Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

Birds, Bees, and the little things.

It’s the small things in life that bring the most joy.

When taking a shower this morning I noticed two small green frogs that have taken residence in the stall. Thanking them for all the mosquitos they eat, good job frogs.

 

Hiking through this park and enjoying the small flowers, the tiny insects that scurry through the trees and bushes, stalking their next meal. The green and black gecko that scurry on the path, hunting a bit of sun to warm themselves, and the aforementioned bugs for their next meal.

 

The birds are plentiful, finding this tree filled with black vultures, watching two of them fight and fuss over a dead fish on the shore.

 

Still waiting to see a gator, the best way to see them is by kayak, but I can’t leave Stanley and Edgar in the tent. Those two raided their treat bag, and my food bag this morning. I guess dog food is not as tempting.

As we close 2018 and open a New Year enjoy the small things in life, taking to time to remember our time here is limited, and you can’t take it with you.

Cathy, and Edgar, and Stan the Man

 

 

Hontoon Island State Park

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Rain, rain, and more rain. We spent our first few days here hunkering down in the big Kodiak Canvas tent, we were on an island on an island. The tent withstood the rain even though we had about 2 inches of water under our feet. I’m glad it was dry the day we arrived so I could at erect the tent.

Then the sun came out. Exploring the island with the dogs has been fun, keeping the dogs on the path and out of the way of venomous snakes, not so easy. The difference between venomous and poisonous is with venomous they have to bite you, with poisonous you have to bite them. There are pygmy rattlers here and they are good hiders, last thing I need is a dog snuffling under some branches and coming up with a rattler on its nose. Trying to get a picture of them is not so easy either so….

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We encountered an armadillo along the way, and two barred owls that visit the camp. There are black vultures, hawks, egrets, and lots of cranes. Mosquitos are the dominant animal on the island, the tent is secure and I’ve only had to murder a few of the bloodsuckers. I wouldn’t want to be here in summer

 

The rangers are super nice and you can ride back and forth on the little ferry as much as needed, service stops at 4:30, so after that your here until morning. When you arrive they lend you as many wheel barrows as you need for your gear and take you in the van to your campsite, picking you and your gear up your last day. The rest of the time you walk the short quarter mile path from the ferry to the campsites. They have a lending library, I’ve read 3 books already, and donated 2 that I read. There is a small store where you can get an ice cream, and ice is available. The tent site has no electric so the Camp Host, Tom, allows me to hook up my extra battery packs to his camper, thanks Tom.

The Island has this cool replica totem. There is a nice playground for kids, and lots of fishing is done from the banks. You can’t go in the water because of gators.

 

I don’t think it will be too difficult to spend another week at this beautiful park. Hoping to get more photos of the wildlife, having the dogs makes it a little tough, Stanley has quite a bark and he has decided I need protected from, well, everything.

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Cathy, and Edgar, and Stan the Man.

 

 

 

 

 

Blue Springs State Park

Our first stop in Florida. Blue Springs is about 40 minutes west of Daytona. One of the few class A springs, it stays a balmy 73 degrees year round.

The park is a manatee heaven, connected to the St. Johns River, the manatees spend their nights here and travel to the river to feed. Manatees eat 25% of their weight in vegetation every day. The spring does not support growth because of lack of oxygen.

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Blue Springs campground is well maintained, and I met a Ranger Morris on the boardwalk overlooking the spring, he’s an ornithologist, and knew all the birds by calls.

We spent 3 days watching the manatees, black vultures, baby snapping turtles, all kinds of fish including tarpon, and the invasive Plecostomus catfish and tilapia.

Spending only 4 nights here I set up the small tent, Edgar and Stanley are getting used to tent living, they have 2 beds and stole 2 pillows and a sleeping bag for their comfort.

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We didn’t see any alligators, but a bobcat walked through our camp one evening, Stanley alerted me, and I got a glimpse. We also had some racoons, there was evidence on my cooler in the morning, but being a Yeti, they left without a meal.

