For the first three weeks of August, I moved southwest through Colorado from Denver. I’d done a ton the previous month Utah – lots and lots of hiking, exploring, landscape photography, and waking up at night to shoot stars. Then the family trip I went on in July that included a TON of driving also kind of wore me out. All this adventuring and traveling can wear a guy out :-D. I was ready to take it easy. So I didn’t do a lot of photography or hiking in Colorado.
Map of travels:
One of my friends got arrested many years ago in Frisco. He said the jail had a window with a nice mountain view.
whoaaaa baby. Fancy.
Camping near Independence Pass (On the way from Leadville to Aspen)
This was the first place I stopped to camp in Colorado outside of cities. It was so rich and fertile – with plants, water, and animals all over. Lots of trees, grass, flowers, strawberries, deer, marmots, birds, and streams in every canyon. Once the snow melts away up here, this land provides an incredible surge of life.
It was also pretty cold up here! I’d put on more clothes or take off clothes every hour or two.
I found a beautiful place to camp. Just spectacular.
This place filled me back up – with energy, wonder, creativity, and new ideas.
Spot near Ouray
Ouray is a cool town. It is touristy, but it’s good. There are really steep rocky mountains shooting up on three sides of the city. I guess there’s some hot spring pool on one end of town that I didn’t check out. The downtown strip is nice. There’s a bookstore there with a very good selection of books on outdoors subjects.
There’s also a road just outside Ouray with places to camp within walking distance of town. I found myself one and set up there for a week. It was great being able to stroll into town when I felt like it. That gets me the best of both worlds – I can stay put camping somewhere and not have to move the van, I can go for hikes from there, but I can also go into town to get food, get rid of trash, and go to the library if I want to use my computer on a very cloudy day.
I’d been looking for some books on foraging edible wild food. They can be hard to find in bookstores, but a store in Ouray has many, so I bought a couple. Now I need to forage $60 worth of food just to break even on the 3 books I’ve bought.
There were a lot of plants with berries out where I was camping. Here’s the first plant I identified: Serviceberries. They’re tasty.
At age 35, I’ve started drinking Coffee
There was really no need to. I’d been perfectly happy without it all my life. I always like how it smells but don’t like any of the bitterness that a lot of coffee has.
Sometimes in coffee shops I’d get tired of drinking tea, because the tea they have is often crappy, or they don’t know how to make it right, and coffee smells so damn good. So I started trying lattes. And man, they can be nice. Of course, if you know me, you know that if I’ve started drinking coffee, I’m certainly going to start making it myself.
So, here is one of my earliest attempts at making a latte. I’ve started out using an Aeropress, some old (Expired!) Starbucks coffee that I ground at the at a tiny grocery store in Ouray, and frothing milk by shaking it in a jar.
Over the next few months I’ll be trying out some different equipment, and seeing if I can make real and good espresso myself in my van in the middle of nowhere. I’ll let you know how it goes. I know a lot of you will need to have your precious coffee while traveling 😃. (as I write this, on 9/8/17, I’ve gotten a nice grinder, a manual espresso maker, and a stovetop milk steamer. I’m halfway through my first bag of coffee using these, and I can make a latte significantly better than Starbucks. I still have a lot of testing and learning to do.)
If you know of really good coffee roasters in the southwest corner of the U.S. (CA, AZ, UT, NV), please tell me about them.
I hung out in Durango for about a week. It’s a nice town. Then I camped a bit to the west off of highway 161, but didn’t find a great spot:
When I was visiting and talking with my family in July, some of them urged me to start up a Patreon account and see how interested people were. For those not familiar, Patreon is a platform where folks who enjoy the creative output of people can give them a few bucks per month or per podcast or whatever, and sometimes the creator gives those supporters access to extra material.
So, I’m trying it out. You can see my Patreon profile here. I’ve enjoyed sharing my travels and photography here and on Instagram, and I will continue doing so just the same. On Patreon, I will be sharing more:
A map of all the places I’ve camped:
- It shows every place I’ve camped, outside of cities. These are nearly all completely free places to dispersed camp. They are spots where you’ll have spectacular views and likely have your own space, away from other campers.
- I update this each month with the new places I’ve camped. I’ll be exploring more parts of the western U.S and filling in more areas with awesome places to camp.
- For each campsite, I share these details:
- A subjective rating of how good it is (x/5)
- A picture of the campsite or area
- The type of land this site is on (BLM, National Forest, etc.)
- Notes and details describing the site and the area
- Whether it has a Verizon cellular signal
- The altitude
- Road conditions on the way to the campsite
- If I’ve made a blog post containing pictures or details of this site or area, a link to it.
- There are currently over 50 campsites documented on the map (as of August 2017). Most of them are in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. Here’s what it looks like:
How-to articles for living and traveling in a vehicle or camper:
- These are thorough and detailed articles showing you how to start traveling, and how to live very well on the road.
- Most posts are over 3,000 words and have many pictures.
- Here is a link to a free post, so you can see what they are like:
- I expect to publish one new How-To Post each month
- These are the posts I’ve published so far:
- List of future How-To posts:
- Using My Maps and Google Maps to save locations
- Logistics of Full Time Travel – Getting Mail and Packages
- Logistics of Full Time Travel – Residency
- Exercising anywhere, without a gym
- How to live well and have fun while spending little money
- Vehicle Type choice for living and/or traveling in
- How to deal with the police
- Cooking and eating healthy and tasty food in a van
- How to drive – for better fuel mileage and longer life
- Finding WIFI in cities
- Making Money while Traveling
- Avoiding Trouble in Cities
- Key Lessons for van interior building
- How To Be Well-Prepared when Going Camping
- How Not to Die While Camping
- (and I’m open to requests and suggestions)
I’ve posted about it a couple times on Instagram and have a few patrons so far. If you’d like access to these extras, or if you’d just like to throw a couple bucks my way per month because you like what I share, here’s where to do it.
Moving on – into Utah:
I never got excited about the eclipse to make sure I was in the right part of the country for it. The moon blocks the sun for a bit and it gets sort of dark. Ok. That seems a lot less spectacular to me than a nice sunset or seeing a lot of stars. The eve of the eclipse, I did look at the coverage map compared to the direction I’d be traveling, anyways, and decided to move on earlier than I would have in order to get a bit more north where there would be a little more coverage. So I went up to Moab the day of. I think there was about 85% coverage there, which, it turns out, is quite underwhelming.