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.