I decided to write a brief summary of my attempt to live a normal lifestyle, with a full-time year-round job, and a cabin as a home, as that period in my life is now coming to an end and I’m returning to being homeless.
I have written a series of 11-posts on the subject (See the category ~ A Home for a While) but I know that is too much for 99 % of you folks out there to read. I KNOW that no-one cares about that period of my life quite that much if at all. (Even though it’s full of flood drama) I guess I did it more for myself really. I find that getting it down on ‘paper’ so to speak, helps me to work-through and clarify things.
On July 1, 2013, I moved into a quaint little cabin in the mountains. I did this because I had finally found a full-time, year-round job in this town where year-round jobs are a rarity.
I then committed to having a home, as I could actually afford year-round rent.
I did this: 1. Just to try it and see what it was like. 2. For my parents, who didn’t like the way I was living and felt I should get a real job and a real home.
On September 9, 2013, the 1,000 year flood started, and on September 13, did it’s worst.
Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding mountains couldn’t hold all the rain that had been falling for days, and it flowed into the ravines, and creeks, and most of the water and flood mud flowed down to the town of Estes Park and through it. The St. Vrain River, the Big Thompson, and North Fork of The Big Thompson Rivers and all the tributaries and seasonal creeks, all rose to historic levels, and proceeded to flood the town of Estes Park, and wipe out tons of road, and destroy many homes and seriously damage several small communities down in the canyons (one was almost wiped off the map).
The town ended up being cut-off from the rest of the world for over two-months, with the exception of one windy, and sometimes dangerous mountain road, that was a VERY long drive to anywhere. The place I worked at was flooded so badly, that it was red tagged, and deemed unsafe to even enter. I lost my job. The rest of town was pretty much shut down too, and though many businesses opened quickly, there was no-one here to spend money. I mean, people couldn’t get here, and all seasonal residents had been told to leave the Estes Valley in order to save resources. There was no sewer for much of the town, the infrastructure was damaged, and the list goes on. It was a mess. (You can read all about it in the longer version). This also meant that there was no work, even some of the store owners were visiting the local food bank.
In November access to the town was completed, though it was rough, and there will be road works for years to come. November, December, January, February, March with practically no money coming into this town, so no jobs.
I couldn’t pay my rent any longer, but my sweet land-lady let me stay due to hardship, and I buckled down to helping her with as many things as I could in exchange. She’s 88-years old, and almost a computer whiz now. ha ha. (yes, she wanted computer lessons).
I scrounged for firewood to heat my cabin, I got food from the food bank until they turned me away at the end of December because I no longer had a lease on my cabin (yep, its true, read it in the longer version). I got $139.00 a week for about two months from unemployment, then that was also stopped at the end of December.
Although the town is without a doubt beautiful, I got tired of it. There was nothing to do and no money to do it with anyway. A small town became a miniscule town, and the winter weather didn’t help. The winds were the worst I recall here over an extended period, the cold colder than ever (as most of the country also experienced), snow every day (beautiful, but with the cold and wind, hard to take) and still no work.
In addition I found that I was craving to get out of here, and not just because of the after effects of the flood. I found that living in a cabin wasn’t giving me as much joy as I’d hoped. I loved the cabin, and the wildlife, but I was itchy to leave.
Ultimately, I’ve decided to leave the cabin, and return to living in my car, but I will cover all that in the next couple of posts.
Time to move on to the next chapter in my life; a homeless female, rubber tramp, gypsy, nomad, bohemian, untethered, minimalist, photographer, writer, adventurer, with very few bills or commitments, and OH SO LOOKING FORWARD TO IT!!!
It is March 2014 – and this ends my attempt at living a normal life in a permanent home.
Movin on with a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eyes…
Don’t get me wrong, volunteers are wonderful. I’ve volunteered a few times for good causes such as the Salvation Army, The Nature Association, some thrift stores that raise money for new equipment for the local hospital, and I used to be a volunteer Fire Fighter. However, so far I haven’t given my time away to a profit making company. I just have a really hard time with that when there are so many people unemployed in this country and in dire need of a job.
There is little doubt that volunteers have helped people in too many ways to count on this planet, but in the past few years I’ve noticed that more and more profit making businesses are using volunteers in place of hiring people and paying them a salary. It’s very smart on the capitalists part, but it sucks for the unemployed.
My direct experience with this in the past few years has been limited, but I’ve been well aware of it. For example; our local Y. M. C. A. is one of the biggest job sources in this little town that I currently reside in. Unfortunately, in recent years they have laid off tons of employees, and those remaining have found that their work load has been doubled (twice the work extracted from them, with no pay-raise), and then they have hired volunteers to help cover some of the other jobs. You may think that the Y. M. C. A. isn’t a for-profit business, but it is, so don’t be fooled. I know about the doubling up of the work load, because this happened to my ‘then’ husband and some friends, and I know about the lay-offs because it has happened to many more of my friends.
Another example of volunteers hurting people who need work came to light during the recent floods in Colorado. This is a completely different scenario than the one above. After my workplace was flooded and closed down, I showed up at one of my employers other three businesses (three out of four of her stores had been flooded, but the other two were quick fixes) to let her know I was willing and able to work. But my employer turned me away because I wasn’t needed. Why on earth would my employer want me to help clean out flood mud (an employee, who she would have to pay), when she was surrounded by plenty of well-meaning, and very helpful volunteers shoveling mud out of the kindness of their hearts for free. They of course were totally oblivious to the fact that I was standing there, being denied a much needed pay check and wouldn’t be able to pay my rent the next month due to lack of funds. I’m not angry at the volunteers at all, I’m angry at my boss telling me to ‘go home’ so she could avoid paying me a paycheck. It is unprofessional and self serving.
In the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking into getting an outdoor job somewhere. I thought that working in a campground would be right up my alley. I may not have much experience with RVs in an RV type of park (I could learn), but I sure know a lot about tent and car camping, and the outdoors, and how to behave around wildlife, bears and so on. I would make a great campground ranger. Of course, I don’t stand a chance of getting a job with the National Park Service, or the Forest Service, as veterans are now getting priority on those jobs, and with my education having come from the UK, and not the US I really have no hope at all, (I tried, but got nowhere), but I have also learned that many of the campground jobs are given to volunteers, and so there is a distinct lack of paid jobs available for people like me, who need One.
These WorKampers work part or full time, in exchange for a place to park their beautiful $300,000 or $500,000 RV (usually required) and often the volunteer jobs are only available for couples. It seems that most of the positions are covered in this manner, which leaves people like myself out of the loop. Why pay someone when they can get a retired couple, or two retired couples to do the work in exchange for a place to park their RV? Some of these workers even get paid a bit as well. (However, often times they work very hard indeed, and I don’t think they always get a fair deal). I don’t blame them one bit for doing this, it supplements their retirement, and helps to pass away their senior years doing things in beautiful places, but they are taking jobs away from people who need them, like myself.
And so it goes…
I don’t think it’s right that profit making businesses use volunteers, instead of paying wages to people who need it.
Agree or disagree?
Until next time….
Trying to find a job I will enjoy, doing what I love and I will put my heart and soul into, in an area that is mostly filled up by volunteers – Homeless Gal
(Part 12 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
After I lost my job in the Colorado Flood (September 2013), I applied for disaster unemployment insurance. I received disaster unemployment through October, November & December 2013. On January 12, I learned that I don’t get any more money. ZERO! In just three months, at $139.00 a week, I’ve exhausted my benefits.
On the same day I received a notice that my Food Stamp benefits had expired. I’ve had to re-apply for them, and keep my fingers crossed that they I get re-approved.
Yesterday I also went to our local food bank to see if they could help out. I was told that I was due for an interview, and that I had to bring a LEASE, or a utility bill with me to prove that I had a home. However, they stressed that a rent receipt is not considered acceptable.
