Ok, maybe it sounds better when a REAL prospector says it. But nonetheless Brenda and I went prospecting for our own kind of treasure, things we can share with you.
I downloaded a map file for my GPS that showed all the gold mines in Arizona. Now some of the mines are working “claims”. In other words someone owns the mine property and has a claim filed with the Bureau of Land Management to extract gold or other valuable ore. This is important because all of these are private property and the owners do look out for each other. I’ve learned that there are “claim jumpers” even today. This was told to me by Steve Hunt, the owner of Gold Eye Mine. Steve approached us cautiously since we were looking at what I thought was Kellogg Mine.
Once Steve began to see we were not modern day “claim jumpers” he gave me his card and invited us to take pictures of the the site. We talked further and he would be willing to give free tours of the site. Rather than take up his time for just two people, I told him I would put the offer out on social media to come up with a group. GIVE ME A COMMENT BELOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. I’m thinking this would be something fun to do during the RTR in January.
Here’s a link to a video Steve has up telling the history of his mine.
We a had a great time visiting the cabins that were still standing (for the most part) and just poking around looking at what a mine would have looked like.
This is truly proof we live in a small world with all kinds of timelines.
First, let’s go backward in time. [[]] I stopped at an intentional community (Henry Thoreu’s definition) in Tennessee while headed south. This was an open community that more closely resembled extended family. Anyone was welcome there with only a couple “requests”.
The community garden and animals needed tending and everyone was expected to do some part. Nobody ‘assigned’ your part, that was for you to find and decide. The name of this place was “Shut Up and Grow It”. There was some connection to other feed the people groups hence, the grow it part. ### First link to Shut Up ###
As you could see from the blog post a great little place with a mission to allow people to live their lives. Now fast forward a bit to …. [[]] Brenda and I stopped at the same place I had been a year or so ago.
Except this time we were visiting at Christmas time. Our travels were taking us south so why not go west first?
Christmas Eve at “Shut Up and Grow It” was a unique experience. While a number of the the folks there were gone traveling to family.
We were greeted again openly and almost as extended family. Everbody pitched into the evening meal either foodstuffs, cooking expertice, or critique.
And we made friends there that we stay in touch with today.
So what does all this have to do with Oregon 2017, our vanlife, or even the total ecplise?
It goes back to those timelines. You see we returned to the Oregon coast to escape the heat east of Eugene only to realize that the coast area
in the line with the “area of totality” was going to be crazy. At least that was the opinion of all the media and therefore most of the people.
So we fell for it and headed for the forest and back to North Fork in the Suislaw National Forest. We hoped that all the places were not already full of people driven by the same instincts as ours.
[[[ 2017 ]]] We were pleased to find not only was there a space, there was that bus again. Before you go back and look at the above paragraphs searching for a bus reference there isn’t one. We FIRST saw the bus several days ago when we were staying here while headed south down the coast. That’s when the world as a whole shrank in space and time. Now Brenda will tell you I will talk to just about anyone, ok everyone. So, after having spoke to the neighbors one of them comes up to me and says she knows me.
While that was no cause for alarm it did surprise me. She said she recognized the picture of Layla and I on the card I gave to one of the travellers in their group.
(I have a suspicion it was Layla she recognized.)
It had been a little more than three years, she had longer hair back then and was holding a baby about 6mos. old. It was Jen from the “Shut Up and Grow It” community! Now the five kids were all much bigger and the 6mo old was a curly-headed delight riding a bike. You see, the timelines crossed and then crossed again, this time on the other side of the country. Since we’ve spent a night or two in casino parking lots what are the odds of running into people like that.
AND, even larger, recognizing someone you ran into on a chance meeting. (OK,ok, I know it was Layla’s eyes.)
It was great fun to run into Chris and Jen again. Their bus had been painted, the kids had grown much bigger, my van was totally different, and I was no longer traveling alone. We were all amazed at how things had lined up to bring our paths back together.
This meeting renewed my faith in our travels and in our guidance through this big old universe. I learned that Patrick had changed the name of the place to “The Garden”.
