Winter Wonderland

Not sure exactly when the last day of winter is but it definitely feels like winter right now. It has been snowing and raining the last four days. It is pretty to watch the snow falling outside when you’re cozy and warm inside and you don’t have to be anywhere. The snow usually melts by afternoon when the sun starts shining a little. Yesterday afternoon there was a little break in the snow and rain to take a nice hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It is so pretty here. I feel like we have the whole mountain to ourselves because there really isn’t much traffic that drives by. The ski resort further up the mountain is closed and the weather has been pretty cold for hiking. I like that there isn’t a lot of people around and being on top of a mountain 🏔

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I ❤️ Forest Camping

I am back to camping in the forest near Ashland in the same spot I was in last week. I love this spot. I have a beautiful view of Mt. Shasta and the valley below from my van windows. I found this spot just driving up and down the mountain looking off to the sides of the road. You can camp anywhere in a national forest for free unless it is posted that you can’t park overnight or camp there or if they have signs stating you have to camp in designated areas. When I was a full-timer in an RV I stayed at campgrounds because I didn’t know about the forest or BLM camping, which is my preferred way to camp since it is so much more peaceful and you get lots of privacy. I like not having to make reservations at a campground so on a whim I can go wherever I want. I am going to be traveling with my friend in his school bus for awhile since we want to go to a lot of the same places. Yesterday I went on a short hike on the Pacific Crest Trail that I can walk to from my campsite. I loved the movie Wild with Reese Witherspoon which is based on a true story about this girl that hiked the Pacific Crest Trail so it was cool to walk part of the trail. I plan to take a longer hike while here after the weather clears up as it’s pretty rainy today. It even snowed earlier which was actually pretty beautiful 🌨❄️

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Reggae Music and Mineral Springs

A couple of days ago I met up with a friend that lives in a converted school bus. Last night we stayed at Jackson Wellsprings in Ashland, Oregon. We paid to stay the night in the parking lot which also included entrance to the mineral springs hot tub, pool and showers. I loved soaking in the mineral springs hot tub and taking a mineral springs shower, which left my skin super soft. The place reminds me of a hippie commune. There was so many laid-back cool people there, many that live there year-round. On the property they have trails, a garden, yurts, a yoga room, a labyrinth and other cool places to hang out. Last night they had a reggae concert in this huge tipee with a fire pit and rugs all over the floor that I enjoyed dancing barefoot on. I had such a great time. I am always attracted to hanging out with laid-back chill happy hippies. Maybe I am a hippy now ✌️️❤️

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Forest Camping Again

Last night I stayed in the forest up in the mountains outside of Ashland, Oregon. There was still a lot of snow at high elevation and a lot of the forest roads weren’t passable without chains on my tires (maybe I will have to get some). However, at a little lower elevation I was able to find a great spot with a beautiful view of the valley below. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet last night. I recently joined Planet Fitness since there are a lot of them in the Oregon cities I will be exploring over the next month and my membership covers going to all of their clubs. I also like that there is no annual contract, just a month to month. I mainly joined to have a regular hot shower like a lot of other van dwellers but I figure I might as well workout. I realized how much I miss working out at the gym and doing strength training exercises which I find to be more important in my 50s 🏋
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Happy Ashland, Oregon

I really like Ashland. It is a beautiful city with a beautiful park with a lot of hiking trails leading from the city through the park up to the mountains. There is a pretty river that flows right through the city. There are lots of houses turned into cute bed and breakfast establishments and there are deer that just hang out in the city and even in people’s yards. I like that Ashland is not a big city but it isn’t too small either. Yesterday when I was walking through the park there was someone playing bagpipes and there was an artisian market (home made goods for sale) set up across the park for the day. The last two nights I slept on a side street right next to the park. I couldn’t find anything online stating it is illegal to sleep in your vehicle but I still kept it on the downlow just in case. There is an RV parked near me that it is obvious someone is living in (extension cord going from the RV to the house next to it and air vents I keep seeing go up and down). I saw several other RVs and a guy living in his car that weren’t being too discreet about it so it could be legal to sleep in your vehicle here. I haven’t even moved my van because I can walk to everywhere I want to go. I don’t think there are any bad areas here. I love that the people living here are very friendly and laid back, even in traffic. If people see you getting ready to step into a cross walk they stop to wait for you to get to it and cross unlike a lot of places I haven been where people speed up so they don’t have to wait for you. Almost everyone I have run across here looks happy. Ashland is one beautiful happy city 😀

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Nature is Therapy

Last night I stayed the night in Trinidad, California on the street right across from the police department which was really just someone’s house with a small police department sign in front of it, since Trinidad is a very small town. The last couple of days have been very stressful work days for me. However, driving through Redwoods National Park and Redwoods State Park in Northern California today helped to distress me. Being in nature is very therapeutic to me and my favorite place to meditate. The forest and the beautiful coastline driving the Pacific Coast Highway in Northern California was absolutely beautiful 🌳