Now then, lets take a look at this…
I don’t have a job, because there is no work here and there are several hundred people applying for the whopping 5-jobs that are in the local paper. (Jobs even scarcer than usual because of the floods, and because winter is here). I’ve been told I won’t get any money from the government from here on, BUT in order to get food from the food bank, I HAVE TO have a home and pay rent AND prove it by providing a lease.
Hmmmm…. how does one pay rent, when one doesn’t have any money to pay it? And WHY, do I have to have a LEASE in order to get food from a food bank run by a CHRISTIAN MINISTRY! What is wrong with a rent receipt handed over monthly? what is wrong with a letter from a friend saying that you live with them? Why oh why, do I have to commit to a 6-month, or 1-year lease, to be able to get food from a food bank run by a church.
If I sign a lease, then I’m committed to staying in a place where there is no work. WHAT IF I get a job in another town or State? Does a Christian Ministry Food Bank really want me to lose my rental deposit (if I had one) if I skip out early for a job elsewhere? Does it really want me to commit to something I cannot pay for, in order to get some food I cannot afford to buy.
There is only one way I can see around this, and that is to ask my landlady to write up a FALSE LEASE; In other words, in order to give the food bank what they want, I would have to ask her to LIE FOR ME!
I know that some would do this, but I’d rather starve and resort to living out of a backpack than ask my sweet, old landlady to lie for me. I simply cannot do that. Besides, I’m not sure she would anyhow, she’s just too honest, and if she did give in, she’d probably lose sleep over it. It would be heartless of me to ask.
I have another beef with this wonderful government. In November I sent in an application to LEAP for assistance with firewood. However, before they would give me any help, I was required to purchase some firewood from a legitimate source (a real business that pays taxes, and not just my neighbor who cuts it up and sells it from his yard) and send the receipt to them. A cord of firewood for my little wood stove would have cost me $220.00 (special cut to 12”, and therefore more work). At the time I had $280.00 in the bank. In all honesty, I couldn’t afford to buy a cord of firewood, so I’ve been scrounging for it, getting it anywhere I can. Scrounging, or buying wood from a neighbor doesn’t earn you any help from LEAP. Gathering and chopping the wood yourself until your back feels like it’s going to break, and you shoulder injury flares up, doesn’t either, even when you’re 52-years old, and female with degenerative disc disease, and it’s so bitterly cold outside. So once again, I could not get help, because I was too poor to spend the money I was required to spend in order to get help.
So how does one get help with the cost of firewood when one can’t afford it. Well, I would have to ask a company to give me a receipt. I tried this… I asked a couple of legitimate businesses to give me a receipt for firewood, and then I told them that once I got the money, I would buy the wood from them. This seemed like an honest way of dealing with the problem, just in the wrong order. I would get the receipt, get the money, then buy the wood. I’d be warm, and the lumberjack would get his sale. No harm done.
But no-one would do it for me. So here I am…sitting in my cabin, in down pants, down coats, down booties. Fortunately I haven’t resorted to down gloves yet, it would be very hard to type with those on. I have enough wood left for about a week, if I use it to warm the place in the morning, and the evening, and only when the outside temperatures get well below freezing, and ago without during the day and the night.
(I actually wrote this post on January 19. Since then, I have sold some of my belongings to raise the money to buy 1/2 cord of firewood… so I’m good for a little while).
It has become very evident that I cannot afford to keep my home,and that I cannot stay here. I was trying not to spend the little bit of unemployment I was getting, instead I was trying to save it up. I wanted to have enough money to be able to leave this place if a job came up elsewhere. I wanted to have enough money to be able to get by until the first paycheck came in. I wanted to have enough money to pay a deposit on a rental place if need be in a new town, or at least pay for camping if there was no national forest (free camping) near where I got a job.
It cost’s money to move, it costs money to move to a new job out of state, it costs money to move into a home (usually a deposit, and first months rent) even if you don’t buy a single thing to put in it.
I know there are many people out there (most people) who cannot even begin to understand how a person can become homeless. Perhaps, after reading this, you have a small idea of how a person can end up homeless.
THIS IS YOUR AMERICA! In the month of January 2014, thousands of people had their unemployment taken away. Without it they will not be able to pay their rent and other bills, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we see a surge of homelessness in the next few months. The system is far from perfect, and more and more people are calling their vehicles home.
But wait… it’s illegal to live in your car… OOPS!
Until next time…
Trying to figure out how to survive and handling it just fine, why? because I’ve already learned how to live with very little.
I HOPE THIS POST ANGERS PEOPLE ENOUGH ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, TO GET SOME COMMENTS, AND SOME SHARES.
The other morning I had an interview with Xanterra Resorts at Yellowstone National Park. Xanterra runs some of the concessions within the National Park System. They are the folks that serve you meals in the cafés and restaurants, sell you T-shirts and other knick-knacks you don’t need, and things like that.
** Here are some facts about working for Xanterra:
Xanterra – Yellowstone National Park, WY. Job Position – Campground Attendant
Hours – 35 a week, working shifts (sometimes working until 10:30 PM, and other times starting at 6:30 AM).
Pay $8:45 an hour. May to September, 2014 (summer seasonal).
Cost of housing at Lake Village (dormitory room, shared with one or two other people) $44.00 + taxes bi-weekly (mandatory, unless you have an RV).
Cost of food (it is mandatory that you eat in their staff cafeteria, three meals a day, except on your day off I suppose) $154.00 + taxes bi weekly
Distance from housing to work, twice a day 2-miles one way (8 miles a day) = 40 miles a week (It is mandatory that you drive back to the cafeteria for lunch).
Distance from Lake Village to the town of Cody, WY is about 80 miles (160 R/T)
Distance from Lake Village to Gardiner, MT. is about 60 miles (120) R/T
Price of gas at Fishing Bridge in February 2014 $3.75 gallon. (Could go up any time, possibly to $4.00 + a gallon).
** So with these facts in hand, I decided to do the math, and figure out how much money I would make if I took a job with Xanterra in Yellowstone National Park.
Here are my calculations – If I were to take a job with Xanterra working as a campground attendant at Fishing Bridge, and assuming I worked 40-hours a week, my base pay would be $591.00 every two weeks.
From that I’m going to deduct 25% for taxes (just a guestimate). This brings the bring-home pay down to $443.00 for two weeks.
From that I’m going to deduct the mandatory $200 bi-weekly charges for food and lodging. My paycheck is now $243.00 for two weeks (and that’s not taking into account taxes on food and lodging). If that were another $30.00, my paycheck would be $213.00, in exchange for two weeks of cleaning showers, toilets, bathrooms, emptying trash cans, picking up trash and maybe directing traffic and other odd jobs.
There is also an additional $1.00 a day health membership fee of some kind (so if you have to go to the clinic, you’ll get a DISCOUNT on the clinic’s fees). Which brings the pay down to $199.00 (lets round it up to $200.00).
Okay – so after 80 hours of hard labor, working all kinds of weird hours, and being forced to eat the food they serve, whether I like it or not, AND sharing a room with other people, and a community bathroom with who-knows-who, I would have $200.00 to show for it, which has to last me two weeks.
** Okay, so we now have a bring home pay of $200.00 bi-weekly before other necessary living expenses. Lets move on…
So Fishing Bridge is kind of in the middle of Yellowstone National Park. Lets say I decide to go to town once a week on my day off, or just drive around to look at some places and see the wildlife. Let’s use Cody, WY as an example. It is 160-miles round trip to Cody. Gasoline is $3.75 a gallon in February 2014 (possibly more in summer). My vehicle gets about 16 miles to a gallon in the kind of driving conditions Yellowstone has. That means it would take about 10-gallons of gas for me to drive to Cody and back, which would cost about $38.00 +.
So if I were to drive to Cody, or Gardiner (120 round-trip) or drive around the park (it’s a big park)on my two days off, I could easily spend $40.00 a week ($80 every two weeks)on gasoline.
