My 2021 got off to an interesting start. I rang in the new year on reservation land in Southern California. Fireworks lit up the river that fed the nearby lettuce farm and I snuggled in my blankets with a smile in my heart.
Three days later, one of my neighbours returned from Elko, NV. When I asked him about his trip, he launched into a rant about shooting up the federal government and storming the Capitol to reinstate Trump as president. Another three days later, his comrades were on the news. Needless to say, I left this otherwise amazing camping spot, found a new one, and never returned.
Thankfully, everything else in 2021 has been exciting for all the right reasons. In fact, when I look back at December 2020, it’s almost impossible to believe that only a year has gone by. It’s not just that the time feels longer than it is but also that so much has changed. So, what have I been up to this year?
1. I Got Vaxxed and Boosted
Can you believe we’re about to enter the third year of being in a pandemic?
By the end of 2020, I had already decided I would take the vaccine when it became available for me. Despite being a Nevada resident, I have not received a single shot in Nevada. I received both my initial shots in California. I then drove across the Mexican border to Arizona, last month, to get my booster shot. With omicron on the loose in America and a planned Christmas trip to Atlanta, I wasn’t taking any chances.
2. I Made Llama Friends
I think he likes me!
I finally convinced Buddy to let me visit his ranch and befriend his llamas. I’m glad I visited before I left California because some of the llamas are no longer on the ranch. They are beautiful animals and not at all the spitty, temperamental creatures everyone warned me they would be!
3. I Lost 200 lbs
I took this photo within an hour of receiving the news. Can you tell how freakin’ happy I was?
In the summer of 2020, I shared that I was going through a divorce that had gone nasty. Despite asking for nothing, my now-ex-husband continued to prolong the divorce process. So much has happened since then, including him sending the police to my parent’s house on my birthday and him filing in a court of law that he had searched diligently for his wife and did not know where she was.
This document was conveniently filed the day after I sent an email asking for documents electronically because I was no longer a Georgia resident. Is this illegal? Yes. Could his attorney lose his license? Yes. The only reason I am divorced today is that I got tired of playing nice and started fighting fire with fire. They were only too glad to be rid of me, then. Within a month, I was divorced.
Out of spite, the law firm didn’t even tell me I was divorced until weeks later. And, equally out of spite, I never responded to their email. I have nothing to say. Confirmation that I had lost the most burdensome 200 lbs in my life was enough. I was camping in Valley of Fire when I received the splendid news and went for a drive with a big smile on my face.
4. I Completed Therapy
My marriage came to its bitter end after my ex-husband had the audacity to force himself onto me in my home. Sadly, he did not read the fine print that comes with marrying a Jamaican woman and he narrowly escaped the very worst of my temper with his life.
For quite some time, I took comfort in the fact that I had defended myself and put him out. As time wore on and the divorce dragged on, a different realization set in. It was finally dawning on me that the man I had trusted to cherish and protect me had become the man I needed the most protecting from.
The fact that I had prevented him from consummating the heinous act didn’t change the fact that he had tried. Thereafter, I had a difficult time relating with men beyond platonic friendships. I lost all interest in romance and romantic connections because I feared the next man who crossed the line would get a bullet in the head and I would put it there.
I also developed an intense hatred for my 20-something self who thought marrying this idiot was a good idea. I told my therapist multiple times how badly I wanted to strangle this 20-something version of myself and how much I hated her for the mess she had put us in. I knew I had made progress when I no longer felt the burning desire to get a time machine, go back a few years, and bash her repeatedly in the head.
Now, I empathize with 20-something-year old me. I pity the fool she was to think a man who did not love himself could love her. When my divorce was finalized, I lost my last source of anger and resentment. The threat had passed and I left therapy at peace with myself and my life.
5. I Made Progress on My Novel
The Curse of Kalaga is still coming along—slowly but surely. If you’re wondering what the hold-up is, I have a lot of side projects that I work, on my days off. I write on several platforms and my weekly YouTube videos require 6 to 8 hours of editing for just one video. So, while I certainly am chipping away at my novel, I’m chipping away at other things as well.
At the end of June, the novel came out of beta review. I’m still working through all the feedback I received. Meanwhile, I’m also working on the book cover with the artist. The beta readers have shared predominantly positive feedback on the book and the upcoming cover, so I think I’m on the right track for sure.
This isn’t my first novel. So, feel free to give The Moreau Witches a read if you haven’t already.
6. I Got Back Into Horseback Riding
Riding ranch horses is nothing like riding the trail horses I was used to.
I loved riding when I was a child, but my family never owned horses. Consequently, I only got to ride when there was an event in town or we visited an area with horses. My teen years were the last time I got on a horse. All of these horses were well-trained to follow very specific paths, such as beach trails in Montego Bay.
Ranch horses in Wyoming are a whole different ball game. They’re not trained to be ridden by amateurs and when they sense it’s not a professional holding the reins, they want to play the alpha. To the great surprise and relief of the people I went riding with, I managed to stay on despite my horse’s absolute refusal to do as he was told.
Better luck next time? I will have access to ranch horses in New Mexico over the summer and can’t wait to go riding again. I also promised the family in Wyoming that I’d pass through again before next fall.
