January 19, 2022
The town of Patagonia has absolutely charmed me so I spent a day walking around and taking photos downtown while Luke worked on making a short video of the town. While on our walk, we stopped in at the Velvet Elvis pizza place and enjoyed a delicious pineapple and pepperoni pizza. If you’ve never tried this combo on your pizza, I tell you it is perfect! The owner was there and stopped by to chat with us. She told us that this is a great town to live in and it spits you out when it’s done with you and you know it’s time to move on. I wonder what she means by this. Anyhow, the food was fantastic so I wrote them a nice review. On our walk, we also met the owner of the only gas station within 15 miles. He had PIGS: Politically Incorrect Gas Station painted on the outside wall. The pumps were from a bygone era and had the cardboard numbers on a wheel that ticked by as you filled. He told us how the town has changed over the years with retirees from California moving in which brought in more money and businesses. He pointed to the opposite side of the street (separated by a park) and informed us that was new Patagonia and his side is old Patagonia. He was nonplussed about these changes and let us know that the gas station is for sale. We’ve heard a similar story at other local businesses and this seems to overall be the story of small town America. There is a big mine that moved into Patagonia some years back and we hear that the miners are paid more than other local businesses can afford to pay. This is one man’s theory of what drove prices up on goods for the whole area. These towns seem like parts of them have not changed since the 50’s which has nostalgic appeal, but does not keep up with our current economic growth. The struggle around change is felt strongly everywhere and we could see it and feel it walking through this town. The new side of the street was lined with art galleries, cafes, and boutiques. Personally, I like it all. The new side has a tasty bakery and a little bar that serves the mountain bikers and hikers gathered here. The old side has the pizza place, a market, and the only gas station around. Both sides had friendly people and things I wanted to buy. The town sure loves art and nature which suits me just fine.
I mentioned that our new campsite is within a national forest and so of course, the drone got stuck in a tree. Our ladder was not tall enough to reach it so Luke spent an hour throwing a rock with cord tied to it into the tree trying to dislodge it before we channeled MacGuyver and came up with a solution. We thought if we could just get a pole long enough, we could knock it down so we assessed our pole situation. We had a short selfie stick and a 6 foot long selfie stick for the 360 camera so we got out the duct tape and made a long pole. Not long enough by far. We dug through our storage and found a painters pole, a broom that we could remove the brush from, another pole for the exterior RV brush, and a pole for the RV microfiber cleaning pad. Six poles all duct taped together did the trick and our poor drone smashed to the ground. At least now we could save the SD card footage from it and send it in for repairs. It was not the first and probably not the last time we crashed.
When we started out I was nervous about driving our new pick up truck. It is wider and longer than anything I had been used to driving and we’re driving in all unfamiliar areas. I have been working on getting over this by driving it on errands when we needed something and Luke was busy with things at home. This week was a bit of a landmark for me with this challenge as I drove the truck halfway up a mountain on a primitive dirt road. It was pretty fun and I felt confident handling it even when I had to switch into four wheel drive to get through a tough spot. However, the road became increasingly steep, narrow, and washed out so I eventually let Luke take over and then we both agreed we shouldn’t attempt to go any further. We were not far from the top so I hiked the rest of the way up to get the view while Luke droned from where we parked. He didn’t see me take off for the top so was a little worried about me hiking alone. We realized that we brought walkie talkies with us for precisely this reason so we should use them in these situations. Especially in places like this where we did not have a cell phone signal. Luke programmed the ham radio in the truck to pick up the frequency on the walkies so I can be a more responsible hiker next time I adventure. No worries though, I did not encounter any rattlesnakes or mountain lions and the views were majestic.
At the end of the week we were offered jobs with Luke’s former employer current friend doing social media marketing for her. We wanted us to make ads to post daily and reply to comments or questions people post on these apps. The pay was right and it seems like the perfect gig for us wanderers. It’s a way to combine use our creativity and photography to make money for someone we love so what could be better. Also, we make our own hours which is great for our very unscheduled lifestyle and for times when we are exploring and without internet or cell signal. I backed out of working part time for the company I left as I have been enjoying having a break from doing clinical work taking care of people. Also, the pay wasn’t as good for that and it was taking HR weeks to process paperwork to get me started. It hadn’t even begun yet and it was already a frustrating process. I felt a little bad letting down friends who needed help at my old company, but they were very understanding. It’s comforting knowing we will have some income again. Living cheaply is good too and we will continue to do this because we can and it fits my values around conservation while also teaching us to connect more with nature, but it’s also nice to not have to worry about how to pay the bills. We are fortunate for the skills we have developed and good friends.
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.