So we take my bi-weekly paycheck of $200, and deduct the cost of gas from it. I now have $120.00 every two weeks, left to live off. That is $60.00 a week! From that I have to pay for regular chiropractic care (usually $40 – $50 a session), which I need at least bi-weekly (weekly is what I really need at this time in my life), there is also the cost of auto insurance and maintenance, driving to and from work ($10.00 per week estimate) personal items, snacks, social activities (there is an employee bar, but who could afford it), personal toiletries etc. bills and loans that I have to make payments on, and all the other bits of things that a person needs above and beyond rent and food, in order to live. (For those of you who aren’t aware, I have spinal injuries from my abusive husband, and chiropractic care is what I will have to do for the rest of my life. It is also the reason I can’t take housekeeping jobs, or anything that requires leaning slightly forward for extended periods. Indeed, I wouldn’t be sure I could do the campground attendant job, until I tried).
I ask you, how is a person supposed to save and get ahead, and pay for auto insurance, or pay off their debt, with such a tiny amount of money coming in?
In fact, the average person gets more than that on unemployment.
(Oh now I see…that’s why people don’t want to work for minimum wage, and would rather get unemployment and food stamps….(touch of sarcasm injected here) honestly, can you blame them?).
The truth is, I don’t think I can afford to work for Xanterra. I don’t think that Xanterra can meet my essential needs with what they are paying, and the mandatory deductions that are taken out in order to have the pleasure of working for them. I know that they are using the beauty around them to entice people to work there, that the natural beauty is part of the paycheck, and they are just barely paying enough for a person to get by.
I know that I can live on a lot less if I can camp in my car, and buy my own food (and it would be much healthier food). I’m not sure that I’m willing to give up my healthy diet (and therefore my health), and pay for something I don’t want to eat (because I try very hard to avoid any preservatives, additives, toxins, artificial ingredients, high sodium, chemical sweeteners etc. which I’m sure most of their canteen food would be made up of).
I was excited about having an interview with Xanterra, and the possibility of working in Yellowstone NP, until I did the math…
Now I’m very disappointed. I suppose this is a wonderful opportunity for a young person stepping out into the world to get their wings, to experience a new and exciting place. However, I’m 52, and I’m not that gullible.
I just had my interview. It was very brief, because I asked my interviewer to confirm that my calculations were correct, and they are. She agreed that I couldn’t expect to make much money working there. We ended the conversation very pleasantly, and I decided not to accept the job.
I will continue to search for an employer that has respect for me as a person and an employee, and will at least meet the minimum requirements I need in order to live up to most of the standards that society expects of an American Citizen and get a head a bit (that is of course, without expecting to make enough money to pay for a roof over my head, other than the one that rolls on four wheels, because in this day and age that’s not a realistic expectation).
Are there any employers like that any more?
To see my income in 2012 go here ‘W2.’
Until next time, seeking an employer who cares about his employees as much as the bottom line… Homeless Gal
(Please feel free to post your thoughts on this, whether you are for or against Capitalism, and please share it. There are too many people out there that are oblivious as to how hard it is to make it in this country on minimum wage, or even a $1.00 above minimum wage). Thank you.
(Part 11 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
After the flood, things gradually improved. I cannot say that anything returned to normal. By the time Halloween came around the town was still cut-off, and people who had to drive to The Front Range came back with stories of long drives (10-hours round-trip), or knuckle whitening trips on the one dirt road that was a shortcut (cut about 2.5 hours on the long-road, one way). This dirt road was not designed for gasoline tankers, Safeway trucks, and UPS deliveries, and they had severely eroded the road, which previously had a few local cars on it and no more. I didn’t drive it myself, but I heard the stories.
Much of the town was still in a no flush zone, and many roads were still inaccessible. Our beautiful lake looked like a quarry, with goliath sized equipment digging up dirt, and hauling it down the canyons to use to re-build the roads. The workers doing the labor (the‘hard hat angels’ as they have been called), worked seven days a week to get the roads opened again. The National Guard pulled out, and left their road closed signs in place. Other than the constant rumble of trucks the town was dead.
Rocky Mountain National Park was closed for quite some time after the flood. There had been some mud slides in the mountains, and places like the Alluvial Fan were forever changed (again), and they wanted to be sure that the park was safe for hikers before they opened it. All park accesses were closed to hiking, and most roads were closed, and it was hard to find anywhere to go to hike. We have plenty of National Forest around us, but with so many roads closed we couldn’t get to the access points. We were trapped. When the park did finally open it’s gates again, it was open for two days only. To our dismay, our only place to go and get out of town for a few hours was closed again by the Government Shutdown of 2013. The elk were bugling in the park, the aspens were turning gold, the trails were empty, but we couldn’t see any of it.
On Halloween downtown blocked off a couple of blocks for the usual trick or treaters, some entertainment was held in the street, and people dressed up in fancy costume and wondered around. One of the most popular costumes was of a Port-O-Toilet. One store front dressed it’s windows with someone playing a banjo made from a toilet seat, and had Christmas lights on another toilet seat, calling them ‘seat warmers.’
I decided to stop by one of the other stores my boss owned, and actually bumped into my boss. I told her I’d heard that she would have the store opened up again in about 4-weeks, and asked if I would be going back to work then. I was ready, willing and able, and excited to get back to it. (If you recall from a previous post, when I was hired for this job I was told it would be year-round, full-time. I had made the decision to get a place to rent based ENTIRELY on this promise. After all, one has to have regular work to pay rent). However, she just looked at me and said “No, I won’t be re-hiring you, I only needed you through Thanksgiving anyway,” then she shrugged, turned her back on me, and walked away.
I stood there in shock, flabbergasted. I yelled after her, with reasons to keep me, but she ignored me. I was just a nobody to her, and I had been dismissed with the flick of a shoulder, and in that moment my life was shattered. Tears sprung to my eyes. I looked at her son (who I’d worked with) who was handing out candy, and he said nothing. Now what would I do? I needed that job to pay rent, to live, to survive! I wondered around staring at the costumes and the happy smiles on kids faces, but I felt numb.
And so that was that…No job, no work available in town, $139.00 a week of disaster unemployment and some food stamps, and $3,000 worth of new debt on my credit card from vehicle work. It wasn’t enough to live off. It wasn’t enough to pay rent, buy firewood, and water, and gas for the car, and pay auto insurance that was due, and other necessities.
It seemed to me that my one attempt at living in a home, had been a failure, and that The Universe had something else in mind for me. I made the decision to stick it out for as long as possible, maybe try and make it through winter with a home. Maybe I’d get lucky and find a full-time, year-round job in this town, there is a first time for everything after all. (Although I had been TOLD I had a year-round job, I later learned that this was a lie told to me by my employer. Other jobs that have been promised to be year-round, actually have been, except that the hours reduce to about 6-hours a week during the winter months).
Re-considering if it’s worth the trouble, time, effort and struggle it takes to have a regular home…
Photographer Iain McKell (left) has tracked and befriended a small tribe of New Gypsies for over ten years and his collection of pictures is available in his book The New Gypsies, which is published by Prestel Publishing.
Check out the article here:
In some ways I envy their lifestyle, but I like to live alone…
(Part 10 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
On the morning after flood waters receded (September 14) I showed up at the other business location my boss owned, to see what was expected of me. Strangers were in the store helping to clean out the mud. My boss clearly didn’t want to pay an employee when she had people working for free, so I was just ignored. I decided to let it go, after all, she had three stores flooded, and had been evacuated from her home, and she was clearly under a lot of stress.
Then I showed up the following two mornings also, and was again ignored. I was not informed that I was out of a job, I was just ignored. Two weeks after the flood waters receded, I got confirmation that I was out of a job (through another employee), and applied for Disaster Unemployment. The place I worked had been red tagged, and had been deemed unsafe. No-one was even allowed to go in it. The two stores that weren’t too bad, were not in need of me as an employee, staff had been cut down to almost none. I was jobless, and wondered how the heck I was going to pay my rent that was due in two-weeks.
