How it all began...

The idea had been circling in my head for years. But the time was right and I could no longer fight the wanderlust that had built up. I bought a 1977 GMC NuWa motor home, threw a solar panel on top and started getting it ready for the open road. My main goal: to wander around North America, catching up with old friends, visiting new places and experiencing things I haven't before. This is my story...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

End O' Summer

Has it really been 4 months since last I wrote a blog post?? And what’s that you say…it’s SEPTEMBER??? The summer has flown by, sentiments stated and felt by many folks out there, I am quite sure. But in the end, once all the marks have been tallied up, it’s been a wonderful summer. It’s been filled with meeting new people, learning new things and exploring the surrounding wilderness as much as possible. I’m not going to lie…I’ve been fortunate to have been “stationed” up in the High Sierras, right off the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, and 5 miles from Mono Hot Springs. Life could certainly be far worse.

How does one go about telling of the experiences of such a large amount of time? Quite simply…you don’t. I could not give justice to my summer in such few words. But I would like to mention something - a theme more than anything. Generosity seemed to flow out of almost every person that has camped up here this summer. Maybe it’s because people are coming up here on vacation and are away from work, so this leads them to a euphoric feeling that seems to permeate every conversation and action. Sure, some of this generosity has roots in the fact that some campers didn’t want to transport any additional stuff back to their home, so I was the natural choice for such bounty. Yet still I was impressed by the general goodwill and generosity that most people exhibited. People leaving me fresh fruit and vegetables, beers, breads, etc. One camper even left me a cooler that he thought I could use. I was simply astounded by the actions of these people. Now I am not saying that everyone was this kind, considerate and goodwill-towards-all-ish. I certainly had those individuals that trashed the campsite, were loud and rude to fellow campers, and were generally disrespectful of the environment. And of course these folks stick out in the mind. Yet if you were to actually do the math, those of the Generous disposition would far outnumber those of the This Land Is Mine To Abuse attitude. And I am very thankful of this fact.

As the summer blends into the cooler weather of fall, I sit here with memories coming to the surface. All the miles of backpacking and hiking, the people I met, the friends I’ve made, the conversations I’ve had. It’s been an amazing summer filled with experiences and relaxation. And where will my adventure take me next? What is my plan? I think I will rely somewhat on the road to guide me on my way. After all, if you plan things too rigidly, you may miss out on the little things that life throws out to you. And that would be a shame to miss…

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On the Menu Tonight : Trout!

Shaver Lake, CA - I tried my hand at fishing today , an activity I haven't done in years. As a small child I tried fishing, but quickly boredom had set in and I was done. Ten years ago, while in Alaska, I went fishing twice - once for halibut, another for salmon. The halibut was part of a charter, so while I did catch two large ones, that was all I had to do...reel them in and give them to the guides. We'll call it "fishing lite". When we went fishing for salmon, both myself and the guy with me (Collin) had no idea about fishing. Once we caught one, we knew nothing about doing anything with it, so we threw the traumatized fish back (lucky salmon to be caught by two novice fisherman).

So today, a beautiful, sunny morning, brought me to the shore, intent upon not only catching a fish, but doing something with it...namely, having it become my supper. Being a novice, it was a tremendous help that I hooked up with a fellow camp host, Larry, so he could show me the ropes. Most of it I knew, but it helped having someone there that was knowledgeable.

Using "PowerBait" (something I didn't even know existed prior to visiting Karen & Gina), I landed a sizable (maybe 13"?) trout within the first 20 minutes. Little did I know that this would be it for the rest of the day. Yet this really didn't matter to me. One fish was plenty for me. The remainder of my morning was spent sitting on a rock, overlooking a beautiful lake, soaking up the sun and gazing upon the snow covered mountain peaks surrounding me. Yes, one fish was plenty.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Celebrations and Disappointments

Bakersfield, CA - Last night my night was filled with wonderful Indian cuisine, traditional Indian dancing and other wonderful sights and sounds while attending the Punjabi Cultural Day Festival. Roger's friend, Laura, had VIP tickets to attend this event and it was an incredible experience.

