Thursday, May 29, 2014



Recognize her?  Likely not! It is an idealized sculpture of Sacagawea the Indian lady who accompanied and guided Lewis and Clark.  Not shown is the baby on her back.  Her left hand, index finger, is grasped by the infant.  Her right hand is pointing the way.  This statue really moves me.  It is located on the main street of Sedona, Az.  I made a side trip just to see it again. 

And I lucked out---accidentally camping next to my ex--Diana, writer/ photographer of . We used the occasion to take a hike together along Oak creek.

Then I went to Yuma, got my new tooth and hurried away from the heat--taking a back road north toward Blythe, Ca.  Some 40 miles North, I notice some kind of a community far out in the desert.

Went there!  Chatted with the inhabitants.  Turns out there are 62 camps clustered on a commonly held piece of land purchased in the 70's from the railroad.  It's big assets are  quiet remoteness and access to the Colorado river.  Now largely vacant---its winter residents having fled elsewhere.  Here is a reality that many have fantasized about---a communally owned get-a-way in the desert.
Look it up if you are interested.  From time to time a share comes up for sale.

En route back to the main road, a wild donkey approached me in the dark, then shied away when my camera flashed.

Found an overgrown side road in the dark and settled in for the night.  Next morning I discover an oxbow lake outside my door.

And 50 feet away this sad guy.  I gently evoked his story.  From age 15 he has received SSI in the amount of $800 a month for being mentally troubled.  Now in the middle of the month he is broke----said the money just slips away from him.  I reluctantly gave him two bucks and wrestled in my mind how society should deal with him.  $800 is too much---$400 is more reasonable.  I can understand why the right wing folks gnash their teeth at welfare cases like this.

A hundred feet away another camper---friendly---well spoken.  I'm amazed that people can make a home in this little stand of tamerisk trees. 
It's a hundred degrees and so I move on to Kingman, Az---my fork in the road: where I must decide to go east or west.  Still couldn't decide after camping the night in a vacant lot.  And it's still uncomfortably hot--even here  at 3,500 ft elevation.  I learn there is a road going up into the nearby mountains at exit 59----so I went up up up

Till my altimeter shows 5000 ft.  Much better---in fact quite comfortable.

So I settle in here on state land with a nice view.  I will just stay put till clarity comes-- as to where to spend my summer.  Flagstaff to the right is splendidly cool---but I did that last year.  Maybe Colorado would be nice also.  But then---I haven't been to the Northwest in some years,  Ah well--
no need to force a decision.

Turns out I have neighbors:  Three ladies who bought this old RV for a $1000 only to discover it has many problems including transmission and tires.  That older gentleman there is a camper from a half mile away who is helping the ladies adjust.  He fixed the transmission and the tires for nothing.  A very nice guy,  The elderly ladies are sisters and the younger seated lady is 40 yrs old and cannot talk. The combined income of the 3 is $1000 a month and they are now broke.  I gave them food and money for gas.

They are caring for 9 dogs----six of them newborn puppies.  Adorable to hold.

I became friends with this guy--Bill--who has a lot going for him.  He owns land and a huge RV and has relatives nearby.  We walked together in the evenings.

Settled pleasantly in for about 5 days---waiting for spirit to move me.  And it did--will pick up the story in another entry.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  This is what it's like to be free and mobile and curious in a solar powered rig wandering about the country.  Once your rig is "up to speed" (fully equipped) you can do this on about $500 a month.  Less if you stay put more than travel.  There are refugees, pilgrims, vagabonds and adventurers out here on the road.  My theory is that every experience enriches me---enlarges my view---builds my character and identity.  My step mother once asked what I would have to show for all my adventuring.  I guess the real answer is ME---this being that 
now looks you in the eye with respect and enjoyment--listens to what you have to say--and shares with you my take on things.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


TUESDAY MAY 13---A DAY I HAVE WAITED MONTHS FOR.  This day I get my smile back.
For years I have been on a mission to restore my permanent teeth.  One by one I have done what was necessary.  This one had been particularly troublesome and painful.

