Hello Ladies and G’s, Followers and Casual Drop-ins,
I have a confession to make.
This blog started somewhere in the middle of things, jumped around a bit, then settled down at the beginning of our travails (no, that’s not a typo) with the occasional excursion to the present (i.e. UK, Australia, France). I have notebooks full of sorry tales which I’m ploughing through on WWN101 in the hopes I get back to the present before the travels/travails start again.
I’ve had to confess as it will soon become apparent that the blog is set in a completely different season to the rest of the northern hemisphere.
We opted out of the wheeled life after 3 ½ years on the road to have comfortable chairs and beds, beds I can make without turning the air blue (c’mon you RVers, you know what I mean, Nightmares Before Bedtime), more than one room, slammable doors between the rooms, our own laundry facilities that some dirty devil hasn’t just used before I put my whites in, a full immersion bath – not a footbath/shower, the same neighbors day after day (not always a good thing but we’ve been lucky here) to say hello to, dry towels, walk-in closets where I can make a considered choice instead of just wearing whatever is on top of the clean pile, a sofa that is out of earshot for the one who isn’t snoring, a recliner we can fight over and all the stores my little heart desires a few minutes’ drive away.
Now through circumstances beyond our control (and himself is bored) we are giving up the above amenities. Trailer life is looming large again due to uncertainty about our next step.
So we haven’t been, strictly speaking, homeless the whole while I’ve been publishing this blog, just unsettled and undecided apartment dwellers with containers full of furniture and who-knows-what stored and festering in another country for seven years.
When I said at the start “the beginning of our travails” that only referred to the American segment. There were European travels (with consequent notebooks of stories) before that.
I should make a change to my blog header and change one word by one letter – from homeless to hopeless!
As you can see below, I am rather reluctant to leave our stunning balcony view. I just need a lightning shot and the set will be complete:
We will return to our regularly scheduled program on Friday.
During the long, hot drive the day before (Poor Judgment), we saw something neither of us had ever seen before – whirlwinds.
A whirlwind is a weather phenomenon that can manifest in a major way – a tornado, or a minor way – little vortexes of wind, known as snow devils, steam devils and dust devils or in Australia as willy-willies or whirly-whirlies. We had seen several dust devils which caused my driver to veer violently on the interstate as he was so taken with this caprice of nature.
Now, as Jimmy bent over a locker on the outside of the trailer, rearranging blocks of wood, crank handles, ladders, gloves, hoses and all manner of guy things, a fly devil (The Flies) appeared above his head – a four-foot whirling column of friends
When he walked along the length of the trailer to wind things up and down, his fly devil went with him. It was just the most comical thing – like a cartoon of a dirt boy with his very own gang of flies in formation. I pointed above his head and opened my mouth to speak but thought better of it as I didn’t want to spoil my fun. They didn’t seem to be bothering him.
When we were ready to go, we leapt into the car with a similar gusto as when exiting the trailer. A few flies followed us in so we opened the windows after five minutes on the road and helped them out.
Making our first pit stop in Idaho, we opened the doors to discover thousands of the little monsters taking refuge in all the door sills, including the rear tailgate. Some flew in and some flew out but mostly they stayed put so with all five doors open we spent the next half an hour encouraging them out of all the crevices in the car to take flight in their new state.
We continued to pick, smash and flick for the remainder of the journey. One successful method of departure for them was to assist them along the inside of the windshield, open the window two inches and then watch them be sucked out by the vacuum effect. Some of them have been relocated to the spectacular Bitterroot Range of mountains, (perhaps to pick up the Lewis and Clark Trail) which forms the border between Idaho and Montana. They might find the weather a bit harsh come winter.
When we arrived at our campsite in Missoula, Montana (this sorry tale goes on a bit, be pleased you weren’t with us) we found that, no, the flies hadn’t all been blown away to new pastures along the interstate, but had taken up residence in our trailer – on the windows, on the lights, on the ceiling, walls, curtains, blinds and occasionally on any exposed skin – and we’ve no idea how they got there as all the doors and windows had stayed firmly shut since the morning. If you’re interested, they weren’t bitey things – just small, friendly, and rather slow but hugely numerous flies.
