Queen of Trades; Travel and Photography

Here it is. My thoughts on Stanley Idaho. Enjoy the intel

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There's nothing quite like learning something new, the hard way. 

On March 16th I made my way from Casper Wyoming to Gillette Wyoming to 1)get away from the cold. 2)to get away from the wind and 3) to gain some ground on our journey back home. I've been through Gillette Wyoming before so I knew that the Walmart there was good for overnight parking and so parked in the back of the lot near some grass so that lylah can use the restroom and only travel a short distance. 

So we get things set up, have some dinner, work a little bit, and then head to bed per usual. Morning comes around and per routine, I put the keys in the ignition and turn it on and, with that Gimli sputtered to life and started to work his hardest to get warm. In the meantime, I grab Lylah and put her E- Collar on, and open the door on the driver's side. To get out I had to flip open the latch on the door and then give the door a little kick to pop it open to the outside. Of course, when I did this I must have, half awake mind you, somehow bumped the latch on my way out. In the cold, I made sure Lylah hurried to the grass and stood there while she paraded around for five minutes to pee. She's not a fan of small grassy areas and because of that, she takes her sweet time to do something that should take a few seconds. 

With her bladder now empty I sleepily make my way back to the van and get to the door we came out of and give it a tug. Nothing. 

The door doesn't budge. the handle moves but the door stays in place. Frowning I give it a good yank. Not even an inch of the door moves. Instantly panic sets in. No.****ing.way. 

I go to the driver's door and give it a yank. Nothing. I make my way around to the back, then the passenger side, and come a complete circle to the driver's door. Meanwhile Lylah is practically dancing at my feet. She doesn't know what this change is but she is kind of excited about it. Meanwhile, I go into full panic. How the hell is it locked? I opened the one door to get out and I know it was

Taking a few deep breaths and realizing my phone was also in the car and hearing the alarm go off I realize one of my nightmares is happening. I'm locked out of my vehicle, with Lylah by my side, and my phone is locked in the van...while it's running. Go figure. 

Thinking about how I'm going to get into my van I make a rash decision. I decide I'm going to find a way in through the side window. Now, these windows are almost impossible to get into because of the latch and they only open up so far when the latch is undone but the thought was, if I can get the window open, rip a hole in the screen, and get a long enough stick then I can get to the power window. 

So I get to work. Luckily I parked next to this area in Walmart that had these decorative rocks so I started off by collecting small, thin rocks and I propped the corner of the window with that. Then I reached my fingers into the latch to pop the latch and open it up. With the window popped open I then proceeded to take a stick and make a hole in the bug screen. Slowly working the stick around I got big enough to get my hand inside. From there I used rocks to try to prop open the side of the window that was opposite of the latch but not too much to crack the glass. Then I proceeded to take the stick and put it through the hole and wiggled my arm inside until I was almost to my elbow. With that, I could actually get the stick to the button. I could literally see the stick touching the square. 

I swear you guys, I was on the verge of tears. It was touching it so why wasn't it doing anything? I tried time and time again to get the pressure right to roll down the window but nothing happened. The freaking van was on and the window would just WORK I could get inside and everything would be fine. 

My thoughts were flying a hundred miles an hour and I was desperate for it to work. During this process, I even had one truck driver that stopped by. He told me that he had been watching me struggle and offered to call a locksmith or maybe he could use his crowbar. My face was on fire and I was so embarrassed. This guy had been watching me for almost an hour in between his deliveries and for some dumb reason, I turned him down. Maybe it was my pride or maybe it was that I could taste my hard work going down the drain if he called someone. I have no idea. But with reassurance, I told him I was fine and let him be on his way. 

Let me say, I will never turn down help like that again. I should have taken it because for another 30- 45 minutes I tried everything I could (from breaking the window) to get into the van. I tried with every ounce of my being to will it to work. It just had to work one time, even a little bit to get the stick in the window to then roll it down all the way. Something, anything! 

