#nationalpark
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four years ago today [2012.11.09]

after waking up in a parking lot, i got on the interstate and headed towards taos.  i was excited to go check out the earthships there.  i had first seen one in a book a number of years ago, shortly after i had moved to chicago i believe.  i had a bit of a drive ahead of me as i was still west of albuquerque.

i stopped at the rio grande gorge bridge just a little west of the earthship visitor center.  there was a nice, unique feeling in the air.. perhaps it was due to being a pretty high elevation, near 7000 ft above sea level, or it was just the energy of the surrounding land.  i went to the earthship visitor center and explored for a little while.  the girl there was nice and offered to show me one of the smaller simple survival models had i been staying around, though i had to get on the road.  had i known i didn't have to go up to chicago until later, i would've been able to take my time on the journey back to florida.  it would've been nice to check out the other earthship and connect with the girl who worked there.  this is another time on the trip where needing to stick to a rigid plan prevented me from being spontaneous and making a new friend.

after leaving, i headed north and saw a couple of rainbows to the east before crossing the colorado border.  i was on my way over to the great sand dunes national park and preserve.. i never knew there were sand dunes in colorado until i found it on the map when i was looking for places to explore in the state.  there was an interesting, unique feeling to colorado.  perhaps it was the high elevation and the low angle of the sun.. i recall the light appearing quite unlike anything else i had seen (perhaps it was that it'd been a long time since i'd been up north in the winter, and this rapid change in light over just a couple days appeared more drastic).

i got to the park where i explored a little bit, got some photos of the dunes and clouds, and saw another rainbow as i was leaving.  i was going to meet a friend who was living in the middle of the state though he ended up being unavailable, so i headed east to continue the journey to florida.
,homeonwheels,timelapse,exploremore,nature,truckcamper,journal,liveyouradventure,canyon,journey,freedomvessel,nationalpark,blog,exploretocreate,rvlife,wanderlust,optoutside,adventuremobile,starlapse,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,adventurelife,vlog,roadtrip,stayandwander,getoutside,nomadiclife,liveoutdoors,stars,discovertheroad,lifeontheroad,writing
four years ago today [2012.11.06]

i woke up at the edge of the grand canyon before dawn.  i headed over to another nearby overlook to photograph the sun's rays lighting the canyon as it rose.  i then went over to point imperial where i discovered a beautiful view of the canyon.  it was filled with fog or smoke from recent fires, and the formations in the canyon seemed to go far off into the distance.  before leaving, i went to bright angel point, and found the whole canyon there filled with thick smoke from the fires.  i had to wait a little bit to leave the park as the rangers made sure the road out was clear.

on my way to bryce canyon, i headed back to utah and stopped at some rock formations i saw at the side of the road in the dixie national forest.  it was nice to find beautiful red rocks on my way to the national park.  the landscape of the west was so nice to drive through.. each little bit was unique in its own way.  i made it to bryce canyon in the afternoon and quickly explored all the overlooks before the end of the day.  there were lots of tourists at some of the spots.. i had seen professional photos of bryce canyon a long time ago and always thought the shots were taken somewhere remote or after a hike, and discovered most of the overlooks were very close to the parking lot with the spectacular views right there.  the light was really brilliant and soft after the sun went down.. the colors in the sky and canyon below were magnificent.

i remember thinking of photographing the stars at bryce canyon though i didn't think i would be able to get the angle or shot i wanted from where i would've been able to set up the camera on top of the camper.  i know i could've set up a shorter shot without plugging the camera into the camper, though it was getting pretty cold even at sunset, and i don't think i had a jacket or coat with me on the trip.  i headed over to grand staircase-escalante national monument instead.  it was a dark, bumpy, long, and winding dirt road, sometimes right at the edge of cliffs.  early in i encountered water on the road and almost wondered if i should keep going as i’d seen a warning about flooding at the entrance.
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four years ago today [2012.11.03]

i woke up in palm desert at the campground by the interstate, and continued to explore the desert.  i took a short drive over to joshua tree national park where i spent most of the day.

