Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

The Balloon Fiesta began Saturday, October 7th and was over on Sunday, October 15. I left Albuquerque a day or so later.

I took about 3,000 during the Balloon Fiesta. I had to create two photo albums in order to get all of the pictures online. In a few months, I will delete most of them and leave about 400 or so pictures in each album, just like I have done in previous years since attending my first Balloon Fiesta in 2011. I leave all of my pictures online for a few months so that any pilots that would like to use my pictures can have time to look through the pictures and take what they want. I have taken about 3,000 every year that I have attended Fiesta.  Every year there are numerous different regular and special shape balloons and it’s interesting to see the new designs and special shaped balloons.

Photo Album of Days 1-4 of Balloon Fiesta.

Photo Album of Days 5-9 of Balloon Fiesta.

If you want to see pictures I took at previous Balloon Fiesta’s, in the search block on this website type Balloon Fiesta and it will bring up the stories and links to the albums. Searching for hot air balloons will bring up additional hot air balloon events and pictures.

Like I wrote above, I took about 2,000 to 3,000 pictures each year, but after a few months I reduce the number to a few hundred photos. I also have stories and pictures from the balloon rally in Longview, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

I remember the “olden days” when we had to buy rolls of film with either 12, 24, or 36 pictures and also needed flash cubes or flash bulbs to take pictures. I know that is really showing my age, but it’s okay. I really like the digital pictures better. At the end of the day when I download the pictures to my computer I am amazed to see that in a single day at Fiesta I can take between 200 and 500 pictures and not even be aware of it. And it’s great to be able to see the pictures soon after being taken rather than having to wait a few days or week until they get developed. It’s also a lot less expensive using digital images than film.

During the past six weeks that I have been in Albuquerque there have been amazing sunrises, sunsets, rainbows,and stormy skies. Yes, the colors in the pictures below are real, I do not use colored filters. It was interesting to see clouds at the bottom of the mountain. I have included these pictures in the photo album for Days 5-9. It was extremely windy the last day of Fiesta and the balloons did not inflate nor fly. The flags were flying straight out which shows how windy it was. I know everyone was disappointed, but it was better to be safe.

 

As in previous years, I really enjoyed my time in Albuquerque. I volunteered at the Balloon Fiesta office again for the month before Fiesta doing various projects and tasks every day depending on who needed help. It really makes it interesting to volunteer and help different people. Plus, I get to meet new people working with others on these projects. I also get to see people that I know from previous years. And it’s nice to give back to an event that brings so much joy to so many people.

This year, I was able to watch the gas balloons fill and launch. The past few years they have launched at times I wasn’t able to watch. This year I was determined to see the gas balloons, it was really fascinating and very different than the hot air balloons. Hydrogen that the balloons are filled with is flammable so only those helping with the balloons are able to be close to them. The process takes hours and it looks very complicated. Sand bags are used for ballast and unlike hot air balloons which fly for an hour or two, gas balloons fly for about three days or so and they fly hundreds of miles. The balloon that flies the farthest distance wins the event.

 

One day after looking at my photos, I noticed that a few of them were pretty amazing like one of the Wells Fargo stagecoach that looks like it landed on the roof of the museum, or the alligator that looks like it’s balancing on the fin of Nitro Fish, or the Bee’s playing around the Wonder Bread balloon, and several others. Looking at the clown with the blue chicken that looks like it’s sitting on the clown’s head it is amazing to realize those balloons are almost the same size, it’s just the location of their placement on the field that makes one look so much smaller. The astronaut looks through the fence at the visitors and balloons on the field. There are many more interesting photos, all my pictures are in the two albums that have links above in this story. The Wonder Bread balloon brings back childhood memories.

I didn’t realize that some of the pictures, like the ones mentioned above, came out so interesting. At first, I didn’t plan on taking a picture of a balloon like the mariachi man waving to the baby. I noticed it after looking at my pictures the end of the day. After seeing those types of pictures for a few days, I realized if I waited a minute or so when a balloon was going up that I might be able to get pictures like the clown with the blue chicken looking like it was sitting on the clown’s head, or the alligator balancing on the fin of the red fish. As I saw the top of the blue chicken balloon behind the clown, I waited a few seconds until the chicken’s body rose enough to see the bottom of the balloon without the basket. As I saw the astronaut landing, I waited until the basket was below the hill behind the fence to take the picture so the basket would not show in the picture. It made picture taking and looking at the pictures more fun than just taking pictures of balloons.

One of the balloon pilots I have made friends with the past several years gave me an entire bag of pins of their balloon for me to give away. I had so much fun doing that. It gave me the opportunity to talk with more people and when I found out it was their first time at Fiesta I gave them a pin, or if I saw a family with children I would go over and give them pins, seeing the surprise and smiles on the people’s faces touched my heart and I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to hand out so many pins. I also took many of the pins I collected over the years and gave them to visitors too.

During the event, I crewed for the same pilot again, it’s my sixth year crewing for Scott on his balloon Big Blue. I didn’t get to go up this year, but it’s okay, I still liked helping and taking pictures. I also was assigned to the Pilot Registration team which I really like. I get to not only meet the pilots, but also see some that I have seen and/or crewed for at other balloon events, or even from previous years at this one. This year, I helped with giving the special shape pilots their pilot packs which was really interesting. I met pilots from lots of different countries. I appreciate the fact that there are numerous female pilots, several from other countries.

Meeting the pilots and seeing what design or shape their balloons are makes it more fun and interesting for me during the event. I find that I take extra pictures of the balloons of the pilots I know. I also still take lots of pictures of Scott’s balloon Big Blue and since I am at the balloon, I get to take pictures of all stages of the balloon from unpacking to it launching and flying. Since Scott had lots of chase crew the entire week, I didn’t even go on chase crew this year which was okay since I volunteered to help set up for the various parties that Fiesta held for the volunteers and pilots. And by staying on the field I was able to walk up close to the balloons and take a lot of pictures. It is not easy for me to decide which pictures to put in my story, so I just choose a few at random.

The motorcycle balloon was new this year and it was really interesting to watch it inflate and fly. I think it was the largest balloon at Fiesta. This was one of the special shape balloon pilots that I helped during pilot registration which made it more interesting when I saw the balloon inflate. Another few of my favorite balloons is the Scarecrow, Owlbert, Astronaut, and Nitro Fish, and the Bees. There are many more that I like but these always make me smile.

