Monday, July 27, 2009



And underneath our cheerleading of the RV dream is there "profound pessimism: that no place is interesting?" Are we novelty junkies? Ultimately unsatisfiable--like all addicts?

So says an anonymous commentator today---read the whole exchange if you wish on the two previous blogs. With some pride I quoted Thoreau's famous retort to a sniper of his day asking why Thoreau left Walden Pond if it was so wonderful there. His classic answer: "I left Walden Pond for as good a reason as I came---because I have many more lives to lead and could not spare any more time for this one." ( I felt smug putting myself in concert with genius)

Anonymous did not go away chastened. Today he challenges the very foundations of our lifestyle. How, he asks, does driving a few miles down the road give one a new life?

Friends, I may need help with this one! HOW DOES DRIVING A FEW MILES DOWN THE ROAD GIVE US A NEW LIFE? (Has this dark soul, probably envious, festering out there in the blogosphere somewhere, asked an achilles heel question?) I'm going to bed--need to think some more.

Okay: I've thought; And I will answer Anonymous' question directly: Traveling a few miles down the road gives one a new life because new places, people, challenges, are an opportunity to present yourself anew, to try on fresh aspects of your personality---and in baby steps create a new you. Comfortable and warm as your friends may be, they trap you at your current stage of development. Their conditioned notions about you freeze your evolution. Every one of us need to "molt" occasionally----difficult to do on home turf.

Joseph Campbell in HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES says that every society on earth tells the story of a hero's journey: The urge to go away to some place new. The hero does so, facing new challenges, overcoming them and in doing so is TRANSFORMED. The new being with a new message eventually returns to share the new insights. It is of course the Story of Jesus, Buddha, Hercules, Odyssus, and a thousand others. All traveled and were transformed.

Everyone, at some level of his being hears the call of the wild--to venture out and be transformed. Everyone wants to go learn something new and bring it home.

Wandering once in the hinterlands of Utah, I entered the spooky, near-ghost town of Modina. I took the occasion to present myself in a new persona---I told the townspeople I was a poet, come to ponder their town and celebrate it in poetry. WOW! THEY TOOK ME AT MY WORD----embraced the visiting poet---opened their hearts---told me everything--their deepest feelings. I wrote the poem---One of my first: "Modina: Deep Desert Town Disbanding" and sent it to them. Not a masterpiece, but the experience transformed me: I drove into town a traveler and left a poet----In my own eyes. A transformation hardly possible in Sondheimer, Louisiana where I started.

So I urge my anonymous friend and all others to go on a hero's journey--engage the new and scary---uncloak the hidden---whatever---inside you!


Jim said...

Hi Randy,

As you know I have been RVing since 1962 and have been a full-time RVer since 1995. I never tire of this lifestyle because "Variety Is The Spice Of Life!"

A lifestyle of constant new people, places and things has many people telling me "I envy the way you live!"

Your great ways of expressing your experiences shows that you are fully alive despite your years. Like Charles Kuraut said "I wonder what's around the next bend in the road?

I've often said that I hope to be the world's first active 100 year old RVer. Because you are older than I am, I'm really expecting to be the second. Keep on rolling! See you down the road!

Wayne Wirs said...

I became a full-timer about a year ago. Though I love photography, I took maybe five or six photos the entire two years prior to my lifestyle change. Now, I take about 100 a week and try to post at least 3 "publishable" ones a week to my blog. During this year, I've also written one book and am finishing up a second one.

I attribute this surge of creativity to how changing you surrounding stimulates us. It somehow infuses a person with a primal, natural energy that seems to be a part of life that modern day society represses.

It's not all about thinking and analyzing - it's about FEELING it. Change your location and you often feel better, more excited and curious. It awakens the Explorer archetype. You could even say it awakens our Soul.

Dixxe's Doodles said...

Its a lifestyle I want to adopt when I dont have the horrible GET A JOB thing hanging over me!..That reminds me I gotta buy a lotto ticket. Wanderlust in my blood and runs deep into my psyche--although I have stayed put for many years Ive done lots of travel and I love not seeing the same face and the face old have to be inventive as each new day gives up a new challenge. I hope I still have enough fire in the stove when I reach that plateau-

Anonymous said...

