Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Soul Restoration on the Road

On October 5, 2008 my 30 year-old daughter died.  Elise's illness was sudden -- brain cancer.  She passed within 8 months.
 
Friendship Hill NHS (PA) Aug 2010 
Now, I'm a childless mother.  Well, not completely.  I've a step daughter, sons-in-law, and grandsons.  Yet, the one I birthed is dead.  I am a childless mother.

I cry.  I will continually grieve her death while on this earth.  This loss is the deepest.

Kodachrome SP (UT), May 2010
Being on the road is restoration, salve for my soul.  The National Parks' wonders, majesty, and simple beauties provid a healing counterpoint to the ravages of illness and death.   Traveling the back roads is an apt metaphor to working through grief -- where prayers are spoken, sometimes in whispers, other times with rage.  Healing.

Elise loved the outdoors and nature; she fought to preserve it.  She would be cheering me on.  And, I believe, she is.

Most recently, after hubby John's successful battle with kidney cancer, I found myself once again emotionally drained.  Even a short 3-week road trip did wonders.

Zion NP (UT) May 2010
Some find solace in church, others among family and friends; for me, the road soothes my soul*.

For more information about Elise, her family, and brain cancer, go to this blog post made in March 2010, before I traveled the National Parks.


*When I was growing up, my family didn't travel, vacation or move around; yet, I suspect we are genetically predisposed to wander. As a young man, Dad hoboed from South Dakota to California. Before they had kids, my parents would "take a drive" on the spur of the moment, sometimes for hours, days, or one time for years.  Several brothers travel for the joy of it -- one internationally, another by motorcycle, and a third is a full-time RV'er. Elise had it too, backpacking and hitchhiking through Western Europe, and even living in a van for a while. It's in our blood.

2/2/11

27 comments:

  1. I can attest to the fact that nature heals and nourishes the soul. I am now driving through Montana and am blown away by what I see, so I'm coming back in the late summer or fall, I hope, to explore some of it.

    I hope you continue to find solace from your grief through the natural world. I believe the earth is a living being, as is everything and everyone on it.

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  2. I love that you shared this Suanne and it grieves me to read of your loss. You are a true inspiration on many levels but the walking through your grief is a big one...
    Hugs,
    Bri

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  3. I am so sorry for your loss. I don't have children but when I lost my mum... I lost my mind. I was a mess, some how I pulled it together and finished college and got my RN. It's all a blurr now.
    Since then I found out the chest pain I was having was anxiety. Then my home burned down, my pets died in the fire, I fractured my back(crushed vertebra), had my heart attack and started over.
    Pushing constantly pushing. Now it stops. I am selling all, packing my car and taking a break to enjoy what is a faint memory.
    Camping in the red woods. I love camping it is so peaceful. It does heal the soul. I am a fan of yours. I will travel and take pictures and smell the fresh air.
    There is so much more to life than this rat race merry go round.
    Thank you for your inspiration, advice and sharing how to do it. Mr Bob was the beginning of an idea... Maybe I could do this. You were confirmation. I can do this.
    Time to live.
    kidiekat

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    1. I am sorry for your loss as well Suanne we lost two boys 21 and 20. Two years after the second loss the PTS triggered a Bi Polar attack and I ended up in the psych ward for 4 months at 55 and never recovered well enough to go back to work. Travel is comforting to us as well but we can't do it too much because we were wiped out financially. But living viciously thru you is so soothing. Thank you so much.

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  4. I have a 2005 Prius and was going to get a suv as I would also like to hit the road with my little dog. I am so glad I found this. I plan to get another Prius now! I just have a little fear about traveling alone am a woman. No will keep reading I am sure you have good advise for this. Thanks!

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    1. I hope you found the section on Safety and Security helpful as you plan out your mobile home and travels!

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    2. Research Google for Van Camping safety, security ideas. Here are some tips I found as well. But Susanne will have to screen them appropriately before posting them.
      PERSONAL SECURITY – If thieves see something worth stealing when they peep into your van then they will smash, grab and run….. a broken window is expensive. Don’t leave anything worth stealing visible while your away. A remote engine start to startle intruder and a fast drive away", *a small dog for alert/warning, *large dog for attack, *Bear Mace Spray, * Park in high-traffic areas, *Park under bright lights, *12V warning siren, *boat “compressed air horn” (in camping goods) to startle and attract attention, *taser gun, *ball bat. Use solar lights for at night. Put a unbreakable mirrors behind the solar lights for more brightness.

