How to Live–and Die–Well

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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:

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.


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

44 comments on “How to Live–and Die–Well
  1. Bodhi says:

    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,

    • Bob Bob says:

      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!

    • Naomi says:


      That is such a wonderful thing to do. Thanks for the inspiration.


  2. Karen says:

    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?
    Karen recently posted…River Mountains Loop TrailMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      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.

  3. Harmony Rose says:

    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 Bob says:

      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!

  4. Rob B says:

    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 Bob says:

      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!

  5. Joy says:

    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 Bob says:

      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:


    • Bob