No more Stew Wagon…

Last night, owing to unusual circumstances, the Stew Wagon was left unlocked on the street in a Denver suburb. I woke up early this morning to find it missing. The worst thing, though, is that all my things are in it. Basically, I’m starting all over. I’ll have more time to reflect on this later.

What’s really amazing to me, is my own response. I’m not angry or upset, at all. There is a calm within me. Knowing that it’s just another thing in life, and seeing it that way, allows me to process it on a completely different level than if I took it personally.

What I mean is, this isnt some punishment from God, or payback Karma for something I did. It’s just a random event that could have happened to anyone (and frequently does). Of course, it’s a major inconvenience, but no one’s life is in danger. The future of the world isnt at stake. Honestly, there’s nothing to get upset about. You accept what is, and move on.

That’s it for me today. Thanks for following. Enjoy the Life you’re living.

The Purpose of the Fox…

Driving away from the mill, today, I saw this fox trot across the road and the shoulder, into tall grass at the edge of a ravine. It stopped there, with just ears visible. This seemed like a possible photo op, so I pulled over, climbed out of the Stew Wagon and rummaged in the back for a camera. The SX40HS came up, and I quickly got it on, CHDK engaged for shooting RAW.

Crossing the road, I brought the eyepiece up and took a couple of shots, hoping they’d turn out. I keep the camera set to Auto, for this kind of moment. There isnt always time to mess around with aperture and ISO. Gradually, I moved closer, and the fox didnt bolt. Instead, it seemed to be waiting, almost baiting me. At length, I was within twenty feet, still shooting. Presently, as if bored with all this, it stood up, looked at me and turned away, walking across the slope, behind a bush, and down to the creek, where I lost it in the woods.

Leaving the mill, my intent had been to come into town to exchange a shirt at the Levi outlet store.  (Note: If you like Levi’s clothing, I strongly recommend that you visit the outlet store in Silverthorne. I’ve had three visits there, and each one has been marvelous. This exchange was one of the easiest transactions I’ve ever done.) What I hadnt intended to do was to go to Wendy’s. It isnt that I have anything against it. I’m a regular there. When I walk through the door, it’s just like Cheers – A chorus of “Don!” rises up from behind the counter. Because I needed to process the fox photos, though, that’s where I went. There’s a seat by the window, with an outlet, and they let me camp there.

Stepping out of the Stew Wagon, I opened the back door to grab my laptop. Under the eaves of the building a young man and woman, with big backpacks and other paraphernalia, stood talking. They seemed to be discussing something important, but I paid it no mind. Heading inside, I set up my workstation, then went to the counter, where I ordered some dinner.

As I was eating, and editing one of the photos, the young woman came in and put her things down at a table just ahead of me. I told her that I thought it was cool that she was traveling. Tears began to form in her eyes.

It turns out that she has just come to the US from Germany. Her plan was to hike the Continental Divide Trail, from Frisco to the Grand Tetons. How could she have anticipated that there would still be two feet of snow in the higher altitudes? In the whole of yesterday, she made six miles. She was above timber line when the lightning began, today, and she had to retreat back to lower elevation. She continued down, back into Silverthorne. The man that she’d been talking to was apparently a transient, asking if she had any weed. He did tell her that she could sleep in town, as long as she was a certain distance from the road. She thanked him and told him that she had already made arrangements to couch surf at someone’s apartment for the night.

So, now what was she supposed to do? The thing that she’d come all the way across the ocean to do, had proven impossible, after such a short time. She will be in the US for two months. Her mother has a sister in San Francisco, and she had reached out to see if it might be possible to come for a visit. She could make it by bus in about thirty hours, and from there hike the Pacific Crest Trail through the Sierras. I encouraged her to see Yosemite National Park, if at all possible.

We talked for a long time, about homelessness in America, and world travel, and many other things. In the course of it, I told her that I admired her. Just look at what she’s doing! It’s a very brave thing to strike out into the midst of an unknown country, with only herself to rely on. She’d made all the right preparations for this adventure, and had embarked on a tremendous journey. There was no way to anticipate the weather. She isnt the first to have their plans spoiled by the Rocky Mountain spring weather. I assured her that there were wonderful things ahead for her.

In the end, she had a bus ticket to San Francisco, and was laughing, not crying.

The purpose of the fox? It was to send me to Wendy’s, at just the time when I would meet a young woman from Germany, beginning the grandest adventure of her life. That fox sat posing for me, just long enough to get me on the right schedule. Coincidence? Maybe.

