Free Camping on Lake Como Road in Southern Colorado

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This is the area where I camped on Lake Como Road. You can see there’s no shade and lots of dust. The view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is really nice, though.

I discovered this free camping area on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land while looking for a free place to stay near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado. Whenever I’m looking for a free place to camp, the first place I look is the Free Campsites website. Once again, the site helped me out, this time by directing me to Lake Como Road.

This BLM land is easy to get to. From Alamosa, CO, take Highway 160 to Highway 150 and turn left. From Fort Garland and Blanca, CO, take Highway 160 to Highway 150 and turn right. If you’re heading south on Highway 17, take a left when you see the signs directing you to Great Sand Dunes National Park . When you hit highway 150, make a right As you may have guess, this camping area is off of Highway 150. Great Sand Dunes National Park is at the the end of Highway 150, so it’s very easy to get there from this camping area.

I did a lot of looking for a free place to camp before my visit to the Great Sand Dunes. This is the closest spot I found that was truly free in that was not a State Wildlife Area (where folks are required to have a valid Colorado hunting or fishing license in order to camp) and was reported to have a road that did not require a 4 wheel drive and/or high clearance vehicle. Since I’m in a minivan now, I have to be more conscious of poor road conditions. I didn’t want to try to drive on a road I maybe couldn’t handle.

The dirt road into this boondocking area was not terrible. It had washboard ridges in places, and there were some small exposed rocks, but overall it was fine, at least as far as I went. I stayed within a mile or two of the turn off to from Highway 150, and I think any vehicle could make it as far as I did. Just take it nice and slow, which you should be doing anyway on this very dusty road. You don’t want to be the one to choke out all your neighbors.

The camping spots are just wide, dusty areas with little vegetation on the side of the dirt road. The first camping area seemed to be the biggest with room for four or five rigs. I was a little nervous about the road, but I wanted a bit more space to myself, so I drove father in. I could see rigs parked miles up the road as it climbed up the mountain, but I was not that adventurous. I just needed a place to put the van where I could cook and sleep before I went off to the park, so I didn’t feel the need to find a great spot.

It’s a good thing I didn’t need a great spot because I didn’t have one. There was zero shade where I was. Most of the spots had the same problem. There are no trees until well up the mountain road. Even in mid September, it was pretty warm there during the afternoon, especially with the sun beating down. If you’re going to camp there for a few days, plan to use your awning or bring a popup canopy or a tarp you can use to fashion a sun block.

Or maybe you shouldn’t use an awning or popup canopy or any kind of sun block after all. It was quite breezy the afternoon I was there. If you’re using a tarp, tent, or canopy out there, but sure to stake it down well. If you’re using an awning attached to your rig, keep a close eye on it so the wind doesn’t have the chance to twist it out of shape.

This is the view right across the road from where I camped. I don’t know what the vegetation is, but i sure enjoyed that big sky full of clouds.

Cell phone service was great where I stayed. Texting worked normally, and I was able to access the internet with no problem. However, I didn’t try to stream or watch videos, so I don’t know if that would have worked out.

The view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was beautiful, and I enjoyed the big blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.

This area is available for true dry camping. There are no amenities here: no running water (for drinking or otherwise), no electrical hookups, no shade structures, no picnic tables, no restrooms (flush toilet, pit toilet, portable toilet, or otherwise), no dump station, no trashcans. Bring with you everything you need to survive for however long you plan to stay on Lake Como Road.

There are fire rings make from rocks in some of the camping spots. Check on fire bans before you build a campfire. The area is is really dry, so please don’t build a fire if the BLM has deemed doing so dangerous.

As always when boondocking, be prepared to take all your trash with you when you leave. As I said before, there are no trashcans or dumpsters here; you really do have to pack out what you pack in.

I had a quiet night on this BLM land. I didn’t hear any music or other sounds of people partying, In the morning, I had a quick breakfast just as the sky was beginning to turn light, then took off to the Great Sand Dunes.

Some camping spots are about beauty and getting close to nature. Some camping spots are about location. For me, camping on Lake Como Road was all about location. I appreciate public land like this where I can hang out and sleep for free before going off to enjoy natural splendor.

I took the photos in this post.

My New Job

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I got a job. I applied in October, but didn’t hear anything back until November. I thought they had hired someone else and wondered why they hadn’t hired me.

One morning I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I answer those calls because not all of my contacts transferred when I had to get a new phone, and The Man could be calling me from anywhere since he doesn’t have a phone and has to borrow one if he needs to contact me. This time, the call was from the manager of the place where I applied to work. She asked if I could come in the next morning at 10 for an interview. I told her yes!

I arrived a little early. I walked in by 9:57, and she was waiting for me. She whisked me into her office. By 10:04, I was back in my minivan, and I had the job.

The manager didn’t really interview me. She held my application in her hand and asked, So, you worked as a personal assistant?

I said yes, then talked for 40 seconds about what sort of tasks I carried out as a personal assistant.

Then the manager looked back at my application and asked, So, you worked for a home health care company?

I said yes, then talked for 30 seconds about how I helped disabled people in their homes.

Finally, the manager looked at my application for the last time and asked, So you worked at a gas station?

I said yes, then talked for 25 seconds about the work I did at the gas station.

When I finished speaking, the manager said she thought I would be a good fit for the position. She said I should come back on Friday afternoon before 3 o’clock to complete some paperwork. Then I walked back out to my van. I sat in the driver’s seat and felt so grateful to have a job. I was glad I wouldn’t have to fill out more applications or participate in additional interviews. I was so relieved that I’d gotten a job, I forgot to ask how much it paid.

By now you’re probably wondering what kind of job I got. Ok. I’ll tell you.

Photo by Jill Sauve on Unsplash

I’m the breakfast attendant at a mid-range hotel not far from a major roadway. I arrive at 5am, get food out of the cooler, cook sausage and eggs in the microwave, make coffee, and put out all the food. Some days I have to mix waffle batter. Some days I have to boil eggs. Throughout breakfast hours, I keep all the food stocked and, most importantly, keep the coffee flowing. I wipe tables when customers leave and pick up any trash they didn’t throw away. I wipe up spills on the counters, most often waffle batter from a self-serve waffle experience that has gone awry.

At 9am, I shut down the breakfast room. I turn off the TV and the waffle iron, unplug the toaster and the steam tray. I put away muffins and Danishes and hide all the cereal and condiments in the cupboards under the counter. I throw out any eggs and sausage that weren’t eaten. I wash the pans I cook the eggs and sausage in, as well as all the serving utensils the guests have used. I sweep and mop the floor and vacuum the carpet. I take out the trash, then head home for the day. I’ve always gotten out of there before 11am.

