#vanlife: Why I Don’t Do It (Full-time) Anymore

A few weeks ago, I had a comment on the blog that asked me why I don’t find a job that includes my passions. The commenter seemed to think that I was set to miss out on something by settling into a more “normal” life with property and a future house. A little offended, I almost didn’t publish the comment. It seemed to imply somehow that I was a “faker” and not a into outdoor stuff as I claim to be. It kinda got under my skin. I’m not a pro-athlete. I’m not even a cool amateur living in my van chasing the dream. I’m a teacher who’s biggest dream right now is saddling myself with a mortgage.

image

I lived the #vanlife (or camper life, etc. as I detailed yesterday). It was amazing in so many ways but I honestly found it really isolating. Since we paid for a Jetpack, I had some internet connection to friends and family but mostly, it was just me and my ex-partner (and Sprocket).

The travel was exciting but after awhile, I needed a friend to share a glass of wine with and talk about our lives. It isn’t even a comfort thing, I spent last summer living out of my FSJ and this summer I’m living out of the XJ (and the shed). I needed a place that was mine where I had roots. I needed that place where I could go for a walk and find myself waving to nearly every car going down the road. I needed more independence to do things on my own. I also am a planner and a goal setter: I needed more stability than a cobbled together job on the road.

Is travel in my make up? Absolutely. I love my weekends and summers wandering around Colorado and the larger West. I am growing my life so that I can do this. The alternation between home and travel is sustaining to me. Teaching fits me for many reasons, one of which is the summer and vacation schedule. Spring Break in Mexico? Sounds great! Roadtrips? ALWAYS.

I actually feel a little bit bad that I was bothered by that comment. I adventure a lot. Not always as much as I like but I think I do a pretty good job prioritizing it! In fact, I am writing this blog post from a Starbucks while out on a multi-day adventure.

To those of you hoping to live the vanlife soon: cheers. If you take a hard-pass on mobile living all together: just don’t forget to adventure and you’ll be just fine.  To those of you who have tried it and gone back to “the real world” because of money: it is still there. To those, who like me, tried it and found it lacking: it’s okay; you’re still an adventurer in my eyes.

image

Summer 2016: Shed and XJ Living

It’s finally summer and I could not be more ready. Last summer, I made Francis (my FSJ) my home while I explored all over Colorado feeling free (and saving a bit of rent money in the process!). Since I’m moving again this year, I’ll be rocking a similar low-budget, high-adventure sort of lifestyle utilizing Ruth XJ and my storage shed.

Sprocket

This year, I’ve made the shed a bit more comfortable with an actual mattress, more consistent cooking area and better thought out storage of the things that I might want during the summer. It’s definitely not set up the way I would have it if I were living it full time since it is also doubling as a storage shed for someone who is eventually planning on having a house (albeit a smallish one).

Storage shed living

Cooking

Ruth is also a huge gas mileage upgrade from Francis (although I have sacrificed a bit in the space department) which will be great for chasing some more county highpoints this summer.

XJ Cooking

This summer is going to be one filled with working (yay, Provisions!), peakbagging, friends, adventures, gardening, dreaming, and long drives.

Summer 2016, I’m so excited you’re here.

I’m GOING HOME!

Sometimes it feels like life is really just out to kick you when you’re down. Last school year was that time for me; I went through a divorce, I was starting a new career, had to change schools, and didn’t do myself a lot of favors in terms of staying active and being positive. That is not how I mean to live my life.

image

Fortunately, when school got out last year, I launched myself into my county highpoint project driving a lot of miles around Colorado with Francis the FSJ. For me, a road trip is almost always a mood lifter and a time for thinking about life. (Lissie’s cover of “Pursuit of Happiness” was the soundtrack to many a long dark mile last summer and excellent reading for this post.) I landed in a great school for this year and made some real strides as a teacher. I tried to embrace my situation to make the most of this year.

My heart, however, remained nestled in Ridgway, my little town at the base of the San Juan Mountains. Out loud, I told my family and friends that I was resigned to a couple of years of being away but I knew that I had to try to move back sooner rather than later. It was getting harder and harder to keep my focus in the present than on how and when I could find myself back home. I only became more convinced as time went on that I was doing the right thing by working towards a forever home here.

Fortunately, I was recently hired for the 2016-2017 school year at a district much closer to Ridgway. In fact,it’s within not-insane commuting distance meaning that things are back on track for eventually building a home on my property. I want to see how things go at my new school year and continue to improve my financial situation before I build but the wheels are definitely turning.

Next week is my last week in De Beque. I’ve had fun exploring and being located on I-70 was convenient but I’m overjoyed to be going back home.

This summer is definitely one of transition. I’ve acquired a summer job (that I’ve been working hard at over the last month already!) at a restaurant in Ridgway working towards some of those aforementioned financial goals. I’ll be splitting my time between my property, a friend’s place in Montrose, and the road (of course!).