The name change may have helped with garnering a little more local support.
[[[ 2018 ]]] So I guess this means we now have a 2018 destination to “etch into the Jello” of our plans. https://www.facebook.com/shutupandgrowit/
So more than a **Flashback Friday** we moved back forth along a timeline that ties us all together.
My usual tagline is flavored this time with good memories in the past and to be made in the future.
We’ve been on the road full-time for over two months now. And loving it! Which explains partly why this blog is so far behind in posts. You see we’ve been so busy living the life I’ve been just a little negligent writing about the life. I’ll try to do better.
We left Kennesaw Mountain and stayed with a cousin overnight who cooked a wonderful meal. And, later stayed at his place in Florida that included it’s own little swamp.
Then headed elsewhere in Florida to catch up with some other van-dwellers roaming around in the warm weather. At Goose Pasture, Layla and Libby had a lot of fun playing and digging. Yes, that’s our dirty-faced girl.And we caught up with Cuzzin’ Dyck there along with Trisha. The time at Goose Pasture camp was good. It also allowed me to catch a few sound bites for a future project. I’ll drop the hint that it’s another meditation audio track based on this clip from a friend. Click hear for a taste… Forest flute extended.
We moved from there to a piece of private property and then on to stay nearer the coast. Once again since our plans are always “etched in jello” even that changed. We made a stop at another vandwellers nicely wooded lot and enjoyed seeing Robert again.
Time to “leapity leap” as Brenda says…
I think our next stop was… who am I fooling? I honestly don’t remember.
We cruised the Gulf coast of Florida on the way to Fort Mims, Alabama to meet up with some real characters. These guys are some of the historic actors that present living history at various places and events.
And that’s where I’m going to pick up next time.
Brenda and I found this unique place while taking a day trip during the GTG in Ala. This place definitely caught our interest as we drove by…
Wooden mules driving the Tin Man…
A whole army of Tin Men… Including a “Lineman for the county”
What about a monkey wrench with a “Baby Monkey Wrench”? He built this in response to a conversation with Larry the Cable Guy. Speaking of ‘critters…
There were green alligators and pink flamingos. And they were all hanging out around the windmill.
Now before you accuse me of picking the wrong mushrooms from the forest, let me explain. Brown’s Folk Art is a real place and he actually sells some of his pieces. He also has treehouse cabins to rent up on the mountain behind his “open air museum”. You can visit his Facebook page here at Brown’s FolkArt to see some pictures and learn more about this unique place, or give him a call at 256.437.1114.
That about wraps up one stop on our “day trip”. Next time we’ll take a look at some abandoned quarry/mine pictures and a historic railroad stop.
Today during the GTG (that’s Get ToGether) at Raccoon Creek Wildlife Mgmt Area in northeast Alabama I got the chance to examine Gypsy Jane’s portable hammock stand. Now having seen it, and lusted after it on the internet, it was real exciting to see it put up.
She made this setup herself out of a couple of different sizes of EMT conduit. The pieces simply slip together to form the stand from a package small enough to be carried in her van.
The tripods are made from 1″ conduit with “eyebolts” in each leg, tied together with a shackle. The shackle also supports the spreader pole and the hammock.
As you can see Jane is tying hammock to the spreader bar. The spreader bar is used to keep the hammock stretched out. She told me it’s best to make it out of two pieces each of 1″ and 3/4″ conduit. The reason for this is the bar needs to be about 15′ long and conduit is sold in 10′ lengths. she slides the 3/4″ piece inside the 1″ piece, being sure to offset the joints for strength.
As you can see here she’s living large set up in an open field with no trees.
Since her hammock has an insect net zippered onto it, all she needed was a rain fly for a complete shelter.
I’ll do some more catching up in the next day or two, laptop battery is going down and I’ll have to charge it tomorrow. We had rain here today so it was overcast and the solar wasn’t kicking in so well.
We left off cooking breakfast and talking about the resources these guys were developing. So let’s look at a few more things around the “farm”, like a couple of buildings… and of course the mud. Though it wasn’t raining most of the time we were there it had rained for days before. And we dodged the front edge of the storm as we headed east.