A few years ago while talking with Scott, the pilot I crew for, we were talking about various balloons and especially which special shaped ones we liked. Scott told me that the baby bee is piloted by the first paraplegic balloon pilot. I was fascinated. If my tumor continues pressing on the nerves in my leg it’s possible I may be in a wheelchair. So, when I see people in wheelchairs, or with artificial limbs, it touches my heart how they embrace life and continue to do what they love to do. In many instances I try to talk with them and let them know that they inspire me and it also puts my life in perspective. With their permission, I have written a few stories about people with challenges. Here are two of them: a story about David Nicholson, a story about another double amputee Eddie.

A few years ago, I briefly spoke with Michael Glen who is the hot air balloon pilot for Joelly, the baby bee. I told him and the other bee pilots that they could use the photos I took of their balloons. This year, while I was working at the special shape pilot registration table, I was the person working when Michael and the other two bee pilots came for their pilot packets. During Fiesta, I took pictures of the bees and was really happy when they were flying near my friends Wonder Bread balloon. I took several pictures where it looks like the bees were playing around that balloon, and also the Uncle Sam balloon.

One evening during the balloon glow I was near the bee balloons and I took numerous pictures of them inflating, including quite a few of Michael inflating his balloon and I was fascinated and impressed how agile and skilled he is maneuvering to get his balloon in position to inflate and stand up. I had heard that Michael has a special type of bench that allows him to fly his hot air balloon but I had not before tonight been able to see what it looks like or how he manages this task. From crewing many times, I know how much work it is for those of us without challenges to get a balloon from packed in its bag to inflated and standing upright. I couldn’t imagine what it would involve for someone in a wheelchair or without the use of his legs.

With Michael’s permission, I am posting some pictures of him positioning himself into his special bench seat to get his balloon upright. Here is a link to Michael’s website. I also found this story about Michael Glen telling a part of his story, here is another story.

Meeting Michael and seeing his smile and experiencing his wonderful, friendly personality, and knowing that he lives his life in a wheelchair, inspires me and gives me hope. Many times over the years when I have had operations and faced life changing health situations I wondered if it was more serious would I have the courage and whatever else it would take to have a good attitude and overcome my challenges. Seeing Michael and others with physical challenges gives me so much hope that I would be able to adjust to whatever happens. One day I was at my doctor’s office and I met a young man that has no arms, not even stubs of arms. He wrote by putting a pen in his mouth, and he used his phone by moving the screen with his nose. Once again, I am inspired and in awe.

If you want to read my posts on inspirational poems and stories, you can do a search for that phrase as well. A few years ago I wrote a story called Seriously, Really, you would rather be an ostrich. It’s a post about the importance of having legal documents prepared. I also have stories about my mentor Lois who died in 1989, her influence on my life has helped me on a daily basis.

Balloon Fiesta purchased 19 acres of land on the northwest side of the field and they made it into parking for the volunteers and also they created RV spaces with full hookups, and it’s pretty level which was great. The past several years I liked being on the hill overlooking the field even though there was only electric, but I didn’t like that I had to be on several boards to get level. I feel that this new area is an improvement and is close enough to walk to the places on the field I needed to get to. In addition, there were golf carts and trolleys to get the volunteers from place to place.

Several times during my time in Albuquerque I went to the Balloon Museum and I posted stories and pictures of my visits. You can use the search feature on my website to locate these stories and also other places I visited in Albuquerque and New Mexico. Search for museum or Albuquerque.

I am hoping to attend Balloon Fiesta again in 2018. Feel free to explore my website, I retired in June 2011 and I have traveled around the country and visited numerous National Parks and other places of interest. I have a travel map button for every year of my travels.

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Driving from Albuquerque to Gallup, NM

Several weeks ago another RV volunteer and I took a drive to Gallup, NM, which is about two and a half hours west of Albuquerque. I didn’t write a story then because I didn’t have wifi to post the story. We didn’t see anything we wanted to stop at so when we got there we turned around and drove back to Albuquerque. The scenery we passed on the drive was sometimes just flat and lots of dirt, and other times the mountains we drove through were amazing. We saw lots of trains, and most of them were over a mile long and in many parts of the trip there were double train tracks. I’m guessing that most of the freight is brought by rail.

It was nice being a passenger for part of the trip so I could take pictures. I was out this way in 2011 and I couldn’t take pictures since I was driving and by myself. This is the same road I drove when I went to Acoma Sky City in 2011.

 

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Albuquerque Sunsets, stormy skies, and 100,000 miles on camper

As I was going through eastern New Mexico my camper Molly reached 100,000 miles on her odometer. When I bought her in November 2005 she had 25,000 miles which wasn’t very many miles for her being seven years old. We have traveled a lot of miles together the past 11 years and hope to have many more miles to travel. There have been many adventures and experiences we have been through together, lots of up and down steep mountains, long stretches of road where we enjoyed the scenery and seldom saw any other vehicles or structures, and sometimes drove through heavy rainstorms. I have enjoyed the travels and it is something I have wanted to do since I was in my early 20’s. My dream became a reality, and the adventures continue.

Even when repairs were needed, I was in places where they could be fairly easily. It was not always convenient like my transmission went out in rural Mississippi in July and I had to be towed twice and wait a week for a new transmission. I was able to be plugged into electricity at the repair shop and at one of the two mechanics I was at there was a grocery store across the street. It all worked out well and I was in a safe place. Once again, God took excellent care of me.

Arriving in Albuquerque with about 100,290 miles, I am staying in one of the Fiesta RV parking areas and I am working in the Balloon Fiesta office during the day.

God has been creating amazing, spectacular, and unusual sunsets, and stormy skies. To the east is the Sandia mountain range. Sandia I was told means watermelon and when the sun shines on the mountain in the late afternoon, often the mountain turns to a light pink color like a watermelon. Other than the mountain in the east, the terrain is flat. So when it’s stormy and raining I can see the rain coming down from the clouds all around and I can see it moving towards me. Some days the afternoons bring heavy winds and all of our campers feel like being in a rocking chair. Even the people in the large motor homes feel the wind rocking their campers. In stories I have written while at Fiesta in previous years I included pictures of various shots of the mountains during sunset and the stormy skies. You can search Balloon Fiesta to see pictures and stories from the other five years I have been here.

