Friday, November 30, 2007

heading south—Moab, UT
down rt.191 to southern AZ
and Anne LaBastille

After the seven month workamper job in Kanab, with only two days a week for dry-camping, I was sure ready to hit the road. Took a slow cruise up route 89 towards the Salt Lake area to visit friends there and in Park City for a couple of weeks. Went out to Antelope Island to see the vets wrap up the bison inoculations. The Lake sure was down. I lived in Salt Lake in the early 80's when we were sandbagging downtown streets and they were building pumps to pump water from the lake out into the west desert. Lucked out with the weather. Also lined up a job for next summer as a primitive campground host up in the Wasatch. Maybe even an opportunity to teach a six-week silversmith class up in Park City prior to this. Not bad.

Meandered down route 6 and camped a couple nights up Horse Canyon, south of Page, before heading on to Moab. Moab was fabulous this time of year. I parked at a friend’s house for a few days. The neighbor across the road has horses. Meadow and Onyx have never seen horses. The first day, I had trouble walking Meadow past them even though we were on the other side of the road and the horses were not near the fence. By the third day, Meadow was up on the top fence rail going nose to nose with one of the horses! Took a hike one day to False Kiva in Canyonlands. One night we went to see a selection of films from the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival. Nice. Went out for a couple of meals with other friends, visited, met some new people, and generally had a great time. I hate this life.

Continued down route 191. Stayed at Sand Island, just outside of Bluff, right on the San Juan River. Being by a river was another first for my two felines. They were sitting down on the bank when a river dory rowed by with some people. The boaters got a chuckle at their audience.

The next couple of nights we stayed at South Fork campground, a bit west of Eagar on route 260. Nice. There is a beautiful hiking trail there along a creek. Some hikers were around during the days but no other campers at night.

191 south from there was absolutely stellar. The last time I was on it, I was flying along on a sports tourer so did not chance much time taking in the scenery. A lot of curves through the forest. No shoulder in some spots and steep drop-offs. Brakes sure get a work out. There are many campgrounds and hiking trails up in the White Mountains. One spot had a view of the road as it drops and curves, similar to what one sees in the Alps. Way cool. Spent a few days along this stretch to Morenci.

When I got down to Cochise county, I went along Turkey Creek road into the Chiricahua mountains for a night. I knew I was back close to the border because there was a familiar sign. I attached a picture. Sure do not feel safe boondocking down here.

Now I'm back in Naco, just a half mile from the fence. Even so, I was sitting outside the other morning having coffee and five UDAs jogged past, down on the old railroad bed. Considering there are camera towers all along this stretch, they were probably caught soon afterwards.

I've always heard that cats don't like change but Meadow and Onyx seem to be doing fine with this lifestyle. They sleep in the Jeep while we are on the road and when I start to set up camp in a new place, they go off exploring. They are at the door to get in shortly after dark, are out again in the morning just as it is getting light, and back in by midmorning for their midday snooze. Not bad.

Over a month without hookups so far. No big thing and its been interesting. Learning more about conserving water and propane and different ways to stay warm.

Thinking about staying here a couple more weeks and then maybe spend a couple months meandering east and south to Florida and back on the secondary roads. Two hundred miles a day max.

Been using Skype and it has been working well. Unlimited long distance calls for only $30 a year.

Anne LaBastille wrote in “Woodswoman”, “The world around me seems to be so complex and materialistic. It's my small rebellion to keep myself in pioneer-like fitness, to promote creativity, and to maintain a sense of adventure in my life.”


Friday, September 21, 2007

use of time

Occasionally one hears a question such as, “With so little with you, how do you fill your time?” or sees a similar question posted on various forums. One also hears it from those who full-time in the standard way and from those who are considering the lifestyle. I have trouble understanding a question like this. Are people so use to being constantly entertained? That they don’t know what to do if there is no TV, movies, restaurants, social gatherings, or whatever? Even when they ‘travel’, they merely follow the status quo—visit the popular sights, rack up the miles and drive through as many states as possible. So much for taking the road less traveled.

Some say they get bored. How can one ever be bored? I was taught boredom is lack of imagination. Our life is in our own hands, every minute of it—do something with it.

