Thursday, September 6, 2018

#VanLife Day 121 or Coddiwomple Cares


I haven't been blogging very much and I suppose, that is a tired trait I've exhibited on many of my blogs.  I hoped to arrest that habit with this blog but old habits die hard.

A while back I stopped doing day-by-day blogs and chose to only post more inspired or at least noteworthy content and while there have certainly been some noteworthy events since my last entry, I didn't feel that I wanted to blog about them. As a result, I just didn't blog.

The long and the short of it is that I made some miscalculations in the beginning of my trip or perhaps more accurately, I made some problematic choices that had some unforeseen consequences. As a result, there have been some setbacks in regard to my income flow from the glass business as well as to my continued travels.

To help rectify the situation I took a job to replenish my depleted coffer. I haven't had a paid position in many, many, many years, at least since I was a hospice chaplain. It's been and continues to be a bit of an adjustment for me, if not also a bit humbling. I know right, welcome to the life of most folks! All in all, I'm thankful.

The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to be sure, filled full of interesting people but then I find people interesting everywhere I go. The flora and fauna is also of extreme interest to me. The days pass by and I enjoy the beach and the water, the people and the places, the pizza and the wine, and life moves along slowly.

That being said, I still feel like I haven't quite done what I set out to do when I came to this place, so far flung from the rest of the country and that is unsettling.

I haven't traveled much further than Port Townsend and while I've done a craftshow and sold some glass within the community, I haven't done much with the glass business or as much as I had hoped to.

I also haven't done as much with the church as I had hoped. I've been able to meet with one of the bishops of Christ Catholic Church and that was a great joy. However, I had hoped to meet with more clergy in the general area than I have to date.

Having said all of that, I have to say this, my journey thus far hasn't been pointless. It has just been more of an inward exploration than an outward exploration. Of course I knew that would be part of the sojourn IIhad embarked upon but I hadn't anticipated that that would play as a consuming role as it has.

I struggle with two deeply seated instincts. The first is to return to my beloved Ozark Mountains and my many friends and family who live there. It is an almost constant yearning. I long to return to well worn patterns and places  and to a culture that is familiar and comforting to me.

I struggle with my need to nest, to create a home and or work space that also offers those patterns, activities, and things that are familiar to me: a place that comforts and delights me where I can entertain others as well as myself and showcase my creativity.

To that end, I actually leased a very small 200 sqft studio in which to blow glass, though I did dodge a journey ending lease on an enchanted Knot House in which to dwell. Whew! It was close. I may give up my studio yet as well. It's a gateway to the world of nesting.

The only thing I know for sure is that I need to book some fall craftshows and turn my focus to Christmas. I might not blog again for a while as I'm heading into my busiest time of the year. We'll see...

Friday, June 15, 2018

#VanLife Day 38 or Brian Sells Glass Down by the Seashore

I spent the day traveling to Ocean Beach Washington and to the Port of the Peninsula for the annual Garlic Festival where I've set up as a vendor to sell my blownglass.  This will be my first craftshow in Washington and I'm excited about it.

The drive here was uneventful but beautiful.  It was a leisurely, scenic drive.  Setting up was another matter.

After having to move my booth twice I finally was placed in what hopefully will be my spot for the next couple of days.  While this festival has been going on for years, this was their fist time at this particular venue so there were some bugs to work out.  Not only did I have to move my setup twice but I helped the lady next to me reorient hers as well.

Tomorrow morning I'll finish the chore, cleaning mirrors and setting out glass.  Hopefully I'll be ready to blow glass when they open the gates.  If nothing else, I'll certainly be ready to sell glass.


Several of the vendors are staying in their RV's on the lot but they all picked a spot without a view. I split from the herd and headed to my new point lookout for the next couple of days.  It's a great view!


After I got the Kraken settled in I took Peregrine off of the back and headed off on a bike ride to a local market. Along the way Peregrine developed his first flat and I without a spare tube!

Anyway, I gathered up my groceries and walked back to the port.  It was only a few miles, so not too bad.  I had a great dinner in the way of roasted red potatoes with rosemary and a roast beast sandwich on twelve grain woowoo bread.  It was delicious.  The horseradish sauce was amazing!


