September has finally arrived and I didn’t think I’d be here. In earlier nomad versions of myself, I’d be somewhere further north, likely Canada or further west, Montana perhaps.
Yet I’m still here in Kentucky slo-moing it. I like this version of nomading — slowly winding my way around in randomness makes for more discoveries and experiencing deeper flavors of the places I’m staying at that I’d otherwise miss or overlook.
That’s the thing about nature and her places - the longer you embrace her, the more she reveals.
…view from camper at Land Between the Lakes
Today was maintenance day — tightening up loose screws (my mind is a lost cause, however), check tires, top off battery fluids, and tweak whatever else needs tweaking. As in this case ’twas a cracked rear side-light cover on the camper and a cracked back-up light cover on the car.
I have no idea how the the backup light cover got cracked — perhaps a wayward pebble flung in reverse?
The camper side lens? My fault from one night when I folded up my chair and leaned it on the side of the camper for the night. It fell over while I was sleeping (I bet my flipping around in bed to change positions rocked the camper enough to jar the chair lose) and hit the light cover on the way down, breaking it off. (Lesson learned - park chair somewhere else.)
Both issues are luckily easily fixed — nuttin’ like a little superglue to make good and pop ’em back where they belong.
Feels good to fix things up, doesn’t it?
Speaking of, constant maintenance is a regular staple of nomading/full-time camping life more-so than with regular brick ’n mortar life I’d think.
The constant movement — vibrations and jolting (those dreadful unexpected potholes, big dips and worst of all thud-thud-thud-washboarded-thud-thud-thud roads (omg those drive me crazy) always jar things loose and makes screws unscrew themselves.
Clumsiness (a better word than carelessness, isn’t it?) accounts for around a quarter of these issues, I’ll confess.
Fortunately I learn from each and every one of these “issues” as they crop up and it adds to my growing repertoire of handyman-ish knowledge.
The clumsy parts? They add more cuss-words and subsequent “silly-me” laughter adding to a richer life.
8-31 (cont’d) It is what it is, stages of nomading, hammock naps, generational joker
Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky
(It looks like I skipped a couple pages in my journal so this is a continuation of entries on Aug 31st.)
I find myself very reluctant to haul out my laptop when on the road.
So these written notes pile up before being typed into the blog and emails spill over copiously.
It takes a couple weeks for there to be enough willpower built up to open up the laptop and get caught up on things (likely to the consternation of some!).
In the past I’ve always had to contort myself to take care of these things in timely fashion and it’s always been a struggle because it was outside of my natural flow.
So these wandering days I honor that flow and stay in it because it is there for a reason and always have been thus (esp. after working myself into a terrible long term illness that I wasn’t sure I’d ever recover from).
At this stage of life I’ve earned the right to flow in the ways that work for me and not to bend to the ways of others as I did for a very long time.
In other words as I’m known to say: “It is what it isssss!” ; )
I find myself constantly learning something new and it greatly pleases me because it means I’m still growing and evolving.
Stages of my nomad life so far:
1st stage was exploring and constantly roaming while learning a new way of life. I was haunted and finding my way.
2nd stage was diving more into the boondocking lifestyle (camping in wild areas outside of traditional campgrounds) and staying put for longer periods of time. This is when i found my bliss.
3rd stage (at present) has been wandering without purpose or direction and taking my sweet time doing it (as I like to say I go where the wind takes me but in the past I had a general direction I was headed, i.e. west or east). A time where I follow my bliss.
4th stage who knows what’s next? That’s the beauty of living an uncertain life.
One part I know I’ll do in the 4th stage is settle into a steady system of getting my notes into the blog. It’s just a matter of sorting it and I have a feeling I’ll “get” it.
Afternoon naps outside in a hammock strung between trees is the best. Naps end up being more fulfilling and very rejuvenating — akin to taking a long nature bath. In Japan it is called Shinrin-yoku, “Forest bathing.”
Back when I was staying in the city recovering from Lyme disease I’d muster the strength to go to a local park and take long healing naps in a hammock at the edge of the woods.
…from Cages Bend campground in Gallatin, Tennessee
I found it balled up in my hammock. Forgot I was using it as a pillow.
(insert sheepish grin)
At least it provided writing fodder for when things really do walk away, yeh?
A nice family walked over to the beach near my campsite. I hollered at their kids to watch out for alligators! They froze, eyes open wide.
The parents laughed and told ’em I was kidding.
I faux apologized, saying I was from Florida and used to always looking out for ’em.
The practical joker in me carries on the tradition instilled by my Dad and Popa Hines, (his Dad and my grandpa). Both were masters at it so I try my best to measure up. ; )
There’s times I’ll need to stake down the camper awning when the wind is strong. Sometimes the ground is too hard or rocky to drive stakes into, so what I do is grab a large, heavy rock and use it as an anchor for tying each end of the awning down.
