About Mary

A Wild Heart Wandering

…but not all who wander are lost.

Often, I want to walk the safe side of the street
And lull myself to sleep, and dull my pain.
But deep down inside I know, I‘ve got to learn from the greats, earn my right to be living,
Let my wings of desire soar over the night.
I need to let them say,“She must have been mad!”

– Carly Simon, “Touched By The Sun

The Driver

Mary Shafer, blog owner

Hi. My name’s Mary Shafer.

I’m a journalistauthorcommercial copywritermarketing consultantartistindependent book publisher, indie author consultantteacherpublic speaker,  storm freak/tornado chasersometime animal rescuer, and avid metal detectorist.

(I’m a triple Gemini — I get bored easily.)

As a regular sticks-and-bricks dweller, I lived in upper Bucks County, in southeastern Pennsylvania. That’s still my home base, where I moochdock on a friend’s property…for now.

In November, 2017, a number of factors came together to cause me to want to change my living situation. I decided to change from a stationary apartment dweller to a full-time RVer, living in a 20-foot travel trailer towed by a bright yellow Jeep Wrangler…even though before that, I had never RVed a day in my life.

I explain that whole situation here.

Evolution

Wildheart 2

Wildheart II, my 1997 Coachmen Catalina Lite

As I move into my second year as a fulltimer, I’ve upgraded our rig and tow vehicle to a 2000 Toyota Tundra S-5 pulling a 23-foot 1997 Coachmen Catalina Lite. The more powerful tow vehicle gives me far more confidence as a driver, and the larger rig makes me feel more like a grownup able to make a living on the road than a kid playing in a blanket fort.

While this isn’t something I ever planned to do or even contemplated, I like a life that’s interesting and adventurous. And I like the mystery that comes from a certain amount of ambiguity. I don’t necessarily want to know, when I get up in the morning, what will happen to me or where I’ll be when I go to sleep that night.

Chasing tornadoes for my 50th birthday

Being too certain of everything is a sure recipe for sleepwalking through life, at least for me. Though I don’t feel I’ve ever been that much on autopilot, I’ve been closer than I care to be. This new journey ensures I will probably never get close to that again.

Keeping Track

I’m keeping a blog here as a way to document my journeys, and all the experiences I have, and all the people (both cool and maybe not so much) who I meet along the way. My intent is to use the material here to remind me of my sojourn and to write a couple books about it. I believe I will have enough new experiences to fill both a how-to guide for solo RVers, and another book that will take a more spiritual/emotional approach while remaining nonfiction…a kind of memoir.

Why do I think anyone would be interested in reading such books? Well, first of all, because I realize that I’m embarking on a journey not too many people get to experience in modern life.

Also because, as I’ve shared my intent with people, one of the most frequent comments I get is, “Oh, how cool! I wish I could go. But at least I’ll be able to live the adventure vicariously through your blog.”

In my mind, a book is just a longer presentation form than a blog. And, well…you’re here reading this, aren’t you?

The Queen

Hi, I’m Idgie, and I’m the true brains of this operation. Mom tries, but she’s, well, you know…human. Allowances must be made.

I’m a gray domestic longhair. Yes, I know the accepted term is “blue.” But Mom keeps reminding me that I’m old, and I’ll be damned if she’s gonna start also calling me a “blue hair.” I have white socks, a bib and a little “milk drip” on my mouth. I have a luxurious coat that I like to keep well-groomed, a marvelous set of ultra-long whiskers, a thick mat of fur on the top of my head, and unusually short legs for my build. These assets serve to keep me safe when I run into or fall off things because I can’t see.

If you ask me, sight is overrated. I know you can see because you’re reading this, but can you hear a moth fluttering in an office with two computers, a laser printer, an air conditioner and a ceiling fan going? Yeah, well, I can. I can also catch mice because those little stinkers aren’t as stealthy as they think they are. Mom says she’s just glad we don’t stay down in the Southwest during scorpion season.

I was abandoned by my mother shortly after birth because I was born without eyes, and like most animal parents, she was saving her resources for the babies she thought most likely to survive.

But I got saved by a nice lady who took care of me until I came to live with Mom. It’s a pretty cool story, which you can read in this book. Spoiler: It has a happy ending.

So, when people seem surprised and ask Mom how she manages to have me along as a full-time RVer, she just rolls her eyes (because I can’t). She knows that nothing we could get into could be more difficult for me than my first few weeks of life.

So I enjoy the traveling. I like smelling all the new and interesting aromas when we pass through or stop in new places. I am fascinated by all the different sounds, near and far. I must admit I like being in the trailer more than the truck, because Mom won’t let me drive. Go figure.

I hope you enjoy our travels, too. Thanks for coming along with us on whatever part of the ride makes you happy.

___

Editor’s note: I am sad beyond measure to report here that Idgie crossed the Rainbow Bridge in the early morning of October 15, 2019. It was the day we were supposed to leave for our workamping gig in Colorado, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we went to the vet because it was clear Idgie was in pain. The vet listened to her chest and when she looked at me, I knew I wouldn’t be bringing Idgie back home with me.

She had developed a heart murmur and was experiencing extremely irregular arrythmia, resulting from acute heart failure. The vet said that her pain was likely coming from something else, probably cancer, that may have been developing slowly for a long time, since she had been wasting (dropped from 9.6 lbs. when we started out on the road in September, 2018 to 6.15 lbs. the day she died). But that this was a moot point, because she would not survive the heart failure.

I truly believe she knew we were leaving and that she wouldn’t make it, and so she let me know she was ready to cross over that morning. I think she knew how much more devastating it would be for me to lose her on the road in a strange place. A true friend to the end.

I will miss my dear, fuzzy gray co-pilot forever. She was a very, very special little girl in so many ways, and was my best friend. She wasn’t perfect and neither am I, but we were perfect for each other.

When the time is right and my heart is ready, I have faith that Idgie will send me another little fuzzball to love and travel with. But till then, my passenger seat remains empty, and my rig feels too hollow. It’s amazing how such a tiny creature can leave such an enormous void.

I was so lucky to have her in my life for more than 17 years. I hope her time with me was even half as good as mine was with her. Goodbye, my little friend. There will never be another like you…not ever.

Can I Help You?

I find myself on the front end of a social trend. The fastest-growing group of full-time RVers is Millennials, followed closely by “women of a certain age.” We’re all after the same basic thing: A life structured around encouraging new and different experiences, rather than the acquisition and storage of stuff.

I’ve now been living this lifestyle for more than a year, and I have learned a LOT. I know there are so many others out there who dream of living this life. I had help from others who don’t need my help in return, so I’m happy to pay it forward to those who do. If there are any questions I can answer to help you on your own quest toward fulltiming, contact me and let’s have a conversation!