Breathing in Beauty

Posted April 2, 2020 – Narrated by Carmen
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We’re in a good place for such a time as this. And, at least for today, Arizona seems willing to put up with us. Out here in the open wilderness, we’re exercising the usual precautions and keeping a low COVID-19 profile.

And, on the rare occasion when we do go to town for provisions, we keep our hands clean, our hearts open and our words kind. It’s so important to be thankful for The Providers right now. They are the heroes. Spread love, not Coronavirus.

We’re in Jim’s boyhood recreational area on the Colorado river where the family set up camp to spend summer days fishing, waterskiing and off-roading together. I’d never seen this spot, so Jim brought me to take a look … and I fell in love.

Plans change

So we set up camp, planning to stay for two weeks before going back to San Diego. But within the week, the government declared a halt to non-essential travel. An hour later my dentist called to cancel my non-emergency appointment. Later, the same day, Jim’s meetings were transferred to an online forum.

Immediately, in compliance with the rules to stop the virus, we stopped traveling. That was over a month ago.

We’re still here and hope to stay until travel advisories are lifted.

Way out here in the desert wilderness, trails remain open, though we’re practicing vigilance and taking responsibility. The sheriff makes daily rounds to insure the state’s protocols are respected, but it’s no real effort to keep a Grand Canyon’s distance from our off-grid neighbors.

We walk everyday, kayak often (because it keeps me from touching my face), hike, ride bikes – and we can access all of those activities on foot from our lakeside encampment without coming into contact with anyone other than a family of wild donkeys that occasionally pass through our site.

Usually thick with snowbirds, the Spring shoulder season – just before the summer heat sets in – is a perfect time to visit. Daytime temps are in the high 80’s, and nightime is often in the low-to-mid 60’s with a fresh cool breeze from the river. Since we arrived there’s been no need to fire up the furnace or the air-conditioner.

This is a no-stress zone.

Ideally, home should be a retreat from life’s harsh moments – and home is of central importance during this world-wide crisis. We are all now together engaged in a strange sabbath where we focus on the small print – the microscopic code that has the power to change the world. Science rules.

It all seems so sudden.

It’s a lot to take in, this baptism in bleach, repetitive washing, distancing, conflicting opinions and ambiguous rules. Should I be masked, gloved, tested?

The Documentary

Breathing is important right now. Being informed is crucial, but awareness of where I am in this journey is even more important. So, I begin each day with a ritual – I remind myself about the documentary.

Throughout large-scale crises, keen observers record everything – and, right now, someone is filing the data. And, one day when all this trouble has passed, someone will recreate the story.

So, I imagine myself, years from now, watching said documentary. As scenes of the myriad disruptions and bizarre once-in-a-lifetime events flow by, I am riveted because so much of this history feels new to me. It’s fresh because I had forgotten so much of the landscape – the hills and valleys of the experience.

Historians know that in the thick of events, it’s nearly impossible for humans to accurately recall the details. So why stress over stuff I’m going to mostly forget about anyway? Why not stay focused on the pleasant and joyful moments – go with the flow and take time to breathe, to feel blessed … blessed in this place, in where I am, safe and satisfied with what I have.

Jim and I don’t get everything right about LIB, but we can see how, for the last four years, we’ve been preparing for this historic moment.

Yes, I realize that I am a tangle of contradictions, but I am the partner who always expects the worse possible thing to happen … and, I’ve nailed it enough times that Jim listens warily, to my predictions. I wish my gift worked on positive outcomes like crop yields and cures for cancer, but it seems permanently calibrated for collapse.

So, Jim – balancing my skepticism of the grid with our budget and his renaissance-man skills – outfitted Beauty and The Beast just in time for the COVID-19 End of Days.

Yep, we’ve kinda been prepping.

LIB has taught us to be frosty – to travel light, with just enough of the right gear to pack up, hitch and move within the hour, to turn our plans on a dime, to be energy efficient, to filter our own water, to conserve, and to dial back our expenses by at least half and still maintain an exciting full-time travel lifestyle.

All this freedom … and here we are powerless to set out on the road and weave our silver mini-mansion through glittering cities, wine country and steamy hot-springs hide-aways.

But our journey is not on hold.

Beauty is taking us places in place.

Like most fortunate people in the world, we are at home being creative and preparing foods in our quarantine kitchen that are new to us because the store was out of our usual groceries.

Our Airstream kitchen is no handicap.

Some of the world’s most memorable dining experiences are served from efficient tiny kitchens aboard trains, yachts, riverboats and private jets. We’ll never forget dining in the captain’s quarters on the USS New Orleans as guests of my cousin, Captain Milton Smith USN. His chef’s kitchen was even smaller than ours. Humans adapt to what they have.