Just to clarify: my earlier comments weren't opposed to the Full Time RV lifestyle. They were opposed to the false idol of Constant Travel, something quite different.

An experienced RVer like Randy KNOWS what's "around the next bend in the road:" another town that he doesn't like as much as Eugene. How can his life improve by turning his back on a place that he loves?

Why shouldn't an experienced RVer learn his trade and make progress? When he finds his favorite places, why not spend more time there, instead of moving for the sake of moving?

Freezing in the mindset of a beginner is not a positive thing, and if people try to spin it thusly, they are just echoing the glossy magazines of the RV industry, who have a vested interest in seeing you become addicted to scratching an itch through wasteful daily travel.

JC said...

Interesting discussion..... Anonymous asks “why travel” and then suggests the answer, “brainwashing by the RV industry”. The easy answer is “why not travel”, some folks are explorers, and some are not.

The RV industry did not create the urge to travel, but merely responded to an existing market. Travelers and explorers existed long before Fleetwood.

To suggest that full time RV'ers are wasteful, is just foolish. I am sure that I consume less fossil fuel than a home owner that commutes to work.

To call Randy wasteful or a slave to slick RV adds, is off of the chart foolish. I guess that you really need to know Randy.......

Jim said...

After 47 years of RVing, I still do not know "What's around the bend" and neither does Randy...That's why we keep on going.

Randy has enjoyed Eugene more than this one time...he did not just discover it. My own version of summer heaven is Anacortes, WA (where I happen to be right now) that I have been enjoying every summer for more than ten years. The searching for a better place than Anacortes, WA is what keeps me moving as a better place than Eugene, OR keeps Randy moving. I've been good friends with Randy for more than ten years and we both have our favorite winter sites, yet we keep on wondering "What's around a bend we have not yet been around"?

Mark said...

wow, you really stirred the pot this time anon.
there is only so much I could contribute to this "discussion," because I'm still sorting out
my own feelings on the matter. One day I'm a Hatfield... the next I'm a McCoy. If I jump the
fence much longer, I risk castration... as it is barbed wire.
we are each individuals, a sum total of a blend of our life experience and DNA.
sometimes answers start with questions... the ones that make our Galvanic Skin Response peg the meter are usually avoided.
what or who are you running from?
why do you need a new scene to keep your mood stabilized?
what frightens you the most about "landing," becoming a contributing member of a community and society?
how do you really feel about having responsibilities? Does it scare the hell out of you? why?
with all the choices, is there not one place that speaks to your soul... tug at your heart?
are you married or do you have a significant other? why not? (nothing personal here, it is telling tho, and part of the picture)
where's the "balance" in endless wandering?
and so on...
it keeps me awake at night...
I don't know the answers; but I love the questions.
Mr. Hatfield er, McCoy... what day is it?

Wandrin said...

From the nomadic Wandrin guy whose tag line is "keep the balance", the struggle to keep up with my curiosity is tough. Some days that curiosity leads me down the road to see where the road leads. Why the rush to move on. Really. There was lot more to explore at that last location.

After moving far too often late last year, the resolution for 2009 was to "keep the balance" and move less. It hasn't been a perfect record, but that is the downside of any addiction -- falling off the wagon. However, most "parking" times in 2009 have been a week or longer. Once settled for a few weeks, it is great to go back to the same hiking trail, the same coffee shop, the same Mexican restaurant. No experience is ever the same on a return visit.

Each day in my life is a new experience. When living in Denver, I hiked the same trails in Rocky Mountain NP at different times of year alone or with different people. Fall colors, spring flowers, summer rains and snow covered trails each brought a different experience. After that realization, today as a curious nomadic explorer, there is no rush to head down the road looking for something new – a new trail to hike.

However, my humanity means that "keeping the balance" is tough and there will be relapses.

On the positive side... Seeing my reflection in the mirror each morning means it is a great day -- whatever happens.

Rob said...

How does driving down the road a few miles give one a new life?...

I've known people who have lived their whole life in one place, the same schools with all their friends all those years, a job in the town, all that life has to offer right there. When I talk to them about growing up never spending long in one place (10 schools in 12 years) they can no more understand that than I can imagine being in one place.

