Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lazy Sunday

I haven't been home in months for a Sunday so I decided to remind myself why I live here. I drove to the water and to the local farmer's market to see what I've missed the past four months of being on the road.

Everything is the same.

I love going to the farmer's market and seeing all of the fresh produce for sale. There is something about buying directly from the person that grew the veggies. It's almost like you have your own garden without all of the work.

I took Max to visit his pals that were up for adoption. In July, I was strolling along the same farmer's market when I saw Max and decided to take him home with me. Little did he know that he was in for the ride of his life across the country.

Seeing the other dogs for adoption made me a bit sad since I wanted to take all of them home. I think he remembered some of his old friends but most of the dogs seemed new. The best part was watching a few being adopted.

So, we explored the farmers market and looked at local art booths for the day...ending it at the dog park. Life is a bit slower for me right now and there is no sense of fighting it. We have become accustomed to running around each day exploring and taking pictures. It was nice to do some of that and return home for a change. However, I know this will be short lived and I will want to get back on the road. For now, we will live life at life's pace.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Joshua Tree National Park

I gave thanks yesterday by visiting the closest National Park to where I am today so Max and I headed to Joshua Tree. I have never been to this park before even though I was born and raised in Southern California. It is a beautiful area with lots of cactus, open fields and rocks which people took advantage of to climb.

We had a picnic and drove around the park to explore. It was a good way to spend Thanksgiving for us.

I know it's the shopping season, but try to take some time to get outside. It does wonders. Here are some pictures from the day. For more click HERE.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving so i'm going to take a moment here to be thankful for what's in my life. I am so grateful for what I have and what surrounds me. My friend Dian has been writing 39 things each day for 9 days so far that she has been thankful for. I am pretty amazed how she comes up with all of this on a daily basis but it has inspired me to write my own little list. Here are a few things that I am grateful for today:

- My friends and family.
They give me the courage to follow my dreams and be the best person I can be. I also am grateful for the family members I have lost and how they have impacted my life in such a profound way.

- Being in Nature
The place where I feel the calmest and happiest.

-The roof over my head and food on my plate (or hands)
I am fortunate to be able to have a shelter each night (no matter where that may be), and the ability to eat whenever I want

-My freedom
I am fortunate that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. I can hop in my car and drive for days if I feel like it. I have a voice and I can use it. I can say whatever I want and express my opinions.

-My dog, Max
He brings me such joy on a daily basis. I love all animals and we are fortunate to share this earth with them. Let's be kind to them.

-My Health
I can move around freely, see, hear, feel, walk, take care of myself and the ability to go wherever I want to go.

-My human emotions
I can go on a journey without leaving the couch. I have the power to change moods, laugh, cry, and love.

I am also thankful for these smaller things in life that bring me joy:
electric blankets
a good meal
great music
sleeping outdoors
thoughtful gestures
watching max play at the dog park
meeting new friends
having friends that stick around through everything
experiencing life through clear eyes
laughing out loud
exploring something new
a good book
getting lost
learning something new
passionate people
seeing things differently
flip flops
being at the beach
hot baths
unexpected surprises
taking a picture that makes me smile
making others smile through images
chocolate covered pretzels
being silly
a hand written note
another day

So here I give thanks. Thank you for reading my blog and following my adventures. Your comments and thoughts have kept me going. I am thankful that I am able to explore, see new things and share it with you. This has been a wonderful exercise. I plan to do it often.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Can Do It Too (Part 2)

Some of you who have stumbled upon my blog have asked me how it is I am able to do what I am doing. Living on the road for months at a time is not simple, but with a little planning, you can do it too!

I have posted some tips previously on how I did it, but I will also mention some other tid bits that might help get you started...or at least thinking if it's the right thing for you.

For any solo journey that takes you away from your current comfortable environment, here are a few things to prepare for:

It's a big step to leave the comforts of home to go out on the open road or to a foreign land. Be aware that your journey isn't "home." You will have to adjust to doing things You might have to miss a shower, eat food you are not used to, learn a new language, new customs, etc.

In order to enjoy yourself, you will have to be flexible to all situations that come your way. It's easy to think..."ah, I am flexible!"...but until you find yourself in a situation you didn't plan for, that is when you will know. Things won't always go your way.

Remember to eat and sleep. These two things will be a huge factor in doing this for the long haul, for me at least. I know my brain starts to go a bit crazy if I skip meals or don't get enough sleep. Keep exploring and stay curious. That will keep your mind working and not focused on the negative.

