’s big football field about a half mile away. Many of the evacuees were full-timers and they had to leave a lot of their outdoor stuff such as rugs and small porches, etc. These were still sitting in the now tame creek. On a walk through the place, an old timer (you know, with that folksy style of storytelling) told us about how it all happened and how no one expected it until hours before, and how fast everyone had to act in the middle of the night. I wondered why so many disasters seem to happen in the middle of the night. Every hurricane I had to hunker down for was at night. As a child in Lebanon Tennessee, the spring flood would always hit at night. At 11 p.m., we’d go down to the town square that was built over the creek to watch the water rise.

I had more noise issues here. Early in the morning on the first day in Catawissa, I was awakened with a lot of truck noise. Looking out the back window of my bedroom, I saw that a road repair crew was working on a washed out shoulder just by the campground entrance and the “stop”/”slow” sign person was alternately holding up traffic and letting it go. So I was hearing everyone stopping and starting, and all the repair trucks bringing in fill. The heavy trucks would first bring in and dump a layer of big red rocks (PA has a beautiful almost violet-red stone there) on the shoulder. On top of these rocks was dumped and spread another layer of middle sized whiter rocks, then on top of that was dumped gravel for fill. Of course, all these deliveries of rocks were noisy. I sighed. Like Rosannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live, “it’s always something!” Fortunately my situation was easily fixed with ear-plugs and I practiced letting go of my judgmental responses to the situation. If I don’t have “charge” or extra weight/importance on sleep disturbances with traffic, I think I will probably create these challenges far fewer times – or maybe not have to create it at all.


Yet Another Smell!

After channeling a couple of days at J & D’s and enjoying our walks up the road next door into a pretty farm country, we had to put aside a day to do errands and prepare for leaving. Our clothes and bed linens have to be done about once a week to 10 days, so we went looking for a Laundromat. We found a small but clean one available amidst rundown and empty storefronts in small downtown Catawissa. No one was there so we had our choice of washers. We smelled each one and agreed that the large commercial washers smelled the best. As we were drying our clothes in the best smelling dryers, a woman and her daughter arrived carrying large baskets filled with clothes. I was pleasant and smiled, and so did she. But the odor she emitted was unusually unpleasant, so I hung out upwind of her as much as possible. Daniel went next door and washed the truck in a carwash.

While he was gone, the woman seemed to want to talk. She engaged me in conversation and then she got into her story. Evidently she was embarrassed about her smell and wanted me to know that she didn’t always smell this bad. She talked about how her dog cornered a skunk under their house, which sprayed not only the dog but an intake of some sort to the house’s A.C. As a result, the whole house was inundated with the horrible smell. Everything soaked up the smell and had to be cleaned; rugs, drapes, furniture, and she was washing every piece of clothing a second time around, as the first time didn’t get rid of the smell good enough. They certainly didn’t want to embarrass themselves wearing their stinky clothes in public. The young girl with her started to talk and I listened. Evidently this was encouraging, for then she began to make jokes and act funny in a typical pre-teen way. This small-town overweight girl in ill-fitting shorts pretended to be sophisticated and say stuff as if she was some bored socialite. I was entertained, although her mother was embarrassed over her daughter’s acting out. Don’t you just love “people watching?”