My dear friend the phenomenal Lacey Clark asked the question that inspired this post. She asked what does community mean to me. While I can’t give a precise definition I can share what community looks and feels like for me.
Community is embarking on a 5 hour pilgrimage up Doi Suthep Mountain for Visakha (Buddha Day) with the beautiful group above. Community is getting a Facebook shout out even though Kathy and I quit after 2 and a 1/2 hours.
Community is Sunday Dinner and seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Community is cherishing friendships and having great memories no matter how far away the friends are.
Community is beloved family, near and far.
Community is hours spent at Cafe De JJ talking politics, philosophy, science and a bunch of other random stuff, not to mention enjoying the love on a plate served up by the fabulous Beer (top, right above)!
Community is making friends everywhere we go and doing our best to stay in touch. Hey Keiko (our friend met in Mexico, from Japan and currently in Canada)!
Community is exploring nature with friends. Community is something that must be built, nurtured and cherished. I’m sure community is something that looks different to each of us. One thing I know for sure is that true community feels so wonderful and is something I need. I am grateful to have found it here in Chiang Mai!
A friend recently asked what made us choose Chiang Mai as our current home. Her question has inspired this post.
Kathy and I are thriving here. Not a day goes by without one of us exclaiming “I love Chiang Mai! There is a special vibe about this city that is hard to put into words. Simply put, Chiang Mai feels like home! Having said that, I will now list the top 5 tangible reasons that make this city a great choice for BOLT.
100 Thai baht is currently equal to approximately 3 U.S. dollars. We are able to live very well here on less than $1000 a month. Chiang Mai is a great place to save for the traveling that we love.
Creature Comforts and Amenities!
Chiang Mai has all the conveniences of modern life. There is great high speed Internet. The are wonderful malls, grocery stores and pharmacies. If we need health care there are state of the art medical centers. Public transportation by Grab Car or songtaews is easily obtained. I have found that we can get anything we need (or want) here.
Thai food is delicious, varied and very affordable here. In addition, when we want something different there are restaurants that serve any type of food we could desire.
Chiang Mai is a place of great beauty, both in a physical and spiritual sense. The over 300 Buddhist temples here are breathtaking. There are also great opportunities to enjoy natural beauty, in the mountains and hiking trails close by.
There are so many ways to enjoy community and “find your tribe” in Chiang Mai. Weekly Sunday Dinner with the Black Packers, the Chiang Mai Ex Pats Club and the Chiang Mai Rotary have all been positive experiences for us. Also there is a wonderful 12 step recovery community here. There are many Meet Up groups, classes and other social events as well.
So, we love Chiang Mai, Thailand this ancient city on the Ping River with a moat. Please consider a visit, we think you’ll love it too!
Songkran (the Thai New Year Celebration) is celebrated over three days. This is an ancient Buddhist holiday marked by the bathing of Buddha statues, pouring out of water blessings on loved ones and strangers and other ancient religious rites. Songkran is celebrated all over Thailand and in many other countries in Southeast Asia.
This year we were honored to be invited by our friend, Wanvisa, to celebrate the first day of Songkran (yesterday) with her. We started the day with a visit to ancient Wat Chang Khum. It was lovely to start the day with quiet prayers, meditation and Buddha bathing. I took this photo of Wanvisa standing in front of this Spirit Tree. These other photos were the last I was able to take because…
Chiang Mai is home to the “world’s largest water fight” for Songkran and I put my camera away!
Video of Songkran Water Fun
Our friend, Monique, was able to take the above video of the craziness that ensued for the rest of our day.
We loaded into the truck with a large vat of icy water, lots of buckets and water guns. It was so much fun to experience with Sally, Wanvisa’s daughter. It is truly a wonderful holiday for children. We returned home exhausted, throughly soaked but delighted.
For the next 2 days there will be water and dousing everywhere. If I’m brave enough to venture out, I may put up more pictures. I hope you enjoy these. Sawadee Pee Mai Ka! (Happy New Year! )
Kathy and I love the National Park Service. There is such an abundance of nature, history and wonder within the parks, monuments and forests that it administers. We’ve found something to love in every place that we’ve visited.
However, there are often things we find disturbing to our Black American and People of Color consciousness. This week we visited the Little Big Horn Battlefield Site. It was essentially a monument to the fallen soldiers of “Custer’s Last Stand” and to American imperialism. There was little mention of all the injustices perpetrated against First Nations Peoples that led up to the battle. The memorial to Native Americans there was much smaller and felt like an afterthought.
When I was in the gift shop I watched a little white boy playing with the toy guns and knives for sale there. All I could think of was Tamir Rice and how it is not safe for black children to play in this way.
We visited “Pompey’s Pillar”, an ancient geological site sacred to the Crow people. The park service felt it more important to highlight the fact that explorer William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) wrote his name there.
Now we are at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It’s breathtakingly beautiful here! It’s very fitting that “Teddy”a great conservationist is honored here. But he also embodied military might and colonialism. Kathy reminded me that the saying he is credited with “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” is one he appropriated from West Africa.
