Tuesday, May 22, 2018
I spent the yesterday evening and today in Colorado Springs with a dear friend. He lives in a fifth wheel in an RV park and so I was able to park the Kraken in his driveway and boondock there. He gave me the code to use the bathroom facilities which allowed me my first shower in 15 days. You would think I would be excited about that but not really. It was pleasant enough but honestly I haven't missed it so much. That's a huge shocker for me but it's the truth.
In my day and a half here we took to trips to Walmart and hiked a bit behind the RV park where he lives. Most of the time we spent catching up and chatting. I did turn him on to pita and Creama Kasa cheese and we enjoyed a couple of salads and washed it all down with a blended wine. It was good company and good food. The nights were cool and sleeping in the Kraken continues to be a great delight.
Earlier this evening we watched The Last Jedi. The most redeeming thing about the film was the filming on Skellig Michael of the Celtic Monks beehive huts. Other than that, I thought it was the weakest film in the Star Wars franchise.
I finished my evening with the movie, Milk, about a gay Jedi, Harvey Milk who would have turned 88 today had he lived to do so. Instead he was murdered by a homophobic bigot and the rest is history. He was a powerful Jedi in the resistance in which many of us continue. He is a giant in the movement for equal rights for LGBT folk. I watch the movie on his birthday every year and the anniversary of his assassination. It was much better than The Last Jedi to be sure.
Monday, May 21, 2018
After Manhattan I headed west. It was flat all the way to the mountains. Very flat. So very flat. I guess flat with no trees has its own beauty. I'm sure of it, more or less. I've been to Colorado but I don't think I've ever driven there.
While on the way I saw so many vans that looked like they might be part of #VanLife. I wondered about each and everyone of them. I driven across country many, many times but I think this time I saw more folks traveling or living in vans than ever.
How to tell the difference? Is there a difference other than the amount of time you spend in the van? I think not really.
The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, sunny and I listened to John Denver almost all the way.
I was looking forward to seeing Fr. Rick and celebrating the Holy Mass with him. It's been a minute or two.
We had a wonderful dinner and he introduced me to his favorite wine. He's watching American Idol as I catch up on the blog. Hopefully I can keep caught up.
Oh, they're singing the Rainbow Connection with Kermit the Frog! Gotta go!
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Well, today was the last day of my Mother's Day show and was time for goodbyes, loading, and laundering the clothes. I hate goodbyes. Sometimes they're just for a time but sometimes they end up being forever. I hate goodbyes and experience no small amount of melancholy.
All in all the show was worth attending. It's always good to visit Manhattan and catch up with old friends. Over the years I've developed so many of them and this year I added a few more. For that, I am thankful.
I'm looking forward to the next leg of the adventure. I'll be heading to Colorado tomorrow to see a priest in Christ Catholic Church.
Sadly I didn't ride today. The weather just didn't cooperate. It was cooler and rainy and as much as I like to ride, I'm a fair weather rider. And climbing back into the Kraken damp and cold doesn't excite me.
This has been a great inaugural run for the Kraken and I in #VanLife. We've made it through with flying colors. I wasn't sure how I was going to take not taking a daily shower but I've adjusted quite well. In fact, honestly, I don't miss it. My skin is as happy as it's ever been and my hair softer than it's been in a long time.
Well here's to Colorado tomorrow. Goodbye Manhattan! Thanks for a great time! See you down the road!
|Downtown Manhattan Kansas - Small Town America|
The conventional wisdom is that you find what you look for and I think that's true to some extent when traveling from community to community. I have always had the ability to find friends and interests in any community I would find myself.
Back in the late 90's I traveled around in a 24 foot Class C Motorhome and loved it. I was blowing glass and traveling from craftshow to craftshow with a several different promoters.
Many of us who traveled consistently with a show promoter did so in an RV of some shape and size. We would all pitch base camp within the general vicinity of one another and form a little mobile neighborhood.
We'd do all the things that one would do in a neighborhood: throw block parties, have potluck dinners, invite the neighbors over for a barbecue, and even sometimes complain about our neighbor. Some of us would even try and keep up with the Joneses. We were always comparing RV's, gas mileage, and storage capacity. Yes, size matters.
We'd each venture into the larger surrounding community and it was always interesting to hear the stories that made it back to camp, some good and some bad.
Once you got to know the people in our little traveling caravan you could almost guess what kind of experience they were going to have in any given community and at any given show. It was very consistent and I think it was because they found what they always found because that was what they always looked for.
The same folks time and time again would hate this or love that. They would have a rotten show or a good show. Everyone's experience would be different but each individual's experience would be consistent with their general outlook.
I was often teased because I can always find something good in every place I travel and delightful people everywhere I go. I think that's because that's always what I look for. I roll into a community and I get excited by just arriving. I start looking for the interesting, the unique, and the fun in every situation. Sadly, that's not true of everyone who travels.
I will soon pack up and head off to a different city with a different crowd of folks and most likely a different climate. I don't know what to expect specifically but I do know what I'll probably find there in general because it's what I always find. It will be interesting and full of learning experiences. I'll meet some neat people, have some fun, and find some beauty in whatever place I visit. It may or may not make my favorites list but I'll no doubt enjoy it for what is.
My mentor in the Episcopal Church, Fr. James Martin, once said that I was the type of person to be at home wherever I hung my hat and he was so right. Now, I would add, home is wherever the Kraken and I park.
Friday, May 18, 2018
I'm feeling like this post has more to do with GlassLife than VanLife right now. When you're on a long show, meaning longer than 3-4 days, it can sometimes feel like an eternity. Such is the case as I near the end of this gig.
