Category Archives: Van Living

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

Quiet Colorado Morning

9/1/2014

It’s a sunny cool morning…we’re camped here at about 9,000 ft. elevation again.

Pia is usually the first up in the mornings, and Fred and I have developed a bit of a routine, where one of us gets up, gets dressed and takes her out, while the other one relaxes a bit, enjoying the warmth and bed for awhile before rising. The late riser then rolls up the bedding and makes the bed into a couch, which quickly doubles our living space into a house. We for the most part, try to informally take turns with these tasks.

When I get up early, (depending on location and environment) I like to take  Pia for a nice early morning walk, so we can both get in some  brisk exercise to start our days.

This morning, surrounded by a beautiful aspen grove, we set off on a game trail, saw a glistening body of water between the shimmering leaves, and followed the trail down to a surprise lakeside, where we found ourselves with the lake completely to ourselves, apart from one small family of ducks way across the far end of the water.

Unidentified birds flittering about, peaceful, calm water, and a golden orange sunrise.

Lovely.  These quiet mornings are every bit as cherished as all the beauty and grandeur of the national parks and monuments we visit.

Walking back up the hill was a bit of a challenge though.  I forget about the altitude. Hiking uphill at 9,000 ft, for even just half a mile, takes a lot of effort.

But worth every step.

 

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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On Top Of The World

While hanging out in Yellowstone, we explored all parts of the park.

And since Fred is the proud owner of a senior interagency pass, we can come and go into national parks as we please for no fee. Definitely one of the better things that come with aging…being able to acquire and utilize that interagency pass. It has saved us so much money on park fees and camping fees.

We decided to venture into Cody, Wyoming, where we spent the night, restocked up on supplies, and ate a wonderful lunch at this little organic cafe, where the server was not what we expected from Cody, Wyoming.  Surprises abound everywhere.

 

Cody, Wyoming
Cody, Wyoming

 

As  western themed as this town was, it really was a happening little place, and we enjoyed our couple of days there.

But the main reason for going to Cody, was so that we could re-enter the park through the northeast entrance and journey across the scenic drive over the Beartooth Mountains of the Absaroka  Range of the Absaroka Wilderness area in northwestern Wyoming.

And those mountains were another surprise we weren’t exactly prepared for either.

“Ooh-la-la”

That’s how our friend Paul from Seeley Lake described the drive. And that is exactly what we both said, going  up and down the switchback road. I didn’t count, but the road must have had at least a hundred switchbacks…most without guardrails.

 

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I have a habit of leaning into the middle of the van, and getting as far over to the opposite side of the cliff as I can, when we maneuver these white knuckle cliff hanging roads.

But, boy oh boy, when we reached the top…

 

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And were above tree line, that crazy road leveled off, and we drove for miles through a high plateau, complete with freezing temperatures, ferocious winds, and remaining August snow drifts.

 

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We felt like we were truly soaring above the world up there, looking down and across at the magnificence of Mother Earth.

 

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Until we slowly descended back down into a valley of calm.

 

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Where the flowers and green meadows drank from the spattered lakes.

Not a bad day’s drive…thanks Paul for telling us we needed to take that trip over the mountain pass.

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.

Giant U-Turn; Redmond to the Sierras

 

After the Storm
After the Storm

 

We spent an entire week in Redmond, just outside of Bend Oregon, with our dear friend Beverly. We totally relaxed, slept in a real bed, fixed lots of delicious food, and played the board game Aggravation until all hours of the night. It’s nice to be able to take these types of breaks once in awhile to recharge and just enjoy some downtime.

Bev was such a gracious hostess!!!

We were seriously on our way to North Idaho, but while hanging around Redmond, we learned that both our kids and their significant others and children,  had planned a camping trip to the Tahoe National Forest, just outside the Lake Tahoe area back in eastern California.

A small seed was planted, and after checking  the map and figuring out the milage, we made a decision to go camping with them all.

A Giant U-Turn was made from our spot on the map in central Oregon, and we rode with the wind down the highway back to California, for just a small side trip. About 300 miles of a side trip.

Into the sierra’s we went, and the family we did meet.

 

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Shelter From the Rain

 

Pine forests as far as one can see, thunderstorms in the afternoons, green meadows crisscrossed by streams and rivers. Awesome white puffy clouds against azure skies.

