When Life Gives You Rain, Take a Nap (and Do the Chores!)

Life in Tamasté is functionally no different than a home: rain means stay instead and do the chores, then after it’s over and too wet to do much outside, do the laundry and…defrost the freezer!

Not exactly an exciting post about adventures on the loose in the wild, but life doesn’t stop just because one’s a nomadic spirit these days.

This part of Florida’s been hit with a lot of rain and I drove through waves of it on the way to the Collier-Seminole State Park for two nights. Backing the rig in and setting up in the rain is less than fun, but having the power and utilities afterward are the rewards that lead to a lazy afternoon and evening.

At one point late in the evening, I had standing water encircling my gravel pad, but I was high and dry. Like some medieval lord looking out high up in his moat-surrounded tower and mulling about life during downpours, I watched a few late arrivals show up and navigate backing their monstrous trailers into a camp spot, whereas Tamasté’s 21′ length make backing in so much easier.

But then, there’s those brave (and young) souls who tent camp as my neighbors did. By dark, their tent was completely in water, and the next morning I asked them how it went: “Fine,” they said, “we have a blow up mattress and slept above the water inside the tent.”

I remember those camping days long ago in a tent when weather went weird: definitely for the young at heart (and body). I’ll take cozying inside Tamasté with a good book and accidental nap when it downpours any day.

And yes, this shot is this morning with the water soaked away and Florida sunshine and blue skies finally showing up again.

Fantastical Trees

Friday I visited the Edison-Ford Winter Estates. There is a museum and the houses toured for a fee, but since the gardens and trees were so utterly fantastical and interesting, they were the focus of my visit this time. I’ll do the houses, museum, and car collection on a future visit.

The two homes and assorted buildings date back to an 1885 beginning and as with the wealthy of that era, are a fascinating collection of furnishings and artifacts of that time. Most of the furnishings are original, making each house a museum.

Twenty acres of gardens contain more than 1,700 plants from 400 species native to six continents, and the variety is quite amazing. Originally began as an experiment to find a better, faster growing tree for latex, since at the time rubber was in high demand, most of the original plantings were for research. Over time, however, they became a botanical garden of unusual plants and trees unlike anywhere else.

Believe it or not, this is ONE tree! Planted as a sapling in 1927, this Banyan Ficus has grown to cover nearly one acre. See the gallery below for the info plaque about this tree.
Central trunk from which all the limbs went out and dropped their unique aerial roots that support the growing main branches.
Edison statue as though admiring his contribution from the original planted sapling.


Hover over images to reveal caption or click to run gallery with captions.

It Happened Again And Won’t Be The Last Time

One of the fascinating aspects about planning to do what I’m doing, and doing it, is how people—friends and strangers alike—respond to the concept and to Tamasté. Most friends expressed some type of envy at my being able to run off and explore nomadically, or they admit a secret desire to do this someday. Strangers don’t know the back story as friends do, yet the strangers hold the same freedom dream.

It happened again in the parking lot at the Bokeelia, FL, fishing wharfs at the northern end of Pine Island. Shortly before going to Captain Con’s Fish House for, hopefully, some fresh fish (it was both fresh and grouper, which I apparently can’t get enough of), I’d come off the fishing pier trying to take pictures of a pelican diving repeatedly for his mid-day meal. I then noticed a youngish couple looking at Tamasté and pointing to parts of it.

Approaching them, I just unlocked it which always elicits an “Oh, is this yours?” from the curious. As I usually do, told them a bit about it, answered their questions, and saw the usual wishful curiosity in their questions and faces. Didn’t realize when I headed into this nomadic RV culture that driving one of these is tantamount to walking through a park attached by lease to a cute puppy dog.

After the tasty grouper, I headed back to the parking lot and guess who was still pointing and admiring Tamasté? Yup, same couple. I then offered to show them inside and they were beside themselves with excitement and interest. And, as I’ve seen before and will again, while inside they begin discussing how they’d fit and use an RV if they had one. I guess nomadic fever can be catching.

