Angels Do Have Wings

image

We arrived at SEATAC airport (Seattle Tacoma) at 5 am headed to Ontario, California two days ago. Everything was smooth. From Richard dropping us off at the curb to locating our gate. Our assigned seats were located at the rear of the plane (row 31) and we marched our way down the aisle. I didn’t bump into any elbows nor did Owen’s backpack hit anyone in the face in passing. Our seat was second to the last row and I was pleased that we sat in front of a mother of two little ones. I had already befriended the 5 yr old girl and I was looking forward to making her 1 yr old sister smile.

We settled into our seats and that’s when a problem presented itself in paws and a wagging tail. A service dog with its master parked themselves behind us. My eyes widened as I met Owen’s worried look. We didn’t see this one coming. Owen is allergic to pets. He started rubbing his eyes and I immediately asked an attendant if they had some kind of Benadryl. I needed one for my son who is allergic to the dog. That’s when the magic began.

I’ve never been the type who gets over dramatic about situations that aren’t going as planned. I remain positive and always find the silver lining. The Alaska Airline attendant immediately got to work and told me to give her a moment (to see if she can find us another seat). I look over at Owen and his eyes are red and watering. He is starting to wheeze and I calmly explain to him that the attendant is doing what she can to alleviate the unforeseen issue. I remain calm and wait patiently.

Not long after, the attendant caught my eye and she gives me a motherly reassuring nod and smile. A tall gentleman with a red beard was trailing behind her with his things in his arms. We made way for this Good Samaritan and I thank him whole heartedly as he claimed his seat(s). He gave up his seat at the front of the plane, row 12 to be exact, for a little boy (& his mom).

As I sat in my seat reflecting, I felt tears come to my eyes. I started to think, what if no one had given up their seat? Would this mean Owen & I would catch the next flight out? Would they have asked the service dog and its master to do the same? Would we need to flip a coin on who stays on and who gets off? Would Owen have to endure the (short) flight in complete discomfort? I told myself to breathe, relax and be simply grateful. It doesn’t matter anymore. The good deed has been done. I later introduced myself to Eric and shook his hand. He gives a “no problem” gesture and smile, like it was nothing. Evidently, as a mother, it meant a lot to me and to Owen’s lungs.

It turns out earth-bound angels are in places you least expect. I’m not religious but I am spiritual. I believe in humanitarianism, spirit guides and having good karma.

image

Advertisements

Meaningful Friendships

image

About a year ago, we embarked on this journey of traveling by trailer in search of a good home.

I (still) sharply remember getting very homesick. I missed my family and friends.

The brave act of selling everything we owned, including cars and house; was very new to me and I had doubts by day 3; but at the same time, I embraced the obstacles and dealt with it as best I could. We were following our hearts and letting go of our fears. We were looking for a better and happier life.

I remember meeting a woman and her dog as I walked along the shores of a lake at Bridgeport, CA. I felt so lonely and this earth-bound angel befriended me. We walked along the lake talking as if We were friends for years. She gave me all the love and reassurance I needed. After that, she was gone. Came and went, her mission accomplished.

Throughout the year during my travels, I lost communication with a friend or two. Long distance friendships aren’t for everybody and sadly I had to accept it and let go of them. It was hard to do. I kept hanging on to what we used to have.

On the bright side, I have a handful of close friends who stuck with me; checking up on me, texting and/or making me laugh from thousands of miles away. These are friends I send postcards and Holiday cards to. I am grateful they are in my life.

Losing some friends also meant gaining new ones. Not too long ago, Owen made a friend at spring camp. I connected with his friend’s mom and we became friends. She lifted me up spiritually when I was at my lowest. Needless to say, she came at a very good time in my life. Once again, at a time of sadness, an earth-bound angel appeared.

One thing I learned: When I was up in life, my friends got to know who I am. When I was down in life, I got to know who my friends are.

Owen & I are in California for a few days. We’ll be getting in touch with his old friends and rekindling friendships. As for me, I have one goal: to personally appreciate that friend who made a difference in my year of stressful and lonely moments. Friends who I consider my on-call personal earth-bound Angels.

image

Random Pictures from Sep. 3-13, 2014

 

Sep. 3, 2014 Owen is playing with a little boy dressed in a cop uniform. There was a slow-speed chase.
Sep. 3, 2014 Owen is playing with a little boy dressed in a cop uniform. There was a slow-speed chase.
Sep. 3, 2014 riding our bikes at the campground with our wonderful friends Milenda and Dan.
Sep. 3, 2014 riding our bikes at the campground with our wonderful friends Milenda and Dan.
Sep. 3, 2014 riding our bikes at the campground with our wonderful friends Milenda and Dan.
Sep. 3, 2014 riding our bikes at the campground with our wonderful friends Milenda and Dan.

 

Sep 5, 2014 - I was a vendor at the local craft fair using my paper quilling expertise. This was my display table.
Sep 5, 2014 – I was a vendor at the local craft fair using my paper quilling expertise. This was my display table.

