We Got An Antibody Test!

We drove to Columbia, SC, last Thursday, to get an ARCpoint Lab to get an antibody test for COVID-19. Because Hans had an exposure on March 11th when he went to work to someone who had tested positive for the nasal swab test, we thought that there was a good chance that he (or we) may have already had it. He had some fatigue and dizziness in the days after the exposure on March 11th but before he was notified by SWA on March 18th.

Due to new COVID-19 rules for doctors office and lab visits, we waited in the truck to be called and entered one at a time wearing our masks. The lab tech was also masked and gloved. The test consisted of a finger prick (painless) and then the blood was dotted onto a plastic tray that looked like a pregnancy test. Also like a pregnancy test, there was about a 10 minute wait for results.

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The website for Biotest Company in Hangzhou which made the COVID-19 antibody test we took.


The website for Biotest Company in Hangzhou which made the COVID-19 antibody test we took.

Why would we wish that we had already had this awful virus? Well, if we had it already, in theory, we wouldn’t have to worry about getting it again any time soon because we would have acquired immunity. Although there are reports coming out of Korea that would indicate otherwise. Also, if we tested positive for the antibodies, we would have had a very mild case of it as seems to be the case for many people who contract it.

But most importantly,  we would not have to worry about unknowingly spreading the Virus to other people. Although this is not a given, either.

Because this virus is so new and scientists haven’t had a chance to study it, there is just so much that isn’t yet known.

Also, it really isn’t clear how well these antibody tests work. According to the local health department in Laredo, TX, the antibody test they were briefly using “had a reliability of about 20%.” So, the $70 each we paid to ARCpoint may have been a glorious waste of money. Also, as you can see at the bottom of the page with the info about the test, it says that “this test has not been reviewed by the FDA.”

Going forward, we will assume we have not had it and will continue to take reasonable precautions such as washing our hands and using homemade hand sanitizer(I use vegetable glycerin instead of aloe vera) and wearing masks when we go in public to protect other people from us as I will continue to fly when we get back to Colorado.

All masked up!

I do believe that this virus will prompt many people to become more conscious and intentional about their health. We have been on our own health journey for many years now and health is something we are passionate about. I will write more about our health journey in future posts.

For now, thanks for reading and be safe, peaceful and well.


Two Years In And What’s Next

April 16th was the 2 year anniversary of the purchase of our Arctic Fox travel trailer. The picture of us on this blog was actually taken by Billy, Foxy’s (the name I affectionately call our home on wheels) previous owner, the day we acquired her. This year, we celebrated this auspicious date with the arrival of an email from our contact at Golden Gate Canyon State Park letting us know that they anticipated the park opening sometime this summer and would begin receiving volunteers beginning on May 10th.

This will be our first time camp hosting, and we are excited that our opportunity is still intact with all the Virus craziness this year. And that we will be able to volunteer in exchange for a free FHU (full hook up) camp site in a beautiful place near friends and family in the Denver area as we have missed our family and friends a lot.

Our beautiful home, campsite #10, at the COE Volunteer Village.

Other friends and fellow volunteers at the Corp of Engineers Lake Thurmond Volunteer Village where we are currently living have had their plans and volunteer jobs postponed so we were elated to find out that our plans are still intact.

Our volunteer experience here at Lake Thurmond was the first one of these that we had tried, and, obviously, because of COVID-19 and the shutdown of virtually anything deemed “non-essential” across the nation, did not go as planned, but still has been a wonderful experience thanks to the wonderful Rangers and park officials here at the COE Lake Thurmond.

Hans and I were relieved of our duties on March 12th when the Visitor Center closed, but the ranger who enlisted us told us that we could remain here if we wished, so we did.

The COE Volunteer Village at sunset.

Our original plan when we came here was to occasionally pick up work out of the SWA Atlanta base or commute to Chicago or Baltimore to grab a trip. After all, we completed our 34 hour a week volunteer commitment (split between two people….. I think a single person would have to volunteer 20 hours) in two eight and a half hour shifts in two days at the Visitor Center. So we would have had five days off to do as we wished. For our service, we had a free FHU campsite on the lake.

In fact, if there is anyone reading this who is interested in a volunteer opportunity in exchange for a campsite, the COE Volunteer Village here at Lake Thurmond is excellent. The campsites are waterfront and spacious, and we also have access to a clubhouse with two free washer/dryers, a full kitchen, a home gym and TV and sofas and tons and tons of books, puzzles and videos. And the other volunteers are a really lovely group who love to get together for campfires, potlucks and company under normal circumstances. Message me and I can give you info on whom to contact.

However, after Hans was exposed to another person who tested positive for COVID-19 when he returned to Denver to take recurrent training to requalify to be a flight attendant for another year, we had to self-isolate to our campsite and were very concerned that we may have exposed our fellow volunteers, some of who fall into the “high-risk” category. We decided it was not worth the risk of going to work, potentially exposing our fellow volunteers and having to leave this paradise on the lake. That decision became really easy to make as more and more flights canceled and there was less and less work to be had or flight options to go to work if we commuted to Chicago or Baltimore.

We have not regretted our decision one bit. If this is retirement, bring it ON! We have had no trouble finding endless projects to occupy our days. After all, RVs, especially older (7 years) RVs always have something that must be fixed.

Hans trying to find the leak.

We remediated some mold we found. Hans fixed our refrigerator and probably saved us a ton of money. He is currently working through fixes for our hot water heater which seems to heat better on propane than on electric. 🤔

Mold from a leaky latch. Crazy how a small leak can get out of hand.
We sanded down the moldy spots and applied an anti-mold sealant.

Sometimes there is suspense with the repairs and that breaks up the monotony. When Hans was stumped with the refrigerator at one point, he told me to get ready to pack up the food in the fridge and take it up to the refrigerator in the Volunteer Village clubhouse. 😧 I just looked at him and pretended I didn’t hear him, and he, thank god, figured whatever out.

I have been working on compiling 500 “essential” photos (I really condensed it down to only the ones that matter 🤪) from 2018 and 2019 into albums that tell our story and perpetually re-bidding our schedules as SWA slashes more and more flights until Virus Madness passes. (But somehow, even after major flight cuts, SWA is, as of this writing, the LARGEST AIRLINE IN ALL THE WORLD.)

The rest of the time, we hike around this veritable paradise where the U arranged for us to be, or take a drive to discover the mysteries hidden in the hills of Georgia, such as the Georgia Guidestones https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wired.com/2009/04/ff-guidestones/amp, or just splash around on our paddle board or canoe and terrorize the local fish.

The Georgia Guidestones
Hans making his wildest dreams come true.
Hans fishing on Lake Thurmond.
Hans and Butch, one of the other volunteers.

We will miss this beautiful place on this gorgeous lake and our sweet neighbors when we leave, but it is times like these that I realize how much I love the journey as much as the destinations. And I am so grateful for these adventures that unfold because we made the choice to open up to the unknown two years ago.

Who Knew Global Pandemics Generate Great Memes?!

In the midst of global pandemic, it is reassuring that we as a species have not lost our sense of humor. In fact, the memes being generated out there in Isolation Land have been genius.

The lack of toilet paper has inspired some memorable ones:

It sure seems like it is! I have been rationing ours although we have a bidet for back up.
Of course, someone made the angry lady and cat with a TP theme.
Gen. X-ers and Boomers can find it!

My brother’s friend Wayne shared this video with us about the seriousness of the TP shortage in their neck of the woods (WARNING: Don’t watch with children around unless you are up for an awkward convo with offspring in your social isolation):

Desperate times and measures!

Things seem to be flattening out in our neck of the woods in South Carolina after the initial run on the grocery stores. (Now if only the curve on the Virus would flatten out!). The last I heard from neighbors ( from six feet away, of course) is that the grocery stores out here are reasonably restocked. I never cared to go to the grocery store in the first place, anywa

Hans would be able to do something with this and it would be delicious.

This is what’s for dinner if I’m cooking!
The struggle is real.

The pet memes are the best:


There is a lot of truth in memes:

Memes help us to find the humor in our situation:

For our airline peeps

We all know dating isn’t easy, but unsurprisingly, it just got a little harder.

Maybe if Costco hasn’t sold out, the huge odouble roll of plastic wrap may have it’s day in the sun.

Not a meme but one of my faves as a Freddy Mercury fan:


I always enjoyed memes, but I have especially enjoyed them through this sci-fi crazy weirdness that is the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Some of them are so clever and funny and bring out the humor in what could become a humorless situation in the face of our human frailty. It gives me something to look forward to every day knowing that someone has found the funny in the weirdness.

So true!

Until next time, stay healthy and sane and keep on meme-ing out there!

Good But Strange Times

Such a strange and surreal time for everyone right now. It was only 3 weeks ago that we were making our way from Texas to Modoc, SC, at a breakneck pace, as usual, cramming as much in as we could along the way, for our first volunteer position ever with the Corps of Engineers at Lake Thurmond and hitting Mardi Gras celebrations in Galveston and New Orleans. Celebrating in New Orleans with SWA people we knew from Denver. Laissez faire, indeed!

If you have never been to a Mardi Gras parade in NOLA, you simply MUST someday when this passes and the world returns to normal.
Galveston’s Mardi Gras was worth it’s weight in beads. We had about 25 pounds!
Awesome SWA friends!
Our site at the Volunteer Village.

We arrived in Modoc in March 1st and received a warm welcome from Ranger Sue and the rest of the wonderful staff and fellow volunteers here at Lake Thurmond’s beautiful Volunteer Village. Our campsite is a paddler’s dream as it sits directly on the lake and has a beautiful view. The Volunteer Village is a full time RV-er’s dream as it has 2 washers and dryers, a full kitchen and a gym. And a REAL address to receive Amazon orders (which will no doubt come in handy in this Brave New World in which we all live now)!

