I’m callin it quits

I have been working on 4 drafts of my travels from October as I left Colorado to Moab Utah and all the wonders of the Canyon Lands up to November when I reached the Coastal Bend of Texas. Every time I work on them, they get more screwed up and now they are all pretty much trash. As much as I would like to share my adventures with you, it has become such a source of frustration and stress to me that I’m calling it quits. I don’t need the stress that dealing with computers brings me. I’ve never liked them and never will…. they win and I concede.

I will always chronicle my travels and thoughts and experiences on paper with a PEN and will capture photos and videos on places and people I meet but if you want to share in them, then I suggest finding my campsite and spending a spell with me.  How could you find me you ask? Best chance, and it’s slim, is to roam around Colorado asking if anyone has seen a slighty crazy woman driving a white van called Moonbeam that’s piled high with all kinds of stuff on top.

Thank you all for traveling along with me. It’s too bad you couldn’t have been there and experienced some of the things I have over the last few years. I had high hopes this blog thing would work out but it’s not in the cards I guess. As long as I can continue to fund my travels and both mine and Moonbeams health continues, we will wander in search of new places, new people and new adventures.

I leave you with this:

“Years from now, you will be more disappointed in the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.   Explore, Dream, Discover.”

Mark Twain

Take care and safe travels….

Rachael Kelli Darland


Rejuvinated by Radium and moving on to ?? (Oct 1, 2011)

As I recall, I left  off in my last post as I was limping down the steep hill into my camp at Radium nursing a wounded knee. (Nothing to do with the battle in South Dakota) As I descend down the steep grade, I watch a car pull up next to Moonbeam and park. Ut- Oh, trouble I think. Watching from too great a distance to even yell a threat to leave my stuff alone, I watch helplessly as this car moves here, then there, scootching closer to my camp then repositions yet again. What the heck??? Then I see whats going on… This blonde lady gets out and starts setting up a tent! By the time I limp back into camp, she has set up her tent and is gathering firewood. I welcome her to the neighborhood and introduce myself. Her name is Leslie.  She is all of 24 years old, starting her doctorate degree at CU and is an extreme water kayaker.  Time slows to a crawl as I rewind back…and back…and back, to being 24 again. Holy crap, not much to compare to. Hell, I’m not sure I can remember being 24!! Anyway, as we stand there in a light drizzle not long before dark, she asks me about the hot springs and where it’s at. I hope my face didn’t show what my mind was thinking at the moment. Are you crazy??!! It’s raining, nearly dark and the springs are over a mile hike away! Gawd I so admire the boldness of youth!

I watched in amazement as she nearly sprinted up the steep hill to the springs as I put a bandage on my scraped knee. I told her that I would have a warm fire going and to join me if she wanted opon her return. Later we put together some things for supper and talked late into the night watching the embers of the fire dance a quiet waltz under the watchful eyes of a million stars. These are the moments that can only happen if you open your heart to people. I often see too many people in too many places that are always moving in a circle that is small and constricted by lord only knows what. Let it go…relax and expand your boundaries. Let life intrude a little!

The moon by now has made its appearance and dips behind the western mountains when we say goodnight.  Still not sleepy, I walk along the little stream in the remaining moonlight. Just me and the night…these are some of my most precious moments.  With limited sight I find my other senses are awakened. I hear more, I feel more.  The smell and feel of the dampness along the stream seeps through my skin as I open up to the night world around me. There are sounds of bats swooshing through the night so close I can feel the air move from their wings. Looking up into the near moonless sky makes me dizzy as I try to focus on the thousands of twinkling light above. As I continue to follow the stream picking my way through the darkness, I am over whelmed by how small I am in a Universe that’s so grand and diverse as the one that surrounds me here, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere.  My answer to those who wonder why I am compelled to do what I do is to sit here with me tonight. It will be self-evident I believe.

I awake early and make breakfast for Leslie and myself. She plays her guitar for me before she packs for another day of white water rapids. Two souls meet for a moment in time and both leave richer from a chance meeting when their life circles crossed. Before leaving she tells me; “I can only hope that when I’m your age I can be just like you.”

Whow. I leave it at that. 


"Beautiful Spirit"

My Heaven on Earth, Sept. 30, 2011

Sometimes I struggle with how much to share in such a public forum. My intension is to invite you to join me on this journey through the good, the bad and even the ugly. At times this will also include very personal emotions… maybe even “sailor talk” when I’m upset or hit my hand with a hammer. (Story to be posted at later date) My goal is to be real with you. No, not like reality TV as in “Living With the Kardashians”.

So here is some real. I had two reasons to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this year. One was to watch the Elk in rut. I hope sometime you can hear in person the sound of a bugling bull Elk. Bucket list material. The other reason was to revisit a very special place for me. Someplace I found several years ago that resonated with me like no other place I have seen on Earth, and that’s 60 years of viewing.