About 5 months ago Dr Rubio installed that titanium implant.  Surprisingly, it was a painless procedure and I went away for the summer. (it takes 3 months for the implant to osseointegrate with my bone) Meantime, I concealed the unsightly gap with a $100 device that Dr Montoya (a Rubio dental associate) made for me.

Then I came back and Dr. Rubio installed that preliminary post that remains in place one month while the gums seal themselves permanently around it.
The timing was not perfect because it brought me back to Yuma when almost all RVers have left for cooler climes.  Two months ago there were a hundred others parked here in the Paradise Casino parking lot.

This was the day and I got to Mexico early.  Shopkeepers sweeping their storefront.

This old guy sits here often and peels the spines off prickly pear cactus leaves.  I'm surprised that people eat them. (wonder if and how they cook them/)

I'm the first patient of the day and my special tooth is ready---see it there in the mold.
This is Dr Allen---a Rubio Dental specialist installer.
BINGO----It is done .
AND MY SMILE IS RESTORED.  The whole process costs about $1,500 but you pay for it as each step is completed.  The Implant is about $500---slightly more if you need a bone graft.  See how carefully they have matched my tooth color?
I thank the doctor and I'm away by 9:30.  Rubio and his associates have invented a new kind of dentistry where specialist collaborate and coordinate for greater efficiency and lower cost.  They have many dental chairs and own their laboratory just a block away.  And they give 3 and 5 year guarantees on their work. Check them out. here

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: There is much needless suffering in the U.S. because people postpone needed dental work because of the high cost here.  You can afford to fix your teeth in Mexico.  Don't suffer and don't delay.  (But don't let just anybody down there work on you) Infections need to be promptly treated or they will eat away the bone.  My hope is that this group will be so successful that imitators will open up all along the border giving millions a fair shot at dental health.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014



When I saw this cart behind the Yuma County Library I knew I wanted to find its owner. I learned later that the bag contains clothing and camping gear---the cans contain food and soil nutrients for his "gardens".
The "tires" are home made--consisting of strips of inner tube wound round and round the metal rim.  The advantage is that they never go flat.
I go looking and find him getting water in a bowl from a faucet. 

He sits down and begins to scrub his dingy pants.  He noticed my curiosity and explained that he was making himself a little more presentable for the library.

I carefully engage him.  Turns out he is quite responsive to my questions---explaining that the jar contains a nutritious drink he makes for himself from orange and lemon rinds--thrice boiled to remove the bitter taste.  The other container has a strong tea.  
The case also contained commercial fruit strips.  He gave me one. Not bad!

The notebook contained a project he was working---inventing a new game.

His glasses---wired together.

Then he moved himself to the shade---waiting for the library to open.  It was easy to photograph him because he kept his eyes shut.  Self consciousness of my focused attention, I supposed---but not self conscious about the general public's perception of  him sprawled thus on the sidewalk.  I admire that quality.  He spoke freely all the while.
Inside the library some hours later I check on him and ask a few more questions.  He has pored through a stack of magazines and several reference books.  He explained his game theory and told me more details of his life.

Showed me the rules to his new game called DIM.  

He told me he eats only every other day beginning at sunset.  That he is a vegetarian and that he "cultivates" several gardens around town on public land.  Following his directions I found this one behind the Oncology center.  He said he collects those cactus fruits when they are ripe--rubs off the spines and soaks them in water to make them safe to eat.

He said he also eats flowers in season.

And saguaro fruit when ripe.

Here is one of his gardens growing in that same park.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  THIS MAN HAS A LIFE! That is what amazes me.  Said he did not get food stamps.  He has a cart to maintain, several gardens to tend, food to gather, rituals to observe, games to invent. pleasures like the library to enjoy.  All by himself, he has invented a life.  He lives in 5 different places---staying only a few days in each--lest he be discovered and asked to move.  He did not seemed stressed.  No interest in his family--no set of friends.  A loner with a seemingly calm mind and a busy schedule.

