Monday, April 29, 2013


I reported to my companion:  "I can see the story here:  Guy's a drunk---wife probably kicked him out---he's adrift in the world ---sleeping in his van---staying drunk to cope with his lost-ness.

Then I went back later to see this:

He was reading the Bible it seemed.  Was friendly and rational---does not even drink alcohol---was just dog tired from his second job.  I engaged him a bit and learned he's sleeping here to avoid a 40 mile drive home---has to attend a safety course in the morning at the nearby Pima mine.

I asked and he showed me what he was reading.

Now I know he is a Mormon---Told me the story of his conversion at age 27.  I asked him to read a bit to me---and he did---something about King somebody going forth to somewhere---very boring---but I listened politely.  Let him evangelize a bit---considered for a fleeting second informing him of the infamous and faith destroying
BOOK OF ABRAHAM which is contained in the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE---which he's holding in his hands. The number one best evidence that Mormonism is a fraud.

Here's the story for those interested:

Even Mormon Theologians are compelled to admit that it's a fraud.  (why they still believe in that unbelievable religion is beyond me)  Here is their lame response:

But I stray from my topic:  I built up pictures in my head about his character but WAS DEAD WRONG.  He is a solid citizen---family man--with a pension and property---with a fascinating hobby---rockhounding. (showed me some samples) He's making his way in the world perhaps more successfully than me.  I really am adrift in the world.
So I did not tamper with his religion. 

I have been at this crossroads before and chosen differently.

So I chose differently this time.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Took this picture an hour ago on a morning hike with a companion on Indian lands south of Phoenix.  We were discussing what our next adventure would be. Returning to my rig, I find this amazing verbal description I want to share with you.

Written my Drew Jacob---calls himself the Rogue Priest. I find both his adventures and his writing ability wondrous. Consider subscribing to his blog.  I've copied this one for your convenience.
Adventure is a way of life. It is putting your ideas ahead of your abilities, and your dreams ahead of your fears.
Before you begin to adventure you are mocked, judged, criticized: that will never work! But once you take your first step the whole world is rooting for you, the people you meet are amazed, they want you to succeed.
Not every single one of them, but enough.
Along your way you’ll find the lowest times, the deepest pains, fears in your soul that you did not know you harbored. You will look around, gasping, for anyone to blame—and there will only be yourself.
At these times you must pull forward, one hand over one hand, until you can walk again. You will want to give up, but adventure has its own siren call, and you will perhaps keep going. First you must forgive yourself.
You will meet companions. Some whom you trust, some whom you don’t; some likable and some grotesque; you will learn to check your judgment, to silence it, and not to mock others as you were once mocked. Sometimes the people least like yourself will be the ones you love the most.
You will enjoy nights of fatal bliss, nights beside a friend you will never see again: one you understand perfectly, and who understands you. You will speak in hushed tones like two thieves planning conquest. And you will know that, no matter where you go, you will always find your kin.
And when you kiss! When you kiss, it will never be halfway. You will grab them and possess each other.
Then you will learn to talk to storms, winds, streams, and wooded glens: the world will become an old chum, a well-known companion in her own right. You will learn her temperaments, and speak to her not as shaman but as lover. Her rhythms will beat warm against your skin, her temperaments endearing.
The world has both good and bad. When others run in fear, you will walk peacefully toward the wind.
And your fearlessness comes in. Not rashness but a knowing smile. You pull the arrow from your side and tend your sewing kit. You give shelter to those who shrink, you forgive those who run. Sometimes you stand alone, sometimes you are creatures of legend.
This is a simple process. It is not elusive. Adventure gives you hardship, victory, and unshakable peace. It is the practice of heroes.
Can anyone adventure? Yes but—no one will ask you. Every force will hold you back except your heart. If your heart aches for it, the door is open. Adventure is open.
It is the practice of heroes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


"I leave for as good a reason as I came: I have many more lives to lead and could not spare any more time for this one." (Thoreau --on leaving Walden Pond)
On a final walk around the Pond I catch this instant when an armed citizen is gently releasing a catfish he caught.  Not a particularly rare sight in Arizona to see firearms openly worn.

Then I'm off----feels terrific to be moving again. ......"lighthearted I take to the open road----healthy, free---the world before me" ...strong and content I travel the open road" (Walt Whitman)
I really do believe movement creates meaning.

There it is sweet people---the world's largest solar plant--located 15 miles west of Gila Bend, Az. Just about ready to go on line. 4.4 square miles of solar panels etc. read all about it.
Can you see the curved mirrors that focus concentrated heat on a pipe containing a fluid salt that can withstand over 400 degrees without boiling.  Heat stores energy more efficiently than batteries so this plant can operate 24 hrs.  

With a companion, I settle in for the night just outside town along a road under construction. 
 Wanting to know more about this crossroads towns, I engage one of its 7 city Councilmen.  Meet Ray Eckerd---a very friendly--knowledgeable guy who answered all my questions with a brevity and openness rare among politicians. I asked what the ongoing issues of the town are.  It was not about water as I suspected---but about garbage---which company to deal with.  Surprisingly, water is plentiful in the area. (ground water)  This city council invites and willingly works with businesses and builders and dairymen and solar enterprises wishing to locate here. 
 Ray's wife Tammie runs the huge gift and souvenir store.
Leaving town---saw this rare group of Black Motorcyclist.
 They are the Buffalo Soldiers riding club of El Paso---en route to  San Diego.
Interviewed briefly the (apparent) leader.  He told me his group honors the real Buffalo Soldiers of 1865.  Here's the full story.
Next day drove less than 50 miles and settled into one of my favorite boondocking spots: Jim Korsten county park.  Jim donated this lovely land to the county as a rural camping and picnic area ---specifying that it remain free of charge.
Called several friends in the Phoenix area and invited them out for a meal.  Great company and conversation.  The guy second from left manufactures those cute functional mini camping trailers called tear drops.  He adds a classy touch by making them of genuine hickory wood.  Check it out:
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  A delicious quandary sweet people--to be this free---and not knowing where to go next. The coming heat inclines me to go up---perhaps to Flagstaff or Sedona---or maybe back to the cool elevations near Springerville, Az.  But something grand is simmering in my head: Perhaps it's time to go home---a sentimental journey home to remember my boyhood in a North Louisiana sawmill town. The happenings there were remarkable and I would like to share them with you.
It's a thousand miles there and a $1000 dollars in gas to go and come back.  (no part of me wants to permanently leave the West) 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Meet Gilbert and Donna---friendly acquaintances at our pondside  camp.  That's our rigs on the far side
 Every day we all walked around the pond for exercise.
Then I learned that they actually lived here behind that wall of foliage. 
 Of course I want the story so I approach their camp.
They invite me in. 
Their little dog is the love of their life.  They also feed 5 feral cats.
I tell them about this blog and ask permission to tell their story. He consults with his wife and they agree.
Donna shows me the details of their lifestyle.  They have lived like this for 4 years. When Gilbert lost his job they received food stamp money ---$367 a month.  Their trailer park rent was $300 which they didn't have. Donna suggested they could go live in the woods----and they did.

At first they didn't even have a tent.  Someone gave them one and slowly they acquired the equipment they now have----mostly by donation.  Donna shows me her cooking technique:  A flat stone in the middle of the fire where the skillet is put.
That's the shower back there---in a really lovely glade.
Another camper gave them the work table.
For middle of the night urges, this handy ring.
Gilbert shows off his coleman lanterns.
As we talked a friend brought them some ice.  Lasts 5 days.
I began an extensive interview.  They were amazingly open. Here's the story:
Married 24 years---he 57--she 46.  They met when he was the maintenance man in her
complex.  She was attracted to him and deliberately broke things for him to fix--till he "got the message." She became an alcoholic but got sober 20 years ago.  They tried living in a mission for awhile but had to sleep separately --they rejected that option.
Donna has medical problems which are handled by Choctaw Indian services.  They have kids who respect their choice of outdoor living and visit often--taking them shopping etc.  They eat healthy, she says---vegetables at every meal.  Both emphasized how they have come to love living this way---that the clamor of town makes them anxious to return here.  The surprising thing is that $367 is enough to sustain them--with just a bit of help from friends---taking them shopping occasionally--and moving camp when they must.  Gilbert was arrested recently for failure to pay old traffic tickets.  An understanding Judge (Stanley) reviewed the total situation and dropped all charges and fines---only directed Gilbert to go do some good deed for others.  He did---that very day--but that's another story.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I call them heroes because they boldly embraced a lifestyle they could afford---instead of burdening their kids or the state (in any serious way) Our society can easily furnish this amount.
THEY FOUND A LIFE---an enjoyable life in a very odd place.  They do no harm.
THEY HAVE EACH OTHER---that makes all the difference. 
I gave them a pep talk---told them that one of the great souls (Thoreau) chose to go live by a pond---told them that you (my readers) would be inspired by their story.
I gave them one of my water cans and all of my collected aluminum cans (thank you CB for inspiring me to retrieve cans  wherever I see them and recycle).
Gave them batteries for their radio and $20 for sharing their story.


