Pancakes



This morning, we had pancakes packed with plant protein. We cooked them up at our campsite on our cast iron pan heated with coconut butter. We added walnuts. I smothered mine with Nutella. My partner had his with applesauce and honey. So good!  

I've been getting eaten up by mosquitoes during the evenings and early mornings since we are parked in a shady damp area on a horse ranch. The ranch hosts horse campers. Right now, there is a beautiful black friesian and a quarter horse with a flaxen mane and tail in the paddocks. I haven't had a chance to take photos of the pair yet.  

It's quiet here. Most of the people camped right now are surfers. I can see their wet suits hanging on the line. There are also tent campers with small tents perched on the top of their jeeps with a ladder leading up, and sports fishermen taking advantage of the trout at the river nearby.

I am feeling far away from the pandemic unless I read the news. Here. Most people are good about wearing their masks indoors and the visitors we watch are taking advantage of the hiking, biking, surfing, fishing, and adventuring activities surrounding us. I believe spending as much time outdoors is the best way to beat the virus.

Yesterday evening, I watched at least twenty pelicans forcefully dive head first into the crystal blue bay scooping up fish, than settling into groups to eat their catch on top of the water. This afternoon, five minutes from camp,  the sea is calm, the foghorn blows intermittently in the distance, the seagulls stand watch for food scraps and the pelicans are napping with their heads tucked under. 

I am finding my stride living this life that is so unpredictable with constant change.


Beachcombing


Yesterday, we went beach combing. Beach combing is a search for something of value. I looked for starfish. My partner looked for sea glass. I took off my sandals and walked in the warm tidal waters searching under rocks for creatures who are revealed when the tide is out. I lost myself in the world of salt, water, and life. In this world, there were no bills, no pandemic, no fires and no fears.

While I was searching for starfish, a group of young women with golden sun colored hair asked me if I was local, I responded I was not and asked them where they were from. They said "Utah". And asked me if jellyfish sting if they step on them by accident. I said "I believe they do". It was one of the few conversations I have had during this time with someone besides my partner and family. Each conversation with a stranger is precious. Every connection seems more important than the past where conversation and connection were taken for granted before the pandemic.

The young women from Utah pointed me in the direction of three starfish they found closer to the sea. Heading that direction, my partner called out that he found a half dried out starfish. I found the starfish he pointed out to me. She was clearly still alive but not in a good condition. I picked her up and found a safe tidal pool and place her on a rock submerged in the saltwater. You can see her in the picture above. She seemed to come back to life and I hope she made it.

Later, I joined my partner and searched for sea glass. Beach combing is not a hobby I intended on cultivating or even thought much about. Now. I understand why people do it. When your intention is focused on finding a treasure instead of the busyness that invades ones mind, you can find a peace beyond that crazy making that happens in the head. A deep silence permeates. Yesterday, beach combing was the longest stretch of peace I have had in a long while.

Going back to the tidal pools, while I was looking under barnacle covered rocks, I heard a big splash and turned around to see an Osprey catch a fish within three feet of me. He clutched the fish with deadly claws, grasping the fins on the fish's back almost giving the illusion of the fish still swimming in the air instead of flying to his death. The osprey flew circles around us spiraling higher and higher disappearing into the sky. The death was brutal and shocking. And fascinating at the same time. 

The last few weeks being on the road have been a mixed bag of adventure, freedom, emotionally and physically demanding and soul searching. The Pandemic is creating so many shape shifting, and changing conditions, it's difficult to navigate. What direction does one take in these times?  How long do we have? Where will our choices find us?

To keep myself sane which is not easy in crazy times, I focus on what is in front of me. I stay in the present moment. I try to be kind and live fully. I remember life is like sailing. There are sunny days that can quickly turn to turbulent waters. 

It is all about the navigation and enjoying the sun when it is here and facing the storm until you see the light again. 




Yes


Waking Up




This was the view yesterday when I woke up from the van. Surrounded by a grove of Redwood Forest. We didn't have wireless for a couple of days so I was off the internet. 

I had time to walk the redwoods and read my book about a Canadian woman who loses herself romantically in Iran while on a culinary adventure. 

The photo above showing the view from our van doesn't tell the whole story,  just the pretty part. I actually had a major panic attack hyperventilating,  feeling I was trapped. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't get comfortable in the van and the more I tried to ignore my fear of sleeping in the van confined, the more panic set in. With incredible support from my partner,  we opened windows,  I changed sleeping sides and was able to move through it. It wasn't easy. Panic attacks are challenging to say the least.

I want to live this life, so I need to work through the challenges.  One by one.

