Higher than a Human Being ought to be

Somewhere in the back of your mind is a space full of “some day I want to…”- ideas. We all have our unofficial bucket lists and this past summer I was able to cross off yet another item that had been in my head for over 10 years. This story took place at a small scale nature lover, hippie-ish, rave-like festival in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.

Before joining the rest of the free-spirits down by the river, Mark distributed tiny flakes of paper to me and his wife. I placed the small shred of acid on my tongue, we high-fived, and made our way to the party. Emily was pointing excitedly at light beams coming from the stage while pulling my arm. “Woooooooooooooooow, look at this! Isn´t it beautiful??!!!”, she proclaimed over and over. I don’t think I have ever seen such a joyful adult and her excitement was most definitely contagious. With huge grins on our faces we arrived at the stage several minutes later.

Unsure how long to keep the shred in my mouth, I didn’t dare swallowing it until it turned to mush 20 minutes later. Just as I started wondering if LSD didn´t work on me, the high hit me like a freight train. To this day, I have no better words for what happened that night than calling it “a trip”. Years worth of experiences, emotions, perceptions, and thoughts appeared to happen in a single night.

As my trip began, the voices, laughter, and music around me appeared to fly about the sky in a disorganized fashion and only few sounds made their way into my ear. People were engulfed in conversations right in front of me and yet I couldn´t pick up a single word. Instead bits of music and conversation hit my ear at random and created a confusing sound scheme around me. Voices sounded robot-like and cut-off, laughter had an almost creepy undertone to it, and the music appeared distant and as if played in slow motion. Despite a sense of awe and curiosity, I decided to leave the area before I´d get too overwhelmed.

I began walking around, but felt as if I was directed by waves of movement rather than my own will. Every person, tree, animal, tent, fence, building, appeared to emit its own waves which gently directed me from one place to the next. Somehow, I found my tent and joined my camp neighbors who were sitting in a circle by a group of trees. Having lost any and all gracefulness, I simply plopped down on one of the camping chairs and looked at the people around me. “How´s your night goin´?”, someone asked. The look on my face combined with a resounding “Holy shit” was enough to make the group burst out in laughter. Someone handed me a bottle of water and something to eat.

Once again I found myself wandering around staring at the sky. Vibrant colors appeared to rain from the heavens and I simply could not stop repeating “Wooooowwwww” as I walked along different paths. Passing under a wooden arch, it took me several minutes to realized that I had wandered off the property. I began walking in a trance-like fashion in order to be carried along by the waves that filled my surroundings. Slowly but surely I made it back to the party.

Mark and Emily joined me after several minutes and eagerly told me about Emily´s puking episode caused by the acid. “My body just didn´t want it”, she stated and shrugged. After some serious water, she was as good as new and we started dancing again. I only perceived bits and pieces of the music created by the DJ. While most people were engaging in a very active, jump-like dance, I felt that flowing, calm movements were much more appropriate. The calmer I danced, the more in syn I felt with the world around me.

I joined my camp neighbors several more times that night. At some point, I was offered some sort of fermented drink that was described by some as “heaven” and others as “nasty”. I decided to stick with water. As I made an attempt to leave the camp once again, someone tried handing me a small light. I declined, feeling that they had given me enough already, but they insisted. This went back and forth a few times before someone started laughing and yelled: “He is not going to stop offering it to you. Just take the damn light!”. The light was meant to “help me find my way out of the dark”. Instead, I spent the next hour following its beam, not realizing that I was the one projecting it into the night. Good times.

Later that night, I found myself sitting in front of my trip mates´ tent. Despite the fact that my tent was 5 feet in front of me, I was unable to figure out how to get there. I was sure I´d get lost. When my Mark called it a night, I crawled over to my tent (without getting lost) and got ready for bed. I noticed a dark spot in the air that was desperately trying to get my attention. Confused I tried to figure out what urgent message it could possible hold. When I finally sat down, it came flying towards me, fused with my body and turned into a body perception. “What on earth…?”. I followed its path with my mind, a dull, almost painful ache, which then settled near my belly. After another minute of contemplation, it suddenly hit me! I had to pee like a racehorse! Despite flying higher than ever, I was able to marvel at the fact that my mind could project body sensations out into the world, and then quickly made my way to the restroom.

I began paying close attention to myself just in case I was unaware of any other bodily needs. “This stuff usually works by itself”, I thought and had a moment of deep appreciation for what my body does all by itself on a daily basis. I soon noticed that I was clenching my teeth and realized that I must´ve been at it for a while because my  jaw was hurting. Logically, I put my fingers in my mouth to stop myself from grinding my teeth (it made sense at the time). However, that caused my fingers to hurt and thus I decided to sit on my hands so I wouldn’t keep chewing on my fingers. It didn´t end there, oh no! My fingers turned numb and before I could find a way to keep myself from sitting on my hands, I realized that was cold. “Damnit”, I muttered as I realized that I was butt-ass-naked sitting on top of my pj´s. I got distracted. “Keep it together!” I scolded myself and got dressed.