This morning I went for a walk with Stella to a park here in Bakersfield. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. I arrived at the park and was appalled to find the park in utter ruin. I had spent time at this park several times last week and although it was not necessarily the most beautiful park I've visited, it was still a nice, small neighborhood park. Well, after a weekend of apparent abuse, it was left in shambles. Trash everywhere. Littered throughout the park were empty wrapper, containers, plastic silverware, bags and much more. I could not find a single place in this park that did not show signs of weekend abuse. It just makes me so angry when society accepts this sort of behavior. What the hell is wrong with people?! If you are going to use the park, leave it in as good a condition, if not better, than when you arrived. It's just common courtesy and should be a universal rule of society. I'm simply amazed at the blatant disregard of the effects this has on other people. It is the epitome of selfishness.

Yesterday I celebrated life and culture, yet today I am disappointed in society. I know this is a pretty strong statement and I am aware that I am probably blowing this out of proportion, but I just find it very upsetting to come across this kind of behavior. I guess this is one of the reasons I am escaping into the wilderness for the summer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Alter Egos and Installations

Bakersfield, CA - Since beginning my trip, I have taken on several different "alter egos" that come out as needed. There is "Bill the Surly Mechanic" that arrives when I don the blue coveralls to work on various projects on the rig. Then there is "Georgie Boy"...the dapper gentleman that appears sporting a Derby Hat and jacket. Now I will be adding "First Mate Samuel" to the mix since I just bought an inflatable kayak! Why would I be First Mate and not Captain, you may ask? Well, obviously Stella will be Captain of this seaworthy vessel...duh. The kayak will aid me in exploring the world! (or at least the small lakes in California)

There were several project I was working on while still in Pahrump, one of which was building an outdoor shower attached to my rig! I've placed several photos below for anyone that is interested in the setup...this design was courtesy of Bob and Wayne, fellow van dwellers. I know this may seem trivial since I already have a shower inside my rig, but it is an amazing experience to take a shower outside with the warm sun beaming down upon your shoulders. 'Tis the good life!

After leaving Pahrump, I headed to California to visit my cousin, Karen, who lives in Apple Valley with her partner, Gina, and their two kids, Joe and Josh. I had an incredible time despite the fact that it included having a 10 and 12 year old beat me in basketball. Retribution came in the form of me picking them up and throwing them around. If you can't beat 'em, just throw 'em! Ha!
Now I am sitting in Bakersfield visiting with my friend Roger. We played volleyball in the park yesterday and I learned a valuable lessons...daily walks just doesn't cut it when it comes to jumping, lunging and diving. By the third game my legs were jello and my shoulder was killing me. Roger just laughed at me. So what is the plan tonight? Ultimate Frisbee games, which means more running, lunging and diving. I am so screwed. I will be the slow one on the field that everyone wants to guard. Trust me, though, I am not necessarily feels great to get out and run around. Makes me feel like a young chap once again (that was dapper Georgie Boy talking).

Earth Day 2010 - What are you doing to help the Planet?

Pahrump, Nevada - Today is a day we should sit back and reflect upon what we have done to improve the health of Mother Earth and what we plan to do in the coming year. Think of it as a sort of New Year's Resolution, except that instead of quiting this, getting more of that, blah, blah, blah, we focus our attention and energies towards something much more important...our world, our earth. Whether is it small steps or big leaps, doing something, anything, to help the health of our planet will pave the way for a better future.

So, what DID you get Mother Earth for the big day?? Presents are welcome, actions are preferred. I have noticed that by necessity, people living out of their vehicles are conservationists. We don't have access to unlimited supplies of water like those living in sticks & bricks. I thought I was pretty good about this practice, using water very sparingly, but since meeting up with other van dwellers here in Pahrump, I have learned many valuable lessons. One example is the use of spray bottles. There are tons of applications for this, such as misting dirty dishes prior to washing, wetting your toothbrush and mouth, spraying on yourself to assist with "sink showers",...the list goes on and on. I only used 2 ounces of water in a week for brushing my THAT is conservation!

Some people may not realize how important water conservation is to our planet. I read a statistic recently that stated 1% of the total electricity consumption of the United States is used in the treatment of our water. Per a 2005 statistic, the United States uses 3.8 trillion Kilowatt Hours/year. Thus, this equates to 38 billion Kilowatt Hours per year for water treatment alone. We can significantly reduce this power consumption by utilizing water conservation in our homes and daily lives. Take shorter showers, don't leave the water on while doing dishes or brushing your teeth, do full loads of laundry, etc. Little steps can go a long way to preserving our world.

