From Hand to Mouth: One Mans Dream

The coolest thing about being on the road, often times, is the people that you meet. Our van draws a lot of attention and inquiries. If we wanted to be stealth…we’ve failed.

Most often the people asking are in the process of, or have already built out their own van. Some are dreamers, some envy our life, some think it’s cool. Some come around the corner in a parking lot, beaming smile, and ask for a tour. This story is about a happenstance meeting, as described above. A prearranged, karmic meeting, of a gal with a beaming smile, in a parking lot, took the tour and asked for our help. She offered us refuge on a 365 acre plot of timbered terrain, bought 30+ years ago by her husband.

It was early July 2021, COVID was mostly under control, although still a threat. We agreed to take her up on her offer and set out for Bandon and Coquille, Oregon. We talked about what we thought we might find and how much time we would dedicate. Someone shared their knowledge with us, it’s time to give some of that back.

When we pulled up to the house, written in purple paint was ‘Welcome C&J’. We have decided that if a local asks us to have dinner or stay on their property, we would take them up on the offer, if for no other reason than to see how the locals live. Be open to the hospitality offered. This was a little above what we had anticipated.

Jennifer was home and greeted us like long lost family. We sat down and chatted until her husband came back from The Homestead. The Mountain Homestead, this was what they called the 365 acres of a permaculture, unadulterated timberland that they own. It’s now protected by a conservation easement. Chip arrived and here stood an old hippie-type that showed his joy in his laugh and smile. We all sat down for dinner and talked for hours then retired.

The next morning was van day! We all went over what it was they wanted our help with. Chip and I ran all over the small town to try to find a few parts we needed. Small towns don’t offer much for van building or 12 volt conversions. We managed to pick up some of the items we needed but had to turn to Amazon for the rest. We managed to run the wires out of the circuit board and up to where the main power control would be (for lights and fans, etc.) and ground the electrical system. As usual, it took almost all the day to accomplish just those simple tasks.

We had two days till the parts would arrive so we opted to move up to the Homestead to wait out the weekend. We all made plans and headed out for the Homestead in Coquille, a 30 minute drive.Chip proudly drove us up to the property and we parked the van at our weekend retreat.

My imagination was running wild as we drove on towards this little piece of heaven. I couldn’t begin to wonder how Chip felt thirty years ago when he chose to purchase this land for conservation sake, never to be clear cut. A small piece of nature he could call home and share with like minded people. His plan of a permaculture society was real, his dream, his passion. Not many people can have a dream and see it to fruition.

Upon arriving to the turn off, the thick forest quickly closed in, a small creek flowed beside the road, birds sang, and the air was fresh and heavy with the sent of earth. The road was a single lane dirt road that in the beginning was just a deer trail into the property. Chip told us of how the realtor, he and his wife, all trudged threw the forest, crossing the creek and emerged into this wonderful clearing, now the main hub of the Homestead. How he worked hard to pay it off and create a community, build buildings, create a garden and bring fresh spring water to the main compound clearing. How his idea came to light and for a long while lived happily off his hard work and the land. You could feel the passion and see the joy this all brought him as his eyes sparkled and he became animated.

The first thing that we saw as we rounded the bend into the opening, was a terraced opening surrounded by 75’ pine, spruce and fir trees. Several rustic structures hugging the hillside, surrounded by fruit trees, herbs and a huge garden area, including a hoop house type greenhouse. The sound of silence. The birds chirping wildly. I felt a resounding sense of the Mother.

All the wood and materials sourced from the land. There is a full saw mill on the property where they made the wood planks. Tin and plywood made up most of the roofs. They have a root cellar, garden room, tool room and workshop under the main structure. Wood stoves provide heat in the rooms. They have composting toilets, and pump spring water to the property for drinking. There’s a full array of solar panels providing enough electricity to run a washer and dryer. An amazing feat of ingenuity, and a lot of planning. They lived on the land for 27 years until an allergy and illness, caused by a sensitivity to mold spores, caused them to relocate.