If there is a moral to this story, it’s up to you to decide. I just write em down.

That’s it for me. Thanks for following. Please, leave a comment, Like and share. Also, check out more VagabondStew stuff on http://facebook.com/VagabondStew.

 

Eight Weeks in the Forest…

That’s actually a bit misleading. Living in the Stew Wagon, at the top of Ute Pass, for eight weeks, doesnt mean I’ve been off grid. The truth is, my job is in the middle of the White River National Forest, and I spend my nights boondocking there. There are a lot of times, though, when I drive into Silverthorne for supper and/or supplies.

Regardless of how cramped I may feel, trying to write or process photos, I still love this life. Waking up surrounded by such exquisite beauty is incomparable.

A sweet opportunity has presented itself, and I’m going to follow after it. The person that I’ve been filling in for, at the mill, has decided to pursue other interests. That means, the position is open, and I’m already in it. There’s a strong possibility that it could be a long term situation.

At first, I balked. That wasnt what I signed up for. Six weeks was the deal. Eight weeks was a possibility. Well, that’s where I am, and things do look different.

Apart from the income, which is substantial, there is the schedule, which is very conducive to travel. In a nutshell, every other weekend is four days. I can go a lot of places in four days.

So, I get to boondock in a national forest, earn good money, get insurance, and travel. What’s not to like?

That’s all for today. Thanks for following. Please comment, Like, and subscribe. Most important, though, Enjoy the Life you’re living.

How insane am I?

I’ll be turning sixty in a few months, and I live in a van, on top of a mountain. Who does that?

For thirty years and more, I tried to press myself into the work-a-day world, struggling to make ends meet, and several times it drove me crazy. It made me angry. I don’t know how many times I threw some bags into the back of a car or a truck and drove off, to go “anywhere but here”. Once, I hitchhiked a hundred miles with just the clothes I was wearing. Under the pressure, I threw a coffee cup through the window, walked out the door, and stuck up my thumb. The stopper was always my kids.

Most of my life was spent in the absence of a mom. I knew what it felt like to wake up and find her gone. That was something I couldn’t do to my own children. So, every time, I’d turn around and go back home.

Now, what do you know? I must be a lot like her. Yes?

The difference was, she didn’t know that feeling. She only knew that she was overwhelmed trying to be something other than herself, and she had to get out. It took me a long time, decades, to get over it, and that was not an easy thing.

In time, though, we got to be good friends. We’d talk over coffee, about what was going on in our lives, what had gone one before, good times and bad. We shared stories and laughed, while her health got steadily worse. At some time, I realized that we’d gone beyond friendship. At some unrecognized moment, she had become my Mom.

It has only been in the past few years that I’ve come to understand why she did the things she did. With that understanding comes a certain amount of gratitude. She ensured that my children would never know that feeling of loss and insecurity. They would never have to wonder where I was and what my life was like. They would never know that anger, and the guilt it fosters.

Mom died on the Friday after Thanksgiving, last year. Since then, her birthday has passed. Mother’s Day, too. It felt odd to send no flowers and chocolate. They just came and went, like regular days. I pulled out the cup that I’d taken from her kitchen on that last day, filled it up and drank slowly.

Now, I feel as though I’m kind of following in her steps, although she never lived in a vehicle. (She was above that and would pitch a fit if she knew.) After so many years, I can go where I want and get to know myself, without thinking about the consequences. Those are mine alone, and that’s the way I want it.

Trusting the process…

This is one of my favorite shots. Taken at Weekend in the West, last year, it’s the hands of a sculptor forming wax into a future statue. Before the end product, though, there are several steps that have to be taken. During that time, from making the mold, to melting the wax, to casting, etc., the artist really has to put a lot of trust in the process.

It’s the same for me. Today begins the final week of an assignment I’ve been on, up in the White River National Forest. It’s done many things for me, including paying off credit cards and padding my bank account, not to mention a whole lot of fabulous time in the mountains. You’ve seen the photos. There have been eagles, deer, elk, moose, sunsets, snowy scenes, and I am very grateful, but as it draws to an end, I find myself thinking about what’s next.

This would have been the wax-gathering phase, when all the pieces are put in place, so that I can move into the actual work of a thing. What thing? What are the following phases? Last March, I had a plan. Today, I’m back to just an idea. That’s part of trusting the process.

