Interested in possibly traveling with me to either Florida for the winter, 2016 or The Firefly Music Festival Tour in the spring of 2016? I am currently creating an intentional community of like-minded enthusiasts who wish to tour this great country of ours in an RV in pursuit of experiencing some of the greatest music venues out there today.

The Firefly Tour kicks off January 2nd, 2016. For 90 days I will be staying at some of the nicest resorts, with about 10 days to two weeks in each place. You can stay for part or all of the trip, AirBnB nearby, buy and RV like me, hotel it, couch surf, I don't care. I just want to create an intentional community to take on getting the hell out of the cold! Destinations include: Miami Beach, South Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Clearwater/Tampa, Sarasota, Del Rey Beach and more. We will pursue great times together: hiking, swimming, cook-outs around the campfire, live music and great conversations. The idea is, we keep moving like a friggin' caravan in a highly structured manner from town to town. The main goal is determine where long term roots might get placed in Florida in years to come, but mostly on this first trip, to keep moving to keep it stimulating and educational. 

This year, 2015, I happily attended 4 music festivals; 

Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revival Music Environmental Festival 

Gathering of the Vibes, Bridgeport CT Ben Harper was the highlight, WOW! 

Rhythm & Roots, Westerly RI - Ninnegret Beach (While there, don't forget to check out the Umbrella Shop down the road! Terrific shops!) Best act of the year I saw, was The Mavericks and their rendition of Harvest Moon. 

Grey Fox (the biggest and the best of all if you like bluegrass, rockabilly and jazz.) 

Once I get through the winter with my new friends I will be in one of two places: I will be in love with RVing and continue on as a digital nomad to music festivals across country or be done with RVing and return to New England. (If you are interested in learning more about the music festival tour, let me know.) I am hoping to fall in love with this new lifestyle and freedom and continue on at least a one year journey across country. You can join me for any or all parts that interest you. I am going to do lots of PR on this project and intend to get multiple applicants before settling in on the original Firefly Founders.

Here are my questions for you to respond to. Email me direct for more information at laurabanks@aol.com.

Does this interest you?  Why?

Do you have a lifestyle that would allow you to work from the road and the funds to continue?

For how long would you like to join us?

How many in your party?

Do you have an RV? Interest in owning one? Place to store one?

 

Posted
Authorlaura banks
Seen here at https://www.facebook.com/purpleroomrestaurantstage

Seen here at Club Trinidad, Palm Springs, home of Frank Sinatra's Purple Room Supper Club. Great food, fantastic music.

NotVagabonding is all about glamping (glamorous camping dawling) in pursuit of body and soul delights. We're talking about staying in high-end cabins, five bedroom homes on private islands, or in a tent for two with luxurious furnishings for unforgettable times. Whether you're dipping in aquifer waters at a luxurious spa followed by a night on the town or meditation class, Not Vagabonding means experiencing luxury travel, bucket list adventures in a mindful yet majestic way. And over the next year, I'll be writing here and www.glampinghub.com will sponsor me going on fantastic vacations in the U.S. in 2015. I'll be sharing tips for healthy traveling, fun side adventures in each town, as well as spiritual pursuits, National Parks, spas and great restaurants.

NotVagabonding readers embrace high-end travel for a week or two because they want to experience glorious nature sites, with often more privacy than a hotel, customized to their desires. Whether it's a stylish treehouse in Big Sur, an uber-luxe week on a deserted beach or a magnificent boathouse in the Florida Keys, I just love to travel. Here you'll find all my latest U.S. tour destinations, spiritual retreats, workshops, great reading, healthy traveler tips and inspiration for your next trip, I hope.

Glamped in a Fabulous Campervan for the Week!

I just got back from my first trip to Palm Springs,California in a campervan, courtesy of www.glampinghub.com. We picked up the camper bus in L.A. and drove to Palm Springs, which took about an hour. Our camper was lime colored with retro curtains. I felt like I was back in the sixties! It came fully-loaded with pillows, bedding, fully-equipped kitchen and most importantly, the experience of going back in time in an extremely comfy campervan which allowed us to camp with class and comfort! It had fresh mechanical up-grades, too. We didn't have to worry about breaking down on the road.

