I have been procrastinating on writing this post for about four months. I am a good procrastinator especially when my expectations for doing a really good job are high. Then, I somehow shut myself down and lock up. That’s when I have to remember one of the many lessons I learned from my Dad, Richard E. O’Shaughnessy. Dad always said, “any job worth doing is worth doing well.” And, he lived that. He seemed to give himself to the work whether it was teaching eighth graders about Earth Science, blacksmithing, or raising seven kids with my Mom. The key was to just do the work, even if you didn’t feel like it in the beginning. Just get going.

The flip side of this message was his, “let’s go for it!” attitude about life. He had a belief that things would work out and this was the source of great comfort to me when I was growing up. In a lot of ways, it was Dad’s and Mom’s approach to life that gave me the gumption to say, “Yes! Let’s do it!” when Larry suggested we sell the house and live in Shiny.

My Dad passed away at home on December 5, 2020. He leaves a big hole in my life but bigger than that is his legacy of doing what you can, using your gifts, helping others, and having fun along the way. So, I dedicate this 100th edition to my Dad.

Richard Eustace O’Shaughnessy 1931-2020

We started writing this blog in October, 2017. We were dreaming about hitting the road. We had bought Shiny 6 months earlier. Our daughter and son in law would be house sitting and we were just waiting for Larry to mend from surgery on his knee. Even though we had campers for years, this would be our first foray into living full time on the road. So, we were green horns in a lot of ways. We are happy to report that we love being on the road and hope to continue as long as we want to.

SHINY TIME

Shiny has taught us a lot. We call the lessons, ‘Shiny Time’. Pretty much the lessons are about slowing down and trusting that things will work out. We’ve had lots of practice and I am a lot more open to ideas when Larry says, ‘Shiny time. Shiny time’, instead of, ‘Settle down, for Pete’s sake!’ I guess Shiny time has become our mantra, our reminder that if you want life to be different, then you need to do things differently, respond differently. We have reluctantly learned a lot about Shiny Time thanks to COVID-19. Many of the places at which we usually stay like state and national parks, have been closed. We have been concerned that we might unwittingly carry the virus from state to state and would place innocent people in harm’s way.

We could have easily turned this adventure into a lot of work if we had wanted to. Some how we have managed to slow the heck down and to just be amazed at the beauty of this country. The other great benefit of slowing down is being able to meet and to get to know some really cool folks

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Shiny Time appreciation comes in handy when things get sketchy. We also find that the unexpected makes for a really good story. Most of the time I am too irritated to take a picture but I have caught a few. There was the time I learned about how to store plate ware while in transit.

Then, there was the time when it was about 30 degrees and icy at Edgar Evins State Park in Tennessee. We thought it would be warm in the south! Anyway, Larry thinks it’s safe to head down the ice covered road pulling Shiny. I’m not so sure. We make it out safely but, yikes!

We have had our share of wild weather and actually enjoy hunkering down in Shiny during a big rain storm. We’ve learned that heading north does not necessarily make things cooler as we discovered in the Dakotas. On the other hand, higher altitudes can bring relief during a hot summer.

Blistering heat in Delta, CO. at 4,800 feet June 20. Over 100 degrees F
Alpine, Arizona. June. 8,000 ft. 60 degrees on a sunny afternoon

Lone Pine, CA. March 10. 3,700 feet. Mountains in the distance 14,000 ft. 30 degrees with 50 mph winds.
Edgar Evins State Park, Silver Point TN. January. Elevation 1,000 feet. 30 degrees. Snow and ice
February 2020, Nevada. 70 degrees. 6,000 feet.

We have been trying to think of our favorite places we’ve been and we’ve decided that there are a lot of things to consider such as the feel of the air, the number of people there, the night sky, and perhaps that thing that I have no words for – some sort of vibration, a story, the presence of ones who have come before us. The poet, David Whyte would call it the ‘genius of the place’. Feel free to click on the green links to get to an earlier post on the location with more details and photos.

We had a hard time narrowing down our contestants because we have seen so many beautiful places. After much debate, we have decided that Canyon de Chelly is our favorite so far. The landscape was stunning and location was remote. There were few people. It was steeped in history and we had the honor of being shown the area by our guide, Howard. Canyon de Chelly is Larry’s #1 favorite.

Spider Rock in Foreground. Canyon de Chelly, AZ.

Organ Pipe National National Monument is another favorite. We were there in March and the Spring flowers had just blossomed in the nearby mountains. There were lots of good hikes and we met some great folks. We got a closer look as issues around illegal immigration and the hazards the immigrants face.

Organ Pipe National Monument

Next on our list of Favorites is Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County, Kansas. I had always wanted to see the prairie and to imagine what it was like when, for thousands of miles, that’s all there was. We enjoyed the wide open spaces, the really big sky and the sense that the landscape had been touched little by mankind (thanks to the flint in the ground that made it unfit for farming).

