Traveling Solo Again and the Grand Canyon

I got the urge to wander again so I said goodbye to my campmates in Sedona and hit the road. Yesterday morning I woke up at the truckstop I slept at the night before just outside Flagstaff, Arizona to a temperature of 23° and ice on my windshield. I was going to continue driving west to lower elevation for warmer temperatures but then I realized the Grand Canyon was only one hour away. Although the temperatures are cold at night there too I couldn’t resist seeing the beauty of the Grand Canyon again, so that is where I went. I love that I can just do that. I also thought it wouldn’t be that busy there due to the weather and it not being the summer. I was wrong. I didn’t take into account that it’s spring break. Still not as busy as the summer though. I was in awe of the beauty of the Grand Canyon this time just the same as I was last time. I loved walking along the rim of the canyon with a view of the beautiful colors in the canyon and the Colorado river below, watching wild animals along the rim and watching the families on spring break having a good time. I always enjoy watching others have a good time. I feel their happy energy, which is why I also enjoy going to concerts and fun gatherings on my travels. I noticed that I didn’t have a fear of heights this time as much as the last time I was at the Grand Canyon. I faced my fear of heights traveling to some of the beautiful locations I have been to over the past year and every time it has lessened my fear. Last night I stayed overnight about a half mile outside the park for free in the beautiful forest at the same location I stayed at last time I was there 🌳

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Playing with Spinners in a Step Van

I remember seeing spinner toys everywhere last year but didn’t really know what they were about or why they were so popular. Well last night I was hanging out in the step van (that use to be a bread truck) of one of my campmates and he brought out a huge box of spinners because he loves playing with them. The spinners he has are the collector spinners that are very nice. I picked up one of them to play with it and couldn’t put it done. There were five of us in the van playing with the spinners last night. It is very relaxing to spin the toy in your hand watching it and listening to the sounds it makes. They all look different and make different sounds. Watching and listening to the spinners was kind of meditative to me. A lot of people play with the spinners to help when they feel anxious and fidgety. I heard it helps people deal with stress instead of smoking, biting their nails, etc. My campmate with the spinners has a YouTube channel under his name Paul Barger in which he documents his travels. I know too many people with YouTube channels that I can’t watch all of their videos. I just search the destinations I want to go to on YouTube to find videos I am interested in. I am grateful for technology and especially the people that make the videos on YouTube, which has provided me with some great camping spots. I bet there are more van dwellers than ever on the road now because there are so many videos and other information online showing how great van life is. I realize van life isn’t for everyone but adventureous, nomad, hobo exploring minimalists like me love it! ❤️

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Potluck at Mindful Camp and Sedona Hiking

We had a nice potluck dinner at our campsite last night. This morning I skipped the group meditation. I have a hard time meditating in a group with my eyes closed for 20 minutes in total silence. I much prefer my solo walking meditation, so I did some solo hiking today. I have always preferred solo hiking because it’s my time for meditation and reflection. I think at first people get offended when I don’t want them to hike with me but then they understand when they get to know me. At our camp they have a support group for introverts every morning because I guess a lot of people that are part of this lifestyle are shy and introverted, which is the exact opposite of me. I am always very comfortable going up to strangers and talking to them on my travels. Although I am an extrovert I love my alone time very much. Today I went to the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park. I enjoyed walking the trails with the prayer flags and Budhist shrines everywhere. It is such a peaceful place. They had a medicine wheel they made on the ground. You walk around the wheel and pray for guidance and clarity on something that you are trying to make a decision on. Several friends have hinted around to travel with me when I mentioned I am going to explore more of California, Washington and Oregon soon. I prefer traveling solo and then just meeting up with my fellow nomads every once in awhile but was contemplating whether I should travel with friends, so I walked the medicine wheel for guidance. It became clear to me at the end of the walk to travel solo because that is what I love. There is no reason for me to compromise the freedom I feel when I travel solo going where I want, when I want, staying how long I want with the freedom to change my mind. This is also why I have always been happier being single than being in a relationship. I always feel a loss of my freedom traveling with others or being in a relationship and having my freedom makes me very happy. Life is too short to not do what makes you the happiest 🌻

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Mindful Camp and Tea Time

I am enjoying hanging out with everyone at Mindful Camp. It is nice to sit around a warm campfire on a cool night chit chatting with my campmates about our adventures on the road. I was only working part-time but my work has turned into full-time lately. I have corporate clients that send me continuous work. I never know what work is needed until I look at my emails. They have been keeping me so busy lately that I had to miss some of the meditation exercises at Mindful Camp and hiking with my campmates. Looking forward to retirement. I have been pretty much staying out here in the boonies up on this hill with my camp mates. I love our beautiful views of the Sedona red rocks. One of my campmates often serves tea in his step van that he lives in. He served tea at the Van Life gathering I went to in San Diego. His name is Seven and he has a YouTube channel called Seven Wanders the World. When his van is open for tea he puts out a sign that says Wandering Book Exchange and Tea House, so cool. 📚 ☕️

