VW Bus Adventures — Kisatchie to Homochitto

We hope you enjoy The Journey into nature.  Fair Winds and Happy Travels!

.V.. (Peace) & Love,

GVR

Living In the Moment — Mother Earth’s Papaya Tree

Like so many folks nowadays, I find myself longing to spread my wings and fly out into a vast world of discovery and adventure.  In my own reality, I’ve been a nomadic spirit for as long as I can remember, so it’s nothing new to me.

Back when I was young, before school-age, I would pretend I was trekking through a jungle with the natives of some far-away land.  I loved to climb trees, swing upside down, swim, flip and dive…forwards and backwards, from any high-dive I encountered.  I look back on that little girl with the adventurous spirit, and I can see where she has been lost many times along the way of this journey that is my life.

Even now…as I sit writing this, I long to jump in my old VW ‘Adventure’ Van, and bump on down the road a-piece…to where ever we choose to set-up camp for the night…a week…a month.  The only thing keeping us rooted here–like the papaya tree in my garden–is our lack of financial freedom.  We’re working on it, but we’re not there…yet!  :  /

Like the tropical beauty of that papaya tree–which must’ve been a gift from Mother Earth, since I cannot take credit for its sowing–spreading its shallow roots…fruiting where it grows, I find myself blooming where ever I am planted.  Though, unlike the papaya tree, I am not content to be firmly rooted in this spot forever…or ’til the end of my days.

I look back on our wandering days with pure happiness and the fondest of memories.  That is the only time in my life that I can honestly say I was where I wanted to be.  I was happy.  I was everywhere the wind blew us, and the winding road led us.   I was freer than I’ve ever been since…or before.

Such freedom was our goal five years ago when we sold it all…moved out of our lovely rock house (that we were merely renting), put all of our keepsakes in storage, and headed on down the road…bound for nowhere in particular at the time.

Since then, we’ve moved around like a band of gipsies (hence the nickname ‘GypsyVin Rose, given to us by friends and folks we met in our travels (Vin Rose being our daughter’s middle name)), as I believe we are all gypsies at heart.  We first ventured out in our home state; to the Guadalupe River, camping in our old girl ‘Peniki’.  See VW Road Trip to New Braunfels.

We’ve traversed miles and miles…and miles in our classic hippie bus — living, loving, and laughing in our Peniki VW Campervan.  Through many states…adventuring down to Key West and back again; staying near-a-month in paradise.  Traipsing through Louisiana’s swampy bayous and national forests; smelling some of the freshest air I’ve ever smelled.  –Ever…!

Playing on the white sandy beaches of the Mississippi gulf shores, and surviving the remains of a water spout come-ashore while camping at Buccaneer Park.  Riding bikes on Dauphin Island in Alabama; witnessing history in the old forts that survived to tell a tale.  Passing through Florabama; ecstatic to know we were on the same soil where Jimmy Buffett had his One Love One Ocean concert…following the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   We wanted to stop, but we were bound for the next camping spot.  I wish now…we had stayed awhile; had a bite to eat or something.

So many places…we ventured for most of that year.  It made selling our stuff, material possessions, so much-more worth it when we were out there on the road, giving in to Wanderlust.  Unlike the papaya tree –even though I am forever grateful to Mother Earth for such a Blessing– this is not my last stop…if I have anything to do with it.

I long to feel the wind in my locs, as we bump down the road, closer…closer, but further and further still.  So far from where this little suburban girl pretended to trek through a foreign jungle, yet so much closer to our next great adventure.  I’ll be sure to pack plenty of papaya before I go.

*Be true to yourself…and set your spirit free*

Florida Keys Camping for $20 a Night!

Have VW Hippie Van…Will Travel!

*Click on Pic for more…*

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Leaving The Florida Keys

Three weeks had gone by like a blink of an eye, and our stay in the Florida Keys was coming to an end.  It was time to start heading back to Tejas.  Even though we would’ve loved to stay in the Keys forever, we had obligations with the coming of our first grandchild.  Sometimes life just works out that way I guess.

And while the anticipation of a baby is usually a happy time, our’s was bitter-sweet, as our grand baby’s father had been murdered when my daughter was just two months pregnant.  It was a traumatic experience for her, to say the least.  So, while we’d been gone for almost two months, we had known all along that we would have to be there for her in her last trimester.  She had been spending time with her dad and brother in the time we’d been gone.  She was safe–of this we were sure.

So…the morning came when we sorted through the belongings we’d somehow accumulated in three weeks’ time, and begun to rid our ourselves of the things we knew we couldn’t carry and were sure one of our new friends could use.  T.J. was glad to take the small TV we’d been using for Baby.

We said our good-byes after the van was packed to the gills, and headed back up Overseas Highway; hoping to make it past Homestead by nightfall.  I sat quietly in my ‘copilot’s’ seat until the tears began to fall.  I could not contain my sadness for leaving this place we’d called home for almost a month.  To me…it felt more like home than the place to where we were returning.  I was overcome with grief.  Nico held my hand, comforting me from where he sat.