I'm look forward to tomorrow.  I'm hoping the catch the sunrise.  We'll see.  I'm sure it will still happen even if I don't witness it.  ;-)

Friday, June 8, 2018

VanLife Day 30 or It's Been a Minute


You may or may not have noticed that I haven't posted a blog entry in several days. This is in part due to laziness and in part due to not liking the way the blogging was going, or perhaps the way the writing was going.  It seemed that as I struggled to do a blog post a day, the content of the posts became watered down or contrived and I began to offer very little in the way of the meaningful content.

I'd rather this blog not become a journal or simpler still, a calendar of events.  As a result I will not be pushing to blog every day.  I'll make a post when I have something worthwhile to say instead of cataloging the daily drudge.


With that being said, I thought that this day, of all days, was a milestone of sorts. As of today I will have spent thirty days living and sleeping in the Kraken.  Much has evolved since the first day and night and hopefully that trend will continue as I iron out the wrinkles of living in a van.

I can honestly say that I love it as much as the first night and I'm looking forward to many more.  It has been very interesting and informative for me personally and I can only assume that will continue.


Now that doesn't mean I don't miss the people, places, things, and routines that made up my everyday life before I embarked on this adventure.  I do and sometimes it's intense.  I'm a wanderer at heart but the Ozark Mountains and my family and friends there pull at my heart strings and lure me home with a continuous tug.

So, what have I learned in 30 days?  Well, I've learned that I can tolerate not bathing daily.  While I now have access to a wonderful bath house and even more wonderful shower, for which I am thankful, I know for certain I can also find ways to feel clean and refreshed without a daily shower.  For me that was huge!  While my default is still to have my daily shower if at all possible, I take great delight in knowing that that routine is not absolutely critical for my continued comfort or cleanliness.

I've also learned that less is more.  When shopping for food I still fall back into old patterns if I'm not careful.  I'll buy multiples of things to get a better deal, even though storing multiples of things becomes exponentially harder the more items you have in your cooler or pantry.  I try to buy smaller amounts and just what I need for one to three days in an attempt to let the local grocery store or Walmart be my larger pantry to storage facility.

This works well for fitness as well.  It forces me to shop more often and that forces me to bike or walk more often and that's nothing but good for me.  I've also learned to keep my panniers on my bike!  Several times I went to the store without them and schlepping things home on my bike without my bags was no fun.  Follow the Boy Scout motto: semper paratus - always be prepared.


I'm also learning how to cook with one simple pot instead of a whole kitchen of pots, pans, dishes, and gadgets.  It's a challenge to plan a meal in a sequence that lends itself to culinary success.

Some things I'm also working on are: accepting help when it's offered, never turning down a free meal or free food, never turning down an adventure without a really good reason, never passing up an opportunity to use bathroom facilities, utilizing power facilities whenever I can for charging electronic devices, and not to be in so much of a rush to arrive that I forget to enjoy the journey.  I stop and smell the flowers more often now and it's wonderful.


These are just some of the things I've learned and am working on over these last thirty days.  This is as much an inward adventure as it is an outward adventure. To love so well the world that I try not to take a minute of my journey for granted.  Thanks for sharing it with me on this blog!




Tuesday, May 29, 2018

VanLife Day 22 or Bon Voyage


It wasn't planes, trains, and automobiles but instead it was bikes, boats, and buses.  My friend and I took off for the Walmart in Oak Harbor in order to procure some necessities.


We biked to the ferry which we caught not a moment to soon and we were off across the water to Whidbey Island.


I needed another blanket for the cool nights and a pot to cook my porridge in.  My friend needs some other sundry things and after we had made our careful purchases we headed off for lunch.

There was a T-Mobile store close by and so we made pilgrimage from T-Mobile Tuesdays only to be pleasantly disappointed that there were no freebies.  I say pleasantly disappointed because remember, I'm trying to embrace minimalism and yet my passion to collect is still strong.

Lunch was had at the Safeway and I must say, Safeway offers the most wonderful breakfast burrito of all time, in my humble opinion.  However, instead of my usual Monster chase I chose Diet Dr. Pepper.

Sadly I had neglected to put the saddlebags on Peregrine and so schlepping our goodies back home wasn't as easy as it could have been but we managed.  Once home it was time to unload and rearrange.

I will sleep much warmer tonight thanks to the added blanket.



Monday, May 28, 2018

VanLife Day 21 or Pizza, Pizza!