Tuesday, April 09, 2013



And his dog--a blue heeler I think--that he has trained to turn around and lean against him for affection.
Twenty three years ago I was camping alone in the desert west of Yuma, Arizona.   
It was Christmas day.  This Cowboy walked up with a friendly howdy and invited me to Dinner.  Thus began an enduring friendship nurtured from time to time by assorted adventures together.
Mac made a good living as a farrier (horse shoeing)  bought a nice home and acreage
south of Spokane, Washington where he and his wife enjoyed many happy years.
I write about him because he has a rare quality of character that I much admire:  HE MAKES HIS VISIONS REAL.---With a persistence I can only envy.
We recently connected in Yuma and he shared his new vision---now that his wife has passed on and so has his pack of 6 mules.  In the past 2 years he has conceived an end-game vision I will share with you.  He is 82 years old--- still beanpole skinny and very fit.  
But first I will illustrate his vision and character via a poem I wrote about him 15 years ago.
Mac Cleaned up a Square Mile

Mac got it in his head to clean up a whole square mile.

You’d have to have seen it to appreciate

the audacity of his intention.

A thousand piles of trash littered this landscape,

a desolate stretch of desert west of Yuma

and east of Algodones dunes.

An informal campground for a hundred years

harbors folks escaping winter’s chill

Locals call the area Sidewinder.

It deserved its name!

Passers through in yesteryears camped here

gathering strength to cross the dunes in daylight,

thumping across the perilous wood plank road.

It was a less conscious time

and they left their trash, broken bottles,

tin cans, oil cans, filters and more.

Illegals crossing here

leave a standard grouping of trash:

inner tubes, cast off clothing, plastic bags and jugs.

One day, six years ago, my friend Mac,

a slender, spirited cowboy from the Northwest,

just got it in his head to clean up the whole darn thing.

And he began immediately, a pile at a time,

down on his knees picking up every bit of broken glass

and every piece of trash. He bagged it,

carried it to the dumpster and hurray!

One pile of trash was gone. Then two!

Then a hundred by the end of camping season.

When he returned next season he began again.

This time, a hundred and fifty piles were cleaned.

Sometimes his buddies would help

but mostly Mac worked on alone.

I have seen him scrabbling far out on the desert

in the early morning hours.

Six long winters later our desert mile was clean

and lovely in its desert way

as every landscape has its beauty

and every landscape can be marred.

I noted as the trash was disappearing

a better breed of campers came.

Dusty, angry loners went away,

I suppose in search of junked-up land

more compatible with their inner state.

The new folks build up friendly fires

well attended in the night,

hold pot luck dinners, walk together,

do favors, exchange information,

sit quietly together at sunset,

drink in tea and color from the sky

and at Christmas decorate

scrubby creosote.

No one litters now.

Our consciousness has been lifted.

Only his wife and friends know who

accomplished this transformation

without permission, prompting, pay, or praise.

I’m humbled by this awesome deed.

It’s as if a man declared

he’d drink a barrel of water

and eat a buffalo,

then did it!

A Herculean labor

that would make Paul Bunyon proud.

Step by step, Mac made his vision real

with persistence spanning years,

cleaning up a wasteland

to make the desert bloom

with hospitality.

More than a whimsical deed;

a blueprint for saving the earth.

Mac is in my hall of heros

and in the foremost ranks

because his challenge came from within.

Is it fate or accident

that his surname is McLean?
Mac's new vision is this:  He is going to sell his place build a Movable BUNKHOUSE on skids to live in .  Why a bunkhouse?  Because he lived in bunkhouses during his cowboy days and wants to re-experience that ambience.  He has a sizable collection of saddles, tack. bunks and cowboy paraphernalia to fill it with.
Why on skids?-----Aaah---for a very good reason:  It allows one to avoid a host of complexities such as  building permits---county oversight. (movable buildings are exempt he says)    In short he wants to go off the radar of civilization.  His many friends have agreed to haul his bunkhouse on a flatbed trailer wherever and whenever he wants a new location.  All would welcome him on their land.  I quizzed him about some details like sewer and water and power.  He's got all the bases covered----in his mind.  And given the above achievement do you doubt he will accomplish his vision? 
If you would like to see Mac's cleaned-up desert---exit Interstate 8 at Sidewinder rd then go south to the long term visitor area.  the desert--As far as you can see west and south of that service station was  his project.  And happily---IT IS STILL CLEAN.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Part 5 of my (faux) revival sermon attempted to show how meaning and satisfaction can be had without recourse to religion.  7 of your comments represent compelling challenges or questions that I choose to address in this separate blog:

Michael questions whether the anxieties of Death, Guilt and Meaninglessness is an adequate breakdown to account for the hundreds of forms of human suffering---like loneliness, pain, shame, defectiveness.