One of those little steps that I am doing in my rig...Worms! I just "harvested" my first batch of compost made from my vermiculture bin (worm composting). I learned some valuable lessons from this first attempt, but still ended up with a flourishing worm population and plenty of 'castings' to help fertilize my plants. Which leads me to another thing I am doing in my rig...growing a little indoor garden! I've successfully planted green onions and basil, while unsuccessfully planted tomatoes (second attempt will happen in the next few days). So far, the plants are doing extremely well. I'll give ya updates in the months to come.

So what did I get our planet for Earth Day? A present and an action. I bought another solar panel formy rig and will be installing it tomorrow. Trying to make a big difference a little bit at a time...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Summer Employment!

Still in Pahrump, NV - It looks like I have plans for the summer! I have been camping with other van dwellers for the past few weeks and several of them have summer jobs as camp hosts. With their help and connections, I was able to secure a job as a camp host in the mountains of California for the summer! I will be near Shaver Lake, which is about an hour east of Fresno, CA. I will be in the forest, several miles from both a lake and a small mountain town. The job starts May 10 and goes through October. Plenty of time to explore the area and practice my new hobbies!

I've enjoyed the past 4 months having no set schedule and letting my whims dictate my movement. Yet it does feel good to have my summer plans set. I learned from my time at Belle's ranch that while I do enjoy the life of a nomad, I also like having tasks and things to occupy my time. I loved the job of feeding the animals every day! I think I will feel the same about this sites and chatting with people camping.

On another note, I have just updated my "Thoughts of Green" page (access it via the link towards the top of this page). If you have a moment, go on over and let me know what you think! I wanted it to me more of a resource page, but I am still trying to figure out how to best utilize the space. Let me know your feedback!

Monday, April 5, 2010

In the Company of Fellow Van Dwellers

Pahrump, NV - I had thought several times prior to being on the road that there is the potential of boredom setting in at some point. I'm here to report that I no longer think that will be an issue. I've been on the road for almost 3 months (living in the RV for nearly 6 months) and I am finding that my days are constantly filled with activities, chores, laughter, learning, playing and much more. I've experience countless beautiful sunsets, starry nights and blue sky days (throw in there a few snowy days as well).

I'm currently in the town of Pahrump, Nevada. I came here to meet up with other folks who have chosen to live the life of a modern day nomad. Ten of us congregated here…me, AstroBri, Wayne, Bob, Steve, Kate, Charlene, PJ, Cheri and Paul. It's been wonderful to meet up with like-minded people who have been doing this for years. The stories leading up to living in a vehicle are as varied as the individuals, yet we all have those common elements that binds us together…a love for the outdoors and a desire to live in a nontraditional manner. I’ve got to be honest here…It feels a bit like home.

I think the main thing that impresses me most with the people that I’ve met is their ability to give. All of them have given freely both personal belongings and personal knowledge. While some of this giving is part of the constant "downsizing" and "purging" that vehicular living necessitates, it is still remarkable. Equally impressive is the knowledge that is shared within this group of individuals. Just in the short time that I’ve been here (1 week) I’ve learned so much. From Kate

I've expanded my knitting knowledge to include hat making and increasing/decreasing stitches;from Cheri I've learned how to make wire jewelry; from Wayne I've learned some things about my RV engine and being a great host; Bob has endless van living information, including solar and employment; Steve showed us his stunt kite flying skills and solar knowledge; Charlene knows turtle repair (don’t ask).

So that brings me back to my original point: will I get bored while traveling and living? Doubtful considering all the new things I’m learning and all that I want to learn. Who has time to be bored?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Belle Starr's Silverado Ranch, Bisbee, AZ

As I am about to depart from Belle Starr's Silverado Ranch to once again hit the open road, I want to reflect upon my experiences here on the ranch. I arrived at Belle's on February 17th and thought I would only stay for a few days. Well, just over 5 weeks later, I am finally about to move on. I fell in love with the animals and the beauty of the land. Nearly every morning, Stella and I would take a walk around the ranch to say "good morning" to all the animals...around 20 burros, 20 horses, a mule, a few donkeys, chickens, peacocks, and dogs. It was an animal lover's paradise.