This story alone is gold---but wait---there is more:  He told me that most games are "wrong" because they are wrongheaded-----that is they seek to destroy one another---like chess---and Risk etc. He said that a "right" game is one where players seek to OUTGROW one another---accumulate greater worth.  He said the games we choose to play is a clue to our life strategy--whether to win the game of life by diminishing our competition or to focus solely on elevating ourselves.  He said that playing games inculcates values and that's why it matters which games we play.  He has invented 4 games---he has named DIM---NOK---KEEN---AND SUN.

Are you impressed that such an odd character has evolved so profound an insight.
Reminds me of an old poem:  "UP FROM THE MUD AND SCUM OF THINGS
                                               SOMETHING LOVELY SOMETIMES SPRINGS" 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


TO FULLY APPRECIATE THE HEROISM IN THIS STORY, IT WOULD HELP TO REVIEW A PREVIOUS BLOG OF 6/3/09 ENTITLED:     Tampering with innocents                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

I met these 4 young men in the redwood forest of California.  They belong to a religious sect called the Bretherin back in Pennsylvania or Ohio who choose to live culturally about 50 years behind the rest of us.  I got a fair glimpse of the depth of their convictions by engaging in a protracted discussion.
Now imagine the courage it takes to disengage from roots like this and "make it" in the modern world.

I learned that such an individual was in camp and living in this high tech--one of a kind sprinter--Mercedes van. What makes it one of a kind is that it has no side doors--- ordered from the factory that way---for a special reason--which I will show.

He espouses the value of simplicity---had it printed for all to see on this special gray paint job. 

I could not arrange an interview so I brought Laurie with me to open doors.  
Meet Lester Smith---an individual I stand in awe of.  I think you will too when I reveal a bit more about him.

He shows us his self engineered living facilities.  That is the water supply and kitchen area. 

He eats mostly raw foods---cooks almost nothing.

This is a super efficient state-of-the-art Engel refrigerator.

His potty system is also super efficient and sanitary----closes shut out of sight.

Nothing is more complicated than it need be.  Note the simple hand pump for water.

The single bed/couch is behind the driver's seat.  Now you can see the wisdom of no side doors.  All these facilities would have to be located elsewhere.

Looking rearward is storage.  Behind that wall is a bicycle.  He enters and exits the rear doors. 

This was a surprise---he had this tattoo put on his arm---it is a symbolic summary of his life values.  He told me what it meant but I forgot.

So far I've not revealed any heroism.  Now I will.
He is a hero for having left the known and comfortable for the unknown.  That is what Heroes do.  
He was drafted into the army and did alternative service as a conscientious objector and at the end of his term chose to stay in the outside world.  He began the business of renovating classic houses and was very successful.  Between jobs he began adventuring by bicycle, going further and further till he crossed the nation, East and West and North and South several times.

Then he got really bold and went to India and bicycled clear around that nation---sleeping at nights wherever he found himself.  He went to Nepal and crossed that nation.
At some point he had accumulated sufficient resources to retire.  So he purchased that special vehicle and engineered it to his simple needs.  With any luck it should last him the rest of his life. 
He has won his freedom with honest, creative labor.
Now he sets new challenges for himself.  While I was in camp he set his sights on that 8000 ft peak you can see in the distance behind the tail of that airplane----AND IN A SINGLE 9 HOUR PERIOD WALKED ALONE TO ITS TOP AND BACK DOWN.  Soon he will depart on another bike adventure.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Heroes hear a call to adventure and respond.
Heroes rise above their culture and conditioning.
Heroes adapt to whatever their circumstance---wake up their creativity---assimilate wisdom---build character---enjoy life---find ways to contribute.  This is a healthy human being and his adventuring makes him ever more healthy.  I'm inspired---delighted he crossed my path.