I didn't know what to expect chilling in a big, ol' bus but here is why I loved it:

  • Had the experience I always wanted of camping out in the great outdoors (okay, downtown Palm Springs but it was great, within walking distance of downtown.) Got the best of both worlds, camping and city life! I like this plan and think I will adopt it into my year of travel in 2015. Great campsite http://happytravelerrv.com/
  • Could leave one campsite and go to another with ease. Stay in a different place every night.
  • Had all my stuff with me, clothes, food, toiletries when I went to Two Bunch Palm Resort for the day. Could go out and take a nap in the van midday after a massage with the campervan top popped open, waking to the California sun. (Oh, and at night that pop top turned into a second bunk!) Nice when John and I wanted to stretch out at night.
  • Saved money not renting a car.

Packing and unpacking

I packed just the right amount of clothes this time. That is unheard of. I told my friend proudly before leaving that I had sat down with pen and paper and chicken-scratched everything I thought I might need - every outfit. Airplane clothes: sweat pants and a t-shirt with jacket layers, traveling from New York to California. Needed layers. (And this foot rest I bought on Sky Mall called a Econo-High that really helped relieve the pressure from the back of my legs on the plane.) Could wear same outfit going home. Not likely I’d be flying home with any of the same people and to flight attendants, I’m convinced passengers look pretty much the same, unless your in First Class, which pays to look very different and get orange juice in a glass cup with champagne upon arrival. Yowza. Someday.

Day One: Wore one of six similar white t-shirts. Layer with same jackets worn on plane. Cool in mornings in PS, warm by mid-morning. Packed only two pairs of shorts: one black, one white. Wore all white the first day. Felt like I was on more of a spiritual journey wearing white. My mom always wore white. God bless her. Evening, wear plether pants to downtown Palm Springs. Black suede light weight jacket, one of two scarves for a touch of color. Other jacket was white, so that white/black theme was everywhere, touched up with three colorful scarf choices.

Day Two - Five: Same new white t-shirt but with black shorts. Different scarf. You get it, so for the four days that's how I rolled.
Sleeping outfit: had to cover me if I was running (as in, away from a fire) to go to the common campsite toilet at the Happy Traveler Campsite.

That did not happen. Great campsite by the way - super clean showers, sinks, toilets, pool, jacuzzi, fresh water sweet hummingbirds. Not too rugged. I took my belongings out and found a place for them in various cubbyholes in the van. I then immediately forgot where I had put everything and the next day took it all out of the cubbyholes and put it back into my suitcase which I worked out of the rest of the trip. (Small designer handbags don’t really go in the kitchen silverware drawer.) Brought carry-on amounts of everything because I hate to pay airlines $50 to lose my stuff so I didn't have too much with me in spite of the fact that I never saw the bottom of my luggage again. I really did not know where anything was the entire time. I couldn't really blame it on the van. I just need to learn to bring less stuff - too many books, pens, notebooks, supplement bottles and a stupid, heavy computer I barely used. Used small eagle creek lightweight nylon bags to separate things: socks, t-shirts, hair dryer, etc, worked out real well!

It's Not About Packing, It's About Getting Healthy and Being Spiritually Connected

This journey for me is about learning how to mindfully travel which means to:
- Be in a constant state of blissful awareness. In the documentary entitled, "I AM" (friggin' great!) they talk about walking around in a state of rapture all the time. Is that too much to ask? How can each moment be filled with peace and energized awareness? Am I aiming too high? And what will it take to get there? Forgive my mother again? I’ve spent so many years out of touch of my body and my heart that expecting to get there in one trip is certainly absurd.
- Ingest foods that are rich in nutrients yet satisfying to the palate. I didn't succeed at that so well this first trip, (one organic breakfast and two trips to ihop, oops) but I did buy a juicer when I got home! Love it! The brand: Brevelle. Awesome and easy to clean. Drinking carrot/apple/ginger/kale/parsley juices! Feel a change after only two days. Starting to think that maybe my health breakthroughs won't ALL happen on the road. Maybe by starting to design my true dream life (travel!) I will have more confidence to go for what I want in all areas of my life. As time goes by I am committed to finding healthy travel concepts (promise not to eat at ihop again) in future blogs.