IMG_9260

Because I’m tied to Ridgway quite a bit with a job (no complaints here!) most of my adventures will be tied to Colorado which is just fine since my main summer goal is more progress towards (finishing? maybe?) the Colorado County Highpoint list (I’m currently at 70.3% and itching to get out and do more)!

Homecoming Runs

School is almost out and I’m busily wrapping up my life in De Beque. I had a lovely year there but I miss home in Ridgway. I’ve been going down quite frequently this spring, working on some projects and I’ve also taken on a side job in a restaurant. In between everything, I’ve squeezed in a few runs that just make me smile SO MUCH.

A couple of weeks ago, we got to the property just as town was going into shadow but the Cimarrons were starting to get that gorgeous low angle light.

image

Sprocket even mostly forgave me for running past the river since I promised him he could climb Mt. Sneffles this summer (pictured just over his shoulder).

image

I mean, really:

 

image

And then the moon rose over the Cimarrons. The photo does not do any sort of justice to how gorgeous the full moon was coming over some of my favorite peaks.

image

Just as it started to get dark, we finished our run at Colorado Boy where no one seemed to think it was the least bit odd that I’d get to town on a Thursday, run, have a beer, and then go back to my little shed home.

I cannot wait for this summer. I’ve missed you so much, Ridgway.

 

April. Is. Almost Over. What?

April is sort of insane for teachers. As crazy as May is with the end of school fast approaching, I’ve always found April to be that kind of end of the year grind where you always seem to be behind and it seems like it’s never going to end. However, it doesn’t feel as dark and desperate as last year. It seems more like a temporary thing to push through and then the world opens up into the next thing instead of just being a whole bunch more question marks.

Selfie

So in short, April has been busy, just like I knew it would, but I’m making it. I’m only a couple of weeks away from finishing my teaching program and only another couple of weeks away from school being over. It hasn’t been a particularly adventurous time for me but everything ebbs and flows I guess.

Basically, dear blog readers, I’m telling you that I haven’t forgotten about this blog. Life has just been busy in other areas and I’ve had to prioritize that lately. Summer will soon be here and although it doesn’t look to be as footloose as last year, there will be plenty of mountains coming your way soon.

 

February 2015: Keepin’ On Keepin’ On

It feels like I’m talking about running a lot but it’s something that I’ve been doing a significant amount of in the last month. Conditions in the hills are totally drying out and snow in the high peaks is consolidating so hopefully there will be less in between season frustrating hiking and more summiting in March. Even so, I didn’t sit idle in February!

Consistency wasn’t quite as on point in February as it was in January but I’m still pretty pleased with my efforts. My runs continued to grow in length and my weekly mileage was pretty solid other than one week (I don’t even remember what happened there…).

Screenshot 2016-03-07 at 7.44.19 AM

Running: 14 runs, 60 miles, 10.4 hours. This is about the same number of miles as January but in fewer runs and in less time! I think I’m making progress!

Hiking/snowshoeing: 7 sessions, 20.2 miles, 12 hours. Killed it here. 🙂

Cross-country skiing: Yikes! I didn’t get out to do this at all in February. I let a bit of summit fever get in the way. I’ve set a goal to go at least twice more before the snow is gone and I’m also reminding myself that my investment in the skis was long term not just for this year.

Yoga: 11 Yoga Camp sessions, 4.8 hours. This was a little lower than last month and I’d like to remedy it in March but when I find myself in a time crunch I’m going to side with cardio to get ready for mountains so we’ll see.

I’m so excited for #summitsummer 2016 to start. I think I’m ready this time.

January Fitness: New Years Resolutions

2015 was a pretty great year for my hiking goals. It wasn’t perfect and there were some mountains I wanted to climb that remained unattempted but I made peakbagging a priority and it turned out well. I did, however, climb some mountains out of pure grit and determination as I felt tired and exhausted a lot of the way up. Outside of reaching summits, I was lazy and didn’t do the work to be ready and make long hikes more enjoyable.

Colorado RiverIn the fall, I kept thinking I was going to fix things. And I procrastinated. And procrastinated some more. By the time December rolled around though, I was starting to lay the groundwork for kicking things up after the holidays. As cliche as it is, I resolved to do the work in 2016. I was going to save towards a house (as far in the future as it may be). I decided to be in summit shape and to drop the pounds that had crept onto my frame.

De Beque Running

I dove into Training For the New Alpinism and within the first section, I realized that before I could dream any huge mountain dreams that I needed to combat my severe lack of aerobic capacity that had crept in on me over the past year and change. And guys? I’m impressed with myself.

January 2016 Fitness

I’d started to lay the ground work for running more in December by carefully (ever so carefully) building up the mileage on my neglected legs. I said yes to “Yoga Camp“; a perfect companion to keep flexibility going when running. I, kinda impulsively, bought a cross-country ski setup right after the New Year. I’ve found myself running at 9pm because I needed to get it in, 10 degree temperatures be damned.