Sadly It was all for naught. In the end, I was able to track down a stranger. I stalked people and waved before finally just running up to this black ford and waving desperately for help. She rolled down the window and I told her the situation. She had this little dashound with her and while that dog barked madly at me she let me use her phone to call a locksmith. Luckily I got someone on the line and they headed over and were at my van in less than 10 minutes. 

The guy was kind and I watched in fascination as he used this little pick gadget to work his magic and get my door unlocked. I paid the man and we were back in the van. I thanked the stranger over and over and she told me that everything was fine and asked if I needed to go get Gas since the van had been on for two hours at this point. Luckily it still had a quarter of a tank left so I told her I was ok. Then proceeded to go get coffee and food and calm myself down. 

Lessons were learned this day. 

Im not going to lie, im grateful for this one stranger helping me and I'm grateful that this was somewhere in civilization. This could have been a whole lot worse if we had gone to the dispersed site I looked at before settling into the Walmart lot. 

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Oh Joy, Oh joy. 

Remember how I said that things happen like Dominos in van life? Well here is the dominos. As I stated in a previous post I had to change out the oil in the van and also the battery. It was due time for the oil but the battery decided to kick the bucket sooner than I would like. It happens and it sucks but I paid the money to change it out and things seemed fine. Until Yesterday afternoon. 

Yesterday I took it easy with work and focused on my mental health as well as my physical. This job is demanding and you get yelled at a lot by angry people and sometimes you need to take it easy to not go crazy and explode on people. Of course, people that call don't care and think you have no feelings because you work in a "call center" so, of course, they can yell and scream thinking it doesn't affect you but, it does. So with that said I took the time to chill out a bit. I work a few hours in the morning and then Lylah and I went for a 4-mile run in the park. It was super windy but we managed to get the 4 miles done and did a cool-down walk. Lylah was ecstatic of course because she wants to get outside as much as she can. I don't blame her and I was glad to move my body and push it a bit. 

Once that was over I went to planet fitness and stretched and took a long shower. Afterward, I put everything away in the van and started him up, and happened. This awful sound. It sounded like a chuf of some sort. I sat there in the van listening and frowned. This was a first. Listening close I put him in drive and went to Walmart to hunker down for work and for the evening. Once parked I turned the van off for a second and the a/c and listened. Inside it sounded like something grinding almost. I popped open the hood and got out and took a look in while everything was working. 

Just glancing at it I had no idea what was going on but I could hear the sound coming from somewhere in the middle and I made sure to record it. Getting back in the van and listening to this noise while messaging my Dad and SOS message along with the video. The issue is I don't know what the sound is and it's new to me so my knowledge is Zero. After a bit of chatting, it became clear that there are several things that could be making the noise and all of them are like ticking time bombs. It could be the tensioner, the water pump, a bearing in one of the fans, or the alternator. All of them are things I don't have experience in and all of them sound like a pain to try to learn about on the side of the road. 

While sitting there chatting the noise died down after the van warmed up and today it even stopped completely but that doesn't mean that the problem isn't there. We may be going home early and I'm planning to listen close and feel it out. If anything I have two weeks left and will be home in April instead of May which is fine. If that is what I have to do then I will make the sacrifice. This summer I may be learning a lot about the van and how to fix certain features since there is quite a list already. 

Just pray I get home in one piece and that Gimli will make it back before anything else goes wrong. 

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People don't realize how much work Van's life really can be. Especially at the drop of a hat. You may have days or weeks where nothing goes wrong and you're just cruizing through your usual plans, sightseeing, going to cafes, or just working, and next thing you know the vehicle you've been living in starts to have trouble. This happened in Vegas and Salt Lake City and on both occasions, they were things that I didn't have knowledge on. I learned a lot and I'm glad I had someone to walk me through the steps to fix this home I made. 

The reality of this life is that a lot of things happen like dominos. A few days ago I arrived in Casper and stopped in a Walmart Parking lot to rest. There isn't a lot of BLM land around so it was the only option to save money and to rest. Things seemed fine the first day and of course, we did a lot of driving to get here. A total of 13 hours to escape the bitter cold and it was worth it. Here it's around 40 - 50 degrees and I will take that over 8 or below. Truth be told I was in such a rush to get away from the cold weather that I didn't notice anything wrong with the van. Not right away. 