Albuquerque has the most amazing sunsets and stormy skies. There have been several days recently that in the afternoon the sky gets stormy, the winds pick up, and there is rain all around us. A few days we got rain where we were. Some days the clouds are down over the top of the mountain range, this morning, there were clouds also at the bottom of the mountain. It was really cool to look at. The elevation here is about 5,200 feet.

Here are a few pictures I took of the sky during the different weather events this past week. God creates the most spectacular scenery, almost no two days are the same. The colors and designs of the clouds and sky are beyond spectacular and even beyond what I could imagine most days. Also, how the sky and clouds can change in a day, and sometimes in less than an hour. I added additional sunset and stormy sky pictures to the Balloon Fiesta album of days 5-9.

 

 

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Albuquerque and Hurricane Irma update

I am keeping busy in Albuquerque working at the Balloon Fiesta office and I also took a CPR and First Aid class the other day. I have some pictures to upload of balloons inflating and flying recently. I will try to get that done soon. I have limited time and wifi at this time which makes it a bit inconvenient to post stories and photos. I wanted to write this short post to let you know that I am doing well and that due to the hurricane going more west my apartment and most of the area where I live was okay other than power outages, wind, and rain. There were lots of trees and street signs that were damaged.

That’s about it for now, will try to post more soon.

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Hurricane Irma in Florida, I am in Albuquerque, New Mexico, update after Irma

I arrived safely in Albuquerque on August 25th.There’s a hurricane in South Florida which is looks like it’s going to hit where I live or where my apartment is I should say. In some respects I’m glad I’m not there, but, I wish I were in case something needs to be done in my apartment especially after the storm passes through.

I am extremely grateful to my friend Nona who went with her grandsons and put shutters up on my apartment and tried to secure it the best they could. They also took my important documents to keep them safe and moved my car to where we hope it will be safe as well. This is a very large and powerful hurricane. I was in Florida several years ago when we got the direct hit from Hurricane Wilma. It was very destructive and this storm is supposed to be more powerful and higher winds, etc.

I’m hoping and praying that my car does not get damaged in the rain and that everybody stays safe and there’s minimal property damage but from the size of the storm that may not be possible.

I will have to wait and find out after the storm passes what if any damage there is to my apartment and car, then decide if I need to try to get back to Florida or stay where I am. I am praying that things will be as we all left them and that the damage to everyone in Irma’s path is minimal. I know that there is a mandatory evacuation for the area where I live and I know some of my friends and neighbors have chosen to stay in their homes. I pray that they are safe.

In addition to sending prayers to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey we’re praying that Hurricane Irma doesn’t do much serious damage to Florida or anyone else in her path along the way.

Since my mom passed away a few months ago, I have been giving thought to whether or not I want to continue to live in south Florida or move elsewhere. I have been giving thought to buying a larger camper and living in it full time, doing more volunteer work around the country like other RVer’s I know have been doing. What should I give away or keep of my possessions, etc. I like having an apartment so I can cook, shower, have a regular size bed, etc. However, I have also learned how little I really need to live and be comfortable. A few months before I left I bought a new set of cookware that I really love to use.

I have been praying for God to let me know what I am to do, what God’s will is for me with regard to my future plans and what I should be doing. Perhaps this is God’s answer to me. I would like to believe that it would have been a more subtle and less dramatic answer, but sometimes I need to be made aware in a large way. Either way, I am currently safe, even though my heart is with my friends in Florida and the path of Irma, and my stomach has a bit of a knot in it for the unknown which none of us have control over other than prayer.

It could be that whatever I have with me is all that I have left of my “things.” I know it’s just “stuff” although some of the items can be replaced, other items cannot. Before I left home I had this thought that said to get apartment insurance. At first when I moved there I wasn’t expected to live much longer so I didn’t and then like others since we thankfully did not get any hurricanes for many years didn’t think about insurance again. But for some reason, maybe a premonition, I had a thought to get apartment renters insurance before I left so I did and the 30 day waiting period was over weeks ago thankfully.

The forms from the insurance company said to list everything and I knew I didn’t have time since I was getting ready for my trip. So, I decided to take pictures of everything in my apartment so when I got time, or if it was needed for any reason, I would have documentation by photos. I am so glad I took the pictures and put them on my computer.

Hopefully, the roof will stay on my building and there will be no damage. But seeing as the path of the storm is coming over the city where I live, and we are on the dirty side of this powerful storm, and knowing the damage the wind did from Wilma who was a lesser wind storm, I am not very hopeful at this time. I know prayer works well. I am trying to just stay in the now and not project what will happen. I will know more after the storm passes and Nona can get out after seeing how her home is after the storm, and when she will be able to get to my apartment to see how it did and she will let me know.

Please send all of the people in the path of the hurricane your thoughts and prayers. Thank you very much. Unless I go to the Balloon Fiesta office with my computer, I only have my phone for Internet, and it is very limited. I will try to update my website as I am able to.

Thankfully for the eastern coast of Florida, and sadly for other parts of Florida, the storm damage was not as bad as it could have been and not like the damage from Hurricane Wilma when she hit the southeastern coast. Thanks to my friend Nona and her grandson my apartment was secured. After her family cleaned up the storm damage on her property, she brought my car back to my apartment and she let me know that there was no damage to my apartment or car. There was loss of electric and still many are without power. I am grateful the storm wasn’t as bad for us and I am still praying for all those affected by the recent storms, fires around the country, and whereverit is needed.

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Albuquerque Balloon Museum

Once again I am in Albuquerque and on Sundays the Balloon Museum is open and there is no admission charge on Sunday’s from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Last year I could tell that the museum was changing exhibits and that there would be some new ones this year. If you want to see the stories and photos from my previous museum visits you can search on my website, I think there are two other stories I posted with pictures.

There are several new exhibits such as the Arctic and North Pole expeditions, weather information, and several other exhibits. I did miss seeing some that were removed to make room for the new exhibits. Many of the new exhibits have interactive computer games and informational screens that visitors can use to either play games or learn about the background of the exhibit.

