Beautiful World, Beautiful Country, Beautiful Life

This 6th post of the series “From Beauty’s Doorstep” was originally published on

Posted February 5, 2023 – Narrated by Carmen

To listen to the podcast, click the play button

living in beauty
This series, From Beauty’s Doorstep, is based on seven-years of full- time travel, aka LIB (Living in Beauty)
“Give beauty back, beauty, beauty, beauty,
back to God, beauty’s self and beauty’s giver.
See; not a hair is, not an eyelash,

not the least lash lost; every hair
Is, hair of the head, numbered.”

She always said it in threes, with a soft Italian accent, “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” First, she’d gasp, Ah!,” and then slowly, “Bee-yoo-tee-fuuul, …” with a little squeak on the yoo part.

Forty years ago, I figured her for a centenarian, but looking back from the mature side of my life, she was probably a healthy seventy-five to eighty-year-old.

She wore sturdy shoes and a thick black coat which even on hot days was buttoned up to the neck. Her corneas ran low on blue, yet her vision was sharp and her movements spry. Every day, around mid-morning, she walked into our bookstore and went directly for the spinning wire rack of scenic photo cards.

Tenderly, she would slide a card out of its slot. With her right hand she raised it aloft until her spine arched back. I supposed this was to cut the fluorescent light glare glancing off the high gloss paper. Then, in guileless wonder she pressed the fingers of her left hand upright against her lips, considering this miracle. Then she slowly shook her head, “No!”, incredulous as the hand over her mouth dropped to her side and she uttered, “Ah! Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.”

Her pilgrimage through the spinning rack continued: a waterfall flowing through a confetti of Autumn color; a Rocky Mountain Spring thunderstorm brewing in the distance; a verdant Idaho prairie lush with wildflowers and butterflies; a snow-covered alpine forest where a majestic twelve-point buck paused, watchful, in the snow.

After fifteen to twenty minutes she walked out, triggering the doorbell and sporting the satisfied smile of an experienced traveler striking a prized destination off the ol’ bucket list.

We called her The Beautiful Lady.

We gathered that she lived on the next block, a resident of the convent. When employees heard the first “Ah, Beautiful …” we all jostled for position to find something to do – take inventory, dust, stock – any reason at to be within the glow of her round-the-world journey. No complaint, problem or bad mood could survive her feel-good energy. She was a tonic.

I don’t recall our favorite customer ever purchasing a greeting card.

Beautiful World

I think about The Beautiful Lady as we travel with Beauty and The Beast, our Airstream travel trailer and Ram truck. Like the cards in the rack, most places we visit are curated – selected, protected. Designated, beautiful. The Beauty Queens of America.

The recreational opportunities we enjoy would not be possible without a host of government offices. Thousands of behind-the-scenes staff make themselves invisible as we stand in awe before the majesty of Nature. With our National Park Senior Pass, admission is free.

Whether The Beautiful Lady’s love for the natural world was grounded in her past travels or the absence thereof, I cannot say. All I know is that she was transported through the gift of imaginative power and she took us along for the ride.

For careful observers, there are no accidents, no chance meetings, only messages. To me, The Beautiful Lady was a guide.

There are Wanderers. There are Belongers.

Not all Wanderers are mobile and not all Belongers are stationary. We remember the days when travel was impossible for us. Now, as Jim and I continue to travel – without a home like a rolling stone – these last seven years of Forever Camping has raised our awareness of how gentle this Earth is with all of us regardless of how we choose to live.

Every night we have a place to rest. In return, we go easy on our home planet. We have nothing to give to her in return, so we reduce our usage. The day we began Living in Beauty our carbon footprint reduced by half and continues downward. All it takes is a little imagination.

The Beautiful Lady showed us how to perceive the world with joy, gratitude and respect. Sure, we encounter difficulties – things break, we get sick, the weather turns. And then – by chance or more often through the kindness of strangers – solutions arise to address each problem. When confronted with the majesty of this planet, the little things lose their power to bring us to our knees.

Most of our older relatives, now gone, never travelled great distances. The framed prints mounted on their walls – a Japanese garden, a New Mexico canyon, a tropical paradise with cockatoos – were probably places they never saw but held in their hearts.

Jim and I travel for them and maybe we travel for you, too. Bringing stories and images of nature from our home to yours is a testimony of love for our common home, Earth, and an homage to a path you may never walk, or a memory of a place you may never visit again.

One day, it may be scientifically proven that respect and reverence for Earth (and compassion for one another) is dramatically increased when, from a spaceship, we observe our home planet orbiting the Sun, as our Moon orbits Earth.

