From Pines to Palms and Pondering In-Between

Once upon a time, I sat at my desk and wondered what it would be like to have little responsibility, no deadlines, unlimited time, and vague directions.  Now that I am living that dream, I gotta tell you – it is a little daunting…and very fun!

FreedomIn my last post, Untethered, I left the North Yellowstone Lodge and Hostel without a clear plan.  I knew I had to get back to Colorado to get rid of the rest of my furniture and remove my treasures from storage…but beyond that, I didn’t have a clue.

From Yellowstone in September to beautiful San Diego in November, the journey has been laced with warm family ties, heartfelt friendships, and spirit-enriching events.  I invite you to grab a cup of tea and join me as I travel from summer into winter and ponder the solitary (but not lonely) life on the road.IMG_3120

This was the picture in my rearview mirror as I left the Hostel

#1.  The question of “Why am I here?” or “What is my purpose?” doesn’t seem as relevant as it did a few years ago.  Instead, I wonder “Where am I?” and “How do I get back on the right road?”IMG_3112#2. The van isn’t equipped with a bathroom so the question of where to “go” depends on where you can find proper accommodations. I’ve been in all sorts of bathrooms but none as pretty as this one. Livingston is a quaint little town that won my heart this summer.  IMG_3123

This rainbow almost landed in the back of the van at Buffalo Bill State ParkBuffalo Bill State Park near Cody, WY. 

#3.  Sometimes a silly feeling – I think they call it happiness- washes over me.  I don’t know where it comes from…maybe the sheer joy of seeing new sights, the freedom of travel or happening upon a random rainbow?  It just bubbles to the surface once in awhile as a reminder that I am on the right path (maybe not the right road, but who cares?)  It’s a good feeling.  Let me know when/if/how it hits you.  

#4.  Life is a matter of perspective.  You get to choose which view is right for you.  (Insiders tip: it’s all made up anyway) ‘Nuf said.  (Arches NP). 

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I felt at home in Moab UT,  especially around the library.  


My soul still belongs to the mountains.  Here’s one of my favorites – Mt. Sopris near Carbondale, CO.

After a month of couch surfing in Colorado, I caught a jet-stream heading south toward warmer weather and just in time to spend Thanksgiving with my son, Jason, daughter-in-law Cara and her parents, Arnold and Geri in San Diego.  Woo Hoo!  A plan…sort of…and more thoughts.

IMG_3238This rocky trail leads to some petroglyphs in Mesa Verde National Park

#5.  I trust my instincts now more than ever.  If a situation doesn’t feel right I make a quick U-turn and go the other way.Spruce Tree House - Mesa Verde

Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park was only inhabited for 100 short years.  Where did they all go and why?  Craig Childs has a fascinating theory in his book House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest

#6.  As I got ready to leave Colorado, I kept wondering when my adventure was going to start. Did it begin a year ago when I found the van?  Last June when I left for Oregon? July when I started working at the hostel?  When I left Montana? The day I headed out of Denver bound for California? Tomorrow?  It is an odd thing to sort out.Spider Rock II

Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly is over 800′ high and stands guard over the people who still live on the valley floor.  

#7.  Benchmark Maps, a compass, the sun, Google maps, and the Ultimate Campgrounds app are my navigational devices…and I still manage to go the wrong way once in awhile.  I’ll spare you the long trip (and many U-turns) of my travels thus far and instead show you the highlights of the National Parks and Monuments I have visited over the past few weeks.

If you go to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in the fall, it is easy to cross the creek to get to the dunes.  It is a wilderness area so you can walk/hike/jog/surf and play until you get so tired you can’t wiggle anymore.  

The icy winds of November close some of the ruins in  Mesa Verde National Park, but you will have most of the parking lots and below-the-rim views all to yourself.  Plan to spend more than a day, there is a lot to see!

These cliff dwellings remind me of a face with watchful eyes protecting the spirits of Canyon De Chelly National Monument.  Go in October and schedule a tour with one of the Native guides to visit below the rim – it will be well worth your time.

The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park are combined in one area that stretches for miles.  One end is graced with the colorful hills reminiscent of Navajo blankets and pottery; the other side is littered with thousands of age-hardened trees bearing the colors and beauty of the minerals that turned wood to stone.Joshua Tree 3.jpg

Cottonwood Wash near the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park offered nice hiking trails and perfect weather.

This gigantic pine was my neighbor at Pinezanita Campground and RV Park near Julian, CA.  Later in the day, I was basking in the setting sun and marveling at the Birds of Paradise and palm trees at Jason and Cara’s former home in San Diego.  (They recently moved to a cool condo in town, so I get to camp out in their driveway.) IMG_3319   Here’s the view from Jason and Cara’s new condo along the Pacific Highway overlooking San Diego Bay – what a great spot to live (and visit)!

A few final thoughts before I go…

#8.  Be sure to choose whatever is colorful, meaningful and magic in your life because you never know who (or what) you might run into!

Big Horn Sheep - CNM

Bighorn sheep in the Colorado National Monument

#9.  A big THANK YOU  goes out to friends and family who helped me un-clutter my life, shuttle vehicles, stash the “stuff” I couldn’t part with, keep my car safe this winter, buy me food, give me a warm bed to sleep in, provide hot showers and laundry facilities. I love you all! thank you

I also appreciate you, dear reader, for your kind comments and words of encouragement.  You are a wonderful reminder of the support surrounding me on this journey.  I couldn’t do it without you!

#10.  At some point, I have to stop editing this post and hit the “publish” button.  I’ve been working on it way too long, so here goes.  Stay tuned as I explore more of California and Arizona.  If you get a  hankering to head south for the winter, be sure to let me know.  It would be fun to meet in a new-to-us territory. 

strange landscape

8 Comments on “From Pines to Palms and Pondering In-Between

  1. There is no beginning and no end to adventure, it lives within us – no matter how we choose to have it show up. I love the choices you are making for yours!!! Keep us posted, I just might join you for a few days in the warm. lots of love and big hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so good to hear from you! You are so right about the adventure being a continuous loop. Let me know when you are headed this way – it would be great to see you!


  2. You are too much
    Love reading and seeing your amazing pictures. But it is your wonder positive outlook on life that really warms my heart. Keep on the good path and of course writing about it.
    It was great seeing you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Once again Nice job on recapping your adventures And thoughtfully well placed photos along your journey ,It is so easy to live vicariously through your blog Gives us all That are tied down a little free spirit ,The only thing thats probly Daunting Is The traffic out there ,But I’m sure you’ve got that beat by be able to kick it down some side road instead of the well beaten path by the commuter ,Relax and enjoy thanks for keeping us Posted .

    Best regards

    Your bro 🏖


    • Ha! You are right about the traffic. I try to avoid the Interstates when possible – unless, of course, my phone wonks out and the only way I can find my way back is to depend on a paper map. 🙂


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