Category Archives: Simple Living

New Mexico

9/18/14

The Land of Enchantment. New Mexico.

Coming in from the northwest, mostly  what we encounter are miles and miles of gas and oil rigs and all the pipes and wires that go along with it. I wonder over and over if all our use of electricity is worth this sight. Would all who gobble up and over consume like to have this in  their backyards?

It’s beneficial for sure, but how much do we really need. When do we ask ourselves, is enough enough? And at what cost….

The juxtaposition of all this industry sitting next to sacred archeological digs is a bit perplexing.

We stopped in at the Aztec Ruins archeological site.

The ancestral Pueblo people here lived above ground between the late 1000s and 1200s.

The most amazing part of this site is this Great Kiva in the main plaza which is huge and has been amazingly restored.

 

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It is truly an emotional and moving experience being inside such a structure.

 

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Many of the original pueblo’s stones have been carted away over the years for reuse as building materials by more recent settlers. I suppose we would do the same today in the name of re-use and recycling.

 

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The talent of these people is amazing considering the lack of modern tools and materials.

 

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Incredibly enough, this is actually some of the original roof, 900 years later. On top of this framework was layers of thick tamped mud, forming the floor for the second story.

 

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Doorways leading down halls, as in our modern apartments.

 

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Colored stones added for perhaps an artistic effect. I love this!

 

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I fantasize about our own extended families living in a space like this. Separate rooms, communal spaces, activities and ceremonies. Not too unlike modern experimental co-housing communities.

 

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A rendition of what it was like.

 

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What have we lost and what have we gained?      ❧

 

 

 

Feeling Safe in Telluride

About ready to leave Colorado, but there was a switch in plans with the tires. We were still waiting on them, so we took a quick trip up the mountain to Telluride.

It was a gorgeous drive with Aspens turning an intense fall yellow, brilliant against a lush green background. We were both so mesmerized by the color, that I didn’t even know where to begin taking pictures, so I just relaxed and breathed it all in. I didn’t want to stop seeing, breathing, and enjoying every moment. I felt like the scenery was nourishing every pore of my body. It was one of those zen moments that demanded letting go of all external thoughts and  relax into the here and now.

When we got to the town, (so glad we came) it was time for some walking and fun.

 

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Mountain scenery, coffee shops, cafe’s, outside eating, flowers, art everywhere, and a super dog friendly, dog loving town. Pia enjoyed it here. She was allowed to go into most shops, and received treats galore from every shop owner she met.

 

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Know a few people back home, that would like this type of town. To be honest it was a bit refreshing after being in so many rural conservative little towns.

 

 

No need to go dumpster diving here…an always ongoing place to get what one needs.

 

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Lots of colorful creativity everywhere one looks.

 

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A place to park the pooches near a restroom in the local park.

 

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A bit of nature in the middle of town.

 

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And another reminder that if not you, then at least your civil liberties are safe here.

 

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Kind of hated leaving…but the tires were waiting.

 

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Mesa Verde

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 9/12/14 – 9/15/14

We’ve alternated finding, ordering, and installing new tires for the Van with exploring Anestral Pueblo Civilizations – also known as the “Anasazi” or Cliff Dwellers.

A stark realization of the contrast of worlds. We think we are living simply in our little 80 square feet, but yet with propane, we still have a stove, and refrigerator, and a heater. We can fill up our water tank and still have running water. In the middle of the desert, we can go to the grocery store and buy ourselves pretty decent food. And we can go to a tire store and get tires shipped down 150 miles away in  a little over one day.

The Ancestral Pueblo people in contrast living here between 600 and 1300 AD in this harsh desert ecosystem, not only survived on really very little, but thrived at it. For about 700 years anyway.

Click on this gallery below and check out where these folks lived…and the incredible architecture!

 

 

Built with adobe clay hand hewn bricks and stones, into sandstone cliffs, high above the valleys and far below the mesas, sometimes crawling on hands and knees, or climbing the face of cliffs to reach their homes, neighborhoods, and villages.

 

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The beauty of the harsh world they co-existed in still survives.

