Travels
Queen of Trades; Travel and Photography

This morning I had a first happen. While I was working I noticed a police officer swing through this little rest area that I've been staying at and promptly leave After a few minutes of idling in the lot. When he left I let Lylah out and proceeded to feed her as I was on hold waiting for someone higher up to assist me. I let her eat her food, we do some training, and then she goes Potty. Once she's done I let her back in the van to hang out while I work.

In the mornings I work five hours a day and then I promptly leave and will be gone till late in the evening when I come back to sleep and work the next morning. I'm not harming anybody and I'm just hanging out and resting until I'm free from work. Really I'm not breaking any laws and I'm not "camping" here by any definition. I'm using the facilities to rest, I'm not building any fires, and I'm picking up after myself and my pup and throwing my trash away. 

A few hours go by since I saw the officer and then he swings back into the rest area and parks near me. He gets out and comes a knockin. Luckily I wasn't on an active call and was able to answer right away. I opened the door and there he was. Staring up at me as I look down at him. Now mind you I didn't get out of my vehicle/home and I kindly asked him how I could help him. 

He stared at me for a moment and then proceeded to start the conversation I could tell he was uncomfortable with. I dont think he expected a 20-something traveler to step out but here I was. 

Him:"I'm just checking in on a call I received saying that you have been here since Friday. Are you broken down?" 

I stared at him for a moment "No I'm not broken down, just visiting. Currently, though I am working"

He looks at my vehicle for a moment checking to see if there are any signs of a breakdown but doesn't move anything but his head to see. 

Stumbling on his words he finally settles on " what is your name?" I give it to him "Date of birth?" I state my birthday. "Middle initial?" I tell him. After a brief pause, I interject. 

Me:"I'm really just visiting, checking out the parks, hiking, running, and climbing. It's just me and ill be gone in a few days' time. Just hanging out there during the day to work and a little bit at night to get some sleep but in the afternoon to the late evening, I'm not here. I would be in the state park but they don't have great connection and I have to have that for my line of work" 

He stares at me and looks at the dishes near my feet and glances at the passenger side of my vehicle where my laundry is clearly visible. 

Him:"Are you visiting anybody in the area or anything?" he stares with a frown now on his face. 

Me:"No just visiting the parks."

Him"Is this vehicle yours? How long have you had it?" Now it was my turn to stare at him. An odd question but ok. 

Me:"This vehicle is mine and under my name" 

Him:"Well, it says that the vehicle is under a Honda. How long have you had this vehicle?"

My brain now is doing circles trying to figure out what he just said. Who the hell is Honda? I've never even heard of a Honda before and I certainly got the title registered in my name. I made a mental note to see what that's about later. I smiled at the officer. 

Me:"Not sure why that is. The vehicle is mine, it's a travel/camper van and I've had it for two and a half years now. I reassure you it's under my name and it is mine."

I think at this point the officer was more confused than anything. Not only did he not expect me to be cleaned up and dressed well but he also wasn't expecting my answer about not visiting anybody. I mean I'm visiting mother Nature, does that count? 

Him: "Well like I said I was just checking in on a call that said you have been here since Friday and wanted to make sure you weren't broken down."

Smiling I glanced back at my computer to make sure things were good with my job and weren't needed before returning to him. 

Me:"No officer, not broken down although I do appreciate you checking in on me. We will be out of here in a few days' time and in the parks this weekend before I head northwest" I paused for a second. "Have a great day officer" and then he promptly walked away and got in his vehicle. After a few minutes he drives off and  I smile a little to myself. It's interesting to know that people reported me and were concerned but also a little bit out there. Clearly, I'm not broken down, and I'm not here 24/7 camping and causing a disturbance. I pick up after myself and Lylah and make sure not to leave any trash behind. I'm also spending money in the area and visiting the parks as I go. 

I'm sure he expected to pick up a homeless person that has a stolen van but if that's the case then I am the cleanest homeless person he's seen and not only that but I come with a portable shower and good hygeine. 

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Tomorrow marks the first week of being back in the van. A Whole freaking week has gone by. In honesty, it feels like a lot longer than that but I think it's just because I have been doing something every single day so far. From Hiking to climbing, to running it has been a wonder to get outside every day and just breathe in that fresh air and enjoy our time out here. Right now I am still in Illinois. Just outside of Carbondale. Why am I still here? Well, the reason is simple. 

There is so much to do here. 

