Category Archives: life

Small world and interesting timelines…

This is truly proof we live in a small world with all kinds of timelines.
First, let’s go backward in time.
[[[2013]]]    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 ….
[[[2015]]]    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.

###  Second link to Shut Up  ###

### Third link to Shut Up ###

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.)217

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! IMG_20170817_141922Now the five kids were all much bigger and the 6mo old was a curly-headed delight riding a bike. IMG_20170817_120953.jpg 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.

So…
“Get Out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure.”

From Atlanta to the Coast…

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. DSC_0980 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. DSC_3000

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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.DSC_2928And we caught up with Cuzzin’ Dyck there along with Trisha. DSC_2921The 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. 17545582_10212805585914048_4122971939332103596_o 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.

SO, as always…

“Get out, Be safe, and Go adventure.”

This must be the place…

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Just as the sign said, “This must be the place”.

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… DSC_1654

Wooden mules driving the Tin Man…

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A whole army of Tin Men…  Including a “Lineman for the county”

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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…DSC_1657DSC_1658

There were green alligators and pink flamingos.  And they were all hanging out around the windmill.DSC_1647

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.

So until then…

Be Safe, Get Out, and Go Adventure

Cool idea for hammock lovers

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.

Jane had the tripods set and the spreader bar up before I even realized what she was doing.
Jane had the tripods set and the spreader bar up before I even realized what she was doing.

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.

A closeup of how the tripod is made.
A closeup of how the tripod is made.

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.

Tying the hammock onto the spreader bar.
Tying the hammock onto the spreader bar.

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.

Living life large!
Living life large!

As you can see here she’s living large set up in an open field with no trees.

the rain fly makes it a perfect place to sleep.
the rain fly makes it a perfect place to sleep.

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.

Until next time…

Get out, Be safe, and Go adventure.

 

 

Tracks in the snow…

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.)

The snow fall is pretty, especially when you don't have to get out in it.
The snow fall is pretty, especially when you don’t have to get out in it.

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.

This is where it was laying watching when I was out with the dogs. If you look closely you'll se a set of tracks where it crossed the frozen pond.
This is where it was laying watching when I was out with the dogs. If you look closely at the top, you’ll see a set of tracks where it crossed the frozen pond.

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…

I didn't take use a stick to draw squirrly cues in the snow.
I didn’t use a stick to draw squirrly cues in the snow.
Can anybody identify what kinda burrow this is? Please leave a comment at the bottom.
Can anybody identify what kinda burrow this is? Please leave a comment at the bottom.

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.

Here's another mystery, tracks only broke the snow about 1-2" deep.
Here’s another mystery, tracks only broke the snow about 1-2″ deep.
Here's a close up? Any guesses?
Here’s a close up? Any guesses?

So back to the fox that came calling.  It crossed the corner of the frozen pond and left some good prints…

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Notice the front/rear pairs are on top of each other on the left and right side? This fox was walking fairly slowly here.
Another nice set from the fox.
Another nice set from the fox.

There were tracks of others that had come and gone…

These are Libby "bounds" from her rabbit-like running in the snow. Notice she hits the same spots coming and going?
These are Libby “bounds” from her rabbit-like running in the snow. Notice she hits the same spots coming and going?
This is the print of a regular visitor to Libby and Layla. Blackey comes to visit them regularly.
This is the print of a regular visitor to Libby and Layla. Blackey comes to visit them regularly.
Blackey's trail to the front door to visit.
Blackey’s trail to the front door to visit.

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.

A closing shot of how cool the frozen pond looked highlighting the fox prints.

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A closing shot of how cool the frozen pond looked highlighting the fox prints.

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.)

So until the next post…

“Get Out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure”

 

“Shut Up & Grow It” Part Three

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.

Cleanliness is a virtue, as Brenda points out.
Cleanliness is a virtue, as Brenda points out.

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.

I found the very important building and brought along my own V.I.P.
I found the very important building and brought along my own V.I.P.

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?

This was the one closed down.
This was the one closed down.

So as time marches on the building of new things continues…

The beginnings of a new community. Did I mention there was mud?
The beginnings of a new community. Did I mention there was mud?

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.

Glimpse's of personal expression
Glimpse’s of personal expression

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.

A Motto to live by
A Motto to live by

For some more beautiful pictures of this place visit this Facebook post…  “Shut Up and Grow It’ Facebook post

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!

 

And  So . . . Get Out, Be Safe, and Go Adventure.

Life Happens… (sometimes that’s a good thing)

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.

A free spirit in the moonlight
A free spirit in the moonight

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.

Moonlight on Vilano Beach, FLA
Moonlight on Vilano Beach, FLA

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.

Layla and Dan at the St Augustine Yacht club
Layla and Dan at the St Augustine Yacht club
who wouldn't be all smiles here?
who wouldn’t be all smiles here?
Layla at the beach
Layla at the beach
Libby at the beach
Libby at the beach

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.

The St Augustine Lighthouse built in 1874
The St Augustine Lighthouse built in 1874
I don't remember how many I lost count.
I don’t remember how many I lost count.

 

After the climb we had a breathtaking view
After the climb we had a breathtaking view
This is what 165 high looks like.
This is what 165 feet high looks like.

We took in the the fort  Castillo de San Marco

A well designed fort
A well designed fort

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.

Until next time…

“Get out, Be safe, and Go adventure”