 

Family Campout
Family Campout

 

A wonderful time was had by all, relatives from both sides of extended families joined in on different days to make for lots of fun, food, campfires, fishing, hikes, and good talks.

 

Frisbee Practice
Frisbee Practice

 

Love you people dearly!

 

My Three Girls
My Three Girls

 

Can’t wait to meet up again somewhere along this long winding road. Thank you for a wonderful visit.

Friends, Food, and Fireworks.

7/3/14 – 7/5/14

We arrived in Roseburg late in the afternoon, feeling a bit depleted of resources.

Upon hitting the town, we headed to a laundromat, did some washing up of clothes, got ourselves a couple of good strong lattes, and stocked up the fridge and cooler with fruit and veggies. We found Stewart Park, walked the loop around two lakes, and enjoyed our dinner watching the ducks, geese, and pigeons being fed over and over again loaves of bread by almost every visitor that came by.  What happy birds they seem to be. I’m not sure how healthy this is for them or the lake, but they do seem to enjoy the charity.

The next morning we connected up with friends Bill and Marlene. We told them we were just stopping by for a cup of coffee. Those people were so gracious and inviting we stayed for anther two days. We enjoyed their company, ate too much delicious food, listened to great bluegrass music at the local produce stand, drank copious (for us) amounts of good red wine, and enjoyed a cafe in the middle of nowhere that served wonderful organic vegetarian faire with brick oven baked fresh bread and pastries!

We were even able to watch 4th of July fireworks from their backyard.

Though the company was fantastic, the weather was getting a bit hot, so we decided to hit the coast one more time for a last couple of days respite, before heading inland to Bend, then onto Idaho.

Bandon, a little coastal town south of Coo’s Bay was beautiful, and much fun was had strolling the streets in the cool light fog haze.

 

Bandon, Oregon
Bandon, Oregon

 

It was really nice being near the ocean again, but sorry to say, there were still too many holiday revelers for our liking, and the dunes on the coast certainly attract more ATV’s than we care to be around!

 

Another New Friend
Another New Friend

 

Most places we visit have both good and bad qualities. When we find those sweet spots that seem just perfect to us, we REALLY need to just stay PUT!! Seems we often pull up stakes and move on, then regret leaving the “perfect spot” behind.

 

Morning Stroll at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
Morning Stroll at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park

 

But then, we always want to see what’s waiting around the next corner. Someday, we keep saying that we are going to stay a few months at a time in one place. But that’s for later.

Camping Woes and Elk

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Pacific Ocean and Humblolt Bay

 

Finding spots along the coast to spend the night has been a bit of a challenge. Since we never really know where we are going to be, it’s hard to make reservations in advance for a campground. Especially the state parks are usually full at this time of the year. There’s not much forest land along the coast either for U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, (which we prefer) or dispersed camping on National Forest land. Weekends in particular are impossible since that’s when most of the public goes camping!

Having our bed in the back of our van makes it possible for us to take cover and sleep in some interesting places.

We generally tend to avoid rest areas, since they tend to be extremely noisy being near highways and full of big trucks keeping their refrigerator units going all night long. But it just so happens that somewhere above Arcata, and below Cresent City, there is a very beautiful, very quiet, very clean Rest Area. And as long as you don’t stay longer than ten hours at a time, it is perfectly legal to sleep there. We very rarely EVER sleep more than ten hours!!

 

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Peaceful Easy Feeling

 

Leaving early in the morning, we were rewarded with this peaceful sight of relaxing Roosevelt elk.

And this big fellow, watching over the ladies while munching his morning chow.

 

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Elk Buck Browsing

 

Roosevelt elk (according to wikipedia)  are the largest of the four subspecies of elk found in North America.  Such a beautiful sight they are.

They don’t seem to have a problem finding a place to bed down. They are protected here from being hunted, so long as they stay on state property!

Our lack of planning in our travels leads to much spontaneity and many delights such as this. Sleeping in a Rest Area makes it all worth while when we get to wake up and greet the day this way!

We really enjoyed Cresent City, spending time along the beach and pier watching the shore birds. There were more Black Oystercatchers nesting, Canada Geese, Cormorants, and of course lots of seagulls.

A bit sad to leave the coast, but inching up and inland to visit our good friend in Redmond, Oregon is the goal. Moving inland will also hopefully make finding camping spots a bit easier.

 

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!!