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Montezuma Castle and Mindful Camp in Arizona

A couple of nights ago I stayed overnight in a casino parking lot with a lot of RVers and the next morning drove to Montezuma Castle National Monument which has 800 year old cliff dwellings. I bought a new America the Beautiful pass since my old one expired. The $80 annual pass covers admission to national parks and national monuments, which is so worth the price to me because I love going to those places. I left there and drove to Cottonwood, Arizona to buy groceries, do laundry, etc. I went to the Cottonwood Recreation Center and paid $7 for a day pass that covers working out at their gym, swimming in their pool, soaking in their hot tub and getting a hot shower in your own cabana, what a deal. Across the street at the library I downloaded a bunch of Netflix movies to my Ipad using their super fast wifi. I then drove about 25 minutes away to Mindful Camp that a full-time RVer started on BLM land that is free to camp on in Sedona, Arizona, which is supposed to be a very spiritual place. I really enjoy traveling and camping by myself but I also enjoy camping with people that are like me to get my sense of community. I am camping mostly with people I already know from my travels over the past year. We have group meditation everyday at 1pm in which we sit in a circle with our eyes closed and meditate, which is a little hard for me. I meditate best by myself walking in nature. On my walks I focus on the beauty around me and I will often stop, close my eyes and then focus on what I hear like birds or the wind. I then focus on what I feel like the wind and sun on my skin. I then focus on what I smell like grass or flowers and then open my eyes to see what I have been hearing, feeling and smelling, which always makes me smile. Meditation is really just about focusing on the present moment instead of thinking about the past or the future. I can only do it for a little while and then my mind starts wandering and I have to bring myself back to the present moment. When I am in that moment though I am in total peace. It has been chilly lately. I woke up to snow falling outside of my van yesterday. I ran outside to stand in the snow because I thought it was pretty cool since I am not use to snow. This morning I woke up to hot air balloons floating by in the distance. We are camped in a beautiful spot on a hill top. My home has a beautiful backyard right now, which it often does 🌄

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Hospital Parking Lot and Being a Minimalist

Yesterday I drove to town to run errands and was then planning on heading to my next destination. One of the errands was picking up my work mail that was being forwarded to me that I ended up having to wait until today to be delivered. Instead of taking the long drive back into the forest to just leave again this morning I decided to stealth park at the hospital I was near since I have heard of other van dwellers overnighting at hospitals since they are open 24 hours a day. For all the hospital employees know I could be a visitor or a patient. If the parking was limited I wouldn’t have done it but there was plenty of parking. I only heard a couple of ambulance sirens before I went to sleep and the sound machine app on my phone must have drowned out any during the night because I slept great. I woke up to a temperature of 30 degrees. My sleeping bag and layered clothes kept me warm. Also, I made a bedroom in my van by hanging a thick blanket which helped due to my body heat and warm breath warming up the smaller space. As I was laying in bed looking at my bedroom wall I thought “I could live in a space this size”. Since living in my van I have thought several times I could easily live in a smaller cargo van, which I almost bought. I have a lot of space I don’t use mainly because my bed is small since I am only 5’2″. I took an electric knife to my all foam queen size bed I had before the van to make it to just fit me in the van. I knew if I ended up with a boyfriend on the road, which I have, I wanted an excuse for them to not sleep in my bed because I can’t sleep with someone in my bed. When I had my 5th wheel RV that I lived and traveled in full-time for 2 1/2 years I often felt that it was too big. I only bought it to have the bunk bed for my son because he lived with me half the time. I ended up giving my son the bedroom because it was important to him and I was perfectly happy with the bunk bed. In our culture we are brought up to believe owning a home is the American dream and bigger is better. I believe most people buy big houses to impress other people and to also hold all of their material possessions, most that they don’t even use.  I have never been that way. My attorney income could have easily afforded me a very large house but I bought a small 2 bedroom house and then a 2 bedroom condo because that is all I needed for me and my son. I became an attorney mainly to have a good income to travel a lot. Traveling has been my passion since my early 20s when I lived in England as an exchange student. I knew I was different when all the other exchange students in the international dorm I lived in wanted to go back to their home countries after the school year was over because they were homesick and all I wanted to do was travel through the rest of Europe, which I did. I pretty much raised my son taking cruises in the Caribbean and also to Europe, Japan and China. I love living in my van for travel, adventure, camping out in nature and the freedom it provides to me. I now realize the reason it also works out perfectly for me is because I am a true minimalist. Even other van dwellers are surprised at the extra space I have in my van because a lot of their vans look cluttered and several of them pay to keep their possessions in storage that they obviously don’t need because they are in storage. Everthing I own is in my van except for a small box of photos and family mementos that are in my aunt’s attic. I like the saying I heard awhile back: “Don’t let your possessions possess you”. I don’t know why I am not the norm with wanting a large home and lots of material possessions but I am grateful to be a true minimalist. It fits perfectly with this lifestyle that I love so much 😊

