Van Life Diaries. Week 2.

On week two of our 90 day road trip, we made it across the Colorado border and into New Mexico. Discover what the second week of cannabis infused, van life was like for a couple of Southwest xennials.

sky, clouds, sunrise, van life, full time van livingVan Life Day 8: The sunrise here was just as amazing as the night’s sky the evening before. I threw on my boots and went out to shoot again in the morning. The sky was full of color and the vanabus looked like it was meant to be in the forefront of the shots. We took a little hike later in the morning and played with P-Moe before heading to the Joyful Journey Hot Springs and the Great Sand Dunes.

Another day with a lot of driving and the vanabus is showing signs of needing something major done. She is losing power now and is starting to sound rough. Damien has checked all of the fluids, but thinks it may be time for a new intake manifold gasket and to seal off one of the gas tanks and to re-route the fuel line for the generator.

Stash Logix, Telluride bag, cannabis at the hot springs
Stash Logix at Joyful Journey Hot Springs.

Anywho, Joyful Journey Hot Springs was neat. I wouldn’t recommend getting the private soak, as the tub is inside and not working the best. The public, outdoor pools were clean and varied in temperature. We found the hottest tub (furthest from the door) and enjoyed a soak with a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and some tee-pees that are on property. Very calming. On the way out, we stopped at the cannabis friendly gazebo and enjoyed a nice bowl before heading in for a meal on the vanabus.



The Great Sand Dunes were about an hour down the road and we drove parallel to them for at least half of the way. The vanabus acted like it was out of gas again, but it wasn’t. We added some gas and made it to the Dunes.

There was a small river in front of the Dunes that is usually only running in the spring. Since Colorado has hardly gotten any snow or cold, the river was running. There were iced up pieces here and there, so we made our way along those to get to the bottom of the giant hills of sand. Being there off-season was pretty nice since there were a lot of people there. Damien sort of slid down one of the dunes, but it wasn’t steep enough for a real slide (I was slightly terrified). It was steep enough though, that he couldn’t get back up and had to meet me a ways down.



We seshed at the Dunes, took pictures and felt the love between us before heading back. Another snack and we rode into the longest sunset we have ever seen. It was perfectly romantic.

longestsunsetNew Mexico arrived just an hour later and we were excited to be in a new state. It felt like our trip was real all over again. We got into Taos in the evening and pulled the vanabus into Genevieve’s driveway, our housing host, via Airbnb, (book her place HERE) for the next couple of days.

The staircase was steep and narrow, not giving us any hint of what the top floor apartment looked like. When I peeked over the last step and saw the angled roof and beautiful bed, I knew we were going to feel right at home. I walked out onto the balcony and saw our vanabus sitting there, happy for a rest too. The land of Enchantment. We were here.


Van Life Day 9: Lots of sleep and catching up on work happened this morning. We hardly talked to each other as we intently typed on our computers, caught up on the news and emails and vaped.

Finally, around 2, we pulled ourselves away from the cozy condo on Quesnel Lane and walked a block to the Taos Plaza. We peered through the gates of Kit Carson’s home (it was closed for renovation), ducked into a few local galleries and looked around for a cover for our canna-cabinet, finally finding one in the perfect shade of pink. Getting food was more of a hassle, as the tourist town is asleep during the winter. But, we did find some scrumptious sipping chocolate and mousse at Chokola. Perfect for a chilly, Taos afternoon.

sipping chocolate, hot chocolate, flavored chocolateWe went back to our Airbnb and hung out for the evening, dabbing and smoking bowls on the balcony.

Van Life Day 10: Up and at em early, we felt well rested and ready to continue our journey. Damien made us some coffee in the perfect, little kitchen that overlooked the back yard. I noticed a cardinal (my spirit animal) in the window and felt like I was on the right path.

Dab rig at Taos AirbnbGenevieve came upstairs in the late morning for a sesh and chat. She teaches yoga in town and has lived here her whole life. She has done Airbnb since it started pretty much and has watched it take off in Taos over the past 5 years.

We talked about the cannabis culture of Taos and she told us that the area was a hippy commune back in the 60’s. Many of the people who live in the town today have grown cannabis for decades. I dreamed of 15 foot tall cannabis plants that night.

Van Life Day 11: While we were planning our 90 day road trip, we made a deal. Either of us can pick stops anywhere along the way that we would like; whether that be for sightseeing, activities, and food. Whatever. If one person wants to stop and the other really just doesn’t, they can veto the stop. However, we only have 3 vetoes each. Today I wanted to use one of those vetoes.

Manby Hot Springs was off the beaten path, making it a great place for secluded hot springs. We took the vanabus down a bumpy, riveted, dirt road for about 3 miles (which took about 25 minutes). I was worried about Serendipity, but Damien took it super slow. We got to the trail head and put on our swimsuits, packed a little lunch and headed to take the hike into the Rio Grande Gorge.

Within 10 yards of the trail head, my palms started to sweat. I could see the edge and I was already getting nervous. P-Moe was pulling on his leash because he saw a couple of other dogs up ahead and it felt like I was going to fall right into the Gorge. We were at least 30 feet away. I quickly handed the leash over to Damien and tried to steady my breathing before taking to the steep, narrow and rocky trail down.


