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.


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.


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.


I am truly blessed.


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.


As always, thanks for Liking, sharing and following.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living!


First things first, I have to give a great big western “THANKS, PARDNERS!” to Colorado Tire and Service. I recharged my own AC, and it still wasn’t even cool. I called and asked for a ballpark quote to replace a compressor/collector combo. $700! I was bummed. The awesome thing is that they could have simply done what I asked and billed me, but instead, they did only what it needed and billed me for that…and it’s definitely COLD.   I was expecting a $700 bill. Instead, it was $161 for the recharge. I’m grateful

Also, I picked up a hitchhiker yesterday on County Road 3. It’s relatively untraveled, and in the fifteen months that I’ve been staying up here, he’s the only pedestrian I’ve seen. (Yes. We’re remote.) He’s headed to Dallas and needed a ride to I-70. As we drove along, he offered to buy me some gas. Naturally, I declined. As we approached town, he said, “Pull into a gas station. I’m gonna get you some gas.” I said, “You really dont need to. This is where I was going anyway.” He said, “I know that, but I want to do it.” So, at his insistence, I stopped at my usual place. When we stopped, he got out, walked around to the pump and filled me up. I’m grateful.

TRUTH: We must be as open to receive as we are to give. It’s the way things work.

Having said that, I am completely unprepared for California. No trunks, shorts, t-shirts or sandals. What have I been thinking? Wait! I’ve been living on a mountain in Colorado! (I’ll trade sand fleas for tics, I suppose.) Guess I’ll hit some thrift shops when I get there and set up a new wardrobe for the week. Maybe grab a souvenir hat. Yeah?


Thanks for following, Liking and sharing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.


I love my life. Days are warm, the sun shines most of the time, and all of my views are like this one. Lately, I’ve been lazy getting out of bed, which is something I need to stop. (My bed is just so comfortable these mornings!)

I’ve been taking time for mindfulness, though. Each morning, I spend a few minutes listening to the sounds of the meadow. Birds, the brook, a breeze through the leaves; I let the scene impress itself onto my consciousness. Every day begins with peace. No expectations or hurry. Although I’m getting up late, I have allowed time for this.

At the moment, another trip is in the planning stage. This time to California. I have no real itinerary. Like everyone else, I’ll head straight for PCH and let Maggie drift. The trick is getting there. Leaving the mountain after work on the 22nd, I’ll drive to someplace in Nevada, then on into Cali on Friday. Before I can make the trip, though, I have to replace the AC compressor.


~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

Rain and the Arapahoe…

It rained most of the day, Tuesday, so I didnt do much shooting. The shot above is of a place along County Road 3, which leads up to the meadow I sleep in, and further on to the mill.

As I mentioned in another post, I want to explore Dillon, so I began at Arapahoe Café and Pub.

As you can see, it isnt a huge place, although there is a lower level. People told me, today, that I have to go back and do the downstairs, so look for another post in the near future.

Just let me preface everything else with the savory, spicy aromas that greet you at the door – woodsmoke, chilis, onion, and of course, meat. These redolent fragrances subtly introduce you into a small entry area, adjoining a spacious dining area. The decor is exactly what you’d expect in a Colorado mountain town – Vintage Rustic. Log cabiny, with lots of native pine. On a warmer day, the patio would have been splendid.


Forgive me. I was very hungry and forgot to get pics of my plate. (I know.) I did remember to shoot the restaurant, though. That should earn me a few make-up points. Right?

Places like this often have eclectic menus, and Arapahoe Café is no different. Offerings begin with Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in a white wine herb broth, Barbecue Cheese Fries, and other appetizers. Dinner entrées include Rocky Mountain Ruby Red Trout, Road House Meatloaf, and Tillamook Smoked Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese (specialty mac n cheese topped with chopped bacon and house smoked Carolina pulled pork or chopped beef brisket). The sandwich board is also broad and, although Reuben’s Reuben tempted me, I opted for Jake’s Beef Brisket Sandwich. It was big, and beefy, tasty but not dry. After trying the spicy sauce, I did end up asking for a jalapeño for a little more kick. The bun was fresh and lightly toasted. Sides were basic – coleslaw and fries. Paired this with a nice malbec, the meal was satisfying and delightful.

At this point, I should also make note of the drink menu. Arapahoe Cafe’ and Pub has a pretty good assortment of beers and ales in bottles and cans, or on tap. The wine list is small, but the malbec I had was enjoyable.

A surprising departure from the standard mountain café fare was the after dinner drink menu. Limoncello?  Yep. Tawny Port? Also a Yep. You can also get Irish coffee or Bailey’s and coffee, along with Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey.

So, if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for a good tasting, affordable meal, Check out the Arapahoe Café’ and Pub.



Thanks for stopping by.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.

Something I wrote a couple of years ago…

it’s still my creed.

Don Barnes·Thursday, January 7, 2016

I am not better or worse, no more or less deserving, no higher or lower than anyone else.

In the universal scheme of things, I am completely insignificant. If the Lord tarries and no meteor hurtles from the depths of space to strike us into oblivion, my life will make no lasting difference. A thousand years from now, no one will remember me. I am simply a man, walking in this world because it is where I am. There is no over-riding purpose for my life. I have no destiny to fulfill. When I die, the stars will not go out. The world will not stop spinning.

This knowledge allows me to live peacefully among my fellow humans. Because I am not superior, or inferior, I must view each one as an equal. I must not eye them with my judgment, or weigh them in the balance of my personal justice. Each one is responsible for himself, before the One who made him. My duty is only to facilitate that person’s ability to draw nearer to that One.

If you, however, choose to judge and condemn me, I cannot stop you. Please, though, remember to prove your own heart before you start gathering stones.

Feeling Much Better…


It’s surprising what a difference just two weeks can make. Now that the days are noticeably longer, and I’m waking up to a little bit of light, my attitude has become so much better. Although I’m generally a pretty positive person, sunlight in the morning is a powerful booster.

Last night, I was able to get back down to the meadow and sleep. The road is some distance away, and higher up, so the sounds of passing vehicles dont reach me. Getting up was easier as I anticipated the scene that waited just outside my door. When the alarm came on, I removed the curtain and lay still, gazing at the trees that surround the place. Sitting quietly, my bare feet on Maggie’s running board, I listened to the brook and birdsong, enjoying the cool air against my skin. First time I’ve been able to do that since the autumn.


Today, I’m in a nostalgic mood. Listening to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” has me missing the sunny 70s and California. There’s a story about Sunset Boulevard, a billboard with that album cover, and a woman in a see-through blouse, but I wont share it now. What I will say, is that I’m ready to make the trek back to PCH for a few days. The trip is slated for the last week of June. There will be pics and some video, so stay tuned.


In the meantime, I’ll be checking out Silverthorne’s next door neighbor, Dillon. It’s a little further up from the interstate, but seems to have a bit more local feel. There’s Pug Ryan’s Brewery, Arapahoe Cafe’ and Pub, along with a couple of thrift stores . I should have broadened my experience before, but winter kind of put me into a rut. Now that spring has sprung, I’m feeling more adventurous.


That’s all for today. Thanks for following. Remember the Vagabond Rules:
Dont Worry. Be Grateful. Be a Blessing.

~Enjoy the Life you’re living.



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.



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.


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.


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.