Musings on Modern Living…

You may have noticed that I rant on the current state of humanity quite often. It’s easy for me to jump up on my soapbox about the decrepit state of our species. Today, though, I wont do that. Instead, I want to express a little personal gratitude for the advantages of Human Privilege.

As a human being, at the beginning of the 21st century, I experience an awful lot of that. Compared to my predecessors, even just a hundred years ago, my life is amazingly easy. There are mobile phones, electric ovens and refrigerators, indoor toilets ( ! ), and a million other conveniences. Most of my time, though, is spent in the White River National Forest, where there is no electricity, cable, wireless signal of any kind, and no toilet facilities.

On the surface, that sounds like a recipe for 19th century mountain man style living. I should be trapping animals for food, and saving their pelts to keep warm. I should be foraging for nuts and berries, like the local bears, but I’m not. I have Maggie, the Stew Wagon, a 1999 Ford Explorer (Eddie Bauer Edition, which does include leather seats, so there’s that). She’s equipped with two batteries, one of which provides power for a few rechargeable devices, along with an electric warmer for my luxurious memory foam mattress. What would those hardy pioneers of the 1800s have given to have things like these? One may only imagine.

Right now, I am specifically grateful for my globally sourced diet. Because of our unadulterated self-aggrandizement, we have built a network of trade, which can move food to and from locations all around the world.  As an example, my lunch today was tuna from Thailand, carrots from Texas, cabbage from California, in a salad topped with dressing from Hidden Valley Ranch. A bamboo bowl on my desk holds Mexican avocados, Guatemalan bananas, along with unlabeled apples and turnips. How many of those sojourners do you suppose ever tasted tuna, a banana, or an avocado? Yes I am exceptionally blessed.

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Just Stuff…

Here’s a shot of Silverthorne, from the Dillon Dam Road. This is a shot that I’ve wanted to make for quite some time. Sometime soon, I’ll make the drive a little later and get it with a tripod and the Mk ii.

Yesterday, after work, I drove into Silverthorne. There’s a Tuesday Morning store there, and I often browse around, just because it has a lot of groovy things. I gravitate first to the aisle where kitchen tools are kept. Generally speaking, I dont purchase any, but I like to see what they have. Another thing I dig, is to walk through the food section. There are things I’d love to keep aboard, jams and marmalades, but this is bear country and I’m not interested in night visitors. That isnt to say I’ve never had any.

During this past mating season, a male moose left his mark on my door. A local lion prowls around, from time to time, chirping and giving the occasional growl. One night, as I lay in bed, something tweaked my radio antenna. It isnt unusual to hear the shuffling of feet in the night. Bears, however, are a different thing. They’re big, and incredibly strong, and persistent. If one thinks there’s food in the car, it could be a dangerous situation.

Having lived in this forest for a year, I’ve seen a lot of creatures – fox, deer, elk, rabbit, even moose, but no bears. I’ve not see the lion, either, for which I’m grateful.

Harmony

In the past year, my life has become Livable. The pace has slowed, and stress is minimized, but not gone. Every night, I sleep well, and mornings are pleasant. Running was good.

Running?

That’s right. I ran…away…but not blindly (which was what I’d considered). For several months, I worked to convert a 1999 Ford Explorer into some kind of travel vehicle. It wasn’t a full-time thing, of course. Travel was often done on a whim, or in conjunction with some event (see Balloon Fiesta!). Modifications to the vehicle were made as time, money, and inspiration came to me. I was testing my wings.

In March of 2017, a temporary job opportunity came up at a mill in the White River National Forest. I took it, both as an experiment in long-term vehicle dwelling, and as a way out of the situation I was living in. I ran away from my life and embraced something completely new. That was just over a year ago, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done

What do I mean by Harmony? I mean that all the pieces of my life now work together, like parts of a song. The temporary job became permanent, which I fought myself about. I really didn’t want a permanent job, but it has been a blessing. Surprisingly to some, living out of a vehicle suits me very well. Leaving the city put distance between me and the things that used to spontaneously burn my time, now it is my own.

Sleep comes to me quickly these days. Last night, I stood on a mountainside, under uncountable stars, listening to a stream ramble through a snowy meadow, and felt more at home than I ever have in the city. After a few minutes, I climbed into my bed, in the back of the Stew Wagon and slept. Generally speaking, three minutes is about how long it takes me to fall asleep.

Gratitude also comes easy. Sometimes, I feel silly thinking about all the things I’m grateful for, because they are often the same as the day before. Good people in my life. New knowledge and new awareness of who I am. Peace that permeates every moment of my days. A soft, warm bed.

Harmony.

Coming Out of Darkness…

Winter has pulled so much out of me. Recent mornings, it was hard to get out of bed, and I wasn’t very enthusiastic about my work. Yesterday and today, though, have been different. When the Reflectix came off the windows, I could see treetops outlined against brightening blue sky. Stepping out Maggie’s door, there was earth under me, instead of snow. Didn’t even need a jacket as I did my morning chores, a shirt was enough. These things have helped my attitude, a lot.

It’s a little after noon, and as I write this snow has begun to fall. Snow doesnt bother me very much, though. In the spring, we’ll get six or eight inches overnight, and it melts off the next day.

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Some new ‘Mods’ have been made to the Stew Wagon. Some other day, when the weather is a little more settled, I’ll make a new video. In the meanwhile, I’ll tell you about them, and share some pics.