Okay, I’ll buy that seeing the face of God may cure the tunnel vision of the human species, but cosmological order demands polar-opposites. The Alexander The Greats and Diogenes of the world will always clash. Diogenes threw cold water on Alexander’s generous mood when he told the self-deified sun god to “Step aside and stop blocking my light.”

I confess to being a bit of a Luddite. Sure I appreciate a good space launch if it makes the world a better place for all. But watching the Sun set and the Moon rise and the frothing star-juice overload from a Dark Sky Preserve while Earth hurtles through space at 64,000 mph – that’s all the rush I need.

It’s all sacred.

In our travels we’ve not seen a bad country, lousy state or no-good city any more than we’ve seen a bum star in the Milky Way. Unique cultures, geography and ecosystems in urban, suburban, countryside and wilderness areas illuminate The Road and tie it all together. As candlelight plays in the facets of a gemstone, approaching the world from a different angle increases the vibrancy.

Life is a pilgrimage. Wear good shoes. Bring a warm coat. Make room for an open heart. Be overcome with emotion. Shout or whisper to all who will hear, “We live in splendor!”

The more we look around the more we see, and the stronger we hear the call to caretake – and not only for the curated and scenic places which we pass through like a museum – but also for the places where we once lived, and the places where we may someday live, and the places we shall never set foot upon.

Many of our family members, friends and Living In Beauty followers tell us that we travel for them and live a dream they cannot. We take this travel by proxy quite seriously – it increases our joy and expands our sense of purpose and the possibility of a better future for all.

So, if you like, come along with us. There’s enough to share.

These are the lessons I take from The Beautiful Lady.

When I step off the trodden path to behold a natural wonder, I think of her spinning through the rack of cards in ecstatic wonder. In those moments I gasp, place my hand over my mouth and then drop it to my side and proclaim, “Ah! Beautiful, beautiful. Beautiful!

This is the final installment of our series, From Beauty’s Doorstep

46 thoughts on “Beautiful World, Beautiful Country, Beautiful Life

  1. I don’t recall you talking lately about kayaking. What are your recommendations for an inflatable single kayak? We’re in a 30 ft Class A, and bring our e-bikes along. I love my wilderness Explorer kayak, but think inflatable better solution. Thanks

    1. Hey Janice! Good catch! I should have included a kayak photo. Thanks for the reminder.

      Kayaks are so personal. There are so many features and details to consider. If we were traveling in a Class A, we might have more choices than inflatables, I don’t know. We bought inflatables because we had no room for anything else and we like not having to haul heavy boats to the shoreline. Still, I can’t see how you can go wrong with an inflatable. The only downside is that it takes a few minutes to prepare them for the water – but that’s an upside if the water is a long way from the parking lot like in Tetons.

      Over the decades we’ve used many kinds of kayaks – everything from fiberglass to tupperware (plastic) and we’re content with our inflatables. We bought them seven years ago and they are still sea, lake and river worthy. We don’t do white water but I have done some high sea and they track beautifully without a foot rudder.

      Here’s our post about our kayaks for your consideration. Happy kayak shopping!!!

  2. As always, we enjoyed this week’s post.
    Mike had a question whether you do any editing or modifying of your photos.
    Do you change the brightness, saturation, or other?
    Or are the photos just as you took them.
    Hope to see you again soon!

    1. 💕Laurie & Mike! How wonderful to hear from you! Yes, we’d love to see you two. Let’s make plans for next time we’re in San Diego.

      I use the Macintosh editing program called, Photos. Mostly, I choose the auto settings but I fiddle around depending on the camera I used. My Sony:
      ( That camera usually captures what I see with very few toggles necessary. I’m no pro that’s for sure. I do like color and probably developed that aesthetic during my childhood in Naples where I had daily exposure to an abundance of religious art and stained glass. Jim dabbles in photoshop sometimes, but I think that’s pretty obvious – like when he puts his head on Sylvester Stallone’s body 🤪.

      Big hugs to both of you! xoxo


  3. Thank you for this and for traveling for me. Husband insists on continuing his work life, so I get to see what’s out there while reading your posts.

    1. Hey Becky! You will have a place on board for as long as you like. Thank you for being with us.

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  4. It’s a true blessing for a couple when both have a taste of travel!
    Which is not always the case! Live your magnificent nomad life to the fullest!

    1. Hey MClôde Roy!

      I know! What are the chances?! After all these years, we do feel lucky to be on the same road, in the same truck and pulling the same trailer 🤗 It’s all sacred.

      Thanks so much for sharing our joy.

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  5. English poet William Wordsworth said that man cannot be moral in the city. He can be moral in the country. Your lyrical posting reminded me of that.

