I'm calmer now -- sitting, surrounded, quiet. Just a half hour ago I knew I had to get out, or get to. I'm not sure which, maybe both.
What has happened to me? I've changed. Or, maybe I'm just now letting myself be myself, know myself.
For this past week, I've been in Small Town America visiting loved ones. And I've been camping in a fairly upscale RV park next to a small patch of woods. Yet ...
Yosemite National Park's Tunnel View, 2009
A half hour ago every cell in my body was crying out to leave, to return to my home. Not a conventional home or place, but Primal Nature. You may think I'm talking about "Nature" as something like the famous Tunnel View at Yosemite which is truly spectacular, awe inspiring, and primal. But, I'm really talking about places that are much more ubiquitous.
Redwood National Park, 2011
It's the "being" that I crave -- the "being with," "being in" nature, that feeling of smallness and completeness under a forest's canopy, within a desert's sprawling vastness, or beneath the Milky Way's arch in an intensely dark and bejeweled sky.
Joshua Tree National Park, 2010
For right this minute, though, I've found an ancient forest. A small patch this state has set aside. I found it on my way to a possible dispersed camping spot. I stopped on a whim after seeing signs on the highway. I followed a rough, overgrown road to its end. I don't have the required recreation pass to be here; so, I won't stay longer than it takes me to make this blog post.
Maple Bay State Forest, August 25, 2018
But, I'm calmer now, satiated. This feeling is similar to when I've been dehydrated, drank a tall glass of water, and experienced that visceral sense of satisfaction -- meeting an exact need, exactly the way it needed to be met. Every cell in my body says "thank you."
Drinking it in. August 25, 2018
The satiation is real, but temporary. When I leave here, I know I'll need to spend more time in nature again, just as I'll need to drink water again.
A mouse never got into my 2004 Prius during my 8 years of camping out of it. But, I've had at least 5 mice in my 2015 Prius in less than a year. I caught two, but the others exited on their own. A good friend, with some space, allowed me to take the stuff out of my car in an attempt to find the mice's entry way. I was also glad for the opportunity to do some deep spring cleaning. I took everything out, including the donut spare and glove box.
Everything out of the Prius! May 2018
When I took the glove box out, I found insulation had been torn up for a nest. And, there were mouse droppings, too ... BINGO, I found the mice's entry/exit point! Behind the glove box is the cabin filter that was ready to be changed.
The old cabin filter with evidence of mouse chews. A ball of the mice's tore-up
insulation. The back of the glove box with insulation pulled off by the mice.
(Inside of the glove box is the new cabin filter that I installed.) May 2018
Unfortunately, behind the glove box is full of wires, the filter, and other parts. There is no way to get behind it all to find the mice's entry/exit point.
Wires, filter and parts behind the glove box. The mice's foyer. May 2018
So, I researched and discovered that mint and original Simple Green deter mice. So, Simple Green got sprayed in the engine compartment against the back wall by the glove box. And cotton balls with peppermint oil were placed inside. I also have mouse traps if/when another one joins me inside.
In addition to finding the mouse door, I thought you all would be interested in seeing all the stuff that came out of, and went back into the Prius.
10'x10' tarp with all of the stuff emptied from the Prius, including
a couple of chairs at the bottom left. May 2018
It's even hard for me to believe that all of that stuff came out of my car. For more detail, here's a one-minute video of everything.
I have 3 main storage areas in the Prius: 1) Under back hatch, 2) On front passenger seat and floor, and 3) Behind front passenger seat. But, first the bed gets made up.
Under the bed and above the donut spare tire is a storage area where I keep rarely used items (oil, antifreeze, compressor, extra sleeping bag, etc.).
With some covers turned down on the bed on the right, the left-side is
packed and strapped down, ready for travel.
To the left of the bed and under the hatch I store camp furniture (chairs, table), tent, tarp, cooking utensils, stove, bags of bags (zip lock, grocery, nylon duffles), water storage bladders, office supplies, small fan, window cover, broom (without handle).
What's left on the tarp after packing most of the areas under the hatch. May 2018
Also, under the hatch, I store cleaning supplies (Simple Green, liquid soap, vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, corn starch) in a cubby to the right back of the bed.
Containers of cleaning supplies are in a cubby at the foot of the bed. May 2018
Next I packed the front passenger seat area. My goal is to keep everything below window height. Here is where I keep my food, toiletries, out-of-season clothes, step stool, front window covers, mouse traps, mosquito repellent, and electronics.