Some of the “new to me” foods I’ve crafted in the last month are vegan bullion, vegan mayonnaise, compound butter, almond butter, trail bites, flatbread and crackers. Okay, the crackers were actually a gluten free flatbread mistake, but still quite delicious. And, thus, our daily dependence on prepared foods is diminishing.

Yes, we are a bit lonely here, but our weBoost cell booster allows FaceTime with family and friends, and Jim is able to attend periodic emergency Zoom sessions with Alliance Healthcare Foundation.

Oh my, it will be some kind of wonderful when we can all get together and entertain again – attend pot lucks and happy hours.

Until then – in celebration of all this free time – (and because Jim bought me a new camera) we’ve made a short video walk-through of Beauty as she is today, right here in our isolation habitat.

Now, it’s usually my way to apologize for this or that when I invite someone new into my home. But I make no apologies today because we are all kind of awkwardly bonded now in COVID-19.

Our virtual door is wide open. Just click on the video below.

Please, won’t you step in to Beauty?


If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

64 thoughts on “Breathing in Beauty

  1. Thanks for letting me pop in and say hello. Pico looks so relaxed as you “go places in place.” Stay healthy!

  2. Glad you found such a beautiful spot to hunker down. I too have been spending more time in the kitchen trying new recipes. Thanks for the lovely tour of your home. Stay safe and healthy – Ingrid 🌵

    1. Yes, Ingrid, this is a seriously frightening time, but foodies and introverts will prevail. Thank you so much for dropping by. It’s always a pleasure.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  3. Great photography in your link! Hunkerin’ down in an Airstream is not so bad after all. And it appears y’all are making the best of it!

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment. I am trying to adjust to a new camera right now. I still miss my old one, but I needed something more compact. Maybe I will use this time to take an online photography class. It was a pleasure having you aboard, Mark. Don’t be a stranger now.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


    1. So happy you stopped by Teresita. It is such a pleasure to have you aboard.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  4. Thank you for this lovely narrative to carry us through a crazy day, crazy week, crazy month. Stay Healthy!!

    1. Glad to help even if for a minute, Barbara. We are doing our best to stay healthy. It’s a long hour drive to town to buy groceries but we bought an extra cooler so we can store more produce. Thank you for your encouragement. Be well and we hope to see you soon.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen & Jim

  5. Thank you for the tour of your gorgeous Airstream! I love the set up with your chairs and laptops! How cool. I assume you are boondocking? Can you find water and dump nearby? We’re sitting still in Naples Florida where we’ve been for the winter. At this point who knows how long we will be here. Stay safe! Love your upbeat tone and beautiful pictures.

    1. Hey Brenda! Thank you for dropping in. Yes, we are about a half mile from a dump station and potable water source. You are lucky to have a supportive place to stay in Naples. We love it there. It’s a blessing that we landed here as all the campgrounds in California were closing. I hear that Washington has given campgrounds “essential” status and reopened them.

      Our chairs were custom made by Lambright and our laptop tables are made by Airdesks. Both are reputable and excellent small family manufacturers.

      We are delighted to have you onboard, Brenda.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


    1. Hey John and Marg! We are delighted to have you. Don’t be strangers, now.

      Be well and Safe and Happy Travels!


  6. Fabulous photos and writing! Thanks so much for sharing your home and your thoughts! Wishing you both continued peace and wellbeing. Oh, and Pico, too!

    1. Blessings and best wishes for a successful isolation period, Jeannette. We are happy to have you.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  7. Jeanne and I enjoyed this very much. Love your writings and wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing and keep well. 🙂

    1. Jim and I appreciate your company, Erik and Jeanne. Thank you so much for being with us today. We hope you two are safe and well for the duration of this crisis. Wishing you many happy moments!

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  8. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught me, it’s that I touch my face A LOT!! I think I may need to follow your lead and get a kayak. 😂😂😂. Love the video. Your Airstream is beautiful and so well thought out. I love the chair/monitor set up! And you’re so right about adapting to small spaces. I’m always amazed by the tiny kitchens some of these high end restaurants have. Honestly, you really are in a perfect place with a perfect set-up to weather this storm. Let’s hope it’s a quick one.

    1. Hey Laura! Maybe the more you think, the more you touch your face – like Rodin’s Thinker? Chimpanzees put their hands on their faces to communicate in sign language. Not touching my face is a habit I may never break, but I try. Maybe we all need a cone of shame like dogs get when they scratch themselves raw.