Material Things
Forget what things look like or who makes them. Pay more attention to the function. Does it work? Perfect. That's all. If you are unsure of what to pack...lay all of your things out at once and take half of what you think you will need.

I took two bags of clothes. One for cool weather and one for hot weather. I wore one pair of shorts most of the time, 2 pairs of Capri's and about 3 pairs of jeans. Daily shoes were sandals. I mixed up tshirts and as you can see, wore the same black puffy vest the entire way. It held my camera in a small pocket so it came in handy when I didn't want to lug a bag around.

Nobody cares how you look. They will never see you again so as far as they are concerned, you look great. Also, if you are a woman...ditch the makeup. Pack like a guy. Soap, shampoo, sunscreen, lip balm, done. You think you will need a dress? You won't. If you are packing heels, this might not be the trip for you. If you miss looking through your newest pottery barn catalog to see the newest table top settings, it's best to stay home.


As much as you move to stay busy and the brain active, there will be some down time. Before your trip, write down some things that you want to get out of the experience. Is is learning more about yourself? Visit a place you dreamed of ever since you can remember? Climb the highest peak? Write this down so you can remember why you are doing what it is you are doing. There will be times of question, but referring to your personal guide will keep you on track.

Remember, this is YOUR time. Don't do something because it's something that others think is cool...this is a commitment to what you want to do. If your goal is to explore and see where that takes you, then that is your goal. It doesn't have to be big, it just has to make sense to you.

How long do you want to be on your journey? Forever sounds nice but it's not realistic. You will see in the last paragraph that the time you allow yourself has a lot to do with financial limitations, or life limitations. If you have children or a partner, your time may be limited. It's a good idea to map out how much time you have so you can choose a journey that best suits you for how long you have to explore.

I've said it before but if you have a hard time being alone, this is not the trip for you. You will be alone. Everyday. You will be alone with your thoughts. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. Remember, nobody knows you so you can be whoever you want to be. It's a good idea to be around people sometimes to get human contact. Once I didn't talk for 3 days and when someone finally said hello to me I was like, "mahoowh." Don't lose your voice.

Keep your lifeline alive. Call friends once in a while. See how the world you left behind is doing while you are away exploring a new world. It might be just the thing to energize you and help you continue on your journey. Also, it's ok to feel lonely, tired, drained, and exhausted. You will feel all of this during the course of your trip. It's good to feel. Let it happen. You are human.

It takes strength mentally and physically. You will not be on your usual diet so being open to eating different things is a plus. Remember, the comforts of home do not apply anymore. I don't eat mammals so sometimes it's difficult to find something that I can eat. I know there is always something to snack on. Keep a first aid kit with all of the stomach things you will need.

Remember to move around. If you are in the car all day, be sure to stop on a trail to walk some. Not being active will take a toll. Be sure to make it part of your day, everyday.

Ah...what everyone wants to know. How much will it cost? Of course it depends on the length and what you plan to do. At the beginning, I camped so that was around $20 a day (give or take), you factor about $30 a day for food and factor in how much gas is and where you want to go. I would say that you might spend $100 a day. Of course, it will go up if you stay at a motel, or go down if you live in a van and park it on a residential street.

On really cold nights, I stayed at Motel 6 because Max couldn't stand the cold (yes, I will blame it on him). They are pet friendly and cost about $35 dollars on average a night. That is about the same for a fancy hook up site if you had a big rig. Some nights, it was worth every penny. You will see what I mean when you haven't taken a shower in several days and the warmth of a sleeping bag on the floor isn't as thrilling as it once was.

So, add up your expenses for traveling as well as the costs you have if you decide to keep your home base. For me, I rented my home while I traveled, which was a lifesaver, financially. I have all of my bills paid online which I would recommend.

Decision Time
Are you going to make the leap? Remember, nothing is permanent so you could always go back to what you were doing before. I have a feeling you won't. Go for it! I look forward to hearing about your journey. Thank you for being a part of mine.

A bigger THANK YOU if you become a fan of my photographs on facebook. This was my little personal goal on my trip...taking pictures. I hope to be able to sell images of the USA through my eyes soon. I will keep you posted on the fan page.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reading The Signs

A big part about taking a road trip is flexibility. There have been numerous times where things didn't go the way I planned. However, my planning usually involves looking at a map and thinking, "oh, this looks interesting."