First, I added these nifty tie-down anchors. They’re actually from an old Christmas tree stand, but they threaded right into the holes where the roof rack track used to be. (The rack was stolen when Maggie went missing.) If your overhead storage rarely moves, I dont see why you couldn’t remove a couple of the screws and do the same thing.

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Second, I made a “Skinny Desk” from a cedar fence slat. It reaches from my bed frame to the rear passenger side door. I was a little worried that it might not be wide enough to provide good support to the laptop or my drawing box, but it works very well. It’ll be on the video. I’m comfortably warm, right now and dont care to go outdoors.

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Maggie Needs Shocks and Struts!

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I knew it was coming, and getting worse, but didn’t realize that we’d reached this point. Things have begun to fall apart. 😐 A dry place to work, and a second set of hands would make this do-able, but under the circumstances, I’ll be turning her over to the capable folks at Colorado Tire and Service on Thursday.

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Thanks for following.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

 

Dark Mornings and Culinary Stuff…

While the afternoons grow longer, mornings are still very dark and chilly, up here on the mountain. First strains of light begin to appear around 6:30. By that time, I’m already working. Not complaining, though. The job is helping me do the needed things.

For those who have wondered about my culinary habits, I’ll let you in on a few secrets. First, I cheat. Where I work, there is a full size refrigerator, where I store some of my food, and there’s a microwave. For my current living situation, these are both handy. Food prep can be handled during the day, on breaks, saving me time in the evening.

Second, I use a RoadPro Portable Stove frequently. It’s compact, easy to use, and excellent for reheating leftovers, burritos, pizza, and such.

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You just put the food in, plug it into the Auxiliary Power Outlet (cigarette lighter), and check it from time to time. Last night, I did Ravioli Lasagna, which was delicious. Last week, I did a Southwest Style Chicken and Jalapeño Stack. Next week, I’m thinking about a meatloaf.  When you use this thing, though, it’s important to remember that there is no temperature control or timer. Because you’re making heat, it sucks energy, so cook while you drive, or idle a lot. The dishes I mentioned here each took about two hours to cook.

Another thing that I have to confess is that I use a lot of prepared foods, but I check labels. During the week, I just dont have time to make my own sauces, or boil pasta. Instead, I use canned or bottled sauces as a base and add fresh ingredients. This will change, as the evenings get longer and I can cook outdoors.

So, that’s my bit for today. Thanks for sharing, Liking, and commenting.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

Back

Once again, it’s been a long time since I’ve written. This time, I’ll make no apology. It’s part of who I am, and I’m learning to accept that.

The pics above are a little tour of my experience, so far. I’ve enjoyed it all, and cant wait to see what’s next.

You may wonder what motivated me to start this adventure. It was dissatisfaction with the life I was living. Without going into detail, let it suffice to say that I was very unhappy and wanted out.

The idea that Vagabonding could be a solution was first manifested as a Tiny House On Wheels. This was before they became a “thing”. At that time, you just got a trailer and built a box on it, including places to sleep, cook, bathe, and relieve yourself. They were rustic, cheap, and probably dangerous.

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It didn’t take long to discover van living. Now, that was something I could get into. Cheaper than building a THOW, it seemed like a good option, until I saw someone who lived in a Prius. That set me to thinking about my own situation. A 1999 Ford Explorer is bigger than a Prius. What one person can do, another person can do. Yes? So, I started customizing my vehicle. One thing has led to another, and I’ve been living out of the Stew Wagon (Maggie) full-time for a little over a year. Before that, it was part-time on weekends and road trips, for about two years. I intend to continue this life as long as possible. My need to travel is strong, and I’m happier than I have been in many years.

Thanks for Liking, sharing, and commenting.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

NOTE: I’ve taken a job at a mill in the White River National Forest or Colorado. I’ll probably be here for a couple of years, but I’ll still be traveling and learning. Stick with me, and I’ll share it all with you.

 

 

 

 

Mexican Magic…

Here in Colorado, like every other state in the Southwest, there is an abundance of Mexican restaurants. They are woven into our collective fabric. On a cold, snowy Colorado night, there’s nothing quite like a big steaming bowl of posole, except, perhaps, a plateful of freshly made tamales, or chilaquiles. These things are as much my comfort food as fried chicken or biscuits and gravy (both owed to my Oklahoma roots).

Stepping through the door of any local favorite, one feels instantly at home. Sounds of Rocio Dúrcal and Pepe Aguilar might float angelically overhead. Aromas of jalapeño, cebolla (onion), and refritos (refried beans) greet the olfactories, while the lovely cadence of Spanglish falls on the ears. Chips and salsa are the expected hors d’oeuvre in every establishment worth its chili. Yes, to dine Mexican is a complete experience, not just a meal.

When I say, “Mexican Magic”, though, these arent what I’m talking about. They each add to it, I’m sure, and maybe it’s the intoxicating combination of them all, I dont know. What I do know is that no other kind of restaurant brings out the common love for life that a Mexican place does.

In my experience, people are just freer in Mexican restaurants. They greet each other with kisses on the cheek, genuine hugs (even men!), and they laugh! These places get loud with laughter and conversation. No matter what town I’m in, voices are joyful, not hushed. Faces wear smiles, and that is the magic.

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Thanks for Liking, commenting and sharing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.