The Silver Gypsy

Often I write about whatever has shown up on my personal radar for the week. It might be about problems, politics, gripes, happy thoughts, memories, favorite people or places, or even not so favorite people or places.

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Sharlene Minshall

Sharlene Minshall

Widowed at 45, Sharlene Minshall dusted herself off and left Michigan driving full tilt into a twenty-year solo, full-time RVing saga taking her from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; from Baja and old Mexico to Newfoundland/Labrador; and most drivable points in between. This, mother and grandmother, former medical secretary, and intrepid traveler, canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs on a glacier, paraglided off a Colorado mountain, served as “cabin girl” at a western dude ranch, and among other adventures, rode a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, played with the polar bears at Hudson Bay, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. Sharlene gave lectures at Life on Wheels venues for ten years, and published six non-fiction, RV-related how-to and adventure books. Recently, the Silver Gypsy reinvented herself as a fiction writer with her first e-novel, Winter in the Wilderness.

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The Silver Gypsy: Mission Trip - Part 1

The Senior Youth Group from Peakland United Methodist Church out of Lynchburg, VA, worked on all aspects of the Dominican Republic Mission Trip Project for nine months or so before leaving.  Six out of the 18 were returns from the Mission Trip in 2012, including my daughter, Tracey Norvelle, and my grandson, Will.  The funds for their flights, on-site mission food, and supplies, were furnished by fundraising, donations, and individuals, plus the church paid a portion of the cost for individuals who were part of it. 

The group was scheduled to fly United Airlines from Raleigh, NC, to Newark, NJ, on June 14, then on to Santiago, Dominican Republic.  United Airlines cancelled the first flight segment.  Frantic calls went out to all the participants the evening of June 13 to immediately meet at the church, with suitcases packed and ready to go.  In four quickly rented vehicles, they left church and drove throughout the night to Newark, NJ.  They landed in Santiago around noon on Saturday and were driven in vans to the Mission’s camp near Luperon, the Dominican Republic.

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The Silver Gypsy: Manta Ray Water Ballet

Dear Readers:  Once again I take you South of the Border to the tip of Baja for an adventure I wrote about in 1987. 

I am on the beach.  There are no footprints behind me, nor footprints ahead of me.  No one has ever walked here before me.  I am the first.  I am woman.  The ocean sprays salt on my face.  I lick my lips.  It tries to mesmerize me with the rhythm of the waves and make me forget the dangers of the undertow.

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The Silver Gypsy: Trouble South of the Border

Dear Readers:  This is a story I published way back in 1988, as a result of …well, I’ll let you read it.  Enjoy.

In my first life, I had a husband who was six foot three and weight 215 pounds.  My hero “did in” anything that threatened my existence.  I wouldn’t want you to think he spoiled me but I covered spiders with fruit jars and he disposed of them at the end of his hard day’s work.

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The Silver Gypsy:  Ye Olde Muddy Campground

This story about very unique camping on the Mississippi River was published in 1995.  It was an amazing trip and I was blessed to experience it.

"Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines."  

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The Silver Gypsy: The Yarnell Hill Fire

I live in the flat desert country south of Congress, Arizona, about 15 miles down the squiggly mountain road from the small town of Yarnell.  I didn’t become aware of the fire until Sunday, June 30, 2013.  I stepped outside my house at North Ranch and just happened to look North up the mountain.  Smoke was thick and a long ragged line of fire rimmed the ridge.  It wouldn’t have taken much for it to come off the mountain and sweep through the desert.  I thought about that a lot as I turned on the news only a few minutes later and heard that the wind had changed just about the time I saw the ridge burning.

b2ap3_thumbnail_EXTREME-SMOKE-FROM-NR--014.jpgWith the relief that the fire wasn’t coming this way, came the immediate heartbreak that in that very wind change, 19 of the Granite Mountain Hotshots out of Prescott had been trapped and died.  The 20th member, a lookout, was whisked out of harm’s way at the last minute.  It took a few minutes for that all to sink in.  No, not 19 beautiful young people who were doing their jobs hand-cutting firebreaks along the fire flank.  The fire came over the mountain ridge and within a few seconds trapped them in a bowl.  It was unthinkable but it was true.  Some were found in their protective shelters, some didn’t get that far, but all were overcome, huddled in a hollow between two ridges, friends and co-workers in life, together at the end.