 

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They were People of the Land. Subsistence farmers, creators, gatherer’s, and artists. Aways one with their environment.

 

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We are so fortunate that places like this have been preserved to help us modern Simplitarians and once been Back to the Landers ourselves understand where we’ve come from and where it began.

 

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Once again humbled and awed by life.

Back to our own modest little campsite to rejoice in what we have and where we can go.

 

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Mesa Verde National Park

 Ancestral Pueblo peoples

Anasazi

Heading South

8/30/2014

We landed back in Utah.

In the northeast corner this time after spending three glorious weeks in the Montana and Wyoming national parks. After living in vast open spaces that go on forever. After living with so much wildlife. After living around many awesome like-minded people. After being immersed in beauty, remoteness, nature, happy days, winding rivers, snow capped mountain peeks, and serene valleys.

After all that, the drive through rural America on Wyoming back roads was a bit disenchanting, but once we made it into the Flaming Gorge recreation area, the gorgeous rock country felt relaxing and comforting. This campground we stayed at with enormous orange rock cliffs in the background, dwarfed our van and made us feel small, but we were cozy at home as the creek wound slowly along the base of the cliffs,  thunder roared and the wind blew in the background. Raindrops splattered the van windows. We were happy and at peace.

When we woke in the morning the sun was out, so we took a side trip around Sheep geological loop, which points out which dinosaurs lived in the different geological formations all along the loop. It was fun seeing signs pointing out “Stegosaurus lived here, and Brontosaurus lived there.”

The day was a restful day, with time for reflection on where we’ve been and where we were going, while enjoying green pastures and golden afternoons, as we made our way into Colorado.

 

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The Grand Tetons

8/23/14 – 8/28/14

The Grand Tetons of Wyoming speak loudly.

They’re moody – sometimes appearing furious and angry, other times blissful and full of joy. Every day, they greet their guests with a sense of bewilderment, and only by visiting often and lingering long, can one get to know them.

The many moods of the Teton Mountains.

 

 

We spent long hours in the shadows and valleys of their towering auras,  feeling the energy of their power.

 

 

We walked along the shores of mountain runoff, nourishing the bounty of life.

 

 

We visited Morman Row and long forgotten barns.

 

 

As always, we loved and enjoyed the wildlife and flora that reap the nourishment from the majestic mountains and peaceful waters.

 

 

We paid tribute to Olaus and Mardy Murie…known for their conservation work, which set the stage for the enactment of the Wilderness Act, passed in 1964. They lived, loved, and raised their family among these mountains, as Olaus worked as a wildlife biologist in the area before becoming director of the Wilderness Society. Both Olaus and Mardy were amazing naturalist, writing and sharing their love of all nature. I truly felt their presence, walking around this old homestead and sitting on the front porch. The cabin on the left is the house, the smaller studio on the right was Olaus’ studio, where he was also an awesome artist.

 

 

We were sad to leave the magnificent Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem area, and hope to return soon for even more in-depth exploration and study.

 

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A good time was enjoyed by all. Hopefully we can carry forth lessons learned here, and share with others.

 

Wandering Along The St. Joe

8/4/14 – 8/5/14

Leaving Idaho, we pulled ourselves away from Harrison and the Osprey, and passed by St. Maries, where we wandered along the gorgeous St. Joe River.

Even though campgrounds line the river, many were full of campers / aka fishermen enjoying some fishing.

As night was fast falling, we were kind of grumpily looking for a nice little spot, when we came across a dirt road pullout with two campfire rings right on the river. We pulled in, set up, ate some  quick dinner, and settled in until morning.

 

View From The Van Door
View From The Van Door

 

Rugged mountains, clear flowing water, and many colors of beautiful rocks greeted us along with the morning sun.

 

The Beautiful And Rugged St. Joe River
The Beautiful And Rugged St. Joe River

 

We walked the river, enjoyed the scenery, collected some rocks, guessed what they were, and wondered about minerals.

 

Bounty Of Color
Bounty Of Color

 

At one point in life, we would have hauled this bounty of collected rocks around with us, and taken them home for memories. Now, after learning to enjoy life with less stuff, we created a sacred circle of the rocks on top of a stump and left them for the next person to enjoy, or for Mother Nature to take back to the river with next winter’s storms and flooding river banks. We’re learning to enjoy the beauty of the moment, without having to possess it’s artifacts.