Let me introduce to the Cache La Poudre river. So Named by French trappers moving through Northern Colorado in the early 1800’s trapping  for beaver pelts. The name literally means “The Powder Cache”. And that is just what they did. In a bluff overlooking the river, they stashed most of their goods for retrieval on their return trip from high in the mountains trapping furs. This river has the privileged distinction of being designated Wild and Scenic. It will forever be left wild and free from its headwaters to where it joins the South Platte on its eventual journey to the Mississippi and the Gulf.

Stay with me on this as I ramble around getting to the point of my post. If you were from Ft. Collins Colorado, this would not be a very big leap to understand but for my reader in Ohio, well not so much. So here is the Cache La Poudre River, wild and free  forever.  Its headwaters happens to be at the summit of Milner Pass which is in Rocky Mountain Nat. Park. The river’s head waters are springs that feed Poudre Lake which is just a few yards to my right.

Upper and Lower Poudre Lakes at Milner Pass summit

I’ve hiked along side much of this river as it flows from these small pristine lakes as a little stream no more than a foot wide. I have sat beside its waterfalls during spring runoff in total awe of the power and force so great it makes the ground seem to tremble. I’ve drunk the  water from the spring  that starts this river just where the light of day strikes it for the first time. With me always is a bottle of this new water that’s never been drank before, never been dammed up, never been through a sanitation plant or ever flushed through a toilet.

From this spring, the River flows

We all are connected by coming and leaving this world in the same way. We all share the same star stuff, not only with each other but with the Universe. The decisions and choices we make along the way is what makes us different from one another, nothing more. On a Sunday evening March 26, 2006, I made a decision beside this river that closed the book on the journey I was on and eventually opened another that led me to one I’m sharing with you. 

  This is my lake, this is my river. And it is here I have chosen to start a most amazing  journey.  Some far off day when it’s my time to relinquish my star stuff back to where it came, it will be here.  From this small lake perched at the top of the Continental Divide what I have borrowed from the sea shall once again start toward that far off shore.


   This monolith rising above the lake with its single huge pine growing from its face makes a fitting statement testifying to my time here.

I have always been one for adventure and the last one I take promises to be a doozy. Too bad I can’t take a camera!

This is my valley, my river

Helping hands…

Still water runs deep….

This is a human interest story centered around this most unique community of Wall-Mart refugees.

I have stayed in dozens of Wall-Mart parking lots across several states and never have I witnessed anything like this one. We are all gathered for various reasons in the outer lot of the Loveland Co. Wall-Mart on Hwy. 34. About dark everyone starts drifting in, some won’t be here until very late.  A few never leave for the obvious reasons of  having no place or reason to go or they can’t afford the gas to. From my view from my usual spot, I can see a dozen or so people I know are living out of their cars, pickups or vans. I know four here are women and there are two families. I see four vans, five cars, two pick-ups and two well used tiny motor homes.

I have been here about two weeks and have met most of the group. We park next to each other in our same spots just like we owned a house in a neighborhood. We visit, share what’s needed and help where and when we can. We ask about each others day to find out if that job prospect came through or if they had heard from a sick relative.

Last year I was here for over two weeks in Late October and experienced the same atmosphere and wonderful people. When I left, it was like leaving family. Just last week as I was driving downtown, this car pulls up beside me and is honking like crazy at me. This woman is hanging out of the window waving and telling me to pull over….What the hell?? I’m thinking. Then I recognized her from the Wall-Mart family last October. They saw Moonbeam and remembered it and flagged me down to say hello. How cool is that!! Good news is their life is better now and they have an apartment.

What really prompted this story was what happened to me this afternoon. I pulled into my favorite spot only to find the sun blasting through the trees at me. Just behind me a row was cool comfortable shade. I back up and back right into one of the concrete bases for the light poles. Not very hard but enough to bend my rear ladder (which I need) and wrinkle the door a little. After assessing the damage, I think I can fix it, no problem. With a couple of tie down straps, I start applying a pull against the bent ladder. Cool! Looking good….just a couple more tugs. POP!! I broke my ladder completely into!

I wanted to scream, I kinda did cuss, but most of all, I wanted to cry. A new ladder is about $100. Yesterday I spent $120 having a custom bracket made for my ladder to allow me to carry my little generator. So I can just see the new ladder not being the same and the money spent on the bracket wasted. This was not the way I wanted my day to end. I’m setting on the pavement staring at my broken ladder when this voice from behind me says “Looks like you could use a hand.”

I turn and see the same guy I gave a couple gallons of gas to a few days ago. Him and his girlfriend and her son are all living a little SUV of some kind. It was the day the food bank gives out food and they didn’t think they had enough gas to get there and back so I gave them my generator gas with no pay backs allowed. He looked things over then went to get a couple other guys living and they came up with a way to patch up the ladder. We all worked on it for a couple of hours and by golly, I think their idea is going to work.

Total strangers we all were at one time or another when we each pulled in here looking for a place to call home. Strangers no more. Sometimes those who have so little to give end up giving the most….They give themselves.

Next time you see someone needing help please consider doing so. Be one of those people who are willing to give for no reason…be willing to understand.