Fools Can Be Fun

There’s a community art experience that happens in Ann Arbor every year about this time. On April 1, a fool’s national holiday, FoolMoon takes over Ann Arbor for an evening of lights and downtown strolling and foolery. Then on Sunday, April 3, the FestiFools annual parade of fantastical, colorful puppets takes over State street near the UofM campus. Link to the group’s annual efforts, which first started in 2007.

Enjoy the gallery below of the puppets in the parade. And although you can’t see the smiles on the faces of children watching, you can imagine the wonder of it all.

FestiFools1
FestiFools1
FestiFools2
FestiFools2
FestiFools3
FestiFools3
FestiFools4
FestiFools4
FestiFools5
FestiFools5
FestiFools6
FestiFools6
FestiFools7
FestiFools7

Silent Too Long!

Where has the time gone? Not long ago I posted on my last hike in the desert, then prepared for the five-day trip back to Michigan for a few months of modifications (mods), recharging the appreciation for vanlife, and the usual pleasantries of endless hot water and a full kitchen with a big refrigerator to play in!

That explains the month’s absence of blogging, although it doesn’t really excuse it.

Meanwhile, March was a beast here in Michigan with rare days of warmth or sun, making me somewhat regret not waiting until April to drive back home from warm, sunny California/Arizona. But, I had some doctor appointments long set up. And in these Covid times it’s impossible to reschedule med appointments to something just a little further out: I tried, but the next opening was in November, so had to take off despite the weather forecasts of “still winter” back in Michigan.

Spent time in March planning van mods and tweaks to rename my travel YouTube channel to build on what I posted there during my Subaru Outback camper conversion build and travels. The YouTube channel is now called Adventures Nomadic and will include travelogues and videos about living in a small van along with mods and features of the van.

Also worked to finish writing my Nomadic Vanlife book, lots of reading time, Netflix binging, and just general lazing about. I’m hoping to have the book published on Amazon (ebook + paperback) before I leave to roam again around May 15.

So stay tuned and I’ll try to get back to blogging more between now and then, although most posts may be van-mod specific.

Shot is of my new van bed mattress. One major mod is to remove the original murphy double bed and frame, then build a single bed at the rear, parallel to the back doors. This will provide much needed storage under the bed, yet still have room in the garage area to stand and counter space on either side to use. The murphy bed took up all the counters when down, and I chose to raise/lower the bed every day. The new single bed will make the space more multi-functional and a relief from the daily grind of tilting the bed up and down.

Heading Home

It’s time. Time to head home, to face the late winter blasts and go from sunny, warm Southern California to unpredictable Michigan.

By the time I reach home base, it will have been five-plus months since first adopting Van Geist, my Solis Pocket camper van. It’s been a good, long trip wandering west, a place I did not get to travel to during my year in Tamesté, my Travato. And it’s been a chance to experience a variety of travel and camping options to see what works for me.

Looking back, it was a chance to experience staying put in one place for an extended time, that of spending three months at Imperial Dam LTVA (long-term visitor area), a BLM property highly popular with the snowbird RV travelers. In staying put so long, the dynamic and nuance of living out of the camper van became clear in part and parcel, and from the experience I’ve been able to better understand travel choices ahead in Van Geist.

On the good side of the list, the time here allowed me to complete the draft of my book, Modern Nomad: The Vanlife Alternative (working title). I expect (well, hope) to release it around May. The time also provided the chance to shift into everyday vanlife without the interruptions of gearing down to leave, and gearing up to make camp. There is a comfort, even in vanlife, of staying put for a while and settling into a pattern of living more like a physical home. Yet there is always the allure of travel and exploration, one of the many upsides of vanlife.

Here also, time on site gave me many opportunities to hike and ponder things immersed in the nature of the Southern California desert.

On the bad side of the list, there is the wind. And the dust. Always the dust. After three months, the dust has disturbed my health, but in a way I feel will improve once I head toward dustless travels and ones with humidity percentages greater than the 10% typically present here. I love the southwestern desert, the high Chihuahuan desert and all southwestern climes in between. But I now realize such visits, and there will be many more, need to be no more than short one- to three-week stays.

