Morning Routine

Some people have asked, What’s your routine in the morning? What’s the first thing you do? Living out of a vehicle, it cant really be the same as if you were in a house. Right?

My first alarm comes on at 5:20. I shut it off and lie in bed. This is gratitude and imagination time.

I think how grateful I am for my warm, cozy bed. It’s -9 degrees outside and below freezing inside, and my bed is very comfortable, so I simply enjoy it for a couple of minutes.

Then, I begin to imagine what my life should look like. This morning, I was leading a small group in meditation. We focused on breathing and future/present self. (This is a key to building your reality.) I do this until 5:30, when the last alarm comes on.

Pushing the covers back, I lie very still, allowing the heat from the bed to dissipate into the space, while my body adjusts to the cool. Believe it or not, this does take the edge off most mornings.

After a minute of letting the space warm a bit, I sit up and do some breathing. Just a quick little meditation before the day begins. Then I grab some socks and begin to dress for the new day.

Next, I climb out, move up front to get Grace started. I also take a minute to enjoy the morning, again breathing in the newness. Noticing my surroundings, the sky and stars, what the city smells like, etc.

Then, I make my bed. Yep. Every day. This is a mindful thing, if you make it so. Attending each movement and making sure everything is right.

It isn’t about discipline or rules. It’s about focus. From that brief time of breathing when the first alarm came on, until this, I’ve already had three or four progressive bits of mindfulness.

Some mornings, I shave with an electric razor, others I don’t. Then I brush my teeth, tidy things up and climb in the drivers seat.

“Good morning, Gracie!”, and I’m out for another day.

Ellie Hoskins

It’s 1972. I’m sixteen years old, sitting on a guardrail about halfway between Amarillo and Dallas, Texas, eating a biscuit and thinking about the earlier part of the day. I’d been on the road for a day and a half and had was feeling grateful.

In the ’70s, hitchhiking was a much more acceptable way to travel. I’d been in Texas for a while, but hadnt gotten to the point where I enjoyed it. (Willie and Waylon and the boys were just getting started.) So, I decided to head back to Colorado. That summer, I spent in a park outside of Golden, playing my guitar, exploring the mountains, and just enjoying life.

Toward the end of July, I headed back to Dallas. Winter would be harsh in the Colorado environment, and I still had a bedroom in my Dad’s house.

Interstate 40 runs through the heart of Amarillo. At that time, it passed through several neighborhoods, some of which were old. You know, the ones with clapboard houses painted pastel shades of pink, turquoise and green.

I arrived about mid-day and was walking along the sidewalk when an older woman called out to me from her front porch chair, “Y’et yet?”
“No, ma’am”, I answered.
“How long?”
“Two days.”
“You hungry?”
“Yes, ma’am”.

She invited me in and began to prepare a magnificent meal, which consisted of three fried eggs, bacon, gravy and homemade biscuits. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed. While she cooked, we talked and she told me some of her story.

Her name was Ellie Hoskins. She’d been a Methodist minister, preaching to folks around the area, including parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico. When her husband died, she stopped traveling and took up in this little home that they’d bought. Now, she spent a lot of time setting (sic) on her porch, ministering to passersby.

After an hour or so, it was time for me to leave, if I wanted to make Dallas that night. “Before you go”, she asked,”would you let me pray for you?”
“I’d appreciate that”, I said, sincerely. So, she did. Then she handed me a plastic bag that contained three of those homemade biscuits. “They’ll keep you going”, she said.

Sitting on that guardrail, in the warm Texas evening, I was grateful for those biscuits, and for Ellie Hoskins. She might not be preaching to those church congregations, but she was still affecting lives. This is obvious, as I’ve never forgotten what she did for me.

Grace and Gratitude

Back in August, the original Stew Wagon (Maggie), gave her last gasp, and I had to replace her.  This is her, down in the meadow after an early autumn snow, 2017.