If the timing wasn’t bad enough already (I’d only been working there about 10-weeks, so hadn’t managed to save up much money yet), my vehicle broke down as well. Suddenly my only credit card went from a zero balance to $3,000, with no income coming in to pay it.
I was out of a job, and with the town suffering the way it was, I wasn’t alone. Hundreds of employees lost their jobs that day, as there was no tourism, and most of the jobs available were flood clean up, which was being taken care of by unpaid volunteers. The town was emptying of people rapidly, as people had actually been asked to leave the valley. Only year-round residents and business owners were allowed in, and other essential traffic such as medical staff, the National Guard and so on. Summer residents would be let out, but couldn’t return, and were told to winterize their homes, as they may not be able to come back until next year. Road blocks were set up on the only access road, and people had to prove they had a right to enter the town. To get in or out of the town, people had to travel on a windy mountain road, that was partially eroded away and which had a mud slide across it. Traffic was being allowed through, but some none-4WD vehicles had to follow in the wake of a snow plow that pushed to water aside for the car.
Trail Ridge Road that went over the top of the tundra, in Rocky Mountain National Park was also open to essential traffic only, but the rest of the park was closed. Trail Ridge Road leads to a couple of very small, remote towns on the west side of The Great Divide, and there is even less there than in this town. It can also be a very scary drive, with sheer drop offs, tight bends and unpredictable weather. To get anywhere else going that way, it was a very long drive. Still, they used it to bring in some essential equipment to help with the flood recovery. I can’t imagine what it was like driving over the tundra for the convoy of huge equipment that came to help us. Some people won’t do it in cars!
What can I say, it was a mess.
It was about 2-months later when one of the main highways leading down one of the canyons was opened, and we residents were let out of jail (or so it felt) and we got to see what the flood had done down that canyon. It broke our hearts.
By Thanksgiving (November 28, 2013), Hwy 34 had opened also. No more 5-hour drives one way to get to the city. However, in my opinion, Hwy 34 was even more heartbreaking than Hwy 36, and though we are grateful that we were let out of our mountain valley, the drive down the canyon was not a pleasant one any more. The devastation was, and still is, hard to see and is heart breaking. As for the little town of Glen Haven, it is all but gone. I had a home there once, and all that is left is the mail box with the house number on it which someone found and set there so we’d know there was once a building there. This breaks my heart even more, and even now, more than 4-months later, Glen Haven still doesn’t have all its roads re-built, and about half the town still can’t get to their homes.
And so the aftermath was revealed, the stories of bravery, and struggle all around. This effected everyone here, even if they didn’t get flooded. Whenever we drive out of this town, we see the destruction, and though one may start down the road in high spirits, they are quickly sobered when our eyes lay upon the devastation. It is hard to deal with, even now.
As for myself, on October 5, I got my first disaster unemployment payment. I had gone 6-weeks without any income, and I was hurting.
And so this ends the main part of the story of the flood. But my story doesn’t end here…
Until next time,
Trying to catch up on my summer, while I still have internet access available to me regularly…
(Part 9 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
On the 14th, the clouds lifted a little, we could see the tops of some peaks, and with the clearing skies, came the sound of helicopters, tons of them. Not a minute went by from dawn to dusk, when the sound of helicopters did not weigh on ones ears. Rescues, and more rescues. Helicopters of every shape, size, and color. Hundreds of people were stranded on the sides of canyons, their homes washed away, or buried, or unsafe. The usually tiny rivers were too full to cross safely, and people were rescued by rope and helicopters. The sound of blades beating the mountain air went on continuously for days.
As this little town didn’t have access in or out other than helicopters, and one very windy, and partially eroded and flooded mountain road with a mud slide across it, it was left to defend for itself. A Red Cross station was set up, and run by towns folk, cots were gathered from anywhere they could find them. Food was donated as were clothes and such, some hotels opened their doors to those in need, some people took strangers into their homes, handing over their keys and telling them it was theirs for as long as they needed it. The community came together to help. As the flood waters receded, people pulled on boots and gloves, and started to help business owners clean the flood mud out of their stores.
Many homes that weren’t in a flood zone, or near a river suffered too. The rain had saturated the ground so much, that new springs had popped up all over the place, and an enormous amount of home had water in their basements.
Sewage and water lines were washed away, and a huge portion of the town was told they could not flush their toilets. A map was drawn up of the No Flush Zone, and the few port-o-toilets that were available in town, were distributed around. Whole neighborhoods sharing just a couple of port-o-johns. There is one picture of a horse tied to such a toilet, a favorite of mine. I heard that the lines for the toilet could get quite long. The town set up a dump station for people to take their ‘buckets’ to empty them. This inconvenience actually went on for a couple of months, and once the temporary sewer lines were in place, you could practically hear the cheer echo off the surrounding mountains.
On the 14th I drove into town, and stood in front of my place of work. The river had flowed through it, and it was obvious that I was out of a job, at least for a while.
Some communications were getting back up. One internet company set up some free hot spots in town (many thanks) and people stood around with phones and laptops, texting or sending emails. Phone lines still weren’t up though. I sat in one coffee shop with my laptop checking the news (still nothing about Estes Park, Glen Haven and other towns near where I lived), and the gentleman next to me was sort of in shock. He had managed to come up from Glen Haven where his home had been washed clear away, along with everything he owned in the world, including his medications (which he needed badly). One man had cycled in from Pinewood Springs (a pretty good haul), to find out what was going on, and to send some work related emails out. They had no communications either.
It was a mess.
Okay, this is a long story, so I’m going to split this into two sections, I’ll send out part two in a day or so.
Until then, hanging in (just barely) and it’s now over 4-months after the flood.
Still in a home, barely… Homeless Gal.
(Part 8 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
On Friday 13th of September, 2014, the flood waters reached their peak and did most of the damage. They rushed down the canyon, washed away homes, cars, and lives. They undercut, roads, hillsides and foundations, and the areas that were already weakened by the two previous days of flooding, were destroyed.
Towns like Glen Haven, Drake, Pinewood Springs, Lyons, Estes Park, which are in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, were cut off from the rest of the world. Pinewood Springs acquired a new name, The Isle of Pine, and the only way to get in and out was by helicopter or on foot. Glen Haven was so badly damaged, that the little town was almost wiped off the map, and was also cut-off. Only two buildings remained standing, plus the new firehouse and post office. Fortunately they managed to get the fire trucks and equipment out of the firehouse, before the entire building was washed down the canyon along with most of the rest of the businesses. Other towns like Lyons were also cut off, but as they were closer to a larger infrastructure, got help quicker. At the time we did not know how bad things were down in the canyons, as Estes Park (being at a higher elevation and quite literally, the end of the road) was in the blind. Clouds hung low, and helicopters couldn’t get there, power lines, networking cables and the like had been washed away, landlines and cell phones did not work, even the emergency services had a hard time staying in contact.
People drove around the valley in circles to gawk at the dangerous flood waters, as there was no way in or out. Many of the shelves in the grocery store were empty, and there were no food deliveries coming to the town, no mail deliveries, and even if there had been a way to get into town, the area around the Post Office was flooded.
At this time residents didn’t have a very good idea of what was going on down the canyons, or out along the Front-Range (Boulder, Loveland, Fort Collins). A few had TV, and there was radio, but we were unaware. We did know it was bad, we knew that all the water that had come from the mountains this town nestled in had gone out to the Colorado Plains, and that the cities in-between had been slammed by the surge, but exactly how bad, we didn’t really know.
Friday the 13th wasn’t really a day to go out, and there wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I stayed home.
Reliving the flood, while trying to catch up on the past few months,
Homeless Gal (well, not right this minute, but I’m heading that way again…)
Mark Boyle outside his off-grid caravan. Photograph: Mark Boyle
By: Amanda Froelich,
Think you couldn’t live without money? Irishman Mark Boyle challenged this notion and here’s how he finds life with no financial income, bank balance, and no spending.