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The Silver Gypsy: The "Forever Child"

The details were never mine to know but something happened at birth that Josie became one of innumerable “Forever Children” that live on this earth.  She was a beautiful baby but one knew almost immediately that something was wrong.  She was soon behind in all the development phases of growing and learning.  She eventually learned to help her mother and dad with helping to care for the farm, dogs, cats, horses and cattle.  Her father died in her early years so she and her mother soldiered on, working together to do whatever needed to be done on a daily basis to keep a 400-acre farm going and animals fed and watered.

With Mom’s help and because Mom was involved in the running of the State Fair, Josie raised and showed sheep every year until she was no longer eligible to participate age-wise.  One of their fun activities was going to the local sports games and rooting for their preferred team.  Neither of them were interested too much in cooking so another favorite pastime was going out to breakfast at a local eatery.  In a small town, everyone knows each other so everyone knew Josie and her mother.

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The Silver Gypsy: My Daddy and Me

I just realized that I’ve written about my mother several times over the years, but I never really told about my Dad.  Firstly, I loved him with a passion.  Secondly, he was tall and thin, neither of which I inherited.  Both my parents had blue eyes so I received a good dose of eye color.  The other thing I inherited from him that I am not especially thrilled with is an embarrassing ability to cry at the drop of a hatpin whether I am sad, happy, or as mad as a bull.

He was a hard worker.  He had to be considering there were four boys and a girl to feed, clothe, and generally raise them to be whatever they were going to be.   In earlier years, he and my mother and four brothers lived in and around Niles, MI.  I was born in a log cabin he and an uncle built from logs from our woods.  We lived next to the Dowagiac Creek near Dowagiac, MI. 

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The Silver Gypsy: An “Awesome Sauce” Friend

“Awesome Sauce” has been part of an advertisement I’ve heard on TV recently.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember what they were advertising.  But I liked the idea and applied it to a friend of mine.

b2ap3_thumbnail_WAS-I-EVER-THAT-THIN-43.jpgI asked myself recently, “Where has the time gone?”  I received an e-mail from a long-time friend, Camilla Bowman, whom I met on a group trip to the Orient in 1985 – 29 years ago!!!  We became trip buddies and got into trouble more than once, but the frosting on the cake was that I had planned to stop in Hawaii for two weeks on my way back to the Mainland. She was going to be in Hawaii visiting friends and offered to be my guide.  I’m not sure whether that was a mistake or not, but we had a ball.  I’m sure I was ready to throw her off the 10,000’ summit of Haleakalā at Sunrise and she just may have wanted to run over me beyond the Road to Hana (which we weren’t supposed to be on with a rental car).  We’ve seen each other on rare occasions through the years since.

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The Silver Gypsy: Yarnell Daze 2014

The yearly Yarnell, Arizona, “Mountaintop Festival” was held on Saturday, May 10.  All the vendors, markets, and anyone with a booth were already set up for business and the parade started at 10 a.m.   Yarnell’s Jerry Florman spearheaded the committees and individuals, and kept the whole program going (no small feat) with Arts and Crafts and Antiques Vendors, Car Shows, Firefighter Relays, Juried Art Show, and a Kids Zone with games and fun and that was only a taste of what was offered. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_YARNELL-DAZE-2014-068.jpgThis was a celebration of the Yarnell community “rising from the ashes” since the Yarnell Hill Fire of June 30, 2013 as people build new homes or renovate what was left.   A Memorial was offered for the 19 firefighters who lost their lives during that fire with a ceremony following the parade.  Later, a Local Firemen’s Relay was held with firefighters from Yarnell and Peeples Valley, a fun battle to show off their strength and skills.  Their anticipated crowd of at least 3,000 was more than satisfied.

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The Silver Gypsy: Beaders Plus

Much as when the Woodcarvers arrived, so did the Beaders, although many were residents of North Ranch.  This week is open only to Escapee members.  The gathered 110 people includedthirty instructors who taught classes just for the joy of it.  Forty classes included bead weaving in assorted stitches, bead stringing, polymer clay, chain maille, Kumihimo and wire work.  In the past, and possibly in the future, they are hoping to offer Huichol beadwork and beading on gourds. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_BEADERS-004.jpgMost of these techniques were unfamiliar to me so I went on line to find the basic instructions for using the Kumihimo Braiding KumiLoom, which requires using eight threads or cords. “This technique is applicable to all styles of handheld Kumihimo braiding products.”  Of course, I knew that.  (I’d never make it in this class or even learn the “Kumihimo” language.) 

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