Rio Grande River, View from the top, xennial couple

Moments when Damien was admiring the gaping Gorge, I was trying to hold down my lunch. We persisted. He held my hand when I felt like I was going to fall, lead the way when I was ready to quit and showed me the love I needed to feel to get passed my fears and push into the adventure ahead. We made it to the bottom right on the heels of the other dogs. I was so proud of myself.

There were a ton of pups at the hot springs and a ton of people, so we skipped the dip and had our lunch on the river. We packed a bowl and lit it up just as the fiery sun plunged below the mountain top and began to make our way back up.

This is when I wanted to use my veto. If there was a way for me to get out of that Gorge without having to hike, I would have. The cliffs on the way up were way more intimidating than they were on the way down. I scurried up the trail this time, like a scared little puppy dog. We finally pulled off for a sesh when I couldn’t take it anymore and Damien got me to climb a little off the path. Sitting there, on a huge rock, with Damien right there made it all okay. The views were marvelous. You could see the sparkling of the sun onto the Rio Grande River since we were higher now. And the river went on for miles, winding and snaking this way and that.

We made it back up and rode into White Rock, just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. We stayed at the visitor’s center RV Park and they had hook-ups in the parking lot along with a pay station that took debit cards. Not much to look at, but it was a nice option for a quick sleep before heading into Santa Fe in the morning.

Van Life Day 12: The Inn of Five Graces is a Relais Chateaux property and very exquisite. We had the pleasure of having breakfast and taking a tour of the grounds as well as one of the accommodations. Joelle, the woman we were supposed to meet with wasn’t in (and for some reason was off for the day) when we arrived. Instead, a young woman showed us to breakfast and let us know she would be showing us around afterward.

Inn at Five Graces breakfast and patioBreakfast was definitely New Mexican. The waiter made sure we had everything we needed, including a seasonal fruit tray with kumquats, toast for each of us, a never ending French press and plenty of conversation. This was definitely the highlight of the visit.

The tour was a letdown. The young woman who showed us around rushed through all of the outdoor features and was even slightly put off when I stopped to do a boomerang for Instagram (the trade we negotiated when speaking to Joelle).

When we got to the casita, she let me know I was not allowed to take any pictures inside. I had seen tons of pictures of the place before, but when along with it anyway. We walked around the beautiful 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom rental sequined with vibrant colors and beautiful patterns throughout. Nothing was left undone and I could have spent an hour just looking at the ornate bathroom tiling and the railing in the 2nd bedroom.

We stood out on the balcony and I asked the question I always want to know, ‘Can guests consume cannabis here?’ Her answer?



“Yes, as long as it is outdoors. We have guests that use cannabis here sometimes.” We were emailed later and corrected. Cannabis is only permitted on your private balcony or patio, not anywhere on the property.

When the tour was over, she said, “Maybe you could stay here one day too,” insinuating we couldn’t afford to stay there, or so it truly felt. What a horrible way to end the tour.

Rooms start at $400 a night, half of what I’ve paid at another Relais Chateaux property, Dos Brisas. On the bright side, breakfast is included and you probably won’t have to deal with the stuffy front desk woman for more than check-in.

Van Life Day 13: One of our gas tanks is now leaking at the seam. Big time! Damien thinks maybe he can use a repair kit to fix it, but is doubtful since it is such a big leak now. We go to see a guy who refurbishes tanks. The shop is a disaster, with cars everywhere and a freshly spray painted (busted) radiator. The guy isn’t there and he has left his father in charge, who scares us off.

Side note. All the meals were made in the vanabus today!

Van Life Day 14: We lounged around in the same residential neighborhood this morning. Until the police came knocking. Someone had called and complained that we had been parked there for too long. The officer suggested Wal-Mart parking lot instead.

Van life, bed in a van
Photo by: Damien Williams


The work on the vanabus continues. We have a fuel line that is leaking like crazy. Damien replaced all 7 feet of the line. Then we went a picked up a Yuneec Breeze drone. Time to fly! Thanks for the tip on the Wal-Mart parking lot officer, we stayed even though there were signs that said no overnight parking.

Van Life Day 15: With our gas tank leaking and our generator refusing to start, we were ready to hook up for a night. We found Santa Fe Skies RV Park in the outskirts that looked a lot like a State Park, so we decided to bite the bullet and hook up there for the night.

We knew something was wrong right after we plugged in. The circuit breaker kept tripping. The microwave and heaters would shut off. Damien tripped it twice before it started working normally. We looked out of the back window and saw a ton of solar panels. Maybe that’s why it was so wompy.

drone life, schnoodle

Otherwise, the property was pretty neat. They had outdoor art installations and a whole gallery of old farm vehicles. We played with our new drone for the first time here, having it follow us as we walked through the outdoor gallery at the Park.


The vanabus was starting to have some obvious issues this week. Stay tuned to see what happens when we break down in the mountains, at night, with no signal. Wondering what happened the first week? Click HERE to find out how it all started! If you want to see what we are doing today, check out our Instagram stories.


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