Front passenger seat all packed. May 2018
After packing the cleaning supplies in the back, and the loading up the front passenger seat, the tarp is looking almost empty now.
After loading the Prius with the cleaning supplies, food, toiletries, electronics,
etc., most of the tarp is visible. In the right front are tools, adhesives, and
car items that need to be organized. May 2018
After re-organizing the containers that hold my tools and car maintenance items, they were packed behind the front passenger seat, along with butane, propane, fire extinguisher, an umbrella, and bathroom and laundry supplies.
Behind front seat all packed. May 2018
Every space is used in the Prius. Under the driver's seat is a fanny pack and my shoes.
The shoes I'm wearing are also stored here while sleeping. May 2018
The tarp is almost empty.
Clothing, an insulated lunch box. What's that in the far left corner? May 2018
MSR Dromeday Bags (water bladders) are great for small areas because they take up very little space when empty.
Three of my 4 water bladders. Two are full, one almost empty. May 2018
The items that remain on the tarp are stored in different places depending on if I'm in camping mode or travel mode.
Camping Mode: Bags of clothing are in the
driver's seat. Insulated lunch box of food on the floor where it's coolest. May 2018
Travel Mode: Bags of clothing on passenger seat, and insulated lunch box of food on the floor where it's coolest. May 2018
If the Dromedary Bags have water in them, I carry them at the foot of my bed in travel mode.
Travel Mode: Full water bladders are placed on the foot of the bed and
strapped down during travel. They are covered with the white material
to the right to keep them from heating up due to direct sun exposure. When
in Camping Mode, they are either outside or on the dash. May 2018
To the casual observer, the packed Prius doesn't look very organized. But, in fact, it's extremely organized. Likes are with likes; a place for everything, and everything in its place. I know what color bag contains which items. Things I rarely use are at the bottom, and things I use frequently are toward the top. When in camping mode, I can reach everything from the driver's-side passenger seat.
I've been called a minimalist. But, when I look at everything I have and carry, I'm not sure that term fits.
I recently had several readers ask me if I'm still on the road. Although I rarely blog anymore, I'm still shunpiking in a Prius. I have a 2015 model now, and gave my 2004 to family because it was still running good. I just wanted something less likely to break down when out in the back country.
Cameron and Jasper taking ownership of my 2004 Prius, June 2017
2015 Prius, Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, CA, April 2018.
At the end of 2016 I went full-time. John and I divorced, and gratefully remain friends. I typically spend winters in the desert southwest as a snowbird, June in Washington to see my grandson, and the winter holidays in the west with family and friends.
On the Oregon Coast with grandson Jasper, June 2017.
Thanksgiving pie with family in Southern California, Nov. 2017
Chrismas at Bryce's home with friends in Pahrump, NV, Dec 2017
The rest of the year I typically follow the good weather on the road, exploring, in nature. I also started traveling to volunteer with Remote Area Medical (RAM) which is a mobile organization that communities host for a weekend to offer quality free medical, dental and vision services, no questions asked. I'm so impressed with them, ramusa.org. I would encourage you to seek free treatment if you need it, and volunteer and donate, if you can.
A typical dental area of a RAM free clinic (extractions, fillings, cleanings), ramusa.org
While in the desert southwest in the winters, the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) is always a January highlight. This year we were written up in the NY Times.
This year, for the first time, I organized and facilitated a 3-day Women's RTR following the main RTR. I was thrilled with the turn out, the mentoring sessions, panels, and camaraderie. I'm looking forward to our second annual WRTR next January.
Friends at Dome Rock in Quartzsite, AZ before the RTR, Jan 2018.
I have so many good friends, camp mates, and family to visit, I've been surprised at the amount of time I actually spend hanging with people. Somehow I expected, when I went full-time, I'd have large chunks of time to myself. That just hasn't been the case. I'm thrilled, and am learning to take the time I need to be alone and recharge when needed.
Desert back road, north of Tucson, AZ, March 2018.
That's my travel life right now and into the foreseeable future. I'm loving it. I'm living an amazing gift of freedom, experience, and contentment. So grateful.
View from my camp on a New Mexico Lake, April 2018.
I don't expect that I will be writing about my travels anytime soon. But, I wanted my readers, new and old, to know that I do respond to comments and questions. This blog isn't going away.
Sunset, Padre Island National Seashore, TX, Nov 2017.