Be nice to yourself – Eat well

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Healthy food can be incredibly boring, especially as a vegetarian. I get it. I also know that as a hobo I rely heavily on my body to keep me warm at night, fix itself when I walk blisters onto my feet, and keep me alert when I maneuver through a sketchy neighborhood.

While I am in no way an expert on nutrition, I´ve spent quite some time figuring out how and what to eat to keep myself healthy. Here is what I´ve come up with. Notice that most pictures show snacks and small meals; however, the same general rules apply for regular meals.

Prepare your meals for the day. Think about what you are going to eat, where you´ll be able to heat up some food, and what nutrients you need. It´s better than impulsively grabbing something from the store or buying fast food.

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Tomatoes are filled with plenty vitamin C, while cereal typically contains up to 1/3 of your daily nutrients (most breakfast cereal is fortified). Apple sauce is a high energy food that also includes fiber and some vitamin C.

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Need vitamin C? Eat peppers. They are also filled with vitamin A and vitamin B6. Pretzels contain lots of carbs and sodium. The yellow powder is dried hummus (just add water), which is a high energy food that contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use meal containers. Environmentally friendly, easy to transport, keeps your food from getting smushed, and makes you more likely to diversify your meals. You don´t need to get a 100 degrees of fancy with yours; cheap ones will do.

Make it colorful. Half a loaf of bread or an entire cucumber sounds just about as boring as it tastes. Mix it up! If you are just not a fan of fruits and vegetables, then add a small variety of them. Just one kiwi can provide you with an entire day worth of vitamin C.

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Crackers are rich in carbs and sodium. This salad contains boatloads of vitamin A and is low in calories. The olives add some iron and healthy fats.

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The peanut butter sandwich contains lots of energy mainly consisting of protein and carbs. Kiwis are filled to the rim with vitamin c and also contain potassium. Blueberries are also a good source of vitamin c and additionally are full of fiber. Gummy bears are food for the soul. That´s my story and I am sticking with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crispy bread contains minimal carbs, while being rich in fiber. This particular cereal has protein powder added to it. Besides protein, protein powder often contains high quantities of essential nutrients.

 

Balance. Nobody said you can´t have candy, pizza, and mac and cheese. It´s all about balance. Personally, I will eat healthy as a rule and treat myself with less healthy food. Remember, if you live outside you may need somewhat more calories than housed people. Find your balance.

Read the nutritional labels. You should have seen my face when I realized how much sodium (salt) is in a package of ramen noodles. You don´t need a calculator for this; just keep and eye on some key nutrients.

 

Frozen

(aka hobo tales, aka bad poetry)

  • It´s cold as fuck
  • I have no luck
  • all my shit is frozen
  • Can´t wash my hair
  • as in despair
  • I see my shampoo ´s frozen
  • My breath is bad
  • I´m getting mad
  • My mouthwash is so frozen
  • Can´t feel my feet
  • because indeed
  • my socks are really frozen
  • Stand by my car
  • because so far
  • the damn doors are too frozen
  • Despite cold feet
  • I´d like to eat
  • but all my food is frozen
  • Can´t blow my nose
  • man, this is gross
  • my nostrils too are frozen
  • Cant you believe
  • despite all grief
  • this life is what I´ve chosen

Colorado Reality Check

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Yesterday, I sat under a tree wearing flip flops, thin pants, and a long sleeve shirt, while reading one of my less exciting textbooks. Worried about getting sun burned, I occasionally moved to escape harmful UV rays. It got up in the 80´s; I heard birds chirping, people laughing, and children playing. It was an unusually warm, but very comfortable fall day.

Today, I am at the library wearing a thick poncho, two pairs of pants, and regular shoes, while watching the snow fall outside. There is no chance I could get sun burned, as the sun is hidden behind a heavy cloud cover. The temperature is in the 30´s and I can hear hysterical international students outside, who´ve just encountered their first snow.

Gotta love Colorado. Except for these extreme weather fluctuation, I enjoy the pace of the season change. It provides just enough of a transition phase to mentally prepare oneself for the upcoming winter. Also, Colorado has 300 days of partial and full sun days; if that doesn´t make for a good mood, then I don´t know.

What changes for a hobo during the cold season?

  • I typically sleep better in my 0° bag when it´s nice and cold out. No more random overheating and waking up at night, as has been happening since I switched bags late September.
  • Rather than taking extensive spit baths in the morning, I tend to head for the gym more during the winter. You think you enjoy showering? Try showering after spending several days outside!
  • Also, for me this is the season of cold hands. I´ve identified 4  stages of cold hands: a-little-cold, damn-cold, numb-and-painful-cold, and useless-sausages-cold. The last two stages typically happen in the morning, when I am getting ready for the day.
  • My diet changes for two reasons: First, I need more protein to stay warm. Second, I can store different foods, such as lettuce and berries, that usually go bad within days.