We were working two days a week at the Lake Thurmond Visitor Center in exchange for free FHU (full hook up) camping. Five days off! We were looking forward to exploring Athens, GA, and Jeckyll Island. Maybe even picking up some airline work out of Atlanta. We had it made in the shade!

Your friendly Sky Hostess being a Visitor Center greeter at Lake Thurmond.

Wuhan seemed like such a far away place. I, of all people, should know better. My beloved airline industry has made this world a very small place, indeed.

A butterfly’s wings flutter and cause a tsunami on the other side of the world. A sneeze and cough are no different. Apparently, they are small actions with great power to stop daily activity across an ocean for weeks, maybe longer.

Hans and I worked at the Visitor Center yesterday. We had 15 visitors. We played the incredibly informative (and actually interesting) movie about the dam one time. Several people just came in to use the bathroom and leave as soon as possible. They seemed like they were already practicing social distancing.

Lake Thurmond Dam Visitor Center and a beautiful C-Class Mercedes
LakeThurmond Dam behind me in the distance. The other shore is Georgia.

One man wanted his America the Beautiful Lifetime pass for the trip he and his wife are taking this summer to Yellowstone National Park (half price camping over 62 years of age with the ATB pass!).

At the end of the day, Ranger Sue said that the Visitor Center was closing indefinitely and that we were relieved of our duties until further notice. We are allowed to remain at the Volunteer Village until the date we are scheduled to leave which is April 30th. I think that volunteer duties will most likely resume before then if the campgrounds open as planned.

So, here we are, possibly in one of the best places we could be considering this is a disease of connection. Modoc is relatively remote, a good two and a half hour drive from Atlanta and about 40 minutes from Augusta. And the lake is almost deserted this early in the year. The weather is mild and we have a paddle board and a canoe and world class fishing at our disposal. There are amazing birds to be seen. And millions of acres of nature and a really good disc golf course close by. Social distancing should be a breeze!

This feels reminiscent of 9/11 in it’s heaviness and surreality. But I still hear planes in the distance even way out here in the Boondocks of South Cracker Barrel (thank you SNL cold open 2/29 …. )

And jet engine sounds overhead have always been a comforting sound to me. I know this too shall pass and life will resume it’s hectic pace again. And it is nice to have open space and open time and a moment to ground and center in the stillness and to reconnect with ourselves again.

Continue reading “Good But Strange Times”


The Traveling Taubs recently returned from Bogota, Colombia. Colombia has always been on our list of countries to visit. When Dr. Joe Dispenza added a workshop in Bogota, we signed up for it right away.

There was some concern from our parents on both sides as they remember crazy stories on the news in the 1980’s of Colombia being a drug capital with kilos and kilos of cocaine being grown in the mountains and trafficked through illegal channels into the US. The Netflix series “Narcos” probably doesn’t help that image even though 90% of it is fiction.

We happily found Bogota to be a beautiful city with amazing sights, heritage, food and lovely people. It seemed much safer to me than most parts of Chicago. There were some police and lots of private security guards everywhere.The street art was beautiful and everywhere.

We booked an Airbnb in the area of town called Gran América just blocks from our workshop we were attending. It was in a high rise built probably in the 1960’s. It had a beautiful view of the city. It did not have a/c, neither heating nor cooling. Bogota has a very mild climate. It sits high (about 8400′) in the Andes Mountains. January is actually their summer and temperatures varied between 50’s at night and 60s-70s during the day.

One of the best things about Colombia for Americans is the exchange rate. It was 3,400 pesos to$1. It made us feel RICH!!!

A friend had told me that quite a few crew members for Spirit and Jet Blue love in Colombia and commute to the Fort Lauderdale bases because the cost of living and exchange rate make it worth the 3.5 hour flight to and from work every week.

Our first night, our lovely foodie friend Eileen found a wonderful restaurant called Tabula. https://elorigendelacomida.co/tabula-restaurantes-bogota/It wasn’t even supposed to be open on a Wednesday night, but it was! And it was an amazing kick off to our weekend. We ordered lots of food and drinks and the bill came to a whopping $80-ish US. This dinner would have easily set us back $200-$300 in Chicago.

We had an amazing “steer shin” as it was referred to in the English menu. You could literally slice the meat off with the side of your spoon!

And one of the most impressive things we ate was the dessert which was a deconstructed guava cheesecake that was to die for!