I took lots of pictures of the storyboards in several exhibits, I hope you can read them. The Arctic and North Pole exhibits are really interesting. I can’t imagine flying and living in the conditions they did. And some of the people died and the bodies weren’t found for several decades. To see more pictures and read about this and other expeditions explore my photo album.

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Homestead Heritage, Waco, Texas

After saying goodbye to Sue and Mark on Saturday morning, I headed south to Waco to visit my friends in Homestead Heritage and to park in the Yarden’s front yard which is my usual place to stay when in Waco. I love this family and the people in this community. It’s like I am part of their family because I have known them for so many years.

I fill my time visiting with different families and like in previous years, I help out at the Cheese Shop, Gristmill, Bakery, and wherever else my assistance is needed. This year I also volunteered to crochet some baby blankets for them to sell at the Thanksgiving Fair. Sue in the Fibercraft Shop gave me the softest yarn to use. It is 70% baby Alpaca and 30% Bamboo. I really enjoyed crocheting with it. I don’t remember ever using yarn this soft. I know that whoever buys this blanket will wrap their child in the softest, most cuddly blanket. I have been blessed to be able to make several baby blankets using soft alpaca yarn.

In the mornings I walk to the Bakery, it’s about a mile, then in the afternoon I walk back to my camper so I get at least a 2 mile walk every day. Walking gives me the opportunity to observe nature and take pictures as I walk. I love looking at the Century plant. It puts up a very tall spike which reminds me of an asparagus spear, and I also get to look at the beautiful gardens surrounding the numerous buildings here.

I created an album of pictures I have taken on this trip, there are many new buildings and things to see here this year that are different from previous years. I also took pictures of the process we used for making the marinated feta cheese at the Cheese Shop.

Since my visit here last year, there have been several changes. The new Brazos Valley Cheese Shop is completed and they are working in it now. I got to work there last Wednesday, and I will do so again this Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Bakery is making some new items and I was able to sample these delicious breads and treats. The Aquaponics greenhouse is now finished and the fish that are in the tank are plentiful and seem happy swimming in their new home. There are lots of new gardens with plants that I can’t identify but I know they have a purpose and are used for food. The Grocery store has lots of interesting food products and fresh grown produce. The lady that does the writing for the various categories has beautiful handwriting.

The pears have been picked from the Yarden’s trees and I will peel and cut them and put them in the dehydrator. I also help harvest ripe vegetables from the garden and it’s early in the year so I don’t have pecans to collect yet, that happens in October and November.

After I leave Waco, I will head towards Albuquerque, I still have not decided which route to take. It might be the same one as last year, then again as I travel I might see another route to take so that I see different scenery. I pray that the remainder of my trip is incident free from repairs. While in Waco, the friends that I am staying at have a mechanic maintenance shop and they will change the oil in my camper van and check it over to make sure they do not see anything that needs attention. They always do that for me while I am here. I have learned over the years, and also on this trip, that even though everything checks out okay, that things happen, parts stop working, and things that worked fine suddenly don’t. Every year that I can remember since I retired in 2011, there is something that happens or needs to be repaired. Thankfully, I have always been in a location where it can be fixed, and most importantly, where I am safe while that happens.

I know that God is taking excellent care of me. I continue to pray and ask God for direction of what I am supposed to be doing with this extra time I have been given. Am I doing what God wants me to do, am I where I am supposed to be? Asking for direction and guidance is one thing, and the easier thing to do. What is more difficult is listening for the answer and taking that direction. Sometimes it is what I want and other times God has other plans for me and what I should be doing. For example, when my transmission went out in Mississippi a few weeks ago and I was in Mississippi for a week when my plan was to be in Longview, Texas, at a hot air balloon event. That still worked out well as you can read in the story about my transmission in a previous post.

 

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Crowley, Texas, Soldier Memorial at the Library

Most of the time I don’t have my camera with me when I am doing errands or going places with friends so I take pictures with my phone and email them from my phone to my computer, then I copy them into the picture folder on my computer. These photos fall into that category. I had no idea when we decided to go to the Crowley Library that they added this memorial garden since my last visit here a year or two ago.

At the Crowley Library there is a Soldier Memorial Park which I found to be very heart touching. I took pictures of the entire park and all of the granite slabs with the different branches of the military. I tried to get pictures where the wording on each slab shows. The words for each branch of the military and also the words near the center of the memorial really touched my heart. I hope you are able to read them. I think this is an important story to write and read and remember and thank the soldiers who have served our country so we could continue to have the freedom we cherish.

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Visiting friends in Fort Worth, Texas

I spent almost a week with my friend Sue and her husband Mark near Fort Worth. My friend Pat joined us for lunch a couple of times and it was great spending time with my long time friends and catching up on life and sharing stories of recent things we have been doing or have been happening in our lives.

Sue and I even made time to go to the gym three times and we were able to do some cardio exercises and even took two yoga classes which is great. My goal is to still do exercise while I am on my trip.

As we were leaving a restaurant where we had lunch we saw numerous fire trucks in the adjoining parking lot. We found out that Wendy’s restaurant had a grease fire and it spread to the roof of their restaurant. Thankfully, it looked like minimal damage and no one was injured. It was interesting watching the firefighters handle the scene and orchestrate the incident. We then went on our separate ways after giving each other hugs and saying we will miss each other but will continue to stay in touch.

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Great Texas Balloon Race, Longview, Texas

I arrived in Longview about noon on Friday, July 28th, and I found out the morning session was cancelled due to weather conditions, so I did not miss much by my delay getting to Longview. I was able to work the gate taking tickets for the evening session, and I met the Harold “Bubba” Cliver, the pilot I would be crewing for the rest of the weekend.

It was quite a bit windy Friday night but the balloons set up and glowed for the people the people that came to watch the balloons glow. Several branches of the military had planes and helicopters on display for people to look at and I saw lots of children climbing into the helicopters and airplanes. I saw from the expression on their faces how excited they were to have this wonderful experience. Personally, I would have loved a flight in them.

Saturday morning I met my pilot Bubba and his son Christopher who is also a pilot. Since Bubba had enough crew I helped Chris. Of course as is normal when finding the best location to launch from for competition a caravan of trucks with balloon baskets and envelopes drove to various locations and sent up pi ball balloons to check the wind direction and speeds.