7. I Grew My YouTube Channel
At the start of the year, I think I had about 20 subscribers on my YouTube Channel. At the time of writing this article, I have 415. Looking at 415 by itself might not seem like much, but that’s quite a bit of growth in just one year. During that time, I’ve come to love vlogging about my adventures more than writing about them, which is why I don’t post story-styled travel blogs anymore.
I would love to cross that 1,000-subscriber mark by the end of 2022. Judging by the growth I experienced this year, I think that’s a reachable goal. Most YouTubers want to be famous. I just want to build a supportive community that shares my values and cares about my goals in more than just an abstract sense.
8. Jasmine Got a Few Upgrades
RV renovations are a LOT of work!
If you’ve watched my YouTube videos, then you know Jazzy is my trusty travel trailer. After more than a year on the road, she’s a little broken on the inside, but aren’t we all?! In all other respects, she is sound and reliable. She keeps a roof over my head and Shadow and I are immensely grateful. Consequently, we wasted no time investing in upgrades:
- We added a composting toilet but kept the RV toilet too.
- We upgraded the solar with new panels and a solar generator.
- We added a virus filter outside and a Berkey filter indoors for Mexico.
All of these changes are removable. I can move them to another RV, take them overlanding or use them to build out a tiny home.
Jasmine also received some cosmetic upgrades to cut down on all the brown inside. Next year, I’d also like to knock down the dinette completely and replace it with a bar-stool setup and a true work area. A paint job might also be in the cards. We’ll see how that pans out.
9. Samson Got a Few Upgrades
We finally have everything we need to give Jazzy a break!
If you know me, you know that Samson is the love of my life. No, he isn’t the amazing new man I met on the road who swept me off my feet and taught me to love again. He is, instead, this amazing old boy with four wheels who takes me on all my adventures. I invested heavily in my truck as an Overlanding vehicle. Obviously, the most functional upgrade is a new paint job!
10. Shadow Became an Adventure Kitty
I can now take my house panther adventuring when I leave the RV behind!
Most people would argue that my cat became an adventure kitty the second I threw him in the truck and drove him across the country. However, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sure, he has experienced a whole new world from the windows of the RV, but he was still just a house panther with a changing view.
While scouting out property in New Mexico, Shadow came tent camping with me in below-freezing weather. I brought the ground tent thinking he would love it, but he actually enjoys being in the rooftop tent more. It makes sense. He’s higher up and likely feels safer there. Also, who can argue with a near-panoramic view?
The drive from Mexico to New Mexico and back again was a grand total of 16 hours. It’s been a while since we travelled that many hours together and he handled it like a champ—including the border crossings. He also had his first go at Airbnbs when my parents visited me in Mexico. The only two travel modes left for him are boat and plane.
Not surprisingly, Shadow is working on a book to help humans turn their own lapcats into adventure kitties. In the meantime, he’s fleshing his ideas out via his Adventure Cat Newsletter on Substack.
11. I Moved To Mexico
Mexico is amazing, but I don’t think I could live here forever.
I’ve been living in Mexico since October and thoroughly enjoy the change of pace and change of culture. I originally came here to see whether I could move to Mexico full-time or for part of the year. I find that while I like it here, Mexico has its own fair share of problems. While they are certainly different from America’s problems, they are problems none the same.
I plan to remain in Mexico for the next three months, which means I will have lived in Mexico for five months, by the time I leave in March. I’ve had an amazing time here and would not hesitate to snowbird in the country again next year. I have my RV with me for this trip. Next year, I plan to do it with just the truck, the rooftop tent, Airbnbs—and my beloved cat.
12. I Bought Land in New Mexico
I bought two lots in a town hoping to attract more young people to preserve its longevity. Population? 200.
If you’ve been around since the start of my tiny home journey in 2019, you know finding affordable land in a town with a low lynching possibility has been tough. In fact, when I went looking at land in Golden Valley, AZ, the Confederacy and the Trumpers did not hesitate to let me know I was not welcome.
Searching Western America
Before I left California in the spring, I renewed my search for land. However, prices had tripled in the small rural town I visited in 2019 and the owners were not easy to reach. I once again left empty-handed. I then considered Wyoming but decided that living with racial tensions wasn’t worth the trouble. Then, there was Colorado, but the one area I found that allowed tiny homes did not seem particularly interesting to me.
In Mexico, I renewed my search again, but with a new focus. Here, many Americans lease RV lots and build permanent structures on them. This had never occurred to me before. There were just two big problems: the lots were limited and no one wanted to sell.
Stumbling Across Lots in New Mexico
One night, while scrolling through properties online, I came upon an amazing deal in New Mexico. For the first time, I had found an RV park providing the same opportunities my neighbours had in Mexico but at a much better price and with far better terms.
It looked too good to be true, so I decided to drive the eight hours required to see it in person. Shadow and I spent the Thanksgiving weekend on the property. I left New Mexico as an owner.
So, what does this mean exactly? Will this be the end of RV life for me? Am I finally giving up the home on wheels to plant roots? I think the answers to those questions deserve a separate post and I’ll likely tackle that next week.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the holidays with your family and friends. The greatest lesson we should have all learned in the past two years is that life is short and time is promised to no one. So, if you feel you haven’t achieved much of anything this year, let me be the one to tell you. Congratulations! You’ve survived the pandemic for yet another year! Here’s to the next one…