Then I get another large rock and plop it in front of the anchor rock, further holding it in place in stronger winds.
I love doing this MacGuyver thing.
Somewhere along the way (pun intended) I seem to have fallen out of a regular routine of meditating at least twice a day. Not sure how or why — I certainly can’t say that life got in the way.
Goes to show even life-long habits can fall away without constant awareness of ’em.
It might be these long hikes (and drives in between campgrounds) and kayaking are supplanting as a form of meditation. Writing, too.
But it’s not quite the same flavor as a good ole fashioned (some might say boring?) sit-still-for-awhile-and-blank-out meditatons.
These are the deepest kinds where all self falls away. They’re journeys that bring great peace and healing when needed.
If conked out long enough, visions and divine interactions spill forth, expanding the great mystery of the universe (or the void as I call it sometimes).
I’ve found meditating is similar to exercising a muscle — the more often it’s done the easier it is to slip into it.
Meditate more I must1. It’s essential to my good health and being.
There is such a thing as too much meditation too which I’ll share later.↩︎
It’s a beautiful, almost chilly morning with a steady wind blowing through. Does this mean fall’s on the way here?
I’m not used to feeling such coolness in the air until early December in Florida so it’s a nice change.
One of the disadvantages of being over six feet tall is I’m the one that usually clears trails of spider webs with my face. Sigh. I guess am a trailblazer, after all. ; )
Been thinking of my daughter Alyssa lately… She is a free spirit like her Dad and I’m so glad to see she too has the blood of a wanderer.
Already at a young age (mid twenties) she’s travelled to several countries on her dime and is now in Fiji for a few months working with little kids in a village school.
She has always loved working with and helping children so that and travel is her North Star these days.
She left a great job at Shands Hospital in Gainesville to follow this dream of hers, leaving behind security and certainty that kind of life brings.
Bravo to her — unexpected doors will open thanks to her leap into the unknown.
Wander on, my ’lil bambino!
Looks like my favorite towel that was draped over the propane tank1 at the front of the camper got up and walked away while I ran to town.
These things happen, fortunately rarely. I was warned not long after I started nomading to always secure outside items because, as the experienced nomad said, “Things get legs and walk away while you’re gone!”
So that’s what I do, put away chairs, side table, etc. draw up the curtains and lock the camper whenever I go.
For the solar panel which needs to stay out to top off the battery, I chain it to the camper using a long, thick steel braided cable and lock.
In the more remote or dispersed camping areas I’ll slap a heavy duty wheel lock on one of the camper’s wheels for extra security.
If the vibe to an area feels wrong I’ll move onto another location. Sometimes even the most beautiful spots just have that feeling. Despite appearances, I’ll always trust my gut and it has served me very well.
Over time I’ve learned not to stress over it too much after I’ve done what needed to be done to secure things.
Until now I didn’t think towels needed to be secured but I guess they too have legs and walk away. I’ll have to replace it with a very ugly one as a deterrent perhaps?
I drape the towel over the propane tank to keep squirrels and other critters from chewing on the rubber hoses - they seem to have an affinity for it and I’ve already had to replace a hose from a squirrel gnawing through it!↩︎
8-29 Seeking offline-ness and slowness, bump in the night, more trash
Note: As you can tell from the date in the title I’m still catching up on prior handwritten entries. Once caught up I plan on sorting a way to keep this blog current with the notes. Perhaps type ’em up each night? Thing is I don’t want to use the computer that much. Am open to any ideas…
Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky
In my continuing efforts to be offline more I’m not checking the news of the world as often. It is refreshing and reinvigorating to be free of the constant hammering of the mind.
I’ve realized checking the news is a dopamine hit — the worse the headlines are the bigger it is.
Being naturally curious about what’s going on in the world, I don’t want to bury my head in the sand either. So my goal is to top off the news perhaps in the afternoon like we used to get an afternoon newspaper back in the day.
Balance. It seems to work well so far.
On a related note I’ve noticed there are quite a bit less areas here in the contiguous States that don’t have cellular coverage since I started nomading six years ago.
For modern society it’s probably a good thing. But otherwise for those of us who like to get away from it all.
Sure, it’s easy to just turn everything off but psychologically/mentally (and likely physically too — giving our bodies a break from the constant pulsing of microwave and radio signals) it’s a whole different and liberating feeling when an invisible blanket is cast across the sky rendering a cone of silence.
I miss it.
It’s now my goal to find more of these endangered places completely disconnected from the world at large before they’re gone altogether.
P.S. I know I can get a portable satellite internet kit but why wear a leash? In my case erranding to towns for work related connectivity suffices.
It’s interesting how I sometimes yearn back to a world where slow connectivity ruled the day (letters, landline phones, actually hanging with people, etc.), freeing us of today’s tethers and yet…. Those very tethers are how I make a living.