Pizza, glorious pizza!  Today was the day for pizza on the beach.  Is there anything more perfect?  Well maybe the bike ride to and fro.  Enough said. :-)


Sunday, May 27, 2018

VanLife Day 20 or A Light Shineth in the Darkness


It was a great day to wander over toward the Point Wilson Lighthouse in Port Townsend.  The sun was warm and the water was cool.  The hills there were substantial and I am ashamed to admit I had to walk up two of them.  I haven't had to walk my bike up a hill in years.  Oh well, something to work toward.


Peregrine didn't want to get to close to the salt water. I, on the other hand, dipped my toes in.  The water was cold but not terribly so.  However, I wouldn't want to remain in it very long.

it was a great day to catch up on long overdue blog posts and with the rest of my digital social media platforms  Then on to lunch at The Boiler Room for a free bowl of beef vegetable soup and jalapeno cheese bread.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

VanLife Day 19 or To Boldly Go Where So Many Have Gone Today


Today I continued to explore Port Townsend with my friend.  We headed off down the bike trail past the big water toward the Farmer's Market and other places yet unexplored by me.

Along the way we stopped at a couple of new places my friend wanted to show me, one of which was an amazing antique/hardware/lighting store. If I were in the market for candle stick holders for an altar, that would be the place to part with $3500 for a pair.  While they were tempting (ha) I decided they wouldn't fit in the Kraken.  Saved by #VanLife! Needless to say, there was lots of eye candy there, some of it of the human persuasion even, but that's another story.

After a few side trips we ended up at our destination, the Farmer's Market.  Today was apparently a special day for the market in that it had more food vendors than usual.  Everyone and their brother, sister, or gender fluid or gender nonconforming sibling were there.  It was packed.

Farmer's Market Port Townsend Washington

My inquisitiveness faded about halfway through the vendors.  It was simply way too crowded.  So we hopped over to see our Lady of the Land who had set up her herb booth there and was happily busy with a client.  We paid our nodding respect and snuck through her booth and out the back where we made our escape.

We pedaled on down, and I do mean down, to the local Safeway, a wonderful grocery store with a wonderful deli and I had, for the second time, the most wonderful breakfast burrito I've ever had. 

The day offered several different adventures and there are even more on the horizon.  I may have found a place to set up Crystal Revelations and sell some glass art.  It'll require a little more follow-up next week.  This is Memorial Day weekend after all.  More to follow...


Friday, May 25, 2018

VanLife Day 18 or A Room With a View

The Kraken's new parking space and my new live place.
Having arrived last night we tried to wedge the Kraken in amongst the firs and cedars but as you must know, such a feat in the black of night is not often easily accomplished and we had to wait until to day to get the job done.

With the Kraken snug into his new home I set about the task of unpacking the inside and making a roomier more serviceable living space.  I hooked up my little propane stove and it found its resting place on top of my cooler, freeing the table to act as a pantry/desk.  It's workable and pleasant.

I was also delighted to fire up my incense censer and make it smell more like home.  Note to self, a little goes a long way.

Coming from the Ozarks, the temperature change is perhaps the most challenging thing to get use to.  I remember living in San Francisco and I was never warm, must the same is true when I lived and or visited southern California.  It's the Pacific Ocean that must chill me.  Port Townsend is quite chilly especially when the wind blows, even on warmer days, and the wind almost always blows.


I was introduced to the bike trail downtown today.  It was fun with great views.  It was certainly different from the bike trails in Fayetteville but it was very pleasant and I suspect has some benefits over the paved, lighted bike trails in Faytown.  Perhaps there will be fewer pedestrians on these trails and most assuredly there will be few people pushing double strollers.


The bike trail as it runs towards downtown goes by the boatyards.  This in an of itself was worth the tip.  It was a great delight to look at all the different boats, watch the sailboats, and catch a glimpse of a ferry or too as they come and went.


The sun finally came out to play and the day warmed up a bit though I still wore a jacket I brought with me, just in case.  I explored downtown with a great tour guide who happens to be a dear friend.  I found Port Townsend to be quite charming.


I've always said Eureka Springs Arkansas, a similar little Victorian town I've written about on this blog, would be perfect if it were near the water and the climate was a bit less extreme in terms of heat and cold.  Port Townsend is indeed that kind of place.  It has a similar charm as Eureka but much friendlier weather and then there's the water, big water!


