How to Live–and Die–Well

by | Apr 1, 2013 | 45 comments

How to Live–and Die–Well

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Jean standing outside her RV with her eagles. Thus photo was taken by CARY ANDERSON. I encourage you to buy his biography of Jean. There is a link at the end of this post.

Jean standing outside her RV with her eagles. This photo was taken by CARY ANDERSON. I encourage you to buy his biography of Jean. There is a link at the end of this post. You will find that same stump in many of my photos!

In today’s post I want to talk about a truly amazing woman who set out to find adventure in an RV and ended up living in that RV for the rest of her life, and along the way became world famous! Her name was Jean King and she became famous for her nick-name: The Eagle Lady. In 1977 at the age of 55 she decided that she had raised her family and now it was time to live for herself. So she bought a motorhome, packed up everything she owned and drove to Alaska. She settled in Homer, Alaska (one my favorite places anywhere!) and got a job working at a fish cannery. She found a campground on the Homer Spit where she could park her RV year-around and settled in. She lived in that RV in that exact spot until her death in 2009. Jean had always loved animals of all kinds, but especially birds; wherever she went, she always had birdfeeders out. She discovered that Homer had a large population of bald eagles and they loved fish! So it was a natural extension for her to start feeding the eagles. She started bringing home surplus fish from the cannery and feeding them. That year she had just a few eagles visiting her little home, but as the years passed the flock grew to huge proportions, easily 200-300 birds a day all winter.
Soon the word got out that every day 200 eagles gathered outside her little RV and waited to be fed. Photographers and tourists started coming from all over the world to see and photograph the eagles. It’s been estimated that as much as 80% of all eagle photos in circulation were taken outside her little RV. But with attention comes controversy and feeding the eagles caused quite a stir. In 2006 the City of Homer passed a law making feeding eagles illegal. But they grandfathered Jean in until 2010 when even she would have to quit. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 85 before she would have been forced to stop.
Eagle-Flap

Being this close to Wild Bald Eagles, was one of the best experiences of my life!

I’d lived in Alaska all my life and had often heard about The Eagle Lady. In 2006 my wife and I drove down to Homer to take photos. We spent the night in a motel and the next morning arrived at the front door of her old Winnebago. I asked permission to go into her yard and take photos of the birds from very close. She said yes, but she warned me that I would only be a few feet away from the eagles and that sometimes they lost their balance and would leap off their perch and grab hold of anything close, including me! She said that these were very large and powerful birds and that I could easily be hurt. I told her I would take the chance and so she started feeding the birds. What an incredible experience that was! I was standing just a few feet away from wild Bald Eagles watching them ripping apart pieces of fish and devouring them. It was a moment I can’t possibly describe and one I will never forget! Jean had written a book so I asked if I could buy an autographed copy and she agreed. I gave her a $100 bill and told her to keep the change. She objected but I said I wanted to contribute to feeding the eagles and so she relented. I’m including some of my photos in this post.
Eagle-Flock-Fly

The flock was incredibly patient while waiting for their turn!

The reason I am telling you all this is in hopes that her story will inspire and encourage you to follow your dreams. So many people reach retirement age or their kids are finally out of the house, and they just sit back in their rocking chairs and wait to die. Jean didn’t! She had put off her dreams long enough and was not going to wait another day! She bought that little RV and hit the road. How could she have ever predicted what was going to happen? She boldly followed her heart and it led to adventure and even fame! Of course most of us are not going to become world famous, but we can live our best lives and find some adventure! Jean had always been passionate about caring for animals so she just did what came naturally.
Eagle-Eyes

Now there is Passion and Intensity!

What are you passionate about? Is there something you love that you can follow to totally unexpected places? If there isn’t something in your life you are passionate about, find something! Life isn’t about racking up day after day of drudgery and boredom it is about burning bright and hot and fast! I was passionate about vandwelling and started a website; and here we are today with you all reading my writing. How did that happen? I have a one word answer: Passion. I’m not a great writer or web designer (although I have gotten better over the years) I love my subject and want you to discover it and fall in love with it too!
Eagle-Royal-Use

When I was renaming these photos, all I could think of for this one is “Royalty!”

There is such a lack of passion in our modern world that people are hungry for it and respond to it when they find it. I very firmly believe that the very Universe hungers and longs for passion! And when it finally finds the burning glow of passion, it lines up to help make it come true. That isn’t to say you won’t face hardship and trouble on your path, because you will! Jean endured a great deal of adversity, hard work and pain to feed her eagles every day. For example, she had to hand out 500 pounds of stinking fish every day! Now that’s a hardship! When it was cold the barrels of fish would freeze solid, so she had to drag them inside the RV to let them thaw. I can’t imagine anything worse than that! I’ve lived in an old RV through a cold Alaska winter and I can assure you it is a miserable experience, and Jean did it for 30 years! But it was worth it to her so she kept at it. That’s what a passion and love for adventure will do for you.
Was it worth it to her? I think so! She’s been gone for 4 years and I remember meeting her like it was yesterday. And now I am telling you about her and you will remember her too.
Eagles-4

One of these Eagles marches to the beat of a different drummer! Do you?