    1. Linda💕 “A blog entry of mine once reminded Linda Mitchell of Wordsworth.” That goes in my CV 🤗 With the evolution of cities since WW’s time, I wonder if he would feel the same today? When we first set out, we were not so much city people, but now we’re fascinated by them. This year we plan to visit several cities for the first time. Exciting!

      Can’t wait to see you and Greg again! Next time: pizza party with our new oven!

      Hugs to Scout 🐾💕

      Safe & Happy Travels!


    1. Melinda 💕 You should meet my friend Tom. He is always saying the same thing: “Write the book.” I’ll give that idea more thought. In fact, I think you and Jim would hit it off with Tom and Cathy. Okay, now I have a dinner party to arrange next time we’re in town.

      Thank you for the compliment, but if I were a better writer I’d be able to tell you how much I miss you, but words fail me.

      Safe & Happy Travels!


      1. And your gorgeous photos are the icing on the cake! What a great book they would make! Honestly, I think your writing is like poetry. In fact, I forwarded it to a friend of mine, who lives in East Tennessee, who is a poet! I told her you’re riding reminds me of her! ❤️❤️

  6. It’s 11pm and I have been going over last years receipts in an effort to prepare meeting with our CPA to capitulate to the 16th amendment and pay my taxes. I decided to take a break and I saw the newest LIB missive. That’s a good way to refresh my synapses, I thought. Holy Cow! Was I right.
    How wonderfully you write Carmen. I am indeed grateful to you two for taking me along on your journey (you know how I avoid travel). I feel just like the customer who came into your store to enjoy the beauty but never bought anything. One day I will attempt to repay you —- let me know when you need a Santa Claus or a balloon artist to meet you on the road
    So well written — crafted, really. You brought a tear to these old eyes
    Ti amo tesoro

    1. 💕 Ti amo anch’io Funniest Man In San Diego. Pay your taxes, dry those tears and think about you and Sam meeting us in Atlanta or Asheville or Charlotte or Birmingham … Deep South or Bust! Of course I need a Santa and balloon artist every. single. moment. of the day. But you know that don’t you, you clever, clever man?

      Safe & Happy Travels!


    1. Hey Joe! 💕 We’re glad you enjoyed the series. Are you two in Borrego? Check out Agua Caliente County Park and watch out for The Ghost Lights! You’re more likely to see them during or after a rain storm. Jim and I saw them about ten years ago – within arms reach inside our tent. To me, Borrego is the most fascinating place in the US.

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  7. Once again, Carmen becomes the master story teller. It amazes me that none of the major movie studios has picked her to do voices of animated characters. She would knock it out of the park. Thanks for another superbly written and narrated journey.

    1. Pete 💕 Wow! Catch me, I’m swooning. Thank you for the nomination. Thanks also to Jim who gives me his full support.

      I would also like to thank Douglas Jacobs, my wonderful writing coach who helped me with editing for the From Beauty’s Doorstep series and has encouraged me to dedicate more time to my writing discipline.

      It would be the fulfillment of a dream to voice animated characters, but as you know it’s such a competitive field. Oh heck, maybe I should just make the demo.

      You inspire me, Pete. Gotta go do the happy dance, now 💃

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  8. I’m along for your journey and refuse to leave. Ah, beautiful, beautiful beautiful….. Looking forward to the next 2000 plus days and nights.

    1. Mickie 💕 You always have a Champagne pass in the First Class section on our Ride of Lifetime. We love you so much.

      Safe & Happy Travels


  9. I have been following your travels for a few years now, I look forward to every new post, salivate over your amazing photos of this beautiful country. My wife of 23 years and I are in our early 50’s and have been serious campers (20-25 trips a year, Easter to Thanksgiving) for the last 12 years. Our dream is to do what you’re doing and after our son graduates high school in four years. Now that I’ve sold my businesses, that’s the plan. We need to down size from our 43’ fifth wheel but my wife already has the dream camper in her head. I share every one of your posts with her and we dream of the day we “set sail”.

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventure and with the most beautiful writing, that takes me right where you are each week.

    Christopher and Michelle Corbett
    Novi, Michigan
    (FYI- Maumee Bay campground is one hour from us and our favorite campground for a quick weekend. I’m glad you enjoyed it there)

    1. Christopher & Michelle!

      How wonderful to have you on board!

      Jim and I envy you and Michelle. We can never go back to those thrilling days when we were planning our Forever Camping adventure. We’ll never again experience that moment when we’d passed the usual two-week vacation and we were still Out There and needed to go buy groceries. Crossing the border of our home-state and never knowing when we would be back … Whew! That’s when it gets real.

      We still talk about those days and treasure the memories.

      As experienced RV campers you will have an easier time adjusting than we did, but feel free to email us anytime you want our opinion about anything.