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Lost in the Right Direction

I had a friend camp with me last night that left this morning. Yesterday before my friend got here I hiked in the valley below my campsite and stumbled onto a great trail that I followed to the main road so I would know where to find it again. Today I hiked the same trail far down the mountain crisscrossing many other trails. After hiking several switchbacks up the mountain on the way back to camp the terrain became unfamiliar to me and I realized I was lost. I didn’t mind though because I knew I had cell service and navigation on my phone. It was a beautiful detour hiking the edge of the mountain. I looked at the navigation on my phone and I could see the many trails on it so I eventually found my way to a trail that took me to the main road. It was defintely the long way around to get back to camp but it was a beautiful hike and a great workout. I realize now I need to pick up a trail map from the forest service whenever I go to a new forest that I want to hike in because I may not always be able to rely on my phone. If I didn’t have my phone with me today I probably would have blazed my own trail climbing straight up the mountain since I knew my campsite and the main road were up there. I always try to remember to bring a fully charged phone, bear spray, water and snacks with me hiking to plan for the unexpected. I really love my campsite and the beautiful sunsets I have been watching from it 🌄

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Back to the Forest 🌳

I headed back into Prescott National Forest yesterday since the weekenders went home, so I could find a good campsite. I found a great campsite up on a mountain with a view of the other mountains and Thumb Butte behind my campsite with my neighbors so far away that I can’t see or hear them, just the way I like it. No generator noise to worry about. I have a friend joining me today. A lot of dispersed camping is far from town so sometimes my cell service is spotty or non-existant but I have great cell service here since not too far from town. I mainly need cell service for work. Otherwise I don’t mind doing without it for several days. Sometimes people camping in the free dispersed camping do not clean up their campsite before leaving. I made a glove out of a garbage bag and cleaned up my site which I often do to leave it cleaner than I found it. Among the trash was some underwear and lots of used toilet paper at the back of the campsite, eew! I left the garbage bag by a tree to take it to town when I leave. I don’t mind taking a few minutes to clean up my campsite if trash is left behind, especially considering I am camping for free. I watched a beautiful sunset last night while meditating and sitting on a rock that I am now calling my meditation rock. This morning I watched a beautiful sunrise while sipping my coffee, listening to the birds chirping and the coyotes howling in the distance with a big smile on my face 😊

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Hiking, Climbing Boulders and Sleeping in a Parking Lot

I spent the day at a park on Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona with views of my temporary lakefront property from my van windows. Almost all of the parks here charge an entrance fee but the fee is usually just $2 or $3 for the entire day. I like spending my days at nice parks or other outdoor areas and then in the evening just find somewhere to stealth park for the night. All I need is a parking space for my van. I stayed in the parking lot of an apartment complex last night  and am staying at the same one tonight. Super quiet place. I always look at other vehicles to make sure I don’t need a parking sticker. As I was pulling into my parking spot tonight I said to myself “looks like home to me” which is what I always say when I pull into my spot for the night. I don’t even remember when I started saying that to myself but I wrote that saying on the border in my van. This morning I took a walk around Willow Lake. I enjoyed listening to the birds chirp and meeting some of the locals taking a walk too. I sat at a picnic table in my own little pavillion and ate lunch while looking out at the lake thinking how lucky I am that I can do these kind of things everyday and not just on the weekends like most people. This afternoon I hiked a trail that goes through the park. Part of it was hiking a dirt trail and part of it was climbing over these huge boulders. I had to follow the painted white dots on the boulders to stay on the trail. I enjoyed my hike and especially climbing those huge boulders. I defintely want to do that again🚶‍♀️

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Prescott, Arizona

Over the last couple of days I have been exploring Prescott (pronounced Preskit), Arizona. Yesterday I hiked four miles and then camped overnight for free in the Prescott National Forest. At most national forests you can camp anywhere. However, some national forests that are really popular because near popular cities post signs that you can only camp in their designated campsites, still free. The only forests I have camped at that are like this is in the forest near Aspen, Colorado this past summer and the one near Prescott. I was lucky to get the last site that was available last night. I think it was available because the campsite next to it had people that ran a very loud generator almost all day and night, so I just stayed for one night and found a stealth spot in town for tonight that is very quiet. This is why I don’t like camping in designated areas that are close to others but it is rare that I have to when in the national forests. The site was nice though. I don’t understand the people that go camping just to run their generator most of the time so they can stay inside watching TV, etc. My solar panels power what I need and I love exploring the outdoors. I explored Lynx Lake yesterday and today I hiked the trails around beautiful Watson Lake. I had fun climbing all of the boulders there. Afterwards I hung out in my van for awhile with a view of the non-boulder part of the lake from my van windows. It was cloudy today and now it is raining. I like the relaxing sounds of the rain on my van roof 🌧

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