on one of the roads i noticed an interesting little desert plant with bright yellow arms, the cholla cactus.  i wanted to get a photo or video clip of one.. i missed a couple of them i had seen while driving though didn't turn back, hoping i'd still see more.  not too much further up the road i discovered a spot with hundreds of them all around.  i set up my tall tripod / light stand with my camera and spun it around for a degree video clip of the whole area.  after doing so, i went back to the camper and grabbed the motor i had for 360x180 photos and put the camera on that to get a much smoother video clip.  i went through a few iterations of experimentation and finally ended up with the camera rotating on the motor all the way at the maximum height of the stand with the extension pole on there, 25 feet in the air.  it took an hour to do all the variations of the technique i tried, including a few still shots.  i hadn't really done too much experimentation during the trip.. i'd been so busy shooting video clips and time-lapses for these films that i barely took still photos, 360x180 degree little planet photos, or anything else.  it was good to get to play a little bit with the techniques.

afterwards, i continued driving further into the park and saw the joshua trees.  i explored both of the main roads in the park and left shortly before the sun set.  i then made my way up toward mojave national preserve and got there after it was dark.  i found a spot where it looked like there was an opening or narrow path, and backed the truck into there to spend the night.
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four years ago today [2012.10.24]

the odometer on my truck crossed 20000 miles on the way to see the giant sequoias.  before the visit to giant sequoia national park, i hadn't seen these massive trees in person.  the trees had a different feel to them than the redwoods.  my heart felt more connected to the redwoods, though i still loved being in the presence of these giants.  exploring the park, i saw a little snow on the ground and on the distant mountains.  at another spot in the park, it was interesting to see little bits of the ground on fire and learn that the trees need the fire as part of their growth (and when the fires were being put out by man, the the trees didn't reproduce or grow like they previously had).

after seeing some of the trees near the entrance of the park, i made my way into kings canyon and took the road all the way to the end.  i explored, saw some waterfalls, and then found a spot to photograph the stars from inside the canyon before it got dark.  it felt pretty remote being surrounded by nature in the canyon.. it was another amazing place to spend the night sleeping under the stars.  i'm grateful for having chosen a self-contained rv that i could use to live life on the road from.  i had thought of lots of different options, such as getting a motorhome and having a smaller car for wandering, or a truck with a tow-behind or fifth wheel camper, though none of these would've made it easy to stay in beautiful places in nature, nor would it have been fun to have to drive all the way back to the campground every day.  with the truck camper, it was nice to just pick up and go from wherever i was.  everything was there with me on my home on wheels and i didn't have to look back.
,exploremore,nature,truckcamper,journal,liveyouradventure,adventureculture,journey,nationalpark,roadtrippin,crater,exploretocreate,wanderlust,optoutside,homeonwheels,starlapse,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,timelapse,vlog,lake,roadtrip,blog,dunes,sand,getoutside,nomadiclife,stayandwander,stars,lifeontheroad,liveoutdoors,writing
four years ago today [2012.10.09]

i explored a little bit more of the dunes before heading inland.  i saw some vehicles driving up and over the dunes.. it looked like it would've been fun, though i'm not sure if taking my stock truck with the camper up on them would be the best idea (and i had a bit of a drive ahead of me that day).

i was on my way to crater lake national park, and then to california the next day.  i think i had first seen photos of crater lake not too long before taking this trip.. it may have been when i saw someone i knew from a long time ago post a picture on a social network.  it was one of those spots i never realized was there until i researched it after seeing what it looked like in the photo.. it then was on the back burner as a place to check out at some point.

i made it to crater lake with some daylight still left to explore.. at one of the first overlooks, i met a girl who had just decided to drive south from seattle or something with her dog.  we took pictures of each other with the lake in the background and chatted for a minute.. had i been more spontaneous, i could’ve asked if she wanted to explore together or join me for dinner, though i was thinking too much about seeing the park quickly before heading to california the following day.  after seeing some of the overlooks near the lake, i decided to drive all around the whole park and go all the way out to the pinnacles overlook.  it was dark by the time i made it back around.. i found an overlook where i could see a nice view of the lake and wizard island from my truck, and i set up a shot of the stars overnight.  i think it was here that i lost one of the ball heads for a tripod.. it was strange, there was no sign of it anywhere that night or the next morning.  luckily i had more than one and was still able to get a great shot.
,exploretocreate,timelapse,exploremore,nature,truckcamper,park,journal,ontheroad,camper,optoutside,journey,nationalpark,cascades,stayandwander,hyperlapse,wanderlust,rv,starlapse,driving,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,nationalforest,vlog,camping,roadtrip,blog,getoutside,liveoutdoors,stars,lifeontheroad,writing
four years ago today [2012.09.26]

