Thursday, December 14, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Here's Ed Luff, an interesting, world-traveling codger I met near Yuma. He lives in this cargo trailer the size of mine, but with a dramatically different take on interior design.
Just returning from China, he proudly wears a new acquisition. We swapped stories and strategies. I always learn good stuff from fellow low-road travelers. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Our first meeting convened Monday, 3pm, at the Slabs near Niland, CA. Twenty-seven road kings and queens hunkered together in high winds behind a huge creosote bush. Our numbers swelled to 50 in subsequent sessions. We introduced ourselves, one at a time, with a one minute version of how we came to be doing this.
A common thread in all the stories was that after "tasting" true freedom, they wanted more—and more, and then deliberately maneuvered to win their long-term, comfortable freedom. Most conceded that road freedom is addictive in the nice sense of that word. It is a deep freedom rarely experienced by workaday people; freedom to wake each day and do what pleases us; freedom from drudgery; freedom to move about the planet in whatever direction, playing whatever games amuse us; freedom from the stresses of status climbing, power hunger, drug cravings; freedom from the superstitions of conventionality; and yes, increased freedom from the burdens of ego.
Our major challenges are to preserve our freedoms and to create interesting projects for ourselves. We declare the good life to be freedom to move through an infinite series of interesting challenges.
What a splendid alternative lifestyle. And the frosting on that cake is that it costs very little.
At our 10 am meeting Tuesday, we discussed mobile technology. We agreed that solar power is the key to this lifestyle. We discussed the advantages of AGM batteries. (Glass mat–no servicing, no venting, $150 each, pricey but probably worth it in the long run)
We also discussed cell phone antennas, satellite TV strategies, computers, and finding hot spots where internet is free.
Al Vargas allowed the group to inspect his new hi-tech, 12-volt, compressor-driven fridge. Truly a breakthrough using only 3.2 amps.
This was perhaps the most interesting discussion. Here, our collective wisdom shined. A partial list of places we have overnighted: Camping World, Home Depot, casinos, colleges, schools, churches, hospitals, closed airstrips, marinas, snow parks, Jiffy Lube, and of course Walmart.
We talked about city camping strategies, like the "Boondocker shuffle," slipping into and out of a sleeping spot. These of course are in addition to the whole wide world outside cities.
We all bemoan the closure of good parking spots, but in truth there is an infinite supply waiting to be found. Delorme detailed maps of individual states are indispensable to the boondocker. As restrictions close in on us, we simply increase our cleverness, ranging more widely. Folks who have lived for years in San Diego inspired us with stories of artful dodging. Mountain campers informed us that mountain passes everywhere are good campsites, and that mountain roads always have occasional wide shoulders suitable for camping. (Equipment staging areas necessary in road construction.) The mountains are a great escape from hot weather—for every 1000 feet you climb, 4 degrees are left behind.
Someone quoted Thoreau: "The cause of most wretchedness is not so much a lack of money as lack of imagination."
At our 3 pm meeting, we discussed security matters: the wisdom or folly of carrying arms in our rigs. One creative alternative highlighted was a flare pistol, which is legal and yet menacing. Two clever, simple and cheap battery-operated alarms were demonstrated, which scream hysterically when an intruder nears. (available at Home Depot)
Common sense is the best defense. All in all, it seems that, apart from an occasional theft, security of person and property is a very small problem in this lifestyle. Being mobile, we simply move away from threatening places.
Dealing with Authority
We agreed that challenging authority directly is bad strategy. It’s best to be friendly and comply to extract yourself from a potentially expensive situation. Cops have touchy egos. Macho resistance is a fool’s game.
However, an unreasonable fear of an encounter can deprive one of lots of wonderful parking places. It is, in fact, easier to get forgiveness than permission.
One codger shared his most extreme strategy to stay a night just about anywhere: "Take off a wheel and hide it."
Not much of a problem for codgers, it seems. Most of us have interests to pursue. Reading was most popular. Computering was common, likewise sightseeing, hiking, biking, birding, talking, and musical pursuits. No surprises here!
Dealing with the Blues
This question was posed to the group and very good antidotes recommended: Wait it out or come out of yourself and do something for someone else.
Money Saving Ideas
Grocery outlets, senior centers (cheap meals), grazing at Costco, joining social clubs like Moose and Elks, thrift stores, etc.
King of Kodgers
A dental emergency hurried me off to Mexico after 3 meetings. Jim Jaillet stepped in and led the rendezvous to its completion. He phoned me in Yuma to inform me that I had been elected King of Kodgers. I’m humbled by this honor and I pledge to govern no one; to lead no one, except in the sense that Walt Whitman proclaimed:
"Each man and woman of you I lead upon a knoll;
My left hand hooks you round the waist,
My right hand points to landscapes of continents, and a plain public road.
Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far...it is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds and I will mine, and let us hasten forth;
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service for me;
For after we start, we never lie by again.
Long enough have you dreamed contemptible dreams.
Now I wash the gum from your eyes;
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and
of every moment of your life.
Long have you waded timidly by the shore, holding on to a plank.
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, and rise again and
nod to me and shout, and laughingly dash with your hair."