In this post, I bare all…but to make it a bit more enjoyable, I decided to share some of the better moments, by way of some pictures of the wildlife I saw in the summer of 2016. Hover over the images to see what, where, when etc..
I finally caught up on all my travels during the winter of 2015/2016. Can you believe I lived for six months and did all that traveling on less than $2,900.00, including gas and food!
Anyhow, people have been asking what I did afterwards, so here’s how I spent the summer of 2016:
After all that traveling, I was actually looking forward to working again. Aside from having to work in order to be able to live, there is something satisfying about going to work and earning money, other than the fact that I need it to travel and live.
I had been offered a job as a sales associate in a retail store in Estes Park, Colorado, (same place I worked in 2015) and I took it. I try to set aside the fact that there is not a single thing in that store that anyone really needs; nada! zip! and I feel like such a hypocrite, because I have to sell things to people that they don’t need. I don’t push things on people, I let them decide, but I still feel like a hypocrite because I’m the person people have frequently hired to help them get rid of things, and outside of work, I promote simplicity and the freedom that comes from not owning a lot of stuff.
Anyhow, I could only work two or three days a week because of my injuries, so I wasn’t exactly pulling in the dough. It’s a tough situation to be in. I can’t work full-time due to injuries, but I can’t get any help from the government either… and I mean NONE. So I have learned to live on the income that comes from 24-hours a week of work during the summer season, at (what is now) minimum wage. If I didn’t live this lifestyle, I wouldn’t even be able to pay rent on a place. I chose this lifestyle initially for many reasons, but as I get older, I find it’s becoming a necessity just as much as a choice.
So I worked three days a week, and on the other days I had about three visits a week with various doctors. Where did this get me? Well, by the end of my second year trying to get help with my neck, shoulder and lower back injuries, I was finally approved for an epidural in my neck. It took two years to achieve this. At that rate, I’ll be 65 before I get anything fixed enough to where I can actually work full time, or apply for disability if they decide, “yep, she actually does have a complicated list of injuries we can’t fix”. By then, they will chalk everything down to old age, so I won’t be able to get disability anyway. It’s just the way it is in America, and I suspect it will get worse before it gets any better in the coming years.
Anyhow, camping in Estes Park for the summer, for free, is not easy. The forest service and the town has pretty much taken away all camping on public lands within a reasonable driving distance of town. (People have been trashing the lands, setting the woods on fire, or shooting and dumping on it (due to lack of rangers patrolling/caring for it) and then there were the floods of 2013 that washed out many of the roads . Plus, the town of Estes Park doesn’t want ‘homeless’ people camping for free near their town. Not even climbers and hikers apparently). I can only stay in Estes because I have three friends that allow me to park on their property. These places are on the west and east edges of town, and are spacious. I have room to camp away from their houses, and there is always plenty of wildlife, vegetation, and incredible views all around me.
I spent a lot of time in my parking spots in 2016, because although Estes Park is in a beautiful location surrounded by national forest, and it butts up against Rocky Mountain National Park, the summer of 2016 was so over-run with visitors it was impossible to do much. It was so crowded that getting into the park was a nightmare, and it was worse inside the park than on a city street at times. There were two days in the summer of 2016, that the park had to turn people away at the entrance, and getting around town was a total nightmare. I think most residents just hibernated for the summer, and didn’t venture out until night to get their groceries. Forget going to the library, or picking up one’s mail until after dark, it just wasn’t worth the frustration.
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Estes Park has been my home/base camp for about twenty years, and when I first landed there it saved my life, but it has changed in such a way that I’m determined to leave it behind completely at some point. Each year I say I wont’ return, but each year I do because of job offers. Maybe 2017 will be the year I find a new place to make my basecamp and leave Colorado behind me forever (except to visit).
Anyhow, in a nutshell, that’s pretty much how I spent my summer. Working, hiding from the tourists, and spending a lot of time getting x-rays, MRI’s, and visiting doctors. Not exactly fun. My doctor had even told me not to hike, so there was nothing left to do really. (I’ve now decided to totally ignore him, I find that hiking is actually the best thing for my back and not hiking makes its worse, and also makes me depressed, so take that Doctor, and stuff it!). Wow, I feel better now…
In the latter part of the summer a good friend helped me to build a bed in my newly acquired van, and we did some other things to make it more comfortable for living and ready for the road. And of course, Estes is in a ~~~BeaUtiFul~~~ location, with lots of wildlife, so I’ve inserted some of my favorite wildlife pictures from the summer of 2016 in this post, just to show that it wasn’t all bad.
Oh, and of course, a lovely sunset taken from one of my camp spots. Those mountains are the snow-capped peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park, with Lumpy Ridge on the right (a beautiful area to hike, if you can find a parking spot).
In mid November 2016, I left Estes Park AGAIN, still determined to find another place to call base camp. I’m currently on the road just searching…always searching for something that I can’t quite reach. I’ll give you an update on those travels soon…
Until then, if you’re in bear country, remember to watch out for bears…they can be around any corner, or right outside your door.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature