Tuesday, March 29, 2011


---HAPPENS OCCASIONALLY---Meet people "wired" enough like me in values and lifestyle to give me a glimpse of myself---often at an earlier age or stage----Makes me smile inside---congratulate them----compare stories. The guy in this van, for example, reminded me of my Van stage---a very enjoyable, efficient way to live and travel---about midway on the spectrum between hitchiking and motorhoming. This one exquisitly engineered to provide cozy comfort and mobility for perhaps 20 years. For the curious, I will report my Stages In my 30 odd years of travel: 1. Hitchiking 2. railroad hobo at age 12 (just one trip) 3. Motorcycle 4. Car camping 5. a bookmobile specially engineered 6. Volkswagen bug made sleepable 7. An Airstream trailer 8. ford van (several years) 9. BMW motorcycle 10. Winnebago Centauri 11. Isuzu diesel camper 12. small 5th wheel camper 13. The famous Stealth Cargo trailer and 14. My current 21 ft tow trailer. The owner of this rig mirrors me for a different reason.
He has mastered the art of inexpensive living and saving most of his income. He's just finishing nursing school---and he lived in this $3000 rig all the time---shuffling here and there---paying zero rent. He has determined to win his freedom in just a scant 5 to 7 years as he earns the bonus bucks of a short term mobile RN. I introduced him to the book Walden's Pond by Thoreau.
As if the ghost of travels past wanted me to see more---I find myself drawn to this famous landmark----Picacho peak---will stay the night on its slopes if I can find a free spot.
I settle in behind an abandoned Red Roof business. A campground nearby charges $20 a nite.
Exploring my area after dark, I find these guys---Ryan and Steven---bedding down on the rocks on a rather cold night.
Invited them in for a hot meal---we shared stories. Those guys are Me--thirty years ago.
Steven entertains us with origional compositions----said he earned $50 in two hours on 4th st in Tucson.
Next morning I made our breakfast and wished them well----As did Walt Whitman in 1855--surely he spoke of travelers like these when he said:

Afoot and light hearted---I take to the open road:

Healthy, free, the world before me!

Henceforth I ask not good fortune---I myself am good fortune.

Strong and content, I travel the open road.

I inhale great drafts of space

The East and the West are mine;

The North and South are mine.

All seems beautiful to me.

I can repeat over to men and women:

you have done such good to me.

I would do the same to you.

Whoever you are----come travel with me!

However sweet these laid up stores;

However convenient this dwelling,

We cannot remain here!

However calm these waters;

However secure this harbor;

We must not anchor here.

Together, the inducements shall seem greater!

We shall sail wild and pathless seas

We will go where the winds blow---waves dash;

and the yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

Foreward!!---after the great companions---and to belong to them

they too are--- on the road.

Onward!!--- to that which is endless---

as it was beginningless.

To undergo much---tramps of days and rests of night.

To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it---and pass it.

To look up or down no road---but it stretches and waits for you!

To know the universe itself as a road---as many roads


Thursday, March 24, 2011


HEROES WHO WEAR THEIR HONORS OUT. Of course this strange vehicle attracts my attention.
Towing this! Can you see the racing motorcycle also? What is street racing? And why are the Datona Police involved? I will stand outside photographing till I attract the driver's attention and draw him outside---I want the story!
Meet Big Willie Robinson--- He understands--he emerges--with part of the story in hand.
We introduce and for the next hour he walks me through his life---showing me many photos of his beloved/deceased wife Tomico. He weeps when describing her though she's been gone some years. I flashed on the song Bo Jangles where the man still grieves 20 years after his little dog died.
He's the first and only president of Street Racers International--said he was enroute to California for a meet. I sensed that his club had peaked long ago---but occasional offers still come---and some towns still provide gas money for him to come and organize an event.
I wanted to see inside---without asking!! So I listened politely --- evinced my good will---interest---harmlessness (necessary skills to us travelers who are perpetual strangers) and sure enough he invited me inside. I have something valuable to offer----my attention--that is what I will pay for the story. He's 6 foot 6 inches or so and has to stoop a bit. I expected a bad smell but was pleasantoly surprised. This gentle giant sat beside me on his couch showing me his trophies of newspaper fame. They were extensive.
Looking forward at the console--he said was modeled after that of an airliner.
looking rearward----a giant TV--model race cars. He likes the look of spoilers--so he made a large one for his rig. Did you notice it? The rig seemed well lived in---it was perhaps 30 years old. We sat down and I paid attention while he showed me picts of himself with various notables (e.g. the Mayor of LA) some movie stars--Paul Newman--etc. He seemingly needed a fame "fix". My attention provided it and in return he gave me 3 autographed cd's telling his full bio.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I came away sad and a bit exhausted. Ego on display is tiring. (I let myself be warned) Perhaps a single -themed Life such as his-- leads to a starving ego ---so that exchanges like this one amount to energy theft. Old folks I meet---having lived too narrow a life -- are often unbearably boring. Multi-dimentional--multi-faceted folks are sure to be more interesting---and more giving.

Friday, March 18, 2011


AN EXPERIMENT IN OPTIMAL CONNECTION----WHAT IS THE RIGHT NUMBER OF CAMPMATES My tribe----camped at Quartzsite, Arizona---for 2 weeks---about 150 individuals---lot of fun--lot of social options. Good place to look for a partner? But overwhelming for some.
So a small group of us decide to camp together---I suggest a deep desert place I like.
So we go there! You are looking at a logistical miracle down there:--- six complete lifestyles---separately powered---separately paced--- disassembled from place A--- individually made their way 50 miles--- to place B---and reassembled there----within an hour or so. Our Wagon train predecessors would be amazed. Theirs was a similar pattern however--- averaging about 20 miles in a good day. I have poetized on the similarities in A WANDERERS AFFIRMATION
..........We are second wave pioneers,
Blazing trail to a new lifestyle;
Perfecting the art of mobility;
Guiding our swift cozy wagons
Across mountains, deserts and plains;
Stopping briefly in the valleys of anywhere;
Letting night overtake us
everywhere at home.

Ground level view showing how the pack---sorts itself out----each --on arrival---"feels their way around" to find their "spot." Most are very particular about their spot---I know I am. Getting level is a primary concern--followed closely by orientation----I prefer facing West in the winter so that my solar panels can tilt for maximum sunlight. Others feel strongly about locating always on the edge of a group----some want the morning sun to beam cheerfully into their front window---some gimpy folks locate near the assembly place so they won't have far to walk. Others will not park near (noisy)generator users. I've seen Diana maneuver extensively to avoid them and/or to give herself a good view.
So we settle in and hike our area---right away we are surprised to find neighbors a mile away who've come to view the stars. This is just one of their smaller telescopes--the big one was sheathed.
But to hurry my story along---we stay two days then go to Phoenix---several folks purchase new solar panels then spend a week in Lone Butte casino parking lot installing them---and getting a "city fix" (seeing movies buying stuff)---It's a big help to have smart friends handy for consultation, tools, assistance-----THEN we agree to move to another lovely desert sanctuary----down there--at the base of that distant mountain.
This is Harlan---an Alaska guy who'se everything you'd expect an Alaskan to be--bigger than life----his rig is huge--his grip is awesome---his toys and tools span the spectrum--an expert mechanic---a fisherman who makes a good living working 2 weeks of the year---good natured--with a wealth of hilarious true stories of his adventures. He is one of the few people alive who has actually been in the same tree with an angry bear. Getting ready to travel is more of a chore for him than others---that silver thing is a firepit --the second motorcycle is for off road travel. Atop his rig he has constructed a patio. Anyway---with his toys snugly stowed--he is almost ready to travel.
Safely ensconsed in our new spot---from Harlans patio, I will pan 180 degrees to show how we've sorted ourselves out here. (one of those solar panels has an unhappy fate in store for it--a week after this shot--a freak wind gust tore the big one off----He was not unduly ruffled---simply bought another and installed it more securely.)
More of our tribe joins the pack. And rain is on the way.
Looking North--that's my rig and barely visible , two other members.
Finally, looking east the rest of the Pack. Note the patio rails---they lie flat when in transit. I think those things attached are speakers.
Me dancing with Nelda---age 82---she joined us for a day or so---She's determined not to grow old. I watched her jump out of a plane not so long ago---skydiving. That's her rig on the left.
Jay---from Idaho---showing us the wooden kitchen items he makes and sells at flea markets---joined our happy company for a few days.
As you can see---makes quality stuff----(about$5 each)
Then Pat joined us---a master guitarist---wow! entertained us at night round the fire.
That's Rich accomodating Luke---someone else's dog---who insist on being at the heart of whatever is happening. He literally slithered himself onto this lap. During the day Luke will come calling on several rigs---just to say hi---and "any scraps of food handy??
The rain came----Delicious---I feel cozy and I celebrate for the thirsty desert plants.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Traveling aside---it's possible to have too many friends and too few friends. Studies show that a personal social circle of more than 15 is too large to "service"----do what friends do for friends. My circle of friends is considerably smaller than that. Too few friends and you lack sufficient "reflection" to know who you are----and your rough edges will stay rough. I expect my friends to polish me and I will help polish them. Like stones in a tumbler friends slowly make each other more beautiful. (character wise) Traveling as an RV tribe speeds up the tumbler and thrusts out those too painful to tumble with. I've seen social savages "evict" themselves from the tumbler in less than 24 hours. But I'm slightly off target---the blog question is about optimum travel tribe size. My guess is a minimum of 5 and less than 15. And so much the better when one or two drop away and fresh new personalities replace them----somewhat like a whirlwind making its way across the landscape---the pattern remains the same while individual particles are constantly being pulled in and hurled out.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


PUSHED TO THE WASTELANDS--- Today I will penetrate the deep bushlands to find the camps of individuals living there out of necessity and not choice like yesterday's folks. But first,I show you this reproduction of an Indian hut on the banks of the Colorado.
Out there is where I begin my hunt
A surprisingly neat camp with nobody home---I will try to catch its owner another time.
This camp---some distance away seems abandoned---note the mess he left---so often I find poverty teamed with messiness.
As with this camp--definitely being used.
Zooming in we get a glimpse of his lifestyle. I think he may have been sleeping on the left side of the tent---didn't wake him.
I kept my eyes peeled on the area for some time hoping to engage a "bush" person. Saw this one but failed to intercept him.
But later that day I found him scuffling around in the bushes---PICKING UP TRASH---He agreed to talk to me.
Gentle and soft-spoken---said he likes to keep the area clean---That the neat camp was his---been there for some months--cannot afford to pay rent---Has no job---lives on a subsidy--was cheerful and likable.
five miles away---near the canal --I came to see if an acquaintance was still living here. For three years he claimed a "hole" in this patch of tamerisk trees as home--returning nightly. Can you see the cleverly concealed entrance?
Here is the hole--he would drive his car in here and sleep in it. He carried a kitten around inside his shirt. Guess he's moved on. (that's my coat)
This is off the subject but I wanted to show you the seeming wholesale waste of the lettuce pickers. My companion took a head---perfectly good---we puzzled till someone explained that they were rejected for being too large or too small.
We stopped to investigate this phenomenon. The red flags mean--don't pick here.
Moving in closer we see this sign. Later, we learned that a single footprint---of a human or a dog-- found in a field will quarrantine everything around it---being super careful after the contamination scare of a few years ago.
Now, back to my story--engaged this refugee from Ohio--took him3 months and 3 bikes to make the trip---he asked where he could camp free---I directed him to the bushes near the casino.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES---I think I've differentiated two types of Wasteland dwellers---those DRAWN to it and those PUSHED to it. Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed spent time in the wastelands--- suggesting something----but what??? I've found that I'm happiest in the desert. Studies show that humans are more emotionally attached to Savana environments than any other. Logically because that's where we came from. I think we should allow everyone a place to BE. Even if it be in the bushes or desert. That spiritual seekers and the moderately mentally disturbed be allowed to dwell unmolested on the fringes of society. Its far better than the streets and even better than shelters in my opinion. A nation that phohibits mavericks will inhibit genius.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


THE LURE OF LOW LIVING Meet Tim (tiny tim?) a refugee from the winter chill of Colorado---loves it here on the bank of the All American Canal---will stay all winter. Rent for this spot --or any spot along the canal--or on Indian land is $65 for 6 months--cheap enough.
He proudly shows off the interior of his tiny trailer---said he rid himself of a big motor home because it was waay too much trouble and expense.
He has enough money to live wherever he chooses---but prefers it here because he has the time to do the small things he enjoys----he showed me how he sculpted his landscape---trimming and raking , reading and riding his tiny bike. He built steps to the bottomland below and told me his hobby of "earning" about $70 a week from the nearby Casino by playing with the money they give vets three times weekly. Note the $150,000 rig behind him---they also choose to live in the wastelands. For such as these---it's not about the money.
The bottomlands----many upscale campers live down there---so what's the big draw? If they could be anywhere they choose---why would they opt to live in those bushes? I'll go down and find out.
Tent campers nesting in their own private Shangri-la---been there since early December---Said they like the peace and quiet---protection from the winds and proximity to Algodones for dental work.
Another cozy nook----sheltering a $100,000 rig, satellite dish and a steel shipping container---He's settled in for the season. Didn't get to quiz him (or her). The question that begs to be answered is: WHY HERE----in the bottomlands?
A cluster of rigs---friends and family. Said they come every year---love the peace and quiet. They gave me directions to my friends grave.
She's buried somewhere here---I will find her resting place.
I found it: Diana's little Westhighland Terrier--Molly. For 10 years I shared the pleasure of their company----a small poem flashed into my mind:
Rest easy pretty girl:
Wherever your spirit be:
Know that I loved you
As much as you loved me!
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I've learned something here in this wasteland---but I haven't the will to express it just now. Perhaps tomorrow---when I show you an entirely different wasteland ---with occupants PUSHED into it.