Exhausted from trying to control my own mind and figure out the things my body suddenly wouldn’t tell me anymore, I crawled into my sleeping bag in search for some sleep. As soon as I turned to face the tent ceiling, my depth perception went out the window and the fabric that should have been a few feet above me, appeared right in front of my face. My attempts to push the ceiling back to where ceilings ought to be was fruitless and so I simply closed my eyes. I could hear laughter all around me as if the party I had left earlier was right there in the tent with me. Unable to determine whether there actually are people outside my tent laughing, I began laughing myself. Filled with childish joy, I marveled at the softness of my sheets and the beautiful patterns around me.

I finally fell asleep and when I woke up at 6 am, I had stopped hallucinating for the most part. Even so, I was still a long way from “normal”. It wasn´t until noon that I was able to engage in a somewhat decent conversation again. The night before felt like days of colors, music, and laughter all bathed in cosmic energy. I didn´t even try making sense of it. While others were up and dancing again, my trip mates and I dragged our blankets and pillows to the shade and got some desperately needed rest.

The beauty and awe-inspiring experiences I had that night are beyond anything one encounters in everyday life. However, unless I stumble upon a very special set of circumstances and people, I doubt I will do this again. Don´t get me wrong; I regret nothing and the experience has enriched my life and imagination. But a 12-hour trip to wonderland? Ain´t nobody got time and energy for that!

Similar experiences? Please share!

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Take off your Shoes and Jackets! (Pictures)

It´s not Spring yet, but unusually high temperatures around 65º (18º Celsius) and sunshine weather make me excited for more!

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It was so warm outside, when I reached this lake, I stupidly asked my friend: “What´s the white stuff on the water?”. We need at least another week of warm weather before the ice melts (Duh!).

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Walking barefoot again!

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Someone spend quite some time stacking rocks. It´s not as easy as it looks.

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Not much snow left.

To all the hobos, nomads, urban campers, houseless, homeless, vagabonds, hippies, nature lovers, and traveling souls – stay safe and warm. And, of course, keep your insanity!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

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I simply cannot contain my excitement about finding this community! If my current life wasn’t so dependent upon society (school, work, career), I’d be driving out there yesterday to check it out and make move-in plans!

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The dancing rabbit is an ecovillage in Missouri comprised of women, men, and children who live as sustainable as possible, while staying connected to society. Their homes are made of repurposed wood, cob, strawbale, and even a repurposed bus!

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This village uses solar and wind power to provide much of the resident’s energy needs and avoids many high-energy appliances altogether. You won’t see any dryers or desktop computers at this place!

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The people living at this community grow their own vegetables and seem to have some farm animals on their property as well. The diet of most residents is vegetarian or vegan. Food such as edible mushrooms and berries are available on the property. Some of their food comes from local sources.

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The greatest part about this lifestyle is that everybody works together in order to sustain the village. Cars are shared, festivities are celebrated together, children learn from a variety of people, food is often prepared cooperatively, and decisions regarding the village are made by all.

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Just as excited as I am? Want to know more about the lifestyle, sustainable living, and the people who live here?

Go check out their website: http://www.dancingrabbit.org

Hands and Feet

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Dirty happy feet

The above picture shows my feet in their preferred state: naked. Same goes for my hands; can´t sense my environment through fabric. No matter how you prefer your hands and feet, clothed or bare, if you rough it out there on a daily basis, you need to be taking special care of ´em!

As previously mentioned, a hobo´s most important possession is her body. Sure, walking and handling objects are everyday tasks and so we may not appreciate what our hands and feet do for us. But once you´ve experienced painful foot infections and severely cracked skin on your hands, you realize how much nicer it is to sense and navigate through your environment pain free. Add walking a few miles everyday, being exposed to the elements, carrying one´s belongings around, climbing rough terrain, and other common outdoor lifestyle activities, and you have hands and feet in desperate need for some serious care!

Lotion, lotion, lotion

Ok guys, I get it. Rough skin is a sign of hard work and manliness. You don´t want to be caught slapping butterfly-fart-scented lotion onto that skin and, god forbids, end up with soft hands! However, for those of us who are exposed to nature´s force, cracked skin is most definitely not an advantage, especially not when paired with insufficient hygiene. See, the skin protects us from harmful bacteria out in the environment. By letting your skin crack, you are pretty much asking for an infection. So, for crying out loud, if you have the means, invest a couple bucks in some Vaseline and keep your skin healthy. It is important to note, that excess moisture on your feet paired with air tight conditions can lead to infections as well (see below). A thin layer of lotion is sufficient for that area.