There are many ways to judge a person’s worth and weigh their life, but let me tell you how I do it. I was driving along a freeway one day and witnessed a terrible accident. A few days later I was reading the paper (something I rarely do) and happened to see an article about the accident, so I read it. Of course it described the accident and how it happened but then it started talking about one of the people who died. Now this was not a famous person in any way, he was totally average and unknown outside of this little town. But there was story after story of people who had contacted the local paper and told a story about the deceased; each one proclaiming what a great guy he was. When I was finished I knew that his death had become a gift to me and that from that moment on I would live my life with that man as a model. I am determined to live my life so that when I am gone, as many people who hear about it will say “I’m really sorry to hear that, he was one of the good ones!”
Homework Assignment: Some of you are going to be tempted to write in and say “Oh Bob, I will say that when you are gone.” But, I would rather you not do that. Instead, if you want to make a comment, I would rather hear how you are going to use Jean’s life as a model and pattern for your own life. What is your passion, and how are you going to pursue it? How are you going to throw caution to the wind and live mobile (so you live as cheaply as possible) and follow your dream?
This quote makes me think of Jean, and I hope it speaks to you as well:

“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do.

Otherwise …you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.”  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

My wish for each of you is a pleasant death! For a biography about Jean, go here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Keene
To buy Jean’s book, click here:
The Eagle Lady

I count 26 Eagles in this picture, and probably more. There were literally hundreds of them the 2 hours I was there.

I count 26 Eagles in this picture, and probably more. There were literally hundreds of them the 2 hours I was there.

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45 Comments

  1. Bodhi

    Thank you for sharing this story. I was in Homer in 2002 and I saw A LOT of Eagles, yet, I knew nothing about “The Eagle Lady”. Now I wish I had known of her.
    My passion is to live in harmony with the planet and all of nature, to do things just for me, not because I am supposed to.
    How will my memory live beyond my death? I have worked hard and I want to leave something positive behind. Most people don’t understand that you can build a “financial machine” that will use money to make money. I figured it out and once my “financial machine” is fully functional I will be able to set up self-sustaining scholarships at a rate of about one every five years. I may never make it into Wikipedia but there will be a handful of people forever on the planet who will know who I am… who I was.
    You are destined for Wikipedia I a sure!
    Much Peace, Love and Harmony with Nature,
    Bodhi

    • Bob

      Bodhi, you have a very generous heart to go through the work of setting up a foundation! I think living in harmony with all of life is a worthy goal for every human being!
      Bob

    • Naomi

      Bodhi,
      That is such a wonderful thing to do. Thanks for the inspiration.
      ~Naomi

  2. Karen

    Wonderful story Bob! We saw the eagles in Homer too but there was no information about Jean King, not even at the Pratt Museum-what a shame.
    I’m glad that you posted some of your eagle pictures. You must have so many photographs of gorgeous places in Alaska. Are there any more blog posts in the making about your adventures while you were living there?

    • Bob

      Karen, Jean only fed the eagles in the winter. During the summer there is such an abundance of natural food for them they scatter to the wilderness to live natural, normal eagle lives. Only in the winter when food is much scarcer do they come into town in such very large numbers to get food. During the summer Homer is so busy and active with fishing and tourists that the eagles fade into nothingness. But in the winter when nothing is going on they become one of the only things that bring tourists to town.
      I had all my old Alaska photos in archives and I just got them all out, so yes, there will be several posts coming up with photos of Alaska. One will be general scenery photos but one will be Northern Lights. There are few experiences as awe-inspiring as watching the Northern Lights. But if you live in Alaska, it just becomes routine. You see them dozens of times every winter.
      Bob

  3. Harmony Rose

    What a wonderful story about Jean – thank you so much for sharing!
    Passion….? I have so much trouble finding my own ‘passion’ and I feel like I’ve been on a holding pattern for so many years now. I’ve done what I’ve had to do in life to provide for my child as a single mother and now that this chapter is finishing, there doesn’t appear to be any new book to start on. I keep thinking, is this all there is?
    Yes, I have many things I’m excited about, that grab my attention, that I could explore more – but there doesn’t seem to be anything that completely stands out for me. One thing I do know is that I’m totally drawn to eventually living in my own RV/tiny home, and I’ve naturally gravitated to minimalistic living, but I don’t want to continue my life simply providing for myself – that’s surviving, not living. I really want to have my heart expand and my wings open so that I can soar. How do I find those things to make me fly? or will those things find me?

    • Bob

      Harmony Rose, I think your passion finds you and draws you to it. The fact that you have a strong attraction to Rving and Simple living is all you need to know for now. The key is to follow those urges. I live my life by simple sayings, and one of the most important to me is:
      “Put one foot in front of another, and leave the results up to the Universe.”
      You already know the first step so take it! When it comes time to take the second step, all will become clear. That may seem scary, but a life governed by faith always is. And I believe with every fiber of my being that we have one all important choice to make that will determine the course of our life: “Will I live a life of fear, or faith?” For nearly all my life I lived by fear. Only when it all went to shit was I forced to live a life of faith (although I had been religious nearly all my life, there was no real faith in it).
      Einstein said you can live like nothing was a miracle or everything was a mircacle. I choose to live like my miracle is just waiting for me around the corer. If I will only do my part by putting one foot in front of another, the universe will do its part.
      Go find your miracle!
      Bob

  4. Rob B

    In 2007 my buddy and I rode our motorcycles from here ( W.V.) all the way to Alaska,camping the whole time. Once in Homer, he told me about the eagle lady and we drove to her place and knocked on the door. She answered, and even though there were no Eagles around, talked to us for a bit about her life, etc. We gave her a donation to help her out with the Eagles and parted ways. She was a joy and inspiration to talk to.

