Fall in the San Juans


We call this little bus home. She carries everything we own, everything we need. She takes us up small side roads that are steep with slow travel.

We don’t have much money. Hell, we don’t have much anything, really, besides joy and anticipation.

These last three years have been a journey of learning, hundreds of lessons in the art of living well. The less you need, and the fewer expectations you have, the more fulfilled and joyful you are.



Fall is the most cerebral season.

It’s a time of contraction and inner reflection. The air becomes thin, our bodies bundle up under layers, and energy is sluggish and scarce.

Now, imagination is rich. We project onto a fading landscape vibrant ideas of regrowth. Now is when we cut back our foliage and surplus energy, so we are ripe and ready when there is warmth enough to expand.


Change is the only constant in life.

Take the trees. Each day, they fade into different colors. Eventually, they will stand bare.

Matter is in continuous flux, an endless energy swip-swap. Because this is true, we are never, ever allowed to be bored.



“How is it that trees never desire to move, to run?” I asked. “How can they sit stationary for lifetimes and lifetimes and never long to leave?”

“Maybe trees are the most highly evolved form of life,” James answered. “Wise enough to accept that there is only here and now.”

We looked up into the aspens and pondered their patience, as the chlorophyll drained slowly from their leaves. They gave no hint of hearing my question, only shimmied and glittered in the crisp fall wind.



The bus is our cozy little cabin in the woods. Mornings are small and steam rises from the kettle as frost melts from the wild strawberry plants outside.

We go Dutch on brewed coffee, because we only have a little bit left and town is a long ways away.

We drink it black in the cinnamon morning, the Canada geese flying overhead to wintering grounds. Looking out our bay window, I see summer lying down to sleep, with the yellow leaves of aspens as a blanket.



Life is a beautiful process of dying. From the moment we’re born, our cells begin to deteriorate.

Our time on earth is so short, our moments limited to a single lifespan.

Why not be happy? But even more than happy, why not be joyful, passionate? Why not live? Why not wake each bright new morning, so sizzling with the fat of life that you crackle and burn and almost explode with all the big and small things that make life miraculous?


5 responses to “Fall in the San Juans”

  1. Randy Duncan says:

    Rachel and James…
    A friend sent me the link to your website today; I’d never heard of it before. It was a ray of sunshine that is bringing tears to my eyes as I type.
    I’m in a dark place in my life right now; have been for a little while now. That’s the result of aging, sometimes, and allowing oneself to lose the race to rats.
    Reading your blog and looking at the photos of the places you’ve been — I too have seen Autumn in the San Juans, I’ve trekked the bottom Dakota, I’ve felt the world move on the edge of Black Canyon, I’ve spent rainy mornings walking through the Montana glaciers — filled me with a longing that I didn’t honestly think anyone else still felt.
    Thank you.
    When I was your age, a long time ago, I called what you are doing “becoming Experienced”. I didn’t think anyone looked for it anymore, and to find out that I was so wrong makes me happier than I’ve been for a long time.
    I will follow your journey now. And though we will probably never meet, please know that there’s one old dreamer in the Mid-South who wishes you nothing but well. Here’s to good skies and a full tank of gas; take care of yourselves, and see all that you can.
    May the gods bless you, and go with Love.

  2. wordhtml says:

    Guys what you do is so inspiring. I’d like to get out of the rat race and go explore the World because there are so many beautiful places to see.

    I have one advice for you. I have noticed that you upload large images on the pages which make the website load very slow. Make sure you resize the images and optimize them for the web before uploading. Try to stay under 150KB per image.
    Maybe this article will help: http://badhtml.com/prepare-images-for-web-jpg-gif-png/#white

  3. Mark Farnham says:


    It’s never too late to experience your youth again and leave the rat race behind at least for a short period of time. Recapture your youth by heading back to the San Juans and I’m sure those years of your youth will return and you’ll forget about the aging that’s ahold of you currently. Remember it’s never too late to change directions! Good luck and I hope you can be “experienced” once again!

    • Rachel says:


      Yes! It is never ever too late to live! Every day is a new opportunity to create the life you love, and it is always possible.

      Thank you for your encouraging spirit. People like you are so needed.



  4. It is so nice to see a young couple pursuing a travel lifestyle. I have been on the road now for 6 years. Done as a way to live and travel full time in retirement. Spent some time in Durango in late summer and toured quite a bit in the same area you are showing with fall colors. My lovely wife was with me at that time.


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