Thursday, February 26, 2015

Simply a choice built out of Freedom

I was watching a movie
The people were fighting for freedom
The leader asked what they intended to do with their freedom. ..

Thoughtful moments and some rainy day movie therapy with built in yawning (chuckle)...

And my choice to live with as much freedom as I can find led me to a lovely forest setting while I recuperate from all my recent social activities and wait for the current winter storm to pass. I have mixed feelings about not getting any snow! Though the rain has provided us with nice inside days.  Since I am visiting at a friend's cabin there's a lot of good conversation and shared food.

You may wonder how I manage visiting when living out of my van.  The biggest thought that seems to help others understand is that I bring my own bedroom with me. Yes I am sleeping in the van. Of course being rather independent and probably carrying some trust issues in my back pocket,  I try to show up all showered, with clean laundry, and a stocked kitchen pantry.  I also try to take a gift - which at times has been my cooking or cleaning skills. This time I will be gifting the home owner with a set of coffee mugs and snack/breakfast plates that I picked up at a thrift store along my travels. They are rather delicate and won't travel well so I had the fun of finding them and finding them a home.  When hosts offer extras like electricity or use of bathrooms or water...I work hard to be responsible and respectful and only use what I really need and I make a contribution before I leave, a few dollars toward an electric bill when I have been using their hot water heater or electric oven is usually appreciated.

I am looking forward to clear skies and warmer weather when we can get back out in the woods!  Hiking in this area and ares like this just brings me joy. (Of course so do beaches)

Ozzie is getting spoiled by indoor activities too. He's got great inside manners.

Freedom to choose.
Freedom to enjoy a variety of what life offers....

That IS what I am doing with my freedom!

      and Ozzie

Simply Napping!

Unless hammocks are part of every day decor...napping is often saved for days of either illness, when you can't remember napping anyway or for days of great satisfaction!

I feel very happy today.
I packed up while fixing my morning coffee and sauteing a platano/plantain for breakfast.
I drove at my own pace, stopped when I felt like stopping.
I bought some groceries and enjoyed the process. (Yes friends I bought the right stuff easy to keep long term veggies and apples).
I reached my intended destination.
And it's a pretty day too.
I went for a lovely hike in a the forest with a special friend - the kind that I can talk to without qualifying my statements.
And omgosh - I took a nap!

Something must be going Simply right!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

So Why would I want that?!

You mean the Vortex Blender that is on my wish list again?  Well I had one before - actually it wasn't mine I just had use of it for a while.  It worked great. For what it is. The gear box is fabulous.  I wish that there were other assesories like a grain grinder or food mill attachment.  Okay so I want one again because I want to make my own healthy mayonnaise.  And an occasional frozen drink - frozen coffee with honey and coconut cream anyone? Yes I tried blending ice with it. It works and works well too....well unless you are stuck on a Vitamix or HealthTec Blender....but hey they take gobs of power...and I don't want to roll that way...maybe if I had a cabin...ah who knows. We CAN change our minds!

And Why, again,  would I want another GSI Haulite Tea Kettle! ?  Because I had to give my first one away when I had too many things to carry and needed to get outta dodge quickly one time. That was the best tea kettle ever. It heated water as fast or faster than aluminum without the health risks aluminum carries. It is light weight and great for hiking. The lid is large so that the kettle doubles as a pot. The size is just right for two cups of coffee and a little wash up water!  I have a giant half gallon coffee/water pot that I use outside and for groups although it is uncomfortable to maneuver when you are inside the van.

We can have Wish Lists!

Have a Simply fun day

Simply more than one way

To do anything!
After living this particular traveling lifestyle for three years I've realized that it is just smart to have more than one way to do any one thing. You see stuff changes all the time out on the road.

For example, washing dishes. I've tried keeping only one way. I built-in a sink and traded stuff for that sink.  I've used the ladder rack...the inside doors, spray bottles, baby wipes....goodness!  So now I have a number of ways to wash dishes and just use the one that works. When I am in a group situation the needs are different from when I am putting in miles and sleeping in urban/Wal-Mart situations where i want to becareful when and where i toss my dirty water. And then there are the I'm alone in camp days or weeks. I have a couple favorite bowls and bins that hold water nicely. in particular fits on a step in my ladder rack and makes a great wash station that others can use. And when I am busy I can just toss dirty dishes into it and wash them later on.

