Saturday, January 21, 2012


FOUND: MEANING AND DIGNITY IN THE HINTERLANDS.  My readers have (properly)chastened and hopefully sensitized me a bit regarding the eccentric folks I encounter.  I shall now ask how I would feel if my own story were told by someone in the harshest spin----and would I be willing to show my interviewees the story I had written about them?  So here I go---with a new resolve:

Deeper into the bushes near Yuma, Az--than I have gone before---following this track---I am prepared--with camera and a gift.
Bingo---someone lives here.  I shout out a hello.

Out comes "Mike" ---the builder of a real-life house of sticks---(you too, might have reflected: Just like the second little piggy in the fairytale)

I  give him my gift and admire his handiwork. He shows me the inner structure--bedroom--cooking area etc. but asked that I not show it.

There it is---dear readers---a house of sticks.  Can you guess why he has piled branches in this manner?  To camouflage it of course from casual observers.  From a hundred yards ---it disappears --despite being built on a slight hill. Of course I want to ask: Why--and eventually I do.
His answer touched and amazed me:  He did it 2 years ago FOR HIS 2 CATS.  He was living in the Mission, somehow caring for them on the outside---when one day (he says) one of his cats SPOKE to him telepathically---but in clear english--saying: "PLEASE TAKE US AWAY FROM HERE!" He then searched---found this spot and began to build.  But coyotes kept trying to get his cats--creeping close in the nights.  So he constructed this escape trough so they can scamper to safety.

From the house area, they run down this protective tunnel

 down this hole
Down that plank into the safety of this cage.
I engage mike at some length and learn a lot---about mission life---living in the bushes like this---LEGALLY.  Turns out for $65 a year the Quechan Indian tribe will sell you a permit to live on their land---however you wish to live.  Another surprising revelation was that his family comes to visit him here on some occasions.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I'm delighted there is still room in the world for mavericks. I wish conventional governments would allow off the grid--in the bushes living.  He does no harm and cost us little. More significantly--to me--HERE IN A MOST UNLIKELY SPOT---MIKE IS GENERATING MEANING.  His head is on fire with purpose--he's interested--he has projects going.
He has enemies---coyotes to defend against.  Most importantly he has sentient beings to care for and who care for him--He has someone to love. I have engaged hundreds of loners and invariably, those with pets seem more approachable------and happier.


shelly said...

Nice essay Randy. Anyone who loves animals is a friend of mine... especially cats.

farmlady said...

These folks are so interesting. I'm glad that there is a place where they can live and feel safe from whatever fears they deal with.

Sondra said...

Great story, this is why I have 2 dogs and fork out quite a bit of my income to make a good life for them alongside me. Animals deserve and need our love and protection. (and I have to add should not be a food source,,,YUK) Although I wish people could be Trusted to live out in such a way and not wreak havoc on their neighbors etc., Its the BAD APPLE that spoils the whole batch. ie: Ted Kaczynski~
The laws, boundaries, & limitations are there to protect ALL of us From Each OTHER... its unfortunate that not everyone is as kind and harmless as this man you met. My wish would be not that everyone could live out in the bush if they chose, but that everyone would choose to live in Balance and Harmony-therefore creating the environment of peace and happiness no matter where or how we choose to live.
Stay safe Randy! I think you should syndicate your column!!

Jim said...

SONDRA: "I think you should syndicate your column!!"
Gatto Forbid! Once money is involved, the effort moves from "fun hobby" to unfun WORK. I can only hope Randy agrees.
I have an acquaintance in somewhat similar circumstance -- brought him to town one day to sign up for food stamps (EBT card) and now that $200/mo. is his ONLY income. He drove here to Idaho from Oregon and his truck barely chugged up into the yard and promptly died. Two days later, our 84-year-old former landlady (who he was going to caretake for) died . . . and now he's kinda' stuck.
The location is completely offgrid so every weekend I drive out to deliver his food, water, gas (for his small generator), propane, charged-up batteries for lights, etc. It's a minor inconvenience (and expense) for me but a lifeline for him. I'm fairly sure he would be homeless otherwise. Come spring there is a good chance her kids will sell those 100 desert acres -- go for the quick buck as usual -- and he'll be out on his ear. I'll have to get my own LittleHouse and storage shed moved off the property by then too.
I agree completely there should be infinitely more low-to-no-cost living options out there. All this zoning and regulation seems little more than a conspiracy to keep everyone working -- often at jobs they don't particularly care for. Until recently, I (along with two or three others) was paying $50/mo. for my little piece of retreat paradise out there. It was a nice unofficial subsidy for my landlady whose only income was SS and a $30/mo. pension left by her husband who died maybe ten years prior. They were the personification of "land poor" -- all that land and nary a pot to pee in.

parker said...

Randy I'm a follower but not a commenter to Mobile Kodgers.
I've read each of your posts in the last year or so, and visited your archives from time to time.
You have provided a well documented source of material that unless one is a traveler and a student of human nature would not recognize. Although I do not practice the freedoms of 365 days a year going where the winds blow me, I can appreciate your adventures in a purposed life on the road.
Never conform to others, always be true to your own leanings. Independent thinking is the Teacher, and I for one can deduce and glean my own truth from the observations!

The stick house man seems to be very resourceful. From my small travels of a couple of months or so, and searching out such people as him, people with animals do seem more at ease.

Thanks for your insights!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Randy! It is most pleasing to see a pleasant story on how someone is living their life without judgements.

The world is still a large place and there is room for many 'different' people to do their thing.

Rustedgranny said...

A softer gentler Randy. I look forward to future encounters.

Red Meador said...

Another great story Randy, Thank you


Anonymous said...

I Like Mike!