On the first of May, I had planned to leave Colorado and drive to Louisville, Kentucky. I’d spend Derby week there, doing photography and meeting people – gathering stories. Then I’d move on toward the Carolinas, where my daughter and her family live, and where my friend, Dan Beck, has set up his new studio. From there, I’d drift down to Tampa, Florida to visit my son and his family. Next was Dallas/Fort Worth, where Melinda Morrison has scheduled a gathering of artists, on the 18th of May. From there, it was across to California, up the coast along PCH, across Nevada, Utah, and Western Colorado, before pulling back into Denver, sometime in early June. In all, it would be about four thousand miles, most of which I’ve never seen. That plan was shelved, though, when an opportunity arose to live in the mountains for six weeks, and earn a few thousand dollars at the same time. This was part of the process.

So, now I’m out of debt, with some money in the bank. The daughter from South Carolina is bringing her family to visit, in just a couple of weeks. So I think I’ll postpone the Deep South part of the visit until autumn. The leaves are beautiful in the Smokies then, and it’s cooling down in Florida.

That leaves me with a great big gap of unused time, and it’s tempting to think about ways to earn money, or try to make some things happen. Here’s a thing I have learned, though – When I make things happen, they’re almost always the wrong things. If I’m grateful,  and trust the process, things will come together as they’re supposed to, and my life will be a lot less stressful. I’ll get a picture of what’s coming, and be able to prepare, as it gets closer.

Dont misunderstand. I’m not saying that nothing negative ever happens, or that there will be no struggles. That kind of thinking is just dumb. What I am saying is, Most of the time, things go a lot more smoothly if I allow them to flow naturally, and dont try to force my plan.

So, that’s it for me, today. Like, Share and Comment if you want, but most of all…Enjoy the Life you’re living.

 

More photos…:)

It’s been a busy week, up here in the forest. Most days have been sunny, while I’m working, then raining by the time I’m done. The cover shot was from this morning, when I woke up – Moon setting over the Gore Range.

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That’s it for today. Enjoy the life you’re living.

More Thoughts and Shots…

Last night, I had what I like to call a Divine Appointment. That’s when a series of seemingly unrelated events line up to place you at a particular place and time. In this case, it was a local Mexican Restaurant at dinner time. The name of the place is Fiesta Jalisco, in Silverthorne, Colorado. FYI- I had Sopa de Albondigas and Coffee. It was good, although I like mine a little more picante

As I arrived, I met a young man who works there. Between customers, he would come chat with me. He said that he has written a book. It’s with an editor right now, but he expects it back soon, and hopes to get it published by the end of the year. The subject is Finding Reasons to Be Happy. Over the next little while, we talked about how hard it things can get. Life can be difficult, and sometimes it’s downright crushing.

So, why do I think of this as a Divine Appointment? The first thing is that I was actually looking for an Italian place. I’d checked online, but didnt find anything interesting. Driving around, I found a little pizza place, so thought I’d give it a try. When I arrived, it was closed. A little let down, I thought about trying one of the other places, but Fiesta Jalisco is right next door, and I love good Mex. So, I went inside.

The next indicator was my server, himself. He was the first person to greet me as I entered the place. He opened up in a way that many people do, because that’s how things work for me. We spoke Spanish, mostly, and mine was very good. This was another light on, because my Spanish has been suffering for a while.

Finally, I saw the way that his co-workers treated him. They made him the butt of jokes, and seemed to disregard him. For what reason, I dont know. Very soon, I understood that he needed some encouragement. He seemed so eager to have someone to share his story with.

As I prepared to leave, he came over to thank me. I took the moment to tell him “You are a visionary. You wrote a book. That’s probably more than any of these people have done. It doesnt matter if the book is good or bad, if people read it or not. What matters, is that you’ve done Something. Be proud of that.”

I say the same thing to you. Do Something. It doesnt matter what. It may not be a book. For you, it might be to teach someone how to fish, or to learn. Maybe you want to see Niagara Falls. The thing is, once you accomplish the first thing, others will follow. That’s how it works.

Now, before you get all excited and zoom off in some direction, let me say one more thing. Begin with Gratitude. Believe me, it makes a difference. Remind yourself of something to be grateful for in every day. This helps us realize that things are not as bad as we may think. If you are in a deep darkness, it will be difficult. I’ve been there. All I can say is, look for it. Then you can start to move toward your vision.

If you are in a dark place, and want to talk to someone who has been there, drop me a note at VagabondStew.db@gmail.com. I’m glad to share what I’ve learned, but I wont be a preacher.

Those are my thoughts, now, here are the shots. These were done last night, after my dinner.

Thanks for following VagabondStew. Enjoy the Life you’re living.