I only work three days a week. I work three days in a row, then have four days in a row off. That’s truly the best part of the job.

Another thing I like about the job is that no one is breathing down my neck. When I work, I am the queen of the breakfast room. The guy who trained me showed me how he does things, but told me that when I’m working, I’m in charge and can do things the way that most makes sense to me. The manager has corrected me a couple of times and given me some tips, but she’s not on any kind of high horse. I appreciate the corrections and advice she has given to me.

Of course, no job can be perfect…

On my first day of training, the manager and the guy who trained me warned me about Karen, the night auditor. I’ve worked in hotels before, and the night auditor has always been a weirdo. I think those disrupted sleep patterns really take a toll on most people. Hotel managers never want to fire night auditors though, no matter how difficult to get along with they may be because it’s so hard to find anyone willing to work the overnight shift. Hotel staff just have to put up with night auditor weirdness.

Karen has worked at this hotel longer than anyone else, including the manager (who just turned 25 two weeks ago). While Karen does know a lot, she thinks she knows everything, which, of course, she doesn’t. Karen is also bossy and smug.

The first day I worked alone after training, Karen tried to get bossy with me. I nipped it right in the bud, letting her know the way I did things was just fine. She got huffy and walked away. Good riddance, Karen.

Later that morning a third coworker (one of the front desk workers) warned me about Karen and said I should let any of the desk workers know if Karen hassled me. I told her how I had already taken care of things with Karen. I also let her know I’m open to correction and suggestion, but I don’t need Karen or anyone else bossing me for the sake of being bossy.

Every morning when I hurry in at 4:49, I give Karen a hearty, cheerful Good morning! She grumbles good morning back to me, but I can tell saying it pains her. On the rare occasion I ask her a question, she delights in giving me an answer. I think Karen enjoys knowing more than other people and showing off her knowledge.

All in all, the job is fine. It’s certainly not rocket science. I’m not working too hard. I can even sit down and watch the TV or flip through a tourist magazine when there’s no particular thing to do at the moment. It’s an easy job, and I’m grateful for it.

Also? Now I can add “Breakfast Attendant” to the long list of interesting job titles I’ve held.

Thankful Thursday December 2021 and The Angel Card Project

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I planned to share this post on Thanksgiving Day, but it didn’t quite work out. That’s ok, though. Since I’m going to tell you all about my holiday greetings project, it seems right to share the post in December after all.

Last year I heard about The Angel Card Project right around Christmas. According to the Project’s website,

Founded in November 2001, by Mark Martin, The Angel Card Project is an internet wide charity event designed to send greeting cards to those in need. The project started as a very small grassroots effort to reach a few indivdiuals to let them know they were not forgotten. Supported solely by volunteers, the mission of “Sending Love, One Christmas card at a time” was formed. 

Unfortunately, by the time I learned about the Angel Card Project in 2020, it was really too late to send any Christmas cards. When I explored the group’s website, I saw that it has a Facebook page and that volunteers send out cards all year, not just at Christmas. Members of the Facebook group request cards for other folks on an almost daily basis. People ask for cards to be sent to celebrate birthdays, to offer condolences for death and other losses, to cheer up the sick and the lonely, and to lift up anyone who isn’t doing well. After the year that was 2020 and with the ongoing COVID pandemic still keeping people with compromised immune systems at home, lots of people needed some uplifting in 2021.

In the second week of January, I set a goal for myself. I decided that every week I would send out postcards to 5 strangers who needed some cheer. I found most of those people through the Angel Card Project’s Facebook page. I’ve met my goal every week! Early on, I even sent 10 postcards one week to make up for that first week in January when I hadn’t sent any. By the end of 2021, I will have sent over 250 postcards to strangers across the U.S.A. I’ve sent postcards to elders in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and even 100s who were having a birthday. I’ve sent postcards to sick kids and adults. I’ve sent postcards to folks who were home bound, either due to COVID or other life circumstances. I’ve sent postcards to people who were lonely, sad, depressed, or struggling in some other way.

But wait! There’s more!

Christmas is the prime focus of the Angel Card Project, and I decided I wanted to participate in a big way. At first, I decided I wanted to send 200 Christmas cards. I thought that was a fine goal for a first-time participant. I started collecting Christmas cards on December 26 of 2020 when I scooped up eight (or was it 10?) boxes of 12 each at the Family Dollar. I think I paid 50 cents or maybe $1 a box. I found some Christmas card closeout deals at Walmart too and added those to my expanding assortment.

I asked friends for the Christmas cards they weren’t going to use. Most of my friends don’t send Christmas cards, but a couple did have a few from years past that they sent to me. I appreciated every one I got.

My sibling works at Target and several weeks after Christmas saw holiday washi tape on clearance, greatly reduced in price. I soon opened a care package and found myself in possession of many rolls of washi tape. I started using it right away to decorate envelopes I wouldn’t be sending for at least 10 months.

Over the summer, while living in Taos, I browsed at least one thrift store several times a week. I often found holiday cards there. I waited until the cards were marked down and the price was quite low before I bought them. Before I knew it, I had 250 cards, then 275, then nearly 300. I set my new goal at 300 cards.

Photo by Umesh Soni on Unsplash

While house sitting, I started putting my return address on envelopes. I knew I needed to be ahead of the game if I was going to get 300 cards mailed before December 17, the deadline the USPS gave for mailing first class items for arrival before Christmas. I decided to go ahead and write a generic message and my signature in each card. I knew I could always write more later if I felt moved to do so.

When I returned to my southern desert home in early October, I was able to give the Christmas cards a rest. It was a good thing too, because a lot happened between then and Thanksgiving. A few days before Thanksgiving, when the Angel Card Project released the main list of people to send Christmas cards to, I was ready.

The list was 94 pages long and included 754 potential recipients! Stop a minute and let those numbers sink in.

A lot of people wonder how I decide what people on the list to send cards to. Honestly, I went with my gut. Each person on the list had a sentence or at most two telling about them and why they needed cards this year. I mostly sent cards to elderly people who live alone and/or far from most of their friends and families. I did send cards to some couples and kids, but I focused on elders who are alone.

I sent a card to everyone on the list who lives in New Mexico. That was an easy commonality to focus on. “I live in New Mexico too!” I wrote to those folks.