We booked a coffee experience with Leandro from Divino Cafe Especial. https://www.divinocafeespecial.comHe showed us how to “cup” coffee to taste it. He was very nice and he and his wife have an excellent coffee shop in the La Candelaria district. He had 2 coffees for us to compare. Eileen and I failed miserably and picked what was basically Folgers. Hans did better until he switched at the very last cupping to “Folgers”. I refuse to feel bad about it. I like what I like! All in all, it was very educational. I think the Japanese siphon method is my favorite and it looks really cool, too, like a chemistry lab project.

Leandro was very informative also about how important the sale of their hand-grown Colombian coffee is to the farmers and their families who rely on their products to make a living. I will try to be more conscious in the future and make the copious amounts of money we spend on coffee do more good for everyone.

Hans’ sister Kiersten flew in and met us in time for a tour of the city. Beyond Colombia offers great free tours of the city by signing up for a tour online. http://www.beyondcolombia.com Our tour guide’s name was Hector and he gave us a truly wonderful and informative tour of Bogota peppered with a lot of history and perspective. Taking a snack break on our free Bogota tour and sampling the local fire water called chi-cha which tasted like cider, Kiersten observed.

The Botero Museum is worth a visit when in Bogota. It is free and filled with the works of the artist Fernando Botero.

One of the Colombian products I was most excited to try was the infamous “coca tea” from the leaves of the plant that they harvest cocaine from. It is supposed to be good for your heart and brain, promotes alertness and helps you combat altitude sickness. It wasn’t quite the jolt I expected, but it did seem to help with the altitude.

We also tried coca wine which tasted exactly like Robitussin, gave me exactly zero on the buzz scale and a fierce headache over my left eye. In other words, don’t bother! Yuck.

We didn’t just eat and drink our way through Bogota and then sit on our rears all weekend meditating in a Dr. Joe workshop. We hiked Monserrate which is the mountain that overlooks Bogota. It was a workout! But the breeze and the view at the top made it so worth the exertion. It was a beautiful view going up and the trip was wide and paved. We took the cable car down the mountain or we could have opted for the funicular railway.

The street markets were pretty amazing. Lots of great shopping. There was even a guy composing poetry on a typewriter in English or Spanish. How original is that?!Eileen opted for a poem in Spanish.

a local llama.

The workshop occupied most of our weekend, but Dr. Joe pushed through the breaks on Sunday so we got out a little bit early and, once again, our resident foodie, Eileen, picked an amazing spot for dinner called El Gato Gris on the edge of the La Candelaria district. It was very lively for a Sunday night. They had a wonderful band playing. We were seated at a table next to a fireplace at the very tippy-top of the restaurant on the roof with a beautiful view of the Monserrat Sanctuary on top of the mountain, all lit up! We highly recommend El Gato Gris!

We would have like to have continued our travels to Cartegena or Medillin but we had stateside plans to visit Hans’ cousins and Tante Huldie in Key Largo. Kiersten did go on to Cartagena and liked it there.

It is always good to leave something to come back for, and I feel like we did that with Colombia. I look forward to being able to return to explore more in the future!

The Kindness of Friends, Family and Strangers

The end of the year is a time of year to reflect and think of all the places we went and things we did. And to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without the kindness of friends and family and people who became friends along the way.

The nomadic lifestyle definitely has the potential to be a lonely and solitary endeavor. But, thankfully, this has not been the case for us in the last 18 months since we took our home on the roam. In fact, despite being in our wonderful neighborhood in Denver less, we have stayed connected to our family and friends through social media and making time around our work schedule when we do journey back to Denver.

It has also enabled us to visit friends and family who live afar as we journey through their area of the country. And also to get to meet and know family that we never met before, uniting through a shared bloodline and family connections on Facebook.

Nancy and Joe Clark are an example of that. Nancy and I connected through the James Gang Facebook group. She is a cousin of my mother’s, and I had heard of her and my great aunt and uncle, Tom and Dolly. They were popular family members and so loved.

When I started this blog and announced our adventurous intentions to the world, Nancy was one of our first followers. When we came to the Phoenix area in mid-November, we contacted Joe and Nancy and they showed us around. We had a wonderful time with them, and it felt like we had known them forever.Nancy and Joe Clark with us in Tortilla Flat, AZ.

Nancy has a wonderful sense of humor!

When we pause for a moment, we are grateful to people who have come into our lives at the perfect time and opened their homes (and yards and driveways) to us for a “moochdock” as we like to refer to camping on the property of friends and family.

We met our sweet friends, Dan and Peggy, when we were in Michigan in July 2018. The campground we were staying at near Traverse City filled up on the weekend, I was gone visiting friends and family and working and Hans wasn’t sure where to go as there was really no vacancy in that part of the country on the weekends as summer is prime time.

Dan graciously offered Hans a place to park on his beautiful property and explore all that Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula has to offer in the summer time.

We were so grateful for his kindness. He said he had never offered his place up to any one before so we felt very special.