 

Sep. 5, 2014 The best part was having kids come to my booth and me teaching them. The highlight of my day.
Sep. 5, 2014 The best part was having kids come to my booth and me teaching them. The highlight of my day.
Sep 5, 2014 - craft display
Sep 5, 2014 – craft display
Sep 5, 2014 - craft display
Sep 5, 2014 – craft display

 

Sep. 5, 2014 Owen got to play with kids and made some friends.
Sep. 5, 2014 Owen got to play with kids and made some friends.

 

Sep. 6, 2014 Richard met a retired Dutch man who had been traveling for 4 yrs with his wife in the US and now has to return to his homeland.
Sep. 6, 2014 Richard met a retired Dutch man who had been traveling for 4 yrs with his wife in the US and now has to return to his homeland.

 

Sep. 6, 2014 He was selling his car for $1,000.
Sep. 6, 2014 He was selling his car for $1,000. We almost bought it.

 

image
Sep. 9, 2014 This was my last walk-around the campground with my friend.

 

Sep. 10, 2014 Move-in day. This stunning display of cheerful flowers welcome us.
Sep. 10, 2014 Move-in day. This stunning display of cheerful flowers welcomed us.

 

Sep. 12, 2014 Richard found me an Asian grocery store. They had a lot of everything I needed.
Sep. 12, 2014 Richard found me an Asian grocery store. They had a lot of everything I needed.

 

Sep. 13, 2014 While the boys bond with building Lego, I have girl-time and played with different hairstyles. I like this look.
Sep. 13, 2014 While the boys bonded building Lego, I had girl-time and played with different hairstyles. I like this look.

In Need of a Friend

June 13, 2014
9pm

Feeling melancholy and claustrophobic inside the trailer, I put on my hiking shoes and took a walk along the reservoir. As strange as it sounds, I woke up from a nap and had nothing to do. I really had nothing to do. And because I’ve led such a busy life back home, I suddenly felt lonely and -how should I put this- bored. I miss meeting up with my mom and sisters and my friends, especially the ones who lived in my community. I missed having one-on-one moments with friends.

Out of nowhere, a dog came running from behind. My sadness immediately vanished as I pet Abby.

This is Abby, who came to the rescue!
This is Abby, who came to the rescue!

Abby’s owner Rebekah came over and she and I began talking. By this time, Abby’s job was done and she was off frolicking. Like us, Rebekah recently became a full-time RVer. She’s an artist and a photographer. Her work is based in her motor home. I told her about my paper quilling hobby and Art Abandonment.

This is Rebekah, another earth-bound Angel.
This is Rebekah, another earth-bound Angel.

 

It turns out that she came from Lone Pine and arrived yesterday, the same time as us. When I told her about our experience, her jaw dropped. She was out in the Alabama Hills taking pictures and saw the whole incident with our truck, the fire, etc.

I talked to her about my deep fears and advised me like a long time friend. She told me not to take long drives, take our time, change plans if you must and to limit driving for only 2 to 3 hours.

On that note: instead of hauling our trailer to Lassen Pines on a 8-hour drive, we decided to break it off in two trips, staying at Carson City, NV and Susanville, CA two nights each. Owen is excited to venture out of California, but for now, we still have a lot of exploring and hiking to do…

I needed a friend and help came in the form of a dog. What more could a gal ask for?

 

 

Homeschooling: geography lesson.
Homeschooling: geography lesson.
Playing bananagrams to give me "something to do".
Playing bananagrams to give me “something to do”.

The Road to Bridgeport

June 14, 2014
The drive from Lone Pine to Bridgeport took 4.5 hours. It was beautiful and frightening at the same time. Literally breath.taking. After what happened on the drive up Alabama Hills, we were very wary of the truck hauling our 35-ft trailer. We followed a big rig going 30 mph and we stayed on him for a while. We matched his speed and followed along safely. I kept in contact with my sister Pauline via text. I needed someone who can keep me calm. She’d also be the one to give our location in case we fell off the mountain. She advised me to look at pictures of my niece Abby. But seeing her picture only made me sad because I miss her.

I won’t sugar coat our experience, the road conditions were rough! It was windy and high profile campers were not recommended to travel up Hwy 395. But Richard was determined and we pushed on mile after mile in the dark with the full moon guiding us.

The fullmoon guiding us in the dark.
The fullmoon guiding us in the dark.

We arrived at our destination at 10 pm. The hosts at Paradise Shores were so friendly and accommodating. They knew we were arriving late and kept their ‘open’ sign on and their office porch light on. After checking in, Alan not only assisted us back into our site, but he backed in our trailer FOR us. It took many tries but he did it. A neighbor heard us and he came out with his flashlight. He shed light on Richard as he unhitched the truck, etc. While Owen and I waited in the dark, tired and still jittery from the drive, another neighbor came and kept us company. He offered us water and was so welcoming. I was very touched by these people. They’re all so kind and helpful. I like to call them earth-bound angels.

Showered and settled into our trailer, we had a great night rest and woke up to the most stunning view of the Bridgeport reservoir. We put on our clothes, hiking shoes and grabbed the camera.

