Queen of Trades; Travel and Photography

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I think one of my favorite parts about this whole journey has been getting to experience true loneliness but also freedom. They say that everything comes at a cost and this particular lifestyle does. You always see photos or videos of people living this kind of lifestyle with a partner and personally, I'm not sure if I'm all about that. Especially not in the setup I have currently. Gimli is good for one person and maybe two medium or small pets at best. Anything more than that would ask for trouble and make things difficult. 

The biggest challenge in Gmili would be the amount of stuff that has to fit in the van if you do have two people. With Lylah needing her Crate to sleep in, food storage container, and vitamins/ snacks she already takes up 1/4th of space. Then there is all my stuff which takes up 2/3 and after that, there are the kitchen supplies, food, and items for the van in case I break down in some way. It's all about how you use the space of course and there will be adjustments when I get back home but for the most part, it makes having a second person in the van impossible. 


When J Came to visit I felt fine having him with me for those two weeks of adventuring but after that, I felt like I would have lost my mind. Sure it's nice to have the company with you all the time but in the end, it's really quite frustrating in the space I have at the moment and I just do not want to give up all this work I've put in for an upgrade that Im not ready to do. So in turn being lonely from time to time is fine. Sure you wonder why your doing this or try to remember the reason for making this change but the payout every day is so worth it. I get to explore the great outdoors and I get to enjoy what nature has given us. I'm happy being out in the wild with Lylah and I love getting to watch the stars as they dance in the sky as everyone sleeps. I even get to know what true silence is and of course every now and then I make a friend along my journey. Friends that I hope will last lifetimes. Memories that will forever be burned into my brain. 

Moments like what I am experiencing will not last forever and to be able to say that I've seen so many wonderful places is truly worth it. Every day is an adventure and as Gandalf says in Lord of the Rings...

..All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us..

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If anybody on here knows me, they know that I don't speak the car language. It's lost to me most of the time and I can always feel my brain frying when those kinds of conversations come up. There's so much lingo and things I don't really understand and I'm not one that learns by just words, I learn by action. So if I practice it enough I will then retain that info but it has to be consistent or it's gone. 

With cards, I've been forced to now have to learn how the van runs. Now I say Force like it's a bad thing but in honesty, it's not. I'm glad that I'm learning and with the issues Gimli has been having on this life-changing experience I have been learning the lingo slowly but surely. I've also been learning how the van comes apart and how it goes back together. Just recently I had issues with the wiring to the MAF sensor along with the MAF being bad and an air leak. I learned how those all tie together and I learned what I need to do to fix those problems or how to diagnose them. Let's just say that calling your Dad every day for a week to talk for an hour about cars and how narrowing down the issue really starts to stick over time. 

So with the issues I had before fixed (and the help of someone from the forum showing me the ropes and talking me through everything), I went about my business and 2023 started. Fast forward a week and a half and the PCV valve is having issues. I was getting codes for two bat cats (catalyst) which was a code we had gotten before but it ended up not being the issue because the check engine light kept going on and off over the course of a day. Which narrowed it down to a stuck valve. 

Knowing that it was the PCV valve I decided to hang out in the mountains to recover from being sick and then contacted my new friend in Vegas and got his help to check things over. The replacement of the PCV valve was quite easy and now that we knew how the doghouse came off the van we were able to quickly disassemble the inside and replace the valve. In this time we checked the hose that connects to it for Cracks and it was crack-free (and of course, I had a replacement from the dealership, and guess what, it was the wrong one. Go figure) and nice and tight so we put the insulation back on it, taped it, and replaced the valve. With the valve changed we set to check that the throttle body was nice and tight and checked the sensor for the MAF. 

In honesty there's a lot I don't know and I'm grateful that there are people that are on the forum that know how to work on cars and are kind enough to open up their driveways to help me and take the time out of their day to show me what I need to do and teach me so I know how to do things by myself in the future. I may be a slow learner and I need a lot of patience but I always appreciate all the help I can get from those that are willing to be kind and give out a helping hand. 

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In July of 2022, I had planned a trip to the Narrows with a friend of mine that lived in Vegas. He was supposed to come out and we were supposed to do this amazing adventure together. unfortunatley the day before we were supposed to meet he got a concussion and had to go into the ER. They told him to get bed rest and that he couldn't do anything strenuous for 48 hours. So that plan blew up in my face and after that I did the Very, very long journey home. 

With all that being said J and I had planned to visit Zion while he visited and before he landed in vegas I got things set up for our stay. First, let me point out that Zion is THE national park of Utah. It's wildly visited and if you plan to go there try to go in the wintertime. Yes, its cold but NOBODY is there. We were able to make reservations at the campground a week and a half before our allotted time. That is practically unheard of. With those reservations set we then planned to do Angels Landing since I tried to do this hike back in 2019 and failed due to covid putting up a barrier to prevent people from going up to the landing. Why? Because of the chains. They were afraid that if people were sick and touched the chains that it would spread the virus so they put up a barricade and cameras and anybody who did the landing could get 6 months in jail and a $5000 fine..