It is a small world, one of Bubba`s crew members and I have a mutual friend in Bryan, Texas. Saturday morning when Chris finally was finally able to land the sky opened up and it was raining really hard, we all got soaked. The wind conditions were not the best which caused some issues where the balloon could land. When we arrived at the balloon field at the airport someone I spoke with said they only got a few drops of ra in at the airport, not the heavy downpour we got a few miles away.

Saturday evening we once again inflated the balloons, there were approximately 48 regular shape balloons and 8 special shaped ones. I got to see several pilots I knew an crewed for in previous years, and I also got to see people I met there the past few years. Saturday night the main performer was Travis Tritt. I am not a country music fan, however, I did enjoy the music.

Here is a link to the photo album of pictures I took during the Great Texas Balloon Race.

Sunday morning was the last day of the balloon competition and the weather cooperated. When the event was over I headed towards Fort Worth to stay at my friend Sue`s house.

 

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Traveling west, transmission problems, and GRATITUDE

Before I left home on July 13th I wrote a short post saying I am ready for a new adventure and expedition. Perhaps I shouldn’t have written it quite that way, although I have a few times in the past and I really meant it when I wrote it. I know that God always watches out for me and continues to do so even when I am on the trips in my camper. Every year when I am on the road in my camper van it seems something happens and a repair is needed, and so, including this time, I am in a location where it can be taken care of and I have always been in safe locations. Well, this time it happened again, and not very long into my trip.

Before I left home I had four new tires put on Molly my camper van, had everything checked by my mechanic the best they were able to check. Charlie a friend from the gym I go to helped me and he put silicone on all of the places we could find that were causing water leaks in my camper. There has been a lot of rain so far this trip, and thankfully, so far, no water leaks inside which is a HUGE BLESSING. I was always able to get it dry right away but still, it was not something I wanted to happen.

I stopped at my friend Cindy’s house near Jacksonville, Florida, for a few days, then I headed west towards my next destination Longview, Texas, to volunteer at the Great Texas Balloon Race, this would be my third year volunteering and crewing there. I was really looking forward to it.

Before leaving Cindy’s house, and the night I stopped near Pensacola, I looked at my maps trying to decide which route I wanted to take to get to Interstate 20 which would take me into Shreveport, Louisiana, then Longview, Texas. I try to take different roads each time so I see different sites and scenery. I pretty much decided to take highway 49 from near Mobile, Alabama. It seemed the shortest distance and not a route I had taken in previous years. I stopped at a rest area in the Florida panhandle and saw a truck that had a city in Florida near me and I went and asked him about the route that would be best. He was going back to Florida and said he just came down highway 49 from Texas. I also stopped at the Alabama Welcome Center and one of the volunteers there said that he takes highway 49 when he goes to Texas. That confirmed the route I should take.

So, I headed that way, I had to take a different road until I could get to highway 49. The scenery was really beautiful, rolling hills, green grass and lots of tall trees, and thankfully not much traffic. A few areas with construction which seems to be everywhere around the country.

I stopped for gas before before I left I-10, and after I had driven about 150 miles into Alabama and then into Mississippi on highway 49, I saw a gas stations with prices of $1.99 and 9/10s a gallon. I have no idea who came up with a fraction of a penny for gas. So, I decided to stop for gas even though I knew I had enough until I got to I-10.

Surprise!!! After filling the tank, I started the engine and it seemed to rev loudly, I stepped on the gas and it hesitated to go. It went a few yards until I came to a stop sign, then when I stepped on the gas to go again, the van would not move forward, I put it in reverse, and it would not go backward. Strange I thought, it was working fine this entire trip, including when I turned it off. I turned off the engine, put my flashers on, and started it again, same thing, it would not move. Finally, I was able to get to the traffic light. A truck was behind me and didn’t leave much space even though my flashers were on and he could see I was having vehicle problems. Anyway, when the light changed, I stepped on the gas and again, no movement. Finally, after another light change I was just barely able to get across the road into a parking lot and it just so happened there was an Auto Zone store there. I went in and asked if they had a machine to see if there was a code on the vehicles computer telling what the problem might be. There was not a code saying anything was wrong. I suspected the transmission. Once before in my 1972 Ford when it had a transmission problem it would not go into gear easily, not just stopping like this one did.

The Auto Zone worker called a few local mechanics to see if anyone would look at my van, and after several calls we found one that would. I had AAA tow me and the camper van a couple of miles to the mechanics shop. They agreed that it was the transmission and that it would take several days to get one. They wanted to put a transmission in that was from a salvaged van that is the same as mine. I called my friend in Texas that is a mechanic to get his input and he called me back saying not to put one in from a salvaged vehicle because there is no way to know what condition it is in and it could go out in a few hundred miles, or last years. He recommended to use a remanufactured one even though it would be a couple of thousand dollars more. I thought that sounded like a good idea, my camper has 98,888 miles and I had been thinking about trading it for a newer model that has more room in it and travel more months a year since mom died a few months ago and I don’t need to be home to help her any longer. After lots of thought and prayer, I decided to keep Molly, my camper, because I am used to her, I know what has been done mechanically and I take really good care of her. I am used to the way she drives, and she fits into a regular parking spot, and really has everything I need, other than floor space. I am used to sleeping on a bed only 25 inches wide and 6 feet long.

Walkers Inc the mechanic shop I was towed to had a level spot under a metal roof where they parked me and plugged me into electricity. I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and they were busy with other vehicles then and on Friday and said on Monday they would look at what to do with my transmission. I stayed in their lot all weekend and it was fine, I read books and relaxed. I called another one of my friends that is a mechanic in South Carolina and explained what happened and he agreed that I should only have a remanufactured transmission installed, not a salvage one. He said that he uses Jasper transmissions and has had good luck with them. Monday morning I told the manager at Walkers that I want a remanufactured one rather than a salvage one and the older man that owns the repair place refused to install anything other than a salvage one. I won’t go into all of that discussion, he was inflexible and not kind about it. Told me to get towed somewhere else in that case. His manager looked on the internet and found a mechanic that is a Jasper dealer about 40 miles south of where we were and he called him and told him my situation. To make another long story short, I got towed there and they found a spot next to their building to park me and plug me into electric. I paid extra to get the transmission there in three days rather than however long it would have taken otherwise.

