Ryan´s faucet

The faucet had been broken long before I met Ryan. I don´t remember the story, but somehow someday something happened that snapped the kitchen faucet in such a way, that made water shoot diagonally through the room whenever it was turned on. Ryan was the master of the faucet. Only he was able to turn on the water in such a way as to fill up the kitchen sink. Whenever I tried, I pressure washed the kitchen and all its appliances.

Ryan and I both were group home kids, who were left to figure things out on our own at an early age. When I met Ryan, he had already left behind the group home and lived in his own apartment. I was a few years younger and was living outside, with friends, and soon transitioned into a group home myself. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time at his place and we routinely got ourselves into trouble. But we were free and young and even though we lived well under the poverty line, we had plenty of fun.

Ryan´s studio was in the process of being sold and the current owner promised Ryan that he´d figure out a deal to keep rent low. He showed up with a couple buckets of paint and asked Ryan to paint and “clean the place real good”. The buckets got kicked to the side and we pretty much forgot about it. Several months later, I receive a phone call from a frantic Ryan. It was Friday and the potential buyer was going to show up Sunday morning. Well, shit.

I made my way to Ryan´s and we began what would be a two day cleaning/painting binge. Poor Ryan really believed that he was a rather clean fellow. While I have definitely seen worse places, his studio was anything but clean. Inches of dust covered the windowsills, his bath tub had all kinds of nasty crap stuck in the groves he created when washing the rocks of his fish tank in it (yeah, I know), and his couch aka bed, which served between 2 – 4 people a night, contained so many random crumbs and unidentifiable stains that I opted to sleep inside a duvet cover at night. Regardless of the condition of the place, we made great progress.

The evening before the potential buyer was scheduled to show up, we decided that the floors needed cleaning badly. It seemed like the perfect time, since we had moved everything out to paint. To the best of my knowledge, we were sober that night. I contribute the following to youthful fun and a couple spoonful of crazy.

What better way to get a crusty old floor shiny again than lots and lots of water? And what better way to add lots and lots of water than Ryan´s homemade endless water shooter aka broken faucet? Exactly! We began the deep cleaning by intermittently shooting water 10 feet across the air into Ryan´s living room, while one of us mopped. Soon the entire floor was wet and we removed dirt we previously thought to be part of the floor´s pattern. Since I was lacking faucet operation skills, I ended up pressure washing parts of the ceiling, the windows, and those nasty windowsills as well. Everything looked so nice and clean…. except for sweaty and tired Ryan, who was standing in the middle of the living room mopping. I couldn´t help myself. I aimed and hit my target at once! I followed him all the way through the living room soaking him from head to toe. The war was on! Ryan began chasing me through the apartment, hugging me with his wet clothes. I slipped on the wet floor and he used the opportunity to aim the faucet at me. Soon both of us were completely soaked, made peace, and began dancing under the still running water. Despite our age marking us as teenagers, we really were nothing more than oversized children. We laughed and hugged and were filled with joy.

By the end of our cleaning spree, we were tired, happy, and standing in a good half inch of water. We used every single towel we owned to soak up the water. Once everything was somewhat dry, we moved all the furniture back in place and called it a night. What a great job we´d done! After a few hours of sleep, we got up in the morning and I went my merry way.

Now, I wasn´t there when the owner and potential buyer showed up, but I was told that they were less than ecstatic. Long story short, the guy was unable to sell the place, due to the condition it was in. Aside from the ruined bath tub and the broken faucet, he found many more things wrong with the place. I have no idea why Ryan didn´t get kicked out right then and there, but it would take another 4 years before the owner finally booted him.

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!

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!

Spot 4: Compromised

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This does not happen very often at all. And by not often, I mean never. I have lost spots due to criminal activity, increased police presence, or construction. Not once, however, did I have to abandon a spot because of a suspicious neighbor. Not once!

Spot 4 has only been used 3 times before being compromised. It never was one of my top favorites, but was good enough to provide an occasional parking space. It was located at the edge of a residential area. Close enough to the neighborhood to look like I belong, yet far enough away to have some privacy. Just a bare field without sidewalk to my right, and a road to my left. Not bad.

A couple weeks ago, I pulled into my spot and began packing my bag next to me. Even before I had a chance to unhook my safety net behind me, a woman with her two dogs passed me on the other side of the street. Usually, that is nothing to be alarmed about. People typically don´t even notice me and if they do, I am just like everyone else who is about to head to their house.

This encounter was different. Very different. She didn´t just notice me, she stared at me. It was a stare as if I was dancing on top of my car, naked, while burning the American flag. She reminded me of a deer, as she managed to locate, bag, and discard her dog´s poop all without once taking her eyes off of me. It was making me downright uncomfortable and I had to resist the urge to roll down my window and yell “Stop staring for fucks sake!”. I tried to ignore her as best as I could by faking a phone call, inspecting my purse, and checking my finger nails. Eventually, she replaced her continuous stare, with an awkward let-me-turn-around-every-two-steps-stare. I knew I had to leave and could not come back.

I have not the slightest idea what made her so rudely suspicious. On one hand, maybe she went through some sort of neighborhood watch training and learned “awkwardly staring” as a defense skill. On the other hand, she´d totally get shot for that in some other parts of the country. Just saying.

The city, boobs, and lots of colorful people

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The city! What can I say? City life is exciting, fast, loud, overwhelming, fascinating, delightful, filthy, eye-opening, and, and, and. While I most definitely wouldn´t enjoy being a full time hobo in a city like Denver, I do enjoy coming here to people watch, check out novelty stores, go to events, and walk through parks and market places.

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Although I had been planning on attending an international sister cities event, I found myself so intrigued by the pagan festival downtown, that I ended up spending most of my day there. It seemed like every last hippie, goth, nature lover, shaman, eccentric Joe, witch, and herbalist gathered and celebrated diversity and mother nature that day.