Here is today's configuration.  I keep more than one water jug in the van. This thin blue one is handy because of the space it takes. You can buy these at Wal-Mart although they are less expensive at Big Lots. Keep in mind that you can NOT fill these jugs full for carrying or for driving. Notice the white fill cap which when carried is a few inches lower than the top..they will splash and slosh so I most often only fill it with about one gallon of water. I like that I can open the spout and have both my hands free which is why I have the funel and jug in my catches drips and drizzels and lets me rinse a cup and have a place to dump the water. I leave an inch or so of clean water with dish soap in it sitting in the jug to help with potential smells - but I clean the jug a lot anyway.   The square-ish container was given to me by a fellow RTR person. It fits the steps in my ladder rack just right. I just bungee it in place.
Today's dish drainer is the lid to a bin that needed washing. It fits right on top of my trash can that by the way is also part of my Heeter s safety cage! .... I think it is a good idea to think outside the box and find new ways to do things. Today's way might not work tomorrow - but hey you might be hiking with your lunch in baggies that you can throw away!

Enjoy the sun while you can!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Health Reminders - ouch!

I simply had a nagging owie in my digestive tract I RE-read all my information just to remind myself to stay on top of my health.

Yes I made some mistakes lately. Enough to create a mild flare up. here we go again.  I CAN'T Cheat! I love my friends. I want to be like them and able to eat anything.  I love preparing and sharing food! I love to watch and hear others be happy. Sorry folks - I can't eat your pizza! or homemade spaghetti. Or special cake. Nor meatball subs. Nor fast food like stuff from McDonald's (only black coffee - boring me), I can't have a whopper or French fries,  no Frosty either....darn.

Okay enough poor me rant.

When I have a flare up I have to make a well boiled organic chicken broth,  drink veggie juice (carrot is my favorite) and only RAW-unpasteurized goats milk (not so easy to find). That's it until I heal up. Then I can add healthy fats (cold pressed extra virgin Olive oil, unrefined coconut oil or Raw unpasteurized butter); non-starchy veggies, and a small amount of meat (organic chicken, wild caught fish or lamb) and in my case cooked apples. I can use raw honey or real maple syrup. ...I'm basically on a whole foods non-processed diet.

It's a good thing that I love to cook.
I can have NO processed foods. NO pre-packaged foods. No preservatives. NO margarine. NO artificial sweeteners and No white sugar. NO pasteurized dairy or cheeses. ...IF I want to stay on top of this health issue that could turn into a cancer.

Okay so I know that the doctor said that I could eat anything that I wanted. And then we realized how sensitive I am to unhealthy foods and antibiotics and other stuff that I test negative for allergies to. I don't want to take meds in order to make it okay-ish to eat anything. So I will just take care of my health in a manageable way. ..but bummer I can't eat when we go out to dinner together (unless we find a really special natural foods restaurant) - I will probably opt to just have a cup of  black coffee or tea and enjoy your company!   OR We can enjoy preparing a meal together instead (see that really is why I cook so much at events like the RTR! Well I do really enjoy it all though! )

Simply Beautiful 4 Peaks - Tonto National Forest.

Talk about a great lead!
Good roads - dirt though in great shape mostly. And fun twisty driving off the main road - I put the van into second gear to save was a blast! There are 4 x 4 trails and sightings but very low key.
Good cell signal in most areas - we needed Ozzie comfortable as a priority yesterday afternoon so I sacrificed the cell signal.
Hiking and walking is great!
Weather is mild even with the rain this week. I've got a light jacket on
And check out the view - even with cell phone pictures!
The wildflowers are about to bloom all you photographers! Birds and wildlife abundant - chirpy mornings!

To get here take any path to Route 87 North of Phoenix (South of Payson) and watch for signs.

Monday, February 23, 2015

At 4 pm Ozzie was done!

As in overwhelmed! He passed up a beef bone today.  He wanted to be held a lot  And then at 4 pm while I was driving around our new location hunting for a campsite - he looked up with a long sad face and whined. He had crawled under his blankie and just had enough. So I parked in the only kind of level spot I could find and did what I could to help him settle down for the night. Tomorrow we can look for a more comfortable site that can become home base for the next week.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Simply Safe

For the night.

How do I pick a campsite and do my best to stay safe?

First I try to get travel and campsite advice from my friends. Often my plans include stopping where I think someone else I know will be for the night.

When that is not possible - like on this trip...I check websites that are trusted sources of information., etc.  I pick a direction and then aim in that general direction. 

Now I have had to learn to use instinct and gut feelings.  They are pretty important to my process. If I have an odd or uneasy feeling about an area I will either move on immediately or if it is a mild uneasyness I will create an emergency plan or escape route.  Where I am tonight is beautiful and its in the mountains/hills. The air feels like rain. I checked with neighbors who were out hiking as I was driving in and inquired about the safety of the area as well as the potential problems in a rainy situation. You know - am I going to get stuck with no way out until it dries up.  (Smile)   Armed with that information as well as checking my cellphone signal and battery life, I then check weather updates and emergency reports (none in this area).