 

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Indian Pipe

 

Growing right along a path, where back country hikers travel off the main trail to camp in this same spot, we found this delicate little beauty, Monotropa hypopithys.

And lots of these purple Asters.

 

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Wild Asters

 

Languishing in the Beauty, we eventually packed up and continued down the highway, which, by the way, turned into gravel the moment  we crossed the Montana border. Stopping for a toilet break at the next camping spot we were gently reminded that we were now entering GRIZZLY country.

 

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I really hope that a hunter out hunting bear knows the difference between a black bear and a Grizz,  but I suppose unfortunately there are some hunters out there that really don’t know.  Anyway, I really enjoy these signs posted everywhere.  They are educational for the rest of us!

 

All The Comforts Of Home

7/27/14 – 8/5/14

Nine days spent in Coeur d’Alene, all of them between 90 and 102 degrees. Luckily we found this lovely campground just ten miles from town and close to the lake. Like all else in life, when the weather is not cooperative, you just have to deal with it.

Sometimes too, a person really needs a down day, where one can just relax, catch up on reading, blogging, maintenance, and hygiene.

For fun on this recent down day, I put together this little photo shoot of our temporary Home Sweet Home.

 

Living Room
Living Room

 

Kitchen
Kitchen

 

Office
Office

 

Bedroom / Reading room (when not made up as bedroom)
Bedroom / Reading room (when not made up as bedroom)

 

Shower House
Shower House

 

Hot Water
Hot Water

 

Power! (for keeping up with this blog :)
Power! (for keeping up with this blog 🙂

 

Front Porch
Front Porch

 

Back Yard
Back Yard

 

Garden
Garden

 

Private Dog Park
Private Dog Park

 

Happy Hour
Happy Hour

 

Of course, not all campsites are quite this spacious, but when you find one like this, you better enjoy it! We did.

We’re off and heading to Montana next. Good bye sweet campsite. We’ll hold you in our memories.

Farmer’s Markets Along the Road

One of the things we look forward to when traveling is to check out the local Farmer’s Markets.  You can really get a feel for a place by how many and what type of people come out for the event!

Here we find ourselves with luck at the Arcata Farmer’s Market in Humbolt Co., Ca.

 

Vibrant Colors
Vibrant Colors

 

This is actually the second time, we’ve managed to hit this particular market, and I must say, Arcatians, (and I assume local folks from Eureka and elsewhere) really like to have fun at their market!

 

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Mouth Watering Fresh Greens

 

Besides all the really local produce and beautiful flowers, there is music to enjoy, (a steel drums and bass combo today ) dancing, hooping, face painting, and gathering in the town center.

 

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Hooping Around

 

We bought an assortment of young zucchini  and a basket of blueberries, then went across the street to a local coffee shop and enjoyed a fantastic latte and fruit star while watching the show!

 

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Indulgence

 

Onward to Cresent City, and then into Oregon!

 

 

On The Road Again

 

Good Ole Santa Cruz

 

We’ve spent a wonderful three weeks back in the Santa Cruz area. We stayed longer than planned, even though it was strange being there without an actual house to live in. We did a lot of yard and driveway camping, thanks to our wonderful friends and family who didn’t mind having that VW camper top popped in their yards.

The call of the ocean was refreshing after being in the deserts of the Southwest.  Margarita’s and calamari on the Crows Nest patio a few times, long dog  walks and bonfires on the beach, camping and picnicking with family, bbq’s and good latte’s with friends. All was well.

 

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Fun Camping

 

A special thanks to dear friend Ken, for allowing us to use his house up the coast in Davenport as a sort of home base. Not only was that comforting, we got to know Davenport well. And loved hanging out there.

We miss our nesting Black Oyster Catchers, the Brown Pelicans, and the baby seagulls we discovered. We went often and watched the parents rearing these kids on the rocks off the coast, and spent hours enjoying the antics while sipping tea or eating lunches, wondering why these little birds don’t fall off the edge of the cliffs.

