Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tieton Love Affair

I spent my first night in Washington in Wenatchee National Forest. I found a little campsite that backed up to the Tieton River. It was far enough from the road that my van was almost invisible unless you were looking for it.


The photo above showcases my "front yard." It does absolutely no justice to the scale and detail of the rock formations that existed there. The photo below is the Tieton River -- my "backyard."

I was unaware of it then, but this campsite would become something of a home base for me over the course of the next few weeks. I didn't know it, but I had found a peace there that I had never known before, and that I will carry with me always. I began to uncover things within me that I didn't know were there. The river current, the wildlife, and the mountains that surrounded me would become the major catalyst in steering me onto the amazing life path that I am now walking upon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rethinking the van

Since I returned from my cross-country adventure, I've had a different vision for my van stewing in the crockpot of my mind. Today, I started stripping the interior to help me better visualize where I'd like to go with the design. It's strange to see the van without all of my camping stuff in there.

Right now, my inverter is sitting on a shelf just above the left wheel well, and there is a media shelf and counter top built over the opposite wheel well. I'm going to disassemble these so I can build a long couch on one side and a larger entertainment unit on the opposite side.

Think of it as being less "doomsday prepper chic" and more "party bus." I want to install some overhead LEDs, a place to store beverages, and a sound system.

I already have the foundations laid out for me; it's just a matter of finding the time to work on it and learning a few more skills -- upholstery being the main one. I'm lucky in that I still have leftover wood and other materials from the first conversion. Less money to spend!

This is a long-term project, so expect updates to be sparse, but detailed; much more so than when I first converted the van to a camper.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A lovely day at Tallulah Gorge

My older sister and I had planned this trip for a long time. I'm so glad we went; Tallulah Gorge is a beautiful place. The water churned and flowed in stunning shades of blue and turquoise and amber, and the trees and rocks and everything else was so amazing to see in person. You really need to visit this place!

There are a few hikes available in the park; there's one that takes you around the rim of the gorge, and a much more strenuous hike that leads down to the river's edge. In the above right photo, you can see one of the intrepid wanderers who hiked down to the bottom of the gorge.

The park wasn't terribly busy, but there was a steady stream of people walking around, so wildlife wasn't exactly in abundance. I was, however, able to make the acquaintance of this fuzzy buddy:

10/10 -- I do recommend a visit to Tallulah Gorge. I hear it's brilliant in the autumn.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wide open spaces

Montana. I swear, this state is impossible for me to photograph. It's so incredibly vast, as if it were dropped onto North America from another world -- a world populated by giants and other creatures of myth. They don't call it "Big Sky Country" for nothing. Montana made my heart sing.

I camped at Ruby Creek Campground for a whopping $8 -- one of the only times I actually paid to sleep somewhere during my cross-country trip. The campground is located about 2 miles down a rough dirt road in the Ruby Creek Recreational Area. All of the photos in this post were taken from my campsite, with the exception of the first one, which was taken on the way to Ruby Creek.

The weather was nice; at least, nice to me. It was chilly and drizzling and the sky was filled with clouds. The campground has a creek running through it, and a river flowing beside it. It is also bordered by two mountain ranges -- the Gravelly Range to the west, and the Madison range to the east. I didn't even know that I was surrounded by mountains until the skies cleared the next morning.

Imagine waking up to THAT. :)

I looked around the van to see if there were any evening chores I needed to do before dinner time. The van was pretty clean and organized, so I set about the campsite, looking for interesting rocks. I set up a rock cairn on every boulder that marked the border of my site, and then I did a bit of bird watching.

A magpie! They're gorgeous in person. There was a pair of them foraging for food along the gravel lanes of the campground. I watched them for a while, and then cooked some dinner for myself.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, a herd of cattle periodically filed into view across the river. I watched the single file pattern of their mini-migrations, and studied how they interacted with each other. I knew that cows had close friends and that herds had a hierarchy, but I never had the pleasure of witnessing a herd like this firsthand and for such a length of time. 

Cows are cool creatures. 

I had a lovely time at this campground. The only other person there was the campground host, who I didn't actually see in the flesh. Just the way I like it. ;)