Saturday, October 01, 2016


it interferes with our individual styles of sightseeing and adventuring. (I stop often--to look at anything or anybody that interest me.  My companions likewise stop for whatever interest them)
As I'm idling along,  it comforts me to know that my friends will join me at our pre-designated site.

So we decided to leave Colorado and slowly make our way south to the Albuquerque balloon festival.
Here's how the adventure unfolded:

Image result for rio grande gorge

Image result for rio grande gorge

We decide to follow the Rio Grande canyon south to Santa Fe.  Few people know its amazing geological history.  Unlike the Grand Canyon WHERE THE RIVER CREATED THE CANYON.  Here, the shift of tectonic plates opened up a gigantic fault extending from Leadville, Co to Socorro, NM AND THE CANYON CREATED THE RIVER.  The origional canyon was 2 miles deep---twice the depth of Grand Canyon.  Then the Rio Grand river began to flow south and in time FILLED IN THE CANYON to its current depth of 800 ft maximum. Click here for details.
The rift averages 10 miles in width and is obvious once you know the story and glance left and right as you drive south.
We agreed to spend our first night at Alimosa, Co Wal-Mart.

We agreed to meet on the canyon's edge at the Rio Grande National Monument. We split up and each made their way there.  I note as I'm leaving Colorado that "border stores" selling Marajuana have sprung up  to service NM clients.

Many New Mexico areas have a sky phenomenon called Angel Fire.  Wondered if this was it.
Anyway, we assembled at the designated place just steps from the canyon's edge and stayed the night.
Great campsites with views like this.

Then on to Taos across impressive dips like this.  

To the artsy city of Taos.
Where the local Indians have joined the protest against the proposed Pipeline from Canada.

Here in the town square they fed a busload on their way to the pipeline site. (I don't get the bomb sign)
We split here in Taos because my Truck needed repair.  Kathy and I managed to camp right here in the heart of town.
During my stay I met this terrific couple--Mike and Barbara--an Anthropologist and a Philosopher.
They invited me out to their place for lunch and a great conversation.

Recognize this Church?  Georgia Okeeffe added to its fame with a painting.  This is the backside. The front was sealed off for making the movie Galileo.

Back downtown, big things were happening:  A trashy fashion show.  Entrants were challenged to use trash to make a fashion statement.
Here's an example. Her skirt is made of newspapers.
Here's a recycled shower curtain.
South of town 6 miles is Forestry road 438 where the bold can make their way into the forest.
Feeling the need for some solitude, I went there. Kathy and Barb moved on to Santa Fe.  CB stayed to comfort me in my truck repair. (Cost $375 to fix my driveline)
And then we all reassembled here at Bushrod's place south of town.

Here is our camera shy host and a golden sunset he sees often.  Ours is a 50 year friendship.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: The Philosopher William James once asked why two robbers can successfully rob a rail car with 40 people, when everyone knows that the 40 could easily overpower the 2.  What the robbers have that the 40 lack is an AGREEMENT.  None of the 40 can be assured that others would join him if he resisted.  SUCH IS THE POWER OF AGREEMENT.  

Our little BAND OF BOONDOCKERS have about an 8 month history now and we have quietly bonded.  We like each other! WE HAVE EACH OTHERS BACK AND WE HAVE EACH OTHERS HEART.  You are invited to join us at any of our stops---we just might be the merry band you're looking for.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


MY STEPMOTHER ONCE ASKED ME WHAT I WOULD HAVE TO SHOW FOR ALL MY TRAVELS.  It's a fair question and deserves consideration.  Perhaps it's closely related to the question I've asked in the title: does it mean anything?  I hope to address both of them in my philosophizing section. Meanwhile, here's the sort of activity in question:

Our group moved south from Leadville settling on a mountainside overlooking Buena Vista--stayed here a pleasant 2 weeks.

Earlier, I managed to interview on film the one and only Bob Wells, founder of Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, perhaps America's foremost spokesman for the free, mobile life. When I learn where it may be seen, I will direct you to it.

From one side of the Arkansas river valley, we moved to the other--again looking down on the lovely town of Buena Vista. That's our friendly, half coyote, dog Pelado in the foreground.

We are joined by Jo in her exquisit diesel powered cab over camper.  I caught her enjoying the rooftop exit----great for stargazing too.

My mentor/blogger Kabloonie joins us for awhile.  He is camera hostile so I won't tell you which seat he occupies.

Just across the creek from us is this near-replica of Henry David Thoreau's cabin. No doubt the owner intends to enjoy the solitude that Thoreau enjoyed.  If I had met him (or her) I would have urged him to bless us with the deep wisdom of  "Walden Pond".

Eventually we moved some 25 miles south to the mountainside (Forestry road 250) above Salida and to a lovely spot found by Jeanne that I enjoyed last year.  Here's the view from my door--perhaps a thousand foot drop to the valley below. My companions parked perilously close to the edge.  A stiff wind could have tumbled them over the edge.
The famed Arkansas River.  Declared by artist Christo the most beautiful in America.  And it is the subject of his next incredible project he calls COVER THE RIVER.  Check it out here. It's mind boggling what he intends to do.

One day Barb declared both myself and CB SHAGGY--and in need of a haircut--which she promptly provided.  (the oldest of 9 children--she was made the beautician for all her siblings--and is self taught.  Did a great job) And PS:  Note that I am losing weight with a new strategy: Never get seriously hungry but seize opportune moments to exercise tiny restraints.  In a year, I expect to be 20 pounds lighter.

This turbulence is deliberately engineered for recreation such as this.  One can "play" right there till he's tired.  The backsurge of water holds kayakers and boarders in place.

Local artist do interesting things like this.

Barb installed her magic chair---wonderfully comfortable.

One day she and I hiked a portion of the Colorado trail---a terrific footpath wending its way across the mountains from Denver to Durango.
One day Kathy got a brilliant idea and started a super complex project of building a collapsible room 
on the side of her truck.  Will show the completed project when it's done.

CB bought a new bass guitar to accompany Barb.  They're sounding good.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: DOES IT MEAN ANYTHING?? ---ALL THIS TRAVEL AND PERSONAL AMUSEMENT?? Does it do us any good?? Does it do the world any good?
We could be out working---making stuff--instead of consuming stuff---serving others instead of amusing ourselves.
CB emphasizes that our carbon footprint is dramatically low for Americans. We often go a month between gasoline fillups.  Not owning a house is a big gift to the world. (there are now about a million of us housless, but not homeless,) full timers. (you're welcome America)

BUT MORE SERIOUSLY: Does this drifty travel do us personally any good? Yeah, I think it does!
I see people all the time who do not travel.  Their world is smaller than mine! To prove this dramatically to yourself, go visit the Amish or Hutterites. Living very restrictive lives they have stifled their spirits, their curiosity, their imagination.  Imagine the best of them engaging a mind like David Attenborough or Richard Dawkins. Polished minds require broad perspectives! Travel helps!

The important difference between one person and another is the complexity of their character.

For a more detailed examination of Meaning click here .

Monday, August 22, 2016


Years often go by before I actually lay eyes on her.  That's why I treasure this picture from my archives because in 2013 we accidently crossed paths in a small town in Louisiana and she had a few minutes to spend with me in my rig.  Here is the great lady herself at my humble table eating something I whipped up.

Also from my archives when she was in town to address some group or other.  Her official title is DOCTOR DARLENE because she has a PHD.

I've asked her office to send me some official picts of her.  If they do I will post them.

Today is her birthday---an approriate time to introduce her to my readers.  I will try to give you some sense of her with this poem.


From a litter of puppies you must have seen
that special one, given by nature
an extra measure of spirit; and so
is first to climb out of its box;
daring to go when others stay.

Like that puppy, Darlene was first out of the box.
The whole community saw that it was so!

And there was more: Nature granted her
an extra measure of imagination;
visions of new possibilities.
I have always stood in awe
at the boldness of her actions.

At age 13 she rented a local school building;
produced and starred in
a packed house variety show
that entertained our whole town.
We gladly paid the twenty five cents admission.

For a lifetime she has amused and inspired us
with her enterprises.
Her adventures are legendary
too numerous to recount---
and have spanned the globe!

For a lifetime she has led her friends and family
out of the box: to Jerusalem, Ireland, Australia, Iran;
84 countries in total.
She seduced thousands into her adventures.

Dance was and is her enduring passion,
made most visible in a ballroom setting;
gliding with graceful swirls and energetic snaps;
sexy to this very day.

Obstacles and mishaps have not dampened her spirit.
Moving through them, she stands bold and lively at eighty.

She has been a pioneer for a new ethic of joy;
casting aside drudgery, damnation and dullness.

Were she born to royalty
she could have ruled a great nation.

Personalities that combine Vision with Boldness
likely led humanity down from the trees and out of our caves,
and are our best hope for a happy tomorrow.

I love and admire you my sister
and celebrate your special gifts and contribution
on this special day--Aug 22nd


Wednesday, August 03, 2016


Half of our people selected this new Campsite overlooking Buena Vista--the other half chose a spot along the river below.
One day two riders clomped by on their way up a mountain.

Hours later on their way down, they stopped to chat.
Meet Kendra and Beth--from Missouri and their friendly mounts Jack and Sleepy.
Kendra has not seen the mountains before.

They chatted a long while--answering all our questions about horses and horsemanship.
The big news for me came when they pointed out the unusual bridle both horses were wearing.
If you look closely you can see the big news---NEITHER BRIDLE HAS A BIT IN THE HORSES MOUTH.
You understand don't you that a bit is a  metal crosspiece normally fitted in the back of the horse's 
mouth at the tender junction of its lips so that when the reins are pulled,  a firm (if not painful) signal is sent to indicate a right, left or stop message. 
Beth is the owner of many horses and  she puts no bits in any of them.  She is teaching Kendra a kinder, gentler way to get obedience.  This spirited little rider told us that a slight pull on either rein could be easily felt by the horse and if the rider has a good relationship with her mount, no pain need be inflicted by a bit.
She demonstrated getting Jack to back up--asking him verbally while pulling back easily on both reins.  Jack walked backward!!

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  OH SWEET PEOPLE--do you get the message----and the metaphor?
FORCE IS NOT NECESSARY TO GET COOPERATION FROM A HORSE.  Maybe affection is enough in most cases.  What a marvelous message to give the world.
I was so impressed--I sat down and celebrated Kendra with a poem:


Come to the mountains and ride Kendra ride,
with grandma Beth by your side Kendra side.
Put some goodies in your pack;
Saddle up sleepy and saddle up Jack;
Swishing their tail as you ride up the trail;
No telling when you two will be back.

How high up will Kendra go?
She might go up as high as the snow;
Clear to the top and look right down
On pretty Buena Vista town,
And a valley so green it's fit for a queen
And the Arkansas river so fun to float down.

Come back Kendra, you're welcome again,
And welcome the pinto with lovely mane.
Ride with courage the pony of time,
Not knowing the future, it's rhythm or rhyme.
 With grace and grit ride your horse without bit
Up all mountains you choose to climb. 

Friday, July 29, 2016


Eccleastes 11:1-6  Cast you bread upon the waters and after many days it will return to you.  So says the Bible.
Two days ago a car drove into our camp and this tall gentleman got out and approached my rig---said are you Randy Vining?  I said yes.  He said: 40 years ago you did me a big favor.

Meet Mark Shepherd---a real life philosopher from Denver.  I did not remember him or the favor till he gave me the details.
Turns out he was visiting New Orleans 40 years ago in his RV and needed a place to park while seeing the area.  He made his appeal at the local Unitarian Church and I granted his request.  He stayed 2 weeks or so and became intrigued with our Commune.  So much so that he started his own community back in Denver--which is still functioning.
He has read my blog for some time and decided to look me up.

(I remind you that gold for me is good information, ideas, inspiration, or hope)

1. He lifted my spirits with his personal life-adventure story--establishing a community--getting a masters in philosophy--confirming my belief that the self is fulfilled in community.

2. He reacquainted me with the philosophy of Haidt author of THE RIGHTEOUS MIND--why good people are so divided over politics and religion    Haidt has cleared up the mystery of why people hold such different opinions politically. Click here for a brief summary of his eye opening ideas. Or here   for a great TED talk on youtube.

3. He summarized for me the philosophy of  John Rawles Author of A THEORY OF JUSTICE.

4. He told me about a fascinating community nearby where people live in foam houses--a long time fascination of mine. Curious? click here.

5 He listened intelligently to my ideas about THE BAND OF BOONDOCKERS and the effort to pattern a new mobile culture.

6. He offered me a place to camp in the Denver area.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  YOU VERY LIKELY DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH OF YOUR EVERYDAY DOINGS ARE GUIDED BY PHILOSOPHERS.  I have read that primitive tribes in the Amazon often have individuals of speculative mind and subtle thoughts that are for practical purposes philosophers.

A great visit and I consider myself well repaid for the bread I cast on the waters so long ago.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Pictured below is one tiny (but important) aspect of the challenge: Group conversation.

Here we are, with some guest,  in the cool mountain air of Leadville, Co, (elevation 10,000 ft)
This is no ordinary conversation, however, this is more like a salon conversation. (read more if you're curious)  Basically salons are focused, intelligent conversations  for pleasure and information exchange,where one person talks at a time and addresses the whole group.

Our group has "organically" evolved into a mobile salon. I remember this session in particular as fun and hilarious:  We discussed periods in our life when we were a Jerk---and how we escaped jerkdom.
Here is another organically evolved tradition of our group:  A SOAPBOX.  Whenever one of us feels very strongly about a point--we provide this stool for them to express themselves as forcefully as they choose.  Here, Kathy is making an impassioned defense of Mexican culture,

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  HOW WONDERFUL IS ENLIGHTENED CONVERSATION.  How different from idle chatter and contentious bickering.  I am delighted with the quality of our people and our interactions. I picture our conversations as a tumble of ideas----and like rocks in a tumbler polishing each other. 
I have no grandiose notions---but I remind my readers that one focused discussion group--organized by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia (he called it his Junto) generated ideas and actions that gave America it's first fire department, street lights, lending library and the University of Pennsylvania.

EVOLVING A CULTURE:  A culture is a shared pattern of behavious and interactions.  Our intention is to "organically" evolve our culture--Just feel our way along--discussing issues as they arise. We sharply distinguish "traditions" from rules--the latter imposed--the former invented by consenus. Here are a few current traditions and some I hope are on the horizon:

We define ourselves as a mobile band of boondockers--No designated leaders--. 

Have separate rigs and money and usually travel separately---assembling at an agreed upon place.

Use electronic connectedness--phones--text--facebook--emails.

Membership by invitation

Respect privacy--rarely knock--prefer texting.

Encourage members to leave and reconnect at will.

Purpose: to enjoy and enrich our lives.

On the horizon--not yet fleshed out--is a proceedure for dealing with any tensions that might arise and an exit proceedure.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


Meet "Little Charles" --A really smart and modern farmer in Northern Louisiana.

He farms 5000 acres of corn and soy beans.

With the aid of this super duper, electronically responsive, self driving equipment

and his strapling, equally bright son on the left. (the lady is my sister--the guy in red won the lottery 20 years ago and just amuses himself)

Now meet Tom Dixon--a retired contractor, who got "seized with the miracle of things growing."

and bought this 3 acre farm south of Santa Fe, New Mexico and started a COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE project. Dozens of his neighbors pay $25 for a share of the vegetables grown here.  Each receives a heaping basket  every two weeks. The surplus is taken to a farmers market and sold.
One interesting feature is that people are given the option to work for their share of food or be paid to work.  He hires teenagers at a fair wage.

That's my longtime friend Bushrod leading me to the tomato greenhouse.  I was complaining that I'd not tasted a delicious tomato since Mexico.  Just at that moment a hand reached me a tomato from inside the doorway.  I ate!  It was delicious.  Tom then introduced himself and explained that these were a very special hybrid species from Monsanto and each seed cost about 30 cents.

We walked the 3 acres, marveling at the variety being grown.  There were 2 ladies pulling carrots.
Notice the drip irrigation system. Water is precious here and treated with respect.

I turned to the south and was "smitten" by this magnificent tree.  Something akin to love and wonder swelled up in me.  I hope you've had a similar experience.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Bushrod is so enamored of this tiny farm, the taste and quality of the organic vegetables it produces, the intelligent use of water, the non use of pesticides or fertilizers, (uses composts)  using garden debris for chicken fodder, eggs as a by-product, Farmers market sales of the surplus etc---that he gave me a $100 to tell you about it.  He suggested that I contrast the high productivity of this tiny farm with that of my Nephew's 5000 acres--providing little or no direct food for people---except indirectly as meat.  He believes that America and the world needs to reassess how much meat we eat and what it costs the environment to produce it.

Tom Dixon and his three acre farm are an inspiration and could turn out to be a model for the future if  the environment begins to rebel against our excesses.  We all may be compelled to resurrect our "victory gardens".  I come away convinced that a small garden can feed a family.

And I caught a glimpse of the wonder of growing things that inspired this artist-of-the-earth.

I do not mean to disparage my nephew's farm.  Until the Tom Dixons' of the world persuade us to catch the grow-your-own spirit---my nephew and his kind are feeding the world--and we would starve without them.

One final thing--Tom did not seem to fear genetically modified food.  And if he doesn't--neither will I.