The community shower is supplied with solar heated water from a large container up the hill. So that gives them probably 40′ or more drop to build real good water pressure. And the Tennessee winters help to conserve water since the showers are open.
Another aspect of off-grid living is dealing with your own waste. They have three outhouses on site. Let me explain, it’s not that there’s that much poop, but you do have to rotate these things. One is closed, one is covered over with the house removed and one is a very fine “two-seater”. The ladies side is a little more enclosed for privacy than the guys. What can I say?
So as time marches on the building of new things continues…
This is the community learning center that is being built. You know those old tires that are just thrown away or cost a disposal charge? That pile to the right is the beginning of a “rammed-earth” wall. There were several examples of renewable or re-usable technology here. The conversations in the kitchen and around the campfire reflected the ideas and dreams of where this community is headed. The children are being home-schooled with “traditional” education and learning a better way by living their lives with those that love and teach them. They had a library stocked with all manner of books from fiction to philosophy to “how-to” books on building and farming. One of the two geodesic domes that I pictured in the first part is serving as a green house to extend the harvest.
And everywhere you look you find expressions of life by the people that are here living it. From little things hanging in the trees, to the painting of sayings, to just the amount of art that pops up everywhere.
And yes there does seem to be a theme…”Shut Up!” I think that too many times people speak about things that they have not yet tried and so their words echo the hypocrisy of their world view. Here at this place, the world view is lived out not just talked about. There is also the association with “Shut Up and Eat It” an organization that uses a mobile kitchen to provide meals across the country.
To close this post I want to say that Brenda and I are really looking forward to visiting again a little later in the year when the crops are in and I hope we can help them with some of the things going on. Here’s a link to their website… Shut Up and Grow It
Back to our travels, it’s time to leave this library and get back on the road. I’ve got a couple of things to do to the van today since I finished the solar panel hookup at the beach yesterday. Yeah, yeah that’s a plan let’s go back to the beach!
Ok, I’ve not kept up the blog quite as well as could be expected. But that’s just it, life’s full of the unexpected! There actually is someone cut from the same cloth as I am.
So, that is what has happened. Layla and I will be travelling with our new companions. So now you’ll be seeing Brenda and Liberty (her fur-baby) included in the travels and adventures of Dan and Layla.
I met Brenda in the desert in January at a gathering of vandwellers and nomads. We kept in touch throughout the year until she came and joined us a month ago. And within that month’s time the Gypsy Woman and the Nomad Man have managed to travel about 1400 miles, have a moonlight dinner on the beach, explore old forts, and visit historic Savannah. So things have been a little busy and I’ve let you guys just guess at what’s going on. Now I’ll clue you in.
At Thanksgiving Brenda and I loaded up the pups and headed for St. Augustine Florida to have dinner with some of my family. Of course after dinner we took the leftovers we packed and headed to the beach. Nothing like a moonlit dinner on the beach.
The next day we took to St Augustine to explore the Oldest City and take in a few sights. But only after these two girls got to see the beach and play.
That’s our two “girls”, and yes they have become the best of sisters. They played and played and then napped that evening.
We actually did leave the beach, I mean how much sun and fun can two people handle??
We toured the lighthouse museum then actually climbed all those steps to the top, 165 feet high.
We took in the the fort Castillo de San Marco
I’m gonna give you a link here to Brenda’s blog where she posted some pictures of the fort. Click Here and Visit: “The Sunny Side” She did a really great job of capturing the feel and presence of the fort. Besides, she also maintains a great blog.
I’m stopping for tonight, we head out south and west in the morning to go visit a place I was at back in 2014. “Shut Up and Grow It” is and intentional community I stayed at for a few days back then. They have grown and we are excited to go check on them.
So, we’re going to bed and try to get some sleep and rest for the next adventure starting in the morning.
So the last post I presented getting out and a little bit about learning to be safe. Not just safe in your person but also a little about helping to save the environment you explore.
But first… Let me tell you that I include many links in my blog. Please take the time to explore them because I provide them as a road map to more information and adventures.
