Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekend Van-Dweller

Not since leaving Whitefish, Montana four years ago, have I stayed in one area for a whole cycle of the seasons. Whether for work, visiting, recreating, exploring new terrain, or weather-chasing, I have been in a fairly constant stream of seasonal migration.  This year, while I remained in one spot (or at least within a seven mile area), my working/living circumstances have altered seasonally to feed my dependence on seasonal change.  So, what has this meant for my van? 

The Mothership
After making the decision to keep Mama and get her fixed up, post marmot debacle (there was quite a bit of damage), her status has become that of a recreational vehicle and/or storage unit on wheels.  While this is often her status during seasons where I am housed, it seems to have been her role for many seasons in a row now.  I have become a weekend van-dweller.
I still live in a van down by the river...but just on the weekends.
I returned to the Stanford Sierra compound early last April, for the spring edition of the conference season.  As I drove the now, very familiar route, across the Great Basin, I was determined to get to the mild-weathered Sierra and stay for a while.  A break from the seasonal traversing seemed in order and a break from cold Colorado winters was certainly appealing after months of sub-zero temperatures in Crested Butte.
Spring in the Tahoe Basin
The eight week madness of the spring conference season came and went, and I settled into a nice room in cute house in an excellent spot in the nearby town of South Lake Tahoe.  I spent the summer as a live-in nanny for an eleven-year-old boy.  This situation could not have been more fitting or satisfying for me.  It was the perfect job, a nice place to live (close to Lake Tahoe and base of mountains), and I still had the weekends to get to the van out and enjoy the perfect summer weather. 

The summer went so well.  My job description was to have as much fun as possible and minimize the time the kid spent on his ipad.  No problem.  We spent the summer riding bikes, hiking, exploring,  paddleboarding in Lake Tahoe, and eating a lot of candy.  As it turns out, I have been missing out by not hanging out with eleven-year-olds more.  This kid and his friends proved to be the best hiking partners, as they had endless amounts of energy and a knack for finding every possible way to squeeze more fun out of each adventure.  Hiking down a trail was not enough for them.  Every cool looking rock garden had to be explored and climbed on, every boulder had to be jumped off of, every body of water had to swam in.  They ran circles around me like dogs just let off their leash.

Adventures while babysitting.
 When the kid returned to school, I returned to camp, for the fall edition of the conference season, with a whole new bunch of crazies as co-workers.  Eight more weeks of busy work schedules, infused with adventures in the Desolation Wilderness and perfect Sierra Nevada fall weather.  The fall season ended at the beginning of November, but unlike the last two falls that I spent here, this time, I don’t have to leave. 

My running partners in the Desolation Wilderness (backyard).
I will be spending the winter out here, in this most special of places, doing maintenance work and enjoying the view from my sweet room, which I will be living in the next five months.  This will be the longest I will have lived in any one spot in four years.  For the first time since getting it, I have fully unloaded the van and have all of my crap in one spot.  It feels really good, as there is nowhere I would rather be.  Except, I can take a month off.  Back in the van after all.  Yes please!  Destination…east Texas!  I leave Saturday.