    • Bob

      You were very fortunate Rob. She was a truly amazing person. But it sounds like you are too! Keep following your heart and one day maybe they will say that you were a joy and inspiration to talk to!
      Bob

  5. Joy

    Bob,
    This post ‘cinched it’, for me. I’m planning on hitting the road by June 1st, and am re configuring the van set up. My passion is gardening, and I have internet friends all over that are homesteaders/permaculturinsts. I was thinking about donating my garden tools to a comm. garden, but now am going to try to figure out how to take them with me, on top of the mini van.

    • Bob

      Joy, are you familiar with WWOOFING? It is an organization that connects Travelors/RVers with organic farms. You exchange your time for room and board. I have a friend who does it and loves it. It sounds like something that might be perfect for you. More info:

    • http://www.wwoofusa.org/

    • Bob

  6. Joan Connor

    Great post, Bob, because I am currently living a passion over here in Mongolia teaching with the Peace Corps. Just got off the ATPlacement website as I am trying to move to Alaska next year in a teaching capacity. I’m trying to differentiate between “bucket lists” and “passions.”

    • Bob

      Joan, I’m humbled to have you as a reader. I live further out of the box than most people, but you are a truly brave person who is living life on the edge. You are my hero!
      In Bush Alaska every little village has it’s own school no matter how small. So they have to hire a lot of teachers. I would think you could easily get a job out there. However, be sure you know what you are getting into. It can be wonderful, or it can be awful. The cold and darkness can be oppressive and racial tension does happen. Do your research before signing on.
      Bob

  7. Rick

    Bob,
    Just wanted to say thank you as I enjoy reading your blogs as often as you write them. But to keep this message short and to the point as my English is not so eloquent as others!
    Your story on walks and reuniting a lost pet to it’s rightful master was great as their is according to me, nothing better in all the world, my walks with Penny are about two hours a day where she gets to be a dog, chase wildlife and sniff to her hearts content. And I only wish I had the courage to go out and live the nomad life but my life was predetermined at birth and I currently live with my gf that I plan on being with for the next 20 years. But when December rolls about we will start heading out on life adventures and Penny comes along.
    Again ty for the great reading,
    Rick and Penny

    • Bob

      Rick, it sounds to me like Penny is a very, very lucky dog and you take great care of her. Good for you for following your dreams. If there is anything I can do to help, feel free to ask.
      Bob

  8. Jon

    Hi Bob,
    Another great post. I Keep up with a number of Blogs but can’t think of any others that so often leave me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I’m usually a pretty stoic guy. What an inspiring story.
    Regards, Jon in Ct.

    • Bob

      Jon, that is very high praise, thank you!
      Bob

  9. Sue

    Beautiful story about a beautiful lady. Love the top photo the best.
    My passion is travel, photography, animals. I have traveled some and even fulltimed in an RV for 2 years, only stopping to battle cancer. But, I am now an 8 year survivor and my plan is to go fulltimee in an RV again withen the next year. I am also taking photography classes at the moment to learn all I can about my favorite hobby ! And, as to animals. I have volunteered for years at local shelters and plan to include stopping and volunteering at sanctuarys along the way while on the road.

    • Bob

      Sue, it doesn’t sound like you are spending too much time in a rocking chair! We are alike in our love for photography. Mainly I have read many books but I have taken a few courses in it as well. Nothing will do your photography as much good as full-timing, it will give you an endless parade of subjects! Thank you for serving at shelters, nothing breaks my heart as much as seeing animals suffering. If there is anything I can do to help you get on the road, feel free to ask.
      Bob

  10. Barbara Goodman

    Bob,
    Im new to your site and have enjoyed it so far. My question is how at the age of almost 64 do I fulfill my dreams when my husband of 46 years is a work a holic and wont for the life of him share a passion of mine, to move into a Tiny Home, live a peaceful life and rescue seniors dogs, which is my passion and dream ??? I have raised 3 children, worked along beside him in HIS business for years, a few years ago we lost almost everything, I cant go on much longer living this way, its no life, Id rather live in a hut on a piece of property with senior rescue dogs than have a large home I will be a slave to.
    Loved your experience with the eagles and Jeans story, she will be remembered by lots of caring people, thanks for the story.

    • Linda Sand

      Barbara, I am currently traveling in a conversion van while my husband stays home in Minnesota. I am 65 and we’ve been married 46 years. I feel so lucky to have found a way to do this.
      I have followed several passions over the years. I’m now looking for a new one to focus on in Minneapolis during the summers when I am back home.