It's been a delightful stay and I've reconnected with friends, made new ones, and generally enjoyed myself but it's time to move along down the road. What's more, I'm anxious to do so.
This should be my last longer show for a while. Typically I limit longer shows in malls to Christmas, St. Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day. So, I won't have another one like this for quite sometime and who knows where I'll be come Christmas.
I enjoy the music and art festivals quite a bit and all the smaller shows in-between are pretty fun and often profitable too. When compared to a race, they're like a 50 yard dash as opposed to the longer shows being more like marathons. You run them each differently. Your inventory is different, your clientele is different, your expenses are different, and your profit is different. Longer shows offer stability and security. Shorter festivals offer opportunity and diversity. There's a time and a place for each of them.
What do you call a flock of hummingbirds? A charm! I've made of charm of hummingbirds in the last couple of days to be sure. Half a gross to be exact. After having made thousands and thousands of them over the years, I think I could make them in my sleep and sometimes I think I have.
Production too can become a little monotonous but it also offers time for reflection and thought, not unlike riding a bicycle for me. I can just kick on autopilot and let my mind wander around a bit.
While I churned out my recent charm of hummers I thought of different paths to my first major destination, the Pacific Northwest and of places and people I might visit along the way. Colorado would seem to be the best way to go and as luck would have it, I have a good friend, who happens to be a priest in Christ Catholic Church, in Colorado Springs. I think I'll pop in on him for a bit and see if I can wear out my welcome.
We'll see where the Kraken takes me...
Thursday, May 17, 2018
|The Kraken at sunrise on day ten of VanLife.|
It was a beautiful morning, the kind that makes you glad to be alive. The birds were in full chorus and the air was cool and crisp and gentle on my skin. A soft breeze ruffled the leaves in the trees and the smell of spring was in the air. I was reminded of the old hymn, "Morning Has Broken" made popular in secular culture by Cat Stevens in the 1970's.
Morning had broken for some, though not for others and I was reminded of an incident that happened the other night at around midnight while I was sleeping in the van. It's a moment in time I'm not likely to forget.
I had fallen asleep earlier, around 10 pm or so. It had been a long busy day and I was tired to my bones. My bed is oh, so very comfortable and my blanket so very soft. The temperature in the van was just right for sleeping and so sleep came quickly.
I was awoken around midnight by a scream I shan't forget. It was across between a scream and a wail. It was followed by two more, each one weaker than the last. The first one woke me up; the next two chilled me to the bone. Something terrible had happened.
Being in the van I couldn't tell the direction from which the scream came nor could I tell how far away the person was but I thought not terribly far, though not in close proximity either.
It wasn't long, half and minute to a minute perhaps, that emergency vehicles converged from all directions not far from me, maybe a block or two. With all the red flashing lights, the sirens, and the sheer number of first responders I knew something terrible had indeed happened.
I didn't sleep for the rest of the night and I when morning broke I would soon find out what had happened.
Google is an ever present companion of mine. She keeps me informed, up to date, and offers advice on where to eat or what to do from time to time. This morning she gave me the breaking story on the midnight occurrence.
Two men, described as homeless in the article, had attempted to cross the highway about a block and a half from where the Kraken was parked for the night with me sleeping. They crossed at the same time a car was approaching. The driver managed to swerve and miss hitting one of the men but the other one wasn't so lucky. He died of his injuries.
There were three people there with reason to scream that night and I don't know who all I heard but I felt for all three of them and offered a stunned and shaken prayer. A man stopped breathing that night and it wasn't a gentle goodbye.
I've said all of that to say this: none of us own our next breath and time is shorter than you think. My mentor in the church, Bishop Karl Prüter of blessed memory, use to remind us of that and he would often followup with the comment that he could step off a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any moment. I always wondered if he ever had a close call with a sanitation truck when he was younger.
|Hummingbird Suncatcher at Crystal Revelations|
I do what I do because I love it. I love creating art. I love sharing that with other people and I love making money doing it. I'm an unapologetic wandering capitalistic artist. I looked around me the other night and took stock of my time making art, traveling/living in a van, and doing what I love and I was happy with my choices.
For instance, that little hummingbird suncatcher you see above represents a very real 10 minutes of my life, six to eight minutes sculpting the bird in the flame and another two to four minuets adding color to it. That is time I will never get back; time frozen in glass. And I would do it again. I'm living the life that I want.
Can you say the same thing? If you can't, you best get to it. A gentle reminder, you don't own your next breath dear reader and you could step off of a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any given moment. Don't wait until it's too late to make your life yours.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
|My in Case of Emergency - Davy Jones Locker|
(No, I did not put a used bucket on a dining room table. This is Davy Jones Locker straight from the store.)
When people find out you're living in a van they invariably ask THAT question. Yeah, you know the question. You're probably dying to ask it yourself...
"How do you go to the bathroom?"
I usually say, just like you, but that just elicits a little laugh and still the quizzical stare. So I go into a little greater detail.
Now it's true, I have yet to use Davy Jones Locker above but if I ever need it, it's there. Right before I departed on this adventure I was watching a YouTube video about pooping in VanLife and the most common ways folks have found to do it and the contraptions they do it in.
The YouTuber had a good point and it's something I always say, "Its better to have and not need, than to need and not have." I had a moment of clarity and I went out and bought Davy Jones Locker.
For me, I think the 5 gallon bucket and trash bag contraption will work best. No fuss, no muss. Only time will tell the story to see if it works for me but will I blog about it?