Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Happy Beltane

It's time to send the cattle to their summer fields. Time for New Beginnings. The beginning of Summer, which in Phoenix means Hot! Hot! Hot! Symbolically the Fires are re-lit. I am struggling to come out of my winter funk(depression) & Relight the Fire (of being joyful and hopeful) and Encourage Growth (personally, spiritually, artistically, etc). So with that I officially kick off my Vagabonding Journey.

I have been planning and researching (spending hours and hours on the internet reading blogs about living on the road, converting my Honda Element into a mini-RV, BLM lands, etc.) for about a year and a half. In that time I became a grandmother and have had to think really hard about leaving my daughter and granddaughter, but in a few weeks my granddaughter will turn 1 year old and I think my plan to travel, but keep Phoenix (or where ever my daughter and granddaughter are) as a home base will mean that I will be that fun grandma that comes back from her wild travels with tales and delights. Anyway, I am not going on the road full time until January 2014, so there will be still more time to be a significant part of her life. And when she is oder, maybe she will take a trip with me. That would be fun!

I will spend the next several months doing short trips around the Southwest to work out the kinks and get my 'sea' legs ready. I have already spent some time camping in my Element and it is a great car for that. Luckily I am short, so my travel companion, Baxter, the trusty mini-doxie and I sleep very comfortably in the back with the tailgate up. In the past, I did not raise the sleeping area, but I am going to be working on a system where I have the sleeping platform on top of my supplies. I do not want to build something that is permanently installed as I will be using the car of other purposes when not camping in it. I read a blog post where they recommended that you create a system that can easily be repurposed to living in a small apartment. I am the master of repurposing! So, I will use the wooden crates that I use for shelving and storage in my art studio as the 'drawers' and the pine shelving as the platform. I can use the plastic bins for easy access to supplies. Everything can be secured with bungee cords.

While I am going to set things up so I can live in my van, I do have a tent. But I have also seen configurations for draping tarp from the rear and sides of the Element and I really like that as it creates pretty square and tall (for me) 'rooms'. I can secure a black solar shower bag to the top of the vehicle and create a little shower room when I want. I can also have my 'art studio' under the shade of a tarp draped off the back. In the past few years of my unofficial vagabonding I have lived in some really small spaces, so I am thinking with the spaces I create with the tarps, plus the wide wilderness around me, I will be living in relative luxury.

Luxury is relative. I am very easy when it comes to finding luxury. To me, luxury will be attained when I have solar panels on top of my van and a little electrical system with converter, inverter, batteries and mini-generator to run a mini-fridge, a little fan, maybe a little light and to recharge my laptop and Kindle. That is the gold standard. But I do not expect to attain that for a while. I will start off cooler, a battery operated light and minimal use of electronics when boon-docking  That's just fine, since I know I will have plenty of things to do to keep busy and I can maintain a pretty simple diet of non-perishables. I have done this sort of thing before, so I am not worried. I lived off-the-grid in the Hawaii Rainforest for a number of years. I have backpacked into the wilderness carrying on my back everything that would sustain me for several days. I will be doing lots of practice runs to work out the kinks. My Mantra - Luxury is Relative.

So what goes on the list? OK, I will admit I was a little worried about living out of my Element for extended amounts of time for a bit because of the big issue everyone worries about - personal hygiene. But, there's a blog for that ( Well, actually there are several blogs that have addressed that issue. Spray Bottles. Spray often. Spray where it counts. Spray instead of wipe - think bidet. When I have camped before, I just found distant bushes to make use of, but I am thinking a little more upscale for the long haul and a 5 gallon bucket with an attachable seat like the Luggable Loo might be a doable luxury. I don't like the idea of chemicals and when I was living off-the-grid in Hawaii, I had a composting toilet, so I could do a similar things and buy some peat moss for the bucket and that can be emptied out in the woods in a hole (it is all biodegradable). The shower system I already mentioned earlier in this post. But water is a luxury - and that is not relative. Water is a luxury that we in the USA do not often realize. So many parts of the world do not have access to clean water. We should be really careful with that resource. (Ok, stepping off my soap box). Keeping wash cloths in baggies is a great way to keep fresh. Keep separate cloths for different parts of your body - face is for face only, etc. You get the idea. I even read a blog post about washing your clothes in a 5 gallon bucket. Most of what I will need can be picked up from my local hardware store, the dollar store, and even craigslist.

I want to get on  the road soon. The weather in Phoenix is already in the triple digit range. But, long trips will have to wait another month as I have a granddaughter turning 1 year old this month and a  daughter who gets to celebrate her 1st Mother's Day! And her birthday is at the end of the month. So a little trip in May will have to suffice. I am a map geek and have spent hours and hours (in to the wee hours of the night) scouring the virtual land for destinations. I have places near water, I have places in the mountains, I have places near cities and town I want to visit, I have places far, far away from anything. I have plans to blog about "Art Off the Beaten Track" about artists living in out of the way places. I want to add photographs to Google Maps where there are no photographs. I want to see the gardens in Victoria, BC. I have so many plans of where to go, but first I have to do a mini-trip in May within the state of Arizona, not more than four hours drive from Phoenix Metro area. So, where to go for 4 days or so? Any suggestions?


LaVonne Ellis said...

I'm so glad you're blogging about your travels and plans! Bisbee sounds awesome. You reminded me of a Wand'rly Magazine issue I read about it a few months ago, so I did a little searching and found it:

Have fun!

SwankieWheels said...

Hi. I will be north of Paulden, AZ for a little while longer. Bob Wells (of is also camped with me. I think you should get on up here for a couple days. See Bob's map for directions...