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Hobo hands which receive lots of lotion every day (now imagine lotionless hands!)

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My skin after a shower without lotion

When foot meets moisture (for too long)

I am not sure there is a hobo out there who doesn´t know the struggle. Especially during the winter, we stuff our feet into socks and boots and when we release them 15 hours later, … well, you know the story. Unfortunately, chemical warfare inside shoes is not all one needs to worry about. Athlete´s foot is a common fungus that at first looks a lot like flaking skin between your toes (especially your pinky toe). Now, neither the fungus nor the gym you shower at, are the problem really. You could dance in a bucket filled with that fungus for hours and not get it…. unless you happen to stick your feet into a warm, moist environment afterwards. There are creams and meds to fight the fungus. Here are some tips to avoid getting athlete´s foot in the first place.

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The perks of getting dressed in the dark… but they are clean!

  1. Clean your feet at least once a day. Water and soap are optimal, but baby wipes will work just fine. No, the area in between your toes is not self-cleaning (your belly button isn´t either, by the way). Get in there and clean it good!
  2. Keep your socks and shoes as dry as possible. Sprinkle some baby powder into your socks before putting them on; this helps absorb moisture.
  3. Change your socks at least once a day. Wear different socks to bed or wear no socks at all (during the summer).
  4. Take off your socks as much as possible.
  5. Check for signs of broken skin between your toes. If the area is red and itchy as well, you may want to invest in some athlete´s foot creme.
  6. Keep them nails trimmed! It is very uncomfortable to have to dig out an ingrown nail.
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At the library, at your sleeping spot, in your car, …, . Wherever you can take your shoes and socks off, do it!

Basic hygiene, lotion, and air. Do you have anything to add? More tips and tricks? Comment!

In terms of general health and hygiene advise, please see my posts hygiene for the houseless and what´s for dinner.

New app maps NYC homeless like they’re potholes to be avoided

I can’t believe this is actually a thing.

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The app in the Google Play Store, the live map and recent photos.The NYC Map the Homeless app in the Play Store, its live map of homeless sightings and recent photos.

Want to know where the homeless people are in New York City? There’s an app for that!

My friend Jezi alerted me to this. It’s called NYC Map The Homeless—an app for both Android, via the Google Play Store and iOS, through iTunes.

The app allows New Yorkers with GPS-enabled smartphones to take photos of homeless New Yorkers. These photos are automatically pinned to a Google Map of New York City so that other users of the app can click on and view them.

In addition to the name of the user who took the photo and date that the photo was taken, users can append descriptive hashtags, such as: #AggresiveBegging, #Threat, #Man, #Woman, #NeedsMedicalAid, #Sleeping, #Smoking, #Crack, #Encampment, and so on.

The app is quite sparse, with only…

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Can´t be that difficult…

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I´ve been hiking through forests, fields, and mountains since I was 8 years old and while I still find a lot of pleasure in the simple activity of hiking, my terrains have changed significantly over the years. Once I moved to the Rocky Mountains, I found myself confronted with, guess what! Yes, a hellofalot of rocks and boulders. As a matter of fact, they are so plentiful and large, that I had to expand my typical hiking trips to include climbing. Can´t be that difficult, right!?

After a pretty rough drive on a level 5 road, I finally reached one of my particularly well hidden hiking spots. At the end of the road is a cute little valley with a small lake. As usual, I had enough equipment to rough it for a few days in case of an emergency and felt confident and excited as I began my hike up a steep hill. About half-way up, the hill became increasingly more rocky and soon I had to start climbing over rocks in order to continue upwards. I was having one of those insane-energy-days during which I can practically run up the side of a mountain, no problem! I made it 3/4 of the way up in under an hour.

The amazing view pushed me higher and higher, until I found large boulders blocking my way. In a zig-zag manner, I continued upwards finding little ledges here and there and squeezing through incredibly narrow niches. Just before I reached the top, the mountain began smoothing out and it was impossible to grab a hold anywhere. I felt like a child desperately reaching for the candy jar on top of the fridge! After further investigation, I came upon a small path that appeared to lead around this baby-ass boulder and towards the top. “Ha Ha!” I thought to myself and began walking towards the path.