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Blue Springs is close to everything so I was able to get meals without having to cook for myself, which is a good thing. I did have coffee and yogurt in the mornings, and a few cookies at night. Everything here is Orange this or that which is why I went the wrong direction driving to Costco to pick up some meds for Edgar, only a 50 mile detour, and Costco here is like everywhere, I got a good cheap meal and enough samples to make a dinner.

Our next stop is Hontoon Island State Park….

Cathy

On the Grid

I don’t think you can be more on the grid than in New York City.

My adventure starts visiting my sister for her birthday in NYC. Coming in from rural PA can be a shock to the system, I’m so used to complete dark, millions of stars, listening to the bald eagle and turkey calls. Here there are a few stars, and the noise is off the charts, car horns, sirens, yelling New Yorkers, what a difference.

I still love this city. It’s gritty, real, young, fast, and fluid, keeps you on your toes at all times.

The Christmas Market at Union Square is always fun.

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I’m leaving here early next week to head south. Hope to get far enough south on the first day to camp at Pedro’s on the Border.

Cathy

I’m back off the grid!

Hi everyone, how y’all doing?

Been a few.

If you don’t follow me on Facebook, I may have seemed to drop off the earth.

Well, I moved back to my family property in Pennsylvania and built this.

 

The first time since 2011 that I haven’t lived on wheels.

Winters are harsh in PA, especially on the river. Living there would require a 4wd vehicle with chains on all 4 tires to navigate the road. And a chainsaw to get through this….

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So, I’ve decided to go back off the grid for the winter and pack up my tent and camping gear and head to Florida. Edgar is still with me, along with his cousin Stanley.

Off to a new adventure……  join us.

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The RV

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The Complaint Book

As I sat here this morning in my RV watching the hummingbirds six inches out my window, the sun shining, Edgar sleeping, I thought about my “old life”.

I kept a journal called the “Complaint Book”. The two things I did every morning were check my sales numbers from the day before and deal with Customer Complaints. I kept it separate from all my other paperwork and never carried it into a customer’s office, any meeting, it was a handwritten, stand alone, one of a kind living journal for my eyes only.

I believe complaints are the most important factor to happiness for yourself and a happy customer. You know a complaint… any sentence that starts with “This sucks” or your version thereof. Complaints are sacred in sales and life, writing them down gives you a good indicator of how your life, or sales, are going.

Along with customer complaints, I would write down my own daily complaints. When I found myself complaining enough about one certain thing – it was time for a change. If there were enough complaints to fill a book, you really got to look at your life…..

Customer complaints were usually easy to rectify. Some took a good explanation of the realities of supply and demand especially when a customer wanted a small supply of a paper that needed to be ordered by the big expensive case 🙂  I used to order in sample sheets for customers if they needed to do an order of business cards on a specialty sheet – I still hate business cards from a printers and paper suppliers point of view.

So this morning I thought about cleaning out my locker and finding the “Complaint Book” among my stored belongings. I left it at home when I started my journey, it was shredded, along with my other paperwork from xpedx and Clean Copy when the locker was emptied and I moved my entire life into the RV.

I no longer need a “Complaint Book”, I transformed my life into one where each day alive is certainly a good day on earth. Time to wake up Edgar, we are walking to Manzanita – about a 4 mile round trip, to drop off some mail at the post office and grab a nice coffee.

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Money is NOT everything!