That first night in Walmart things were fine and the day went on without a hitch. Eventually, Lylah and I retired to our beds and slept through the night. When morning came I went to turn on the van and it struggled to turn on. It took a long time to turn over and at first I thought I left one of the doors slightly ajar. I've done that before and it kills the battery overnight. So I figured I would see if anything was wrong throughout the day and at night just double-check the doors and make sure everything was airtight. 

So I went about the Day just like that. We got back to Walmart after a full day of doing chores, exercising, and working and I settled in. I made sure all my doors were closed and went to sleep. Now, this was my day off so I slept in and enjoyed every second of it. I got up to turn the van on to get ready to head to a cafe and it wouldn't start. So I got out my generator, got a shopping cart to match it up to the correct height to reach the battery, and jumped the van. Knowing that the battery was dying I also planned to change my oil since it had 1% left for its oil life (I use an app to tell me how much percentage I have left for my oil). 

Let me just say that most people my age probably have never changed their oil on their own in their life, let alone a car battery and I managed to do both in an hour. The oil was messy because it was super windy so it sprayed all over the parking lot but I got it done without it getting on me and afterward I had the pleasure of carrying this brick of a battery into Walmart to get it exchanged. I did it without a hitch and I did it all without help. Sadly I know too many friends that have no idea how to do these things and if you don't, that's ok but also realize that knowledge in these types of things can really save you a lot of money and time and I managed to make that happen. I spent half the cost it would have to have someone else do it and i'm proud that I'm able to do things like this.

So if you have kids teach them so that they can also feel proud to have that knowledge and use it to the best of their abilities in this crazy world we live in. 

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I don't know if any of you have been to Stanley Idaho but if not you should go there at least once to experience it. It's beautiful and I love it just as much as the Tetons. Just trade the Tetons for the Sawtooths and you're all set with new wonderful experiences and of course a population of 100 residents vs the hundreds that are in the Tetons. 

While I was in Stanley I discovered new experiences With Gimli. number 1 (and I mentioned this before), is that he does not start up after a full day out in temps where it drops below 8 degrees during the night. In Stanley, it got anywhere from -1 to -10 while I was staying with my friend and it seems that Gimli does not agree with that temp. Of course, I'm glad to know that now and in a controlled environment vs one where I am stranded on a mountain somewhere with no service or help. One of my friends, C, Helped me out and gave me a jump and after putting the cables on the battery and just doing a slight turn I realized that the battery was fully charged. It just needed a little extra spark. So with that, I was able to turn it on and go about whatever I needed to do. 

The second thing I learned was that my back driver's side door (in the "trunk area") collects water and when it does it freezes so when you try to open it, it scrapes the inside of the van due to the ice that collects in the back. And by back I mean there is a gap under my taillight where the door sits when it's closed and as it turns out it collects water and will make large icicles. The passenger side doesn't do this as much but the drivers...well... that's an issue. It makes opening the door quite the task and I'm afraid of Ruining the door over time. But I'm sure I can figure out a solution for that since I now know about that little problem. 

Third, Gimli likes to "Dance" on snow. By that term I mean he does the fishtail quite a lot if you try to go over ten miles per hour and that's with the van almost empty. honestly, it's surprising because I didn't know that it would do that and I discovered it while I was trying to go into town one day to get more supplies. Of course, I had an inkling that even was more susceptible to pulling a few moves due to its size and weight but every time it does it, it still surprises me and throws me off. Of course, growing up in the south I am still learning about driving in snow and it's been an experience. Not a bad one, thank goodness, but one that has definitely been taking some time to get used to. 

Of course, Everything on the journey is a learning experience and I'm glad to learn and grow with them. It's not easy sometimes to learn this way but Im glad that Im taking the chance to put myself out there and be on this journey. We have a little over a month and a half before I am back with the family and able to get started on those new art pieces. Im sad its coming to an end but excited to get things going and to work on the long awaited pieces that I love so much. 


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