We drove through the silvery fields of Kansas under a full red sun in 40 mph winds. The sky shown pastel blues and pinks while hints of wildflower could be seen through the tall grass. We drove slow and avoided highways. We had finally fixed our battery breaker and put our solar panel on an adjustable frame to gather more energy. Our trip begins in the Walmart parking lot of Hays, Kansas.
Doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it was in a way. There were other campers parked all over the lot. And every traveler says that you’ll stay in a parking lot at least once. What I really got out of the experience was the conversation Staford and I had the next morning. Things were a little tense, the van felt small. Our stress was coming mostly from, well, money. Typical I know. We have the van, so why are we still feeling unsettled? The truth is that it’s difficult to be in the here and now sometimes. We say things like, “Once I get this job” or “once I get this thing done, life will be easier.” The reality is that there will always be a new bridge to cross, and we shouldn’t try crossing it before we even get there. There is so much in every moment right in our grasp that we can be thankful for. We talked for so long we didn’t get back on the road until late in the day.
Finally arriving in Colorado, we drove through our old neighborhood and by our old house. We walked our old routes and through downtown. We looked around in our favorite thrift store and book shop and ate at our favorite place, Harley’s. The Colorado sun felt so close to my skin and my feet didn’t get tired from walking. The sky is always the bluest of blue and the trees greenest of green in Colorado. We made our way to our good friends house to stay in their neighborhood for a few days.
It’s important to mention how much this lifestyle relies on the generosity of others. Our friends let us park outside their home, use their shower, and do laundry. There was coffee in the morning and good company all day long. Their cat, Barley, was a great host too, checking on us from time to time. Without good friends we would be lost. Their home is beautiful and my friend is having a baby. I feel immense happiness for them. But I have to admit- being there made me question my decisions. Don’t I want a beautiful home and children, too? The answer is yes! But all in due time. I feel happy with our decisions, my van home, and all that is to come in our future. We learned that it’s actually a bit harder to stay in a neighborhood rather than a campsite because we are confined to our van. We don’t have the outside square footage and everyone is watching you through their Ring. I suppose there’s good and bad to it, but mostly good. There were so many people we wanted to see and things we wanted to re-visit, but our plans were changed again due to the cold weather. Don’t worry, though. We will make our way back to Littleton!
Heading south on a windy, majestic road, we drove along side a river. Horses of every color ran at full speed through the golden fields at the bottom of the mountains. Some sites were so beautiful I couldn’t believe my eyes. And pictures just don’t capture it. We drove in silence, in awe. Instead of paying for campsites we stay on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. This is open land that is free to stay on, dispersed in nature with no electric or water hookups. Our solar panel and the repairs I mentioned allow us to live off-grid this way. We drove far down the dirt road in Pine, Colorado to find our perfect spot covered in Stellar’s Jay birds. Whole families of the bright blue bird fluttered around the site and pecked along the ground. Stellar’s Jay represent a message of hope, fearlessness, and adaptability. Just what we need. Surrounded by trees, mountains, and nothing else, we walked into the forest to find a secret stream that ran behind our campsite. Red berries dotted the gold of the Aspen trees (my favorite tree) and there was a log you could rest at right at the edge of the water. Beyond it were giant boulders that we could climb and look down perfectly on our campsite (see bottom left picture).
The next few nights got cold enough for us to use our Mr. Heater Portable Buddy a few times- an essential for cold weather camping. In the mornings we would have a stretch in the sun and take the dogs on a long walk to warm up. Then after coffee we work on whatever goals we have set. After working, we enjoy doing whatever we want. Like watching Dune, reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, taking pictures on our hikes, cooking new meals, and junk journaling. Getting used to this lifestyle is an adjustment but getting into a routine is fun. Everything requires just a little more work that wasn’t required in our normal world. Our coffee needs water boiled and grounds pressed, our bed needs taken out and put away everyday, our firewood needs gathered and cut every evening, and every meal is cooked, not picked up. But I feel like it’s changing me already. These tasks aren’t tedious, they are rewarding. The feature photo at the top of this post was taken by Staford. He captioned it: “Be water, my friend.” -Bruce Lee. This is true for all of us. I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post and found something you can take away from it. Come back next week to hear about our travels going further south into Colorado and what’s next for us. Thanks for supporting Into Nature!
Introducing Megan and Meeko! If you’re wanting to know more about Meeko and I go take a look at my post all about us and how we found each other.