We walked around the property with Chip as he tenderly told the story of each building, the memories, the triumphs and heart aches. We picked and ate fresh blueberries, cherries, and huckleberries. We parked the van in a field of camomile and made this lovely piece of heaven our home.

Irresponsible Reality: Part Two Cultural Diversity

The wind finally blew us off the road but we made it a few more clicks closer to home. Chris knew this cute little place in Beaver to bed down called the DeLano Motel. It’s less than $80 usd all in. The guy that owns the place is a great business man of middle eastern decent. The place is cute on the inside and has a nice patina shall we say? The personal touch he put into the detail of the rooms reminded me of someone who takes pride in his business. In this rural area of Utah this motel would be known as “a dive hotel.” I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover. The Hotel McCoy in Tucson, Arizona, has the same vibe. You drive into the McCoy Hotel and it is a converted storage shed facility. The rooms are retro in style and very quaint.

While in Mexico, we mostly lived in our van and boon-docked or dry camped. We always tried to find a local eatery or roadside taco shop to get at least one meal a day. It actually costs less to buy a meal out, than to buy all the ingredients and make it for ourselves. Once a week we needed to find a hot shower or a place to use our own and refill drinking water. You could always get a room for $17 usd and use it solely for the hot shower and flush toilet. Costs a bit more than a camp spot on the beach, but the hot shower makes up for it. You then can park the van in a safe parking lot. Score! Two birds with one stone.

The Bufadora Hotel in Acension, BCS, Mexico, was one of those places that was a cute “dive hotel” by European standards… but we aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy.

When we pulled into Acension, it was a normal windy day on the Pacific side of the Baja and guess what… We were stuck in the van by the hurricane force winds. We found the hotel by a referral from my cousin, who lives in Acension permanently, at least for now. They had two small rooms around the back of the complex. The room had a large double bed a window, night stand, ceiling fan, and typical plastic chair. The bathroom had a warm shower, depending on who was showering, and a flush toilet. Best part of the hotel was the patio area which ended up facing the perfect way to block the wind and enjoy the sun. Everyday we’d gather on the back porch and enjoy the sun and the view. The tide coming in would cause the waves to crash on the rock buttress and blow up through the natural blow holes. The sound was thunderous.

The owner is a well known savvy business woman, whose personal touches made you look past the rusted chairs, rotting fish corpses, and the garbage thrown over the cliff side. Culture… don’t pass judgement.

As you drive through the small towns all up and down the Baja, you see the squalor and the pride side by side. Children play, woman gather on the porches and prepare the big meal for the day. Bright colored clothes hang in rows on drying lines. I am but a passer by on my way to where ever the road takes me. I am in their country, a visitor with permission to explore. Our money is needed in the local communities and those towns that have learned to entice the adventurers, keep a clean area and put pride in every taco, quesadilla, and pollo they prepare for their clients do well. These people are very proud, and kind.

I fought the urge the first few days to be super vigilant and to not be plain old paranoid. Why? Fear of the unknown. Fear because of a prejudice that exists in the recesses of my mind from childhood and cultural conditioning. As I walked across the parking lot of our hotel last night in Page, Arizona, I can honestly say that I felt more vulnerable and fearful walking there than I ever did in the Baja. I never encountered a crazed drug addict with a gun or homeless people lying around. The locals took care to be quiet and respectful and take care of their own. So many horrible pictures painted by the media, state departments and travel advisors that when you see the reality of the kindness of the locals and the communities, you wonder if you’re in the right country.

The people we encountered were always friendly and eager to talk to you. If anyone engages you, local, nomads or transplant, better not be in a hurry. This relaxed pace is a way of life that spills over into everything. For example, if you order food or a drink, it will take some time for it to arrive but may be the best meal you’ll ever have, and after you ask for the bill, your pleasant mood will not be dashed… drinks and a full meal for four people… less than $300 pesos or $15usd. It’s hard to believe such good service and great food can be so cheap… by whose standards?