The reasons people need cards are heart wrenching. Kids are living with relatives because one parent is in prison and the other is strung out on drugs. Other kids are bullied, more than one to the point of being beat up. Several people are not just living far from family members, but are estranged from their families. It was stated for more than one elder that “all of his/her friends have died.” Many adults with developmental disabilities no longer have day programs to go to in the face of COVID and are sad to sit at home all day. Kids are sick. Adults are sick. Partners have died and relationships have fallen apart. The stories that hit me the hardest were the ones about people in my own age group. People ages 50 to 60 who are alone, lonely, depressed, sick…my heart aches for those folks because I can relate to them. We played with the same toys, watched the same TV shows, graduated from high school within a few years of each other, partied, danced, had children (or not), and now we are all growing old together, our bodies breaking down. How did this happen? It seems like only yesterday we were so young. (But I digress…)

Sometimes while writing holiday greetings, I cried for all of these people, the young and the old and us in the middle, and all of their pain. I kept going, though. What else was I going to do? I had 300 holiday cards, and they had to go somewhere. Besides, the people I was crying for didn’t know about my weeping. They needed cards not tears, so I kept working.

A few days after the list was out, the founder of the group started letting people post additional card requests to the Facebook page. These were requests that for whatever reason hadn’t made it on the main list. I read some of those requests and knew I needed to send more cards so I went to the thrift store and bought more.

I ended up writing 317 Christmas cards. About 10 of those were postcards and the rest were going out in envelopes. I mailed those out the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Was I satisfied? Heck no. When I got into bed that night, I thought about all those new requests going up on the Facebook group. Those requests were making me cry too. What if other volunteers focused on the list and the new requests didn’t get any attention? Before I went to sleep, I ordered 96 holiday postcards. I decided I’d send 6 of those each week until Christmas to people posted on the Facebook page. Whatever I don’t use this month, I’ll use next year.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll have sent out 335 Christmas cards to people I don’t know and probably never will.

Like so much of what I do, I didn’t…couldn’t…do this alone. Here’s where my Thankful Thursday comes in.

Thanks to Kerri, Shannan, Barbara H., and Mary who donated Christmas cards to my cause. Over 100 of the cards I sent out were from those four gals. Ten or so of the holiday postcards I mailed came from Russ, donated by two anonymous winners of Art Throw Down contests who donated their winnings of postcards to me. I appreciate those cards and postcards very much

As mentioned before, my sibling donated washi tape for decorating envelopes. Also, there were stickers in the big box of Christmas that Shannan sent. Thanks go out to both of these fine people. The cards I sent wouldn’t have been nearly as cute if I hadn’t had these decorating supplies.

Of course, the big expense in all of this was the stamps. Did you know a first class postage stamp now costs 58 cents? Yikes! Big thanks to Frank, Jessica, Coyote Sue, Ayun, and Barbara B. who donated stamps or money to buy them. My appreciation is immense.

Photo by Ignacio R on Unsplash

As always, I have the pleasure of thanking the folks who support me on Patreon: Keith, Theresa, Nancy, Rena, Muriel, and Laura-Marie. I also have the pleasure of thanking Shannan who has an automatic payment set up with PayPal so I get financial support from her every month.

Big thanks also go to Brent who sent me a gift via PayPal in November and the friend who recently came into some money and insisted on buying me a fabulous new touch screen 2-in-1 laptop. This is my first blog post using the new laptop.

Wondering what you can do to support me? If you have any extra Christmas cards (or other greeting cards or postcards) lying around your house, I would gladly accept them for my uplifting cards to strangers work. If you want to send me stamps (or money earmarked for buying stamps), I would be glad to have postcard, first class, or international postage.

If you want to support me in general, please consider joining me on Patreon. If you join my Patreon club, you get content that other folks never see. I post photos and updates on my life every couple of days on my Patreon account. Depending on what level you offer support, you might get other gifts from me like a sticker, a bracelet, or even a collage. A donation of even $2 a month will get you access to patron-only content. To join me on Patreon, just click the “Become a patron” button at the top of the column to the right.

You can also set up a automatic monthly donation through PayPal.

To make a one-time donation, click on the donate button in the column to the right. It will take you to PayPal but you don’t need a PayPal account to donate; you can use a credit or or debit card to make your donation.

I understand if you can’t make a monetary contribution. I appreciate you reading my words. I’d also appreciate it if you would tell your friends about this blog. Share posts you particularly like. Follow me on Facebook and like my pages too. I can be found on Facebook on the Rubber Tramp Artist page, the Blaizin’ Sun Creations page and the Blaize Sun page. I’d really love for you to write recommendations on those pages. And don’t forget I’m on Instagram (my most active social media account) @rubbertrampartist.

Warm wishes on Winter Solstice! Happy Festivus! Merry Christmas! Happy Boxing Day! Have a blessed Kwanzaa! If you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope it was wonderful.

Happy New Year to us all! Thank you for all you do.

He Was a Good Boy

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Content Warning: Death of an animal friend

Jerico, The Man’s doggie companion for over a decade and my friend since January of 2017, passed away on October 25, 2021. He was a good boy. He is loved and he is missed.

I don’t want to go into all the details of Jerico’s illness and death. It’s just too much. But I will say he had a difficult year, almost exactly a year of pain and decline. At the end, I knew he was suffering. His death was a sort of horrible blessing because I knew it meant an end to that suffering.

The Man and I had parted ways in Taos in June. He took off in search of cooler temperatures. Of course, Jerico went with him.

Jerico on my bed in the van with collage materials in 2017 or 2018.

The Man called after a couple of weeks. Jerico wasn’t doing well. He was in a lot of pain, wasn’t leaving his bed but maybe once a day, wasn’t eating well. I thought maybe this was the end.

I didn’t hear anything, not a peep, from The Man for two months. He didn’t have a phone, and payphones are few and far between out in the world. I thought maybe I’d never hear from him again. I wondered how he and Jerico were doing.

I texted The Man’s sister and asked if she had heard from him, if she knew how Jerico was. She said Jerico was doing great. That seemed like a miracle to me.

On Wednesday, October 20, The Man showed up at my door. I was happy to see him. Jerico was with him, of course. The Man lifted Jerico from the passenger side of the minivan and set him gently on the ground. He walked around, barked, came over to me for pets. When The Man and I talked to each other, Jerico barked for our attention. He seemed like his same bossy self. When it was time to go inside, Jerico hopped up the step into the trailer

On Thursday The Man and Jerico came back to my trailer. The Man said he and Jerico had gone for a little walk that morning and had a nice time. He used my phone to call about a job, then left Jerico with me while he went to an interview. Jerico mostly stayed on the couch, but stood up to bark when the FedEx driver made a delivery. Later, the lady who owns the RV park where I live came over to give me something. I let Jerico out when I went outside to talk to her. He and the landlady had met before and liked each other. He went to her to get some pets, and she obliged. When she stopped petting him, he barked his bossy bark to demand more. When she left, he and I went back into the trailer. He hopped right in with no help from me.