Joshua Tree National Park

Looking over at John in the campervan as we drove through Joshua Tree National Park was a once in a lifetime feeling. I knew this was a feeling we had both craved our whole lives and to have a partner to do this with seemed almost too good to be actually happening to me. This is what we wanted. This is what we had PASSIONATELY desired our entire lives; lost on a back-road, nobody knows where we are but each other, free of any cares, and the wind at our back as we drove thru the canyon in our rented VW Campervan. (Not a cliche, the wind really was on our backs.) All the horrible headlines of the day (snow in Buffalo - knew we were heading back to winter in Greenwich, Ct) seemed to vanish in the horizon, in the sea of Joshua Trees. U2’s song, “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was filling up the entire van and our heads, and as we drove up to the perky park attendant in her little booth lit up like a Christmas Tree when she heard our music. “Wow, you guys are playing U2!”, she said. You are only the third couple in a month I’ve heard do that!” But how else could you possibly enter Joshua Tree? To hear the haunting spirit of the song there you get its true intention. The park, situated in Yucca Valley about an hour and change from Palm Springs leaves you dumbfounded, with so many ‘wows’ coming out of your mouth that you start to feel silly. Once I got over the fact that I had waited way too long for this kind of spirited adventure I could begin to grasp the significance of the day and this entire year journey I was about to go on.     
I love facts, surveys, monkey surveys, statistics, anything that tells me that teaches me more about the human condition and the way out from persistent personal suffering. Apparently, there's a study that shows that when we look at a horizon the body goes into a state of deep relaxation. Another study out of (promise to get actual study name and share, just can't get off the couch now) suggests that the very nature of vacations can create tremendous growth and expansion in other areas of your life. I think a new place, and new peoples can create new awareness, new acceptance of others, others different than me, then the parts of me that I consider foreign and unacceptable to myself...I start to embrace.   

 
But back to the park. (History of park? Millions of years.) It took us over three hours to drive through one of its arteries, with massive boulders of unthinkable proportions appearing out our large-ess campervan windows. It felt like a portal to another dimension, to a history so enormous that my concern overdue books at the Greenwich library, and that extra ten pounds I could not shake had fallen away. How do rocks perch on top of each other like that? The magic of a lone coyote moving gracefully on a sand-swept flatland.

And why does what appears to be hundreds of miles of open fields and Joshua trees as far as the eye can see hold more interest than Two Bunch Palm, the local spa we visited? I thought I was more shallow than that. After all, last I checked I was a female and pampering, facials and aquifers should be much more significant than driving thru some dusty road, barely a tourist in site and spotting a coyote. I think it’s because that aperture inside my third eye got a little bigger there. You don’t come out of Joshua Tree the way you came in. I witnessed the infinity of time, the grace of unvarnished land, kept and cared for by wind and nature, night creatures (rattlesnakes, scorpions and tarantulas) and the laws of the state of California which state one cannot build a Starbucks here. Each moment, every extremely gnarly and bizarrely twisted Joshua Tree held onto it’s unique stand against time and passers-by. How could nature architect boulders like this, like the ones at Jumborocks campsite, the favored campsite of many I met? 

Jumborocks

We had been driving for sometime and convinced we were lost and somewhat concerned when a friendly sign announced that we had arrived at Jumborocks. The main roads in the park were void of life when we visited right before peak season in mid-November and that was great because you can really get the scope and sense of history by ourselves there but it was a welcome site to see every kind of camper tucked away in this packed campsite. There were children climbing smooth and low rock walls, large families on short hikes through the camp before dinner and then nightfall, then insanely starry skies, looking at other campers and wondering who they were and how they got there. But the design of Jumborocks with huge boulders everywhere and small caves gave each camper Ritz-Carlton type privacy. There were the Mercedes Benz streamline, silver-back campers, small tents, C-Class campers, fifth wheelers, all elegantly tucked away behind boulder walls and caves, each prepared for a night of rest in the desert canyon. It was first come first serve here so we would have had to get here very early for a spot so instead we drove around and breathed in this purified air of others who had planned ahead and nestled away against the harsh elements of such terrain. There is no water source at all in Joshua Tree National Park so unless you bring in your own water, you die after a couple of days. (Note to self: tell story of Lady of Death at Park Visitor Center who scared us into thinking we might die of thirst there.) But how beautiful it was to see people prepared to survive and even more, thrive with food and water and family cozily nestled as one, lounging on chairs with cold drinks between ancient rocks set in sand. At night it is cool and glorious. The sense is, it brings families closer with no distractions but each other, no TV, no cell phone reception, off the grid. I guess the way it use to be. And it felt so good being in our VW campervan with everything we would need (water, clothing, bedding) right there with us if we had to stay the night. The feeling of self-containment is rich.
It gave me the sense that because I had compacted my life to this one vehicle, that I was more one with myself, in my relationship, and in all life around me. All was well, and that feeling has sustained me since I got home.
    