      Maumee Bay … love that place. Gotta get back to Ohio and Michigan! If you think we are in your area, just email us and we will try to meet up.

      Now is the best time of your lives. Enjoy!

      Safe & Happy Travels!


      1. Hi Carmen, we will do that if I can ever see you’re near. We love a good bonfire with friends and a glass of nice Scotch.

        We were able to take three weeks with our kids and camper to Yellowstone in ‘17 and Colorado to Moab in ‘18. We are addicted to the west. Keep up the amazing writing Carmen, so interesting to read your thoughts and being able intertwine them with factual data and history.
        Love it.

  10. I continue to follow your adventures, advice, and long lists of do and don’ts with your trailer and continue to learn so much. Thanks for all that you do.

  11. Love the series – just read all 6 yesterday and shared with my husband. The writing was beautiful!
    We are preparing to sell our house and most of everything in it. We also plan to get a newer 30’ Airstream selling our 25’ 1991 Excella. Going full time and so excited about it. Your posts and information you provide is so helpful. We are in our early 70s and looking forward to new adventures. Would love to be able to connect with questions – would that be through your website?

    1. Hey Melinda!

      Wow! I can imagine the excitement at your house right now. We remember the Last Times … last time we will take down the Christmas lights, clean this garage, mow the lawn, say goodbye to our housekeeper … We look back on those days and realize that the adventure was already in full swing. Enjoy the moments.

      Back then, everyone kept asking us how long we planned to stay on the road. We kept saying, “We don’t know” and they kept saying “but you must have some idea!” We didn’t have any idea back then and we still don’t now. All we know is that we can stop any day we want to, but we don’t have a good enough reason to stop. We like this and we hope that you do too.

      Feel free to email us anytime you like. We’re happy to answer any of your questions and share our research with you.

      Safe & Happy Travels!


      1. Yes, we are in that process of “the last time” – at least so far that has been Christmas. Purging, assessing and reassessing all the stuff. The momentum is building for sure and I don’t think it will stop now! We are excited for sure. And like you, we really don’t know for how long but we will know when the time is right and for now – we are just at the beginning of our grand adventure. I will be emailing you and I appreciate that offer! Thank you again!

  12. One of your most beautiful posts, and a perfect conclusion to your adventure. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

    1. Hey John!

      The series is over, but adventure still calls!

      Thank you for being with us.

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  13. I enjoy your information. I will never be a full-timer but travel enough, and planning a long trip this summer with our Airstream. Looks like I can get lots of good hints from your experiences.

      1. We will join Harvest Host for sure and probably subscribe to the Trip Wizard app just because it has fun features. My husband is a spreadsheet guy too. You have accumulated so many interesting facts and records. Thank you for sharing.

  14. What a “beautiful” post. The way you write is journey in itself! It takes me along and holds me through the narrative, and makes me smile. Just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

    1. Laura 💕

      Thank you! And thanks also for meeting us in Kamloops. We are planning a tour of B.C. lake country – not this year, but maybe next. We’d like to stay as long as possible from early Spring to early Autumn or until you get tired of us and send us south. We love it up there!

      Hugs to you and Doug xoxo


  15. Wonderful post.
    I’m in agreement with another comment. Your writing IS lyrical.
    For those of us still working towards our retirement “release date” thank goodness you both decided to graciously share your travels.

    We appreciate you!

    1. Hey Dean!

      Love “Release Date”! Every July we celebrate the day they opened the gates and we took off like a couple of greyhounds! For us, “Retirement” doesn’t explain the life change for us. It means to “pull back” “retreat” or be “excused from service.” In the Deep South some call retirement, “Going to the house” which has the tired and lingering tone of the slavery past.

      Living in Beauty counters all of those things. We are now more active, useful and engaged than ever before. So we really like “Release Date,” thank you. That will be a blog someday.

      Dean, we’re keeping one cold for your up-and-coming release date 🍾

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  16. Wonderful tribute to the Beautiful Lady, Mother Earth, and our lifestyles. Your photos are stunning. Nice selection, especially the reflections, for the theme. I can feel your enthusiasm and love for life drip off the pages. Thank you for spreading the travel joy and inspiring everyone who reads your posts!

    1. Liesbet💕

      Thank you, and we, too, are savoring your South America adventure via Facebook with your beautiful photos of a spectacular part of the continent that we may never see.

      You are an inspiration!

      Safe & Happy Travels!


  17. Beautiful words – Beautiful sentiment. Looking forward to the day we begin our own adventure! Thank you

    1. Melinda, thank you for your kind words. Maybe someday after you begin your own adventure, our paths will cross on the road. Stay safe out there and happy travels. Jim

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