For some full-timers, having more free time is no big thing. They just continue right on doing what they did with their free time, when they were working. Now, however, they do much more of it. I’ve always liked being out in Nature so this lifestyle is perfect for me. I also like to work with silver so I have tools and supplies with me, and work at my bench whenever I feel like it. How can one live a lifetime and not develop interests!?

Let me throw out some ideas for things to do.

  • If one does not already have an art or a craft, you might think about taking one up— photography, en plein air painting, whatever.
  • Maybe try geocaching, which is a great way to see what’s in an area.
  • Get into hiking and possibly go off for a day’s trek where there are no trails.
  • mountain biking
  • Get a badminton set or a set of horseshoes.
  • Possibly try archery, learn to throw a boomerang, or play Frisbee golf. Work at being young at heart.
  • Plink at pinecones with a pellet pistol.
  • Choose an instrument and start taking lessons whenever possible.
  • Look into zazen, yoga, or Tai Chi
  • If you are going to be near water much, get a boat (canoe, kayak, or pontoon) or take up fly-fishing.
  • In the evenings there is always Mexican Train, paperbacks, a laptop, jigsaw or tangram puzzles, and going for a mug walk.
  • Cruise through sporting goods and toy stores for ideas. Preferably ones that will get the blood flowing a bit.
  • Look into disc golf—maybe not to play a course, but think about ordering 3 golf discs: a driver, a mid-range, and a putter. When you are disperse camping out somewhere, grab your discs and go off into the woods or field as if playing a hole; choose a tree about 400’ away.
  • Also give craft and hobby stores a look.
  • Learn to juggle—a nice rhythmic way to relax. Hard to be thinking of other things on your mind when you are trying to keep three balls in the air. It’s not hard to learn as long as you take it one ball at a time. Stick with one ball for the first day, working on ball control. Lacrosse balls work well.
  • Check in at community and senior citizen centers and AARP offices along the way to see what meetings, activities, and classes are being offered.
  • Check out college campuses for flyers listing lectures, events, and seminars.
  • Any museums in the area or public gardens?
  • Pick up a local paper, look for flyers posted around town, and see if there is a local bulletin board.
  • See if the town has a website.
  • And some fun favorites—catch up on chores, clean, or wax the tow vehicle and trailer (^_^)

I can easily spend an hour a day on my Mac. The computer is a stellar learning tool. But ever notice that once a person gets into his 40’s, he’s generally no longer interested in learning new things? Talk about living with one foot in the grave. One also hears people state that one can waste hours on the web. What?! Take a class on leaning how to use search engines, cretin. Once every week or two I have access to the web. I bring a list of things I want to look up on the Internet. I then download numerous files that I can later read through back at camp. I learn something new every time I’m workin’ on my Mac. I should make a list of things I really would not like to live without.

Check the web for classes being offered around the country in whatever you might be interested in—sailing, sculling, scuba diving, panning for gold, archeology, whatever. If you are going to be in an area for a while, look into community education classes in local school districts and continuing education classes at colleges and universities.

Idyllwild Art Academy has an absolutely stellar summer program. Most classes are geared towards southwest Indian culture. One can make a wooden flute, weave a basket, throw a pot, work with silver, carve a stone, and much more. The week’s tuition includes tasty lunches at the campus cafeteria with outside tables. There is a large campground in the pines only a couple miles away that accepts reservations. Check out the list of classes and if one or two interests you, I highly recommend going there. The program is extremely popular. The catalog comes out in January and by the end of February, most classes are filled so one needs to plan ahead. A number of people go back year after year and some even retake a favorite class.

Another idea is to start a travel blog to keep friends and family informed of your roaming. You’ll be spending time taking pictures and composing your postings. If you’re like me and don’t have web access, save the text and jpgs onto a USB flash drive for the next time you are in a library. While there, ask about local upcoming events and things to check out in the area. Be sure to read through the local paper.

Most who try this lifestyle stick with hookups and frequently have web access. If this is so, look into taking classes from sites like The ones I’ve taken have been very well designed. “Speed Spanish” was priceless. ed2go’s classes last six weeks and consist of 12 lessons. One downloads a new lesson on Wednesdays and Fridays.

