Discovering (and having a wonderful time doing it) that I could indeed travel again, thanks to the Chinook, I guess this little story must continue.
Once I got back to Colorado, my little truck, which had been having a bit of trouble, suddenly decided it didn't want to go uphill! A little problem when you're in the mountains - and everything is up hill!
I tried everything I could think of, and each one seemed to help - a little, but only for a short while. Several times, it completely 'gave out' on me when trying to climb a hill/mountain. (The same ones that it went up the year before).
When Gary came to see me, he checked it out, did some tests and decided that the poor little engine was shot. (No idea how many miles is on it - the odometer had quit).
So...now what? This now wasn't just a truck, it had become my home. After much searching and thought, we decided it just had to have a new engine - despite the cost.
I was pretty much disabled in travel, but thanks to some very good friends, I did have a safe, beautiful spot to park the Chinook for the summer and a borrowed pickup "Bruno" to drive into town.
Gary did much of the leg-work, and found Hugh Phillips of Safari (great guys!) - in Grand Junction - to rebuild the engine. But....he couldn't have my truck and house for the months it would take to tear apart and rebuild, which means we had to do the work ourselves. Yes, on a safe site in the middle of nowhere. And we did.
So, when summer was over and the new engine was nearly ready, I took the Chinook to the deserts of Utah where we had found a safe site.
Once there, and I barely made it (my little truck wasn't going any further!) I began the daunting task of dismantling the old engine.
Taking everything off. Carefully labeling and bagging. This all had to go back together - and run! We made the trip to Grand Junction to pick up the new, rebuilt engine. Got the old one out. Then carefully, very carefully, slid in the new.
And then, it was time to put it all back together. Oh boy. A formidable challenge - for me anyway, but, I'm very proud to say - and almost unbelievable - that, yes, I got it all done. (with a little help from Gary)
All of that took 2 months. And it worked! We started up the new engine - holding our breaths - and it ran. A little tweaking and it purred like a kitten. And I was ready to hit the road again!!!
By the time we finished the new engine, it was December and getting cold in Utah. Where else but back to Arizona where I'd found the warm weather last year. But this year I decided to head for a different part of the state. One with hot springs....oh yeah!
And, since my truck was running so, so good, it needed a little decoration. You can't believe how much fun I had painting this. And then got to email friends so they could get a chuckle too.
I had another wonderful winter, stayed pretty much in one area, soaking in hot springs and making new friends.
And some proof that despite the tremendous challenges that we as Electro-Sensitive Refugees face...someone is watching over me.
A leaking slave cylindar - for the clutch - developed a bad leak and I couldn't drive...couldn't shift. I was nearly 20 miles from town..and no one knew where I was...so what to do??? Well, I started out hitch-hiking. Got 3 miles before a pickup came along with a very nice couple who took me to the auto parts store. (And a plug here for the NAPA store in Safford, AZ...He didn't have the part in stock, but called everyone in town until he found me one. What a help that was!!!)
Anyway, I got the part ...and then had to get back to my truck. Another hitch-hiking event. But....I'd just started when along came the very same couple. Looking for me to give me a ride back! What wonderful people. And wouldn't take a cent of money. "Just pass it along," was what they said.
I was able to do some Contra Dancing - in Tucson. Hated to see the winter come to an end, but Arizona gets HOT in the summer, so once again I headed back to Colorado.
But...this was an incredibly dry year and forest fires began early - and fierce. Now what? Dodge fires all summer?
We hit upon the idea of trying to find somewhere where the weather was better - and so was the radiation. Because of the explosive build-up in wireless communication - new cell towers, broadband over power lines, smart meters, etc., we are rapidly losing our safe sites. Finding them is becoming nearly impossible. Everytime there is an 'upgrade' to your cell phone, our pain level increases, and we lose another site.
Gary was pretty well booked for the summer. But I wasn't. And I had a great running little truck. So, I headed out for where? Idaho! Yeah, hard to believe that one myself. Remember, I was just learning that I could travel again after so many years when I thought that was lost to me. My first trip to Arizona was quite literally jumping off the cliff: not knowing whether I could even get there or have to turn back in agony.
Why Idaho? We had checked out weather maps and thought it looked better up there. Seemed like the drought line ended. (we were wrong) But there were also lots and lots of hot springs. Everywhere! Looked good - on paper anyway, but on the long trip up, I caught myself wondering what in the world I thought I was doing. Was this a really, really stupid thing? The trip was hot, long and hard to find safe sites along the way.