Who says there's no free lunch?  Obviously that person has not been to the Boiler Room in downtown Port Townsend!  The Boiler Room is a not-for-profit which has been offering free meals daily for around twenty years, give or take a day.  As a result, a lot of folks who may one eat that one meal a day have at least that to look forward to.  They also have a small pantry of free food, necessities, and books.  (A necessity if you ask me.)

As a result of their generosity, I had a delicious bowl of vegetable soup and a yummy roll to go with it.  I want to explore this place a little more and who knows, maybe I'll do some volunteer work there.  I'm impressed with their operation so far.

All in all my first day in Port Townsend was delightful and at times magical.  I think I this will quickly become one of my favorite places.  It seems like a place that's easy to love.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

VanLife Day 17 or Spectacular, Spectacular!

The Kraken Overlooking Deadman Pass in Oregon.

I post a lot of #VanLife blog posts and don't often post pictures of my traveling companion, the Kraken.  He's kinda the star of the show.  I'm simply a ride along more or less.  Here's the Kraken resting and overlooking Oregon at Deadman Pass.  He told me to take it easy on the way down.  I listened.

Today was perhaps the most momentous part of my journey to the great northwest.  It was at once one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken in my life, one of the more monotonous, and one of the most frightening drives as well.  All of these experiences were wrapped up in one seventeen hour drive.

I started early at 6am Mountain Time.  I had a wonderful rest in Echo Canyon and thoroughly enjoyed my drive across Utah.  The vista was breathtaking and the little towns along the way intriguing.  I'm trying to learn not to rush tips and I failed in Utah.  There were several things I should have stopped to explore but I felt compelled to reach the Pacific Northwest sooner rather than later.  I will go back to Utah and spend some quality time simply exploring sometime.

And then there was Idaho...

Luckily, the bright spot during that leg of the journey was a quest on behalf of a new friend and the "Lady of the Land" where the Kraken and I shall make our home for a while we explore the PNW.  She's an herbalist and needed me to pick up some supplies for her business.  So, Twin Falls here I came!

Rock Creek Twin Falls Idaho

Heading into town from the highway I crossed Rock Creek across a wonderful bridge and one the way out I stopped to snap some pics.  It was well worth the small pause.  I met a fellow wanderer under the bridge. He engaged me in conversation hoping to catch a ride but we were going in opposite directions.  I bid him safe journey and headed back the Kraken to continue mine.


And then there was more Idaho...

I'm being too hard on Idaho.  It had its own beauty to be sure.  After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'm sure that it's a dear place to many.  Somewhere around Boise the Kraken voiced his displeasure over the journey by running a little warmer than normal.  He never overheated nor did he even come close but he did run warm.  This would be an unfortunate trend that would continue off and on for the rest of the trip.  I've made a note that he needs to go the doctor.

After Idaho came Oregon...and for quite a while it looked like more of Idaho and then, it happened!  Oregon!  I very much enjoyed the beauty of the Blue and then the Black Mountain.  Deadman Pass was also a very beautiful drive.

Overlook from Deadman Pass looking toward Pendleton Oregon.

At this point I'll skip forward because the drive from Pendleton to Ellensberg was in 90+ degree heat and neither the Kraken nor I enjoyed that very much.  When we hit the forests and the mountains the temperature dropped and the drive through the mountains was, as I wrote earlier, the most beautiful drive of my life to date.  It was spectacular, spectacular! 

Sadly I was too terrified driving through the mountains to even think about stopping and getting pictures.  I thought perhaps if I stopped, it might be for the night and I wanted this leg of the journey to be completed so I forged on.

I arrived in Port Townsend Washington at 10pm Pacific Time.  Needless to say, I shall sleep well tonight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

VanLife Day 16 Part 2 or Sleep: A Little Slice of Death

Echo Canyon Utah

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die.
And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Tonight was the first night I slept in the Kraken not parked in a friends drive way or a mall parking lot and it was glorious.  Not that I didn't appreciate the other options but this particular spot was magnificently beautiful.


I had been driving about 12 hours or so and decided it was time to find a place to park.  I was in Utah and I rounded a a curve and happened upon one of the most beautiful rest stops I had seen on my drive thus far.