    • Bob

      Barbara, I know numerous women (like Linda) who have the travel bug and the husband does not. Many of them travel part of the year and then go home to be with their husband and they seem to both be very happy with it. That is remarkably common in my experience.
      It may be unthinkable, but you may have to consider a separation or divorce. My second wife and I faced something similar. I simply could not keep living in a house and she could not be without a garden. Finally we decided that i would take off for long trips, but we both knew I wasn’t coming back. I wanted her to be happy, and she wanted me to be happy and it was clear we weren’t going to be happy together, so we released each other to follow our passions. As far as I am concerned, that is true love.
      I think the key question is does your husband want you to be happy? If he does, is he willing to compromise somehow and let you follow your dreams part-time? If he doesn’t care if you are happy, what kind of a marriage is that?
      Bob

    • Bob

      Barbara, one more thing, 64 is young!! Now should be the best, most wonderful time in your life, not one you endure waiting to die! Don’t let that happen!!!
      Bob

  11. Irv Oslin

    Actually, it was my decision on Feb. 1 to retire early and LIVE the rest of my life that led me to this blog. I’m a journalist (until October) and a canoe bum. My passion is canoe camping and I plan to explore as many rivers as possible and, when necessary, supplement my Social Security writing about what I want to write about — about people like yourself and the Eagle Lady.
    Kindred spirits.

    • Bob

      Irv, I have a very good fiend who is a Kayak bum, and at the age of 67 she decided to live in her van and kayak all 50 states. In two years she kayaked the lower 48 states and is making plans now to kayak Alaska this summer. Canoe camping she work extremely well with RVing. Writing should also work very well for you. If you start to run out of things to write about, you just turn the key and go find something interesting! I wish you the very best!
      Bob

  12. Lisa

    What a lovely post Bob! It is so true that most people live their lives without much thought as to how they are living their lives. It’s as if life is a board game with a beginning and end and the moves are left to the roll of the die. (or something like that)
    I found a great deal of meaning in my life as I raised my three children but now that they have all finished college and have set out on their own (and my husband is an ex), I have been exploring life options of which living in an RV is one, but not my first choice. (I am leaning towards a small homestead and doing the organic gardening/chickens and goats urban farmer kind of thing.)
    I don’t mean to sound judgmental at all, but for me, my passion needs to be about something that makes the world a better place…even if it is just a very small corner of the world.
    My passion, which I can live no matter how I live, is to change our cultural attitudes regarding the way we raise our children. I want to direct my energies to making a world in which we raise our children without violence or coercion, where we honestly respect their individuality and raise them without the attitude of ownership, and where we create an environment in which they can discover their passion and they are encouraged to develop that passion. I think the reason so many adults cannot find their passion is because they are simply unable to get in touch with their true self. Too many have their passions and individuality squelched at a very young age and are never able to find themselves again. In the end, I believe this is a source of much pain in the world.
    I’m still working on how I am going to pursue this passion; I think there are many possibilities and just writing what I have here is an example.

  13. LaVonne

    Irv Oslin, you beat me to it – traveling and writing about the people and places I find is my passion too! But there’s plenty of room for both of us, right? The main thing I want to do is explore nature. I’ve lived in big city apartments surrounded my concrete all my life and have had very little contact with nature. There’s so much to learn!

  14. Bob

    Jjo, you are very welcome, it is my pleasure!
    Bob

  15. Cyrus

    Thats a cool story bob. I’ve found my eagles in martial arts. I’ve given up my whole former life to live in my van and study my art. The feeling of complete freedom is worth all that junk I gave up. And thanks to you and Fight Club for the inspiration.

    • Bob

      Cyrus, you are lucky to find something to dedicate yourself to. It makes life so much better and fulfilled!
      Bob

  16. mom

    two years ago while in alaska we spent a night in buck abd anns fishcamp in kenai. when buck came in from fishing he gutted a 40 lb salmon to grill for our supper. bald eagles seem to love fish guts. started with one but before the food was gone there were several enjoying their dinner. we were in his rv ten feet from the eagles, got several pictures. the best part, they came back the next day for another feast.

    • Bob

      Hi Mom!! The Kenai peninsula is full of Bald Eagles! Since you and I lived there so long, we forget what a remarkable life it was. It’s a wonderful thing to have those memories to pull up and ponder!
      Two weeks from today I will be waking up in your house and I am sure we will be heading out to find me some nice clothes at the thrift store. It’s awfully nice to have pleasant memories to look forward to as well!!
      Your son
      Robert

  17. Naomi

    Simply – a profound “thank you”.
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Naomi, you are welcome, it truly is my pleasure!
      Bob

  18. CAE

    I’ve never been able to find my passion. I don’t like to do anything too much. So, I’ve kinda decided to just be as nice a person as I can. At least that way I’m not getting in the way. And who knows, maybe I’ll help someone else find their passion?

    • cyrus

      It’s never too late to find your passion! I couldn’t imagine living without passions, they are what makes life with living! Without passions, we just go through the motions.

