December 31, 2022
Well, it’s my last day of a complete year of living the nomad life and I must say that despite a difficult start, we are quite happy in our lifestyle. It seems like everything I read this past week had a them of reflection to it as we humans tend to spend some time doing between the holidays at the end of the year. It is such a part of our culture that despite my belief that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t necessarily helpful, I cannot help but think about my life and lifestyle and what is important for me to focus on or incorporate in the coming year. Do you ever wonder if ideas or values you hold are really your own or just ingrained in you? I think it is good to wonder about this as we have so many habits, beliefs, and thoughts that come to us through outside sources. We surely do need information and ideas from outside sources so there is tremendous value in these, but we also need to stop and think about if these are things that work for us in our life and bring value or enrichment to us or if they are things we perceive we should do or believe because others seem to value them.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my relationship with the outdoors and wilderness. I thought I would have been spending more time outdoors and hiking so far this winter than I have been. I’m trying to decide if I want to take more initiative to do more outdoors despite the cold or if I just believe others are doing so and therefore it is a good thing to do which I am slacking on.
It is true that the weather has been cold and the skies have been grey which really cut into any motivation or excitement I thought I would feel to get out there. I read today some apt advice though. If something is bothering you, ask yourself if it will still be an issue in a week or a month. If the answer is no, let it go and don’t worry about it. It’s good advice and in this case I can let it go.
If you are thinking of making a change in your life I say why not give it a try. Most of our choices do not have to be permanent and often we cannot know if we will enjoy something until we try it. First though, think about what is important to you and why that is important. It can be difficult to resist the pressures we put on ourselves to do things just because we think we should.
Enough rambling. Christmas was great here in Escalante. We enjoyed a couple of small get-togethers with great people. We went to a Christmas Eve party locally where we connected with some new friends, Luke played some songs, and we enjoyed Raclette cheese fondue for the first time. We met some fine horses, mules, and many dogs as well as the party hosts have a ranch. I was invited to go riding one day soon which I gladly accepted.
On the way home from the party I was overjoyed to see the Christmas train pass by us. I took a little video of it for others to enjoy and posted it as an Instagram reel. You can find me as Jenniedale8 on Instagram if you’re interested. On Christmas day we had a bountiful potluck feast with lots of laughs and great company. Everyone took home a large bag of leftovers.
I’ve almost finished my miniature project. I may even complete it this evening. There are probably eight lights to hook up with it so I’ll probably ask Luke to assist with the wiring. He’s good at that stuff. Today I finish the walls and floors and then put it all together!
Luke has been busy improving our website and building the new website for the boutique hotel we are staying at, Entrada. He has built this really cool mapping feature that shows points of interest in the area with our photos attached as thumbnails so that’s been fun to populate. At first, he did this for the hotel, but then he decided to also make one for our website and add all the places we have visited. This has been a fun project to go back through photo archives and revisit past trips we have taken. There have been quite a few and many haven’t made it onto the map yet or were before we got into photography. If you want to see if, check out our website at our map.
Our dogs still want to go out to run despite the cold. The runs are usually short and mostly for Dobby as he still has some puppy energy, but we had some good ones this week. We learned that it is trapping season so a lot of our usual spots are unsafe to let dogs run in. I am so glad that someone told us this before we had a dreadful tragedy. We went to a recommended safe spot called Bailey Wash not far from town. I didn’t take photos as I was busy staying warm and trying to make sure Dobby wouldn’t run off the side of a cliff, but it’s a good hiking spot and I will definitely be back. We found a spot where it looks like someone is building some kind of structure out of rocks. We could see a fire alcove and steps and possibly a flat foundation. I will share more when I’ve explored there more fully.
We also visited the Boulder mail trail and airstrip. There’s a piece a plane wreckage plunged into the ground as a marker here. I’m not sure if I would ever be able to identify this piece of ground as an airstrip without it. It is reportedly still in use for aircraft, but I would not want to land any type of plane here.
I also wandered one day and stopped by this frozen waterfall. Once again this week, I had a hike planned, but was thwarted by wind, cold, and sleet. Thankfully I have a warm place to stay and no end to indoor hobbies which are fun and fulfilling. Here is the waterfall on from North Creek.
Luke’s mother comes to visit in a couple of weeks and I am sure I will be out adventuring quite a bit with her while she’s here. It’s probably good that I have quiet time now to do things for myself and rest. I will remember this whiny feeling I had today and think how silly it was. My heart is full. My life is dope. If I wake up tomorrow and find myself wanting something, I will make a plan and go for it.
We did get to play Pandemic again which was awesome! A local started up a gaming group. The group is primarily young men and boys playing Dungeons and Dragons which is a really interesting subculture (not just a game), but they all happily played or watched us play Pandemic for a bit first. It was a fun game with new players who were really into it. We were one card away from winning which happens a lot in that game.
Your cover photo today is brought to you by a trip we took to San Francisco several years ago where Luke suggested we hike up a mountain to see the city from above over the bay at sunset. Just past the clouds and fog you can see the cityscape. It was hazy, but a nice view. The whole way back down the mountain we could hear coyotes howling in the dusk and I was a little scared. By working with the rangers, I am learning what wild animals I actually need to worry about and what to do if I have a chance encounter. I have said to many people this past week that I hope to develop more grit in my time here. My awesome mother reminded me that I already have a fair amount of grit as many people would be too scared to leave everything behind and live like a nomad.
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 her journey through her photography and blog to share with others.