All in the bed together while I worked on blog posts, 2019 or 2020.

On Friday, The Man and Jerico came over again so The Man could use my phone. The whole time they were over, Jerico stayed on the couch, lying down. We didn’t realize it at the time, but Jerico wasn’t going to bounce back again.

On Saturday morning, The Man showed up at my door. He asked if he and Jerico could stay in the trailer with me until Jerico passed away. They had been camping on public land and it was dusty and other campers were letting dogs run loose. He didn’t think it was a good environment for Jerico. I said yes. I wanted Jerico to be as comfortable as possible in his last days. The Man warned me it could be two months before Jerico passed. I said they could stay as long as they needed to.

Jerico spent all of Saturday lying down, either on the couch or in his bed that The Man had brought in. He didn’t want to eat and barely drank. The Man and I took turns sitting with him. We made sure someone was always with him. We petted him and sang to him and gave him all the love we could.

We decided we would take him to the vet’s office first thing Monday morning and have her assess Jerico’s situation.

On Sunday, it was obvious that Jerico was not doing well. He didn’t want to go outside. He didn’t want to move from his bed. He didn’t want to eat. The Man and I continued to pet him and love on him and sing to him.

I posted this photo to Instagram on National Dog Day 2019. The Man took the photo; I cropped and enhanced it.

In the morning there was a problem with my solar setup, and The Man had to install a fuse. In the ensuing hubbub, Jerico left the living room and went into the bedroom where he lay down between the bed and the wall. When The Man called him, he wouldn’t come. I got very nervous thinking maybe he had gone there to die. I think The Man feared the same thing, although neither of us spoke the thought aloud. The Man went to the refrigerator and pulled out the block of cheese. Cheese had always been Jerico’s favorite food, so The Man thought he could entice him out with a nice chunk. It didn’t work. When The Man held out the entire block of cheese to Jerico, the pup just turned his head. He didn’t even lick it. That’s when I knew Jerico must feel very, very bad, and the end was near.

The Man did finally get Jerico out of the bedroom and back into his bed on the couch.

Everything that happened after that is too difficult to rehash. All I want to say is that Jerico’s beautiful doggie soul passed from this earth on the morning of October 25, 2021.

The lady who owns the RV park where I live let us bury Jerico at the back of the property, in a brushy area where there are cacti and mesquite trees, where people don’t typically go. The Man dug the grave. We took precautions to discourage animals from disturbing the resting place, including covering the gravesite with big rocks we gathered in the area.

I’m so grateful to have been with Jerico in his last days. It was a privilege and a blessing to be with him, to pet him and love on him and sing to him before he passed. I am so grateful that The Man brought Jerico to my home so I could spend just a little more time with him. I’m so thankful I could offer him a home in his time of suffering so he didn’t have to spend it in the dust or cramped up in the minivan in a parking lot somewhere. I so appreciate the landlady giving us a place to bury Jerico.

Me and Jerico on a snow-dusted bridge in Taos County in 2017. He was my friend, and I miss him.

Jerico was a good boy, a good dog. He barked a lot and was bossy, but he was also a wonderful friend. He liked to cuddle and was the best doggie heater in the winter. He was a loyal companion and wanted to always be where The Man was, to follow him wherever he went. He loved to play ball more than anything else in the world and was a natural athlete. Everyone who watched him chase and retrieve a blue racquetball was impressed by his speed, dedication, and determination. He would never give up on finding a ball that had been thrown.

He was a special boy, a special friend. I miss him, and I know without asking that The Man does too.

Rest in Peace, Jerico. You are loved. You are missed.

I took the photos in this post unless otherwise note.

How to (and How Not to) Approach a Camper

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This is one of my favorite places to camp in Northern New Mexico.

I pulled into one of my favorite boondocking areas in the Carson National Forest in Northern New Mexico. As I drove down the dirt road and approached the spots with picnic tables and fire pits, I saw a couple of tents already pitched in my favorite place to camp. Since I couldn’t go there, I chose the place where in the past I’d had the most luck getting internet access on my phone.

I parked in a flat place, hauled out my table, unfolded my chair, and called myself all set up.

I hadn’t been there long when two vans and several passenger vehicles came into the area, parked near the tents, and disgorged about two dozen people, most of them substantially younger than I am. I tried to look at them without looking like I was looking at them. Where they high school kids? College students? A church group? I was unsure.

Everyone in the group scrambled to unload the vans and vehicles and pitch their tents.

I heard a young man shout, I’m going to take off my underwear now! I sincerely hoped this was a church group.

Dylan, I heard a woman say, that person’s not with us. Let’s give them a little more space, ok?

Was she referring to me? Had Dylan been encroaching upon my territory?

After the group had adequate time to set up camp, they assembled near the two tents I’d seen when I first rolled in. The owners of those tents must have been the vanguard who had come early to stake their claim.

Was the group going to eat a meal together? Would there be a prayer before the meal? If there was a prayer, I’d feel confident they were a church group.

There was no prayer, at least nothing loud enough for me to hear.

The whole group started walking on the dirt road behind where they were camped, heading east.

I wondered who they were and where they were going, but didn’t give them too much more thought. I was hungry and needed to prepare my supper.

I’d cooked some food and eaten it and cleaned the dishes and was in the process of putting my leftovers in the cooler in the back of the minivan. Some months ago, the hatch door stopped staying open when I lifted it, so I had to use my walking stick to prop it up while doing anything in the back. With the stick holding up the door, I had just enough room to get between the door and the body of the van. That’s where I was when the car pulled up on me.

Maybe it was a Prius because I don’t recall hearing the car. I came out from between the van and the hatchback door, and there it was, about half a car length behind my minivan. I though maybe it was a forest ranger. Was I parked in a place I wasn’t supposed to be? Had the people in the tents reserved the whole area and a ranger dispatched to give me the news?

I scanned the door of the car for Forest Service insignia. There was nothing.

I looked at the driver of the car.He was a dude probably older than I am . He had longish white hair and wore a fancy straw hat and a black tank top. He certainly wasn’t dressed like any Forest Service employee I’ve ever met.

When I still thought he might be with the Forest Service (because who else would have the nerve to come into my camp and park so close behind me?) I’d called out a hearty Hello! By the time I realized he was just some civilian dude definitely encroaching on my territory, his mouth was off and running.