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Northern California Coast

Yesterday I explored Fortuna, California where I took a walk along the river. Today I took a walk on the Boardwalk in Eureka, California. Although the waterfront is pretty I read online that they have a lot of crime there so I didn’t stay long. Today I also explored Trinidad, California which is a small beautiful oceanside town with these cool rock formations coming out of the water. A couple of nights ago I stayed the night at a California rest area which I will never do again because they have a 8 hour time limit. After getting setttled in and ready to go to bed I realized I only had 5 hours left so I had to deal with less sleep than I needed. Last night I stayed the night in a casino parking lot where it is allowed and tonight I am staying the night on a residential street that allows overnight parking, although it may be illegal to sleep in your vehicle so I just keep that on the downlow. I have slept in over one hundred parking lots and streets. Not everybody can say that 😁

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Guest at a Tourist Club

Last night I stayed overnight at the San Francisco branch of The Tourist Club which is a club that was established in 1895 in Austria with the San Francisco branch established in 1912 by some local Germans and Austrians in the Mill Valley with beautiful views of the Muir Woods from the club. The club was established for nature lovers and to promote nature appreciation. I was able to stay there as a guest of one of the members (that I met at the hot springs recently) who obtained his membership with lots of volunteer hours at the club. I just had to pay $21 for the guest rate for my own room and bathroom. I love my van bed but made an exception to sleep at the club because it is so nice and it was quite a hike to and from my van. The club has a European theme because of the founders of the club. I felt like I was in Europe. I had to hike down a steep trail to get to the club and then hike back out today. I hiked a beautiful trail connected to the club yesterday. Last night I played Jenga with some of the members and guests in front of a warm fire and had coffee in front of the fire this morning with a nice couple from Connecticut 🔥

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San Francisco

I took a wrong turn and ended up in Oakland where there was tent cities of homeless people everywhere. I drove to North Berkeley but they even had some tent cities near downtown Berkeley with a sign that said ‘Berkeley + Oakland Shame on This Wall’, whatever that means. I saw a lot of old RVs, some that looked broke down, parked next to a lot of the tents. My guess is that the people living in those old RVs probably don’t travel much. The Berkeley tent city must be the upper class tent city because they were in a nicer neighborhood and they even had solar panels. I decided to take the train into downtown San Francisco from North Berkeley since North Berkeley is a nice area and finding a parking space in downtown San Francisco I heard is very difficult. I walked along the water from the Ferry Building to Fisherman’s Wharf and  then when I got back to North Berkeley I just parked on a residential street instead of the parking lot at the train station. It was a nice quiet street. Now I am at a rest area that has a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. This afternoon I am meeting up with a friend not far from here that I met at the Remington hot springs in California recently. I remember being in San Francisco when I was little and as an adult. When I was little I always said I wanted to move here but now I don’t care too much for the big cities although San Francisco is a nice city 🌆

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Snowfall and Yosemite National Park

Last night I stayed overnight in a parking area in the forest just outside Yosemite National Park in California. I woke up this morning to snow in the forest and snow covering my van. I had at least one inch of snow on my solar panels on my van roof. I drove to another part of the parking lot with my head sticking out my window so I could see since ice and snow was covering my windshield. I waited for the sun to melt the ice and snow on my van in the sunnier part of the parking lot that I moved to, which didn’t take long since it was a beautiful sunny day today. I can’t believe the snow and cold isn’t bothering me at all. I just layer my clothes and sleep in my warm sleeping bag and I am fine. While I was waiting for the sun to melt the ice and snow on my van I met my neighbors who also stayed the night. There was a couple from Germany that rented a mini van they slept in the back of that I talked with for at least an hour. They invited me over for breakfast and I showed them my van, which they liked. There was another couple there in their van. Unfortunately I couldn’t go far into the park because any higher up the road required tire chains for the snow, which I don’t have. I was able to drive to a trail head to hike to some beautiful waterfalls. There was a sign at the trailhead warning of a mountain lion in the area and that hiking sticks are a good way to defend yourself so I went back to my van and got my hiking sticks. No mountain lion sighting though. I’m sure my bear spray would probably work on a mountain lion too. Right now is the best time for seeing waterfalls since all the snow is melting high up in the mountain creating all the water. There is a little town in the park that I had to drive through to get to the waterfalls. I saw a library there so on the way back through town I pulled into the library parking lot and was able to get on their wifi without leaving my van. I don’t have cell service here so I am using their wifi to post this and do some work. I have discovered in my travels that you can access wifi for a lot of libraries from their parking lot and if not you can go inside and use the wifi even if not a resident there. Some require a password which they have always given me when I have requested it. I also use wifi at libraries to download movies and tv shows from Netflix to watch later. I’ll probably head back to Yosemite to explore the other parts of the park at the end of this summer after heading back down from the North Western states. It is nice to be in the park without the huge summer crowds though 🌿

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