June 27, 2022
I took the plunge this week and went to a new unknown hairdresser and it really didn’t turn out bad. I’m always impressed when they are able to keep the bleached part and dark part separated. So what if I had to drive over an hour to find a salon. It was a pretty drive! I could get used to life out here…
Now that my mother’s visit is over I am settling in to normal life here and realizing that I want to build more of a community for myself and the others work camping here. I have ideas. First, I had to clean out my cupboards when I couldn’t find popcorn one night and that led to me setting up a food pantry/goods exchange. We will see if that takes off and proves helpful. I have several days off this week as it’s Milky Way week, but when I get back to work I will be starting an activity board for people to be able to plan group activities. One evening this past week I was able to get a few people to play Pandemic with me on the patio and I was so happy! I know it sounds morbid, but it is an incredibly fun and challenging cooperative style board game. Here’s my friend Marisol who lives right next door to me and gets roped in to some of my whimseys.
The next day she roped me into stand up paddle boarding on the reservoir next door. I did not stand up as I was afraid of falling off, but it was nice. It ended up turning windy and cloudy on us so we mostly just floated near shore and relaxed. Our friend David came with his kayak and promptly flipped it as soon as he got into the deep part. I quickly learned that new friends realize I am gullible immediately and therefore try to mess with me. Marisol kept trying to convince me she saw alligators in the water.
The big adventure for this week has been the balloon festival in Panguitch, Utah. I have always wanted to go to a balloon rally so I could see multiple hot air balloons in flight at once, but my previous attempts have failed. I tried to go to one in Phoenix a few years ago, but they canceled it due to wind at the last minute. I also dragged Luke to one in Northampton one year and it was super hot and they kept the balloons tethered. Also, most of the balloons were ads for companies or Disney characters and not much to look at in my opinion. I hoped that this one would be the magic I envisioned, but was prepared for another dud. We left at 5am so we could get there in time for the sunrise accession. You will be pleased to hear that it was just as beautiful and magical as I had hoped for. I took so many photos so it’s hard to pick just a couple to share. I don’t know what it is about hot air balloons that captivate me. I don’t have a strong desire to ride in one, but I just think it’s so wonderful that people do. I love the colors of them, the joy they bring, and the freedom associated with them. Maybe one day I will have the guts to get in one.
It’s monsoon season here so Luke ordered a lightning trigger for the camera. This will enable us to capture photos of lightning strikes remotely that will look just amazing while we are safely in a sheltered area. We have never done this before, but we are hopeful that we are in the right time and right place to achieve this. We are also excited about the opportunity to witness flash flooding in the wash that surrounds this campground. Nature doing it’s thing in powerful ways is the kind of entertainment we seek out these days.
Today I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Ikedra, one of my co-workers here, for the blog. I have spent a little time with her over the past month and she is outspoken and confident, loving and attentive, she loves her dog, and she is the only black person for perhaps a hundred miles around. There is oh so much to find interesting about the people you meet. I hope you have time as well to stop and get to know your neighbors. Ikedra started a nomadic life this past February. Prior to coming here she was living in San Diego and working in mental health for first the Navy and then the marines. Ikedra’s most recent work focused on helping those with disabilities which she shares is near and dear to her heart as she has a vascular disorder in her leg called KTS which effects her daily life. Like Ben, she is moving on in a week or two so interviewing her became a high priority for me before she leaves.
She describes herself as someone who is happy and free spirited and goes with the flow. She experienced her life working for the military as very grey, structured, and rigid. Ikedra, like many of us, experienced some awakening during COVID and decided to embark on a path of “releasing things that did not bring me joy”. She shares that when COVID hit, she decided that she only had one life to live so she better get busy living it for herself rather than to meet other’s expectations. Ikedra shares that she embarked on this lifestyle as it looked like fun and she was drawn to the freedom of it. So far, she enjoys the people she meets and the connections she makes the most. Like me, Ikedra loves hearing the stories of others. Her biggest challenge has been getting rid of stuff. She is drawn to the minimalistic lifestyle, but still likes having things so she is still trying to whittle down her possessions. Ikedra currently lives in a travel trailer that Yonder rents out to her. Her next destination is in Colorado and she does not know yet what her living arrangements will be, but says she is not too worried about it as she tends to always figure things out for herself.
Ikedra feels that her personable nature helps her to do well anywhere she goes, but this lifestyle has helped her to become more independent as she now only has herself to rely on or consult with when making major decisions. She is proud of herself for doing this. Her goal is to eventually live outside of the US. Right now, she is thinking that Costa Rica may be her ideal place as their international motto is Pura Vida which translates to mean Enjoy Life! She feels that living in a place as remote as Escalante is helping her to prepare for this transition.
Ikedra originally wanted to live the van life and noted that she did not see a lot of black people in this lifestyle when doing her YouTube research. Maybe she can help to change this… She is not sure if she will one day purchase a camper or just car camp for a while and see what opportunities come up. We talked about how people of color are a minority in the camping/RVing community and hopes we had for change over time. Ikedra states that her ultimate goal in life is to “be in complete control of my time and freedom”. She has decided that accumulating wealth and things are fleeting and don’t really bring joy. She appreciates all she has learned out here about how to live well in this alternative lifestyle as she thinks about her next steps and future living options. Ikedra has a sweet dog named Gravy. We did a short hike and took a couple of photos so you can all see my beautiful friends before they depart. I will follow this girl’s travels and maybe meet her again somewhere one day. I’m sure her life will be amazing and she will do good things wherever she goes.
Jennifer MacNeil is currently traveling the US with her husband and two dogs. She loves to have adventures, explore, meet fascinating people, and see amazing places. She strives to learn every day and spread kindness to others. She documents the journey through her photography and blog to share with others.