Needless to say, I didn't finish the hike. 

So this time we planned to go just so I can finally say I did it and finally check it off my list. 

One small problem. 

They now require you to have a permit to go up to angels Landing. Apparently, the decision to adopt this new system and just started in the last 6 months of 2022. Honestly, I was furious but looked into it. They had a daily lottery during January and you sign up for it the day before they announce the winners at 4 p.m pst time and if you get in then you go do the hike. Long story short, we did the lottery and we did not get the chance to do it. So we decided to do the next best thing. The Narrows. 

The Narrows is an 18-mile hike (if you want to go that far) but in honesty, it doesn't have an end destination. It's one of those hikes where you can go as far as you want and then turn around. They also provide a bib that you can rent along with water shoes and a hiking stick for balance while in the Narrows. We got the Bibs and we set out on this adventure. Now a few things if you do this in the wintertime. 

1) check the weather. This place is literally a river that your walking through and can be subject to rock slides and flooding so always check the weather beforehand. 

2)get the Bibs. They are $50 + Tax but they keep you warm and dry while you're out there the water was around 30 degrees when we did it and it can get up to your waist if not higher. 

3) If you are clumsy or have balance trouble I would recommend a walking stick. The current is strong in some places and I was able to get through without issue but I can see how people can fall and hurt themselves on this hike. It also is hard to see the bottom in some places so its good to have the stick to feel around so your not tripping 24/7 

4) Bring water and snacks. The water in the Narrows is Toxic so you CANNOT drink it or you could die. They have had an issue with algae clumps and unfortunately, they found out the hard way how toxic it was by someone's dog getting sick and dying from drinking the water. So this is one of those hikes where you also leave your dog at home. 

5) Bring your camera in a waterproof sack. Trust me, you will want it.


With that all being said it is quite the experience and I loved it. It was tough because you are walking through the water the whole time and I would highly recommend it in the wintertime because there was No one on the hike. Normally it's very crowded and apparently that cause some traffic jams with crossings and I just think dealing with a load of people that are struggling to cross and you wait your turn on an already tough hike would ruin the experience. We also realized that we were lucky the water was low. I'm 5'4 and the water came up to about my waist in some spots but not that much higher. There have been people who go on the hike that where they have to lift their bags over their heads to cross over and with a strong current that would be a no go situation. 

And yes the water was cold but it was worth the adventure and experience. 


side note: This hike is NOT for little kids. I would say Teenagers or babies you can carry on your back would be fine but I do not recommend small children as they could get swept away or the water could be to high for them to cross. 


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While Lylah and I were in Vegas we got to visit this place called Omega Mart. It's an interactive art installation and it is absolutely wild. When you first enter it literally looks like a supermarket and everything in the store is for sale. They even have real drinks that you can get and their products are all joke based (of course). For Example, a bottle of bleach will say "this bleach is for Karrrlllllll" on the bottle. Or you'll see some candy that has a reference to a banana or some fruit making fun of the fact that it is fruit. 

As you walk around the Omega Mart you start to realize that there are passageways. There is a secret door in one of the "freezers" and when you walk through it leads you to another room that is 100% made for people on shrooms. When I walked through I was completely entranced. The colors are vivid and the walls are all different textures. J and I (J is my friend that came to visit) walked through this exhibit and I went crazy, toughing everything and anything I could. I even found a few secret passageways and doors that were hidden in plain sight. For an hour we walked around touching everything and just enjoying our time. 


But then we realized that were missing something. There were people with little cards walking around going up to these red modules and doing some sort of game. In moments we were back up in the front getting this little card. Now the card is $3 and you only need one for your whole party. So we got the card, went to the first module, and started out with "employee training". It has you do a scavenger hunt of sorts and you had to complete the first task to then move on to the next. As you progress you start to learn that there is a secret in this game. The first thing it tells you is that you are working for an organization called Dramcorp. It's based on the idea that we can "level up" so to speak and take our entire beings and enter into a new self-awareness where we no longer need bodies to survive. We can come and go as we please and we will live forever. Imagine a hologram that doesn't need to have any power to work. That is the next "level up" of humankind. As you go through the game you get access to the "employee's computers" and you start to read up on what they were doing. You also get to watch video conferences and go over diagrams and learn that the head of the company has disappeared. While you are completing tasks you get a message to see if you want to join to resistance and of course, we did. So then you're set forth on a new set of tasks to "expose" Dramcorp. 

It's quite fun but the hunt to finish the tasks was too short in my opinion. We did this in probably 20 minutes total and after that, you can do whatever you want and just kind of enjoy the exhibit. After some time of running around, reading more info, and trying to learn more we eventually got tired. The exhibit is just so full of information that my brain got fried by the time we were three hours in on running around. 

Once we were done we got souvenirs and then went to the bar that they have in Omega Mart and had one drink. Honestly, it was amazing. I had never been to an interactive art installation before but being a part of that was worth it. If you are ever in Vegas check it out. 


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