The conversation must be had… COVID in Mexico… we met a gentleman in El Trufino who came out of a clinic door and announced to us that he had just gotten his shot and he was proud to do his part. The man was thinking about others as well as himself. Every establishment took our temperature, required masks and cleaning your hands, before entering because COVID has effected so many families on the Baja, no one argues, travelers and locals alike. Some had lost their entire family on the main land. Everyone respects everyone. How kind. I know a country that could take a lesson from these kind, hard working people. Masks all around, even in outdoor settings. End of subject.

Religion and celebrations seem to always go hand in hand in most Latin countries. The predominant religion is Catholicism and these lovely people have made it fun! The traditional Mexican folk lore and celebrations have been incorporated into the catholic celebrations. Missionaries for hundreds of years have been trying to break this spirit but it seems that a compromise was made, or the Mexicans are just stubborn. This religious stance makes their family key. It was not unusual for an entire family of 9 to pile out of a Ford truck at the beach and spend the day swimming, eating and drinking. We always seemed to be included and they would send over the person who could speak the most English and ask us to join in. We were always served first as the family watched… a bit uncomfortable the first few times but how can you say no? Fresh ceviche anyone? There is a lot of hand jesters and laughing as we all try to communicate.

Traveling has afforded us with experiences beyond our wildest dreams. An open mind and acceptance can take you into a world feared by so many who don’t. “Women shouldn’t travel alone…”

“You will get mugged or worse…”

If I listened to the naysayers my life would be very boring.

Mexican families are matriarchal and no family would ever abandon their elder parents outside of their own home. The men respect women. Families are a community affair… meaning everyone makes sure that if help is needed for a struggling family, everyone steps in. In a way I truly think that they have much better respect for family of all ages.

My friends have moved to Loreto, settled in, and bought an 18 year old house and Louisa, who has been the housekeeper since, came with the house. She and her daughter had been taking care of the cooking, cleaning and whatever was needed since the house was built. Sound strange? Actually it is common to allow the house keepers to keep their job. It’s her livelyhood and source of income for 18 years. They want to keep their jobs and continue to be a productive member of the community, but also support her family. One of the hardest things for a traveler, seeker, an outsider to understand is we can completely ruin the lives of the native peoples if we try to impart our gringo views, meaning… our wealth and extravagant life styles are not theirs. We shouldn’t pity them or try to save them. Guidelines should be observed in tipping and paying for services. We could literally set them up to fail if you should move away. We all spend more when we make more. The concern is… the gringos can always leave.

There is so much more to say but we are coming up on our stop for the night. We just drove down a road in Beaver, Utah that had every religion covered. One denominational church sits beside a different and so forth and so on for 12 churches. I bet that only on Sunday, if ever, will this town wake up to the sound of the church bells. Those are things I will miss from our travels into the neighborhoods and supporting the local economy. I hope that things have changed… I am afraid though that my hopes will not be found so I will let things be as they are and just be.

The Child and The White Buffalo

In a land of wonder

Once a small child lived among the animals of the sky, streams and deserts.

She sought silence in the vast mountains that surrounded her home.

One night during a fitful dream,

The White Buffalo came to her in dreams of grief and sorrow, He’d spread his wings…

Rainbows and fire filled the sky

In his path he burned everything evil from the child’s mind and the rainbows were his promise.

The heart of Otter still guarded her

With love she thanked the White Buffalo and she drifted off into a deep sleep.

The stars told the story that night

The moon smiled

The child dreamed of sunlight bouncing off moonbeams and all her sorrows went away.

She woke to the new day

She smiled at the sun and

Felt the beating of her heart

Surrounded by light she danced and sang

She rested among the flowers

The tormentors are gone

She smiled and her smile

Was brighter than the sun and the animals of the sky, streams and deserts surrounded her and rejoiced.