 

I've driven through Illinois a bunch of times and I have visited Shawanee National Forest before but, back then I wasn't a climber. I had no idea how much stuff there was around me and I had no idea how cool it all was. Years later, here I am visiting in my van and able to take my time. There is no rush to be anywhere anytime soon so I figure I might as well enjoy the moment. Every day Lylah and I get to go out and do a new hike, run an errand, or simply sit back and enjoy the moment in the woods after a trail run. In truth, I have been hanging out in a small rest area to save the expense of campground fees and it's helped a bunch. People just leave me alone and let me do my thing. By noon I'm gone and out doing some activity and late evening I'm back to sleep and work. It's a great way to not only relax but spend the day. 

I'll be in this area until Sunday the 9th and from there I'll be moving on to St.Louis to check out the arch (I've heard the elevator ride is a pretty scary but unique experience) and then move on the next day to the Dakotas to explore all those wonderful places that were recommended to me. 

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Alert; New piece drops today! Keep an eye out!

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Slowly but surely I'm making my way North and then plan to head west. Currently, I'm in Illinois checking out some of the climbing in the area before I head up to the Dakotas where many of you submitted some suggestions for where to visit and check out while I am there. I plan to see as much as possible so I am currently planning out a route for how I would like that to go and the best way to save gas (by determining a route that isn't too crazy and doesn't go back and forth a lot) and make the most out of this experience. Really I'm just excited to get two more states off my list but most importantly I am excited to take my time. 

In truth, seven months is a long time to be in a van and it's a lot of time to explore. I get to stop and see things I may not have been able to see otherwise. I finally get to cruise along and really see what I want to see. 

This adventure has only just begun and I am excited to see all the wonderful things I want to see and of course, figure out how to get things situated in this van. Right now things are put away like a puzzle. Maneuvering things in a way that made them all fit comfortably without too much hassle in the planning and in the ideal that I can move things around when I figure out what I need more than the rest. Of course, I also plan to do a small tour of the inside of the van for those of you that are still interested in seeing the inside. The modifications are completed and Thanks to my Fathers handy work it is so much more comfortable than it was with the previous design. 

So stay tuned for photos, updates, and of course a Youtube video drop of the van. It should be good and I can't wait to share the journey with you all. 

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We're finally on the road. Off towards an adventure of unknowns. This will be the longest I have lived in the van and it will not only be a great adventure but also a test of my ability to not only take care of myself but to see how I can keep up financially. I've spent two months in the van and that was with visits to friends' places out west. I was able to do laundry, stretch out in a home, have AC and shower access 24/7, and of course the ability to watch TV when I wanted among friends. This time around I'm not sure if I will have that same chance to really get those periods of rest. 

I know in December I will be in Vegas for New years and in January or February, I will be in Colorado to meet with dad for some skiing/snowboarding. Of course, I have little faith in my ability seeing as I haven't done much snowboarding in almost two years. But who knows, maybe I will get more practice this year and finally get the courage to do the green slopes. 

Other than those two destinations that I need to be at I have no idea what will happen or where I will be but I am excited. My first stop will be in South Dakota and then North Dakota to tick those off and finally say I have been there. I am of course also hoping to do some Bouldering in those states but we won't know how that is until I get out there. 

If you have any suggestions for North or South Dakota please let me know. I am open to visiting any spots in those states and would love the advice. It's appreciated and wanted. 

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All pieces purchased help me greatly and are much appreicated. 

 
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Why helllooo fellow travelers! It's good to be back on the keyboard typing out life news to you guys. Although not much has happened just yet. These past few months of me being silent were mostly because we were working on the revamping of the van and after much work and hassle, we finally completed the modifications and even went ahead and gave it a few test runs to make sure it would work out. It is honestly amazing. 

 

I now have shelves on one side, extra storage underneath, storage up above for dry food, and a shelf behind the driver's seat for food/coffee storage as well as a very small desk where I can work comfortably and also be out of the way and not in the middle of the main floor. With two test runs under my belt with this new setup, I can finally say I'm excited to take off in a week and give it a real chance as a small home on wheels. 

I don't know How this next chapter will go but I am ready for the adventures, hikes, people, and new lessons that will be coming my way. I even plan to make as much art as possible while I am in the van and I am stoked to see what I will create and sell along the way. They will, of course, be 8*10 pieces for the sake of space but while traveling I will be able to send them from any post office or maybe do a drop-off if I'm nearby.

T minus 6 days till I'm on the road. 

 

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