So go get your adventure buddy and let’s get started. Today we are hiking down to Gray’s Arch in the Red River Gorge located within the Daniel Boone National Forest. This is near the beginning of the trail to Gray’s Arch. The trail head also has a couple of picnic tables and two vault toilets.
Gray’s Arch is a little over a mile on this trail. As with most of the trails in the Gorge it is a loop, so you can extend your hike by simply coming back on the other side of the loop.
Expect to hike under moderate canopy on even terrain on the first portion of this trail. But then the trail crosses a bridge to another ridge and starts downward.
When you cross the bridge you’ll actually be in open sky and sunlight. But that won’t last very long the trail starts it’s downward leg to the base of the arch. WATCH YOUR FOOTING. There are many places to step on rocks and over roots that are on the trail. Speaking of rocks, you’ll see many interesting formations along the way to the arch. The sharp edge features in the rock faces were must likely carved by wind and sand before the vegetation grew up to provide cover from the wind.
Yet there was another force at work in this forest, Water produced many of the rounded features we find in stone.
And water there is, at Gray’s Arch that day the amount of water vapor hanging in the air from the water falling off the top of the arch made it feel much cooler. In fact I had been carrying my little Nikon CoolPix camera in my pocket and had to wait because the moisture was condensing on the lens.
Just how far did the water fall? I’ve heard the arch is 79 feet tall, but here’s a picture to help put into perspective some of the size of this spot…
Since we went down to the base of the arch, we gotta go back up.
Going down these stairs was much easier than coming back up. But up we must climb. There’s very few places to set camp even if you’re camping in a hammock. So we hiked about halfway back out to find a camp spot.
No need to be in too big of a hurry…. are there Hobbits in there Layla?
We found a spot and set camp, not a very big spot, but Home Sweet Home. So now it’s time to rest…
I must have really wore her out because I had a real sleepyhead the next morning.
Sad to see this trip coming to an end…
But I’ve got to go back to work. I’m glad I got to bring you along.
Yes I know that’s what comes at the end. But this weekend made me realize perhaps that’s where I should start this time.
If you guessed the permit station for the Red River Gorge you’re right. When given the chance to go somewhere for the weekend this is a good place to “Get Out”. Stop here buy your permit for 1-day or 3-day use (only a few bucks) the funds go to help with the continuing care and development of the Gorge. Yes, there is a fee. Because this beautiful forest has more than 40,000 visitors a year walking through it’s beauty. With that much traffic we have to be good stewards of what’s been created for our pleasure.
Because we are such a mobile people moving freely from one place to another we can bring about change very quickly with little or no effort. The ecosystems around the world have reached a state of balance through time. As visitors to these we can inadvertently upset that balance and lead to the setback or even destruction of a system. Whether it’s forest, desert, seashores, or swamps, nature has balanced and nurtured those things within. We must maintain a watch over what we bring when we visit. Some forest areas right now have lost millions of ash trees to an invasive insect, the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetle larvae can reside in the firewood brought from another location. Another example is the “white nose syndrome” that is killing bats in some of the caves around the country. The impact of this invasive is as much as a 80% reduction of bats in some areas. That’s why there are “shoe wash stations” at most all of the public caves now. Just like the “brush station” above, the simple act of removing invasive species from our shoes helps to protect the forest. So, learn what you can do to protect the area you “GetOut” into and yourself.
This is one of several world-class rock climbing locations. Because there are many verticals and even negative angle cliffs to enjoy. However, not paying attention or acting irresponsibly can lead to one becoming a statistic of the Gorge. There are 1-3 people a year that die from falls in the Gorge. Stay on the main trails, explore camping areas off trail carefully, don’t get drunk in the Gorge, get high on the beauty not drugs, and if you get up in the night don’t wander without a good light.
While falls are by far the large cause of fatalities, encounters with wild life can lead to problems. Stings and bites are the highest number of injuries from encounters with the wildlife. But let’s face it, even though an allergic reaction to a sting or bite can be fatal, nothing grabs the news more than a good old-fashion bear. While these guys can be interesting to see and watch just remember you’re standing in “their yard”. Here’s an account of one such encounter… Victim describes bear attack; Red River Gorge is closed
Having educated ourselves on how to protect ourselves and nature let’s “Go Adventure”….