after a couple nights camping by the bay, i decided to head back to the cascades.  the morning was really foggy.. on the way east i went to a park that had an overlook to check out the view of the landscape below.  i made a couple other stops to check out the river and mountain views on the way back toward the wilderness.  i took the road all the way to cascade pass in north cascades national park.  on my way in, i saw a nice overlook that had a view of some of the mountain range over the cascade river.  i thought perhaps i'd stay there for a time-lapse of the stars later.  when i got to cascade pass, i saw lots of snow or ice on parts of the mountains.

i don't recall if there was a sign at cascade pass saying no camping or if i didn't think the angle would be as good for a shot of the stars.. whatever the reason, i headed back to the spot i saw earlier in the forest and parked in the little area that was there on the side of the road shortly before it got dark.  it was a little cloudy at first, though the clouds passed by after a while and i got a nice shot of the stars and moonlit mountains that night.

it was nice to have the truck camper.. it was a landscape photographer's best tool.  i recall some of the times when i'd be all set up at spots like this for a shot of the stars overnight, i'd hear or see cars going by.. they'd still have to be making their way to wherever they were staying that evening and i was already set up for the night and didn't have to go anywhere.  having a comfortable bed and all the basics with me everywhere i went was really nice.. i recall times in the past when i would sleep in the front seat of my car shooting the stars and it was quite uncomfortable (and the only amenities i might have with me would be a drink or snack, if i happened to remember to pack something). i also remember times being pretty tired and making a long drive home at night when i'd rather just be sleeping (and briefly drifting into sleep while driving). some sort of rv or camper is definitely the way to go exploring.
,camplife,nature,truckcamper,journal,ontheroad,park,liveyouradventure,waterfall,yellowstone,homeonwheels,nationalpark,blog,exploremore,rvlife,wanderlust,optoutside,geyser,exploretocreate,driving,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,vlog,roadtrippin,roadtrip,stayandwander,getoutside,nomadiclife,liveoutdoors,lifeontheroad,journey,writing
four years ago today [2012.09.12]

i woke up at dawn and headed into yellowstone national park.  i think i was told it'd take eight hours to drive the whole loop though decided to do it anyway.  i think i stopped at most of the main locations around the loop for at least a little bit.  at one of the areas i decided to go on a hike down a trail where i only saw one other person.  part of me was a little concerned as there could be bears in the area, though i had no encounters or issues.  it ended up being nice exploring an area that felt pretty remote as most spots in the park had other tourists.

i made it around the loop and to old faithful around dusk.  someone had said it wasn't going to be that long for it to go off, so i walked around and waited a bit.  it was getting really cold and was pretty dark, though after having waited so long already, i figured i might as well stay as it couldn't be that much longer.  i ended up waiting over an hour for it to go off.  it was pretty neat and went really high in the air.

freezing after having waited so long for the old faithful geyser at yellowstone to off, i spent the night in the parking lot there.  i think there were signs saying no overnight parking or camping or something, and i had seen buffalo wandering in a nearby parking lot, so i kept the top down and slept on the roll over couch rather than the bed over the cab.  i was still on my first propane tank and had wondered how long it would last.  this night, the coldest night of life on the road so far, i found out what happened when it ran out.  in the middle of the night i woke up hearing the heater just clicking every so often like it was trying to start but not igniting.  most of my bedding was up under the closed pop up top.. i only had one small blanket and it was below freezing outside.  i didn't go outside to figure out how to switch out the tank and just tried to stay warm and make it through the night.  the next morning, the temperature was well below freezing, something like 21 or 23 degrees.
 