Nothing makes me happier than my little bear.
Nothing makes me happier than my little bear.

Lesson Learned: We’re never doing long drives like that again, especially if we know we’ll arrive in the dark and if elevation was unknown.

"I'm alive! We survived the drive!"
“I’m alive! We survived the drive!”

 

Collecting glassy obsidian rocks.
Collecting glassy obsidian rocks.

 

 

When Life Gives you Lemons….

It’s easy to say, “make lemonade”, but can you honestly remember the recipe for a good lemonade when you’re under a lot of stress?

 

I’ll keep it factual and drama-free, so here goes…

image

On June 10, 2014: We were five minutes away from boondocking in the Alabama Hills in Lonepine when our truck started smoking. The oncoming car flags us. “There’s flames coming from under your truck.” This was the part where my maternal and survival mode was suppose to kick in but it didn’t. I froze and didn’t know what to do until Richard said, “Get out of the truck, I’ll grab the fire extinguisher!”. I grabbed my phone, my son and we rushed out of harm’s way. A stranger saw what was happening and pulled over. I was relieved when he ran over and assisted Richard.

By this time, I dialed 911 and reported our emergency. “We’re on Whitney Portal Rd, 5 miles up and I see sparks and flames coming from under our truck. My husband is using his fire extinguisher but the flames aren’t dying down.” I wasn’t calm and collected. I think I spoke in Tagalog half the time. The operator told me CHP (California Highway Patrol) are on the way as well as the fire dept. Seconds later, a ranger/fire fighter in civilian clothes appeared and radio’d for help, his extinguisher in the other hand. At this time, he didn’t need to use it because the fire had gone out.

Within 9 minutes, the brigade arrived.  Forest Service, Fire Dept., and the CHP were assessing the situation. I was distraught and my face must have looked it because the guy who pulled over and assisted Richard walked over to me and Owen and helped me calm down. He is the one wearing neon green shirt. I thanked him profusely for  helping us out until help arrived. He felt bad about our situation and wished us luck.

image

image

At this time, I pointed out to Owen that we were amongst earth-bound angels. Everyone were on their feet, all strangers, helping out a family in need and in danger. Just then, Officer Brian took Owen and I under his wing. He explained to me that the transmission fluid leaked onto the hot exhaust and caught fire. Because our truck had been stored for a long time (only has 50,000 miles), the seal has aged and brittled.

Officer Brian gave us suggestions on what we can do. Instead of Triple A towing us into Bishop where there’s a Ford a dealer, we opted for a local mechanic to have our truck and trailer towed onto his lot. There, the mechanic John and Officer Brian set us up to stay on his lot at no charge. He hooked us up to electrical and assured us it was safe. Mechanic John told Richard he’ll take care of the truck first thing tomorrow morning. He had a line of cars that needed repairs but he was kind enough to give us priority. We were so grateful for Officer Brian who stayed with us until we were safe.

All shook up, we settled into our living room, mouths hung open. This was when my positive, optimistic self kicked in. It was the time to turn those lemons into lemonade…

We are firm believers that things happen for a reason (however tough and tragic it may be). This unforeseen mishap prevented us from real harm while boondocking. Heaven forbid, we fall off a cliff and get injured. But we didn’t.

We told ourselves things could have been worse. The fire stopped, the truck is still running, it didn’t explode or caused a forest fire. No one was hurt. Richard is fine, I’m fine and more importantly, Owen is alive and well. Things could have been worse.

The next morning, John the mechanic tells us the good news: transmission is fine, there are just a few parts that needed replacement. On top of that, we asked him to service it. While the trailer was there, he replaced the worn-out tires and got new ones.

Richard originally wanted our truck serviced after buying it, but somehow, with escrow closing and moving out, time got away and all forgotten. But looking at the bright side, the opportunity presented itself and the truck has been serviced and parts are updated and we can go back on the road safely.

 

EXPLORING LONE PINE

We learned what a beautiful rock volcano burp produces.
We learned what a beautiful rock volcano burp produces.

We stayed at Lonepine longer than planned 2.5 days but it wasn’t too bad. We’ve been here before and actually didn’t mind. The locals are nice. While window shopping, the owner educated us on what happens when a volcano burps. At the local library, we met the friendliest people. They accepted our (more) book donations, including a (heavy) printer that we don’t need.

More time to kill? That's ok, let's go get an ice cream sundae!
More time to kill? That’s ok, let’s go get an ice cream sundae!

Since the truck wouldn’t be ready til the next morning, we checked into a local motel and went swimming. We desperately needed to relax and reward ourselves for handling things well.

It had been a tough First Day but we knew how to deal with it. We didn’t let the  negative experience dampen our spirits. Instead, we looked at the the signs and learned from it. We made the best of the situation. No money wasted, no time wasted. Everything is fine and we’re ok.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am ready to serve my boys some lemonade. Care for a cup?

When life gives you lemons... Make lemonade!
When life gives you lemons… Make lemonade!