If you explore the blog, you’ll find all the adventures that we shared. I learned a lot about this lifestyle while traveling with her.

Happy trails, Maggie.

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This is Grace. We’ve done some short trips together, and I’m excited to get her out on the road for a long haul. She’s a 2004 Chevy Tahoe, 5.3 ltr, 4WD beauty. Stealthy and strong. Already, she’s made her own place in my heart.

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Gratitude

This morning, I spoke to the north chapter of Colorado Trusted Advisors. It was an opportunity to share my story, and encourage them toward mindfulness. There were lots of questions, which is always encouraging.

It will probably help you, as the Reader, to understand a little about the background.

For a long time, life beat me up. The long and short of it is that, in 2015, I was literally praying to die. Things had come to the place that I felt completely worthless, and that I was a drain on everyone around me. I remember telling someone that I was “waiting to die”.

They asked if I had some illness or what? When I said no, they responded with a strong “That’s bullshit! You’re gonna sit around for thirty years waiting to die?”

That was the catalyst the sent me down the Vagabond Trail.  Instead of continuing to play the victim, I decided to reinvent myself into a traveler, and that’s how this whole thing began.

So, this morning, I shared that story, along with the great life I have now, and how grateful I am.

We talked about how we can change our circumstances by changing our self-image. Also, about how mindfulness and gratitude can make us better advisors. Overall, it was a very good time for everyone, I think.

Cheyenne…again.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make a little trip to Cheyenne, Wyoming and Ft. Collins, Colorado. Leaving early on a bright, crisp Saturday morning, I made the drive up to Cheyenne for breakfast. There’s a coffee shop there that I wanted to visit.

As you might guess from the photo, Wyoming is noted for being a windy state, and this Saturday was no exception. I cant estimate wind speeds, but there were times when it was a struggle to keep Grace in her lane. I didnt do much photography, because I couldnt keep the camera still. Most shots were done from the driver’s seat, or from the shelter of the bedroom area, shooting through the open door. This one, which illustrates the old song, about deer and antelope playing, was shot that way.

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When I arrived in Cheyenne, about 9:00 in the morning, I was surprised to find the place almost empty. Of course, with wind like that, I dont blame people for choosing to stay indoors. What I didnt realize was how many businesses were closed on Saturdays. There really wasnt much to see, so I decided that I’d ask the folks at The Crooked Cup.

It’s a tiny place, with very limited seating, but it’s clean and cozy. Staff are friendly and the food is good. As is my habit, I didnt think about documenting my time there, except for this shot of kolaches and coffee.

Kolaches

When I asked the guy at the counter about things to do on a Saturday, his answer was kind of humorous – “Um…I mean…It’s Cheyenne.” When he called out to the woman in the back, she said, “I think there’s a museum up the street, but I dont know if it’s open.”

So, I had some wonderful, made from scratch kolaches and a very good Americano. Then I wandered around town for a bit, before I decided to head down to Fort Collins. I had a meeting there on Sunday morning, and figured there would be more going on, since it’s a college town, and I was right. More about that, next time.

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On the way, I came across this old house and had to stop for some photography. Here are a few of those shots.

 

San Diego

I love California. Especially southern California. Beaches, palm trees, climate, what’s not to love? So, a few weeks back, I took some time off and went vagabonding. First, I had to drive through Utah and Nevada (where I ran out of gas). Since I left directly from the mill, I drove in the dark through eastern Utah and woke up here.

Quite a switch from the mountain meadow where I usually see first light. Traveling the west gets tedious for me, though. Some people enjoy the vast emptiness.

Driving a few miles, I decided to get breakfast at Frontier Village.

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It was a great place to stop. Food and service were good, and the prices were reasonable. I dont remember the exit number or anything, though. If you want to find it, you’re on your own.

One of the reasons that I love California is that things grow there. I have no idea what this plant is, but isnt it gorgeous? It grows along the sidewalk leading into Old Town San Diego. I spent a day there, just milling around, enjoying the vibe. Yes, it’s more touristy than I usually do, but why not? There’s a lot to see!