I drove past the area where I decided to camp so that have a general sense of the area. It is pretty steep further up although I was able to safely maneuver the van in first gear. The road intersects with other rural roads that have houses on them. In fact one of the hikers pointed out his house if I had any problems.

I came back down the hill and choose a campsite. Then based on the wind gusts predicted and the direction of the wind. I parked the van as level as I was able and pointed the nose of the van in the direction of the forecasted wind. This way the van shouldn't rock too much.

I then roll up the front windows. I lock the doors. Put on the parking brake - just cause. And take Ozzie for a walk.

While we are taking that first walk, I am checking out the camping area and Ozzie is marking territory to protect. 

 I try not to travel alone on Friday nights or weekends mainly because free camping areas can be teenagers Friday night hangouts and I am woman basically traveling alone. Tonight is a Sunday. While walking we noticed the beer cans and boxes that indicate this area as just such a place. Though I have no sense of unease except for the weather.  Comfortable with our choice we return to the van, Ozzie gets tied out on a lead to be safe or to comply with BLM camping area rules. Then I put the water kettle on to boil. I straighten up from the day's driving and neaten the van and I text/email a friend about my location. I keep aware of our surroundings, noises, traffic etc and keep my shoes on. The water is ready for making tea and I switch to a pot and prepare dinner. Tonight is cauliflower, carrots, Libby foil pouch ground beef and rice. Half of dinner gets put into the thermos to save for breakfast. Yum! Ozzie is waiting to see if he gets to eat with me! I bet today's dog food gets stale!

Tonight because of the rain I have looked up directions to the nearest grocery store just in case I think I need to leave before my original plan..

That's kind of my usual way of keeping us safe.

When dusk starts to settle in we bring in Ozzie's tie out and close the door.  We then relax with tea and sometimes a book or just enjoying the sunset from the safety of our window filled van. Shades are used as necessary when we are outside of town.

Simply Towns along the way

While driving today I passed through two very interesting towns that was Bouce and Vicksburg Arizona. I think next time I'm in the area I need to stay a little while and check them out

And then a little Hope - and Agila...

On the Road again!

Today is a travel day. ...
Wave if you see me!

Friday, February 20, 2015

A great Simple Friend

Busy project filled day - check!
Drink of water - check
Clean up campsite - check
Supper - check

Relax - ahhh Ozzie has that covered!

Simply Solid Love!

I just keep finding rock solid love in the desert!

It's been happening for a couple months now.

Sometimes you Simply gotta get busy!

I woke up comfortably this morning.
I thought that I would heat water and take a bath...but...stuff just happens sometimes and the day just gets away from me!  :)

Ozzie and I are happily doing stuff at home. You understand, little things that we keep putting off or that just got away from us some other day.

We were out shopping yesterday. Ozzie went into a few stores with me - hardware stores and a Big Lots. He got himself a new "baby" (toy with a squeaker).  While it have been working he's been bringing the baby in and out of the van! 

I think that we are finally relaxing as we sing along with the radio and we are feeling more normal - I know -whatever that means really!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Simply Big Horn Sheep

Soooo - ah - Evelyn you left a day early!

I hope you can see the actual sheep in the pictures from Craggy Wash just now! 3:23 pm

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Some people actually help BLM!

My friends Shane and his daughter Lily have been helping to clean up one of our favorite locations. BLM and Forest Service Rangers often will provide gloves and bags if we will help bag up trash.
I appreciate all the volunteers who quietly help to keep our public lands beautiful and free of trash.
Thanks Shane and Lily!
Please check out his website at:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Simple Campsite in LHC

Craggy Wash in Lake Havasu City is a lovely canyon 14 day stay BLM campsite. Evelyn and I brought the dogs up today and set up a simple campsite.

We wouldn't mind company!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Simply Mind Changing!

Ever since I overheard someone, who is kind of in a leadership role, describe me in what I felt was a negative way to someone who had recently met me as some one who changes their mind a lot. Yea bummer that I walked up behind the leadership guy and he didn't notice. ..of course I backed off and walked away.  I am a self responsible person and check myself  and my thoughts/thought process often. Some will say too often - but hey it hasn't changed very much.  Anyway, for a year, since this happened, I have been noticing the process of mind changing not only in myself but also in others. I have decided that I am fairly normal! Yes I am a creative person and I like to stay busy.