So what do we do with these thoughts and feelings? We try to find beauty and enjoy it where we can and to tell the truth about our history and our present. We try to learn more about our own and other marginalized people’s history. We show up and make use of these parks and forests, knowing that our ancestors did much to make them possible. We write these blogs, share our pictures and adventures. We try our best to share our truth. We hope to affirm that America is beautiful, still and America is ours.
I’ve always wanted to travel in an R.V. What I imagined was long days of driving, visiting lots of beautiful sites for brief periods. The reality has been much more wonderful than I had imagined. R.V. traveling, BOLT style has come to mean slow travel with fairly long stays in beautiful places. I know this type of travel is not possible for everyone and I am extremely grateful for the privilege. If you are someone who is considering a full time R.V. lifestyle here are some of the top reasons why I have come to believe slow travel with extended stops is best.
Longer stays mean you really get to experience, explore and enjoy the place. You find favorite stores and restaurants. You get to see sunrises, starry skyes, sunny or rainy days. During almost every longer stay we’ve been able to participate in festivals or other community activities. You really get a feel for the place.
There are substantial savings to long stays. Obviously you are using far less gas and that’s not a small thing in our 30 foot R.V. A tank of gas currently costs us about $100 and takes us about 250 miles. Every day we stay parked is a good day for our budget. Also, most R.V. parks offer substantial discounts when you stay a week or longer. We find places that include water and electricity in the rate, which cuts down on our propane and water costs. When we find a spot within walking distance of shops and town activities we are truly in finance paradise.
While we’ve met interesting, friendly people on brief stays, one of the great things about longer stays is you can really get to know people. There is camaraderie among RVers and a lot of helpful information gets exchanged.
I think the best thing about longer stays is the chance to slow down and really enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I love our quiet, slow mornings; long, aimless walks; lots of time for reading, and sharing BOLT life with my beloved, Kathy.
If you have any questions about RV life or experiences of your own to share we’d love to hear from you. Your support and interest are always appreciated.
Today is our sixth day in Mexico. We have been without internet for the previous four days. No internet or cell service but wonderous vistas, magnificent coastline, frolicking dolphins, kind and helpful people and the blessing of safe travels. Here are our six days in pictures.
Day 1: We entered Mexico through the Calexico-Mexicali border station. 3 hours later we arrived at the town of San Felipe,right on the Sea of Cortez. We spent the day walking around this sleepy little tourist town and spent the night safely in Winnie. It’s so nice having our home on wheels, we can just park and go to sleep.
Day 2: The next morning we headed out for the tiny town of Puertecitos. Really it’s just a little fishing village. We found a lovely spot in a fishing camp,right on the beach. We woke up to the fishermen launching their boats and the sound of lively music.
Day 3: From Puertecitos we wanted to head south traveling along the Pacific. Little did we know that we would encounter the worst detour ever! 30 kilometers of rutted, rocky, dusty dirt road! Our Minnie Winnie is not made for this kind of driving but Kathy slowly and carefully guided her along. It took 3 hours to go 30 kilometers (20 miles) but we made it! Instead of heading to the Pacific, as planned, we decided to rest in the town of Bahia de los Angeles, still on the Sea of Cortez side. We made the right choice!
Day 4: Bahia de los Angeles was paradise! We found a campground right on the beach. We spent our days walking, reading and watching dolphins and pelicans.
Day 5: I ended up with a little cold and I can’t imagine a better place to be sick then parked in Winnie, looking out at the beautiful sea.
Day 6: (Today) We left idyllic Bahia de los Angeles for a beautiful drive down Mexico Highway 1. We are now on the Pacific Ocean side and will be spending a couple of weeks here in Guerrero Negro. Lots to see and do here and the town has pretty good internet and cell service. We had our first great Mexican meal at the Las Cazuelas Restorante. There will be a whale festival here soon. Tomorrow we are going to find a spot on the beach, not sure if we will have service there. BOLT will definitely keep you posted as often as we can…and you know we love hearing from you!
I am writing this post as we sit (comfortably in our Minnie Winnie RV) in a Walmart parking lot in the border town of Calexico, California. In the morning we will cross over into Mexico.
January 20th will be a sad day for our nation and we decided we did not want to be in the USA on the day when Trump becomes president. We know that it is a great privilege to be able to make this decision. Many of you must stay…to work, to care for children or elders and to fight. My son, Malcolm, and many other brave folks will be in Washington protesting. Our thoughts and prayers will be with him and with all of you. The struggle will continue but for now BOLT is continuing our world travels.
We are very excited about traveling through Baja California and seeing all the beautiful of the Mexican coast. We are going to attend a Whale festival, eat delicious food and enjoy the beaches and the sun. We may even go into mainland Mexico and all the way to Belize.
We are going to post lots of pictures, share positive stories of love and encouragement and keep reminding you that America is beautiful still! We’d love to see you on our travels, let us know if you’d like to meet up somewhere along the way.