Hmm. How can one be completely free of all tethers, wander the land without worry about business/work and still make a living in these days?
Something I’ve pondered for a good while. Maybe in the writing answers will come?
While writing this a window curtain lifts and flutters from the cool night breeze.
It’s a reminder I am never alone in the embrace of Mother Nature.
Moonlit night over Land Between the Lakes near camp
Later that evening I’m startled when I feel something bump the camper. It’s a bit unnerving because I cannot hear a thing.
Pulling curtain aside, I look out the window and see nothing in the strong moonlight. So I cautiously step out to investigate further and find a feral cat underneath the camper.
Shining the flashlight around I see glinting eyes of a coon or possum. Perhaps they were fleeing or playing with the cat, who knows?
That reminds me, I’ll have to share a story from the time I felt a nudge on my camper when cooking dinner and later found it was from a bear…
This may be a recurring theme but it’s worth repeating in the hopes somehow this energy resonates outwards and infects others to rethink their ways.
I’m seeing more and more trash around these campsites and natural areas — even the more remote places. It’s always been a problem but the intensity of it has increased post-covid.
It’s sad to see such careless ways mar nature’s beauty. She is a gift given to us only to be given the dirty finger.
So perplexing to see those connoisseurs of nature (especially fishermen - they are the worst, oddly) not give a shit.
8-28 Back in heaven, cafe intimacy, aliens on beach?
Woke up with a hung-over feeling even though I didn’t drink anything flammable. Neck is sore, must have slept on it wrong hence that head-achy-sore feeling.
And then I must have somehow twisted my ankle while packing up camp to move on so I’m limping like a frog around camp.
Aahh, the travails of a somewhat rugged lifestyle and a teeny tiny bit of aging…
At a local coffee shop (copious amounts of coffee always makes my headache go away) there was a middle aged couple near me engaged in intense eye-to-eye conversation (one I didn’t lip-read out of respect for their privacy).
When their conversation finished, both stood, embraced and held each other for a very long time in full view of all in the cafe.
Reconciliation? Or a sharing of deep wounds? Or maybe on the proper way to brew coffee?
Whatever the topic might have been, it was endearing and refreshing to see that kind of intimacy on full display. It is rarer to see these days.
After the fog lifted from my mind I decide to go ahead on over to Land Between the Lakes national recreation area for a few days of camping.
Much to my delight I found a beautiful and private primitive campsite right on the water at Nickell Branch backcountry camping area.
Steady cool breezes, wide views of the coast and serene waters.
No electricity, no water, no neighbors — just the way I like it. I’m in a slice of heaven yet again.
A nicely-dressed family pull up to the nearby boat ramp/beach with a professional photographer in tow (the excessive and heavy camera equipment gives it away) for what looks like a sunset family portrait session.
Seeing them brings back memories of often seeing the same thing on the beaches in Sarasota, Florida where I grew up.
Watching this family with their two kids frolic and pose in front of a hovering photographer, my mind begins to drift into their lives…
Are they indeed that joyfully picturesque sun-splashed family they’re portraying themselves to be?
Or when home do they siphon off into separate corners with phones and computers glued to their glowing faces? Do they argue often? Do they have dark secrets within?
Or are they the face of love represented vividly on the beach with lots of joy and soldiering on through life resolutely?
Or they’re aliens from a different plane masquerading as humans and enjoying themselves on a side-trip away from civilization with photos to send to home base in another galaxy?
Oh such a silly and sometimes sinister imagination I have.
Whatever they might be, a few minutes later as the last rays of the sun fade and cameras put away, their facade drops, charade ended as they pile into their Ford Expedition and fade out too.
The weather changed from relentless sticky heat to relentless rain and chewy humidity. And yet I persist here because tomorrow is supposed to be dry and cool, giving time for everything to dry out before packing up for the road.
For some odd reason in just about all the van campers I’ve seen the owners stay holed up in their vans seemingly all day and night. I never see the occupants - if any indeed exist - and sometimes wonder if they’re alive inside.
Of course I am just one solitary observer but this happenstance persists across my travels.
To be fair, I can say the same for those on the other spectrum — those hulking big rig RVs that seemingly stretch half a city block. Those occupants are also seldom seen since they stay inside their palaces most of the time only to emerge to eat at local restaurants.
Really, they just bring their homes with them for a better view of nature.
My back feels much better now — walking and hiking always heals it up, aligning it back into place.
Gonna kayak out to a tiny island I see in the middle of the lake for even more solitude.
Islands have their own special vibe, especially tiny ones.
Tall trees swaying, leaves shivering, wind teasing…
It’s a beautiful dance that soothes my soul.
Breeze whistles into my hair and I know I’m part of nature’s dance — not just as a witness but also as a participant.