      • Bob

        Cyrus, I can’t agree more! I spent nearly my whole life just going through the motions and deeply regret it. Everything I do and write is dedicated to the idea of snapping out of our stupor and finding a passion and no longer just going through the motions like a drone or cog in the machine.
        You are wise far beyond your years to be following that path at such a young age. It very well may come with a cost, but it will be more than worth it!
        Bob

    • Bob

      CAE, that works! Maybe being a nice person is your passion. Seems like a good one to me!
      Bob

  19. Gloria

    Bob,
    This story really resonates with me. I’m yet preparing my van for full timing and to join you all in mid-May. My dream is to continue to be a nature photographer/videographer, teacher-naturalist and to run my online art and science eCenter. One of my top goals is to walk everyday in beautiful natural settings (I do walk now with my dog Rochelle), take photos and videos and share them with my students in my lessons. Perhaps it will work it’s way into being a narrator for the natural world, like David Attenborough, my favorite BBC naturalist/narrator! I look forward to the upcoming adventure! Thanks for writing! I really enjoy reading your blogs. They continually inspire me.
    Gloria

    • Bob

      Gloria, you sound perfect for vandwelling. I am hopelessly addicted to nature, and every morning when I wake up on public land I am so grateful for this life. It sounds like the perfect life for you. You should thrive out here! Some general thoughts that came to me as I read your comment.
      1) Everything you want to do is power-hungry, so have plenty of solar!
      2) It sounds like you already have your van, but if not strongly consider a All-Wheel-Drive Chevrolet Express van. For a few years they made the AWD which would be a huge help getting in the backcountry. If I were you I would consider a 4×4 pickup instead. At least I would get aggressive tires and consider a lift for the van. Maybe even a locker for the rear.
      3) I am very careful to always have internet access which you will need also. You will probably want to spend the money and get an amplifier and good antenna to amplify the cell signal.
      If you already have the eCenter going (or a website at all) please share it with us, I would love to check it out!
      Bob

  20. Chad Owens

    “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela
    I am trying to get there, its just hard to let go. Thank you, I picked up a copy of the book.

    • Bob

      Chad, don’t feel bad, it really is hard to let go. The old way is the only life you’ve ever owned and you have been constantly told it is the best possible life. You are constantly bombarded from every side that this is the good life. To go against all that is is not easy. You have to decide if what you gain is worth what you give up. But you can’t really know until you are already doing it.
      Can you ease into it? Start by going camping and see if you like that. Buy a minivan and take trips in it to see if you like it. If you don’t you can sell the minivan or keep it and use it as your daily driver. Or, just go all out and throw yourself into it totally, no-holds-barred, all-in! What’s the worst that can happen? There are two likely possibilities:
      1) You love it and think it was the best thing you ever did.
      2) You decide it wasn’t for you and go back to “normal” life. But, one day you will look back at your time vandwelling/RVing and be really glad you did it and had such a grand adventure!
      If you look at it that way, it gets much easier and you realize, no matter what, you can’t lose!
      Bob

  21. Yuna

    I was browsing through the web, wanting to read all about RV adventures, and I stumbled on your post. Made me cry. Idiotic, I know. It’s one of the most meaningful posts I have ever come across online. I am 30 years old. Life has been hard. But this post has reached out to me, giving me hope, giving me courage. Thank you for reaching out to me.

    • Bob

      Yuna, I am so glad you wrote and told me all that. It is extremely important to me to know I have had an impact on your life. I have had some hard times and during those times I am so grateful to those who helped me! To repay them I try hard to help others however I can. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

      “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


      If you persevere, the day will come when you can use your past experiences and be the one reaching out to help others. That day will make it all worthwhile!
      Bob

  22. Camping sink

    Life is such a beautiful thing we should enjoy each and every moment of this life.
    We should go on camping to spend some quality time with nature. So that at the time of death we can die peacefully.

Table of Contents

45 Comments

  1. Bodhi

    Thank you for sharing this story. I was in Homer in 2002 and I saw A LOT of Eagles, yet, I knew nothing about “The Eagle Lady”. Now I wish I had known of her.
    My passion is to live in harmony with the planet and all of nature, to do things just for me, not because I am supposed to.
    How will my memory live beyond my death? I have worked hard and I want to leave something positive behind. Most people don’t understand that you can build a “financial machine” that will use money to make money. I figured it out and once my “financial machine” is fully functional I will be able to set up self-sustaining scholarships at a rate of about one every five years. I may never make it into Wikipedia but there will be a handful of people forever on the planet who will know who I am… who I was.
    You are destined for Wikipedia I a sure!
    Much Peace, Love and Harmony with Nature,
    Bodhi

    • Bob

      Bodhi, you have a very generous heart to go through the work of setting up a foundation! I think living in harmony with all of life is a worthy goal for every human being!
      Bob

    • Naomi

      Bodhi,
      That is such a wonderful thing to do. Thanks for the inspiration.
      ~Naomi

  2. Karen

    Wonderful story Bob! We saw the eagles in Homer too but there was no information about Jean King, not even at the Pratt Museum-what a shame.
    I’m glad that you posted some of your eagle pictures. You must have so many photographs of gorgeous places in Alaska. Are there any more blog posts in the making about your adventures while you were living there?