,exploremore,adventurelife,nature,truckcamper,journal,offroad,liveyouradventure,canyon,journey,freedomvessel,nationalpark,stayandwander,exploretocreate,wanderlust,optoutside,homeonwheels,starlapse,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,timelapse,vlog,roadtrip,blog,getoutside,nomadiclife,adventuremobile,stars,discovertheroad,lifeontheroad,liveoutdoors,writing
four years ago today [2012.11.08]

i awoke overlooking the grand canyon.  i recall it being a windy night as i photographed the stars over the moonlit canyon.  as dawn broke, i explored the overlooks and saw the park in the morning light.. i hadn't had much time to see it when i arrived the afternoon before.

i then headed south a bit to sedona, and drove down the very bumpy and winding schnebly hill road.  this rock road was the worst one on my trip.. i had driven it years before in a car (that was bottoming out) and an suv.  i went back to visit as it was such a beautiful area.. though it felt different this time, and was not as exciting as my earlier times there.  i had thought of photographing the stars off the rock road, though there were signs saying no camping and it was forecast to rain, so i headed to town for a meal with cactus fries and then kept going.  i had photographed the stars there on previous trips (while sleeping uncomfortably in a car) so it wasn't too bad to skip it this trip.  i drove north on arizona state route 89a and stopped at the oak creek vista to see the views of the canyon and winding roads below.  it was pretty windy up there and rained when i was back on the road.  i got on the interstate and made my way east to new mexico.  rather than look for a spot on the side of the small road somewhere, i spent the night in a parking lot at a walmart i'd seen right off the interstate.. if this is the time i'm thinking, it was loud with the sounds of noisy diesel truck engines running all night not too far off in the distance.  in the morning, i'd make my way over to taos to check out the earthships.
,homeonwheels,timelapse,exploremore,nature,truckcamper,journal,liveyouradventure,canyon,journey,freedomvessel,nationalpark,blog,exploretocreate,rvlife,wanderlust,optoutside,adventuremobile,starlapse,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,adventurelife,vlog,roadtrip,stayandwander,getoutside,nomadiclife,liveoutdoors,stars,discovertheroad,lifeontheroad,writing
four years ago today [2012.11.05]

i slept in zion canyon under the stars spinning overhead.  i explored more of the park as i hadn't had much time after arriving the afternoon before.  it was a really amazing and beautiful place.  i went on a couple of short hikes in the canyon area and saw trees with brilliant yellow, orange, and red leaves before taking the tunnel east out of the park.  past the tunnel, i was surrounded by nice rock formations on the road toward the east entrance.

i drove back to arizona to check out the north rim of the grand canyon and got there with not much daylight left.  i made it to cape royal and angel's window as the sun was going down.  when i walked out to the first overlook, i remember being struck in awe.  it was so inspiring and magnificent to be there.  it was really silent, the light was beautiful, and there was no one else there.  it was a breathtaking experience.  i took it all in quickly and ran to the next spot before the sun went down.  after i was at the first spot for a little bit, a park ranger came by to say they were closing the main road out in a little while due to the recent fires.

i remember reading one of the signs that really opened my eyes up to how enormous the canyon actually was.  i don't remember the exact numbers it said, though when i read how many miles away some of the features or other side of the canyon was and that the large rock formation that looked like it was right there was also a couple miles away, i was struck in awe just as much as i was (if not more than) by the beauty when i first got out to the angel's window overlook.  it was really amazing how i perceived the sense of scale before and after knowing how far it really was.  i knew the grand canyon was big but wasn't thinking of it when i was memorized by its beauty.  when what looked like was right there was really far away, it meant the canyon and formations were really much deeper and grander than it had first appeared from where i stood.

after it was getting dark, i drove up a little to a nearby overlook where the parking lot was right by the edge, and i set up a time-lapse shot of the stars over the canyon below.
,exploremore,camplife,nature,truckcamper,journal,optoutside,liveyouradventure,adventureculture,journey,freedomvessel,nationalpark,campground,stayandwander,adventuremobile,rvlife,wanderlust,rv,exploretocreate,homeonwheels,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,adventurelife,vlog,roadtrip,blog,getoutside,nomadiclife,liveoutdoors,discovertheroad,lifeontheroad,writing
four years ago today [2012.10.27]

i headed south to pinnacles national park and explored there before going to another campground near the park.  i remember it being warm, in the 80's, during my hiking and exploration of the park.  i went on a long trail around a lot of the park.. it was interesting to wander there and see its unique landscape.  near the end of my hike, i found a cave which was pitch black in some parts.  it was interesting to be walking through and not be able to see a thing, only hearing water running inside and feeling the cool air, as i found my way to the next room/area inside.  it must be an amazing experience to be exploring some of the really large, deep caves in the world and turn off your lights and just sit and experience the silence and darkness in such a remote place.