“If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal.” According to Boyle, the plan back then was to ‘get a good job’, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society he was successful.
To read more, click the link below….
On You Tube…
(By the way – Mark Boyle has a couple of books out – The Moneyless Man, and the Moneyless Manifesto) check them out!
I wish I could go to this extreme, but living with no money takes away my ability to explore on my own, with relative safety. In order to grow my food, I’d have to remain in one place. I haven’t found the right place to settle for the rest of my life yet, so I can’t do that. However, I’m happy with living with very little money. I’ve managed to last 4-months on just $500.00 in the past, while traveling and exploring some amazing places. I’m guessing about 50% went to gas, the rest to food and other such necessities. We don’t need much to be happy. The times I’ve lived in my car and gone without the luxuries of a consumer society, have been some my happiest times.
Right now I’m paring down my belongings again. When I move into my vehicle this time, I will have even less than the previous few years, which wasn’t much (would all fit into my vehicle, including my furniture (camp chair, and Thermarest pad for my bed). I like to have room to move, and there isn’t much room in Mitzi, so the less I own, the more room I have.
Anyhow, more on that another time…
Hope you enjoy the article…
Until next time…
Living on a very tight budget, as I now have NO income, Homeless Gal
I’m currently reading this book, and I’m loving it. It sums up everything I feel about society and the cost of living in a home, and many peoples need for excess stuff and so on.
I understand Ken Ilguanas completely, he is a soul mate.
I know that my family don’t understand why I choose to live the way I do, and probably never will, but they can be assured that I’m not the only one doing it.
I recommend this book for anyone who doesn’t understand my lifestyle, wants to learn more, or is considering becoming a voluntary homeless person themselves.
I’m trying to save up money now to buy a van, or truck, so I can be more comfortable in my chosen lifestyle (the back of Mitzi will do for now, but as I’m sure I won’t be getting a permanent home for many years, I’d like to have a bit more room at least). One thing is for sure, I will not be able to buy a van as long as I’m paying rent, NOR will I be able to pay off the credit card I used to fix Mitzi this past winter in a speedy manner. I don’t want to be one of those people who can’t afford to do anything but work, and take a vacation once a year. That is not living, it is existing.
Until next time…
Making plans for her future life as a rubber tramp…
(Part 7 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
On September 12, the rivers and town flooded even more. I watched from my cabin on the hill, as the waters rose below the dam. The town was letting water out of the lake, and the gates were fully open. Beneath the dam, a new lake had formed, and swirling mass of debris, and shit (quite literally), and all of that water was squeezing out through one bridge before it went down into the steep-walled canyon I mentioned in my previous post. Both of the roads that led out of town to the east (our two main highways), were closed. The high road that led over the tundra, and the windy road that led south were also closed with the exception of essential traffic. People couldn’t come into this town without having a good reason, and proof that they were a resident, business owner or such. We didn’t really know what was going on down in the canyons, but we knew it wasn’t good.
In downtown the rivers that flowed through town had risen, and many of the stores had started taking on water. Elsewhere homes were flooding, even when not in flood planes. It seemed that half the town was taking on water. Other rivers were rising, and undercutting the banks, so houses started to crumble into the rivers, and cars were being washed down stream. We had learned that many of the sewage pipes and water pipes had been destroyed, and that the mud and water was to be considered toxic, and also full of sewage, which could cause major heath hazards. Our lake had become a cesspool.
Then the power went out for many people, we lost internet access, and landlines, and couldn’t use our cell phones, and we lost our local news channels as the cables were swept away by flood waters in the canyons. The outside world didn’t know what was going on up here, and we didn’t have much idea what was going on elsewhere either. We were truly cut-off.
On the 12th, I drove into town, passing by the lake, and watched the waters lap close to the road. Southwest of my cabin was another river, that I noticed suddenly appeared very wide. Tons of household debris was washing down it, and piling up at the causeway that ran along the south side of the lake. Tires, windows, wood, refrigerators, children’s toys, whole trees. The list was endless. There were signs at the road that ran along this river, claiming ‘Road Closed.’ There was nowhere left to go. The cars that were driving around, were quite literally driving in circles. We were cut off from the rest of the world.
I made it to town, and parked where I could. Downtown was blocked off too, and there was a gathering of people staring at the town that had now become a lake. I made my way around the flooded areas sticking to higher ground, and made it to my place of work. I wasn’t surprised to see it standing in water, and mud. The hotel behind it had lost it’s parking lot. A metal gate from some stables up river was hooked on a destroyed gazebo, and flapped up and down as the raging river slammed into it. There were some places I simply couldn’t access, and on my way back, I found that I couldn’t return the same way I’d come, as the waters had risen to flood the parking lots that quickly. I was stranded on an island, and had to remove my shoes to wade back to safety.
On the evening of the 12th, I sat in my cabin listening to the roar of water that was heading down the canyon get louder. I could feel the earth vibrate, and could only imagine what was happening to the homes and small towns down there. A new sound started behind my cabin, and when I went to investigate I saw that I now had my own little river running behind the cabin. I was high and dry though, and with my own water supply, and a septic tank that was also on higher ground, I found myself in a situation where I was actually better off than many others for once. Even my power stayed on.
I have a friend who is living in his RV, and I’d offered to let him park in my driveway for safety while this was going on. He’d made it out of his camping area to my home just before many of the roads were flooded. I have a wind-up radio and we listened to what was going on (one of those emergency survival radios that my dad gave me for Christmas one year). We learned that all our water was heading down to the towns and cities east of us, and then out to the plains, and was causing total bedlam and severe damage. However, our little town wasn’t mentioned in the news. Even the news media couldn’t find out what was going on up here. The only people who really understood how bad it was, were those that were stranded in the mountain foot-hills west of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Boulder.
I barely slept that night, and wondered what tomorrow, which was Friday the 13th, would bring.
Looking back on the flood,
(Part 6 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
One day in September it started raining (the 9th?). We didn’t think much of it at first, we get rain here every now and then, but pretty soon we realized this was different. The clouds settled in, and kept on dumping and dumping.
As I’ve mentioned before, this little town is in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It is built in a beautiful little valley, with mountains all around. There are many rivers and streams, and seasonal streams that flow from the high peaks, glaciers, and valleys, and a couple of them flow right through downtown. Normally this water flows lazily through town, and people from other states don’t even realize they are rivers. They call them creeks (cricks) and steams. The only time the water reaches the banks is during the spring snow melt, when it may flood the post office parking lot a bit, and lap over its banks in a few other areas, but it is normal, and most residents and stores are ready for it. (That being said, there have been floods here in the past).
As the rain grew heavier and heavier, I decided to collect some of the water that was pouring from my roof, and save it to use for flushing my toilet (I have to pay for water delivery, and so I re-use as much water as I can. Plus, I naturally abhor water waste, after having lived for long periods where I have to haul, scrimp, or ration my water supply for days or even weeks and months on end). I emptied every plastic container and bucket I had, and set them under my water spout. I gathered about 125 gallons of water in just 1.5 hours (or thereabouts) from my downspout. (I learned later that this is actually illegal, as all the water is owned by the people that own the water drains, or something like that. Just another one of those ridiculous rules of society). I used this water for the next two weeks, to flush my toilet, scrub mud-laden boots, and water the plants.
I had never seen rain like this in the 17-years I’d (more-or-less) lived in Colorado. It just kept coming, and then it got even heavier. I was fascinated.
On September 11 (9/11), the rivers flowed over their banks, run-offs (or seasonal streams as the real estate people like to call them) formed in every gully, water pooled in low-lying areas, and springs started to pop up everywhere, including under peoples homes. The rock that makes these the Rocky Mountains, could hold no more, and it went to the only place it could – up out of the ground, and then down to the lowest lying areas.