This big open square is where things happen. People watching here is as good as Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, and the weather’s nice all year round. You can ride your  bike, with a funky hat, or just get furry!

Below are some shots of Racine and Laramie Tobacconist. If you enjoy the occasional pipe or cigar, this is a place to visit. It was one of the first businesses in the village of San Diego, opening its doors in 1868. While they may look like it, these guys werent there then. Believe it or not, they’re father and son, and the vintage look is not a uniform. They just enjoy dressing in period clothes, for the enjoyment of the clientele.

The selection of tobacco products and accessories is exhaustive, ranging from inexpensive pipes and cigars to hand blended tobacco. Because they are a tobacco shop, it’s legal to smoke in the shop. They even have a small smoking lounge where you can sit, chat, and enjoy a nice bowl or stogie.

Lunch at Fred’s Mexican Food. If you’re in the mood for a tasty Mexican bite, you’ll find it there. The service is good and staff are friendly. I’ll go again.

Balboa Park

It’s another historic and beautiful attraction of San Diego. Both historic and modern, it reflects the Spanish influence the pervades the region.

While the architecture harks back to an earlier time, much of the art is very modern.

Of course, you never know what you’ll find around the next corner.

Beach Stuff

Of course! What would a trip to San Diego be if I didnt hit the beach every day? Tacos at South Beach Grill and Bar, Coffee at Java Jungle, with plenty of sunshine and waves.

So, that’s it for San Diego. I’ll be back! In the meanwhile

~Enjoy the Life you’re living!

These Days…

These days, my front yard is a mountain meadow, spread with wildflowers, trees, and plants I don’t know the names of. Some mornings, I wake to find a small gathering of elk munching their breakfast. Now and then, but rarely, a moose wanders through. There are rabbits and foxes, also. My back yard is a mountain, strong and woody. Friends have told me that they’ve seen a bear up there, but I never have. I have heard the chirping of a mountain lion in the night.

A brook ripples through the meadow, bringing music to match the birdsong that accompanies my meditation. The water is clear and cold.

My meditations are short, no more than a few minutes, focusing my day on the loveliness that surrounds me. Then I shave, comb my hair, walk around a bit and take in the scenery. Although it’s summer, the morning air is still cool and sometimes (like this morning) I need a jacket.

I love my meadow home. A few people think it’s crazy that I sleep in my car, even through the winter, way up here on the mountain. For me, though, it’s a wonderful way to keep myself sane.

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For the past few days, a couple of young women have been camping in my spot, which I don’t mind. I think it’s marvelous that other people get to enjoy the same beauty that I do. So, I’ve been sleeping in different places along the county road. Last night, it was just near the top of Ute Pass. Here’s the view that I woke up to.

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I am truly blessed.

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In others news, I’ll be leaving for California tomorrow evening. I’m excited to go, because I havent seen the ocean in several years and I’m jonesin to get salt water up my nose and sand in my shoes.

I have made some tentative plans, as to where to go. Fiesta Island seems a popular place to meet other vehicle dwellers. So I’ll probably head over there first thing.

Then there’s Taco Tuesday at South Beach Bar and Grill. According to Google and Yelp!, it’s the place to go for tacos. Situated on the beach, with a view of the sunset, how could it be bad?

Also, I want to explore Old Town San Diego. There’s a tobacco shop called Racine and Laramie, and according to the website, it was founded in 1869! I want to find a nice pipe, for evenings in the meadow with a glass of wine, bourbon, or coffee. Some nice, handmade sandals are probably on the shopping list, as well, along with an artisan made coffee cup (for those nights with the new pipe and mornings with the elk).

Otherwise, I have a week to meander around SoCal. If I play my cards right, there will be lots of beach time.

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As always, thanks for Liking, sharing and following.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living!