Sometimes a wrong turn might lead you to another place that you didn't think you would see but in the end it was exactly what you were looking for. I don't get too upset when things go wrong. In fact, I have been fortunate that something hasn't gone terribly wrong. There have been some close calls and some uncomfortable moments being on the road solo in an unfamiliar place.

It's my own fault. Those situations happened because I didn't plan the next sleeping spot or I didn't know where I was. I camped solo in a crazy area in Wyoming through a storm. That wasn't the brightest idea. I've also stopped to take a picture in the road while it was foggy. Not so smart, either. I was yelled at by a Native American for taking pictures of horses on a reservation when I didn't know I was on one.

My brain tends to shut off when I take pictures. I am right there in the moment and somehow forgot where I am (like in the middle of the road on a foggy day).

After my drive through the desert, I wanted to visit Yosemite. There is an East entrance to the park that said, "closed in the winter" on the map. Is it winter yet? There isn't that much snow on the ground, I should be ok...right? Apparently, some people think it's winter so the road was closed. From where I was, it wasn't a minute was a long drive to get to the closed road.

It was just another change in plans. The sun was setting so I drove to Mono Lake to soak up the beauty of the area for one last moment. I had to laugh because right when I got there, a photographer with a HUGE camera on a tripod started running on the trail (I arrived at the same time with my point and click in my pocket) yelling at the sun..."wait! nooo...stay here...don't do it...not yet...hold on...don't go down..." I was trotting right behind him laughing. I was thinking the same thing.

So, here are the pictures I took from that evening. I didn't get into Yosemite, but I was able to see an amazing sunset on the lake. You never know what you will get when plans don't go the way a you expected. Go with the has a way of planning itself for you.

For more pictures, click HERE

Monday, November 23, 2009

In The Middle Of Nowhere, Nevada

After playing in the road, it was a long day of driving ahead in the middle of nowhere, Nevada. We headed towards the Great Basin National Park to visit. The road was closed so we drove up a bit to see some trees and caught a glimpse of deer which was exciting. Each day I see a wild animal is an adventure for me. However, Max is not a fan. He goes crazy each time I slow down or stop and starts barking even if there is nothing to see. The Buffalo in Custer State Park traumatized him I think.

We drove through a dust storm, saw lots of tumbleweeds, cows, dirt, telephone poles, the road, more dirt, weeds...oh, and a weird lady mannequin head! Very exciting stuff. Pretty creepy actually.

It was interesting that we didn't see many cars. When I played in the road, only one car drove by. I have no idea why! Look at all of the things to see!

I made the most of what I saw on the road. Here are some pics. For more, click HERE

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stupid Tree

As Max and I backed up to venture out for the day, somehow a tree appeared out of nowhere and smashed into the back of my car. I heard a "CRUNCH!" I stopped, looked at Max as if to say, "what did you do?"

I backed into a tree (Similar to this one, except it wasn't that big, that pretty and it wasn't in the middle of nowhere) and it smashed the bikes into the back of my car and put a huge dent on one side. So much so that I am unable to roll my back window down. That back window is essential for me to get to things out of the back of the car while leaving the bike rack on. Now, I am unable to retrieve things that way. Oh well, I am thankful that

-I didn't hit another car
-The tree is safe
-My window wasn't rolled down and smashed inside of the car
-The bikes are ok (at least I think they are)
-The rack didn't break (It's still hanging on ..bent and all)

But still...

When you are driving, you have plenty of time to think. So, I thought about this over and over. I decided it was time to stop thinking. What's the cure for blowing off some steam when you've been traveling for months? Playing in the road, of course! I know I told you not to...but I just had to do it one more time!

So, I stopped in the middle of nowhere and set the camera on the ground and ran around like a crazy lady for a good 30 minutes. Ahhh...that's better...

Now, back on the road...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Off the Beaten Path

After I left best friends animal sanctuary, I headed to Zion National Park and wandered around the Southwest tip of the state. Once off the main freeway, there is um...not much around. I drove through a few dust storms and several farms along the way. Even though there wasn't much to see, I stopped to view the lone trees and farm houses.

I have never been to a place where you can see the road from one mountain range to the next and everything in between.

I've been thinking about all of the places I've been and how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. The fact is, you can do it too! With just a little planning and a willingness to leave your home for several months, you can be on your way!

There are times when I feel lonely, tired and frustrated. But, those times pass when I reach a National Park or a place I've always to explore. Some of the best experiences have been when I've been lost or decided to do something on a whim.

I look forward to sharing a little "best of" list with you. For now, here are a few snapshots of what I came across today in Utah. For more, click here.


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