I was recently asked to explain how I could buy and sell the Scamp and change my van from raw plywood with one configuration into Vantucket with a vinyl floor and bead board paneling. They also want to know if I am going to make more changes.

Humans are changing all the time. Especially those of us adventurer and nomadic types. We organize and reorganize our vehicles and thoughts and our bucket lists.  An event will happen or we move to a different location or make a new friend and our perspective will change. Some of us, like me, will reevaluate our stuff or our orgaizational method or our clothes and changes can be seen. Some other people need their daily/monthly/yearly routine or their location to be more stationary. In the world of RVers you can notice this difference in Snowbirds who stay in one area for the summer and another destination in the winter. Some RVers live in RV parks, some Boondock and move monthly some others simply wander.

I know nomadic people who set up seasonal base camps and then come and go from there. At times they even travel great distances to return to their base camp. I like to move to different locations. I'm still exploring the US and actually the world.  I get ready to leave at about 14 days, I can stay put up to three months.  Longer than three months has been painful in my past.

Okay so back to the point. I didn't know how to go about moving back to the US after living in Central America for so many years. I wanted something familiar. I didn't have any connection to a hometown or family members. My own children and I were estranged at that time. We have a phone relationship now. I came up with three ideas of how to get back and get to see the US. I picked one of the ideas and did my best to make it work. Now mind you that I needed help and didn't have people to trust.I could have taken a bus into California and found a way to get to Slab City where I could take time to deal with reverse culture shock and relearn how to maneuver in the US, find a vehicle off Craig's List and then begin my adventures. Now that I have been to the Slabs, I think that may have been a better decision. But I chose differently. Because of that choice that I made, I have my current van. This was not exactly what I was thinking about having AND it is a good van. So I have been making do. Initially I was struggling with some major traumatic stressors including my culture shock. I needed some level of comfort and I was traveling in an area that had unusually ugly weather. I probably would have let most anyone do anything to this van at that point in time. I was in shock and overwhelmed by the entrance to the ACE Hardware store in Blythe that year. And it was on that day that I was expected to make major decisions. Peace Corps workers and Missionaries experience similar situations although they are brought home to a support system prepared to ease them back into the US lifestyle. Please keep in mind that I had no one to turn to or to lean on.  I just kept doing the best I could. I got through that and made the best decisions that I could. Over RTR that year I had help building a raw plywood bed and kitchen of sorts in my van. I lived with it most of that year. It served me well. I was annoyed with the narrow and short bed and found a great solution in a thrift store. By the next RTR, I had been through another traumatic event just one week prior, and arrived in Quartzsite severely depressed with full intention of going to the Isaiah 58 people and asking to be put into the hospital. Instead I stumbled across Bob and the Pre-RTR camp. I met some lovely people who thought that some changes in my van would help me improve. Those changes did help and that experience reminded me of how I love being creative, how I sing when I am happy and how I love being with other creative people. I love turning nothing into something beautiful. ..and then I want to move on and with a new project. I made some pretty stuff that was kewl but that didn't fit my everyday life. So I traded and adjusted things over the year.  And all along I have been making do with a van that I respected as a good sound machine that I never loved - love and vehicles don't have to go together.

Over this past summer I was in and out of the hospital a number of times. Catholic Charities suggested that I get a space in an RV Park until I was better and while it was hot - so I did. At that point I thought that I was doomed to the mystery of being sick and that comfort during my illness was more important than travel.  I began looking at my RV Park neighbors lifestyles and thought it would be good to buy a small travel trailer.

I was not certain that this would be a great solution but I figured it was worth a shot. So I looked for something that was in my tiny budget and was a manageable project that would be an investment that could be resold if needed and not leave me broke. I found the Scamp. I struggled with the project and the people around me and did the whole thing while struggling with my sickness. And then I traveled. And I traveled with a great friend and my new companion Ozzie. Life was improved and improving ... and I got sick - sicker than ever before. I was hospitalized for four days. And I finally know what has been wrong and how to manage it! And then the van broke down and I was facing the potential of $1200 repairs and then Ozzie needed surgery! The investment in the Scamp became my only true solution to the financial crisis. The van repairs were cheaper and Ozzie was fine AND I now had an emergency fund. And the Scamp has a happy new mama.