The reality is it’s not just about hitting the road to nomadic nirvana and tossing the metaphorical bow lines off and heading…out there.

In these encounters, I don’t go into this lifestyle’s aspects that are not easy to justify, nor the massive shift from comfy behaviors lived for years on end that now are modified, or shedded to live more like a boy scout on perpetual camping than a snug and secure homeowner with autonomic activities.

It’s an exciting path to venture forward on, but not without emotional and intellectual challenges. Most see what I’m doing as some sort of long vacation, rather than this is how I now live and the only home I have (for now). Don’t get me wrong: retirement is really quite cool and this open-schedule lifestyle stimulating and freeing, but I’m still adapting to it and have much to learn about coping with the solitude, the more intimate impact of weather, and ever-changing places, cultures. Not to mention the daily reminder that Tamasté’s 168 square feet is my domicile, my roof, my only four walls.

It’s all good of course, and no question I’ll look back on this period as the grandest adventure of my life, but it’s not as simple as dreams might hope it to be. Still, I’m completely solid on the decision and eager to see what happens tomorrow, the next day, the next week, and so on down the road…and to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with you here.





Where’s Tamasté Been, Where’s He Going?

For those who follow me via email or Facebook (thanks!), you may not be aware of a couple of site-specific features that enhance following where I’ve been, where I’m going.

In the right sidebar on garyvarner.com you’ll find a map graphic followed by a list of upcoming events (some specific, some general). Clicking on the map will take you to my custom Tripline map where I enter locations, add pictures and sometimes comments on places visited. (Once on Tripline, scroll down to see the list/photos.)

Admittedly, these features help me remember as much as they might help the armchair travelers and inner turtles out there to follow along via  a map and list of what’s coming up. So if you aren’t visiting the site and are following via email updates or Facebook posts (and that’s terrific, thanks!), you might hit the site now and then and check out the map.

And So It Begins

Everything that’s happened since I arrived in Florida on December 21 has been about finishing the rig’s mods and setting up, organizing, and taking short, trial trips that end with heading back to either my brother’s or sister’s place. But all that ends…starting today.

As the probably dated by now cultural reference goes, “It’s about to get real.”

Today begins the real, full-time living in Tamasté.

Today begins dependency not on staying with relatives and using their bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens…but relying on Tamasté’s features to sustain my existence over the next 11 months or so (or until I’m back in Florida late in the year).

And today begins my real daily routines of capturing thoughts in my travel journals, working on writing projects, and getting back to self-care basics of yoga, meditation, and daily walks in nature.

If you’ve followed the story so far, you know this concept and goal began late last summer, culminating in adopting Tamasté in October and retiring/leaving Findlay in December. That’s a long time to ponder the emotional, fiscal, and physical impacts of this complete shift in living arrangements and lifestyle. All signs (and the lack of mental red flags) still point to this as a good path for me. But today begins the real test for all the work on all the levels for this new journey.

To date, posts have been about the beautiful sights seen and experienced, with not much about what’s going on in my mind. I will share more of that in the posts ahead, but still share the pretty pictures along the way. My hope is you’ll also find the meaning and impact to me both interesting and beneficial to you.

I’m ready, are you? Let’s go!

Smiling in Sarasota

On my short list of where I’d love to live someday has to be Sarasota, FL, and specifically the picturesque downtown area. Who wouldn’t love an arts- and food-focused community with a yacht harbor at the end of downtown’s Main St.? My sister’s lived in the Sarasota area for a long time and my parents spent a few years living in a high-rise condo overlooking the yacht harbor, so I’ve had lots of visits to this gem on Florida’s west coast.

After an amazing meal at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Armand’s Circle, I parked and wandered around Sarasota’s downtown area for a few hours, for probably the 8th or 9th time. Yet I never get tired of it. Not an easy area to photograph, but hopefully the images below will give you a small taste of Sarasota.