We then started to swat in earnest . . . . for hours and hours. All God’s little creatures, I kept thinking as I squashed fly after fly, but what possible use could they have? Admittedly, all the swallows were quite plump back at the campsite from hell (Poor Judgment), but couldn’t God have just let the swallows eat seeds, skipped these particular flies and saved us the trouble?
As the evening dragged on we tired so took it in turns, one holding a damp sponge acting as the killing machine, and the other pointing and shouting annoyingly, “There’s one! Quick! There’s another one!”
We attempted to have an early night, both being dog tired from our freight train excitement the night before. As is our habit, we put out all the lights except the reading light over our bed-in-a-drawer, our cozy train-compartment-type arrangement that pulls out from the back of the trailer.
THWACK! and I was jolted from reading my book as Jimmy squashed a fly on the ceiling over his pillow. I read the same sentence again and SMACK! Jimmy would slap the flies onto the ceiling and then pick them off with his fingernail leaving little fly silhouettes behind.
“It’s no good. I need the sponge,” he said nudging me out of bed whilst showing me his handful of flies.
“I’m getting in the other bed,” I said, having now read the same passage five times still without comprehension. When I put the light on over the other bed, half of the flies dutifully followed me, winging around my face to get a look at my book. “I’m putting my light out,” I blurted tetchily, and pulled the sheet over my head. “Put your light out and go to bed. They won’t bother you then.”
“Put your light out and go to bed.”
“PUT YOUR LIGHT OUT AND GO TO BED!”
He put his light out and went to bed.
Perhaps I should have shown more compassion for the hapless owner of the campsite from hell. I reckon the flies had sent him off his trolley.
Addendum: It has been suggested that the little critters had been migrating and swooped in to visit with us at the lakeside site for just the one night. How lucky was that?
We kept finding the odd dead fly for weeks. After the trauma had worn off, the sight of their little lifeless bodies would raise a fond smile of remembrance.
Or maybe you will. I’d never befriended a cockatoo before.
On a slight departure from “adventures in a box on wheels in America,” we flew to Australia to visit family. I never imagined an apartment balcony in the suburbs would provide wildlife encounters. The cockatoos were initially cocktail time visitors, smelling the snacks and gate crashing our party, until one of them spotted me for the sucker I am and came to visit for morning coffee as well. He didn’t care for the previously offered corn chips but took one from my hand, laid it at his feet, backed away from it and looked at me as though I’d given him a piece of cardboard. I found a vege chip for him. He took it politely, put it down, backed away again and looked at me plaintively. I had just insulted him.
Running out of options and not wishing to completely empty our hosts store cupboard, I chanced a few extravagantly priced walnuts. They hit the spot with this now picky bird. One at a time, he took them from my fingers, ate each one delicately as though savoring a truffle. Each walnut was prized and eaten thoughtfully, an exercise in mindful eating, something I’ve never been able to master.
At the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden the ibis practiced gang techniques and pressured tourists into paying protection tidbits. They would circle tables at the cafe and stare, getting closer and closer. Quite large birds, eyeballs nearly at table height, they intimidated a group of English people into sharing their tea cakes. When the group left the table the ibis swooped, whisking crockery aside to look for crumbs while smashing plates on the patio slabs. Those of us with stronger wills against rogue birds were greatly entertained as we finished every last morsel of our own food.
Gimme cake or else!
Hmmm. Let’s see what we have here.
What’s this? Shake, shake, shake. Oops! Did I knock a plate off the table?
The second sitting at the tea table didn’t last long as the long-suffering waitress shooed off the ibis with her dustpan and brush.
Back at the balcony Coop the cockatoo showed up twice a day until the nuts ran out.
Cockatoo or cockatiel? Do you know the difference? I believe Coop was a cockatoo with a beak strong enough to smash Brazil nuts. He gently nipped my index finger to show displeasure with my offering of inferior hors d’oeuvres but I could have lost a finger. Or several!
Yoohoo! It’s me!
Knock. Knock. I know you’re in there. C’mon. Let me in!