I just can't picture it.

I would never even think to ask that question, it's one of those "why is there air" questions.

Down the road you have the same possibilities just in a different place. It's harder in that you don't know the people (yet) or have the established relationships (yet).
It's easier in that the people don't know you (yet) and you are going to forge the relationships that are part of being the human social animal.
In both cases you are the same person, just the location and people have changed... For some people that's how life IS.

Everybody is different and this question is just another difference.

Jim said...

To add to the mix, I find the following excerpt from "A Good House" by Richard Manning no less troubling today than when I first read it -- in 1993. Obviously his bias is based on the higher end of the RV lifestyle; wasteful and conspicuous consumption which I likely despise even more than he does. Much of his comments just don't stick to those of us who live a LOT closer to the bone as we wander.
"I was flying back to Montana one clear winter's morning early in 1991. I had been on a magazine assignment of a curious sort, one that had originally been my idea. I had been chasing groups of people who live in motor homes, a new sort of nomad class. Most are retirees, people we call "secure" when what we mean to say is that they have a lot of money. They must have to afford the life they have chosen: cramped "houses" that cost well over $100,000 on average, sometimes going as high as $500,000 or more. These behemoths stalk about the country at the rate of about 5 miles per gallon, seeking nothing so much as the road. We see them queued up at the gates of national parks or, during the winter in the Sunbelt states, stanchioned cheek by cowl in RV parks, aluminum ghettos wrapped around golf courses. We conclude that these people are
seeking scenery or sun or something like that, but this turns out to be not at all true. They are not seeking, they are fleeing."
"They flee the death of cities or small-town America or community, or, in a darker sense, they flee people different from themselves. They flee change and loss of control. In their refugee status they are not that different from all of us, a lost and wandering people, a people without place. Whenever I visit the suburbs I am amazed how few people walk. The curtains are all closed, making windows useless. Virtually all houses face not outdoors to their land but indoors to the television, our identical window on our identical world."
"I once talked to a motor-home nomad who had been camped for months in the middle of the California desert. Outside her $100,000 motor home an inverted garbage can lid served as a bird feeder. "What birds are those, " I asked her, because I was new to the region and couldn't identify desert species. "What are those shrubs they use for cover?" "Those," she said, "are just birds. Just birds you always see. And that is just brush." There was no use in her learning the names of the birds that had come to live there. She watered no trees and planted no seeds. In a short time she would be gone, down the road. Her culture -- ours --
is incapable of inhabiting a place for thousands of years. Her husband pointed out the nearby mountains as the scenic advantage of their place, and I asked him their names. "Those are the foothills," he said, as if mountain ranges required no more identity than "the mall," or "the strip," or "McDonald's."
"In this, the motor nomads are simply a distillation of what all of us have become: a people without a place. We have taken our lives out of the context of the land, above the land. Literally. One can see this most clearly on airliners. Watch the new class of flying itinerant merchants, men in gray suits and laptops. Watch them board and stash carry-ons in the overhead, then throw identical folds into identical jackets and stow them at the top of the rack. Even before takeoff, briefcases are snapped open, calculators are powered up, and numbers are crunched. Watch them land in a new place and never notice the window, as if the view were identical to that of the last place they did not see. To them, whose job it is to distill all places to the ultimate line of profit and loss statement -- the new map of the landscape -- this place is indeed identical to the last. They are at ease here above the land, distant and disdainful of Earth."

Jim said...

The last two paragraphs didn't fit, so they are here:
"As I flew around the country chasing motor-home people, I watched such scenes play repeatedly. I saw America, and then I flew home to Montana. I was convinced it was time I built a house. The clear winter morning that I headed home was a Sunday. In a half-full airliner the sun broke hard through the right bank of windows. Few gray suits were present. These were different people. The crowd ran heavy to jeans and nylon jackets. As the airliner neared Missoula, I
noticed people moving around the plane, shifting to the right side and watching the sun play across the snowcaps of the Continental Divide. Most of us, it appeared, were going home. We began naming names. People pointed out the Bob Marshall, the Swan Range, The Mission Mountains, the Garnets and the Sapphires, and below, the sedate, winding valley of the Clark Fork River. They said the names."
"Then the airliner banked over Mount Sentinel and began its descent to a runway at Missoula. A descent to a landing. Land that I know. As we approached, I could see it all coming into focus on progressively more intimate scales: first the mountain ranges; then individual valleys; then creeks and draws; and finally, tucked behind a softly rounded but hard-cut mountain, a gulch that held the very land that is the context of my house. As the focus shifted from the grand sweep to the minute and individual bits of land, it occurred to me that this is how we find our homes. We find them, then we build them."