 

Mendocino Coast
Mendocino Coast

 

We’re now in Eureka, traveling up the northern coast of California. We had planned on traveling inland, but thanks to the hot weather we decided to avoid, we’ve kept to the cool foggy coastline. We’re meandering slowing toward Oregon for a large Northwest loop, and have decided to kind of make this part of the trip about birds and birdwatching. So far, so good. We’re keeping our lists, learning about bird behaviors and habitat patterns. It’s fun to wake up excited about where to go birdwatching and what we see next!!

Cruising Westward

 Leaving Utah Behind

 

After overloading on so much National Parkitis, we were ready for a little relaxation. The Parks in Utah are really magnificent, but there really is a limit, and taking in so many beautiful vistas in one trip results in a touch of scenic wonder overdose.

The fact is that Memorial Day weekend, a major holiday celebrated in huge fashion around the Moab area, combined with a storm front moving into town, had us looking at the map again. We wanted to spend one more night in the desert outside of Moab, but were concerned about rain on the very sandy roads we were camping on. Checking the weather over and over again, the weather people assured us no more rain would be occurring until mid-day on Friday.

We believed them.

Suckers we were!!!

We awoke at 4:00 a.m. to the pitter patter of raindrops falling on little Ms. Keevan. We discussed staying, we discussed going. We both tossed and turned in bed. The saying goes, if it rains, and you are on back roads in the desert, be prepared to stay put put for day or so, until the rain soaks in and the roads are once again dry and drivable.  We had already decided to move on, and really didn’t want to stay put in the muck for a few days. Back and forth went the discussion, until finally at 4:15, we got up, dressed, threw everything on the bed, pulled the top down, and beat like heck, slipping and sliding out, all the way to the highway.

We drove, trying to get ahead of the rain, which was more of a downpour than a shower, the entire width of the state to western Utah, where we happily camped on dry BLM land with another great view.

The next morning we made our way into eastern Nevada, where we found the most desirable of forest service campgrounds, with lots of “NO ATV’s” on sign posts. Ah bless these parks gods from heaven. Just my type of people. We spent a couple of days at Ward Mountain Campground unwinding, relaxing, reading, and taking a lovely hike through the junipers and pinyon pine forests.

 

Through the Wastelands

 

Nevada. Now Central Nevada is it’s own character for sure. So much nothingness! And in between the nothingness, is missile testing sites, heaped up junkyards, and half filled pee bottles strewn along the highway. Mountain ranges separated by vast flatlands.

Sounds pretty destitute for sure, but in a way it was relaxing, so much nothingness, after so much everythingness of parks, rocks, beauty, tourists, visitor centers, and overpriced souvenirs.

But here’s the real story. When we went with the flow of the nothingness of Nevada, it all came to life!

First we came across a large band of Bighorn Sheep!! Not two or three mind you, but at least a hundred of them. So close to the road, we could tell the rams from the ewes. (By the horns, is how you tell.) They were so amazingly awesome!

Next, after alternately looking for wildlife and reading my magazine, I spot a lone Pronghorn Antelope!

And if that’s not enough, tooling down the highway, over yonder, we start spotting small herds of wild horses! Yes, those horses. The famous herds of wild horses of Nevada.

 

Wild Horses of Nevada
Wild Horses of Nevada

 

O.k. no more wonders of all wonders please!! We need to start looking for a place to sleep for the night, the shadows are getting long, and the sky is dimming. The last mountain range we pass over is the last bit of forest land for a long while, so we’re looking hard for a dirt road to turn off on. I spot one off to the side. Fred does a u-turn, and we turn in to check it out.

Driving slowly over the bumps and lava rocks we come around a bend, and shhh…”Fred, there’s a horse, right there!”  And another, and another, and a young baby in the herd. A beautiful palomino. A Big Black. Wow.

 

End of the Trail
End of the Trail

 

This is where we’re camping.

 

View From the Van Door
View From the Van Door

 

Another wow. This is the view out our door tonight. Dreams of slumber overcome us.

Life is Good. There is beauty everywhere. We just have to allow it in.