the campground i went to had a whole section that was empty.  i picked a spot out there and had the whole place to myself.  i'd be staying a couple nights and working on the computer most of the time so it was nice to be somewhere quiet.
,exploremore,adventurelife,nature,truckcamper,exploretocreate,journal,trees,liveyouradventure,journey,nationalpark,roadtrippin,hyperlapse,wanderlust,optoutside,stayandwander,homeonwheels,homeiswhereyouparkit,travel,timelapse,vlog,roadtrip,blog,talltrees,freedomthinkers,getoutside,nomadiclife,liveoutdoors,discovertheroad,lifeontheroad,redwoods,writing
four years ago today [2012.10.13]

i woke up in redwood national park today and went for a short drive up the road where i found a nice grove of trees.  i had seen the tall trees once before and was struck in awe by their beauty and presence.  i was excited to get to see them again, and at a new place i'd never been before (and one that wasn't crowded with tourists either). walking in the woods that morning was really nice.. the light, cool rain added to the experience of being in the forest of giant trees.  after exploring for a bit, i hopped in the truck and went to check out some of the neighboring park areas and then head south along the coast.  my truck got pretty dirty that day when wandering through one of the parks on a wet dirt road.  after finding some nice spots along the coast, i continued along u.s. highway 101 as it went further inland, and spent the night at a rest area just outside the avenue of giants.
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four years ago today [2012.10.02]

back in the united states after taking the ferry to canada the day before, i headed toward the coast.  i'd seen a sign somewhere pointing toward the northwesternmost point and decided to follow that.  when i got to the parking lot and started hiking toward the coast i saw a sign warning of bears or another potentially dangerous animal that could be wandering the area.  i felt a little concerned briefly as there was no one else there, though i invoked the divine and kept walking.  by the time i made it to the water i had forgotten about the sign.  it was quite spectacular to have made it to the pacific coast and neat to be at the northwesternmost point in the country.  it was pretty foggy and wet there and nearby.

i headed back inland a bit and then made my way to explore some other natural areas, some of which were part of olympic national park, and found a couple spots with nice views of the pacific ocean.  as it was getting dark i found a quiet spot to sleep off a small road that was part of the national park.  i think there were warnings of the possibility of bears in the area though i didn't have any issues.  it was good to find less traveled spots to sleep especially as the days were getting shorter and i'd be there longer during the night.  it was nice to stay in a unique spot and not have to check in or out of a campground nor book a reservation.
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four years ago today [2012.09.19]

sleeping under the stars, i woke up at ross lake national recreation area, and began exploring the area.  i found another nice overlook nearby and a waterfall further up the road.  this was a beautiful area that i never knew existed until i got there.  near the visitor center at north cascades national park, i went on a short walk to a spot where there was a view of the picket range.  i read the sign there that said the range was a number of miles away, a trek through complete wilderness.  i stood there in awe for a few moments as i felt a strong, chilling sense of the vast expanse of land and wilderness between where i was and the mountain range that looked like it was just right there.  the peaks didn't appear that far or large at first glance, and what looked like could've been small parts of one larger mountain were really the most rugged peaks in the contiguous united states, miles apart from each other.  this was another striking moment in realizing the vastness of nature and how small we are as humans.  i imagined what it must've been like just to get out to some place so remote without roads (and to the further peaks even deeper into the wilderness that i couldn't see).

afterwards, i headed west a bit and went up a dirt road to a trail.  i hoped to find a clear view of the mountain peaks to photograph, though from a girl i met who was working on the trail, it sounded like this wouldn't be the best spot for a clear shot.  going back down the windy dirt/rock road, my truck read slope angles of at least 11 degrees, or a 22% grade!  from the video clips, i may not have done it this time, though on some of these similar steep declines, i would put the truck in 4x4 low, which really helped to maintain a low speed without having to use or wear down the brakes on the descent.