Considering that my knowledge of horses and burros was pretty much zero when I arrived, by the end, my comfort level had grown tremendously. I still remember the first day walking around, clueless of where to pet the damned animals! That changed very quickly, of course. Within the week I would find myself wrestling with a burro (score: Brian- 0, Burro- 1). We had been trying to separate out the pregnant burros from the rest and at the last moment, one of those that was preggers made a break for it. I grabbed it around the neck and had stopped it from bolting! Oh the pride that I felt...for at least 2 seconds, at which point the burro made one last effort and suddenly I found myself on my ass in a cloud of dust. So I dusted off my pride and my pants, then gave it another go. Eventually we separated out the ones we thought were "with child", though its rather hard to tell. They all kinda bulge out to some extent. Maybe the ones we took aside were simply well feed. I suppose I'll never know.

During my stay I met some interesting and great people. Belle was the perpetual presence on the ranch and I enjoyed my daily chats with her. She has an amazing story, so if you ever get a chance to visit, you should lend her your ear for a good bit of time. She has so many wonderful ideas and aspirations for the ranch, but unfortunately, no one to help her follow through consistently. But I don't doubt for a second that she will make it happen...somehow.
As the weather begins to sizzle slightly, my journey will take me north to cooler climes. I've heard mention from others on the road that the desert wild flowers are something to behold. I didn't give it too much thought until I started noticing the flowers starting to bloom. It's simply spectacular to see so many delicate colors in an environment that is typically so...well, brown. I can't wait to see what's around the next corner...

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Moments We Wish Away

Yesterday almost felt like I had a big date. I showered, shaved, cut my hair…felt like a new man! Then I was also planning on cooking a steak I bought, but after all that hygiene crap, the day got away from me and I didn’t have time to make a big dinner. Instead I spent way too long making a huge batch of pico de gallo so snacks were my dinner.

Today is Friday. The question begs…why do I still know that? At this point, days of the week are rather insignificant for me. I have been unemployed since early December, yet for some reason I still retain that…skill? Maybe habit is more like it. It seems that in our society, we count things. Even people who say “oh no, I am horrible at math…I just hate it” subconsciously (or consciously) count things all day long in so many places: How many people are in front of me in line? How many minutes do I have until I can go home? How many days until my WEEKEND starts?? I’m sure if I analyzed it further, I could find a dozen things or more.

I already regret that I am about to use such a horrible cliché, but it just fits. I guess what I am trying to get to in this note is (cliché warning!) how much we have become slave to our systems and lives. I call them systems because that is what they really are…ways to get through the day and on to the next. So many times we find ourselves wishing away our lives…I can’t wait until Friday! I can’t wait until I get home! I can’t wait to go out! We want that thing coming up instead of simply enjoying the moment. I know this has been said so many times before, but it really is important to live in the moment, otherwise we may find that one of these days we run out of moments.

The reason I even brought this up, though, is because I still find myself thinking “it’s Friday, I should be doing something!” Yet why does this even matter? I’m unemployed, traveling around in an RV with rarely a schedule in mind. It does not matter what day of the week it is…I still have the same options. That is how hard it is to break the Monday through Friday “habit”, or monotony. So tonight I cooked my dinner over my campfire while I enjoyed a much deserved Tecate cerveza. Now I sit and write and sip my single malt scotch. And I am enjoying this very simple moment. Good Night all!

The Playground that Time Forgot

On the outskirts of the small town of Rodeo, NM, I discovered an old playground surrounded by the desert. I've dubbed it "The Playground that Time Forgot". Stella and I played for a bit...and she learned to push me around on the merry-go-round! Well, sorta. She kept trying to jump on me but each time she would push me away and around. Very confusing for her, but totally fun for me!

I really can't believe it's been a month since last I wrote on this
blog. I'm unemployed, yet can't seem to find the time to write a few paragraphs. I guess I just haven't been in a writing mood of late. This is just a quick post, the next one will be a bit longer...

Oh and I came across these two quotes and I thought they were simply perfect considering my adventures. Hope you enjoy!

"They laughed, because she was different"
"She laughed, because they were all the same"

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn't do than
by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Monday, February 15, 2010

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Imagine a black funnel of living, flying bats erupting from an enormous cave, spiraling into the air in search of insects to consume. Well, imagine is what I had to do since the bats were not present while I was there. They are there for the summer months only...because apparently they are smarter than I and must have a finger on the pulse of

Yet the trip was still amazing and it was fun to try and imagine such a sight. The enormity and beauty of the caverns themselves are beyond my ability to paint a verbal picture and my little camera could not even come close to capturing the detail of the formations. This is simply one place that you will all need to visit. And I recommend the summer months...that's when I will try to make a trip back. The one thing that kept popping into my head while I hiked down into the cave...imagine being the person to first explore these caves. They are seemingly endless, reaching into the darkness for miles and miles. Simply amazing.