Well, it has been far too long since my fingers and brain coordinated and decided to sit and write.
I had a really horrible day yesterday, my car needs repairs and, quite frankly, I just don’t know where I am going to find the funds. I cried for a while feeling sorry for myself, if you know me, that didn’t last long 🙂
I decided to take a long walk through the wonderful landscape at Ecola State Park. It is amazing how your perspective can change when you quit dwelling on the bad and dwell on the good.
My view is of the beautiful Pacific Ocean, elk come visit me, sitting in my back yard chewing their cud, grey whales swim by putting on a wonderful display, the pelicans, oyster catchers, puffins, and hundreds of other sea birds entertain me with their comings and goings. I get up every day to a volunteer job that brings me joy, meeting people from all over the world who come here to learn, picnic or just enjoy the view.
My health is terrific, I can easily hike 10 miles and still have the ability to climb steep terrain and scramble over rock and downed trees. Eating and cooking mostly vegetarian for myself and enjoying the simple pleasures of cutting an onion, breaking lettuce adding some seeds and cheese and relishing each bite. Fast food is a thing of the past along with soda, chips and the mindless eating in front of a tv.
The library brings me great pleasures, books about far away lands and times, books about self-improvement and just fun books like Harry Potter.
I have hundreds of friends, some close with who I can discuss my heart, some who engage me in mindful debate, some who drive me crazy. I cherish my family, my nieces, my sisters and brother, and am grateful my mom is in great health and mind at 82 years young.
I don’t have lots of “stuff” or clothes or shoes or all those other things that we are told will make us happy.
What I do have is a wonderful life, my life. It is raining today, and I am going to go out and dance in it!!

Cathy

My Mother’s Garden

Mom’s vegetable and flower gardens grow along the banks of the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. For many years they drove me crazy. Why? She would just let anything that took root grow, amid her tomatoes a stray poppy would bloom, crooked rows because something was growing and she wanted to see what would sprout. Flowering weeds that even the neighbors tease her about, struggling for life among the lettuce.

“Let it grow, I want to see what comes up.” A common mantra when I wanted to tidy the gardens and pull what I thought didn’t belong.

Mom raised 6 kids in a time when Moms stayed home and Dads went to work. We lived on a street with similar families, the Jones family had 9 kids, the Connors 12, the Rutkowskies had a small family with just 3. A yellow brick house on a red brick street. Simple rules, be home when the street lights come on, look both ways when crossing the street, don’t litter, treat adults with respect, take care of your neighbors, don’t take what is not yours, rules enforced by all the Moms.

Visiting this summer I noticed the vegetable garden, too much for an 80 year old woman to tend, overgrown and abandoned, fertile soil still producing cherry tomatoes and spinach enjoyed by the deer and other small herbivores. Century old apple, black walnut and pear trees dropping fruit she rakes for the animals to enjoy. Her flower gardens envelope the house, miniature roses, day lilies and daisies, poppies and flowering weeds allowed to grow, their deaths rejuvenating the soil for the next generation.

It has taken 54 years of life to understand my Mother, she raised her children just as her gardens, each individual, sprouting among humanity, different from the rest. We were given the necessities of life, food, sun, water, love. At times maybe a stick to hold us upright, just long enough to grow straight and develop roots to stand tall. We were fertilized with basic education, values that put people above things, and a clear understanding that we had to stand on our own two feet.

“Let them grow, I want to see what comes up.”

Cathy

Changes

My first post in three weeks. My life has taken some fun and unexpected turns. I got a job at Ft. Stevens State Park as a Host. My duties include keeping the new cabins clean in change for a free spot for my RV in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Ft. Stevens is situated at the mouth of the Columbia River where it empties into the Pacific. Ft. Stevens Military Reservation guarded the mouth of the Columbia River from the Civil War through World War II.  5 miles of hiking trails and 7 miles of bike path through forests and dune grass opening to the Pacific on one side and the Columbia River on the other. The name of this blog “offthegridwithcathyherman” will still be appropriate as the Host position only lasts 3 months at a time, my next assignment is at Nehalem Bay State Park near Manzanita (I know, tough duty).

The most important lesson I took away from my road trip was my ability to adapt to life as it unfurled in front of me, all while enjoying the ride.

The other decision I made was to start my own business. American Woman Promotions. Travel with me as I start a small business in America, selling promotional products made in America to promote American companies and events.

The transition from travel and adventure to entrepreneurship is full of comparisons.  Facing new situations daily, making decisions on which direction to travel, navigating road blocks and government red tape, tracking expenditures and planning for the unexpected. The joy of launching a new business is terrifying, taking the leap of faith in yourself and your abilities. The same terrifying joy I felt when I hit the road last March and started this blog.

Cathy