Friday, March 31, 2023

Dreams Die Hard.8

Hope and faith are the two things that keep me going. When you make as many stupid mistakes in life as I have hope and faith is all that keeps you alive. Admittedly, hoping that I could do things is probably what got me into trouble. But, hope is also what gave me the guts to even try to do some of the things I have done. My faith in God has always given me faith in myself. My faith in God has always given me hope.

I was an over the road trucker for 35 years. You would think that I have had enough of the traveling life. But, truckers will say that once trucking is in your blood you will always be a trucker. After 35 years of driving past, through, or near things that I did not have time to stop and see, I want to find out what I have missed. 

But, my health, age and income has raised a barrier that I may never be able to cross. It is now 2023. I am 74 years old. In 2002 I had a quadruple heart bypass surgery. In 2009 I had to retire for physical health reasons. 

To cut this episode short my future plans are simple and as follows: warmer weather is just around the corner. Spring has sprung, trees are starting to bloom, and birds are more active. I am doing much needed minor repairs on my van. On April 25 I will be in Oklahoma City for a doctor appointment. I hope to stay in OKC for a couple of days at work with my camera. I have already moved out of hibernation and hope to be shooting photos in state parks soon. Hopefully, I will get chances to meet people using the camp grounds and photograph them and their equipment. I should probably start with places in western Oklahoma.


Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Dreams Die Hard.7

Photographing the community parks soon led to a desire to explore more of what Nevada has to offer. I soon began to venture outside of the valley and I read all I could about parks and camping. I realized that I was smack in the middle of some of the best BLM campgrounds in the entire country. And, I began to understand that although I had a small circle of friends I was not a people person. I had actually been a loner most of my life. Solitude was my best friend.

At the same time that all of my photography ideas were swimming around in my head the desire to travel led me to hunt for a vehicle to travel and camp in. I wound up with the conversion van I now have. I figured it would suit me fine. I was wrong, but what I had was better than being homeless.


Life happens, and lessons are learned along the way. I now know that my back will not allow me to do a full-time van life in a vehicle I cannot stand upright in. I have also learned that when living off-grid it is impossible to stay healthy without the right equipment. In a 2-year period, I lost 40+ pounds and was so sick and weak that I could hardly get around. I loved the van life. I just was not physically fit to do it.

So, I am now back to living in an apartment, trying to rebuild my photography website, making some repairs and changes to my van, and planning for what will be the best way for me to get back on the road.

Looking south into Death Valley from


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Dreams Die Hard.6

Las Vegas Blvd. at Tropicana Ave.
Yes, I will feed the slots in Vegas. But, I am too cheap to call myself an avid gambler. Luckily, I got shed of the gambling bug on my second WESPAC cruise back in 1971. About halfway thru the cruise, I started loaning money to other gamblers instead of shooting craps and playing poker. That was much more lucrative.

So, why Las Vegas? I was born and raised in a small town in Western Oklahoma and still prefer the open country. But,the only things, still, that there is to do in small-town America are fish, hunt, play baseball, football, or basketball, andget drunk. After that, life is boring in a small town. The lights of the city are a natural calling card for anyone who is bored of the life they live. So, once I entered the over-the-road trucking industry in 1974 it was no wonder that I was impressed with every city that I traveled through, especially Las Vegas. I was captivated on my first visit to this city by the lights coming on at sundown. The people, casinos, shops, and just the street scene, well, I guess I fell in love with the city on my first walk down The Strip.  I guess I left my heart in Las Vegas on my first visit.

I spent several days and nights in Las Vegas over the years, but it was 22 years later that I made my first attempt to live there. It was during the aftermath of my second divorce that I moved to Las Vegas. I had spent 8 months attending a vo-tech school learning to run a printer. I found a job my first full day in Las Vegas, but that job only lasted less than two months. I got nervous when I could not find another job in a short time and headed back to Oklahoma, and I was back on the road driving truck again. It was 16 years later when I retired from my trucking career before I made my second attempt to live in Las Vegas. Since then I have actually lived in the Las Vegas Valley a total of three times in the past 12 years. Each time that I returned to Oklahoma was due to a family situation. Once the problem was solved at home I was soon on my way back to the Las Vegas Valley. I have now been in Oklahoma since November 2019.