For The Love of Mother Earth

Wandering at ‘One’ with Mother Earth…

Lovingly forever a part with Nature…

Always in the tender embrace of the Earth Mother…

Intune with Her eternal heartbeat…

Free flowing rivers…

The very lifeblood…

The very pulse of Her life…

So lovingly She has nurtured us…

So generous She has been…

Yet sadly it seems, Mankind has been ungrateful…

Are We?

Beloved children of Earth Mother, the time to care…

To return to the LOVE IS…NOW…TODAY!

IT IS PAST TIME TO REALIZE…

We have used and abused Her…

We have ravaged and poisoned Her…

We have weakened Her strength!

She, our beloved Mother, can no longer be ignored! She is ‘Our only Earth Mother…

We all walk upon

Our only Earth Mother’…

We are all blessed to enjoy Her many miracles…

Taking care of Her, MUST be of great importance, or life, as we know it…

Will quickly fade away…

And our children and Grandchildren…

Children of Earth will no longer walk upon Her…

Our Beloved Mother Earth! Namaste…

Blessed be all life…

And our Beloved Mother!

Just the musings of an old hippie… hope you enjoy.

The New Cycle

I hear a slow methodical drum beat as I walk on this ground

Ground of the ancients whose footsteps blessed this land

Whose love of life and their surroundings

Brought them peace and serenity

Brought them a simple existence

Land that cradled them in her bosom

Provided for them

I walk silently…carefully

Each footstep a new story

The new cycle begins

Another trip around the life giving sun

Another chance

Today I leave behind only my footprints

A blessing in each

Someday I will return here

In the spirit of death

A shadow of time

I will become the elder

The keeper of woman’s wisdom and love

Some Days

Some days things are just right

The morning brings sunshine

Birds sing

The warmth fills into the spaces, the night has left behind

The chill escapes unnoticed

I drink in the early light

Today, the sun was missing

The clouds laughed at my wishes

Wilderness Travelers: Part One

Life Off Grid

Life on the road is not a vacation. You are not going home. You are home. You didn’t skirt any chores, honey-do fix it project, or little things that need to be done, because there’s always something to fix on the van, and it’s sometimes harder on the road. 

Living off grid is a wonderful adventure if you have the right state of mind, as my grandparents used to say,”got enough gumption.” Where ever you land is where you call home. Some places feel like a place you’d like to stay and experience all it’s energy. Others are just quick over nights. 

I think that life in the wilderness affords you a certain peace of mind, softens the heart, and gives you a connection to the earth. You live with the flies, the mosquitos, the ants and mice. You’re in their home as a visitor. You live sometimes on dusty roads with the humidity just right, and the air just still enough, that the dust hangs like a heavy cloud, suffocating all manor of life, including you. Other times you’ll live on a desert plateau or a beach, or a mountain riverside. Each pallet a different experience. Each is your little place in the world at that second. Your footprint is very small. 

You may meet people here and there. Each with their own story to tell. Each exist in their struggle to belong, to find something they think is missing. Out on the road there’s only you to deal with (except in a COVID-19 pandemic). With COVID, anyone you meet and even the air you breathe can make you sick. In general most people are kind and courteous, following the rules. We are all on the same path to be calm and stay healthy.

I have a certain affinity for trees, perhaps I was a squirrel once. The taller the better. These enduring sentinels hold years upon years of memories of season upon season. In the Wild I connect to everything animate and inanimate. The depth of the silence, the rivers voice heard loud and clear and echoing through the canyons. The peel of a bird of preys call. This is a place of magic and whimsy. 

You need only 4 things when vagabonding… food, a clean source of water, gas (petrol and LPG) and a safe place to park. We prefer places away from people but this isn’t always possible. So you bend and accept whatever accommodations you can for that night. We are always able to move in the morning to a more suitable place to call home. Everything is fluid.