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  5. Hi there, I enjoyed the interview on youtube.
    I asked myself why would this lady be out there by herself? She must have family and friends. So I came to your blog. Now I know why.

    Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
    Be well my friend.

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    1. Thanks for checking out both the video and my blog. I appreciate your comment and perspective. Suanne

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    2. Yes and may I add this comment? The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is, Knowledge & Attitude !."

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  6. This is a really awesome account about "how" and "why". Thanks so much for this! I park my little rig in the mountains and run there every weekend! I have 2 dogs so we run from civilization and it is such a joy to be where you find peace, quiet for the soul and serenity. I have always be a traveller.

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  7. Hi Suanne, how has your Prius done on all these BLM backroads with the potential to get stuck, ruts in the road, muddy encounters, etc? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Bryce, Driving on rutted, rocky roads in the Prius is definitely a learned skill of placing your wheels in the right spot so you don't bottom out, get high-centered, or otherwise get stuck. I regularly surprise my campmates that I'm able to drive on some very rough, rutted roads. And my car's body has many dings and scratches to show for this effort. I am, however, very careful to protect the oil pan under the car. I won't do mud. I wait it out until the road dries up, or make sure I pay attention to the weather to get out before the rains start. I also avoid sandy roads, and driving through water when I don't know the exact depth.

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    2. Hi Suanne, do you still rock the regular low rolling resistance tires or have you moved on to more aggressively treaded tires (at the cost of some MPG) for those dirt roads?

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    3. I've never had low rolling resistance tires on my Prius, tho', I've certainly considered them. I have some Yokohama Avid Touring-S on now; and am getting ready to replace them soon.

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  8. Okay, so normal tires, not anything chunky. How long can you go on BLM land before refilling stuff like water or disposing of waste? In the YouTube video from enigmatic nomatic, it doesn't review your water stores or anything like that. Can you comment? Thanks so much, I really appreciated.

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    1. I can easily stay in the back country for a couple of weeks before I need to restock, dump trash, and wash clothes. I store my water in MSR Drometary Bags (water bladders) which I reviewed here http://suanneonline.blogspot.com/2015/06/first-product-reviews-snowbirding-2015.html Hope that helps.

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    2. Ok, so 10 gallons will last you a few weeks for all your needs... what do you do with waste water? Thanks!

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    3. I rarely have waste water (grey water). But, when I do while camping in the back country, I dispose of it away from camp. I will broadcast it around so as to not concentrate any small food particles or odors which attract animals.

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    4. Do you have a post how you detail washing your dishes? I drink a lot of meal replacement supplements (no refrigeration and ~$7/day) that are a powder mix plus some water in a shaker bottle. How would you clean that? Wipe residual water out w/ paper towel and then spray some some of cleaning agent? For your diet, how do you "wash" your dishes? Paper plates? Many thanks as always...

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    5. I wash my cooking and eating utensils by wiping out all food until it looks clean. Sometimes I spray water to assist with this task. And, I never let food dry on; rather, I wipe utensils down right away. After all utensils are wiped "clean," I then spray with white vinegar to sterilize, wiping dry with a clean cloth or napkin. I use spray bottles purchased at dollar stores.

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  9. Also when you go shopping, where do you store bulky items like toilet paper, paper towels, or even bars of soap? How many can you keep in the Prius at one time? I assume you have to carry pretty small quantities. Also, when's the next time you make it to the northeast? For all your advice I love to take you out to lunch. Take care.

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    1. I usually only buy one roll of paper towels at a time which lasts me well over a month. I will buy a 4-pack of TP and stash the extra rolls where ever I can find a space (under seats, between bags, under the dash, etc.). I carry a small amount of concentrated liquid soap which I use for showers only. Otherwise I use a wash cloth to clean with water, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar. As for coming to the northeast, it's definately something I plan to do, but just don't know when yet. Stay tuned. :)

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  10. Hi Suanne, it looks like you don't work while out on the road seeing all the sights, which would be my situation. Do you have any posts on your monthly budget? Thanks and have a great wknd!

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    1. Hi Bryce,
      That's a good request. I've tracked my expenses, but haven't published them. I will look into doing that. Though, I'm not sure how useful that will be since I have house expenses (that I won't include) and a partner with whom I share expenses. But, I'll do my best to break those out and compile the information. Hopefully it will be useful. Stay tuned.

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    2. I appreciate it. As I get older just jumping off the deepend into van (prius) life is not something I'd consider without a lot of planning and getting out there and covering a lot of miles, seeing the sights is very similar to what I want to do. Many thanks!

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