It was in May of 2021 that I made my last move to live in Las Vegas. About a week after I arrived I went for a drive and wound up stopping and climbing a small mountain up City View Trail. (You can read an article I wrote about my climb of City View Trail here.) And, this was the beginning of my photographic project and my desire to live in my van to travel and photograph as many national, state, regional, and community parks as I possibly could. It was also another beginning of my learning about myself.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Dreams Die Hard.5


These days I worry a lot about whether I can save or earn the money to do what I want and need to do. At my age, 74, I have a lot of physical and medical issues that will keep me out of the workforce. I have spent a huge amount of my adulthood as a truck driver. I have injuries that include a deteriorating spine and I have recently had eye surgery that now seems to point to the fact that my vision will never return to 100% in my left eye. Right now it seems that my vision in my left eye is at about 50% of normal on good days. And, it seems I also have some problems with short-term memory loss. So, how do I hope to deal with these issues and do what I want and need to do?

Imagine you were a college basketball player that dreamed of turning pro. Imagine you had spent 4 years leading your team to the national championships every year. How would you feel if, when the time came and you were offered a contract, you were driving to meet the people and sign a contract and you were involved in a car crash and woke up in a hospital with only one leg?

It was actually a lifelong dream of mine to become a professional photographer. I will not dwell on the many times, years, and attempts I made to just begin working toward this dream. But, in 2009 I retired from a 35-year career as a truck driver due to health issues. In 2012 I relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, and spent several months just exploring the city. In 2013 I moved back to Oklahoma, took the plunge, bought some camera equipment, and began shooting at a local park, shooting local sports and other events. In 2015 I lost 140k photo files due to a computer glitch. I have saved the hard drive from that computer and hope to find someone who can find those files on that drive and save them for me. In 2017 I returned to Las Vegas and began shooting on a project that I had become interested in and pushed me to get out and walk for exercise several times a week. I began shooting community, regional, state, and national parks in and near the Las Vegas Valley. Plus, I started getting interested in trying to live in my van, travel, camp, and photograph every park that I could.

Since 2012 I have lived in the Las Vegas Valley three times for approximately 6 years, returning to Oklahoma only for family reasons. I have tried to relocate to the LVV three times since late February of 2021. When the pandemic struck in Las Vegas it appears to me that the LVV housing market went bonkers. I have spent over $6k in these three efforts to no avail.

My next posting I will talk about why I want to return to the Las Vegas Valley. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Dreams Die Hard.4


While I am looking toward what will probably be a long hot summer in Oklahoma for me I am also looking forward to being able to save the money to relocate back to southern Nevada. When I first moved into my apartment 4.5 months ago I accepted the fact that I might have to take 1.5 years or more to accomplish what I need to do before heading west again. Meanwhile, I have a lot of computer work ahead of me.

So, why southern Nevada? Southern Nevada is not my 1st choice, but it is my best choice. Southern Nevada is actually central to the parts of this country that I most want to photograph. And, I already have almost 4 years of a photography project working there, with at least two more years of work left on this project. My work involves photographing parks, preserves, trails, memorials, monuments, and museums. and wildlife. Southern Nevada is where my friends live. Southern Nevada is largely BLM land, campers paradise. I love the southern Nevada weather. But, I cannot afford to live in my first choice, southern California, specifically around Oceanside, California.

All photographs in this article are samples of my work in Southern Nevada.


Saturday, March 4, 2023

Dreams Die Hard.3


The Bare Minimum: Jackery 240, Jackery 500, and a Jackery 100 watt solar panel. I also have a Predator 2000 Inverter.


In the past 3 years, sometimes out of necessity but often thru my own desires, I have spent around 30% of my time living in my van. The time in my van, more or less, was a test to see if I wanted to live in my van on a permanent basis or not. I like the life. Currently, my body doesn’t agree with me, but I can be a weekend warrior. And, when Spring arrives I hope to be doing just that.

As a weekend warrior I need enough room in my van for a minimum of clothes, a bed and blankets, storage for food, my laptop, my camera equipment, and my guitar. With this stuff, and a few tools for minor repairs, I am set for a 2 to 4 day outing. I can camp at a fishing hole or pull into a truck stop for the night.

BUT, my plans for the future is that, if I can produce the income, I am currently thinking of either buying a small RV or a pickup truck and small travel trailer. I still have a dream of living rather long lengths of time off grid. Dreams Die Hard.