    • Bob

      Karen, Jean only fed the eagles in the winter. During the summer there is such an abundance of natural food for them they scatter to the wilderness to live natural, normal eagle lives. Only in the winter when food is much scarcer do they come into town in such very large numbers to get food. During the summer Homer is so busy and active with fishing and tourists that the eagles fade into nothingness. But in the winter when nothing is going on they become one of the only things that bring tourists to town.
      I had all my old Alaska photos in archives and I just got them all out, so yes, there will be several posts coming up with photos of Alaska. One will be general scenery photos but one will be Northern Lights. There are few experiences as awe-inspiring as watching the Northern Lights. But if you live in Alaska, it just becomes routine. You see them dozens of times every winter.
      Bob

  3. Harmony Rose

    What a wonderful story about Jean – thank you so much for sharing!
    Passion….? I have so much trouble finding my own ‘passion’ and I feel like I’ve been on a holding pattern for so many years now. I’ve done what I’ve had to do in life to provide for my child as a single mother and now that this chapter is finishing, there doesn’t appear to be any new book to start on. I keep thinking, is this all there is?
    Yes, I have many things I’m excited about, that grab my attention, that I could explore more – but there doesn’t seem to be anything that completely stands out for me. One thing I do know is that I’m totally drawn to eventually living in my own RV/tiny home, and I’ve naturally gravitated to minimalistic living, but I don’t want to continue my life simply providing for myself – that’s surviving, not living. I really want to have my heart expand and my wings open so that I can soar. How do I find those things to make me fly? or will those things find me?

    • Bob

      Harmony Rose, I think your passion finds you and draws you to it. The fact that you have a strong attraction to Rving and Simple living is all you need to know for now. The key is to follow those urges. I live my life by simple sayings, and one of the most important to me is:
      “Put one foot in front of another, and leave the results up to the Universe.”
      You already know the first step so take it! When it comes time to take the second step, all will become clear. That may seem scary, but a life governed by faith always is. And I believe with every fiber of my being that we have one all important choice to make that will determine the course of our life: “Will I live a life of fear, or faith?” For nearly all my life I lived by fear. Only when it all went to shit was I forced to live a life of faith (although I had been religious nearly all my life, there was no real faith in it).
      Einstein said you can live like nothing was a miracle or everything was a mircacle. I choose to live like my miracle is just waiting for me around the corer. If I will only do my part by putting one foot in front of another, the universe will do its part.
      Go find your miracle!
      Bob

  4. Rob B

    In 2007 my buddy and I rode our motorcycles from here ( W.V.) all the way to Alaska,camping the whole time. Once in Homer, he told me about the eagle lady and we drove to her place and knocked on the door. She answered, and even though there were no Eagles around, talked to us for a bit about her life, etc. We gave her a donation to help her out with the Eagles and parted ways. She was a joy and inspiration to talk to.

    • Bob

      You were very fortunate Rob. She was a truly amazing person. But it sounds like you are too! Keep following your heart and one day maybe they will say that you were a joy and inspiration to talk to!
      Bob

  5. Joy

    Bob,
    This post ‘cinched it’, for me. I’m planning on hitting the road by June 1st, and am re configuring the van set up. My passion is gardening, and I have internet friends all over that are homesteaders/permaculturinsts. I was thinking about donating my garden tools to a comm. garden, but now am going to try to figure out how to take them with me, on top of the mini van.

    • Bob

      Joy, are you familiar with WWOOFING? It is an organization that connects Travelors/RVers with organic farms. You exchange your time for room and board. I have a friend who does it and loves it. It sounds like something that might be perfect for you. More info:

    • http://www.wwoofusa.org/

    • Bob

  6. Joan Connor

    Great post, Bob, because I am currently living a passion over here in Mongolia teaching with the Peace Corps. Just got off the ATPlacement website as I am trying to move to Alaska next year in a teaching capacity. I’m trying to differentiate between “bucket lists” and “passions.”

    • Bob

      Joan, I’m humbled to have you as a reader. I live further out of the box than most people, but you are a truly brave person who is living life on the edge. You are my hero!
      In Bush Alaska every little village has it’s own school no matter how small. So they have to hire a lot of teachers. I would think you could easily get a job out there. However, be sure you know what you are getting into. It can be wonderful, or it can be awful. The cold and darkness can be oppressive and racial tension does happen. Do your research before signing on.
      Bob

  7. Rick

    Bob,
    Just wanted to say thank you as I enjoy reading your blogs as often as you write them. But to keep this message short and to the point as my English is not so eloquent as others!
    Your story on walks and reuniting a lost pet to it’s rightful master was great as their is according to me, nothing better in all the world, my walks with Penny are about two hours a day where she gets to be a dog, chase wildlife and sniff to her hearts content. And I only wish I had the courage to go out and live the nomad life but my life was predetermined at birth and I currently live with my gf that I plan on being with for the next 20 years. But when December rolls about we will start heading out on life adventures and Penny comes along.
    Again ty for the great reading,
    Rick and Penny

    • Bob

      Rick, it sounds to me like Penny is a very, very lucky dog and you take great care of her. Good for you for following your dreams. If there is anything I can do to help, feel free to ask.
      Bob

  8. Jon

    Hi Bob,
    Another great post. I Keep up with a number of Blogs but can’t think of any others that so often leave me with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I’m usually a pretty stoic guy. What an inspiring story.
    Regards, Jon in Ct.

    • Bob

      Jon, that is very high praise, thank you!
      Bob

  9. Sue

    Beautiful story about a beautiful lady. Love the top photo the best.
    My passion is travel, photography, animals. I have traveled some and even fulltimed in an RV for 2 years, only stopping to battle cancer. But, I am now an 8 year survivor and my plan is to go fulltimee in an RV again withen the next year. I am also taking photography classes at the moment to learn all I can about my favorite hobby ! And, as to animals. I have volunteered for years at local shelters and plan to include stopping and volunteering at sanctuarys along the way while on the road.