 

Moving toward over 170 days of travel next year, to have a breakthrough. I want a breakthrough in the following areas:

  • seeing and experiencing the magnificence of our national parks.
  • packing: light and smart.
  • planning ahead to create extraordinary experiences.
  • mind/body/soul awakening

Groups I am learning about: Hamptons to Montauk/North Fork Wine Country, I Love NY, Lake Region Tourism Association, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Main Office of Tourism, Catskill Association of Tourism Services, Hudson Valley and Duchess Tourism, Atlantic, Bentley, and Capri Hotel, Mt Snow/Okemo, Otto Trading Inc, Fingerlakes Regional Tourism Council, Niagra, USA, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Maui, Key West, FL, Capital Reef National Park, Bryce National Park, Badlands, North Dakota, Road Scholar, Westchester County Tourism and Film, Tony Robbins, Landmark Education, Lackawanna County Convention and Visitor Bureau, Paradise Cove, Luau, Society of American Travel Writers.

Posted
Authorlaura banks

You want to be a published author? Do what I did. Tell everybody you are one before you become one. I was faced with multiple rejections with my first book Love Online. I wrote Love Online before lots of people were dating on the internet – basically the book was ahead of its time and I was an untried writer back in 1996, so I had the joy of getting lots of doors slammed in my face. But as my mother would say, “Laura makes doors where there are none.” I chose to go ahead and create my own small, self-published  book; Modem Mating a Guide to Online Dating. I had just taken some courses at the New York School of Visual Arts and had learned how to use Photoshop. I took a normal page of white writing paper, 8 1/2 by 11 and folded it in half to create the book size. (It was more like a nice pamphlet, about 40 pages in length.) Presto! Now I had a book. At least I liked to call it a book. It wasn’t really a book. But I was an author.

 Now that I was a self-proclaimed woman of letters, I started to call the local television news stations, saying that I was a writer and had a new book coming out. When the TV producers asked me to send over a copy, I thought for sure that it would end there. I sent the thing that was almost a pamphlet, and, actually, I started getting bookings on the local and yes, even national shows as an expert on online dating. MSNBC, Fox News, Good Day New York and others started calling me in to be on a panel to discuss the latest news on this growing phenomena. It was amazing! They even would photograph a copy of my book and show it as a graphic during the interview. I remember thinking how great it looked on camera, all lit up with pretty bright lights behind it. Soon, newspapers and magazines were calling for interviews and quotes. USA Today used a few of my quotes. Amazing.

I collected my TV appearances on a reel and made copies of my reel, then started sending my small book and video to literary agents. I signed with an agent, Jeffrey Hermann, a pretty well known guy, very fast. We got rejected by about ten houses, until Career Press Publishers took it on.

I got a small $5,000 advance and the book came out with little fanfare or interest. (Not enough people were dating online at that time.) My second book with Career Press went on to sell over 125,000 copies – that was written with my co-author Janette Barber and it was entitled Breaking the Rules, Last Ditch Tactics for Landing the Man of your Dreams. That became a USA Today bestseller with appearances on Rosie O’Donnell, ABC World News, and lots of morning shows, dozens of local and national radio shows, the L.A. Times, People Magazine and more. Now Janette and I have our next book Embracing Your Big Fat Ass, published by Atria, a division of Simon and Schuster. We got a pre-emptive offer before the book went to auction. That means Warner Books and Crown Publishers had also made bid and offers on the book. Publisher’s Weekly reported the story and we ended up with a six-figure advance.

 That’s a long way from sitting by myself, teaching myself how to type with a Meavis-Bacon typing program on Love Online in a high rise apartment in New York City. Janette and I can wait and see how our new book goes, but what the future holds is anyone’s guess. There’s one thing that is for sure – no matter what, I will always find ways to make things happen. I can always write more books, somehow. Even if I get rejected – I will create the buzz and then get the deal.

Posted
Authorlaura banks