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.
Have I ever mentioned that I really don’t like cold weather?? I thought so. Well the cold weather brings snow here and the snow does present special opportunities. One of them is to find tracks in the snow. I mentioned on Facebook that we had a visitor and even posted some pictures of this elusive creature. Today I went looking for the evidence and here’s what I found. (Click on any of the pictures to see the full-sized version.)
This was the scene this morning, now for a closer look. The two trails you see here were from the fox that came to visit last night. The fox had been laying on the dam of the pond watching when I had the dogs out earlier.
Now while I was wandering around in the snow I found these interesting tracks and marks. If you can, leave a comment at the bottom and clue me in what they are…
Whatever it is it lives here. And its been in and out enough that the snow is packed in front of the burrow. I thought it kind of pretty the way the snow around the opening melted and then grew crystals as it froze again.
So back to the fox that came calling. It crossed the corner of the frozen pond and left some good prints…
There were tracks of others that had come and gone…
Of course the little birds had to come to water. I couldn’t catch any of them in a picture, guess they get real skiddish as the food supply is lower right now.
That’s all I’ve got for this post, going back inside to warm the hands.
Even though outside it’s frightful, the views can be delightful. (Sorry that one was too easy.)
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.