After a month of tough travel, I did finally, thankfully make it into Idaho. This was my first stop....Bear Lake. Here I found a gorgeous little canyon. On my way up the canyon to find a site, I realized a pickup was following me. It followed me into my site! Strange. And a little scary. Turns out it was a very nice couple who lived down the road and just had to meet whoever was driving this rig! Great people. When the brake line broke, and I was all but stranded, but was able to make it down to Kim's house, he and a friend took me to town for parts and then helped me install the new line and bleed the brakes. Once again, I was back on the road.
Although Bear Lake is beautiful, it is also, unfortunately, the playground of Salt Lake City. Noisy, dusty, not what I was looking for....and so I continued north. And finally landed in paradise!!
I got to spend the rest of the summer in and near the Sawtooth Wilderness. Soaking in hot springs, nearly every night, and hiking in some of the most gorgeous land on the planet. And the best part??? Since this area is so remote, I was able to find safe places. Not just a single protected site like what we can find down near 'civilization', but entire canyons where there was no radiation!
I had forgotten what it feels like to feel so good. My energy came up...I could hike miles and miles (10 one day). I slept like I haven't been able to in years. I'd forgotten that too. It felt sooooo good, I couldn't wait to crawl in to bed each night.
How much proof do you need that what we say is true....."There is nothing wrong with us. It's the environment which is sick. You fix the environment and we are just fine."
Remember one of the reasons I came to Idaho? To get away from the forest fires? Didn't work. Took this picture right from my campsite. (If you can't see, the helicopter has a bucket hanging down which they are filling with water from the river to dump on a fire which was just over the ridge, maybe 1/2 mile away). How's that for getting away from the fires?
At another site, I nearly had to leave due to smoke from another fire. And, unfortunately, there was an entire area - just filled with hot springs - which I couldn't get into at all (roads were closed and people evacuated) due to bad smoke from yet another fire. (several of these 200,000+ acres of fire were caused by ATVs. Yet another reason I hate them. They have no business on public land).
But still, it was a wonderful, thrilling experience and how thankful I am to know that such a place - free from all the toxic radiation - still exists. I only hope and pray that it stays that way.
Southeast Idaho has maple....looks like New England in the fall.
Once again, this time had to end. Don't think I want to even try an Idaho winter. Course....I couldn't get into these wonderful, safe sites through the snow.
I felt so good while in Idaho, I got inspired....and the Chinook got a new paint job.
What started out as simply a point job to make it look better has turned into a never-ending project and has taken on a life of its own. I can't believe the response I get from nearly everyone who sees it. This is just the beginning. I already have ideas for what else needs to be added.
My son says it "looks like it belongs out there". It should. The "paint" is dirt.
As fall turned towards winter, I once again headed for Arizona and warm. How nice it is to no longer have to battle the snow and cold. (Didn't take me long to get spoiled!) I have found that since my severe sensitization, I can no longer handle the cold. And I get along just fine living in the Chinook....long as I can have nice weather most of the time. Cabin fever can set in quickly!
I was excited about getting back to renew friendships I had made last winter.And I did. And got to warm myself once again in the hot springs. But, what I also found was that something (an 'upgrade' to 4G?). Something had changed over the summer, and sites that I had used last year - with no difficulty - were now unbearable. (although at the time, I didn't realize this...I thought I had somehow seriously injured my back). I developed sever pain in my right leg, hip and back. It felt like my leg was on fire. So painful that I could barely touch it, much less do any kind of massage. I was in horrible pain.
Then, while moving sites, I realized that suddenly, my pain was much less. And when I went back to the previous site, it came back almost instantly. I hadn't injured my back at all. This was obviously a reaction to some new or stronger radiation. I desperately - once again - began the search for safe sites. A tough battle since by this time I was suffering from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Finally, I found a way to 'ground' my right leg and make it through a night. Although this only worked for a night or 2 in radiated sites. But it helped me keep going, and thankfully, I was finally able to find a couple relatively safe places to stay.
Even though I liked the area where I was...my new friends and the hot springs, for some reason, I felt myself drawn to Tucson. This is where I was going for the Contra Dances last winter. But, I already knew there wasn't anywhere close in where I could find safe sites. I had just been going over for a dance - and then right back. This feeling made no sense to me, but I couldn't deny the 'pull', and so I spent most of the winter going back and forth. Spending a couple weeks near Tucson. Dancing and searching for sites. Then heading back for hot springs and to recover. Until the 'draw' was so strong, I needed to return once again.