Have you met the campers? he asked, gesturing to the temporarily unoccupied tents.

They’re a bunch of kids, I said, not even wanting to talk to him. I was becoming more outraged at his nerve. He’d come into my campsite just to shoot the shit? What if I didn’t want to shoot the shit with him? He hadn’t even asked. He’d just barged in. In fact, I did not want to shoot the shit with him. I didn’t want to talk to him at all.

Damn my Southern woman upbringing! Why couldn’t I just tell him I wanted to be alone? Why couldn’t I just say the words, I want to be alone now?

I know they’re kids, he said impatiently. They’re college kids. The vans are from a college. But are they geologists or rock climbers?

They took off walking that way, I told him, pointing, then shrugging. Then I walked off to continue my after-meal cleanup.

Moonlight over Carson National Forest

Did the fellow in the car get the hint? Did he realize I didn’t want to talk with him or listen to him anymore? Hell no! He just kept talking. He talked about the name of the place where we were. He talked about why it had this name. He talked about having a cabin nearby where he stayed in the summer. He said he left in the winter though, because winters there were too cold. He asked me if I was going south for the winter. He asked me if I was going to Faywood and if I ever went to some other place whose name I’ve forgotten.

I told him I wasn’t going to Faywood and I’d never heard of the other place. hHsaid it was near Deming. He said he had been there in the past and picked up some turquoise. I asked him whose land it was, and he said, It’s public land! It’s our land. They he said some weird stuff about how Joe Biden owned everything now and how we didn’t own anything.

He told me he could sell showers at his place to the young people camping. I said, Yeah. Maybe. and allowed for how most people shower every day and get uncomfortable if they can’t. He said he had hot water showers at this place, then qualified that they were solar showers. I’m not exactly sure what he meant and didn’t request clarification. If he had one of those five gallon shower bags, he’d probably only be able to sell one shower to one college student (maybe two if they were conservative shower takers) before he ran out of hot shower water. I didn’t tell him all that though. I didn’t want my attempt to burst his entrepreneurial bubble to encourage him to talk more.

He started backing up his car, and I thought the intrusion was finally over. No. It wasn’t over. There was more.

He stopped the car and leaned out of his window. I’m going to get my camper so I can camp out here. Not right next to you…he trailed off.

No. Of course not, I said dryly. At least he had enough sense not to try to park his camper right next to me.

He back up then, pulled out onto the dirt road leading to the highway, and was gone. If he returned with his camper, he didn’t park it next to me, and I never saw him again.

Once he was out of my sight, my first thought was Fucking extrovert ! Thinking people want to talk to him, but now I wonder if there might have been some drug use involved in his boldness and bravado.

It wasn’t long after the talkative fellow left that the tent campers came back. I was sitting outside my van, trying to solve a puzzle from a Dollar Tree crossword book when I saw a woman with short grey hair walking in my direction.

Here we go again, I thought, but in fact we weren’t going there again.

Can I enter your camp? the woman asked.

What? Now that’s the way you do it!

I said yes, and she continued over.

I thought you might be wondering what’s going on here, she said and gestured to the tents.

The group was composed mostly of grad students from a conservation class. She was their professor. They would be camping here for a couple of nights. She thought everything would be mellow since grad students are older, but if anything they did disturbed me she said I should let her know. She pointed to her tent, and we chatted a few more minutes about where I’d been and where I was going, about the university they were from and where it was located, their itinerary, and how Aldo Leopold was connected to this place where we were staying. It was a conversation, not a monologue, and it was quite pleasant.

The two situations left me thinking of Goofus and Gallant. Do you Remember them? I encountered the boys in the issues of Highlights magazine I’d read as a child at the dentist’s office and occasionally at school. Poor old Goofus didn’t know how to take turns or speak softly or pet the cat gently while Gallant knew how to help old ladies cross the the street, share his toys, and let other people take a cookie before grabbing one for himself. I always thought Goofus would grow up and learn to do better, but I wonder if he just grew up and grew old without changing much at all.

I took all of the photos in this post. These photos were taken where this story took place.

Thankful Thursday, October 2021

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I haven’t shared a Thankful Thursday with you in a couple of months because I’ve been so dang busy. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot for which to be grateful. So many good things have happened in the last few months. I got to visit with old friends and see new places. I got to hang out with a nice dog and make a bunch of hats. Life has been good.

I stayed for free at Torrence County Park outside of Moriarty, New Mexico.

Here are some things I’m thankful for right now.

I traveled through New Mexico and Colorado for three weeks and camped in 15 different places and only paid once. That’s right! I stayed in 14 different places on public land for free. I’m so thankful for free places to camp on public land and the Free Campsites website which helped me find 10 of those spots.

I traveled nearly 1,000 miles through two states and didn’t have any trouble with the Silver Streak, my Toyota Sienna minivan. I got the oil changed and tires rotated before I hit the road and no problems were reported to me. I’m so grateful for the van. So far it’s been absolutely reliable and has given me no trouble.

I love seeing places I’ve never seen before, and I’m so lucky that I’ve seen so many new places recently. I just three weeks, I visited The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve; four museums in Santa Fe (The Museum of International Folk Art, The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, The New Mexico Museum of Art, and the New Mexico History Museum); The Gran Quivira, Quarai, and Abo Ruins as well as the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument Headquarters; The Very Large Array; The Box Recreation Area; The Catwalk Recreation Area; and The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Most of these places are open to the public at no charge. One thing I love more than seeing new places is seeing new places for free.

I also visited Crestone, Colorado; Alamosa, Colorado; and Silver City, New Mexico for the first time.

I’m grateful for my health that allows me to drive, hike, and set up and break down camp. Some days I was wiped out by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, but I went to bed early and woke up early excited about the upcoming day. I’m so glad I’m living well with no major health concerns.

I saw this mural in Crestone, Colorado.

As always, I so appreciate the people who support me each month, either through Patreon or a direst deposit into my PayPay account. Big thanks to Shannan, Keith, Theresa, Laura-Marie, Rena, Muriel, and Nancy. I appreciate you beyond the monetary contribution. I appreciate you believing in me enough to put your dollars on the line, but most of all, I appreciate you believing in me.

Thanks also to Brent and Frank who both also made monetary contributions to me recently. I so appreciate your support as well.

Big special thanks to Brent who had a long Skype call with me once I made it back to home base and talked me through every aspect of getting my solar power system up and running. I was really nervous about doing something wrong and destroying the whole system, but Brent gave me calm direction every step of the way. There is no way I can ever thank you enough, Brent.

