It’s my 1 year anniversary in the van!!

6/12/2021 WY – I can’t believe that a year has passed since I moved into the van. This is an amazing country, and politics aside, I’ve met some wonderful people and seen some spectacular places. I travelled over 20K miles and visited 17 states, about a dozen national parks/monuments, some twice, drove the Route 66 highway to Flagstaff, AZ, spent the winter in Benson, AZ where there are mountains everywhere and hiking galore, visited a friend who is working at Devils Tower, WY and watched “Close Encounter of the Third Kind” for the umpteenth time, and still love it. I spent a boatload of money on gas, maintenance and camping/hotel fees. Drove home to Illinois in 3 days through wind and rain, and watched my mother die (not all of this is in chronological order). The past few weeks have been especially stressful since my mom passed away, and my emotional state is borderline depressed. I feel lonely, now that I lost my connection with her.

Too much going on in just a few weeks since leaving Illinois after mom’s passing. I lost my expensive point and shoot camera and sunglasses in Minnesota, The insurance company reimbursed the camera and sunglasses, less my deductible and depreciation, so now I have to decide what to replace it with. I am on my 4th step stool to use at the side door. Now, I’m just buying cheap ones at Walmart. I got a tick bite in Wisconsin and am being treated for Lyme disease, thought my house batteries died in the middle of a 90′ week in South Dakota, which was later resolved and the culprit was a loose bolt on one of the batteries. I need to check them occasionally to make sure everything is secure. I have been pretty miserable lately, and haven’t been hiking as much as I’d like. The weather is killing me! TOO HOT! AND RAIN! I’ve seen and experienced many critters recently, including a moose, pelican and an Arctic fox that wandered onto my camp site one night. Pretty cool!
I’m not sure how I feel about boondocking; it’s ok for a few days, but my attention level makes me want to move on. Living in the desert is not my idea of fun. The movie “Nomadland” was actually depressing and I left with mixed feelings. I’m reading the book now and it gives me a better idea about the theme of the movie. Go watch it – it won an Academy Award. Maybe it’s because I haven’t found all of the awesome campsites that the YouTubers rave about. Everything is very crowded right now. I noticed that I like to stay at state parks the most and some of them are very picturesque and mostly clean.

BUT, life goes on and I have no intention of stopping my travel plans. I found that I like working while on the road and travelling and exploring in between gigs. I am very happy that I made this decision and have been meeting people at work and hooking up with them when I’m in their area. That was my goal, to meet people all over the country. Ideally, I’d like to find a remote job that allows me to work anywhere. That would be a big plus for me. Then I wouldn’t have to worry or plan where my next gig is so that I don’t have to pay rent and can still meet great folks!
I’ve been focusing on night photography now that the camera sensor works, and am fascinated with the Milky Way! And I bought a used 90mm macro lens that I started to play with. Finally, I started reading some of my old photography books that I brought with to refresh my memory and that helps a lot. Sometimes I go online, but I’m not on the computer that much anymore.

People have asked me where my favorite place to visit was, and it’s a hard question. Spending 10 days in Moab gave me a very biased opinion, but I’ve enjoyed just about every place I’ve been to, even some of the cities (especially if they have lakes or rivers and Chicago food). Cabela’s is my favorite place to overnight at and I love them! They are so nice and helpful, and watch out for my safety. South Dakota state parks are beautiful and well kept and I can’t wait to go back again and again.

National Parks; I’m back at Yellowstone again for the summer, and I think that says a lot. However, I managed to drive to Glacier National Park this year and that was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, it rained the whole time and the pass wasn’t fully opened because the season hadn’t started yet. The KOA was not that great, and horribly expensive, but it was late and I needed a place to stay for a couple of days. Next time will be a better experience and I’ll plan ahead.

Well, I’m getting settled in for the summer and look forward to working again, sewing, finding some hiking partners and taking pictures. I have a solo room with my own private bathroom, which is more than a luxury! I hope that you enjoy your summer and I’ll be posting some of my previous antics soon. To another year of freedom!

The pictures here were taken recently in Montana, one of the most beautiful states so far. The first one is on the road from Glacier National Park and the others were taken at my camp site at Hegben Lake Lonesomehurst Campground in the Gallatin National Forest.

Be well, everyone!

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