No matter the weather, I know it´ll be beautiful!

Camping and Tents

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This amusing post was written by a gentleman who couldn´t be more opposite to us hobos. Very entertaining ; – ) .

Underdaddy

Camping. The world’s most confusing hobby.

It makes about as much sense as fertilizing a lawn that you have to mow twice a week. Humans have spent hundreds of thousands of years solving the challenges of nature. We live in houses that maintain a stable temperature, supply clean water on demand, carry human waste out through a magic network of pipes, rain water is deflected by advanced roofing systems, beds adjust to our individual preference of firmness, and if we want to experience nature or community then we pull out some technology and surf the vast world of the internet. Dogs live better in these modern times than cavemen ever thought about. Yet here, in the pinnacle of this accomplishment, is a growing culture of people who yearn to eat reheated trail food and shit in the woods. I don’t have that burning desire.

Deep down in my soul, I…

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Blind at Night

With the sun setting earlier this time of year, I find myself in relative darkness as I take care of evening business inside my tiny mobile home. Not wanting to alert my housed neighbors, I refrain from lighting a candle and instead rely on my other senses to guide me.

I know all my clothes by touch and purposefully arranged them. Daytime clothes on the upper shelf, nighttime clothes on the lower one. Both shelves are organized the same, starting with shirts and ending with pants. Easy. Only difficulty are same-kind-different-color-socks. Can´t discern those via touch. Needless to say, I wear mismatched socks a lot. Even funnier, I own two pairs of Converse and yes, I´ve mismatched those before. People thought I was trying to be fashionable.

I know all my hygiene products by touch and those who share the same-shape travel containers I know by smell. No problem here. Brushing my teeth is a whole other ball game. I either brush using a mountain of toothpaste or barely any at all. That is, if I manage to actually get toothpaste on the brush. Eye-hand coordination is much trickier if you can´t use your eyes. Keeping your unusually large mouthwash bottle next to your unusually small laundry detergent bottle can lead to “clean cotton” breath, which sounds a lot better than it tastes. Trust me.

All important and much used items, such as my car keys, phone, chap stick, and pepper spray, each have their own spot. That doesn´t mean that each item actually makes it there. There is nothing more fun than searching for you phone in complete darkness!

I spent a large portion of my day reading books, working on my computer, and writing papers. If I could, I may be tempted to spend my hour before bed doing even more reading! Instead, I frequently download audio books and meditation music. It is very relaxing to look up at my glow-in-the-dark universe while listening to Edgar Allan Poe.

I´ve gotten so used to the darkness, really, now it´s part of my routine. It´s a time of relaxation, reflection, and contemplating the universe´s mysterious ways. Darkness can appear threatening, cold, and overwhelming. Over the years, I´ve found that darkness doesn´t provide cover for dangerous creatures. Rather it reveals the creatures that roam your own mind.

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Living without a Fridge

img_20161030_1736031During the summer months, food can go bad in no time. Whether you store your groceries in your vehicle, your backpack, behind a bush, or inside a storage container, the heat will spoil many items rather quickly. Don´t think that changes during winter; although many food items will stay fresh longer, quite a few, including vegetables, don´t do so well in freezing cold temperatures.

No fridge – no Problem

Certain foods keep just fine without refrigeration, while others simply need to be consumed a little quicker. Make sure to check your food thoroughly before consuming it; this includes the inside of fruits and vegetables. Unopened food items last longer than opened ones.

As a rule of thumb, anything canned can safely be stored outside. However, that doesn´t mean that your food won´t change. In summer and winter alike, anything solid will slowly but surely transform into a liquid with each major temperature change. I´ve experiences this with potato soup before; by the time I was ready to eat it, there were barely any chunks of potato left. I`ve had canned emergency soups in the back of my car for months without any problems. Have you tried the canned version of your favorite fruits and veggies? My favorites are canned pineapple, baby corn, and mixed vegetables.

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Fresh fruits and vegetables can be stored without refrigeration for about a week depending on the temperature and kind of food. In my experience, kiwis, bananas, avocados, carrots, grapes, and cucumbers last the longest, while bell peppers and tomatoes go bad rather quickly. Berries of any kind, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, go bad within a couple of days. Vegetables that completely freeze tend to turn to mush upon defrosting.

Beverages, such as ice tea and orange juice, last just fine during the winter, although you may encounter solidly frozen liquids instead of your favorite drink. During the summer, you don´t want to keep opened juice bottles for longer than a week.