Guess I should insert a little explaination here...I am not a 'religious' person, but I do try and lead a 'spiritual' life. I strongly feel that there is something (put your choice of a higher power here) out there that is guiding me. No, I'm not going into any kind of sermon here. But, living as closely in touch with the land as I do, I can understand some of how the native people came to their understanding of nature and their 'gods'. The land is alive! I try to follow the spiritual/intuitive guidance that I receive. And things sure work out better when I do. I've learned to not question too much...just follow your heart, your inner guidance, your intuition.
One very good thing that happened while in Tucson is that I got to meet a lady who teaches the teachers who deal with students with any sort of learning problems. Autism, ADD, etc. She soaked up everything we told her about electro-hypersensitivity, our reactions to radiation sources and what she should look for in her students. Not surprising to us, but many childrens' learning problems have now been directly linked to radiation exposure - in particular, wireless radiation from wifi and cell phones. Many countries in Europe, France and Israel, for example, have now banned wifi in schools. As far back as 2011, the Council of Curope advised against wifi in schools. Here in the U.S., teachers in Los Angeles voted to oppose wifi, and many parents pulled their children out of schools with wifi and placed them in a safe environment.
What was surprising is that this lady believed what we said and has tried to pass that along to her teachers. Hard to tell if there have been many changes because wifi is in nearly every school here. And most also have wifi in their homes.
But the best thing that happened this winter??? And maybe the reason for the 'draw' to Tucson? Well...I met a guy. At the Contra Dances. We danced, only once, but there was such a strong attraction... And I guess we both felt it, cause we started seeing each other at places other than the dances...dinner, hiking. He seemed like the perfect 'companion' that I'd been looking for. And , of course, this all happened shortly before I was scheduled to leave - before it got too hot for me in the low desert.
And things do heat up quickly in the low desert. James explains that they only have 3 seasons...hot, just been hot, gonna get hot :)
By March they can have temps near or even into the 90's. Temps vary during March and April...but by May, they start to seriously heat up. Too hot for a mountain girl...and no shade! Not unless you count the itty bit you get from standing near - but not too close - to a cactus. I did, however, get to stay long enough to see the saguaro bloom...and what a sight!
But....I wasn't ready to head back to Colorado just yet, and wanted to do some exploring anyway. See some things that would be a bit too chilly during the winter...but perfect now.
In southern Arizona are the Chiricauhau Mountains. LIke most in Arizona...these are very rugged. And remote. Tucked into them is an amazing place called - appropriately - Chiricauhau National Monument. A rocky wonderland full of eroded hoo-doos. And you can hike forever. I was even able to stay in their campground. Something I can rarely do...especially now since so many people have cell boosters or 'hot spot' devices. Might be 'convenient' for them...but it maks it feel like someone is trying to drill a hole in my head. Anyway...I was feeling good there and got to do some hiking. 8 miles worth in one day!!! Nothing wrong with me when I can get out of the radiation effects! Here are a couple pictures.
This one is supposed to look like Cochise's Head.
I did need to visit Colorado - but just for a short visit...then back to Arizona for most of the summer. I'd just begun getting to know James...and I was going to leave for 6 months??? Didn't seem like the thing to do.
When most people think of Arizona...they think of cactus, desert, searing heat. And that would be correct - for part of the state. But, stretching about mid-way across the state is what is called the Mogollon Rim. Below is the desert, but on the Rim - at 7000' - is ponderosa pine forest, mountains, lakes. This was the summer that I would spend exploring the Rim Country...and be close enough that James could come visit occassionally. Places like Show Low, Payson, Woods Canyon Lake, the White Moutains, the San Francisco Peaks.
One of the most exciting things that happened this summer (besides getting to spend time with James:) was that I got to see one of my sons...who I hadn't seen for 8 years!!!...and his wife and 2 boys. They were taking an extended vacation...touring the southwest. We were able to meet near Flagstaff, where they wanted to spend a few days and see some of the sites. Among them....the Grand Canyon.
As you can see....this is an amazing place! We went to the south rim...us and several thousand others. Unfortunately, it is way too 'touristy'. People , power lines, cell towers. Not a good place for me at all and that day about did me in with radiation exposure. But, I'm glad I got the chance to go again. And it is still one of those places that everyone should see.
Another place was Wupatki National Monument...which contains several ruins of the ancient pueblo peoples...and a cool 'blowhole'. A spot where cold air blows out of the earth.
Another treat that I had this summer was the discovery of....Rim Blackberries!!! Oh, my...they were good.
Summer was, as always, way too short. I just barely got to see a few of the places along the rim, so decided to go the scenic route back to Colorado...through Silver City, New Mexico.
Ahhhh....Silver City. What a neat little community. An old downtown with art galleries, cafes, and an organic food coop. Hot Springs nearby. And right on the edge of the national forest with lots of safe sites!