The forest was magical as forests are. This morning I am sipping on my McDonald's coffee. We are headed for a week stay at a horse ranch.

Will be in touch soon.






Pines



Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.

John Muir

Perspective



 
This morning, we hiked up a pretty steep hill. My body slowed down and I was breathing really hard until we reached the top. It was a struggle at times. It was worth it for this view.

At the top was a picnic table.  I sat and watched a vulture circle the sky casting his shadow on the sunny hillside. Sitting still for several minutes, we watched a herd of deer appear from the woods following the railroad tracks to a clearing. Two of the white tails scouted, one in the front with one bringing up the back, the two adolescents cradled in the middle.

The ground squirrels skittered about keeping a wary eye for Raptors, while I looked for black bears and mountain lions.  No sightings yet.

Following a trail with gorgeous pines, we spent time at a fish pond watching the dragonflies in pairs fly across the green water.

Last night,  I stayed up long enough to star gaze. It was magical.  We kept the tarp off the tent so we could watch the stars from our sleeping area inside. I haven't seen a night sky like that for years. Too much light pollution where I lived before our adventure.  I miss the night sky.

I am falling in love with pines especially the ones circling our campsite.  Being on the road all of the time can be exhausting at times. Being in nature makes up for the challenges. 




Camp Set Up


Camp is set up. It's too nice to sleep in the van tonight.  When we got here, it was really hot. We both got dizzy from the heat setting up camp. We took a break in the middle to eat a high protein granola bar and drink water. Important to hydrate!

We missed swimming and we are going to skip a campfire tonight. I think part of us is wearing down. I'm tempted to rent a cute furnished studio in a town a few hours north of here, but my heart wants to stay on the road for now.  And my partner has his dreams.  Relationships are challenging.  I'm used to being single most of my life. I am learning the fine art of compromise and communication in relationship. It doesn't come easy for me. 

This evening after having veggie quesadillas for dinner, I watched 6 squirrels chase each other, box (they wrestled like pros), greet each other with kisses and scavenge the camps. Sometimes they forgot I was here continuing the antics within a couple of feet of my chair.


They kept me entertained during a bout of deep felt loneliness for family and friends.

After, I cleaned up what I had energy to tackle, I admired this tree standing tall in the straw grassy dip in the golden hills.

Trees have such pure and bold presence.  I want to stay up late and star gaze. We will see if I can stay awake.




Eating Well on the Road




Eating healthy on the road is important. However,  we do run through a fast food enterprise for my one cup of coffee every morning habit if we hit the road early. Otherwise I brew my coffee when we are camping and I have a kettle for the inexpensive motels we stay in. 

You can't beat the $1 coffee at McDonald's any size when we are on the road. It's my go to, better than Starbucks in my opinion. 

Last night, we had fresh homemade tacos with lots of veggies and avocado.  I devoured three! 

We are on the road heading to our next destination.  We always wear masks, keep social distance and sanitize.  Its challenging living on the road, but with housing being so unaffordable in California,  this is an opportunity to live simply and adventure during a rough time for many.

Will be in touch soon!


Traveling Budget



Jumping into van living, I was caught off guard. We've been planning to live this way on the road for quite awhile. Who knew a pandemic would come along and throw us out here sooner than we planned for. I didn't quite get a handle on the finances before we left.  Keeping the travel budget frugal is critical. Over spending on hotels, food, fuel and personal luxuries defeats the purpose of my ideals. Which include living simply, touching the Earth gently, being as free as possible, working jobs I believe in and that I am doing for the experience, not just the money...and living the experience of being nomadic instead of living in sticks and bricks.

I review our budget everyday including daily outgoing expenses. Right now, we are too high on lodging. The campsites we have chosen are on the high end. This morning, I spent several hours researching less expensive campsites on National Forest Land, BLM, and USDA land. There is a lot to choosing the right camping areas while we explore job opportunities in the areas we are traveling to.  

Our outgoing expenses on food are right on target. Since, we left over two weeks ago, I have dropped one size, losing weight by eating simply and not snacking while watching televison in bed. I am walking, hiking, and moving my body more. Fixing a meal is not as simple and yet it is simple!

I am finding the less expensive foods are the healthiest. Oatmeal with granola and fruit in the morning. Lunch is combined into an early dinner with lots of fresh veggies added to rice or pasta. Ramen is our friend.

Back in the day when I had discretionary income, I took my mom on a 7 day trip to Tahiti. On the island of Moorea, my mom and I indulged in french cheese, baguettes, oysters, raw fish marinated in coconut milk, and expensive Tahitian Luaus.  On the island, we met a couple vacationing from New Jersey. The husband was a janitor at the high school and his wife stayed home. On a tight budget, they traveled Internationally twice a year and loved the adventure of visiting different countries. During our time in Tahiti, we watched them avoid the dining area and expensive restaurants, choosing to eat spaghetti and packages of oatmeal and ramen they prepared in their bungalow looking out on the teal water surrounding the exquisite coral reefs. 