Some might say there’s too many solitary days camping in such a place as this LTVA for so long, but in reality, at least to me, such a solitude is a welcome companion in these times of continued Covid high-risk exposures. In the beginning of the pandemic, during the swell of first-time RV buyers, many called their new toys ”Covid escape vehicles.” I consider Van Geist my Covid safe-travel vehicle.

Now it’s time to pack up and make Van Geist ready for the 2,200 mile trip ahead, then point him in more or less a northeast direction. With weather’s cooperation, I’ll arrive safely around March 1. After a home base visit of a few months, for annual visits with healthcare providers, and some new, interesting mods to Van Geist, I’ll once again point him down the road and let him take me on new wanderings. Where and when are still evolving, but it will undoubtedly be yet another soul-satisfying and enlightening, embraced with the freedom of vanlife.

Desert Silence

Desert Silence2

There is something about how hiking in the silence of a desert that is addictive, as though this absence of civilized noise experienced miles into the hike is something you’ve craved your whole life but didn’t know it.

The experience is not truly silent, respective to the definition. You hear your breath, rhythmically marching and retreating, your feet insulated in hiking boots taking up a hiker’s cadence of choreographed crunching, and the carefree wind, working its away across the desert plain as though you aren’t there and never were as far as it’s concerned.

In the Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge’s book ”Silence – In the Age of Noise” said:

Nature spoke to me in the guise of silence. The quieter I became, the more I heard.

… and …

You cannot wait for it to get quiet. Not in New York, nor anywhere else. You must create your own silence.

There is no such thing as pure silence, a place devoid of any sounds. In documented experiences, those trying to obtain absolute silence in truly desolate and lifeless places or in man-made soundproof chambers, found that while external sounds and noises were absent, they could not escape the mortal sounds of their hearts beating in their chests and some even claimed to hear their veins pulsing.

Yet, when we attempt to reduce our ”civilized” world sounds and listen for what is within, interesting things happen. Erling Kagge:

But I tend to think about silence as a practical method for uncovering answers to the intriguing puzzle that is yourself, and for helping to gain new perspective on whatever is hiding beyond the horizon.

I learned to meditate from a girlfriend who was a trainer at a Korean Zen center in New England. My naiveté at the time expected the purpose of meditating to be one of blocking out or eliminating all external and internal sounds. Turns out not to be the case, and that while an objective is quiet the ”monkey mind” inside us all, quieting means not responding to or chasing it until the monkey stops chattering, and doing the same on any external noise during meditation.

As I hike the desert, quiet in my thoughts at first, but later in more of a meditative state, I am aware of the handful of natural sounds from the endeavor yet stay detached from them and let the general silence embrace me.

These weeks and months in the desert of southeast California find me frequently heading off on hikes. I gear up with my proper hat, my trusty hiking pole that’s been with me for over twenty years and countless hikes, a bottle of water, and my expectations to resolve something I’ve been thinking about. Or perhaps it’s working through a clumsy part of something I’m writing. Whichever the ulterior motive for putting one foot in front of the other, invariably a mile or so into the hike all pretenses of objectives melt away and I enjoy the silence from civilized noise, and the quiet in my mind as I am in step with my breath, my footfalls, and the wind as my desert guide.

Time Machine: Cloud Museum Part 2 – Antiques & Ephemera

Yesterday’s post showed a few of the 150+ vehicles available at the Cloud Museum. I thought it was interesting that while I appreciated the restored models, I was more in touch with the well-used, rusting hulks that predominately cover the outdoor part of the museum. Something about that patina and what must have been (at the time) wide-spread marvel at these mechanical vehicles made me appreciate these rusted knights of a time well past.

Today’s post will feature a small taste of the antiques and ephemera available at this amazing little-known museum. There is a vast amount of items in this category, and if you’re fluent in antiques and ephemera of this era, then you’ll go crazy over all that’s here.

The Cloud Museum had one building set up as a period post office, complete with antique safe of this era, post office boxes, and a small clerk’s window to the public. Adorning the walls were a variety of wanted posters, although back in these days I doubt these were framed!

If you travel to this area of southwestern Arizona, be sure to check out the Cloud Museum. It’s definitely worth the time to wander through the grounds and buildings.