As evening approached, though, I needed a place to camp for the night. After researching some options, I decide on going with an old (abandoned?) BLM campground nearby. It was free to stay, which has been a major factor for many of my decisions. The one concern I had was the person who wrote about this place on the internet mentioned that although 4WD was not necessary, a high vehicle clearance was. Well, my RV sits pretty high off the ground and I have very little reservations about giving it a try (some may question my intelligence at this point...and you people would be correct in this questioning). It started out decent enough...slow going, but steady progress. Conditions deteriorated rather quickly...inversely proportional to my speed. It took me 45 minutes to go the last mile to the campground. Large ruts in the road and a narrow path surrounded by cacti and trees contributed to the turtle pace I was maintaining. Damage Toll Taken: side mirror bent from tree, part of the siding on the RV was damaged, mud everywhere. Once I arrived, though, I felt very safe. Mostly because in my mind all I could think was "who in the hell would come out on this road??" Not a soul was seen during my stay.

I certainly could have spent more time at this campground since there were several caves nearby that you could explore (several miles worth of caves), though everywhere mentioned that proper equipment and at least 3 people should explore these caves. Thus, no exploration for
me. Next time...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting to Roswell and Beyond

The time had come to leave Fort Stanton. I had a wonderful time relaxing and taking in the scenery. I made a great connection with the gentleman who was the camp host in the area. He and I would take walks in the afternoon with Stella and his 2 dogs. But the itch to move on kept popping up, mostly brought about by colder weather and the occasional snowfall. It had not been my plan (like I have a plan...ha!) to stay in this area for long, but it just felt nice and comfortable. The reason for going this way originally was to check out Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns. Thus, on the road again...

Roswell: Not just about the Aliens
OK, first let me point out a small observation. I'm not sure if I was disappointed, surprised or impressed. Perhaps a little of each. But Roswell is NOT all about aliens. When I first arrived in Roswell, one of the first things I saw was a HUGE alien balloon statue at a car dealership. Granted, I should have taken into account that it was a car dealership, but my thoughts were still expecting aliens EVERYWHERE. Yet upon entering the grocery store, I was a bit disappointed in the fact that the people working there did not have spock ears or Chewbaca paws. Wait, these are just NORMAL people. Weird. Yes, you have certain areas that cater to that portion of the tourists that come for that reason (admittedly, I was one of said tourists), but for some reason I didn't think of the non-alien-Roswell at all prior to the visit. I went to the visitor center, which did indeed have aliens as a focal point, but also had information on other happenings in town. Museums (only one of which was UFO related), theaters, Historic locations, etc. For instance, did anyone else know that Roswell was a POW camp for captured Germans during WWII? Also, Robert Goddard, the father of Rocketry, did much of his testing in Roswell. While in Roswell, I even had the chance to go to the community theater (Roswell Community Little Theatre) for a production called "The Money in Uncle George's Suitcase". It was a great little play with some very funny parts. In fact, the gentleman who played Uncle George was excellent.

Well, as Stella munches an alien, I will be driving south towards Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Poor, little alien...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Getting Back to the things that Matter

Yesterday I drove away from the Walmart in Belen, NM, a place I had reluctantly stayed for the past 2 days. I had signed up to work on an organic farm (WWOOF - World Wide Organization of Organic Farms) for the next 7 days and was waiting at the Walmart for a call from the farm. The call never came, even after I left several messages and an email. Very odd since I had arranged everything with the farm previously. Well, as it turns out, the woman that runs the farm had become ill and was at the hospital. Thus, my first WWOOF-ing experience was foiled. Things happen for a reason, I suppose...

After several phone calls to the Public Lands Office, I was told about some BLM land 70 miles west of Roswell (Alien Capital of the world! Or would it be Universe?) where I could camp for FREE!! And I do love free. It was called Fort Stanton ACEC (Area of Critical Environmental Concern). It sounded perfect!