this day marks a year of owning my truck.  it was nice to be on adventure out west with the truck and camper i had ordered the year before.  i had looked forward to this journey for some time.
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four years ago today [2012.09.09]

on this morning i woke up on sheep mountain table in the badlands.  i had spent the night sleeping under the stars with my camera photographing them all night.  i explored the area a little more before continuing on my journey west.  when planning the route toward washington, i decided to zig-zag my way across the map so i could visit all the northern states on the way there.  this day i took a slight detour out of south dakota into nebraska.  i would look for green spots on the map to go visit.  after either having lunch or a bathroom break at one of these green spots in nebraska, i headed back to south dakota on the way towards wyoming.

while in nebraska, i learned that the google maps app on my old phone might know better than me.  i had seen what looked like a shortcut that it wasn't telling me to take.  when i attempted to follow this road, the dirt path went up a pretty steep hill in the middle of what seemed to be a field.  i decided to try to follow it anyway as i had already started going that way.. i ended up having to put my truck into 4x4 low and then go up backwards back over the hill just to get out when i saw there wasn't a road or path on the other side.

i explored a couple places along my route in south dakota and decided to check out wind's cave national park when i saw it on the map.  i took a tour in one of the caves, and then drove up through one of the nearby state parks where i saw some more buffalo that were also right on the road like in the badlands.  i wanted to make my way towards devil's tower to photograph the stars over it, though i recall it being a bit of a drive and i think i was getting tired plus i didn't know if i was going to be able to find a spot with a good view that i could park at all night.  i'm glad i decided to keep going and made it there.. when i arrived, i found a spot along the side of the road just outside the national monument with a clear shot of the tower.
 
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four years ago today [2012.11.07]

i woke up in the middle of nowhere.  the night before i had driven into grand staircase-escalante national monument.  i wanted to check out an arch in the park and perhaps thought i could photograph the stars under it.  when mapping my route, i figured i'd go through the park and make my way to arizona.  after driving an hour down a long, bumpy, winding dirt road up, down, and around the park, sometimes right at the edge of steep cliffs, i came to a closed gate in the direction i wanted to go.  i decided to spend the night there and head back in the morning.  it was really cold this morning, in the 20's.  previously having thought i would only have 30 more miles to the highway from where i woke up, i had to back track hours out of the way to get on the route to my next destination.  i found cattle walking up a steep hill on my way out.  close to the entrance i found the arch i hadn't seen in the pitch dark night.

after making it out, i drove through the neighboring kodachrome state park, which was quite beautiful.. i found a huge rock formation that i parked my truck next to for a photo.  i decided to stop at bryce canyon to have another look as it was now on the way back.  after, i drove through the same road i had the day before, and ended up seeing one section three times as i had passed through that area both on my way in and out of the grand canyon.  had i known i couldn't make it through grand staircase-escalante, i probably would've changed the order of my itinerary or where i was going, though the experience was all part of the adventure and it was nice to get to see what i did.  in arizona, i had a quick look at glen canyon dam and i was pleasantly surprised with a really nice view and drive going down echo cliffs via antelope pass.  i made it to the south rim of the grand canyon in the afternoon with enough time to explore a little bit before the sun went down.  i found a spot at an overlook where i could photograph the stars over the canyon.  i remember waiting a little bit to pop the top as other cars were still in the parking lot, though finally did after a while and think others also spent the night there.
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four years ago today [2012.11.04]

i woke up in the mojave desert this morning.  i had backed into a small area i had seen off the side of the road the night before.  after a little bumpiness getting out, i went further into the desert to explore.  i saw joshua trees and shot a 360 degree rotating video clip like i had experimented with the day before.

i then continued along past the mojave and entered nevada.  i was on my way out of california.  this was day 60 of my journey of life on the road, and i had spent the past 3.5 weeks exploring california.  at some point i decided i was going back to florida.  i'd been wanting to find some land and it was expensive in california.  and the truck camper was feeling too small for full time living.. i think it would've been a big help if i had a better shower that i didn't have to set up each time i used it and wasn't carrying as much gear with me.  i also wanted to be part of a community again and knew people back in florida, including an old friend in need of help.

