Friday, April 30, 2010

6 Months, 26 Weeks, and 27 Communities!

Last Friday, the 23rd of April, marked our 25th week on the road wherein we visited our 25th intentional community. Mary was attached to making note of this numerological anniversary on our blog, even though she’s a week late in doing so.  Here’s to 25/25!

Catching up to the present, today marks our official 6-month anniversary, having launched from Amherst, Massachusetts on October 30th, a day that seems very long ago and far away. Today also marks 26 weeks on the road, and 8 months of living full-time in our rig!

Yesterday afternoon, following a spectacular ride up Route 77 from Tucson, we arrived to the Wind Spirit community. Our trip from Tucson was almost uneventful until we stopped to help two “damsels in distress” from Miami change a tire, and we were almost sideswiped in the process of pulling over to the side of the road.

Wind Spirit is a lush oasis amidst the desert landscape, with hundreds of fruit and nut trees planted throughout their land. Lemon, orange, grapefruit, pomegranate, kumquat, loquat, almond, fig, peach and other trees can be found along the winding paths through the forest that is alive with birdsong. Hummingbirds hummed around Mary’s head during her yoga session on the outdoor yoga platform this morning, and Keith saw an enormous white owl when he arrived for his yoga session an hour earlier. The gardens are cultivated during the two desert growing seasons (winter and summer), and we were duly warned about the presence of scorpions, rattlesnakes, gila monsters and javelinas (wild pigs). Oh my!

Our first evening was made special by a lovely communal Middle Eastern meal followed by a wood-fired sauna to warm our bones in the cool desert night. The temperature can easily drop from 80 degrees to 40 degrees in a matter of hours, and summers can readily reach 110 to 115 degrees in July and August when only a skeleton crew remains on the land. A 24-foot above-ground swimming pool was just purchased last week via Craigs List and will be erected very soon before the weather begins to considerably heat up.

Wind Spirit has a small “bus village” of livable school buses where guests and visitors can stay, and we are cozily parked alongside several other mobile homes and vans.

People here at Wind Spirit are very warm and welcoming, and we were encouraged to help ourselves to hot showers, the kitchen, and a plethora of communal food. We’ll be here for a few days before heading north to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, and will post more photos as we are able.

Here’s to 6 months and 30 weeks of adventure, fun and community! 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wending Our Way to Windspirit

On this beautiful sunny but windy morning in Arizona, we're preparing to make our way to the Wind Spirit Community this afternoon. We're not sure we'll have internet access while visiting there, but we'll be posting soon enough!

Our best to everyone, now and always!

Keith and Mary

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting for the (Pink) Moon

After sunset here in Catalina State Park---a magnificent spot just 16 miles north of Tucson---we spent almost two hours watching the sun set and the stars slowly emerge, and the light on the mountains was luminous.

The moon was slow to make its way from behind the mountains, but its emergence was spectacular and well worth the wait.

Tonight's full moon is known as a "Pink Moon". This name comes from the herb moss pink (or wild ground phlox), which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month's full moon are Full Sprouting Grass Moon, The Egg Moon, and among coastal Indian tribes, the Full Fish Moon, because this is the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

"Pink Moon" is also the name of a gorgeous song by the British singer Nick Drake......(Click here to hear the song.....)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tucson and Terra Sante

Thanks to our proclivity for Googling food co-ops before arriving to a new city, our arrival to Tucson yesterday brought us directly to the historic Pie Allen neighborhood, a funky area of town filled with cafes, interesting shops, and friendly people who fawned over Tina as she rode in the basket on the back of Mary's bike. We biked around, shopped at the member-owned Food Conspiracy Co-op, and headed out of town towards our next intentional community, Terra Sante.

Terra Sante considers itself "a living laboratory for sustainability", and this is demonstrated through the use of permaculture, alternative sustainable building techniques, solar energy, earth architecture, and native arts.

Here is a photo of a solar food dehydrator, something that we've seen at a number of communities that we've visited........

And here are two examples of earth architecture as practiced at TerraSante........

Desert gardening techniques are essential to growing food in this harsh climate which receives only 12 inches of rain and more than 325 days of sun per year........

These are two interior photos of the main community building and kitchen.......

This photo shows beautifully arranged stones near the front gate. These stones contain malachite, turquoise, and other brightly colored minerals, and are the first thing that visitors see upon arrival to the community.......