I’m also sending thanks to everyone who has posted comments on my blog posts in the last few months. I know I’ve taken a long time to approve and respond to these comments, but believe me, I appreciate them so much. I’ve approved all of the outstanding comments and will respond to them soon.

I appreciate everyone who’s bought a hat or a necklace or postcards or anything else I’ve created. (Winter is coming! Keep your head warm with one of my colorful hats!)

Most of all, thank you to my readers. I appreciate you sticking with me even although blog posts have been few and far between this pat year. I’m hoping to remedy that situation starting now by giving you lots of new content over the next several months. Please keep reading. Please tell your friends about my blog, especially friends who are nomads, travelers, and campers. The single most important thing you can do to support me is to spread the word about my writing.

Thank you! Thank you! Thanks you all for being here and sharing this journey with me.

If you would like to support me financially, I would would really appreciate it. To make a one-time donation, click on the donate button in the column to the right. It will take you to PayPal but you don’t need a PayPal account to donate; you can use a credit or or debit card to make your donation. If you want to offer ongoing monthly support, please consider joining me on Patreon. If you join my Patreon club, you get content that other folks never see. I post photos and updates on my life every couple of days on my Patreon account. Depending on what level you offer support, you might get other gifts from me like a sticker, a bracelet, or even a collage. A donation of even $2 a month will get you access to patron-only content. To join me on Patreon, just click the “Become a patron” button at the top of the column to the right.

I got some kicks on Route 66 in Moriarty, New Mexico.

I took the photos in this post.

Free Camping in the Carson National Forest Near Tres Piedras, New Mexico

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I camped near these rocks in September 2021.

I’ve camped off of Forest Road 64J near the Tres Piedras rocks several times, first in late August 2020, again in early May 2021, and on two occasions in September 2021. Before I camped there, The Man and I visited a few times to hike around the rocks and get some time away from home during the pandemic locked down spring and summer of 2020.

This camping spot is about 40 miles from Taos, NM and just outside the community of Tres Piedras. Don’t get too excited about the town of Tres Piedras because it’s tiny. There’s a post office, a meeting place for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Chili Line Depot which offers food and lodging. There’s no fuel for vehicles for sale in Tres Piedras, and if you’re looking for a major supply run, you’ll wan to go to Taos or Antonito, Colorado (31 miles away).

What Tres Piedras does have is a National Forest Service ranger station, cool giant rocks that folks who know what they’re doing can climb, and free camping.

The free camping area is off Highway 64. If you’re coming from the east, you’ll pass the ranger station, then look for a sign on the right that say “64J National Forest.” The next road on the right (a dirt road) is the one you want to turn onto. f you’re coming from the west, directly across from the road you want to turn down is a brown sign that reads “Carson National Forest Information Visitors Welcome Ahead.” The sign is quite weathered. One way to know you’re on the right road once you turn is the ginormous green water tank. If you’re coming from the east, you can definitely see it before you turn.

About that sign that says “Visitors Welcome…” As of September 2021, the visitor center at the ranger station was still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were several bulletin boards outside the ranger station offering lots of information about the surrounding area, but I couldn’t pick up a map or say hi to a ranger while I was there.

Some of the plants growing in the area.

There is a trail that goes from the side of the ranger station and crosses road 64J and picks up on the other side. I walked the trail from the ranger station to 64J once during my evening constitutional. It was not very exciting. The most exciting thing I saw while walking the trail were some animal (cow?) bones. I did not take the trail after it crossed 64J, so I don[‘t know what it’s like over there.

Once you turn onto road 64J, find a flat and empty dirt spot off the road and among the pine trees to camp on. There are spots to pull over all along the road. If you go all the way to the end before the road splits, you will see a couple of sites with picnic tales and three or four fire pits constructed from rocks. These are sort of designated camping spots, but everything is quite informal back there.

64J is a pretty good dirt road. The last time I was on it, there were some ruts and wash boarding, but I was able to easily navigate it in my Toyota Sienna minivan.

If you make a very sharp left turn onto the less defined road right before you come to where the road Ts, you can follow it back and find places to camp right next to big rock formations. Picturesque! While these rock formations are big and cool, when you see these, you haven’t really seen anything yet.

If you take either of the more well-defined roads to the left at the T, you will find more places to camp, and before too long come to the Tres Piedras rocks. Calling them “rocks” is something of a misnomer. These are not just a few little rocks or even some boulders. This is a massive rock formation. Rock climbers climb these rocks. They are very, very big!

Jerico and I contemplate the Tres Piedras rocks, summer 2020.

The access to the rock formation is on private property. I’m unclear as to how the far the private land extends, but the land owner allows folks on the private land in order to get to the rocks. However, there’s a fence, so you’re not going to be able to drive your rig right up to the rocks to camp or for a photo opp. Park or camp elsewhere and walk through the access gate to get to the rocks.

This area of Carson National Forest is grazing land for cattle. When The Man and I spent a week right off road 64J in the travel trailer in late August of 2020, there were cows all over the place. If you see cows here or on any public land, don’t harass them. The cows have every right to be there. In fact, the cows are the paying customers, as someone has bought a permit from the forest service to graze them there. Also, you don’t want to get between a mamma and her calf. Cows are typically calm and docile, but they’re also big and protective of their young. If you don’t hassle the cattle, they’ll likely leave you alone.

I’ve seen wildlife in the area too. Peregrine falcons nest in the crevices of the rock formation during some parts of the year, and The Man and I saw some flying around the first time we visited. In the camping area where the fire pits and picnic tables are, I’ve seen woodpeckers and robins and bluebirds and bluejays and other birds I couldn’t identify. Although I’ve heard coyotes yip and howl in the distance, I haven’t seen any while camping near Tres Piedras. While I was writing the rough draft of this post from the comfy warmth of my bed, I saw something in my peripheral vision. I looked out of the van’s side window and I saw two deer off in the distance walking among the trees.

Travel trailer camping in the vicinity of the Tres Piedras rocks.

I’ve never known the camping area to be crowded. (Of course “crowded” is a subjective idea. My “not crowded” might be your “too much.”) Even on Labor Day weekend of 2020, the place was mellow. There tends to be a mix of folks sleeping in tents, vans and minivans, small motorhomes, and pull-behind travel trailers. I’ve not seen any really big Class A motorhomes or 5th wheels parked nearby.

I think it’s not crowded because it’s quite a ways from Taos, where most of the action in the area is. Also, I’ve noticed campers tend to gravitate to water, and there’s no stream or lake near the Tres Piedras rocks. That’s ok with me. I’d rather have peaceful bliss with few neighbors over a crowded body of water any day (or-especially-night).