Sometimes change is necessary. Unexpected. And life-changing.  It may seem that someone is changing their mind more than you might. There often are reasons if we are willing to ask instead of making assumptions. ..besides it's okay to change your mind
Try something different
Just because
Isn't that what adventure is all about?
I hope that the events of my life will stay more stable. I'm so sick of traumatic events. AND I am so much healthier thanks to my doctors help. And I am both less depressed and more active because of Ozzie being in my life. I still don't love this van and I'd probably change vehicles if I won the lottery. Though for now, and until I learn differently, it's the wise decision to continue maintaining the van I have.  Although it would be nice to have a really trusty mechanic only a phone call away!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Simply Food - Dairy without a fridge?

So I met up with a lot of people through the RTR who ask me many questions about food. I've been lovingly dubbed the "fire godess" as well as the Coffee Queen at these annual events.

Questions kept coming up this year about how I manage to live without a refrigerator or cooler. One particular person who is not new to camping was frustrated with coolers and ice and anxious to get an expensive solar system and 12Volt refrigerator. When I asked why they were so anxious about getting this system before their budget could handle that large a purchase. They expressed that they had to have a certain breakfast every day or they don't feel right. I asked about their breakfast choices and made some suggestions. I was a bit surprised that they didn't know 1. what is available and 2. How to store basic food with out refridgeration.  Now keep in mind that I do understand that there can be pleasure from having things that are familiar to us as well as having both hot and cold food or drinks at times.  I like to point people over to Carolyn's blog for wonderful detailed information.

I'm going to share some basic and simple information today about dairy products. Keep in mind that my diet has changed over time and so most likely will yours. I don't use much dairy anymore though I have tried most of these things myself.

My friend has been used to drinking glasses of milk and eating cereal. Perhaps like them you may not be aware of ways to have just that glasses of your favorite kind of milk ir cereals with milk and without a refridgerator!

Milk comes in many forms:
Tetra Paks are long shelf life and can be found in both quart and individual size packages.
Canned - yup like evaporated, or sweetened condensed. Canned coconut milk or cream is becoming more popular as well. Did you know that you can buy canned Goats Milk even in Wal-Mart?
Individual size servings can be bought at fast food and grocery stores in their refrigerator (if you are traveling you can simply let stores keep it cold)
Powder - before you get all "yuk pooy" on me. Check this out there is powered skim milk and whole milk. Nido is a popular brand with both boaters and in Central America. Powdered Goat's milk and coconut milk are now available too. Of course there are Powdered chocolate and flavored milks as well. And powdered coffee creamer.
Individual serving size cups like for coffee creamers.
Okay so perhaps you want very COLD Milk. I'd think about how much simpler it is to clean up and to store cold or icy water than milk. Then I suggest that you try one of the powders to see how it works for you. I tried the Goats Milk and think it is very rich and more like cream. I would use it for some special treat but I don't keep it on hand. Another suggestion is to find some other people who want to try these out and split the cost of s first package.  Okay so that is not for you another way to have the COLD Milk is to buy a small amount that will last only two or three days and wrap it well in newspaper and place inside a cardboard box. Don't open your package until you are ready to use it then take out only what you need and immediately rewrap the remaining portion. This will help but isn't a long term solution - you may be on a savings plan to have a refrigerator in your RV/Van/vehicle!  Last resort is to keep a cooler yes ice is pricey although if you take a gallon Ziploc bag or a small container into a truck stop or gas station mini mart they often will let you fill it for free.

Other dairy items:
Cheese - hard cheeses keep longer than soft ones.You can always do like hikers and trappers and wrap a block of cheese in an outer leaf of cabbage to keep it moist. This works well for Swiss and other hard cheeses. Parmesan cheese travels very well either as a block or powdered in a can.
Butter - only needs to be cold if it has no salt. Buy salted butter.or better yet buy Clarified Butter otherwise known as Ghee!
Yogurt - doesn't spoil as quickly as other dairy products. Although pasturised dairy has a shorter shelf life. I would not worry much about buying and keeping a couple small plain yogurts  without refrigeration.
Sour Cream - can be made from evaporated milk and a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar. See for a recipe.
Ice Cream - unless you like freeze dried ice cream save ice cream for a treat when you are in town or at a restraunt.

I hope this is helpful

Simply Dog Days!

I'm dog sitting!
How's that going?
Ozzie is adjusting - and he is finally learning to protect his own territory in an acceptable way. He growls and then checks with me to see if he is doing the right thing.
Kingston, Sasha and Lexi are missing their owners who needed to fly north to take care of business.
Here's the afternoon gang enjoying some shade.

Simply for Sale

I'm Simply Sharing.
I saw this outside the laundry mat the other morning.

Karen wants a different rig.
Hers is a cute size. Its also very neat and clean. I think that it has been taken care of pretty well. The engine sounds beefy!