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Much to my surprise, I also encountered many men and women who in observance of the “National Go Topless Day” did exactly that while marching down the streets and hanging out at parks.

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Before leaving the city, I went by my second favorite museum in the world, the DAM (Denver Art Museum), to check out their new modern art exhibit. I wasn´t disappointed! The “Women of Abstract Expressionism” event was filled with beautiful, grotesque, intriguing, and stunning paintings. Below is my absolute favorite! Painted on metal, it has this nice metallic shine to it that reminds me of the industrial revolution.

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That´s it. A day in Denver in a nutshell!

(And yes, these are individual plush fries in their plush fry box)

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Rougher than a cat´s tongue

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Here I am. This is my first week in a new city, a new tiny mobile home, new job, new school, new everything, and it´s been rough to say the least.

I had no idea how incredibly comfortable I had been in my old Ford and how easy it is to get ready for bed when you already know all your spots. While I´d almost been bored with my daily routines this past year, trying to figure out all the hows and wheres in my new house is driving me up the walls. These days I have to rely mostly on neighborhood parking, which is a whole different animal compared to the mountains, Walmarts, and Park´n´Rides. Additionally, my new ride looks so ridiculously fancy, I just don´t fit in my usual kind of spots anymore.

It appears that my adventurous spirit went for a vacation and I am left to figure things out on my own. The cozy-comfy-cave feeling of my old Ford has been replaced with the unsafe feeling of living in a fishbowl (which is probably due to the fact that I major messed up those curtains and sleep on top of an actual bed). Nothing really feels right at the moment and there is still a lot I need to figure out.

What can I say? I´m just going to have to hang in there and hope for the best. And enjoy the last bit of summer.

Take care fellow hobos!

One person´s trash…

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Over the years I have found quite the collection of random items in the woods. The picture above depicts my most recent findings I collected during my two-day-stay near Buffalo Creek, CO. In general, the busier the camping area, the more you will be able to find. I enjoy repurposing the things I gather. My most memorable findings include intact clay shooting disks I repurposed as candle holders, fishing line, which is very durable and useful for all kinds of tie jobs, and a discarded camping chair that I used to hold up my shelter.

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It took some serious muscle power and the help of a discarded belt to get that trunk wedged in between the trees.

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The chair, which is on the far right of the tarp, holds up the center log of my rain shelter

 

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Bonus! Build in cup holder and storage sack!

Although it is great to find little treasures here and there, I am actually opposed to littering of any kind. As I was roaming the forest, I found an area that looks like it has served as a dumpster for quite a few years. Approximately 60 cans lay scattered around the area; most in various states of decomposition and covered in rust. Many looked like soda cans, but some may have very well held paint. What´s wrong with people? I simply cannot comprehend how anyone could spend peace filled days in the woods and then treat mother nature like this. Shame on you who deliberately left the camping chair and shame on every single person who thinks it is OK to contribute to this can collection in the middle of this beautiful forest.

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Take care fellow hobos!

 

The excitement is real!

Believe it or not, I am actually more excited about upgrading my house/vehicle than I was about receiving my Bachelor´s degree.

Here is the deal: I´ve been researching vehicles since late November and after countless hours of reading reviews, comparing specs, calling car companies, and learning about fuel efficiency, transmissions, and horsepower, I finally decided to narrow it down to three finalists: Nissan NV200 Van LWB, Ram ProMaster City, and Ford Transit Connect LWB.

The Ram ProMaster has been on my back burner for a while due to its high cost and lacking availability. In terms of used availability, the Nissan also falls short. So, for the last couple weeks I have been focusing on finding a used Ford Transit Connect.

There has been, however, one problem: the color! Virtually all used vans come in white. Of course, the dealerships would tell ya “Oh no, its not white. Its pearl, glacier, powder, or arctic dust”. Let me make this real clear car industry, I don´t want any of your 7 million shades of white. I am trying to blend in and not look like part of a delivery fleet or creepy van organization. So, I had to get creative and decided to check out the Ford Transit Connect Wagon instead of the van. I knew that both the van and the wagon are on the same wheel base and hoped that the interior wouldn´t be much different as well.

The pictures below show the van and the wagon (in that order). After an hour of crawling around the insides with measuring tape, checking every inch of the vehicles, and test lying in different spots (much to the bewilderment of the car salesman), I decided that the wagon will work just fine once I remove the seats and some extra panels.

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Although I was more than willing to purchase the wagon right there and then, the car dealer and I simply could not agree upon a price. However, now that I have a bigger market to choose from, I am excited to continue my car hunt!

Celebrating Peace and Nature

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Spontaneous Road Trip! I am currently hanging out at the Canadian border to get some rest from society and remind myself of my freedom in this world. It has been pretty warm for the most part and I am really enjoying the fact that it´s light out till 10pm here.

The other day I went on a trip to the International Peace Garden, which is located right on the border between the U.S and Canada. Considering that there is a whole lot of nothing out here (which is great!), I was surprised at the size of the Garden.

Since I am a huge fan of succulents, I took plenty of pictures of cacti and other plants belonging to that family.

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I really enjoyed seeing the little peace chapel, which was build right on the border. The music inside was very calming and the quotes engraved into the marble walls made think, if just for one second, that maybe humans can live at peace some day.

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As usual, the weather report didn´t hold true and it was raining pretty much all day. Since it wasn´t terribly cold though, I still walked around in some areas of the park.

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And last but not least, this curiosity. As I stopped by a lake for lunch, I came by a little outhouse. My first thought: Ew, I´d rather pee in a bush. My second thought: Why the hell are there two seats right next to each other? My third thought: The image of a couple sitting next to each other in said outhouse holding hands.

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