Downtown flooded, the two rivers there joined, and the main street became a river. In other areas, normally tiny little rivers that looked like streams, swelled way beyond their banks, and grew to sizes never seen in this valley before.
The store that I worked at was right on the edge one of these two rivers, and the water was lapping the banks on this day, but my place of work was still okay, at least for now. I walked through town where I could, and took many pictures. Everyone was taking pictures.
There are basically only four ways out of this little town. Two of the roads lead downhill from this high valley, one passes through a deep sided canyon for about 20-miles, the other also goes down another long canyon, but it is a little wider. Both lead down to the flat plains of Colorado. There is also a road that goes up out of town. It twists and turns, and rolls, through the mountains and is a very long, though scenic drive to the next town. The final road out is over the top of the Rocky Mountains, and passes clear over the top of the tundra. It is a very long drive to anywhere going that way (45 miles to the next town, which is even smaller than this one).
In past years when I was camping in the forest around here, or when I lived down this canyon (in an empty little cabin with no water), I signed up for an emergency service that would send me an email, voice message, or text message to my phone, for certain areas that I frequently camped or took refuge. I did this with hopes that I would get the warning message before I got trapped in an area if there was a wildfire, or other dangerous situation imminent, as homeless people don’t have landlines and therefore no reverse 911 service.
I think it was 9/11 when the emergency warnings came to my phone. They were warning of high waters, and that people who lived in any of the canyons should stay off the highway, away from the fast-moving water, and remain on high grounds. I sat in my little cabin, listening to the rain on my roof, and felt a sense of dread wash over me.
And so the floods began, and this was when things changed…
I will continue in the next post…
Looking back on the floods – Homeless Gal
(Part 4 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
Before you judge my life, my past or my character, walk in my shoes, walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrows, my doubts, my fear, my pain & my laughter… Remember everyone has a story, when u have lived my life then you can judge me… (by Hemant Smarty).
This is how I was living until I got my cabin. Everything in the back of my vehicle was perfectly organized, so that I could cook, clean up, bathe, change clothes, sit in bed to read, write, watch movies, and even do my daily stretches if it was too cold to go outside (-10 could be considered too cold in winter). I used the top of the cooler and the blue box as counter tops, and my food and utensils were stored inside them. By bed went down one side of the vehicle, and was just long enough for me to lay flat, if I were an inch taller than 5’ 1”, it wouldn’t have worked. The biggest worry I had was that I might spill something onto my sleeping bag while cooking.
This is what I had about a week or so after I moved into my cabin in July 2013, and had visited the thrift store a couple of times. The mattress on the floor, is actually my bed from Mitzi:
As you can see, I have a living room a bedroom (it’s an open-concept cabin) a kitchen and a bathroom. It is adorable, and more than big enough for a person like myself.
Shortly after moving in, someone gave me a chair, and a lamp, and then other bits have dribbled in from thrift store purchases, or give-aways. My home is still uncluttered six months later, and my camp chair, which is a very low-to-the-ground collapsible chair, is still my favorite chair. I use it to watch movies and read, and sit in front of the wood stove with my cup of tea.
Like I’ve said in the two previous posts, don’t give up on me now that I have a home… the one thing we can be sure about in life is that nothing remains the same, things are always changing, life has a way of throwing curve-balls. Stick with me as the story unfolds. Perhaps you will gain an understanding of how people go from having a home, to living in their vehicle again.
Until next time…
Not homeless at the moment, Homeless Gal
May I take this opportunity to thank you for following me, and sharing my blog. In part I write this blog with hopes of it reaching a few souls that have very closed minds about homelessness, and possibly helping them to see it from another perspective. In 2011 it was reported that one-third of Americans were only one paycheck away from homelessness, that is about 8.6 million people! It is easy for someone who has money to ignore this struggle, and to blame the individuals, but many of these good people are hard working, sensible, and honest. It is often society, capitalism, the government and many other aspects that have put them in this position. More and more people are choosing alternative lifestyles, or ending up on the streets, and I hope this blog will help just a few more people to understand why. So please share it any way you can.
Wanted to share this, it came to me after an encounter I had.
I saw a homeless man yesterday,
weathered, alone, in sorrow, agony,
I wondered in my fear of fears,
if someday that would be me?…
to read more, please click the link below. This brought tears to my eyes…
(Part 3 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
In my last post you learned that in June of 2013, I found a full-time, year-round job, and decided to try living a more normal, socially acceptable life. That is; work 5-days, 40+ hours a week, and spend almost every penny I earn on rent and other bills that come with having a home and paying rent.
Most of my friends and family were very happy that I had made this commitment, and joined the ranks of people who lived a set life, with a set schedule, and had a bunch of monthly bills to pay.
I wasn’t so sure…
The cabin I moved into on July 1 is adorable. It is at the end of a narrow dirt road, with plenty of space around it, open ranch space, mountains and pine forests behind me, and my only immediate neighbor is my landlady. There is plenty of wildlife and views! Boy… do I have views! mountains, rocky out-cropping’s, the town below, a lake that I pass by every time I leave the cabin.
All that for just $450.00 a month (unbelievable price for this area) + cost of water delivery (the cabin has a cistern so water has to be delivered). In the winter there would be $50 a month extra added to the rent for electricity (or more if I used too much electric heat), and the cost of providing my own firewood for the wood stove (the main heat source), or some other form of heat if I could come up with another option.
I was excited about having a home to call my own. I imagined myself coming home from a long day of work, sipping a glass of wine on the deck, taking hot baths, cooking healthy meals, having friends over, and so on.
When I moved in, I had very little to put in the cabin, and it almost echoed with emptiness. I put my 3 knives and forks in the drawer, along with a handful of kitchen utensils, my camp pans, my two stainless steel plates, and two mugs (one for coffee one for tea) and a few other cooking items. A friend gave me some hangers, and I hung my clothes up in the huge built-in closet, along with my coats, sleeping bags, blankets and anything else I could hang on a hanger, and still only filled half the closet. I stored my other camping and hiking gear away, and put my camp bed on the living room floor to use as a couch, then I looked at my watch, and saw that all of this had taken about an hour.
So, with time to spare, I set to cleaning the cabin.
That night I slept in a real bed, with sheets no less! It was wonderful to be able to stretch out my legs, roll over without hitting a cooler, and to sit up without hitting my head on the ceiling.
I was in my own little home… it felt weird, but there I was finally, ready to see if my dreams of having a home were really going to be as wonderful as I imagined.
It’s now December, and I’m still in my little cabin. However, a lot has happened and I just might earn the title of Homeless & Female again… so stick with me as there is more to tell.
Bye for now,
Enjoying some aspects of having a home, at least for now,
Not so Homeless Gal
May I take this opportunity to thank you for following me, and sharing my blog. In part I write this blog with hopes of it reaching a few souls that have very closed minds about homelessness, and possibly helping them to see it from another perspective. In 2011 it was reported that one-third of Americans were only one paycheck away from homelessness, that is about 8.6 million people! It is easy for someone who has money to ignore this struggle, and to blame the individuals, but many of these good people are hard working, sensible, and honest. It is often society, capitalism, the government and many other aspects that have put them in this position. More and more people are choosing alternative lifestyles, or ending up on the streets, and I hope this blog will help just a few more people to understand why. So please share it any way you can, and remember this quote; Before you judge my life, my past or my character, walk in my shoes, walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrows, my doubts, my fear, my pain & my laughter… Remember everyone has a story, when u have lived my life then you can judge me… (by Hemant Smarty).
(Part 1 in a series about my attempt to live in a regular home – Please check out the ‘A Home for A While’ category).
About four years ago I cleaned a little cabin located here in this little mountain town that I consider to be my home base, and absolutely fell in love with it. At the time I told the lady who hired me to let me know if it ever came available for rent again, and a few days ago I received a phone call from her letting me know it would be available on July 1st, and I was welcome to rent it if I was still interested.