It was in Echo Canyon Utah and it was spectacular! I parked the Kraken a ways from the brunt of the traffic and near a picnic pavilion and some trees.  My companions were prairie dogs and a couple of black-billed magpie.  They were hustling over some food and bread left by human spectators.  The prairie dogs, in no small part due to their numbers, won the prize. Though they heard about it from the magpies.


I wrote my blog post for the day and turned in early after hiking the hills a bit and snapping some pictures. I have slept in rest stops before but it was always a perfunctory exercise based on expediency and necessity more than anything else.  This was special.  It was a glorious first #VanLife sleep on the road.

VanLife Day 16 or Serendipity, Saint Walburga, and Matthew Shepard


I started my day on a beautiful morning in Colorado Springs.  I had spent the previous evening boondocked next to a friends fifth wheel in an RV park.  I had my second shower in 16 days and hit the road.

I was zipping through Colorado and minding my own business when Google told me to jump off the highway and hop on a county road.  It sounded dubious to me but I reluctantly acquiesced.  I was getting off an interstate onto Owl Canyon County Road.  My first thought was, nope, nada, getting back on the highway and then the wanderer in me said, "why not?"  So, I kept going.

It wasn't too long until I came to a roundabout in the middle of nowhere and exited onto a dirt road, again, following Google's instructions.  At this point I wished I had stayed on the highway and wished I had my friend Jerry's new atlas book he had shared with me the day before I left the Ozarks.


So here I am on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere Colorado and then it gets even more sketch, as if that were possible. The dirt road is being grated and resurfaced.  Now I wait with a worker holding a stop sign in my way.

It goes on, and on, and on, and on...

Finally I get the go ahead to go though.  I can here the mud slapping all over the Kraken and I am just imagining what poor Peregrine clinging to the back of the van will look like.  What a mess.\

I'm dumped out one what appears to be a secondary road and Google spurs me onward.  It's at least a beautiful drive through some wonderful canyons and then I see a sign.  Abbey of St. Walburga.  I pass it at first because I was doing about 65 mph so I slow down and turn around, heading back to the main gate.  I tried to Google the abbey to learn more about it but as luck would have it Google wasn't cooperating.  Perhaps she was out to lunch.


I pull in and drive back into the abbey grounds.  It was a Roman Catholic Benedictine abbey full of welcoming and warmhearted nuns.  What a delight. I explored the abbey, the chapel, the gift store, and the grounds.  The nuns gifted me with a handmade rosary.  What a treasure and what a lovely place.


I had complained to a friend about my seeming misadventure with Google before I found the abbey.  He suggested Google knows me and he's probably right.  However you look at it, is was a serendipitous event and I was glad for it.

After the that I headed into Wyoming.  I was still coming off my happy high from my visit to the abbey when I rolled into Laramie. My thoughts immediately turned toward Matthew Shepard, a young man who was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and beaten and left for dead for being gay.  If you'll click on his name it will take you to a link about him where you can learn more.  You owe it to yourself to lean about Matt if you don't know much or anything about him.


My thoughts were consumed by the seeming juxtaposition of my visits that morning within the context of just having watched the movie Milk the night before. The horror of homophobia and fundamentalism swirled in my mind for sometime as I drove.  I know it's not popular to say these days but Matthew remains in my thoughts and prayers as do the sisters from the abbey.

Wyoming was amazing.  It was a beautiful crisp and clear spring day and everything that could be green was.  The vistas were simply breath taking.  I drove through several sporadic sunny rain showers but after one in particular the heavy scent of fresh sage filled the Kraken.  It was glorious to say the least.  It felt and smelled like a vapor smudging and it helped to clear my mind of the lingering sadness over my trip through Laramie.  Its freshness and clarity reminded me of hope and in the words of Harvey Milk, "You've gotta give them hope!"

It was a wonderful day in #VanLife and one I won't soon forget.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

VanLife Day 15 or Harvey Milk The Last Jedi


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

VanLife Day 14 or A John Denver Kind of Day


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

VanLife Day 13 or Loaded and Laundered


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!


VanLife Day 12 or Home Is Where You Park

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

VanLife Day 11 or GlassLife Day 9993


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

VanLife Day 10 or We Don't Own Our Next Breath

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 PrĂ¼ter 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

VanLife Day 9 or Can I Ask You a Question?

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?