Jasper transmissions has to build the transmission, then ship it to this mechanic which is B & B Automotive Services Inc, 1018 Highway 42, Sumrall, Mississippi, phone 601-758-4600. Brandy the owner of this repair shop and Ashley who works for him are both very nice and I am grateful that they let me stay here until the transmission comes. It saved me having to get somewhere and be towed again when the engine arrives. If you are in the area and need a good mechanic get in touch with B & B Auto.

Every trip something happens, sometimes mechanical and sometimes other things like the pump for water in my faucets, or the air conditioner, or the back step would not go up, etc. Always, I have been in a place where I am safe and could get the repairs made. Last October I wrote about when I got to Waco and my van was fine when I turned it off at night, and in the morning it made noise and was the engine air conditioner compressor. I was close to my friend that is a mechanic and got it fixed there. I always pray every day that we all get where we are going safely. I ask God that if something happens to let it be how He wants it to happen and I hope that when or if it does that I am on level ground not a steep incline so my refrigerator doesn’t get messed up, it needs to be level. That’s what happened this time. It didn’t break when I was on long stretches of road where there was nothing for many miles, or on the hills that I drove through, or when I was leaving a rest area in the middle of nowhere. It happened where I was able to find help and get to a repair shop fairly easily, even though it was raining the times I had to be hooked to a tow truck.

Across the street from B & B Automotive there is a grocery store, and also a beauty parlor, and a few other small stores. I am able to get food if I need any, I have plenty but I went and got a hot meal in their deli section. It’s not Publix, but it’s a nice store. I really need my hair washed, it’s been over a week since I washed it, so I am going to the beauty parlor for a wash today. Also, after three more days of rain, the sun is out today!!!

Another blessing, in 2012 when I was in Waco, my friend Shahar who is the mechanic said I should have my transmission fluid serviced and use BG fluid and conditioner, he said there is a warranty and if my transmission goes bad there would be a chance to get some money towards the repair if I get it changed according to their warranty terms. So, I had the fluids changed with approximately 68,000 miles, then last summer when I was there and there were 27,000 more miles on the transmission, I had it changed again because the warranty said it had to be changed under 30,000 miles. B&B and Shahar’s shop Homestead Maintenance worked with the BG representatives providing the necessary documents and I just found out that $1,000 will be paid by BG towards my repair. What a huge blessing, it was about $2,000 more to have a remanufactured transmission vs a salvage one. The Jasper transmission that is being installed has a 3 year 100,000 mile warranty. I doubt I will drive 100,000 miles in three years, more like 18,000 miles. I only go on a 5 month trip usually every year.

Well, due to this hiccup in my trip, where thankfully I am safe and able to get the repairs done properly, I did not get to Longview in time to help them prepare the pilot packets, or help with pilot registration, and I am going to miss the pilot party and first day of the balloon competition. I am about 400 miles away. Depending on what time the transmission comes on Thursday and when they can get it installed which should take about 5 or 6 hours, I may not be able to leave until Friday. Which means I would miss the entire event. I hope to at least be able to get there to help sometime on Saturday and Sunday morning. If not, oh well, it’s out of my control. God has a reason that I was not supposed to be there. My friend Jean used to tell me all the time, almost every day, no matter what the circumstance… “It couldn’t have happened any other way.”

At least I am safe, I have money to get the repairs made, and to have new tires put on before I left home, I have food to eat, a safe place to stay, etc. And wifi to update my website and let you know what’s been happening the past week or so since I left home.

My next stop after Longview, if I make it there, will be Fort Worth area to see a few friends and then on to Waco to see my friends there for a few weeks, then I plan to arrive in Albuquerque the end of August until the middle of October for Balloon Fiesta helping before and during the event. After that I have no plans, I will decide closer to that time.

I have been feeling well and have minimal pain, and some days almost none. That is a HUGE BLESSING too. Especially when I think back to previous years and even earlier this year when the pain was so intense. I know taking exercise classes and yoga classes really helped me and I am trying while I am away to at least to do some stretching and yoga positions when I can even though it’s not two hours a day like when I was home and went to the gym.

Well, that’s about it for now. I just typed this post and did not reread it, so please forgive spelling, etc. I also will try to keep my travel map updated.

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Getting ready for more adventures and another expedition

It’s that time of the year for me to begin a new journey and have new experiences, and also go to some of the same places to enjoy visiting with my friends around the country, and also for volunteering at various hot air balloon events in various states.

I have been busy preparing the camper and getting my things together for the trip. I even treated myself to a massage today which was very much needed after doing my yoga and exercise classes and loading things into the camper. I ended up buying four new tires, the ones on my camper only had 25,500 miles on them but they were four years old and they were starting to have some small cracks in the rubber. I need to feel safe with my tires since I drive long distances and frequently have long stretches of road where I don’t have phone service nor see cars very often. Everything checked out okay and I am looking forward to this trip.

I will miss seeing my friends here and doing things with them, and also I will miss my exercise classes and the people in them. I need to stay motivated and do my exercises and yoga exercises while I am traveling. That’s about it for now. I will update my travel map tab as I get wifi.

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May and June 2017 Happenings, and Relay For Life Event, Poem “Smart”, and Ice Cream Maker

May 6th was the Deerfield Beach, Lighthouse Point, Hillsboro Beach Relay For Life event. This year Pompano Beach joined our event. It seems over the past several years it’s been more difficult to get people to want to organize and devote time to putting on this event which raises money for many functions of the American Cancer Society including cancer awareness, prevention, research, services provided to cancer patients and their families, etc. So having several cities join together seems to keep the event continuing and we get to meet new people and teams this way too. The weather was great this year, no rain thankfully. Bobby Rubino’s in Pompano Beach provided a delicious dinner of chicken, ribs, and other wonderful foods for the survivor dinner. We thanked them for their kindness and generosity. I walked the survivor lap and many other laps, I think I walked about three miles or so during the event. As always,, the luminaria ceremony when it gets dark is the most touching. Seeing all of these bags which only represents a fraction of the people who either are conquerors and won the battle with cancer, or lost the battle to cancer, really makes the reality of cancer touch our hearts. Like others there I have lost many people to cancer, and I have had it several times myself. So far, I have been one of the conquerors.