      Thank you for the visit. Next time, cold draft beer and Jim will grill fish tacos. Until then, xoxo and …

      Safe and Happy Travels,

      Carmen & Jim

  9. I have only followed your journey for 4-5 months but I have to say this chapter is overwhelming in its poignant description of how we are all feeling. We want each day to matter in some larger way. But your point that perhaps we can reflect more deeply in a year from now when the documentaries start to play is so true. Today we can only think of today and of one another. It is a global “waiting.” I’m in no hurry to figure out what it all means. There will be others who will present a full range of multiple choice answers to that question in a year or two.

    1. Hey Kathryn! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yes, it’s just too much … overload. Getting through the day without exposing ourselves is enough. Enough to do and enough to think about. The dust will settle and all of these events will become clearer. Meanwhile we wait, as you say, and eat and sleep as well as we can because this is no time to allow stress make us sick. I’m just so grateful for the internet right now and the ability to reach out and draw others close and to look up recipes.

      Thank you for being our guest, today, Kathryn. Don’t be a stranger.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


    1. Kathy,

      Thank you so much. We are always delighted to hear from you. Be well.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  10. My wife is also the one who always expects or is prepared for the worst to happen, and I too have learned to listen to her.
    I always love reading your inspiring words and seeing your wonderful photography. Thank you for being there.

    1. Hey Steve! So great to hear from you. Thank you for being here with us again today. Wow. Crazy stuff going on, huh? Yeah, maybe women are more secure about being a scaredy-cat. I grew up on the side of an active volcano that killed an entire town of people 500 years earlier, so I think I’m a natural lookout. We’ll have to meet up with you two sometime so Rachel and I can scare the bejesus out of you and Jim with graphic scenarios that would make Covid-19 run for the hills.

      You two stay well.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  11. Dear Carmen and Jim, I’m addicted to your blog since last years valentines issue. This one is even more wonderful in writing, contemplation, reflective thoughts and pictures. Happy to hear you found a safe harbour to stay. Stay healthy and safe and hope to meet you on the road in better times.

    1. Claudia, we are delighted that you enjoy our company, as we do yours. We hope you, too are in safe place. Yes, let’s all stay healthy and Covid-free so we don’t have to go to a doctor or emergency room during this crazy time.

      Remember to breathe.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


    1. Hey Frank! We’re as at “home” as it gets. Arizona is being good to RV lifestyle travelers. Because they have as much snowbird tourism as Florida, they get it. California closed everything but we’re only a half-day drive from San Diego. We wanted to stay close because our son is working on the front lines at an urgent care clinic.

      We hope you and Debbie stay well and happy through this crisis.

      Love you,

      Carmen and Jim

  12. So glad you guys found a safe place to hunker down and ride out this storm. Thanks for sharing your beautiful life with us!

    1. Sabrina, thank you for being with us. Jim and I send you our best for good health and peace during this weird time. Be well

      Safe and Happy Travels,


    1. Hey Errol, so good to hear from you. Best to you and Wendy during this crisis. Hold on and remember to breathe.


      Safe and Happy Travels,


  13. Great post as usual and thanks so much for sharing. Safe travels to everyone when we become free to move about again.

    1. Yes, “Go places in place” and thank God for the internet. Be well.

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  14. To be sheltered in place means a new challenge. Your positive attitudes and affinity for all the natural world have insured your piece of mind and safety. We should all follow your example. In my yard hummingbird’s are at the feeder, the spring tree buds just now are recognizable as leaves, and the skies have less pollution with fewer cars on the roadways. Thank you for sharing your world.
    Linda And Greg

    1. Linda and Greg! So wonderful to hear from you. I have been meaning to sit down and write you a long email but so much has been happening. Your words carry the fragrance of Coronado all the way here. I’ve been seeing photos on Facebook of the clear skies over Los Angeles – does my soul good to see the earth getting a break. I truly feel this event will restore some things that have been going terribly wrong in our world. Progress is pain and vice-versa. Enjoy this journey of quiet backyard nature, and stay well.


      Safe and Happy Travels,


    1. Love you, too. Morgan. This place is quite remote. Because of the mountains it’s difficult to see it from land, but from the water, it’s fascinating. There are dozens of off-grid homes – many fancy mini-mansions built right on the riverbank with massive retaining walls. I read an article recently about Wall Street collapsists building off-grid homes on the Colorado and upstate NY. Maybe it’s that crowd – or just elaborate vacation homes.

      We will be back in SD as soon as possible.



  15. Bravo and well done. Thanks for inviting us in to your home and your little slice of heaven on earth. Miss you and wish you well. Mike and Sara Hogan, Portland, Oregon #1210.

    1. Mike and Sara! We miss you too … but it’s good to know that you are okay and safe in Portland. Ah, Portland … We’re hurtin’ for the city life. When this thing’s over we just might make a run for Portland.