i had planned out a path zig-zagging my way through all the remaining contiguous states west of the mississippi that i hadn't yet taken my truck camper to.  i had to make it quickly as i was going to be flying to chicago to help my friend with his business after i got home.. at some point on my journey home he ended up pushing back the date as he was moving.  had i known ahead of time, i would've taken a little longer to travel back east.. like the journey west, i did find myself rushing to make it across the country.  some days i drove pretty much all day.

in nevada, i drove down part of the las vegas strip and i think i stopped for a sub after.  i then headed to zion national park.  i'd never been to utah and was excited to check it out.  i briefly passed through arizona on the way there though would be back the next day to explore it.  i made it to zion in the afternoon and explored during the little daylight that remained.  it was really beautiful and definitely one of the places i could've stayed longer.  i found a spot where i had a great view of the stars over one of the rock formations towering above where i was in the canyon below.
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four years ago today [2012.10.25]

i woke up under the stars in kings canyon and explored more of the canyon on my way back to sequoia national park.  there were many beautiful spots to stop and take it all in.  these parks were another place i could've stayed for quite a while.. most national parks felt like that.  i could've gotten lost in them for days, weeks, or months.. i would think if i could just live in a national park, that'd be perfect.  living life on the road i technically could stay in nature indefinitely and only go to towns or urban areas on my way to the next park or forest.

the giant sequoia trees were so massive.. they are the largest living thing on the planet by volume.  i took a photo of my truck and camper in front of one of the trees and it looked so tiny.  after exploring the other side of the park for a while, i found a quiet meadow path to walk before going to a tree that you could drive through.  my truck and camper barely fit but it cleared by a little bit.  i remember a couple of european guys who were visiting the park being shocked when i drove through.  i was a little concerned going through the first time, though i probably had looked up the clearance height beforehand.

after that, i found a spot a little further up the road with a nice view of the land below.  i hiked to the dome nearby, moro rock, where the panoramic views of the high sierra and canyons were breathtaking.  in the late afternoon light it was beautiful to see the layers of the mountains in the distance and the long winding road below.  the winding road out of the park was under construction and i waited at the longest stop light i'd ever been at.  as the sun went down, i waited 20 minutes for the light to turn green (and most of the time cars weren't coming from the other direction). when it turned green and i headed down, i saw how much of a massive project it was to re-pave the road.  after the wait, it was a long winding drive down, taking me over an hour to get out and find a place to stop less than ten miles outside the park.  if i knew it'd be that long, i might've stayed in the park instead, though was glad to find a place not too far away.
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four years ago today [2012.10.10]

i slept under the stars at crater lake and then went for another drive around the park to explore in the morning.  it was really amazing waking up at dawn and seeing the sun rise across the lake.  it was so serene and beautiful.  i drove all the way back out to the pinnacles overlook again, and then circled back around the lake before heading south toward ashland.  on my way to the pinnacles, i found a nice spot with a small waterfall.. a lot of the national parks have many beautiful areas waiting to be discovered.  many tourists might just go look at the main attractions, though there is often so much more to explore.  one could easily get lost for days or weeks in a single park.

i made it to ashland in the afternoon and had a look at the pacific domes manufactured there.  i was considering various options for living at the time.. i wanted to get my own land and have a home base between adventures.  these domes came in a lot of different sizes and material though weren't as permanent as other geodesic domes.  after seeing the factory and a dome that was used as a greenhouse, i went up the road to see a couple more at jackson wellsprings.  while walking there, i felt an amazing energy from a girl who i saw sitting in the distance.  i also felt a great energy standing at the doorway of one of the domes that was their goddess temple.  part of me wanted to stay for a bit to explore or meet others, though i got back on the road so i could make it to california.  i think this was one of the times when the divine was telling me to relax and be more spontaneous rather than stick to the exact plans i had.