I told her that I would love to, and we worked out a plan. The only reason I could even consider it is because she doesn’t require a deposit from me, or a lease.
Ever since I made the decision to try living in a house again and pay rent, I’ve been looking hard for a job, but haven’t found one yet (Update: I found a seasonal job, and start on Friday), despite there being an abundance of them here what with the tourist season beginning soon. The only way I can consider following through on this plan is if I have a year-round job, and I haven’t been able to find one of those in this town for the past six years or more, and I’m rather concerned about it.
Additionally, I’ve grown so used to not having a home, and not having to commit to paying rent every month, that I now find myself struggling with the idea of it.
I mean I’m really struggling.
Part of me dreams about having a place to call my own, a place where I can come home to and be surrounded by my own belongings, instead of some else’s. A place that I can walk away from in the morning, and return to, with it still looking as I left it. A place that I can decorate in any manner I choose. A place that I can invite friends over to, or do my morning yoga ritual in privacy and with room to move. A place to cook, write, read and such, on my own schedule. A place to call home. However, at the same time, being committed to paying rent, truly scares the heck out of me.
Paying rent, and the other bills that go with it means living a more traditional, and therefore more socially acceptable life. It means giving up ones freedom, and becoming tied to a job, for ex-number hours a week, twelve-months a year, with maybe only a week or two off here and there (if I’m lucky). I’m not opposed to working, I’m actually a very hard worker and prefer to really get stuck in and do a good job. What troubles me is the lack of time I’d have to enjoy this amazing world and all it has to offer.
Paying rent means money worries nearly all the time. I have financial worries now, and I don’t pay hardly any rent ($25.00 a week, for the cabin I stay in during the winter, but only when I actually stay there, and only to help with the water and heat that I use).
Paying rent means giving up my freedom, it means giving up impromptu travels to Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, and anywhere else I might want to go. It also means limiting my hiking to my days off, and becoming a weekend warrior instead of hiking four times or more a week.
Paying rent will mean that I will have to set an alarm clock in the morning, wear a watch, and schedule my time around someone else’s schedule and needs.
To be honest, I’m not sure that having a home is worth all the worries it entails, and the freedom it takes away. I mean… I’ve managed just fine without one, and boy, have I had some fun times with the money I didn’t spend on rent and other household bills! I’ve travelled for months on end, taken some wonderful pictures which are now for sale on my web page, experienced some scary moments in slot canyons, and achieved things I never thought I could do. I’ve tested my mettle in difficult situations, woken to an array of different sunrises, sunsets and views, met all sorts of people, and the list goes on. I mean…I’VE LIVED, but if I’d been paying rent, I may not have done any of these things.
So I find myself struggling with the idea of having a home again. I need a job for a while regardless of whether I continue living in my vehicle, or pay rent, and especially because Mitzi needs some work done to her, so the job search is a given… but I just don’t know if I really, really, want to have a home again…
What a dilemma… do I follow my heart? or do I give it a try and see how it goes?
Sigh… I suppose time will produce the answer. Until then…
Struggling with the thought of paying rent, Homeless Gal
On Sunday, a Missouri street church that serves hot meals to the homeless was honored with a front-page feature in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. On Monday, city health department officials took notice and told the group to immediately cease handing out food.
A week ago, I decided to sleep by my camp fire on the ground, with just a ground cloth and my Thermarest pad and sleeping bag. It was cold, and the sky was half clear, and half cloudy.
I gazed up at the stars to my east and watched the top of the pine trees sway with the breeze. My face was cold, and my body warm in my down sleeping bag. The trees swooshed in the breeze, the fire popped and crackled, I drifted off to sleep.
A loud screech startled me from slumber ~ A screech owl.
I drifted back to sleep.
A hot flash woke me, Phew! Legs were thrown akimbo out of the bag, arms flailed up above my head, my sleeping bag barely stayed on the ground cloth, let alone my body! (Yes, I’m THAT age). The cold air felt WONDERFUL!
Brrrrr, cold….. freezing. Bag comes back on. I think it’s around 25 degrees F.
Drift off the sleep again….
A hard spot develops under the pad, I shift… I shift again… I bend my knees up to ease my lower back, but the Thermarest pad is slippery, my sleeping bag is slippery, and my feet just slide back down again. I cross my feet at the ankle, the best I can do.
I drift off to sleep again…
Then I am slapped in the face by the edge of the ground cloth, which had been thrown up by a steadily increasing wind…
I drift off again…
Suddenly I am wide awake as many tiny, cold and hard things hit me in the face. It was like having tiny rocks dumped on me.I opened my eyes and realized I was being pummeled by grapple, hard pieces of snow that aren’t quite hail. Ouch!
I’d had enough! Time to climb into Mitzi and instead of gazing at the sky, I listened to grappel hit the roof.
Safe, warm, and dry… the inside of my vehicle always feels like home.
Although I didn’t get much sleep, it was wonderful, and I will have to do it more often…
Until next time…
Getting ready for the onslaught of winter,
I’m on a bit of a beef about low wages and how Capitalism makes millions, and billions, while their employees are having to file for food stamps even after working 40-hours a week. You will understand why I’m ticked off, once I start writing about this past summer again, in the meantime, please check this out:
This is about how McDonalds pays their staff, and how they suggest their staff make-it financially on the measly paycheck they get:
And this is about Walmart ~
Right on!! Walmart employees and their supporters are staging a nationwide boycott on Black Friday, November 29. Walmart is one of the nation’s biggest opponents of raising wages, despite being one of the world’s most highly profitable corporations. Worse, each Walmart store has been shown to cost taxpayers upwards of $1 million per year in government assistance that their employees must qualify for to survive. Please share this image to let your friends know about this important action!
Image by the campaign to Raise The Minimum Wage. Please join us by giving our page a “like”!
Adding insult to injury, Walmart stores will remain open on Thanksgiving Day, which means that their employees WON’T be able to have dinner with their families that night. When does the greed stop?
Homeless Gal…. more to come…
I promise I’m going to get back to some more personal stuff soon, it’s been… well… a different kind of summer.
In the meantime, please visit this page:
See what Matt Damon has to say, it will blow your mind.
I will write soon… I promise…
Go here to watch a video about a guy who turned a dumpster into a home. I think it would be plenty big enough and luxurious enough for myself, especially after living in a car.
What do you think?
Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, I got a job, and well… I haven’t had time. However, I hope to do some catch-up pretty soon.
Bye for now, Homeless Gal
Last night I was laying in the back of Mitzi, watching a movie, and munching on salt and vinegar potato chips, when I sensed something outside my vehicle.
When I looked up, I saw a med-sized black bear approaching my vehicle slowly and his nose was twitching like crazy. I stopped my movie, and opened the door a crack to let the bear know that I was watching him. He paused for a moment and we made eye contact, he sniffed, then he started to move towards the front of my vehicle, still keeping the same distance. As he passed by the front of Mitzi, he stopped again, and looked back over his shoulder. There was a look of longing in his eyes. Longing to get a closer look at what that delicious smell was, and a longing to taste it.
However, he was smart enough to know that he wouldn’t have much chance of getting a free meal while a human was inside the vehicle.
The bear sauntered off up the driveway of my friends house (where I was parked), and went to the tree that my friend always hung bird feeders in though the winter. He climbed the tree, but ended up being a very disappointed bear, as my friend had taken down the bird feeders just the week before, specifically so that the bears couldn’t get at them.
The bear scrambled back down the tree, and sauntered into the woods.
I thought it was interesting that this happened when it did, because just the day before I’d been joking with someone about how I hadn’t been visited in my vehicle yet, by a bear.
As I write this post (It’s actually July 27 now), there is now a big 500 lb. male black bear roaming the same area. He has been tearing open big green dumpsters like candy bars, and causing havoc. Unfortunately, that bear will probably have to be trapped and removed, as he has also been getting a little aggressive with humans. After hearing the stories and seeing pictures of the bigger bear, all I can say is, I’m glad that wasn’t the bear that visited my vehicle that night.