White Water Draw Wildlife Area in McNeal, Arizona was a birder’s dream especially because we were so new to many of the birds of the Southwest. I will always remember the sight and sound of hundreds of Sandhill Cranes flying up into the sky at dawn.

Sand Hill Cranes at White Water Draw

Goose Necks Canyon State Park in Mexican Hat, Utah was some kind of crazy raw energy! You could walk up to the edge of a 1,000 foot cliff down to the San Juan River. We never got that close because the winds were blowing steadily at 40-50 miles per hour. We were in a very remote area with few folks around.

Windy day at Goose Necks State Park

We had Clayton Lake State Park in Clayton, New Mexico all to ourselves except for the bald eagles, osprey, deer, ducks, wild turkeys, snow geese and rabbits. Oh, and the fossilized dinosaur tracks were pretty cool too! We spent a lot of time sitting and watching.

Eagle grabbing a duck at Clayton Lake

Chiricahua National Monument in Wilcox, Arizona was definitely my (Susie’s) favorite. It was (you guessed it) remote. The rock formations were provocative and astounding. And, that thing that I don’t have a word for…the energy of the place was old and grounding and rich. It felt like a home coming.

Our last stop before COVID arrived was in Lone Pine, California. It was March and we thought since we were in California, it would be warm! Haha! There’s that little matter of the altitude. The mountains, streams and sheer wildness of the winds and snow made it a great place to be.

Alabama Hills in the foreground. Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background

Last but not least is Swan Creek Recreation Area in Selby, South Dakota. Swan Creek is off of the Missouri River and it is, yes, remote. The hikes on the hills were lovely. The winds were wild. We had visions of the Lewis and Clark Expedition that had passed nearby over two hundred years ago.

So, that winds up this edition of Streamin’ in Shiny. Every day we feel so lucky to be able to write this post and to have these adventures. It remains hard to be away from loved ones but that seems to make me love and appreciate them all the more. Best wishes to each of you. Hopefully we will see you around the bend.

24 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this…I’m glad you took your time to write it, it is amazing…and so happy both of you are having an excellent time exploring the USA

  2. Sue & Larry: thanks for the ride! You echo our desire for the wide-open spaces and the appreciation you have for life every day. Best, Pat & George

    1. You are welcome. Thank you for being there with us. You are good companions. I enjoy the way you look at the world.

  3. Thanks so much for this wonderful 100th edition. I love walking alongside you both on this journey. Thank you for sharing the adventures with us!

  4. Always enjoy your take on the sights you experience. Thank you! Your descriptions reminded me of one of my favorite words and I think you (Susie) will love it, if you are not already familiar….it is possible I have shared it with you before…petrichor. Big hugs! Are y’all on the road again?

    1. Hi Karen. I think you told me about petrichor before but I had to look it up. How lovely! We hope to be in AZ by the end of the month. All the best to you. Have you named your new rig? Have you gone on a maiden voyage?

  5. Just a great story. So happy you are out enjoying everything that our country has to offer.be safe you two.

  6. Hi, it’s Jim, your shiny fan. Among the pictures and the stories, you weave a tapestry to explore. The raw and harsh beauty that is ours to explore if only we take the road less traveled. We enjoyed the $2 admission to the cotton museum in Bishopsville, SC and the campground there that welcomed people traveling with horses as well as Savannah and the trolley tour.

    1. Hi Jim. Thanks for your support. I should make some Shiny Fan Club shirts up. Hmmm, there’s an idea. I must say that we have not explore SC much at all. Thanks for the tips. We may check them out next year.

  7. I love reading about Shiny and all of your adventures! Can’t wait until Denis & I can meet up with in the road to somewhere!

  8. I’m so sorry that you lost your father in December. He sounds like a wonderful person and a fabulous example for living life fully. Which you have obviously embraced. And so his legacy lives on through you. 🙂

    Many of the places that are your favorites are on our favorites list, too…especially the Chiricahuas, and Whitewater Draw, and the Alabama Hills, and Organ Pipe NM…and you gave us a few new ones to check out!

    Happy 100th post and wishing you many more adventures to come!

    1. Thanks for your note, Laurel. I hope our paths cross again sometime (as they did literally when we met!)

  9. What a great adventure you are having!!! I appreciate your love for the places you have been. It will be fun to show you Oregon when you get here!

  10. Annie sent this to me. Your tribute to your Dad was wonderful, and your adventures inspiring.

    I didn’t spend much time with your Dad but he made a big impression on me. His humility and grace, intelligence, extremely well read, thoughtful. The depth of him at times made me nervous. His dignity.

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