i headed south and crossed the border to california.  it was exciting to get there.. a year ago this day i got my camper and had made it to california in the first year of owning it.  it was day 35 of life on the road and i finally had made it.  crossing the border, i saw a large mountain in the background, mount shasta.  it was a bit crazy.. it was nearly 50 miles from the border and appeared so big in the distance.  i made it close to mount shasta at dusk and spent the night on the side of a dirt road near the interstate.
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four years ago today [2012.09.29]

my friend and i went to olympic national park after heading in to town for breakfast.  on the way up to hurricane ridge, we stopped at an overlook where a number of birds landed on my friend's arm and hand after she fed them pieces of a tortilla wrap.  there was a nice panoramic view when we got up to the top at hurricane ridge.  after taking it in for a little bit, we headed back to the nearby town and my friend showed me a spot by the water before we met one of her friend's.  we had planned to go to a full moon celebration or something that my friend wanted to go to though ended up at her friend's bar for too long, so we went with her friend to visit a couple of his friends and play games instead.  my friend offered to drive during our adventures that day.. it was a little weird to be in the passenger seat of my truck, but nice to have someone show me around the area (and get a little break from driving everywhere).
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four years ago today [2012.09.13]

having run out of propane in the middle of the night, with temperatures in the low 20’s, i worried about the water pipes freezing in the camper.  i got up at dawn and quickly headed down to a lower elevation where it'd be warmer.  there were no issues.. the inside temperature of the camper was probably over freezing from having had the heat on part of the night.  on my way out of yellowstone, i saw the sun rising and stopped to explore at a spot where i heard strange animal sounds/calls i had never heard before.  leaving yellowstone, i crossed the continental divide and was most of the way to the west coast.

i headed towards the grand tetons and saw it was pretty hazy due to recent fires.  i had breakfast when i got there, and went to the visitor center where i talked to a young park ranger about some of the areas to explore.  when she told me about one of the trails she’d recently been on, i remember her asking if i knew what to do if i saw a bear.. i think i said “don’t run?” and she gave me other suggestions.  i wandered about the park and found some nice lakes with views of the mountains.  it was nice to be in warmer temperatures than the night before.  it was crazy how much the temperature could change in the mountains.  it was in the low 20’s on this morning, when just 2-3 days prior it was 90 degrees, and the following day it’d be 85.  i saw more wildlife and on my way out of the park, went looking for the spot where ansel adams created his famous photograph from.  i met someone else there who said he thought it was just down a little bit from the overlook where we were.

after leaving the park, i crossed teton pass, a 10% grade climb up to a nearly 1.6 mile elevation.. i only got 5.1 mpg driving up it.  i dropped down to 2nd and then 1st gear on the descent, which my truck read as 6 degrees, or a 12% grade.. the engine was loud but i didn’t have to wear down the brakes nor experience the 4 tons of truck and camper quickly accelerating out of control down the winding road.  it was good to know my rig could handle the mountain roads, and fun to encounter drives i didn’t know would be part of the adventure.
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four years ago today [2012.09.08]

parked on the side of a road somewhere in a national grassland, i woke up in the middle of the pitch dark night hearing strange animal noises and feeling weird energy, and it looked like the rear window of my camper was broken.  it was pretty cold and i didn't want to get out of bed to look nor to write down the insights i felt.  at some point, i awoke with an understanding of perception.. early that morning i had written "I woke up a couple hours ago with an understanding about the reflection through which we see ourselves being the same transparent mirror through which we’re seeing the world, though can’t quite remember the exact words right now." when daylight came, i saw the rear window of my camper door was intact and the only signs of animals were some cattle up on a hill across the road.

i recall it appearing like a lot of the national grassland was fenced off or being used for agriculture rather than a park or preserve, so i headed west toward the badlands instead of explore longer.  after seeing a lot of the rock formations there, i drove down a dirt road surrounded by hundreds of bison.  i then headed over to another little part further out on the map, sheep mountain table.  it was a bumpy dirt road that led me to a much more desolate area where i only saw a couple other vehicles.  i got out to take some photos and was standing near the edge of the cliff when the wind stopped.  all of a sudden there was no sound at all, no sound of nature or man.. all that was left was complete, perfect silence, the voice of god.  it was a truly amazing and beautiful experience that words cannot begin to describe.  it was only my second full day on the trip and i had already discovered and felt the presence of god.  i looked forward to whatever other peaceful places i might find on this journey.

nearby there was a high clearance vehicle road that went further into the park.  i took it to the end where i set up a couple cameras for time-lapse shots of the sun fading across the badlands formations and the stars passing by.  it was nice to be able to spend the night sleeping under the stars in what felt like such a remote place.