The scene was always like a dream: the endless miles of beautiful aqua blue water, the historic railroad bridge beside Bahia Honda State Park, the old abandoned Overseas Highway that is now used more for a footbridge or for bicyclists.  I was in love with this place for its quiet calmness, peaceful waters, even the ‘sometimes stinky’ mangrove swamp.

We had bonded with Key West the evening we sang at the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square.  I remember, as we walked to our first gig as Street Performers, looking down at the well-worn and weathered brick streets in Old Towne…thinking how I’d love to walk barefoot on them.  The pirates who’d come to Key West hundreds of years before had walked those same streets.  I was fascinated by the idea of walking in their same steps.  Hopeless romantic…I am!

One thing I know for sure — I will always treasure our time in The Florida Keys and the nice people we met, the friendships we formed.  There is a special place in my heart reserved just for Key West and Sugarloaf Key.  To me….they will always feel like home.  I pray someday…soon, the wind will catch our sails and we will find ourselves there once again.  A girl can dream…a girl can pray.

.V..

Playing the Sunset Celebration in Key West

So…we’d set-up to play the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square there in Key West.  We’d never done the ‘street performer’ gig before, so we had no idea what to expect.  After being directed into a nice spot near the water’s edge, we began belting out a few of our tunes; not sure if anyone was listening at the time.

I have to admit, without any sort of amplifier or speakers, it was all I could do not to strain a vocal chord to two.  But we managed to get through it all just fine.  In fact, Nico did wonderfully and seemed to fit right into that sort of scene.  With my soft voice, I can’t be so sure anyone ever even heard me, much less have an opinion.

But there was one man who did seem to have something to say, and a few folks stood close by listening as best they could while we sang the sun into the ocean.  The nice man told us “You have great spirit.”  We took it as a compliment since he and his wife had been listening to our show for quite some time.  Click on link below to see hightlights from our performance on Mallory Square.

Video:  ‘Flaminco Sunset’ by Gypsy Vin Rose

All in all, we had a great time–it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I wouldn’t change it for the world!  And the next time we head back down to Key West and the Florida Keys, I look forward to going back out to Mallory Spuare and singing my heart out…once again.  After all, I have nothing to fear…and nothing to lose.

.V..

GVR

www.gypsyvinrose.com

 

Party in The Florida Keys

Party at Mangrove Mama’s:

There are a few things I know I’ll never forget about our 3 weeks in the Florida Keys, and the Party we attended at Mangrove Mama’s on Sugarloaf Key is definitely one of them.  We’d been invited by the owner earlier in the week, when Nico just happened to be introduced to him at the KOA Bar…in the campground next to LL.  He’d gone to the store for something and, as luck would have it, ran into a few friends from LL, who were enjoying their 4 o’clock refreshments.

Needless to say, Nico and the owner of Mangrove’s hit it off and we were accepted into the rather tight-knit circle of friends/acquaintances on Sugarloaf Key.  According to Nico, the party would be a benefit auction for a friend of Mangrove’s owner…who’d just-recently passed away.  He was an artist…and so, they’d be auctioning off his works to raise cash for this, that, and the other.  Either way, it was for a good cause, and the food and drinks were ‘on the house’.  How could we refuse?

No…really!  Since Mangrove Mama’s was classified more as a restaurant than a bar, we felt it was safe to take Baby, and lo-and-behold, she wasn’t the only kid there.  I was a bit worried we might be walking into an environment not suited for our little one.  But in the end, it all turned out to be a fun night…minus a few mis-haps and misgivings on the part of a few drunks and loud-mouths.  It seems…there’s always one (or two) in every crowd.

All in all, we danced to a bongo band called the ‘Margarejects’…laughed with new-found friends, and made it safely home at a reasonable hour…across Overseas Highway and back to Lazy Lakes.  In the end, Nico and I both had to admit “They really do know how to party in The Florida Keys!”  What a blast we had with the local Conchs!  I hope we can see them again…someday soon.

Video: Party at Magrove Mama’s

..V. ~~ www.gypsyvinrose.com

Hippies on Duval Street in the Florida Keys

Okay, so we’d been lingering a lot on Sugarloaf Key and not had too much time for Key West until…  Until we decided we had to know more of the island that our friend T.J. swore to us was ‘much better than we’d so far experienced’.  *not word for word*  We knew we’d have to make a day of it and, once and for all, see it for ourselves; Duval Street…Southernmost Point and everything in between.

In no time at all, Peniki was blaring down Overseas Highway at 55 mph and we were once again on Key West.  This time, we’d left our bikes back at Lazy Lakes and opted to go afoot.  We tried to think like the local Conchs and check out the ‘not so touristy’ spots where, in our opinions, the local-focal were likely to frequent.  In our search, we ended up at a little outdoor bistro with a tropical setting like no other we’d seen anywhere near Duval…complete with talking birds.  One Mango Daquiri later, I was sure we’d made the right decision by choosing to take a more intimate look at Key West and Duval Street.  We were fast becoming friends with the Florida Keys.