It wasn´t long until the path began narrowing and tilting downward. Aaaaaaand of course, I began making my way down the smooth rock. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was heading straight for my own death. When I realized that the end of this path was equal to the end of the boulder, I had already shifted from our modern way of walking to a scootching kind of locomotion. I stopped and began hugging the smooth rock to my left. “Alrighty”, I thought. “You´ll just have to turn around”. As I started shifting my body to the left, my backpack pushed me forward as it was hitting the rocks on the right. The same thing happened, when I tried turning around by shifting to the right. In short, I was stuck.

An attempt to stand up quickly reminded me that I have the balance of a newborn and when I tried to sit back down my backpack once more pushed me a couple inches towards the edge. I was getting a little worried. “Plan, plan. Come up with a goddamn plan!”. And there was my aha! moment. I had to sacrifice my backpack. Using incredibly slow and careful yoga-like movements, I started taking off my pack. By the time I had freed myself from the dead weight (pun intended), I had slid forward a few more inches. I muscled the thing over my head, set it down, and let go. And that´s when shit hit the fan.

I am not sure if maybe the weight of the backpack had kept me from sliding, but as soon as I let go, I began taking off as well. My attempts to stop were fruitless and I began preparing myself to jump. Just seconds before reaching the end of the rock, I realized exactly what kind of deep shit I was in. This wasn´t the end of the boulder, this was the end of the entire structure and I was sliding towards a 25m (80 ft) drop-off. I could feel my nails breaking as I desperately tried to hold on to the rocks beside me. The gravel under my boots sped me towards the edge and suddenly thoughts of my endlessly worried grandmother popped into my head. She had foreseen this exact moment and had lectured me about ending up dead in the mountains for as long as I can remember.

Obviously, I didn´t die (or did I?). As I was getting ready to kiss my ass goodbye, I suddenly stopped. The tip of my hiking boots were past the edge, and I knew any movement could be my last. I´d be lying if I´d claim to remember precisely how I managed to turn around. All I remember is finding a tiny ledge to my right, and pulling myself up. After that, I grabbed a hold of, and badly dismembered, an old bush and soon found some half-way solid ground again. Stubborn as I am, I retrieved my backpack, which survived the fall surprisingly well, and went back up that mountain. This time, a lot more carefully, I might add.

Now, I know the outdoor adventurers, mountain climbers, and safety sticklers are probably grinding their teeth by now. Yeah, that experience was a bit close to the´great end´for my taste. and since then I have been able to gather a lot more information and experience regarding mountain climbing. The moral of the story: It´s only half the fun if someone ends up dead at the end.

Outside Year-Round

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Being exposed to the elements year-round is an interesting experience as it forces us to live by the rhythms of nature. As I am writing this, a mighty snow storm is sweeping through my town. It is -15° Celsius (5° Fahrenheit) out and I snuck into one of the closed campus buildings for some internet and a couple hours of warmth.

Ever since I started living life houseless, I realized that the weather affects my mood more than the usual “winter blues” or “sunshine happiness”. The most crucial factor, by far, is temperature. Fall and spring became my favorite seasons because of the mild temperatures. Currently, I´d say I enjoy summer over winter, but I distinctively remember cussing up a storm over cloudless 90° F (32° C) days. 

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In addition to temperature differences, the amount and length of daylight varies greatly throughout the year. I used to find myself ´down´ a lot more when I spend already short winter days inside. These days, I am able to absorb every last ray of sunlight. Something as simple as a sunny morning makes me happy.

I feel more connected to our past; maybe even to our animal roots. Living outside, sleeping in a cold place, having to work hard for water, food, and heat, are much more than mere lifestyle differences. When you lie hidden beneath a mountain of blankets trying to get warm while hearing nature raging around you, you realize how dangerous this planet can be. If you are able to rough it out here, fear transforms into pure awe. And what follows is respect and a deep appreciation for our planet.

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Sure, my life is different from what our ancestors experienced. I buy my food from the local supermarket and I am able to study and work in a warm environment. However, being this close to society has its downfalls. Instead of sleeping, eating and sitting by a warm fire, I have to rely on layers to warm up and go without warm meals unless I leave the city or have access to a microwave. I am constantly moving my tiny mobile home as I am not allowed to set up a camp. Ultimately, it is not going back to the “old ways” that connects me to our past, it is experiencing nature that does.

I enjoy experiencing nature. Rather than living a perfectly air-conditioned life filled with the daily “issues” of society, ranging from a lack of Starbucks “Coffee” and fitting in with the fashion world, to working 40 hours a week to afford said Starbucks product and many! more items, I want to experience life. I enjoy experiencing life and not just society, if that makes sense. I allow nature to ruffle my feathers. I allow her to fill me with real joy as much as I accept her gray-rainy-ugh-days. I am not going to cover her up or hide from her. I don´t want to walk through life wrapped in bubble wrap. I want to feel the world.

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