  • Our friends, Jerry and Linda, who live outside of Chicago also came through for us in summer 2018. They are avid RV-ers themselves and have a 50 amp plug in their driveway. It was so comfortable to have a great visit with them and also visit family in the area.Jerry and Linda’s beautiful yard in West Chicago. The Rigatos know how to have good time in their backyard.
  • Our composting toilet that we are so proud of and grateful for would never have happened without the hospitality, support and expertise of our friends Wayne and Kathy on the western slope of Colorado. We fondly refer to their beautiful home and acreage as “The Docking Station.” They are always ready with a delicious meal, great conversation and good coffee, not too mention fresh eggs straight out of a chicken’s butt!

    Our dear friends Chris and TR let us camp on their beautiful acreage not far from Denver International Airport at the end of the summer. It was great access to work and family to take care of business and obligations of “real life” that eventually must be handled.Chris feeding something horses near her 38 acres.

    Brother Ben and kids.

    And my brother Ben has bent over backward to make a very nice situation for us on my family’s ranch in Central Texas. He has installed a 30 amp plug and a water line to make it feel like our home away from home.My brother with 2 of his kids.

    My Mom and her husband, Danny, always welcome us with open arms and a willingness to spring for a hot meal and let us moochdock for free and even let us store keepsakes in my childhood bedroom.

    Our most interesting place that we recently stayed in November was on a ranch called The Little Outfit Ranch outside of Patagonia. TThe Little Outfit Ranch.

    We met the owner Pete through another new friend that we became acquainted with when we were visiting the area earlier in the year. The LOR was originally a homestead when southern Arizona was first becoming settled. Pete’s parents had acquired it from the original homesteaders. Lots of interesting things on the Little Outfit Ranch.Pete has all kinds of cool toys!

    Old schoolhouse on Little Outfit Ranch.He really is! 😁

    It had sweeping views from Hill 50, as our campsite was known, looking out over the San Rafael Valley and beyond to the hills of Mexico in the distance.The beautiful San Rafael Valley.Hans making new friends at the Little outfit Ranch.

    One of our friends, Constance, who is a talented artist, even made a model trailer for us to celebrate our new lifestyle of adventure.

    We even owe our paddle board and and canoe to the kindness of a stranger whom Hans met when he crashed a watercraft trade show at a convention in Oklahoma City. He struck up a conversation with a man who happened to be the designer of the Aquaglide products we went with.On the paddle board getting towed by Hans in the canoe.

    As we close out this year which has been one of the fastest in my life, I am so grateful for and humbled by the presence of the amazing and generous people who have graced our lives. I hope I can impact someone’s life in as positive a way as so many friends and family have impacted mine.

    And I am reminded that no matter how much the media and politicians like to emphasize our differences, when it comes down to it, we as humans are more alike than different.

    All the best in 2020 and to All a good night!

    It’s A Van Life World

    Judging from what we have seen this summer, more and more people are taking to the roads in conversion vans, truck campers, travel trailers (like us) or some other form of gypsy existence. There really are so many ways to live nomadically these days. In fact, a lot of people just travel out of their car these days like my friend Bianca.

    We actually had some difficulty last summer and this summer finding places to camp. We mostly dispersed damp on BLM or Forest Service land. We went to several places listed on Campendium for dispersed camping when we were in Jackson Hole. Granted, it WAS Tuesday before the 4th of July on Thursday so it was already getting busy. We were using AllStays and Campendium apps for our resources. We were having no luck at all.

    The dispersed camping we could find on these apps was now limited to 5 days (most Forest Service or BLM allow 16 days at a time).The camping limit had been changed by the Forest Service from 16 days to 5 days from June 1st to September 1st. This was due to so many people dispersed camping in the last couple of years. The Forest Service outside of Tetons NP had to hire camp hosts to manage the campers and monitor camp fires.

    A volunteer camp host I spoke with said that he found at least one unattended or not fully extinguished camp fire a day which is a really scary thought and reminds me to always have two ways out when we camp.

    He felt the increase in dispersed campers is due to the smartphone age and having easily accessible info on campsites on apps such as VanLife, Campendium and AllStays. New ones seem to come available every month. They all make finding camping as easily as seeing what is around you on a map using your location.

    We finally ended up on a beautiful piece of land adjacent to Clear Creek in the Gros Ventre River valley. We were about 40 minutes outside of Jackson, and we didn’t have any sort of cell signal where we were camped, but it was peaceful, and the 5 day limit that now applied to a lot of the dispersed camping areas around Jackson Hole and the Tetons National Park, didn’t seem to apply to this area as we stayed for 18 days because we attended a memorial for a friend in Chicago.

    After our foray into Banff and Jasper National Parks this summer, we have decided that we need to have a smaller footprint to fit more discreetly into places. Size was an issue in Canada as well as some of the places we looked at in Tetons as well as last summer in Michigan. A 25 foot travel trailer like ours really isn’t big as RVs go, however, when you are trying to cover ground and camp discreetly in a parking lot if campsites have filled up, the travel trailer is too conspicuous.

