Morning – October 31, 2017 with Rabbits and Squirrels

Climbing out of the Stew Wagon, this morning, I found a layer of fresh snow, fallen overnight. A line of rabbit tracks cut the beams of my headlights, trailing westerly, over the downed log into bushes beyond. My flashlight revealed no sign of other visitors. Apparently, my moose friend has moved on to more fertile pastures.

Growing light revealed a layer of cloud, resting on the mountains, like a hen on her nest. Even at eight o’clock, the atmosphere was pre-dawn gray. I knew that more snow was happening up top, and sort of half hoped that it would make its way down to the meadow. When the snows get heavier, I’ll stop sleeping there, and move up near the road. Even with All Wheel Drive, I dont think the Stew Wagon could make it out, in deep snow. On a day like today, though, it will be beautiful.

In winter, driving gets treacherous in this National Forest. On County Road 3, there are several bridges, where ice forms quickly. Between icy roads and animals that wander onto them, along with the early hour that we start, here at the mill, every year sees several incidents. This morning, one of the guys from the mill slid into a bridge rail, damaging his bumper and headlight assembly. I dont think he was driving unsafely. It’s just a thing that happens.

The truth is, I’m grateful for the Stew Wagon. I’ve named her Maggie, or maybe it’s a name she chose for herself. I dont know. She’s very capable, taking me to all the places I want to go.

I resisted the name, Maggie, for a long time. It just seemed so plain. As time passes, though, I’m reminded of some pretty magnificent Maggies. Maggie Trudeau, for example. And Maggie Walker. Maggie Thatcher, too. These were some pretty heavyweight personalities. If that’s the name she wants for herself, then so be it.

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For some reason, this reminded me of a story my dad told me. Living by convenience, we moderns have grown accustomed to manicured meat from pigs, cattle, and chickens. They’re easy to domesticate and raise. Game meat is off the radar for many. Contrarily, he grew up in rural Oklahoma of the 1940s. It was barely past the homestead days, and the Five Civilized Tribes still exerted a lot of influence over it, even as it is today. As you may imagine, his was a poor family, so they often hunted for food. Breakfast could be a lot of things, but one of his favorites was squirrel. One morning, a sad thing happened. He was out with his rifle, a .22 calibre Winchester, when he saw a movement from the corner of his eye. Spinning around, he fired. Walking to where it lay, he discovered that it was a flying squirrel. He’d never seen one, and felt heartsick over the killing of it.

My father was a marvellous man. His heart was gentle, but he knew the necessity of hunting, at times. This, though. This lovely, tiny creature was not food. It was simply a reaction, on a chilly morning in the woods, and there was no way to undo it.

It was something he never forgot.

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Finally, here are some photos that I took this evening. Enjoy!

Thanks for following, liking and sharing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

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Therapy…

Yep. That’s what I need…or at least, that’s what some people say. I’m sixty years old, living in my car, in the woods. I’ve spent a lot of money and time outfitting the vehicle for long term dwelling. What kind of person does that?

Short answer: A lot of people.

Thing is, Normal people dont get us. We’re creatives. We need space, beyond walls and ceilings. We do things just to see what happens. We enjoy being alone. Our goals and ideas, most often, are not monetary or material.

Normal people arent like that. They do The Right Thing, learning to sit still, and stay in their seats. They get jobs, buy houses, and put down roots. After they’ve worked three quarters of their lives away, if they’ve saved enough money, they retire. They generally live for a few more years. Maybe they do some of the things they couldnt do while they were working. Then they die.

People who dont want to be like that need therapy.

Really? Was I created and put on this planet, to get a job? Somebody once said to me, “You dont understand how the real world works.” That person truly believes that all the buildings, roads, economic ventures, internet and social media are, to use his words, The Real World. He doesnt understand that they are part of a false reality that we have created for ourselves.

Here’s an experiment. Imagine a planet where there were never any people. The birds are there, along with all the other animals. Trees, waterfalls, mountains and desert, all exist, as they always have. Clouds gather, and it rains. Sun shines and plants grow. Across the face of this planet, there is only peace, apart from the violence of day-to-day survival. War has never ravaged the jungle. Bulldozers have never reconstructed the ground.

That is the real world. Somehow, our species has forgotten. We build and destroy, just to make things to play with. Very few of the things we make actually serve any purpose. They only serve us. We’ve turned our existence into an endless game of Global Monopoly, and when we are gone, none of it will mean anything. The Universe will spin on, never having noticed us, at all.

PaleBlueDot

If you dont understand, you’re probably pretty Normal. If you do, you’re gonna need therapy.

Thanks for following, liking, and sharing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

Refined…

IMG_20170326_173450The Stew Wagon is a 1999 Ford Explorer. It is my home, most of the time. There’s a meadow in the White River National Forest, where I park, sleep, and spend a lot of my free time. There is no WiFi, cell signal, cable, or communication of any kind. I’m off the grid.

Yesterday, after working at the mill, I drove down to the meadow, opened up the doors and lay down on my bed. Listening to the stream and the birds, it was easy to drift off into a peaceful nap. When I woke up, I stayed there. I moved my head to the other end of the bed, hugged a pillow, and just gazed out at that beautiful place.

I used to say, “I live in my vehicle”. That isnt really true. There’s a difference between living “in” it, and living “out of” it. One means that it’s where I spend my time. The other means that it’s where I keep my things and sleep. Is living out of the Stew Wagon a hardship? Yes and no.

The challenges that come along with this lifestyle are certainly different from those you encounter in a more traditional living space. In a house or apartment, you dont usually have to think about where you’re going to shower, or pee. Also, the kitchen is the kitchen. There’s a refrigerator, stove, sink, etc. Most of the time, you have a furnace of some sort. In a 1999 Explorer? Not likely.