Until next time…
Keeping one eye open for bears, Homeless Gal
By not living in a traditional home, I have my breakfast or morning coffee sitting by a pond, with a river flowing just on the other side of the pond. I watch the kingfishers dive, the swallows swoop, and the ducks and geese make a lot of noise as they chase each other around the pond. On cool mornings, I watch the mist rise, and swirl, and dance, as the first rays of sunlight reach out to warm the earth.
By not living in a traditional home, I make my lunch on the tail gate of Mitzi, and then sit by a different river to eat it. This is on my lunch break from work of course, but if I’m not at work, I’ll still be sitting in some beautiful spot somewhere else, guaranteed.
By not living in a traditional home, I often sit by the lake while I eat my supper. Sometimes I just sit in the middle of a meadow, or cook a meal in a picnic area where I can make use of the picnic table, and (hopefully) bear-proof trash containers.
Sometimes I feel so lucky to have so many incredibly diverse areas to eat.
Hopefully, when I have a home again, I’ll still remember to still visit these spots of joy, and beauty, and not become bound to my kitchen sink and stove.
Until next time…
Lucky to be eating all my meals amid nature’s beauty, Homeless Gal
A couple of weeks ago I received a request from our local food bank to come in as there were some things they wanted to discuss with me.
I was told that the form they had given me to fill out as proof that I am a resident here in this little mountain town, was no longer going to be considered acceptable by the Church or Churches that runs the food bank. Instead, they said they would only accept a rental lease, or the persons name on an electricity bill or such.
Yes, you heard me right – The Church told this little food bank DON’T FEED THE HOMELESS ANY MORE!
That was what they had called me in for, to tell me that I could no longer receive food, or any other assistance, unless I could fulfill their requirements.
The two people (one is a Manager and I’m not sure about the other), then started to ask questions about my choice of lifestyle, and why I choose to live this way. They wanted to understand why someone would choose to live in their vehicle, over getting low-income housing, or going on welfare and getting other assistance from the government. They wanted to get an understanding of what type of person chooses to live the way I have done for the past six years, rather than turning to the system for help. I think they feel bad that they are no longer able to offer assistance to the few people in this town that are technically homeless, and who need a small amount of help from time to time, but are basically self-sufficient and are willing to go to extreme’s to get by without depending on the government to help them.
Another reason is that they have had a few people knocking on their doors recently that are in a similar circumstance to myself, and I they have been forced to turn them away. These people only want a little bit of help; basically just a few staples to help with their grocery bill, but prefer to camp or live in their car instead of spending money on rent. As with myself, this then gives them a chance to save some of the money they have earned, instead of handing it directly over to someone else and never getting ahead. (It’s impossible to save when you’re paying rent, and only get paid minimum, or a little above minimum wage).
We talked for a while, and I did my best to explain why I choose to live this way, and why I choose to stay in this little town despite its problems. I also told them about some of the other people I know (no names mentioned, of course) that live this lifestyle. One of them is a gentleman who lives entirely on Social Security, and the odd job for cash. His monthly check is not enough for him to be able to afford a home year-round, so he rents a cheap motel in the winter, and camps in the summer. This gentleman has worked all his life, and most of his jobs were for the government. As with many Americans his SS isn’t adequate. This man in very intelligent, has worked as a First Responder, and has worked in Search and Rescue for the park service, and who knows what else. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t do drugs, he isn’t mentally ill, he doesn’t put other people down, he volunteers in a variety of ways to help other people and causes. He is a good, honest, American, that has worked hard all his life, and now in his retirement years, can’t afford to live in his own country. This man, who has supported this community, and even saved lives in this very town, would be turned away at the door, if he were to go and ask for food from the food bank.
That is the kind of person that lives the way I do.
I too am an honest person, I don’t do drugs, I don’t steal, I’m not a criminal, or mentally ill (though some might argue with this comment, ha ha), I work hard when I can, I’m clean, I volunteer at different places from time to time, at Christmas I ring the bell for the Salvation Army when its below zero outside, I do no harm to anyone, I don’t ask for Welfare or other government assistance, even though I’m entitled to it, etc. etc. Basically I’m just an honest, American citizen, but because I don’t have a permanent home, I don’t fit into the ‘socially acceptable’ category, and am therefore considered unworthy of food assistance from a CHURCH, OF ALL PLACES!
You see, its not just me, and its not just this town, or this Church, it is a problem far greater than that. This problem extends through every town, in every county, and every State, throughout the entire United States. There is a huge gap in the system, a gap that the government, and some Churches, and plenty of people, choose to ignore, or push aside and pretend that it isn’t there. But it is there, IT IS HERE, and it’s a huge problem, and with things the way they are these days this gap is just going to get bigger and bigger. It won’t go away until it is addressed, and this group of people who don’t quite fit into the social boundaries laid out by society, are recognized as real people with rights, people who deserve to be treated with dignity. And if they have chosen to live a lifestyle that doesn’t burden the system even more than it already does, shouldn’t that be recognized as a positive, selfless move, rather than a negative ONE?
What do YOU think?
Okay, so now I’ve had my say I’ll end with this. I’m officially homeless. I can not get help from the system, unless I get help from the system by letting them pay for part of my housing, or spending all my earnings on rent. It seems a bit screwed up to me, but you know what, I’m okay with it. I started a job a couple of weeks ago, and I don’t ask for food when I have money coming in. I may even have a home starting on July 1st, but you know what, I won’t be signing a lease, so I still won’t be able to prove I’m a resident, but it doesn’t matter. I can manage without their help at this time in my life. I don’t need much, and I can do just fine on very little.
So I sleep in the back of my car, gaze out at the wonderful view of snow-capped mountains, wake when the sun shines into my vehicle at 5:30 am, and life is wonderful, and I’m so, very, very, lucky to have what I have.
Until next time…
Managing just fine without any help from the system, Homeless Gal
I received this email today (below) – Please visit their web page ~ maybe you can help too:
Dear Homeless gal, I work as a community organizer and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, currently focused on changing the policies for unaccompanied homeless youth. I am interested in connecting with you and finding ways to work together, I would be very interested in posting some of your blog entries in our blog and website www.mahomeless.org we need to change policies and eradicate youth homelessness but we need the help of people like you, we can’t do it without your support. Email me if you are interested. Thanks a lot! I love your blog. In solidarity.
Homelessness is often misunderstood by the general population. Not all homeless people are bums, or lazy, or mentally ill. I have friends who are homeless simply because their social security check isn’t big enough to live off, and that is after a lifetime of working in and/or serving their country. I have little doubt that I will be one of those people when I’m forced to retire.
In recent times many people have lost jobs, and homes, and it’s very hard to get back on one’s feet once a person runs out of money. Just to rent a place a person needs to have first and last months deposit. It can take a long time to save up that kind of money once a person gets a job again, especially when they still have to feed, clothe and protect, a child, or children, and what do they do in the meantime?
Children have no control over their situations, and there are thousands of homeless children in this country. We raise money for children in other countries that are strife with poverty, we are drawn to pictures of skinny, bronze-colored children, with big dark eyes, and our compassion goes out to them, and our wallets open. However, America also has thousands of homeless children and youth, which is not only sad, but outrageous, considering we are one of the richest countries in the world.
There are a lot of people out there trying to help the homeless, all you have to do is type the word ‘Homeless’ into your web browser, and you will find many organizations that are trying to help the homeless right here in America.
Please take a moment to do a search, and if you don’t have time for that, then just click on the link in the first paragraph above, and start helping today.
And if you don’t have time to do that, maybe you can at least re-post this blog post, or share it on your favorite social network, or share/post any web page helping the homeless. Every bit helps.
Until next time…
Hoping you’ll spread the word about homelessness, Homeless Gal