Anything dried, such as cereal, crackers, and oats, will last as long as it takes you to eat it. No worries here. This leads to an amazing conclusion: If you can find a dried version of you favorite food, you can store it much longer. For example, I am really excited about dried milk. It lasts forever (figuratively speaking) and, depending on the brand, tastes just like regular milk. Just add water! Similiarily, I´ve discovered dried hummus, soups, instant meals, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, and more; all of which you don´t have to worry about spoiling.

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Bread seems to last as long outside as it does inside. Jelly may spoil within a couple weeks, while honey may crystallize, but doesn´t go bad. Peanut butter seems to last forever, probably due to its high fat content.

DO NOT consume fresh animal-based products that have been left without refrigeration. This includes, but is not limited to, fresh meat, milk, eggs, sea food, yogurt, and cheese. Don´t risk it. Best case scenario, you´ll be worshiping the porcelain god for a couple days. Worst case scenario, you find yourself at the hospital with some unpronounceable illness.

Keeping food fresh longer

Personally, I´ve always kept my groceries in a “food box”. This can be any box really, however, a thick-walled plastic container with lid works best. Makes sure to insulate your box as much as possible; covering your box with a blanket helps a lot. If you keep your food inside your vehicle during the summer, try to park in the shade and use window shades to keep the inside cool.

Doing a Bad Job at Staying Alive

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I am no doctor; so really, I can´t tell how close my friend came to death. However, from my perspective he was very very lucky.

My three friends Karim, Adam, and Lucy, and I went for a camping trip in the northern part of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Except for some wind, the weather was fantastic and the changing trees provided the perfect backdrop for some serious rock hiking.

After a fun Friday night at our camp ground, we headed for a lake about 25 minutes north the next morning. I´d been to this particular lake many times and explored quite a bit of the area in the past. The road had recently been fixed; what had once been a barely passable level 6 road, is now a relatively smooth dirt path through a remote forest. To my friends, I am known as the one who plans fun mountain adventures and thus I was excited to take them to this beautiful valley.

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My friends immediately fell in love with the lake and we quickly began exploring the area. We decided to head around the lake for a little while and then continue straight up the mountain west of us. The hike up is difficult as the mountain is rather steep and littered with boulders of various sizes, some too big to climb over without equipment. In addition, we had to deal with lose dirt and rocks, random tree trunks, and an army of cacti that seemed too eager to teach us a lesson or two.

After climbing over and crawling under massive boulders for approximately 45 minutes, we finally made it to the top. The view was spectacular. Adam found a spot that protected us from the wind and we settled down. After we caught our breaths and refueled on water and snacks, we began talking about everything and nothing. In the end, we decided that life is good and nature is beautiful. What a great day!

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We began our descent about 30 minutes later. It was getting pretty warm and I knew I´d get burned to a crisp if we stayed much longer. Adam took the lead on our way down and we followed alerting each other about lose rocks and angry cacti. We made it about 1/4 of the way, when I suddenly heard a sliding noise next to me. Karim had climbed onto the boulder next to me and had lost his footing. With nothing to grab a hold of, he quickly slid down the rock. When he fell over the edge, his backpack caught the rock pushing him forward. He hit a boulder 10 feet below; first his body, then his head.

“Karim, do not move!” was all I could get out. From my position it was difficult to get to him, but I forced myself down the rock as fast a humanly possible. I got there first and assessed the situation. Karim appeared dazed and confused. Adam and Lucy joined me seconds later. Since Karim had already managed to get up onto his knees, we decided to sit him down in the shade. There was no even ground anywhere; just boulder after boulder and we did our best making our wounded friend as comfortable as possible.

Initially, it seemed as if his wounds were our top priority. He denied feeling pain in his back and neck and he didn´t seem to have any broken limbs. I was in charge of his profoundly bleeding finger, which had gotten crushed upon impact. Lucy and Adam took care of his forehead and nose, which were both bleeding badly. I was just about done wrapping Karim´s finger, when I heard Adam say “Oh, no no no my friend, you don´t get to sleep!”. Karim was leaning back, slowly closing his eyes. We couldn’t keep him sitting up for long before we had to let him rest on his backpack. For 5 minutes we did our best at keeping him conscious; we talked to him and asked him questions about his hobbies and school. His condition was rapidly deteriorating and when he stopped responding to pain, we knew he was out cold.

It became clear that we needed emergency help. Without a signal for miles, Adam rushed down the mountain to call 911. Karim´s skin was turning cold and clammy and I was unable to find a pulse. I had been calm and collected the entire time, but was losing my cool quickly. I pressed my hand on his chest, neck, and wrist; still nothing. I could see his chest moving slowly; he was still breathing. “Found it!”, Lucy proclaimed holding Karim´s wrist. “It´s really faint though”.