But that will be the next post. 😉
I didn’t want to set the wrong tone for the story of our trip to Gray’s Arch. AND, I’ve got to get a few things together to continue work on the “Vome” in the morning. If you haven’t been following the build out of the new “Vehicle hOME” then click on the drill down arrow in the menu bar at the top.
When I say “alone” it’s only because my faithful travel companion couldn’t come with me. However I had the support of my friends, co-workers, family and my vanily the entire adventure.
Perhaps I should explain that this was an unplanned but definitely not uneventful adventure. Monday morning around 5:00 in the morning I had a heart attack. While this was not the first time I felt the symptoms it was the time the I chose to act.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been awakened twice before with a pain in the center of my chest behind the sternum. Like so many of the patients I responded to as a Firefighter/EMT, I tried to pass it off. “Damn, I gotta stop eating spicy food after midnight.” The second time I argued with myself that this isn’t really what a “heart attack” feels like. I didn’t think I had an “elephant standing on my chest” or any of the ridiculous sounding terms for the tight feeling that I really was experiencing. Perhaps the anxiety kept me from noticing any light tingling in my fingers or maybe that was just the denial. You see even that denial can almost be counted as one of the symptoms of a heart attack… WARNING SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK. (Please follow this link)
So when the third time in two weeks rolled around I only argued with myself a short while. No sense in beating a dead horse, pun intended. ( Hey, I’ve never claimed to be the fastest horse in the race.) But when I finally listened to my heart, figuratively speaking i didn’t break out my old ‘scope, I got myself to the ER.
The Doc there “ran a strip” and nothing really showed up, things looked OK. But, the blood work came back with slightly elevated enzymes that might indicate some damage or distress.
There was a quick decision made I would be going to the University of Kentucky heart cath lab. (My second only ride looking between my feet out the back door of an ambulance.)
On the way there I pondered what many of the patients I’ve loaded into ambulances must have been thinking. “Am I really ‘this’ bad”, “how am I gonna break this to my family or friends”, “what happens next” and for me it suddenly struck home the role many of us in the fire service have played. The questions are out of fear of the unknown and losing control of things in our lives. And, at times even the knowledge this could be the end of our life.
For me I knew that it probably wasn’t the end but what lay ahead? when I arrived at the Gill Heart Institute heart cath lab things happened very quickly at that point. Within what seemed like 30 minutes or less I was being put on the table in the procedure room. These people really know their stuff and the importance of acting quickly. This gave me a certain level of confidence everything was gonna be alright. I was treated with human dignity and not just a “procedure”. My hat’s off to these folks.
Around the next turn was a nursing staff and support group that made me actually feel the need to explain to some that I really was in a hospital not hotel. Their attention and tending to my needs was just that of a 5 star hotel. Plus the food was really good! I kind of hated missing supper on Tuesday. Not only was the staff excellent all of the equipment they used appeared to be top-notch and new. The echo cardiogram really impressed me.
Alright, no jokes about whens my due date. That’s my heart from one of many angles it was recorded. And video taken…
It was still a stay in a hospital, and had it not been for the texts, messages and yes even the Facebook chats I would have been really bored. As it were I sat perched in the window several times watching the world eight floors beneath. I now also have a new appreciation for the times Layla is simply laying on the bed staring out the window when I’m reading and not actively playing with her.
I was released Tuesday evening the next day after my heart attack. Seems incredible that so much could have happened in less than 48hrs. I’m sitting here writing this post and still experiencing a certain emotional roller coaster ride. Oh I’m not upset or fearful, far from it. I’m thankful for making a good decision, being treated by highly qualified and compassionate people, feeling the thoughts and prayers of so many, and being able to reach over and pet my companion.
Please share this post in many places. I make that request hoping that maybe someone will make a similar good choice. Don’t delay investigating when things “just don’t seem right”. I didn’t and I’m glad.