Apart from the things listed above, the very first thing you have to deal with is sleeping. Some people are able to curl up in the back seat. Others can lay down some seats into a bed, of sorts. I have chosen to remove the back seats and install a sleeping platform, with a memory foam mattress for comfort. (This presented new, unanticipated issues, as well.) Another thing is privacy. There isnt much of that when you’re surrounded by windows. Then there are the Signal problems. In a vehicle, you wont have cable, or (until recently) WiFi, and no cell signal in the meadow.

Vehicle dwelling also presents obstacles when it comes to entertaining. There isnt much room for dinner parties. In mine, visitors are pretty much limited to the passenger seat. Still, there are lots of places to gather, so socializing isnt as difficult as you might think.

On balance, the opportunity to discover and experience new places, cultures and people is always there. If I want to go to Albuquerque or Chugwater, I dont have to figure out how that will fit into my budget. There’s no worry about where to sleep, either. My bed is just as comfortable in those places as it is in the meadow.

Life in the Stew Wagon has led me to see myself in a different light. Things I was very proud of, before, seem insignificant now, while things I might have scoffed at have become powerful sources of joy. A comfortable bed, for example, is something I give thanks for every night and morning. There have been times in this journey, when I didnt have one. I’m more capable than I’d ever realized. What people think bothers me less than it once did. I’ve not lost my pride, I’m just proud for different reasons.

Despite the image that I sometimes project, I am not a patient person. I tend to deal with things immediately (without considering the consequences), rather than waiting to see how they might develop, if let alone. Sometimes, it’s fine. It has also cost me a lot of money and time that I could have saved, if I’d only waited. That’s something I’m working on.

Also, I really dont need a lot of people in my life. While a good conversation is always enjoyable, and I love to meet new people, solitude is a strong need, for me. Having a home on wheels definitely provides for that, and I’m learning to cherish my time alone.

Yes, there are challenges, but every day, I wake up in the peaceful place that other people imagine. There are trees, deer, moose, foxes, a singing stream. My list of experiences is growing, as the list of things I want to do shrinks. I’m doing things that other people dream about, and I know that I’ll do the things I dream about, as well.

Having said all that, let me add one more thing. I wouldnt recommend this lifestyle to anyone. It’s something that is either thrust upon you by unfortunate circumstance, or you choose it because it fits who you are.

For now, that’s all I have to say about that. Thanks for following, liking and sharing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

Continuing Education

In the world of Vehicle Dwelling, whether it’s a car, a van, or a thirty foot RV, two things are primary – Heat and Storage. In the past few months, I’ve experimented with several solutions for both. Until now, none have worked very well, but I think I’ve finally found some workable answers.

As fall moves to winter, up here on the mountain, low temperatures are dropping. A few nights have dipped into the twenties, which makes for cold jeans in the morning.

With that in mind, I took this past weekend to install a secondary battery, 1500 watt power inverter, electric heater, and mattress warmer. Combined with the car heater and all my blankets, there really is no reason that I wont be warm through the winter.

With regard to storage, I’ve come full circle. After trying several ideas, I finally came back to the thing I wanted to avoid – milk crates. Yep. After all the failed attempts, I found that, no matter how collegiate it may seem, they represent the most durable and practical system for my storage needs. In a later post, I’ll share photos and some video.

Also, I picked up a roof rack from Craigslist, which will soon support a Thule cargo carrier. That will open up some inside space. There are a few things that I really dont have room for. Among them are my field easel, extra blankets, folding camp chairs. By moving them up above, I’ll be able to reorganize the interior space, and set up a pantry, including a few dishes.

In all of this, I’ve learned a lot about myself. In many way, I’m becoming the person I was meant to be. In other ways, I’m shedding the guy that I never wanted to be. Dont get me wrong. Vehicle dwelling hasnt changed me; it is refining me. By getting rid of all the superfluous “stuff” in my life, I have to focus on the things that are actually necessary, both in the place where I live, and in the way that I live.

So, that’s enough for now. Thanks for following, Liking, and sharing. Until next time…

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

Balloon Fiesta!!!

The trip from Denver to Santa Fe was basically uneventful, if you dont count the horrific Front Range traffic. When people are considering the move to Colorado, nobody mentions that we have a horrible highway system. Once past the I-25 parking lot, things got better. I drive to Santa Fe in the dark, which was kind of nice. I enjoy night driving.

Once there, I spent the night in a hotel parking lot. In the morning, I went inside and asked the counter person for breakfast recommendations. He suggested a place called, “Flying Tortilla”; so, that’s where I went. It wasnt bad. Huevos Rancheros is usually a pretty safe choice, at a new place, and it was pretty good. The green chili was milder than I’d have liked, but it tasted good.

Afterward, I walked around Old Santa Fe for a while. It’s mostly a tourist attraction, but enjoyable. There are some nice galleries scattered around, along with the usual shops and restaurants. A park rests in the midst of it. On this Saturday morning, there were several musicians performing for tips.

When I got hungry, I headed for some fast food and then on to Albuquerque.

Saturday afternoon and evening were uneventful, apart from the burning of the PortaPotty.

At 4:30, Sunday morning, I boarded a bus to the International Balloon Fiesta Field. It was a slow start, but once things got rolling, I couldnt put the camera down.

One closing note: When you visit New Mexico, you have to get some of the Piñon Coffee. It’s more than delicious. Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had.

So, I promised pics. Here they are.

At about 11:00, I grabbed a bus back to the Stew Wagon and headed home. Overall, it was a great trip. Maybe I’ll go again next year. Anybody care to join me? I’d be glad for the company.

In the meanwhile…Enjoy the Life you’re living.