I arrived and found some gorgeous countryside to camp. I was the only one camping, but there was the camp host, a nice gentleman named Jerry. He told me some trails that I could check out and areas to explore. With a few hours of sunlight left, I decided to just relax and read by my pseudo-bay-window, which happens to face west towards the sunset...because I parked it that way. It's a
beautiful thing. And that is when I realized/remembered what this whole adventure is all about. Taking time to do whatever is
most important to me. I lost sight of that during my 12 days in
Albuquerque, where I was sequestered to parking lots, which do not rate high for "scenery" scores. While I originally I thought to only spend a few days here, I think I will extend that time-frame. It's beautiful and there are miles upon miles of trails to explore. Not a bad place to be...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Days 9 - Too Long : Albuquerque

For those of you akin to New Mexico or Albuquerque, please do not read the post title and think ill. I simply did not plan to be in Albuquerque for 12 days. I was awaiting some mail to be sent to a friend here and its delivery was delayed. I accomplished many things during this time and was also able to reconnect with two friends living in the area (thank you Liz and David for entertaining me!). Yet I was feeling the need to be away from the city. Having said that, I did make the best of my time in the Big A and had some interesting experiences. Also, Stella loved the daily trips to an amazing dog park!

Has anyone ever heard of Dahn Yoga? Apparently there are about 100 of these nationwide. This is not your typical yoga practice with downward dog, eagle, crooning hyena, whatever. Oh no, it is something completely different. I walk in with my yoga mat in hand and was immediately directed to a "changing room" disguised as a coat closet. Seriously, she told me to hang up my coat, close the door and change. Change into what one may ask? A uniform. Yep, a uniform. It looked more like Tai Chi. Once in class we spent the first 5 minutes hitting ourselves in the stomach. No joke. Both my arms and my stomach crying out in pain. This was apparently the warm up. All I could think was "warm up for what?! A boxing match?" Although the yoga was very different from any other experience I have had, I did get enjoyment out of it. The movements were fluid and natural, lending to a peaceful feeling. My favorite part was at the end, we sat around in a circle while being served tea and cookies (instructor said they were "power cookies", though it tasted just like a peanut butter cookie...go figure). Then we went around and shared with the other students our experience with the class. It was nice to share stories. When I told the instructor that I was traveling and exploring the states, she asked "have you explored yourself?" Excellent question and I think I am doing that right now.

Anyone out there heard of or tried 'vermiculutre'? It is composting with worms. It is supposed to produce amazing results and it decomposes your leftovers 3 times faster than normal composting. It was first suggested by a friend but I was reluctant to try. Well, I did more research and found that it could really work well in situation. I searched around Albuquerque for someone selling worms (weird, I know) and found the Gardeners' Guild. I dropped by and the person working there, Christianna, took time to answer all of my questions. I was so impressed with her knowledge and her helpfulness. If you live in Albuquerque and have gardening needs, this is the place to go! So off I went with a cup full of worms and the knowledge to start my 'vermiculture' experiment! I'll let you know how it goes!

One of the things I had to do while in town was buy banjo strings. I know, many of you may be saying "wow, I didn't know Brian played the Banjo." Well, I don't...yet! I have my grandfathers old banjo and recently restored it, but was in need of a new set of strings. Well, apparently, Banjo playing is not very popular in Albuquerque. I called 4 or 5 music stores in town and was finally referred to a place called Apple Mountain Music. Once again, the people in this store with extremely helpful and one of the employees, Dane, took the time to show me the proper way to string and tune the banjo. Now I was ready to Jam! That night, Stella was the focus of all my melodies. I'm not sure she was very happy with the jam session that ensued.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 6 - 8 : Bridges! Santa Fe! Albuquerque! Oh My!

We began our day with a visit to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge (5th highest in the US) north of Taos, then made our way back south to our final destination for the day: Taos Junction Bridge near Pilar, NM.

We did a little day hike up near the rim in order to get this shot...

But in the morning, we had quite the surprise! Snow! It made for a beautiful drive, though the thought of driving the rig 6 miles down a winding road did not sound like fun to me...

We made our way down to Santa Fe to spend the afternoon, then on to Albuquerque to have dinner with some of Kim's extended family.

The next morning (Day 8 for those still counting) I bade farewell to Kim, my travel partner for the first 8 days of my journey. Thanks Kim for coming along!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 5 : Going to Taos!

We left the sand dunes behind today and started back on the New Mexico!

Highlight of Taos: Eske's Brew Pub for a Growler of beer! Also, camping in a parking lot in town that backed up to a horse pasture where Stella had a brief encounter...she was "unsure" of the situation, to say the least.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Days 3 - 4 : Hot Springs and Sand Dunes!