 I am still making my own breads, cookies, pasta, etc. and I am having lots of fun doing research looking for new recipes using ingredients I have on hand, or some that I want to try. I have some saffron and wanted to look for recipes using it and a friend of mine didn’t know I had some and she gave me a package so now I am looking for bread and other recipes using it. I made some bread the other day using fresh rosemary that someone gave me, it came out really great, it was a big hit with people I gave some to, and I made some adding garlic powder and dill to the rosemary, it was also delicious. I also made pasta for a lasagna I made and it tasted better than the store bought pasta.

I am still crocheting blankets for the NICU (Neo Intensive Care Unit) of a local hospital. I think I’ve been doing too much crocheting because my hands and wrists feel it, but I enjoy making them and it gives me something to do in my spare time. So far, I’ve donated 36 blankets. By doing this crocheting, and cooking and baking from scratch, I have not been doing other things like updating my website, adding links to older stories connecting them to the photo albums, etc. So, today on this rainy Sunday, I am working on my website and adding some more links. I already added about 40 links in stories a few weeks ago and I have about that many more to do. I plan on adding some more today and finishing this project in a week or two. Believe it or not, I am still working on 2011 links and stories. This is when I did my first and very extensive trip driving 12,000 miles from south Florida to northwest Washington State and numerous states and places between them.

 When I was at a local store the other day buying some more yarn for the blankets, I saw this plaque, I also bought a glass that says No All Who Wander Are Lost. I am planning on leaving sometime in July o another excursion. I don’t have all of the destinations planned yet and I might not until I am on the road. Most of my trip will be similar to previous years, visiting my friends in Texas and then spending about six weeks in Albuquerque both before and during the Balloon Fiesta. I am not sure if I will be attending and volunteering at the hot air balloon events in Shreveport, LA, and Longview, TX. I had fun last year at those events, but it was also 100 degrees and I had no electric hookups.

That is about all for now, I want to work on adding links in stories to the photo album for that location so my readers can see the photos I took at those places, such as Crater Lake, Mesa Verde National Park, Acoma Sky City, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and many more locations.

June 11, 2017 – I just finished adding links to all of my stories so that the albums of pictures I took are available to everyone to look at. At least as far as I know all albums are linked to a story, and hopefully the correct one. It’s been a time consuming but enjoyable task. I got to see pictures and read stories about places I got to visit and experience and people I met along the way. I forgot some of the experiences or pictures and it was really a special treat to experience them again. I have posted approximately 150 photo albums, that’s a lot of pictures. I think I have taken over 40,000 pictures since June 2011. No wonder I wore out my camera!!! And I have 290 stories posted.

What a blessed life I have, even with challenging life experiences that I have had during my lifetime. I am so grateful, all of my experiences and the people I have met and interacted with in any way have made me the person I am today and enabled me to have the life I have today. I admit that there have been times that I probably wasn’t grateful or very accepting at the time, but for almost 30 years I have continued to look for things to be grateful for… no matter what as Lois used to instill in me. You can read stories about Lois doing a search for her name on my website. She passed away in 1989 and she is still an influence in my life today, as are several other people.

I ordered a small ice cream maker the other day and it came yesterday. It makes 1.5 pints of ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelato, or sorbet at a time. I made cookies and cream and butter pecan ice cream so far, next is blueberry cheesecake ice cream. I used to have an ice cream maker that had a tub that had to be frozen to make the frozen dessert and if one batch was made I had to wait until the container froze again to make another batch. This ice cream maker is different. It is Cook’s Essentials Thermo-Electric Self Freezing Ice Cream Maker by Maxi-Matic so there is no waiting time to make additional batches. It doesn’t seem like 1.5 pints is much, but it’s 2 1/2 cups, and when I went to the grocery store this morning to buy ingredients for the ice cream, I saw that famous brands sell their ice cream in 1 pint containers.

Here is a Shel Silverstein poem that I really like, it makes me chuckle.

Smart – Poem by Shel Silverstein

My dad gave me one dollar bill ’cause I’m his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters, ’cause two is more then one!
And then I took the quarters and traded them to Lou
For three dimes– I guess he didn’t know that three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates and just ’cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes, and four is more than three!
And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them, and five is more than four!
And I went and showed my dad, and he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head–
Too proud of me to speak!

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Altamont, Tennessee, Land for Sale in Hunter’s Ridge on Gap Road

I want to sell a lovely, peaceful, scenic, 5.9 acre wooded piece of property that I own on the Cumberland Plateau in Altamont, Tennessee, which is in Grundy County. My property is in Hunter’s Ridge, Unit 3. It is approximately 5 miles from the town of Altamont where the Grundy County Courthouse and numerous businesses are located. There are also several businesses closer to the property. Land in Hunter’s Ridge is parceled in a minimum of five acre tracts. Altamont is approximately 55 miles northwest of Chattanooga, and about a three hour drive northwest of Atlanta. It’s also about 78 miles from Nashville. Taking back roads it’s about an hour and a half driving time.

This is a beautifully wooded piece of land, and I had a gently curved gravel road put in on the northwestern side of the property going about 3/4 of the way back. Here is a link to a photo album of pictures I took a few years ago in both the summer and fall. Because of the thick brush, I wasn’t able to see all the way back into the property, that’s why I had the road put in close to the side boundary. Also, by visiting there in two different seasons, it shows what the land looks like with and without leaves on the trees. There are several nice locations on the property to place a house and still leave lots of tall trees around it for shade. This is one of the nicest pieces of property in Hunter’s Ridge, it sits high on the plateau and it’s close to owning a bluff view property.

Here is a link to the photo album which contains over 100 pictures.

There are several photos in the album which were taken in the surrounding area, but are not on my piece of property such as the pictures with waterfalls and ponds, and a few that show an overview of the tops of trees looking out over the valley. These were taken a few miles from my property. I have seen wild turkeys and deer walking around the property, and also there are wild berry vines on the property. The pictures showing cattle grazing on a hill or really it’s a mountain, are taken looking out from the back of my property, using the zoom feature on my camera.

If you or someone you know is interested in this property, please let me know if you have my personal contact information. Or, you can contact me at carol@carolsadventures.com, or call Will or Kay at 1-888-846-8703.

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February through April Update and health update – Spent time with Author Debbie Macomber, LHP Keepers Day, and my mother died

It’s been a while since I wrote a story on my website. Life has been happening and I have been dealing with life as it has been happening. It’s been an emotional time both pleasant and sad.