      Thank you for dropping in. xoxo

      Safe and Happy Travels,


  16. As ever, you have brought a ray of sunshine to us all. You capture such beauty through your camera lens and through the lens to your soul. Thank you for opening your home and your heart to us. May God bless you, Jim and Pico always. We continue to keep you in prayer. Sending our love, Laurie and Mike

    1. Oh Laurie, thank you so much for your love and prayers. It’s wonderful to hear those words, We pray for you. We often have a strong awareness of a mantle of love over us – especially now – and know that must be the power of prayer and light and love. Be happy, be well and know that we love you two so much and hope to see when the coast is clear.

      Love, Jim and Carmen & Pico

      and as always, Safe and Happy Travels – especially to the grocery store.


  17. Great you found such a lovely spot to “shelter in place.” As always, wonderful pictures and story. Great to see you continue your journey. Hope you are able to get what you need (water, food, supplies, fuel) and all goes well for you. Thanks for the A Day In Beauty video. Great to see details of what you carry and how you store things. Had a question. The magnetic knife holders. While traveling and bumping down the road, do the knives stay on it, or do you need to remove them for travel? I assume you pack them in a drawer or something?

    1. Hey Steve! Sorry it took me so long to respond. Thanks for the good review 😉 Yes, we’re so glad we listened to the universe and stayed stateside and slowed our travels down considerably rather than just quit. We always have the year-break in our hip pocket too – just in case things get out of hand. But for now, just taking it slow is perfect.

      The knives stay put on the magnetic bar while we’re towing. The scissors have popped off once or twice but that was before we got the lift. The lift really smoothes the ride down inside the trailer. Before the lift we had much more disruption. But now we rarely have a drawer pop open or anything displaced.

      Hope that answers your question.

      We also hope you are finding peace and joy in your isolation.

      Safe and Happy Travels to you and Sue!


  18. What in inspirational take on your journey. Thanks for sharing. While we can’t travel now due to COVID, knowing you’re traveling in place brought a smile to my face. Stay safe.

    1. Hey Grant, we are delighted to hear that we made you smile. Our work here is done. Be safe. Be well, and let’s all get across the Covid-19 bridge safely.

      Safe and Happy Travels (In Place)


  19. So glad that you are safe and have a beautiful place to live for awhile. So many full timers are still scrambling to find a place where they can ride this out. We had planned to be in Marfa, TX for five months starting in March, so here we are. Feeling very lucky. Wishing you both good health and good food.

    1. Hey Susan! Good for you finding a beautiful place to be. We love that area. Are the bluebonnets in bloom?

      Stay well and enjoy Marfa!

      Safe and Happy Travels (in place)


  20. Wow! Thank your the wonderful tour. You have an AWSOME home. There are so many ideas and subtle changes you have incorporated. I can’t decide whether to add them to my ‘65 Sovereign remodel or sell it and start with a newer model. Your ‘01 is so much brighter and cheerier.
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Be well!

    1. Thank you for dropping in, Dean. Jim deserves all of the credit for our interior. He’s the decorator in the family. We took four years getting our AS decorated and outfitted. The bathroom still isn’t done because COVID-19 forced things to a halt. But, it’s our way to take things slowly – both with the way we travel and the time we take outfitting the rig. In the beginning our goal was to just get on the road. We figured that after a year or so, we’d know what to do about this and that.

      Wow! A 65′ Sovereign is a beautiful trailer. We love vintage Airstreams … but maybe not for a Full-time Lifestyle Traveling. As you say, they are darker inside. We also love the new Airstreams because the windows are bigger and the interiors are so bright and open – but maybe at a cost for storage. The ’01 is just right for us. Yes, she’s kind of outdated, but so are we 😀

      Be well, Dean.

      Safe and Happy Travels (in place)


    1. Amy! Thank you for dropping in. Jim and I send our best to you and your sweet family during crazy-time. And thank you also for guarding our little Ft. Knox.

      Remember to breathe, and live in beauty.

      Safe and Happy Travels (in place)


  21. Thanks for the “tour” video! Always enjoy your posts We are limited to going to storage and sitting in our Airstream every few days (going out there to empty the dehumidifier) and wishing we were traveling. Stay safe!

    1. Michael! Great to hear from you. Just two days ago you and Judy came up in conversation. Thank you for letting us know you are safe. When crazy-time is over it would be so nice to visit with you two. Before long we will all be out on the road brushing off the crisis and saying, “Whew! What the heck was that?!” Good times are not far off.


      Safe and Happy Travels (in place)

      Carmen & Jim

  22. Living in beauty and breathing in beauty indeed! Thank you for being thoughtful about touring and sharing your home with us even though through virtually but we really appreciate it! You guys stay safe out there!

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