    There are approximately 10 million RVs in America about 10 percent are used as homes full time. In our travels, I have met people like ourselves who just simply love the flexibility and excitement of a nomadic life. Many jobs now allow or even encourage their employees to work from home (or anywhere) and this can easily be done in today’s electronic world.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/11/12/million-americans-live-rvs-meet-modern-nomads/

    Also, middle class wages never fully recovered after the 2008 recession and house prices have risen extraordinarily high in many cities making home ownership simply unaffordable for many people so they have taken to the road and made their home on wheels. I recently read an article in The LA Times about how many people live in campers and vans on the street in Mountain View, CA, because a median average rent for a one bedroom apartment at $3,450 is out of reach for a lot of workers. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-google-mountain-view-rv-living-20190522-story.html%3f_amp=true

    I really love our nomadic life, and I wouldn’t want to live any other way, right now, but I am so thankful that this is a choice for us and not a necessity. That would greatly reduce the “fun factor” if we felt stuck.

    With the increase in the number of people RV-ing, some cities have become creative with their accommodations for RV-ers. I noticed this on a work trip next to SFO Airport at the Coyote Point Recreation Area. The city had literally created 3 campsites in a parking lot.

    There are so many modifications that you can do with your RV or van these days that make it very comfortable and homey. My favorite thing about full-timing that we always feel at home everywhere we go. Hans and I have our own very comfortable bed, all our clothes for any season or activity, my CD collection for when I don’t have a signal to stream, all my Doterra oils, all my supplements that I take, my Vitamix, my Instapot, our paddle board and canoe, our bikes…. I mean the list goes on and on because our home and all the things we love are always with us!

    Check out the back of our pickup which is essentially our garage:I wish there was nano-technology to shrink this all down and take it in my roller bag for work!

    We have parked in rest areas and truck stops overnight that seem unsettling at first, but when I pull down the shades and put on music, I’m completely at home.

    But speaking of shrinking down, we have started the discussion of what we will go to next in order to be more fully mobile and less restricted. I love the conversion vans. Although they are tiny, I have seen them with brilliant set ups that include a kitchen, closet and wet or dry bath.

    A class C with a Jeep “towed” may also work nicely for us. We could disengage the Jeep and park elsewhere away from the Class C if we are trying to camp discreetly.

    Also, we are considering an in-bed truck camper also with towed Jeep. We could drop our camper and take off exploring and leave the campsite behind. This would also be super convenient on the occasion that we need two cars.

    We are heading to the east coast this winter, and for whatever reason, it seems that many RV parks in FL do not take in-bed truck campers so we will hold on to our beloved travel trailer for now. We do not usually use RV parks, but the east coast does not have the abundance of public land that the west does.

    Adventures in Kirwin Ghost Town and Double D Ranch

    On our way back to Denver this week from the Canadian Rockies, we decided to visit Kirwin Ghost Town and the Double D Ranch. They are about 35 miles outside of the town of Meeteetse, WY, a long way down forest roads, in the Athabaska Forest in the Washakie Wilderness which is contained within the Shoshone National Forest. It is very far back and remote. I felt like it definitely put the “wild” in wilderness!

    We found a beautiful campsite at (43.9324392, -109.1527996) along the Wood River. 

    There were a few other campers around, but no one very close. We were greeted our first night by an amazing Aquarian full moon rising over the treetops. This pic doesn’t come close to doing it justice:
    We enjoyed a fire in our Flame Genie:

    Hans had heard about the Kirwin Ghost Town when we were in Cody earlier this summer. We love ghost towns and were excited to see this one. It is the best preserved ghost town that I have ever been to thanks to the efforts of volunteers, the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, the Mellon Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and the Abandoned Mines Land Division to preserve this place out of time.
    With our tetanus shots up to date, we set out for adventure exploring the old buildings from a bygone era!
    It is well off the beaten path. We turned off Highway 290 and continued another 10 miles and found our campsite. When we left our campsite this morning, it was another 8 miles to the Kirwin Trailhead.
    If you attempt to go back to Kirwin, you definitely need a 4 wheel drive vehicle or an ATV. This is best attempted in late summer as there are two water crossings. In fact, the road is water in one part of the approach.
    William Kirwin and Harry Adams found gold while prospecting in 1885, but it wasn’t until the Shoshone Mining and Development Company of Kirwin was formed in 1904 that Kirwin became a busy place.
    From 1904-1907, there were 200 miners and their families and 28 buildings in Kirwin. These included a hotel, two general stores, a post office, a sawmill, headquarters building and various buildings to house and feed the miners.
    Oddly enough for a bustling old west mining town, there wasn’t a bar or a brothel. Maybe it was too inaccessible? After all, the railway never reached Kirwin. There was stage coach service 28 miles one way to Meeteetse every other day, but I can’t help but think that must have been seasonal with the treacherous river crossings and the large amount of snow that fell in the winter.
    Or maybe there were some morally upstanding miners in Kirwin. Legend has it that there was briefly a palmist named Luciel in town, but word got out that she would offered more services than just palm readings and she was asked to leave town.
    Or maybe there just wasn’t enough money to attract women and whiskey vendors. After all, Kirwin’s investors put in much more money than they ever got out of Kirwin. There was iron ore, and there was gold, but it was not enough gold to make it a profitable venture.
    And life, quite frankly, looked like it would be very cold and hard much of the time here.
    Plus, it was very isolated and treacherous as it was nestled amongst 12,000 foot mountains. When a huge avalanche engulfed Tewksbury’s Store, everyone abandoned Kirwin at that point.
    In the years that followed, people tried repeatedly to reopen the mine, but nothing lasted.
    This was the old headquarters building:
    This was the mill and some equipment inside:I think this was perhaps a messhall:I love looking at the old nails and materials used to construct these buildings.
    In 1931, Carl Dunrad purchased an old mine from the widow of a miner named Henry Schnitzel. Dunrad hit pay dirt in the form of a dude ranch. Dude ranches were very popular then. People from “back east” would pay to come stay and “play cowboy” for a few months and live the romance of the Wild West. Dunrad opened the the Double D Dude Ranch and entertained clientele such as Amelia Earhart in 1934.
    Earhart was so taken with the area that she asked Dunrad to build her a cabin in this beautiful place. He stopped work on the cabin after she went missing during her attempt to circumnavigate the world solo later that year.
    The buildings were solid construction of stone, cement and lumber. There was even a pool fed by water piped in from a spring nearby. And it was a very peaceful place. The U.S. Forest Service has done a great job of preserving this beautiful place.
    The main house:
    The cabins and a privy:
    Not sure what this was, but I think it related to mining somehow because this looks like a hydraulic operation of some sort. There are also signs above although the writing on them has long ago faded:
    There was a stable with wooden saddle horses:
    If you dig ghost towns, definitely out this one on your list. Just bring your 4×4 vehicle and your bear spray!

    Say Yes More!

    I have been trying to make a conscious effort to say yes to more things in recent years. I think something in my consciousness shifted around age 45. I came to one of those mid-life realizations that hit you at certain birthdays that, statistically, you are at the halfway point, or most likely, on the down-sloping side of halfway, and of that, how much of it is functional useful time left that you can actually do pretty much anything you would want to do? After that epiphany, I have been trying to say yes and try things that I was not open to previously.

    Living in an RV definitely would have been something I was not so open to before. I am so glad that I said yes. It was actually Hans’ idea. And I decided I could do anything for a year. Now here we are over a year in, and we have no intention of going back into a sticks-and-bricks anytime soon.

    I have always been late to the game for some things. I didn’t eat avocados until I was 30. It was the same with wine. I have been making up for lost time ever since with these things!

    The most recent thing I made an effort to say yes to was fly fishing last week. And believe me, that took a very CONSCIOUS effort to open my mind to even trying it, but I could tell Hans really wanted me to so I didn’t want to disappoint him.

    In fact, I felt a little guilty as he took a plastic box that had been taking up precious space in the back of our truck for a year. It had waders and boots in my size with the tags still on them that he had purchased for me back in 2014 after I had hired a fly fishing guide for his birthday. He had been hoping since then that I would take up the sport with him, but after seeing six snakes on that one excursion, I wasn’t impressed.

    We had bought fishing licenses for Yellowstone NP so we drove to the Barn Spool section of the Madison River. I put on my brand new fresh out of the box waders and boots and waded across. Hans gave me some pointers on casting. He had also showed me a couple of YouTube videos about how to tie flies on. So, I felt like I could be somewhat self sufficient.

    I GET the idea behind fly fishing. You try to have an idea of what kind of fish you are going after. You look at the bugs on, around and above the water to try to get an idea of what they are hungry for, then you tie on something that sometimes looks like a sparkly bit of bug jewelry and try to put it in their face and hope they bite.

    It seems to take more luck than skill, in my opinion.

    I fished for a while without so much as a nibble and then noticed grasshoppers around. Conrad at Bob Jacklin Anglers in West Yellowstone had sold me a crazy looking piece of abstract art that he had referred to as a grasshopper. I didn’t see how this would fool any normal fish, but I decided the green caddis wasn’t doing it for them so I might as well try something new.

    I had no sooner put it in the water than I was locked in a fight with a HUGE brown trout! I was trying to keep my reel up. I finally grabbed her and took a picture!

    Shortly after my big catch, I saw a snake and lost interest in fishing any more that day as the limbic system of my brain had me seeing snakes everywhere.

    But the next day, I went out and, after some minor, fly adjustments, I caught a rainbow-cutthroat hybrid. It was beautiful! I am “hooked”.