Last night after our arrival, Mary cooked a wonderful dinner for a group of TerraSante residents, and this afternoon Keith and a new friend helped with a simple construction project........

The day ended with a surprise visit from Waffles T. Clown, our old friend from Western Massachusetts who coincidentally lives just across the dirt road from TerraSante every winter.

The desert has welcomed us warmly, with an almost full moon, lovely sunsets, new and old friends, and the blessing of not seeing (or being bitten by) any rattlesnakes, scorpions or spiders, so far. Tomorrow we head back into Tucson to see an old friend, pick up mail, and do some more grocery shopping, and we just may return to TerraSante for a full moon gathering tomorrow evening.

Now, the moon rises over the desert floor and we sit in our cozy rig surrounded by the quiet night around us. Our next visits to the Windspirit Community, Sedona, Snowflake and The Grand Canyon are calling us, and who knows what surprises and adventures are still in store!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Postcard From Benson

Here in Benson, Arizona, we've managed to pack quite a bit of fun into a three-day visit.

Yesterday, we visited Kartchner Caverns State Park and had a 90-minute guided tour of one of the top "living caves" in the country. Due to very strict conservation efforts, no photography is allowed in the caves, so you'll need to look at the park website to get an idea of the beauty of this wonderful place. The caves were only discovered in 1974, and the folks who have developed it have learned from the many mistakes that have been made at other cave sites that are opened to the public and eventually ruined due to the infiltration of excessive light, oxygen and other contaminants. We were very impressed with how the caves are managed and preserved, and knowing that such grandeur and beauty exist just beneath the surface of a very non-descript piece of the earth is mind-boggling and intriguing.

On Friday afternoon and all day today we attended the Benson Bluegrass Festival, and had the opportunity to hear some excellent bluegrass bands from all over the West.

Here's a video of one band doing the classic banjo and guitar duel made famous in the 1970's movie "Deliverance". The filming may not be the best, but the music is fun to listen to.

We've had fun staying in our third Escapees Co-op RV park, and this is the nicest of the three by far. is the RV club that we joined last summer in order to have a legal mailing address and domicile in Texas, among other benefits. Although we're considerably younger than most members of Escapees, people are very friendly and welcoming to us, as strange as we may seem.

Many people live full time in these Escapees parks and build small casitas that provide them with extra living and storage space beyond their mobile homes and trailers. Some of the casitas are quite tasteful and have given us ideas for creative ways to create a home without such a high overhead and carbon footprint.

These parks are really a form of intentional community, and we admire these seniors who have advocated for the rights of RV'ers and created fulfilling community-oriented lives for themselves.

Tomorrow, we head to the city of Tucson, where we'll see an old friend and visit two intentional communities, Terra Sante and Stone Curves Cohousing. There will be more news from southern Arizona soon, so come back and visit when you can!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Tina Video Update

Here's a video update of Tina's recent adventures from the road.

Tina had to undergo a veterinary appointment today, complete with two vaccines and some other undignified poking and prodding. It's been confirmed that she does indeed have liver disease of some kind, something that we'll certainly need to follow up on once we're more settled. Until then, we need to switch to special food and decrease her protein intake so her liver doesn't have to work so hard. She's a real trooper and we love our old gal.......Enjoy!

Arriving to Arizona On Earth Day

Earth Day morning began with a rainbow arching over our campground on the outskirts of Silver City. After more than two months in New Mexico, we entered Arizona as we drove over many vast windswept mesas and mountain passes, where one half of the sky would be roiling with thunderheads and the other with bright sun and cottony cumulus. Large signs warning of dust storms and the potential for zero visibility reminded us that the weather here is both fickle and powerful. Great gusts blew clouds of dust into the air, dust that danced across the highway ahead of us like ghosts rushing to cross the road and disappear into thin air. 

Near the town of Rodeo, Arizona, which itself seemed almost like a ghost town, a wild wind blew horizontal rain across the road, demanding dutiful concentration and two steady hands on the steering wheel. 

Along that windy route where we half expected to see a tornado touch down and pick up our rig like a Matchbox Car, we came upon a lonely and relatively unattractive memorial commemorating the surrender of Geronimo, that most famous of Apache leaders. Geronimo's surrender signaled the end of The Indian Wars, and his eventual demise in captivity was a sad moment in history, especially since he was denied the right to return to his homeland. Interestingly, we visited Fort Pickens, Florida in January, which was the site where Geronimo and many of his followers were imprisoned for some time. 