    • Bob

      Sue, it doesn’t sound like you are spending too much time in a rocking chair! We are alike in our love for photography. Mainly I have read many books but I have taken a few courses in it as well. Nothing will do your photography as much good as full-timing, it will give you an endless parade of subjects! Thank you for serving at shelters, nothing breaks my heart as much as seeing animals suffering. If there is anything I can do to help you get on the road, feel free to ask.
      Bob

  10. Barbara Goodman

    Bob,
    Im new to your site and have enjoyed it so far. My question is how at the age of almost 64 do I fulfill my dreams when my husband of 46 years is a work a holic and wont for the life of him share a passion of mine, to move into a Tiny Home, live a peaceful life and rescue seniors dogs, which is my passion and dream ??? I have raised 3 children, worked along beside him in HIS business for years, a few years ago we lost almost everything, I cant go on much longer living this way, its no life, Id rather live in a hut on a piece of property with senior rescue dogs than have a large home I will be a slave to.
    Loved your experience with the eagles and Jeans story, she will be remembered by lots of caring people, thanks for the story.

    • Linda Sand

      Barbara, I am currently traveling in a conversion van while my husband stays home in Minnesota. I am 65 and we’ve been married 46 years. I feel so lucky to have found a way to do this.
      I have followed several passions over the years. I’m now looking for a new one to focus on in Minneapolis during the summers when I am back home.

    • Bob

      Barbara, I know numerous women (like Linda) who have the travel bug and the husband does not. Many of them travel part of the year and then go home to be with their husband and they seem to both be very happy with it. That is remarkably common in my experience.
      It may be unthinkable, but you may have to consider a separation or divorce. My second wife and I faced something similar. I simply could not keep living in a house and she could not be without a garden. Finally we decided that i would take off for long trips, but we both knew I wasn’t coming back. I wanted her to be happy, and she wanted me to be happy and it was clear we weren’t going to be happy together, so we released each other to follow our passions. As far as I am concerned, that is true love.
      I think the key question is does your husband want you to be happy? If he does, is he willing to compromise somehow and let you follow your dreams part-time? If he doesn’t care if you are happy, what kind of a marriage is that?
      Bob

    • Bob

      Barbara, one more thing, 64 is young!! Now should be the best, most wonderful time in your life, not one you endure waiting to die! Don’t let that happen!!!
      Bob

  11. Irv Oslin

    Actually, it was my decision on Feb. 1 to retire early and LIVE the rest of my life that led me to this blog. I’m a journalist (until October) and a canoe bum. My passion is canoe camping and I plan to explore as many rivers as possible and, when necessary, supplement my Social Security writing about what I want to write about — about people like yourself and the Eagle Lady.
    Kindred spirits.

    • Bob

      Irv, I have a very good fiend who is a Kayak bum, and at the age of 67 she decided to live in her van and kayak all 50 states. In two years she kayaked the lower 48 states and is making plans now to kayak Alaska this summer. Canoe camping she work extremely well with RVing. Writing should also work very well for you. If you start to run out of things to write about, you just turn the key and go find something interesting! I wish you the very best!
      Bob

  12. Lisa

    What a lovely post Bob! It is so true that most people live their lives without much thought as to how they are living their lives. It’s as if life is a board game with a beginning and end and the moves are left to the roll of the die. (or something like that)
    I found a great deal of meaning in my life as I raised my three children but now that they have all finished college and have set out on their own (and my husband is an ex), I have been exploring life options of which living in an RV is one, but not my first choice. (I am leaning towards a small homestead and doing the organic gardening/chickens and goats urban farmer kind of thing.)
    I don’t mean to sound judgmental at all, but for me, my passion needs to be about something that makes the world a better place…even if it is just a very small corner of the world.
    My passion, which I can live no matter how I live, is to change our cultural attitudes regarding the way we raise our children. I want to direct my energies to making a world in which we raise our children without violence or coercion, where we honestly respect their individuality and raise them without the attitude of ownership, and where we create an environment in which they can discover their passion and they are encouraged to develop that passion. I think the reason so many adults cannot find their passion is because they are simply unable to get in touch with their true self. Too many have their passions and individuality squelched at a very young age and are never able to find themselves again. In the end, I believe this is a source of much pain in the world.
    I’m still working on how I am going to pursue this passion; I think there are many possibilities and just writing what I have here is an example.

  13. LaVonne

    Irv Oslin, you beat me to it – traveling and writing about the people and places I find is my passion too! But there’s plenty of room for both of us, right? The main thing I want to do is explore nature. I’ve lived in big city apartments surrounded my concrete all my life and have had very little contact with nature. There’s so much to learn!

  14. Bob

    Jjo, you are very welcome, it is my pleasure!
    Bob

  15. Cyrus

    Thats a cool story bob. I’ve found my eagles in martial arts. I’ve given up my whole former life to live in my van and study my art. The feeling of complete freedom is worth all that junk I gave up. And thanks to you and Fight Club for the inspiration.