Answer:  Anxiety is a dis-ease of the mind and it's distinguishing characteristic is that it has no object.  It is a dread where you do not know what you are dreading.  No one can bear naked anxiety---it would kill us. (Paul Tillich) (those who've suffered deep depression have a glimpse of the anxiety of meaninglessness)  So we all attempt to morph anxiety into fear----because fear has an object---you fear something.  We can try to deal with our fears-- by dealing with the thing we fear.  Not so with anxiety.  So yes there are hundreds of human ills but they all are expressions of one of these anxieties. (I think)

Wayne ask: If after 32 years (when I wrote the speech) has my opinion changed any.
Yes---Lots.  And this speech has been revised about 10 times.

Do I still think that pursuing temporary pleasures provides any real meaning.
Answer:  Yes I do--if you define pleasures broadly----and here is where we differ Wayne.  I think EVERYTHING is temporary and fleeting. Even this earth and our sun are temporary.  Our very being is ever more temporary.  There is nothing else to do but enjoy/experience/respond to this temporary existence.  The entire cosmos is a fleeting experience. 
My hope is that you and billions of others would "Catch the drift" of the Bhagavad Gita in your spiritual pursuits. (I'll summarize it in a sentence:  The Cosmos is God--- amusing itself in a grand drama---eternity is adventuring in time---God is you---wake up-- and play the role you find yourself in with passion.)

Wayne  continues his question:  Is self centeredness and hedonism  what this world  needs more of.  Have you found anything deeper? 

Answer:  What this world needs more of is people pursuing their hearts' desires through RATIONAL SELF INTEREST.  Ayn Rand and Nietzsche both had this right.  The notion of surrendering your life's energy for pie in the sky bye and bye---or just fulfilling societal expectations--for a lifetime is a less than empowering ethic. 
I suspect that by deeper you mean the bliss, joy and creativity of being in touch with and guided by the divine.  I believe in bliss ---I think the deepest happiness is indeed inside us.  I question most seriously your notion of divine guidance.  I think you and I when we are our most effective and creative are simply being guided by OUR DEEPEST INTUITION. (call it God if you will---I don't seriously object)

George: does not think that "deserts will bloom and love will permeate the atmosphere if we will only UNBELIEVE---(and become experiencers). 

Answer:  Of course he is right about this---I was engaging in fun Puffery.  I am confident, however, that most of the current wars are clashes of religion--and would indeed stop.

George continues:  Instead of brainglow---try heartglow for awhile. 

Answer:  Also good advice---Laurie was kind enough to scan some of my answers and instruct me in non violent communication.  She makes my heart glow with her Love is my Country mission.

Anonymous:  A church without messages from God?  How is that possible?
Answer:  It's very possible---The Unitarian/Universalist have done it by shucking all those tedious and improbable doctrines and bonded together in a search for truth and values.

Anonymous continues:  Seeking fun is all you ever do.
Answer:  You may be right---but I tell myself that I'm seeking fulfillment through adventure and inquiry and self expression.  I am definitely at war with drudgery and I urge everyone to read the first chapter of Walden by Thoreau and see how unnecessary it is.

Mary Matzek: (a very bright involved lady--- have a look: ) asks about people who vigorously play the game of life---doing evil---like serial killers--finding meaning in mayhem.

Answer: I interviewed a genuine bank robber once who told me how incredibly exciting it was to plan and rob a bank-----seems to prove her point.  It may well be that killers and con men and Nazi's have meaningful lives ---their brains certainly glow as they do their deeds.  The Bhagavad Gita implies that evil is an integral part of the drama of life---that it is "plot thickener". That death isn't real--so no real harm is done. 
I guess she has persuaded me that there is "good glow" and   "bad glow"---that my formula for meaning creation needs a guiding ethic.  Mine is called CONSEQUENTIALISM ---it matters what the consequences of our games are.

Steven: asks if  billions of separate egos pursuing their personal satisfaction---playing Ayn Rand's game with RATIONAL SELF INTEREST will lead to a more loving, joyful, environmentally sustainable world or end wars.

Answer:  I think it will---eventually---in the same way as the "invisible hand" of self interest can make economic markets work.  It is masses of people somehow persuaded to surrender and sacrifice their life energies (usually in the name of religion) for the good of others----that has retarded our progress toward fairness and sustainability.
Thoreau marveled that so many people could be found to build the pyramids as a tomb for a booby.  He would have like to have known people who "were beyond such trifling."

Ron (a very creative friend)  makes an interesting point:  The thrill of pure experience can be diminished by thinking (or judging/analyzing).

Answer:  I think that the ability to experience life is a personal art form---never perfected---and slightly different for all of us. Two people on a Disneyland ride might well focus on different things:  one on the thrill of motion---the other on the mechanics of the ride.  Both could enjoy the ride.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Thanks to the Yuma Unitarians for the opportunity to revise my speech once again and enjoy ranting against belief and for unbelief and creative responsiveness to life.  Thanks to my readers for challenging me----I've received a good dose of meaning ---my head glowed a bit---maybe even my heart.