After going through two months of rehab from a broken hip my mother passed away on March 14th. That is exactly two weeks and ten years since my father passed away. They were married 59 years when he died. We had to empty my mother’s condo and get it ready to sell, that has now been accomplished.

I am still baking all of my bread, cookies, cake, and meals from scratch. It’s been a bit more work, but the results are more than worth the effort. I am also having fun experimenting with recipes and getting creative with ingredients I have at home. Here are a few loaves of bread that I baked.

 

A few weeks ago Author Debbie Macomber was in south Florida for a book signing and the event was booked full with no openings. I sent an email to Debbie and being the very kind person she is and Debbie offered to meet earlier in the day at her hotel with me and my friend Laura, who also wanted to go to Debbie’s talk and book signing. I had the privilege to meet Debbie at her office in Port Orchard, Washington, in 2011 when I was in Washington state. Debbie and I have kept in touch several times a year, every year, and I saw her at a Delray Beach library program early last year. I have some pictures I took with Debbie and Laura.

I have some pictures taken in February during Lighthouse Point Keepers Day with my friend Nona. At the Keepers Day event on Saturday we watched the parade and walked around the park. There was a car show which included lots of old cars and one couple encouraged us to sit in their car and honk the horn, and they told us to put on hats that they kept for people sitting in their cars. Most people that have these old cars do not want anyone touching or sitting in their cars, this couple encourages and invites people to sit in the car and take pictures. They even had cards made that said Honker’s Club for those of us who honked the horn on the old cars. I remember when I was young that our cars had white walled tires and how hard it was to keep the white ring clean. Imagine having only a rumble seat to store items in, or to ride in it, that would be very cool. Nona and I were amazed at the height of some of the bounce houses and we got a kick out of watching the children go up and down them. Here is an album with more Keepers Day photos.

Between going back and forth to hospitals and rehab centers for over two months with my mother, and cleaning out her apartment both while she was in rehab and after she died, life has been busy.

In addition, the end of February I began working out at a gym two hours a day, five days a week. I go to an early class of cardio or yoga for an hour and then a couple of hours later I go back for a cardio, balance, strength class. It’s been great working out!!! I feel so much better and it’s lessened my pain significantly. Also, my muscles are getting toned up and my blood pressure is in the normal range.

I’m starting to plan another trip to begin sometime in the next month or so, I don’t know the exact date yet. My mom had lots of yarn that was not used so it got divided up between me, my sister, and a few of mom’s friends. Mom’s friends and I are going to make baby blankets and hats to donate to hospitals for newborns. Also, lap robes and chemo caps are going to be made for cancer patients, veterans in wheelchairs, and others who are in need of these types of items. I know my mom would have liked what we are doing with the yarn. While she was alive she knitted hats for preemies at hospitals and knitted for cancer patients.

Also, since I will be traveling soon, I found my parakeet Katie a new home with a lady who has other birds and she loves special needs birds of which Katie is one. During my mom’s hospitalization and rehab I had her canary Bingo and since he and Katie were together for three months they bonded and my brother took Bingo but didn’t want Katie. This way Katie will have other birds to keep her company. It feels strange to come home and not have any birds singing or chirping. It’s very quiet now.

I’m still baking all of my own bread, cakes, and cookies, and cooking my meals from scratch, not using very many processed foods. Between cooking and eating more healthy foods, and working out about five days a week, it has made a big difference in how I feel and my weight.

When I went to my doctor in early January for my checkup we did blood work to see how my organs are doing. We know I have stage three chronic kidney disease, and my tumor is still in my abdomen. Other than my glucose being a little high from eating too much sugar lately the results of the blood work were okay.

I went back to the doctor in early April for a follow-up checkup and the doctor felt my insides and doesn’t feel the tumor is any larger but it’s too early to do another CAT scan. I asked her to redo my blood work to see if my glucose is lower because I reduced my sugar consumption. When I got a copy of my blood test results, I was really surprised to see that my liver function and the related items to my liver were in the high number ranges. I have never had any blood tests that showed a problem with my liver function. We knew as time goes on that my organs will be affected by my tumors, scar tissue, and adhesions. I guess my new liver function values are part of this process. The blood work for my liver function went from the low normal range to higher than the highest number in the normal range in three months.

For the past two months I have been doing yoga and fitness classes at a local gym. It has significantly reduced my pain and toned up my muscles. I have known for years that my organs are compressed from numerous operations, etc. I feel like my insides are bruised from being pressed into each other and my ribcage. The liver is under the right side of the ribcage so I’m guessing my liver has been pressed against it for a long time and it’s starting to show signs of distress, which is a result of my health issues. Maybe since I’m moving more doing exercise it gets pressed into my ribcage more, I just guessing. I don’t know the reason for changes in numbers related to my liver. I called the doctor’s office to ask about the results and they said the doctor told them to tell me not to worry about the results they are not bad enough to be concerned about. However, to be honest I am a bit concerned. The numbers changed what I feel is significantly, by over 40 in one area and 30 in another within three months.

In 2013 through 2015 I was prepared to die. That was the time frame my doctor gave me. If you have been reading my posts for a few years you know I still live life to the fullest I can, most days. I still travel in my camper van a few months a year. I write about how short life is and we never know when our time is up. I changed my thinking from living like I’m dying to living like I’m going to be here a while. I bought myself some new shoes, cookware, etc. I hadn’t bought myself things because it would be more for my friends to get rid of when I die. I live very simply but there are things needed every now and then. Especially since I gave almost everything away in 2012 when I found the tumor and sold my condo.

So, once again my life is taking a new direction. I trust God has a plan for my life and I will continue living one day at a time and see where this new life journey takes me. I am planning on taking another trip in my camper van. I was going to leave in May but I decided to wait until June. I have things to finalize after my mom’s passing in March, and I want to be sure my health will allow another trip. Like I did in previous years, if I get worse on the road I can come back. I have learned to wait a few days or a week before coming back because things can change. In 2013, I came home early from a trip because I had symptoms the doctor said to watch for and after a while they got better. So on future trips I waited and when a situation arose I waited it out saying I don’t want it to win, and I was able to overcome it and continue. It wasn’t always easy. I do what I can, and rest when needed, and have no travel and relax days when needed.

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