    • Bob

      Cyrus, you are lucky to find something to dedicate yourself to. It makes life so much better and fulfilled!
      Bob

  16. mom

    two years ago while in alaska we spent a night in buck abd anns fishcamp in kenai. when buck came in from fishing he gutted a 40 lb salmon to grill for our supper. bald eagles seem to love fish guts. started with one but before the food was gone there were several enjoying their dinner. we were in his rv ten feet from the eagles, got several pictures. the best part, they came back the next day for another feast.

    • Bob

      Hi Mom!! The Kenai peninsula is full of Bald Eagles! Since you and I lived there so long, we forget what a remarkable life it was. It’s a wonderful thing to have those memories to pull up and ponder!
      Two weeks from today I will be waking up in your house and I am sure we will be heading out to find me some nice clothes at the thrift store. It’s awfully nice to have pleasant memories to look forward to as well!!
      Your son
      Robert

  17. Naomi

    Simply – a profound “thank you”.
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Naomi, you are welcome, it truly is my pleasure!
      Bob

  18. CAE

    I’ve never been able to find my passion. I don’t like to do anything too much. So, I’ve kinda decided to just be as nice a person as I can. At least that way I’m not getting in the way. And who knows, maybe I’ll help someone else find their passion?

    • cyrus

      It’s never too late to find your passion! I couldn’t imagine living without passions, they are what makes life with living! Without passions, we just go through the motions.

      • Bob

        Cyrus, I can’t agree more! I spent nearly my whole life just going through the motions and deeply regret it. Everything I do and write is dedicated to the idea of snapping out of our stupor and finding a passion and no longer just going through the motions like a drone or cog in the machine.
        You are wise far beyond your years to be following that path at such a young age. It very well may come with a cost, but it will be more than worth it!
        Bob

    • Bob

      CAE, that works! Maybe being a nice person is your passion. Seems like a good one to me!
      Bob

  19. Gloria

    Bob,
    This story really resonates with me. I’m yet preparing my van for full timing and to join you all in mid-May. My dream is to continue to be a nature photographer/videographer, teacher-naturalist and to run my online art and science eCenter. One of my top goals is to walk everyday in beautiful natural settings (I do walk now with my dog Rochelle), take photos and videos and share them with my students in my lessons. Perhaps it will work it’s way into being a narrator for the natural world, like David Attenborough, my favorite BBC naturalist/narrator! I look forward to the upcoming adventure! Thanks for writing! I really enjoy reading your blogs. They continually inspire me.
    Gloria

    • Bob

      Gloria, you sound perfect for vandwelling. I am hopelessly addicted to nature, and every morning when I wake up on public land I am so grateful for this life. It sounds like the perfect life for you. You should thrive out here! Some general thoughts that came to me as I read your comment.
      1) Everything you want to do is power-hungry, so have plenty of solar!
      2) It sounds like you already have your van, but if not strongly consider a All-Wheel-Drive Chevrolet Express van. For a few years they made the AWD which would be a huge help getting in the backcountry. If I were you I would consider a 4×4 pickup instead. At least I would get aggressive tires and consider a lift for the van. Maybe even a locker for the rear.
      3) I am very careful to always have internet access which you will need also. You will probably want to spend the money and get an amplifier and good antenna to amplify the cell signal.
      If you already have the eCenter going (or a website at all) please share it with us, I would love to check it out!
      Bob

  20. Chad Owens

    “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela
    I am trying to get there, its just hard to let go. Thank you, I picked up a copy of the book.

    • Bob

      Chad, don’t feel bad, it really is hard to let go. The old way is the only life you’ve ever owned and you have been constantly told it is the best possible life. You are constantly bombarded from every side that this is the good life. To go against all that is is not easy. You have to decide if what you gain is worth what you give up. But you can’t really know until you are already doing it.
      Can you ease into it? Start by going camping and see if you like that. Buy a minivan and take trips in it to see if you like it. If you don’t you can sell the minivan or keep it and use it as your daily driver. Or, just go all out and throw yourself into it totally, no-holds-barred, all-in! What’s the worst that can happen? There are two likely possibilities:
      1) You love it and think it was the best thing you ever did.
      2) You decide it wasn’t for you and go back to “normal” life. But, one day you will look back at your time vandwelling/RVing and be really glad you did it and had such a grand adventure!
      If you look at it that way, it gets much easier and you realize, no matter what, you can’t lose!
      Bob

  21. Yuna

    I was browsing through the web, wanting to read all about RV adventures, and I stumbled on your post. Made me cry. Idiotic, I know. It’s one of the most meaningful posts I have ever come across online. I am 30 years old. Life has been hard. But this post has reached out to me, giving me hope, giving me courage. Thank you for reaching out to me.

    • Bob

      Yuna, I am so glad you wrote and told me all that. It is extremely important to me to know I have had an impact on your life. I have had some hard times and during those times I am so grateful to those who helped me! To repay them I try hard to help others however I can. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

      “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


      If you persevere, the day will come when you can use your past experiences and be the one reaching out to help others. That day will make it all worthwhile!
      Bob

  22. Camping sink

    Life is such a beautiful thing we should enjoy each and every moment of this life.
    We should go on camping to spend some quality time with nature. So that at the time of death we can die peacefully.