And everything has gone exactly as I would have hoped. I’m feeling so much better when being active and the magical effect of exercise that makes you only want to exercise more has kicked in.

By The Numbers:

Running: 16 runs, 53.25 miles, 11 hrs (um. This is more mileage than all of 2015..)

Hiking/Snowshoeing: 5 hikes/snowshoes, 14.8 miles, 10.8 hrs

Cross Country Skiing: 2 sessions, 11.3 miles, 3hr 40min

Yoga: 20 Yoga Camp sessions, 10hrs 20min

Yup, it’s on 2016

Colorful running
Sometimes I dress like a muppet when I run.

Pyramid Rock: Final Summit of 2015

New Year’s Eve morning, I woke up to a glorious sunny day. I was just 0.4 miles shy of 200 miles hiked on summit hikes in 2015 and I decided to head up to a local summit to round out the year and enjoy the sunshine. Sprocket, as always, was very excited with this plan so we headed out into the hills.

V 2/10 Road

We made our way to a ridge that looked like it would go fairly easily and started making our way up towards the summit. The views got better and better and being out in the crisp winter air was the perfect way to wind down 2015. The sparkles were everywhere and there wasn’t a hint of darkness to be found.

Ridgeline

image

I had debated at the car whether or not to wear snowshoes and I’m glad I didn’t. The snow was only ever more than 5″ deep once (and then I managed to bury myself up to my waist) and I was glad I didn’t wear them.

Hiking with the best dog

We walked across a small flat area and then made couple of small scrambly moves among the snowy rocks and found myself at the summit.

Summit Selfie

Summit views

Final summit of 2015

Summit views

Panorama

When we got back to Ruth, I was in such a wonderful mood. I had planned to spend a low key New Year’s at home with Sprocket and decided that was not the right choice. I scrambled together a shower and headed home to spend the evening with my friends in Ridgway. <3

2015 In Review: Top Adventures

Okay, I’m sitting down at the SeaTac airport on my way home from Christmas trying to pick my top adventures and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. (Think this Mac & Jack’s Cascadian Dark is going to help?) Heather mentioned in her roundup of 2015 that one of her favorite things about having a blog is the record of all the adventures and I can’t help but concur: I love all of my faithful readers a lot but the best part is the record I have of my own adventures! I’m cheating a bit and lumping some adventures together but I hope you enjoy!

Driving Francis, the FSJ

I found myself driving my 1977 Cherokee as my daily driver for most of 2015. This wasnot my original intention and I pretty much did a number on my bank account driving it all over Colorado this summer but I’m really glad I did. I learned a lot since I replaced the rag joint, the steering box, the power steering pump FOUR TIMES (a leaky pump, a replacement bad pump, a poor installation of mine trying to reuse a reservoir and the final fix), and the starter. To be really honest, 38-year old Francis treated me really well in our 10,000 (!) miles of adventure and I have no complaints. Sleeping in the spacious cargo area for most of the summer worked out really well!

Full size Cherokee

Baja, Mexico; Spring Break

Although I didn’t reach the summit of Picacho del Diablo, I always enjoy traveling to Mexico and this was no exception. I got to do everything from enjoy the beach to play on subalpine granite and really enjoyed some time in the sun. As always, I can’t wait to get back to old Mexico (and hopefully climb that devil of a mountain next time!).

Pineapple drinks

Colorado County Highpointing

Chasing my goal to reach 50% on the Colorado County High Point list was so wonderful this year! Earlier this month, I actually reached my goal after some driving around the eastern plains but I spent most of the summer traveling all over the state visiting new places. It was so much fun! I can’t wait to do some more next summer (and hopefully finish the list!).

Sprocket and Beth, Beattie-Fuller Saddle

Arizona Thanksgiving Road Trip

SP and I headed south for our Thanksgiving break and covered a lot of ground. I reached the high point of 6 counties, drove all over the place, thought a lot, and just enjoyed some time to myself. I also got to enjoy Thanksgiving with my friend Maryanne and her family.

Maryanne and Jamie

 

Seahawks Cuddly Flannel Quilts

Now that the gift wrap has settled, I finally get to share these two quilts with you! I really wanted to make some gifts this year and once I made the first of these quilts I knew I wanted to make another. They’re so cozy that I almost had to keep one! I toyed with making true “lap” size quilts but since I’m tall enough that lap quilts just don’t do a lot for me I went with twin sized cozies!

Seahawks flannel quilt

Sometime laying them out was a little bit of a challenge. It really involved a lot of sweeping and herding Sprocket away: he was fairly certain the cozy rug thing was on the floor for him.

Quilt sandwich.The quilts are similar with the same fabrics, back and binding but the patterns are a little different as I played with what works best. I really do love the results!

Quilt #1:

Quilt 1

Quilt #2:

Seahawks Flannel Quilt

My sister gleefully took the quilt from the white elephant gift exchange and my aunt already had hers on their quilt rack when I visited on Sunday night. Enjoy during the playoffs you guys!