My cell phone signal (provided by Verizon) was weak in the area and sometimes disappeared entirely. When I tried to have a voice conversation, I could hear the person on the other end fine, but after a few minutes, she said my voice was breaking up. Outgoing texts were sometimes delayed, but eventually went thought. Internet access was best in the early morning. I didn’t try to stream anything.

Other than a few picnic tables and fire pits, camping in this part of the Carson National Forest is a true boondocking experience. There are no hookups and no toilets. There’s no running water, no drinking water, and no showers. There are no trash cans, so prepare to pack out all your trash.

Camping area with picnic table sand fire pits.

On 64J road, you may find yourself–like I did the morning I wrote the first draft of this post–alone with the breeze, the trees, the gentle tapping of a woodpecker, and deer in the distance.

I took the photos in this post.

My Recent Travels

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My first camping spot at the start of my adventure. This photo was taken on the Ski Valley Road between Taos and the Taos Ski Valley.

I recently spent three weeks on the road traveling in New Mexico and Colorado.

I went from Taos to Taos Ski Valley to Tres Piedras, all in New Mexico. Then I went to Colorado, where I visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Crestone, and Alamosa. Back in the Land of Enchantment, I camped in the Carson National Forest near Tres Piedras for three days. Next I visited museums, thrift stores, and a friend in Santa Fe. From the capital city, I went to Moriarty, the three sites of the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, the Very Large Array, the Box Recreation Area near Socorro, the Catwalk National Recreation Area, and the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. I also shopped in nine thrift stores in four towns.

Along the way, I mostly camped for free. I only paid for a campsite once, when I stayed at the Piñon Flats Campground in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Otherwise, I spent my nights boondocking at no cost.

In the next few weeks, I’ll share with you where I went, what I learned, what I saw, and where I stayed. Stay tuned for all this great new content.

I had a terrific time during my three weeks of travel. It was fun to be back on the road. However, I am glad to be at my home base, settling in for the winter. It also feels good to write blog posts again. I hope you will enjoy hearing about my adventures as much as I enjoyed living them.

Footprints in the sand at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado.

I took the photos in this post.

Basura

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I had come down from the mountain for supplies. It was hot and dry in the valley, and I was dog dead tired. I had one more stop to make before I could head back to higher elevation, cooler temperatures, and the last few hours of my day off from my work camper job.

I went into the 99 Cents Only Store, where some prices were a lot less than 99 cents and some prices were substantially more. I perused the bargain baskets in the front of the store, cruised down the aisles of beans and other canned goods, and grabbed the best looking produce at the best prices. When I got up to the cash register, I told the worker that I wanted two sacks of ice, and I even remembered to extract them from the freezer in the front before I hit the exit door.

I pushed my cart over to my van, which I had parked at the edge of the parking lot. My 1994 Chevy G20 conversion van was a hulking beast and easier to park in places where there were no other vehicles around. I preferred to park easily and have farther to walk to a store’s entrance rather than fight to maneuver into a tight parking space.

This time, there was no car parked on the van’s passenger side. I threw open the side doors, as much to gain access to the interior as to let the parched air escape. I climbed into my van and lifted the lid of the ice chest. Yuck. I’d forgotten to empty it before I left camp. The ice had melted completely and left the cooler half full of water. In the water floated some small broccoli florets that had turned limp and yellow before I could eat them and stray bits of cabbage that had been jostled from the most recent head. At the bottom of the cooler lay the waterlogged plastic ice bag left behind when the ice became liquid. I had to get all of this out of the cooler before I could put the new ice and groceries in.

I pulled the plastic bag from the bottom of the cooler. The water it sat in was tepid and smelled a bit sour. I let the water drain from the bag and into the cooler. When most of the water was out of the bag, I threw it onto the floor of the van. The drops of water clinging to it weren’t going to hurt anything and in the heat of midday would probably dry before I was ready to throw it away.

Next I had to dump the water from the ice chest. I figured since any vegetable matter floating in the water was natural, it was ok to let it fall onto the asphalt. If some bird didn’t eat it right away, it would decompose soon enough. I lifted the cooler and wrangled it to the open doors. I lowered it to the floor of the van, then slowly tilted the container so the water drained onto the ground.

The Man likes to joke that you can always tell when hippies have been in a parking lot because there’s at least one wet spot on the ground. On this day, the big wet spot I left had plant matter in it too.

Once I got the cooler back in place, I wiped it out with a couple of paper towels, then loaded in the two slippery and deliciously cold sacks of ice. After that, I carefully placed the eggs and milk and orange juice and produce and whatever other cold groceries I had that day into the chest.

Some time after I had the cooler and the ice in, but before I’d packed in the groceries, a car pulled in next to my van. Why the driver decided to park next to me instead of elsewhere in the vast parking lot will always remain a mystery. I glanced out and saw an older Latina lady getting out of here car.

When I looked out, I also saw the plastic ice bag I’d left on the floor of the van had made an escape. I suppose the desert wind had kicked up while I was busy packing the cooler and sucked the bag right out of the open doors. I’d have to pick it up from where it had landed on the ground before I pulled out of my parking spot.

I wasn’t the only one who had noticed the bag on the ground. My parking neighbor took a look around and saw the plastic bag as well as the huge wet-but-rapidly-drying spot dotted with limp, yellow broccoli and waterlogged bits of cabbage. I saw her shake her head and say under her breath (but loudly enough for me to understand her completely), Basura.

I don’t know if she saw I was white and thought I wouldn’t understand what she’s said, if she didn’t care if I understood, or if she wanted me to know how she felt. In any case, I’d studied enough Spanish to know that basura means trash and that she wasn’t happy with the mess I’d made.

Gratitude Saturday

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I think “Thankful Thursday” has a better ring than “Gratitude Saturday,” but I’ve been too busy to write a post expressing my appreciation. There’s not another Thursday in June, so if I want to give thanks this month (which I do!) I had to do it on a day that doesn’t lend itself to a catchy title.

I typed the above list the other day, but I’ve found more things for which to be grateful since then. The typed list is an incomplete one but I’m certainly thankful for everything on it. Want more details about everything I’m grateful for in June of 2021? Keep reading!

My Royal Safari Model 2. I’m so grateful for this gift!

I’m so in love with this typewriter that my sibling gave me. It was found in a thrift store and got a complete makeover at a typewriter repair shop. Did you even know there were typewriter repair shops in existence? (For a state-by-state list of typewriter repair shops in the U.S.A, see Old Bob’s Old Typewriters website.) This refurbished typewriter is such a great gift!