While Lucy continued to care for Karim, I perched on top of a boulder holding a mylar blanket up in the air. I could no longer see our vehicle at the bottom of the hill; Adam must have not been able to get a signal in the valley. As I rhythmically moved the silver sheet through the air, I  wondered how far Adam would have to drive before he could call 911.

Karim slowly opened his eyes. He was dizzy, felt nauseous, and his vision was blurry, but he was alive. Our friend was very confused and began muttering about not needing a helicopter or an ambulance. “You got to be freaking kidding me”, I thought. His finger had bled through the wrap, there was blood on his hands, head, and on the rocks around us, and he was still bleeding out of his nose. “Your ass is going to a hospital!”

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The emergency response was amazing! I can´t tell you how long it took for the first cop to show up, but the man ran up that mountain as if he was being chased by a bear. Overall around 25 people arrived to help: an ambulance that drove over 60 miles from the nearest city, two search and rescue people, half a dozen EMT´s and cops, as well as every resident within a 10 mile radius. Adam, fueled by adrenaline, ran back down the mountain to guide the remaining rescue personnel to us. He even carried their first aid bags. Everybody was there, except for the helicopter, which had flown to the wrong lake and didn´t have enough fuel to make it to us. Fantastic! We had no other choice but to somehow transport Karim down the mountain.

With Karim conscious we made it down the mountain rather quickly. His busted foot did not allow him to walk very far and thus he spent the majority of the way sliding down rocks and dirt. Once we arrived at the bottom of the hill, the EMT´s assessed Karim´s condition once again, before we were allowed to take him to the hospital. It took just under an hour to get there; not bad at all.

We placed Karim in a wheel chair and stormed through the emergency room entrance. We were  stopped by a bored looking security lady. “Do you have any weapons on you?” We looked at each other, shrugged, and began shedding weapons left and right. 4 knifes, 2 pepper sprays, 1 hatchet, and 1 gun later the security guard looked at us as if we were crazy. Needless to say, we were not allowed in unless we removed our arsenal from the building.

Once inside the hospital, Karim was put into a fashionable hospital gown and neck brace. Doctors, nurses, and EMT´s gathered around him like an army of ants. Initially, I was the only one allowed back there, but once Karim´s most immediate needs had been taken care of, all four of us gathered in the tiny room. I could feel my body coming down from its adrenaline fueled high and was overcome with hunger and thirst. All of us looked tired, dirty, and disheveled. What a day! When a nurse walked in 20 minutes later, she stopped immediately, looked at us, and exclaimed: “My goodness, what is this smell?” We hadn´t showered in two days, had an incredibly exhausting sweaty day behind us, and reeked of campfire. Adam made an attempt to explain our situation; the rest of us just grinned.

Karim spent roughly 4 hours at the emergency room before being released. They scrubbed his wounds clean, applied gauze and bandages, and took a variety of x-rays and CT scans. The final verdict: a concussion, a sprained ankle, multiple bruises, wounds on his head, nose, knee, and arms, and one badly crushed finger.

“Man, you really gotta do a better job at staying alive”, I said before we headed back into the wilderness.

Westminster Butterfly Pavilion

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I had to spend a couple days in Denver to take care of some business and decided to check out some local activities to add some fun. A Google search brought up the butterfly pavilion north of Denver and I desperately needed a nature fix – an easy choice right there.

The butterfly pavilion may better be labeled “bug pavilion” as I was greeted by gritters of all shapes and sizes. Some of these insects I had never seen before in my life. Others weren´t insects at all like the urchin shown below.

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If you are feeling particularly bold, you can sit down with a staff member and handle “Rosie” the tarantula. That was a big nope for me.

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After seeing a plethora of centipedes, ants, ladybugs, crickets, beetles, bees, cockroaches, flies, and mantes, I finally entered the warm and humid territory of butterflies. They. Were. Everywhere! Afraid to step on one of these little beauties, I walked very slowly and frequently stopped and looked around. Not only did the butterflies inhabit every last object, even the ceiling, but I saw a few people who unknowingly carried them around on their backs, hats, and scarfs.

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The whole atmosphere of this place was very relaxing and almost otherworldly. After completing my initial round, I sat down on an elevated bench and just observed my surroundings. I discovered that this area was inhabited by more than just butterflies. I saw snails, ants, and even a bird who, according to the staff, was an accounted for part of the pavilion.

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The center itself also has a pretty extensive outdoor area that offers educational walkways for children and students. Signs along the paths explain different ecosystems and interactive games  make learning fun. During the fall the area looks a little bare, but I still saw some rather pretty plants along the way.

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If you´re ever in the area and need to entertain a diverse group of people, I´d definitely recommend the butterfly pavilion. Knowledge hungry individuals can learn everything about bugs there is to know, children can play with the many interactive exhibits, and others can simply enjoy the beauty butterflies have to offer.

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Look closely…

Enjoy!