Anonymous said...

The key word in your post's update is the word 'new.' Your attitude towards it borders on idolatry.

But I charge you with sins of omission rather than commission.

Your paean to Novelty does not explain what happened to yesterday's Novelty. You'd think that a god would live longer than the day's insect hatch.

I see no difference between what you are selling and a guy who flips from CNN to CNN Headlines to MSNBC to...

PaulM said...

We are the experts in the journey of our own lives. No one else is.

Looking for advice that you might actually follow to the "meaning" is fruitless.

Watching children at play reveals it is indeed the journey. Life is the experience not a puzzle to be solved. Make of it what you will.

Wingedborn said...

One could ask... why then do YOU keep buying stuff?
Are you, too, attempting to fill some empty void?
Why spend all of your time toiling away at a boring and pointless job just so you can reward yourself each paycheck with more ridiculous merchandise?
What's the difference really? We're all humans on this earth - exploring, adventuring...
Some of us do it on wheels, some of us do it by amassing insignificant crap. BFD, really.

Bushman said...

If I might try to add to this interesting, experiential "travel" with a few comments...
Whether to move or stay put has always fascinated me. Choice is good.
The history of European gypsies, and all Diasporas, isn't so good. The Native American had an enviable freedom that did move.
But the world is about to have large scale Katrina like, dislocations boding struggles and troubles for all.
I have found in my life, I can move without moving.
That's the trick.
That's what you all are after, perhaps.
Unfortunately I can't tell you how to do it because it is a discovery.
I can tell you, however, that it exists.
This would render RVing simply a stylistic choice, which it is anyway, is it not?
Happy trails.

Maureen said...

PaulM says it well: We are the experts in the journey of our own lives. No one else is.

Finger pointing, blame, jealousy, making judgments don't accomplish a thing.

I consider my home "the West". Instead of just the Missoula valley my geography extends all the way to Big Bend Texas via SE Utah and Arizona. I am familiar with the various plants, animals, topography, (and a few permanent dwellers as well).

J.R.R. Tolkien sums it up best: “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost;

Samson1960 said...

Novelty and challenge are what bring happiness, and the traveling life is full of novelty and challenge. So it's easier to feel fulfilled living this way.
But it's by no means guaranteed.

Is it possible to feel fulfillment without traveling? Certainly it is. But the mechanisms of standard society have most of us so controlled, so indentured to a way of life we didn't actually choose, that it's very difficult to feel real fulfillment. Lack of fulfillment is what drives people into addictions! Looking for the freedom they know is out there, the freedom they could feel when they were little children, the freedom that is right there. If only they could reach through the fog and claim it. But they can't get to it. So they drink. Or they porn away on the internet. Or they surf the channels. Or they buy stuff. All are substitutions for feeling real things win the real world with real people.

REAL life, REALLY being present in the world. This is what is so simple, but is so hard to do in our society.

So the travel part is just a mechanism, a freeing mechanism that makes it easier to reach real fulfillment in a culture that is really like living in an occupied country.
Can travel be used in the same way as other addictive 'substances"? Possibly. But I don't think it's very likely, given that the traveling life so fully engages the whole person. That can't be said for life on the couch, on the barstool, or in front of the internet screen.

Harriet Tubman said: "Yes, I freed a lot of slaves. But I could have freed a whole lot more, if theys only knew theys was slaves."

So Randy, inside do you feel empty?

Didn't think so.

GRACE said...

GOOD STUFF, Randy. We should get together to discuss God. We can start with the premise that God has nothing to do with The Bible. Gracie