Only 250 miles into my journey and I have my very first roadside repair. One of the belts had been screaming at us since the trip began, but I thought it simply cold weather. So we took off from Salida, but about 4 miles into the days travel, the noise became unbearable as we climbed one of the mountain passes. I pulled over and upon inspection of the belt discovered chucked missing. Egads! That can't possibly be good. Luckily, the previous owner had given me a spare belt, so I donned the coveralls (think jumpsuit) with the name Bill on it (he is apparently my handier, mechanically-inclined alter ego) and got to work! I was elbow deep under the hood while Kim prepared breakfast...and Stella just sat there hoping a squirrel would happen by. Ok, so the "repair" honestly took about 15 minutes and did not justify the donning of my Bill Jumpsuit, but then again, when else will I be able to wear this thing!?!

On the road again...
Our first stop today - some hot springs for some relaxation and rejuvenation. We traveled to Valley View Hot Springs (Orient Land Trust) near the small town of Villa Grove. Although the 10 miles of dirt road was hell on the rig and my 2 bikes attached to the back (I had no idea how much dust this mobile brick kicked up!), the hot soaking tubs and scenery made all those troubles ease away. We spent the majority of the day soaking in the tubs and the views. I highly recommend checking these hot springs out. Nice people, wonderful views and pristine waters.

Back on the road once again...
We made it to the Great Sand Dunes National Park well after nightfall and camped for the night. The next morning it was off exploring for the three of us! We hiked to the the visitor center, then started the trek up the dunes. Funny thing about dunes: 1)they seem a lot closer than they actually are; and 2)climbing them is much harder than it looks. But this did not dissuade us from our goal: to get up high enough for a spectacular view!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 2: In Salida

Though sleeping in a bit, Kim and I were determined to do something active today. We thought briefly of skiing at Monarch, but decided against the extra cost. Instead we headed to Monarch Pass for some snowshoeing. Well, make that hiking, since we didn't actually use the snowshoes. But it was a wonderful hike up to Old Monarch Pass where we enjoyed a beautiful view and some snacks. Oh and Stella burying her head in the snow searching for critters of any size.

On the way up I had underestimated how much gas the rig would consume on the haul up to 10,000 feet. Thus, we pretty much coasted the entire way back down to Salida so that I could fill up on gas. That was my first lesson: my rig burns gas like I breath oxygen...constantly.

We spent a few hours walking around Salida then headed back to the Leesely's for dinner. Michael had prepared a wonderful Indian Curry for us and I complimented the mean with some Mango and Sticky Rice (delicious!). We then sat around, sipping our beers and having another great conversation. Tomorrow we get back on the road...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 1: The Journey Begins

As usual, my time of departure was delayed by about 4 hours....I am excellent at procrastinating. Maybe that will be added to the resume? On second thought, maybe not. My old roommate and friend, Kim Wortley, decided to join me for the first week of my adventures. It would be a nice transition from my home in Denver to the roads of North America.

After getting everything set in the rig, I picked up Kim at the Stapleton Park-n-Ride and off we went towards the mountains. Our first destination: Salida, Colorado to visit Michael and Barbara Leesley. Although it was only a 3 hour drive, I had not driven the rig in the dark, nor on curvy, mountain roads. Thus, I was in for an immediate adventure. Going up the mountain roads at 35mph (not because of the speed limit, but because of the limit of my speed) I could help but laugh at the LONG line of cars behind me. I was suddenly THAT guy who drove at the speed of tortoise. Yeah, that fast.

Finally arriving in Salida, we were greeted by Micahel and Barbara. We chatted through the evening and snacked on food they prepared for us. It was just nice sitting with good people and having good conversation. It was a great start to the adventure.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Well the time had finally come and it was time to leave Denver and my friends to go out into the world and seek some adventures. My 8 years in Denver was wonderful, but for someone with wanderlust coursing through his veins, it was well overdue to get back to exploring. I leave behind a great core group of friends and many more people that have made a positive impression on my life.

It's just me, my dog Stella and my motor home.

Now what lies ahead for me and my endeavors? I actually have very little planned other than some vague ideas and thoughts. And I have to be feels great. My main goal: to wander around North America, catching up with old friends, visiting new places and experiencing things I haven't before. That's about it. If I find a place that really intrigues me, I may stop for a bit and look for work, trying to experience the area that I have chosen. Or I may just hit the road again...