I admit I was snooty at the time and looked down on their eating habits. 

Today, I completely get it!  

I do indulge a bit, but not as close to what I spent in the past on food and luxuries. For me, the eggs I purchased from a flock of leghorns I visited everyday and the smoked salmon caught and prepared in Sasquatch country are treats along the journey that complete the richer story of our adventure. Most of the time, we eat pasta, ramen and oatmeal like my traveling friends I met in Tahiti twenty years ago.

And I do not feel deprived.

This morning, I write my blog where I can smell saltwater and feel the breeze of the sea. If I could travel along the coast with short stints in the desert, I would be content for the rest of my life. But. Forests and waterfalls are pulling us forward. I believe we have our next destination in mind to explore.

On our way here, I don't want to forget the young farm workers, some of them children bent waist forward with backs rounded picking vegetables and fruit in the green fields near the road we traveled. Last night I ate food picked from their hands. I can't imagine the back breaking labor or having to work in the fields before school or all day in the summers.  We passed by the white buses and dusty trucks that carried them forward to their work day. Many of us here still possess the luxury of choice in how we are going to live and there are many of us that don't.

Today, I honor those that have limited choices.


By the way, I am off social media and feeling good about my decision. I prefer living in the real world instead of the alternate reality in social media. I want to know real flesh and blood people and see their spirits for myself. Still, I would love to share my writing. If you think my writing is valuable, please share it out there.  And please send me comments. It gets a little lonely here not knowing if you are out there or not.

Will be in touch soon:)


Pit Stop



For the last couple of days we've been at a cheap motel off Hwy 20 and I-5 inland California.  It's been a cool 102 degrees each day. Cool to mean, we have AC.

We stopped here to reorganize for camping in the Sierras, but now we have changed thought and are undecided this morning as to where we are headed. 

These are the days of van living and being nomadic after losing our affordable housing during the pandemic.  We intended on hitting the road before COVID in a van camping our way across country. During shelter in, the universe kicked us out of the nest semi prepared and immediately uprooted.

We have a van, generous camping supplies and adventurous spirits to see us through. 

At our stop here, at a motel that reminds us of lodging on Route 66, I found the best Mexican Food I have ever had outside of Mexico.  Lots of flavor without the smothering of cheese and sour cream to hide the  Americanized version. Homemade tortillas holding .99 cent tacos that melted in your mouth exploding with flavor. I will remember our dinner last night for years to come. A huge feast for $12 in this dusty farm town. 

And at the farm stand, raspberries so sweet, they tasted of perfumed candy. We ate them straight out of the bag, licking our lips before landing at this horseshoe motel in the heat of the day.

I'm off social media and I'm reorganizing my YouTube channel.  Please share this blog if you think anyone is interested in our story.

Thank you.

I will be in touch soon.


Pacific Ocean Alone



Yesterday after my hike through Indian Ceremonial Grounds. We are temporarily staying on tribal lands with permission. I sat on the river's end by myself.  I think this is one of the few times I have had the beach to myself.  The California beaches tend to be overcrowded in the Northbay.

For an hour I watched the pelicans,  they look so prehistoric! They swooped and dived fishing the waters, than preened and fluffed their feathers before napping on the crystal clear waters. 

It has been quite the journey looking for new job opportunities and affordable places to live. I am excited exploring new territory. 

I've uploaded several videos complimenting my blog on my YouTube channel. You can find it by searching YouTube under Janet Travels Here. Please like my videos and subscribe, free of course. I enjoy making them and I believe they are improving.

That's it for now. Today is laundry day. It's pretty foggy and misty today with a high of 64.


On my walk today



Amazing wildflowers on my walk this morning. 
Nature's jewelry 


No Bears




Yesterday we walked a trail leading to the river. The young circle of witches camping the night before saw black bears.

We whistled and talked along the berry laden path. I hoped to see bears on the other side of the river. I haven't seen a bear yet and I didn't see one on this hike.

The river was clear with reflecting ripples of water fed by great falls hours north.
Last night we watched a bandit raccoon ransack a vintage trailer.  He crawled underneath, a stealth mechanic removing who knows what while the owners were gone.

Next door two young women oblivious to the visitor next door fixed fancy drinks under their canopy covered in Disneyland lights with a queen size princess bed to match tucked in their tent.

You would think the country is depressed and at arms with each other.
Camping tells a different story.