March 7, 2022
Last week allowed some time for solemn reflection which is necessary at times. Luke connected with several family members to talk about his brother who died too young at the age of 49. We read and talked to friends about the war in Ukraine. It seems that Putin is fairly universally hated, except for in Russia. There are definitely people in Russia who are protesting this war, but it seems many of them are the young people. In a country where the government controls all of the media, the mainstream news is representing this war as something intended to help Ukraine which is undeniably not true. As much as we may complain about the country we live in and the government in control here, we are better off than many. Is there such a thing as a free press anymore or was there ever? Certainly our news media is biased as well and panders to government officials or large corporations which contribute to their funding. It’s impossible to feel certain that we have all the facts or that we we read or hear is an unbiased representation of what is happening, but at least we are not restricted from hunting down as much information as we want about a subject.It may take all day to research, read, and digest all sides of an issue, but I am grateful that all sides are available to us. We also took time to enjoy the little things. We still have some spectacular sunsets. I’m sure the sunrises are great too, but I do not rise early enough to tell you about those. We moved our campsite to a new spot which is surrounded by some really beautiful and interesting rocks. Luke started to read about rocks in this area in hopes of being able to find a geode. That is the type of rock that looks nondescript or a bit ugly on the outside, but has a hollow core and is filled with crystals. I spelled out our YouTube channel name behind our campsite for the next campers to find. We also have cows that visit our campsite almost every day. The young ones are really cute, but I don’t get too close as they are usually accompanied by Dad who has big horns.
I started to plot out where else in this state we would like to camp and explore. My system for doing this for now is to do a bunch of research and talk to people when we arrive and then start a list of all the things we want to see in the state we are in. Then I take out our paper atlas and plot the points that look the best on the map. This helps us determine the places that would make an ideal home base. Once I have an idea of the area we want to be, I start searching for campsites we can park at. I got as far as plotting things on the map, but we have not made any decisions about which direction to head to next other than knowing we will go north. I also decided this week that I should look for part-time seasonal work in national parks or campgrounds that offer a free campsite. This would make it less expensive to travel as our expenses with moving the rig every two weeks, dumping the tanks, and filling the water would be eliminated while we are there. I would also have a little extra income coming in. My first step was to make a new resume as my current CV is long, wordy, and geared towards a career in clinical mental health practice and supervision. Most of the stuff on there would be meaningless and gibberish to someone looking to hire a barista or housekeeping staff. The pay would not be anything like what I made in my previous career, but that’s not the point. This would not be a career, but rather some pocket money to assist in our current priority of travel and exploration. I don’t know if the time in my life to build a career and advance in it is over, but it is at least on hold for now. I am calling it a sabbatical. That seems to fit my current thinking about my decision. With that done I sent out a few applications over the weekend so we will see what happens this week. I also finished my latest work of the Grand Canyon.
While looking for jobs, I stumbled upon something fascinating. There are some national or state parks that offer an artist in residency program in which you live at the park for a period of a couple of weeks or a month and create art while you are there. Some even offered a stipend in exchange for the artist offering a public class or workshop to demonstrate and teach others their craft while they stay there. The deadline for the artist residency at Death Valley National Park in southern CA was Sunday and I discovered it on Saturday. Luke and I agreed it would be a great thing to do so we hustled to develop our artist resumes, biographies, a project proposal, a video submission, and pick some photos to show off our work so we could submit our application by the deadline. It look us all day, but we were both excited and felt accomplished after we did it. It also brought me to a new realization. I have been taking photos with a professional camera since 2013, but never really thought of myself as an artist. I have never had extensive formal training aside from some workshops I attended over the years and never dedicated myself to art full time until more recently. I think also many artists struggle to feel like their art is “good enough” to be considered legitimate. However, while reflecting on all that I have done over the years and putting it into a resume, I felt for the first time like I really am an artist. We have no idea how much competition there is for these spots, but now that we have completed the application process for this first one, we are prepared to go hunting for more as well as grants. We are artists and are ready to pursue our career as the traveling nomad artists we are as we search for places that inspire us and grants or fellowships to keep us going and fed.
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.