A few hours later, we arrived to the intriguing town of Bisbee, an old mining town built into the hills and now filled with art galleries, cafes, nice restaurants, and antique and jewelry stores. Visitors can also tour the old mines that helped to bring prosperity to this area with silver, copper and other important metals. We stopped into one of the aforementioned cafes for a snack, and at Mary's behest we even spontaneously viewed an apartment that's available for rent beginning next week. 

Luckily for us, the brother-in-law of a good friend in Boston is the chef at Cafe Roka, the best restaurant in Bisbee and is rated as one of the top five restaurants in all of Arizona. We were welcomed like old friends and treated to a most exquisite five-course meal. Keith had steamed mussels followed by grilled gulf shrimp in a tender spinach crepe over lobster ravioli, and Mary dined on a savory tart made with locally grown organic basil, spinach and asparagus.

We were served several courses of appetizers, including a small bowl of lime sorbet to clear our palates before the main course, and dinner was accompanied by a lovely semi-dry California chardonnay chosen by our very efficient and attentive server. Dessert was a delicate slice of Key Lime Pie and a flourless chocolate cake like no other, served with very fresh decaf coffee and cream.

We likened this experience to a meal we had on our honeymoon in 1989, when we were sent by our innkeepers to a restaurant where we were also treated like royalty and served a multiple-course Italian meal at no charge. Our meal at Cafe Roka was not only memorable and delicious, it also included the making of new friends whom we hope to see again. We would love to return to this very interesting town where we could picture ourselves living some day, perhaps as (former vagabond) retirees. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day and Arizona!

Good morning, and Happy Earth Day! May this day be a reminder for all of us to honor the earth, its creatures and their habitats.

Today we are driving into Arizona, and will spend the next few weeks exploring the vicinities of Bisbee, Tucson, Sedona and Snowflake, with the goal of spending Mothers Day weekend at the Grand Canyon. We are invited to visit several interesting cohousing communities in Tucson, and will also spend three days at Windspirit Community in Winkelman for the weekend of May Day. Windspirit's website is very interesting, and we highly recommend paying them a visit.

We are sending our best to all of our readers as we prepare to leave Silver City and enter Arizona, the 17th state on our journey, 18 if you count Washington, DC! We've driven over 7,000 miles, visited twenty-five intentional communities, and tomorrow will be our 25-week anniversary!

More soon from Arizona!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We're Back From the Gila Wilderness!

Well folks, we've made it back alive from the remote Gila National Forest north of Silver City. We realized after our arrival to our remote campground that we had no cell phone or internet service up there in the middle of nowhere. This is par for the course, but we truly enjoyed having a two-day "digital delay", even though Keith had to go through some initial withdrawal symptoms!

Our campground was located just above the Gila River, which is running fast and deep this spring after many inches of snow. Just ten feet from the river are natural hot spring pools that are the hottest and most pristine we've ever seen. They are lovingly tended by a resident artist and manager who redecorates and beautifies the area every year with natural sculptures and fountains.

We also biked and hiked to the amazing and remote Gila Cliff Dwellings, a national monument where the Mogollon (pronounced "Muggy Own") tribe lived in the 13th century for approximately twenty years before vacating the caves, most likely due to a severe drought. Apache then lived in the caves until European settlers burned down the roofs of the Mogollon homes.

This area of New Mexico is a verdant and diverse bioregion with three different climate zones within a small area. We walked through forests of Ponderosa Pine, yucca, cacti, juniper, and cottonwood, plus a plethora of other flora and fauna. The entire experience was like a walk back through time, and we left Gila feeling wonderfully alive and happy.

Unfortunately, after returning to a campground in Silver City, Keith was summarily bitten by a neighborhood dog who was running amok just down the street.

After the dog's owner blamed Keith for the entire incident, we had no choice but to involve the local Animal Control Officer, who seemed to only side with the dog's owner. Taking matters into our own hands, we bought a gun at Wal-Mart....But seriously, folks, we ended up involving the Silver City Sheriff who handled matters quite expediently and assured us of the dog's current vaccination status. He was intent on citing the dog owner, charging him with a hefty fine for his dogs running wild, especially after having his squad car chased by the same pack of hounds. Fortunately, Keith's wound is healing well and thus far he's not foaming at the mouth!

: - ) 

Stay tuned for even more fun on the road!

---Mary and Keith