I’ve wanted a manual typewriter for a long time. This one is great for a traveler, as it’s a lightweight portable model. It’s a Royal Safari Model 2 and was made in Portugal, probably in the 1980s. I don’t see myself typing anything extensive on my new machine because I’m really sold on the easy editing of word-processing life, but I do love using my Safari to type bits and pieces for art projects. Maybe I’ll even eventually type letters or postcard messages on it.

If you want to learn even more about the Royal Safari II watch Alton Gansky‘s YouTube video “1980 Royal Safari II: A Peek Under the Hood.” This video offers so much information about my typewriter.

I was given a bicycle too! It was actually given to The Man while we were in the same town for a moment. He showed up at my door one evening with a bicycle. He said he had been hanging out in the park when a truck towing an travel trailer pulled in. The couple in the truck got out and went into the travel trailer. They weren’t inside long before they came back out with a bicycle. I don’t know if the people noticed The Man looking at them or if he was the closest person, but for whatever the reason, they called out to him and asked if he wanted the bike. The people said they were tired of traveling with it and were going to find a thrift store and drop it off if he didn’t want it. He said yes, even though it’s a woman’s bike and too short for his 6 foot frame. He brought it over to me and asked if I wanted it. I said yes too.

I haven’t ridden it yet. The tires are holding air pretty well, but the back brake doesn’t work at all. Have I ridden a bike without proper brakes before? Yes. Do I think that’s a good idea, especially at my advanced age? No. I’m not going to ride it until I can get it fixed. I was supposed to take it in to the bike shop last week, but I was too busy working. I’m going to try to get it in this coming week. I would like to give it a spin even though I don’t think the narrow roads in this town are the best for biking. I’m going to need a helmet…

This bike was given to The Man, and he gave it to me.

I’ll be particularly pleased to have this bicycle in the fall when I’m back at my home base in a town with wider roads and less traffic. I’ll be able to zip to the grocery store and the post office on my bike.

In other great news, I have not one but TWO new patrons on Patreon. Thanks a bunch to Muriel and Laura-Marie for pledging to support me financially each month. I appreciate you two and all of my Patreon supporters SO MUCH! I can’t even express how much my Patreon supporters mean to me.

On a similar note, my friend Brent made a monetary donation through PayPal, and as always, Shannan supported me this month too. Every dollar really helps me keep on doing what I do, and I appreciate the help more than I know how to say.

I’m so grateful that the dog I’m hanging out is a real sweetie. She is a really good girl. She doesn’t get in the bed with me, but she would like to. She lets me clean her paws after she walks in the mud, and she patiently lets me brush her, which I try to do several times a weeks. (She’s got long hair, and she sheds. I can either clean her fur out of the brush or sweep it off the floor.) She doesn’t bark much, although last week when it was really hot, I tried sleeping with the bedroom window open. I don’t know what she heard outside, but I sure heard her barking! Being jerked out of a deep sleep by a barking dog is no fun to me, especially when the dog is quite close. To solve the problem, I bought a fan so I can sleep with the window closed. Both the dog and I have been sleeping more soundly.

Doggie friend on our daily walk.

The dog has got me going on two (sometimes three) walks a day. While I don’t exactly think taking several walks a day is fun (What can I say? I’m an inside kid.) I know that walking is good for me. I’m glad to have a doggie pal who gives me a reason to get out of the house and move around, even if that’s not my #1 idea of fun. I certainly sleep better when I’m getting regular physical exercise.

It’s Smoothie Summer, and I’m loving it! When I rolled into town, one of the first things I did was hit my favorite thrift store. I found a blender for $7, and I scooped it right up. Soon after I started working for her, the woman I’m helping prepare for her move to another country gave me her extra Yeti 20 ounce tumbler. Heck yes, I was glad to accept the gift! I’ve heard about Yeti brand, but I hadn’t tried one. My friend has a Yeti cup her parents gave her, so I’d heard what she thought of it, but I had not had first hand experience. Let me tell you. I can make a smoothie at 8 in the morning and put it in that Yeti tumbler, and by 1 in the afternoon, it’s still absolutely cold. I’m not talking a cool beverage. I’m saying the smoothie is still frosty cold and thick. I love that cup!

Are you wondering what I put in my smoothies? Really, I use whatever fruit I can get for free or at a good price. Lately I’m using frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, ice, and orange juice. If I have yogurt, I throw some of that in too. Recently I’ve used half a can of pineapple and the juice it was packed in, and yesterday I threw in some fresh mango and a couple slices of cantaloupe. Everything I’ve used has turned out really good, although I was less than thrilled with the texture when I added shredded coconut. Live and learn.

My $7 blender and gifted Yeti 20 ounce tumbler.

My friend whose parents gave her a Yeti cup told me what she likes to do, and I’m dying to try it. She goes to Wendy’s and gets a Frosty and puts it in her Yeti. The cup keeps the Frosty so cold that she can eat it at her leisure without having it turn into a lukewarm liquid. I’m going on a short road trip next week, and I might stop at Wendy’s on the way out of town so I can have a treat all the way to my destination.

I feel so lucky that the apartment I’m staying in is quite spacious and comfortable. I’ve got room to spread out, and spread out I have. I have stuff everywhere! It’s nice to be able to do that here because the travel trailer is too small to comfortably leave a mess when I’m at home. I am enjoying having full size appliances here as well as lots of space in the kitchen.

The other thing about this apartment I’m enjoying a lot is plenty of hot water whenever I want to take a bath or shower. The bathtub is big too, so there’s plenty of room to stretch out when I take a bath or to move around when I shower. Staying clean is luxurious here.

I’ve been doing a lot of sticker exchanges lately and that’s been so much fun. I’m grateful for everyone who’s swapped stickers with me, and as always, I’m thankful for each person who has sent me a postcard or a letter or any bit of mail.

So, those are the people and things I appreciate this month. What are you grateful for right now? Please share your gratitude in the comments.

Thanks for reading about this month’s gratitude! I wouldn’t be here without my readers.If you want to offer some financial support, I would be grateful for that too. To make a one-time donation, click on the “donate” button at the top of the column on the right. To become my patron on Patreon, click on the “Become a patron” button just under the search bar at the top of the column on the right. Folks who follow me on Patreon get extra content that I don’t share anywhere else. Depending on at what level you chose to support me, you can receive email updates, letters and postcards in the mail from me, stickers, buttons, a custom made hemp bracelet and/or a collage I created.