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Sharlene Minshall - RV Life Magazine - The Motorhome and Travel Trailer Lifestyle



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: Lesson “LLLL”

“LLLL” means Learn to Live with Less Luggage.

My flight was late out of Lynchburg, late out of Charlotte International, NC, and late to arrive in Phoenix.  So what’s new? I didn’t want to jostle any friends out of a warm bed at 1 a.m. to pick me up so I found a quiet spot to wait for daylight, perchance to sleep.  It was right across from the “lost luggage” office.

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The Silver Gypsy: The Wider World

It is always interesting to visit other churches.  I went with my kids to the Peakland United Methodist Church my first Sunday in Virginia.  The second Sunday I went with my son-in-law’s parents to the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church.  They were the same denomination but completely different in delivery.  Tracey’s church presented the 20+ kids that had just attended their Summer Bible School.  

b2ap3_thumbnail_SUMMER-2014-VA-012.jpgWe were given stories and examples of their work but the most fun was when all the kids were up in front singing and dancing to the songs they had learned.  You could almost tell who had missed a few sessions or maybe just weren’t paying attention.  They were the ones that were at least a step and a half behind the rest when it came to swirling around in a circle or clapping their hands to the rhythm.  They were adorable and oh so lost…dancing that is.  I’m sure with that enthusiasm, grace, and sincerity, they were on a path straight to heaven’s doors.   All the congregational songs were also straight from long ago Summer Bible School, Jesus Loves me and Jesus Loves the Little Children.     

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The Silver Gypsy: Summer on the Blue Ridge

By the time you read this, I’ll be a week away from heading back home.  I’m in Virginia visiting with my baby and her husband and her baby, my almost 17-year-old grandson.  Last year he squired me all over VA acquiring enough driving hours with a licensed driver to be eligible for his driver’s license, including a wild three-hour shadowy trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway for the required night driving.   This year he has a part-time job and a part-time internship with a local company.   He is at that exciting age of preparing for college that is only a year away.  Since I was in post-surgical mode this trip, I relaxed and watched the Hallmark Channel on their big TV, neither of which I have in AZ.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SUMMER-2014-VA--2-061.jpgI love to watch the old programs especially, Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons.  I couldn’t believe that I saw several stories I hadn’t seen before.  The Waltons, written by Earl Hamner, was centered in a part of Virginia very close to here.  I have been there several times over the years of visiting Tracey and her family, once meeting most of the cast, but I’ll leave this newest visit for another story because I want to head on over there sometime before I leave.

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The Silver Gypsy: Mission Trip - Part 2

Tracey Norvelle’s continuing story:  

We worked two days, and then had a play day, so we had four work days and two play days altogether.  On one of our play days, the Mission rented motorcycles with Dominican drivers.  We rode behind the driver and hung on.  I was hanging off the back side taking pictures.  We visited an old church constructed with materials from Christopher Columbus’s original church in 1492.  We spent the whole morning there and at the Visitor Center.  The Mission brought our lunches into Luperon, and then we went to an abandoned resort on the ocean and went swimming for several hours in the warm water.  It was gorgeous. 

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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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