    Another thing I have recently started trying are ice baths. I would have rather died than have an ice bath. I always detested cold water. I am hooked now! I think it started with some videos I watched featuring a guy named Wim Hof. He is European and swears by a breathing technique now called Wim Hof breathing. He claims it enabled him to climb Everest without oxygen in shorts. Someone did a film about this. It is fascinating.

    I went from filling up my bathtub in hotels with ice and water and plunging in to going to a cryosauna in Denver. Yes, it is cold. Yes, it sucks for a few minutes, but then you feel incredible after! It is a full-on endorphin high that surpasses a runner’s high!

    Today, I did something I never though I would do…. took a brief plunge in a glacial lake at the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park. After all, you only live once, glaciers are rapidly disappearing from the planet. Climatologists say that the Glacier NP glaciers will be done by 2030. I decided not to let the opportunity pass me by.

    It was brisk. My heart felt like it was beating like a butterfly, and I had a hard time moving my limbs because they were so cold, but it was so exhilarating to know that my reward for a 12 mile round trip hike was this amazing dip in the pool of one of the last glaciers left on the planet.

    I intend to keep going with this plan of saying yes to things that scare me and challenge me in weird ways I can’t anticipate.

    One of the things I said in the past was that I could never live in a space smaller than a 25′ travel trailer…… Maybe a truck camper is the next thing I say yes to?

    The Instapot Miracle

    Admittedly, I’m a little late to the game on the Instapot, a sensation that the rest of America has embraced judging from the number of online advertisements at Christmas last year.

    I had borrowed my sister-in-law’s IP a few times when we lived in her stick and brick in Denver. She did not use it much. I liked it, and she, being a very generous person, gifted it to me. But after I cooked maybe five meals in it, the “new” wore off, and it went back on the shelf collecting dust again.

    When we purged everything last year and moved into our 25 foot Arctic Fox trailer, I wasn’t sure I should bring it so I gave it to my Mom and her husband Danny. He does most of the cooking, and he went to a class at their church on Instapot cooking.

    But, last summer when we were in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Michigan, places that get quite warm, I really missed it. Yes, I have a full kitchen in our RV, but you do NOT want to heat your trailer to 90 degrees using the oven or the stovetop just trying to get a healthy meal fixed. Yes. You can grill outside, but that doesn’t work for everything.

    So, when the Instapot was blowing up all over the internet at Christmas last year, and we happened to be at the ranch visiting my Mom and Danny, I mentioned I was going to order one. Mom said they had not used the one I gave them despite taking the church class, and why didn’t I just take the one I gave them back?

    I was so happy to have it back! I find I am using it several times a week this summer. this is the one I use:

    When we are plugged into “shore” power, such as an electricity post at a campground, it is a snap to use. We seldom camp at campgrounds though, so often I must start the generator to use the Instapot. It is easy, all the same, as it is like starting an old-school gas lawnmower with the pull of a cord.

    Most recipes are finished in half an hour or less of pressure cooking so I don’t even have to run the generator that long, the trailer doesn’t heat up, and, because there is a sauté mode, I only have one pot to wash!

    One of my favorite things to make is chicken broth. I buy precooked whole chickens at Costco or any other grocery store (most places around $5). I save the bird carcass in the freezer along with any onion and celery ends. When I have two frozen carcasses, I throw them in the IP…..

    I use the broth in various other recipes or just drink it plain. It also makes killer chicken tortilla soup.

    I made this last night with what I had on hand:

    Lentils and Chicken

    • 1 c. Lentils
    • 1 1/2 c. Homemade IP chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 TB oil if your choice (I used coconut)
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
    • 2 chicken breasts (this is what I had on hand but you could use thighs or even a different kind of meat)
    • 4 cloves of garlic diced (or use the garlic in the jar)
    • 2 t. Paprika
    • 2 t. Rosemary
      2 t. Oregano
      Salt and pepper to taste
  • Put the IP in Sauté mode and add the oil. Let it get hot then add the onions and garlic and a sprinkle of salt. Keep stirring this as you cook it for about 5 minutes.
  • After the onions are slightly soft, turn off the IP and add in the broth, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the chicken on top. Put the lid back in the IP and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Let the pressure naturally release and viola!!!! You have a hot dinner and an unheated kitchen!
  • You could add parsley or feta cheese or whatever to this to garnish it and make it look pretty.

    The IP makes boiling eggs super easy and screw-up free. I make a lot of boiled eggs when I work for a healthy snack or on-the-go snack. Oatmeal is also easy and fast, and you can feed a lot of people very quickly with this one. You can lay out a la carte toppings in bowls so everyone can customize their oatmeal.

    Here is a handy chart:

    There are lots of great IP recipes out there, vegetarian, paleo, keto…. any thing for any diet with the exception of a raw food diet, perhaps. Just check Pinterest or there is also an Instapot app.