I don’t live with a TV and read a lot so I’m always on the lookout for people to exchange books with. If there are other campers around, take a few paperbacks over and see if they have any books to trade. It’s also a good way to meet people.

If you want to work a season, check out my “seasonal work” posting for ideas and resources. If you want some insight to what a campground manager position is like in national forest primitive campgrounds, check out the October 2008 posting, ‘campground manager position’.

Then there’s an exceedingly valuable use of an hour or so each day that most people do not even consider—taking charge of your health and getting back in shape. Start with eating less and dropping the extra pounds, start increasing the pace of your walks until they are truly brisk, stretch or take up yoga, maybe Tai Chi, then try some light dumbbell work, hiking, and whatnot. Possibly order DVD’s such as, Tai Chi for Health with Terence Dunn or one of the “Total Yoga” DVD’s. Granted one can not truly learn either yoga or Tai Chi from a DVD but one can acquire the basic movements. Just be sure to touch base with a teacher whenever possible in your roaming.

I could not do this lifestyle without a pet. My two felines are priceless. They love to go for walks with me, make fine companions, and are quite entertaining. If you get a pet, definitely pick one up from a shelter. Dean Koontz had an insightful line in one of his novels, “The saved become the saviors of their saviors.” Never acquire just one kitten. Two are even more rewarding and no more trouble.

Be aware that one does not need to always be doing something. Many never seem to stop, sit down—and think about things—reflect on life—one’s past, the present, what they want to do in the near future. Some would no doubt not find this overly pleasant. They might not be pleased with what they see. It can bring positive changes though, if one has the inner strength for it. But then again, people do tend to do things the easiest way, so why put out the effort. Others don’t settle for the can’t-do-give-up mindset and work towards being the person they want to be and living the life they truly want to be living. And now they have the time to do it. Slowing down, simplifying, opening one’s eyes, presents a new way of looking at life. But then again, I don’t act or think like most people my age. Maybe one should stop acting one’s age once they get in their 50’s, if not before. Sure would cut down on medical problems.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
John Dewey


Thursday, September 6, 2007

seasonal work

If considering seasonal work, first decide what type of work you are looking for. is a very popular source for finding a job. Their listings are extensive and one also gets a daily email with openings around the country.
Other workamper sites have opened in the last few years, such as,,, and

Many seasonal businesses are finding out that workampers generally turn out to be reliable employees so the job opportunities cover more than RV parks. One will find workamper jobs listed for resorts, national and state parks, amusement parks, lighthouses, storage facilities, excursion trains, NASCAR tracks, Christmas tree, pumpkin and fireworks lot, traveling circuses and carnivals, summer camps, and private farms and ranches.

I used to get a stellar job for a summer. I let my membership lapse, however, since I was more interested in primitive campgrounds which are not covered at workamper. I used a campground management company to find the type of work I was after. Last year I lucked out and also had a job teaching a silversmith class for a few weeks prior to the host job. There must be gods (and friends)! Here are some other ideas for finding seasonal work:

Visit Quartzite—a number of seasonal employers hold court there during the winter get together.

Workamping at Callville Bay Marina & Resort 702-565-8958 in Lake Mead, NV or Lake Powell in UT

Check into Southern Cross—gasoline inspectors and Medora, ND

Contact employers even if you don't find a help-wanted advertisement.

Artspan – if you are an artist and sell your work > Artspan is the leader in artist websites and in search rankings by the top search engines. Artspan sites: low cost, high visibility, ease of site management.

Volunteer at a New Mexico state park. For 24 hours a week, volunteers get a site with hookups. Volunteers do not even have to clean the comfort stations or collect trash bags.

Look into working at a summer camps or dude ranches

Many Alaskan public schools hire RVers to park on their property and watch it during the summer

California Land Management—primitive campground hosts

American Land and Leisure


Saturday, June 9, 2007

home sweet home

Well, I've been in Kanab for two months now. Not bad. The workamper job is going well. It's definitely helping me to get back in shape and it's great to talk with so many European guests. The lodge gets a few tour busses in each week and sometimes all 88 rooms are filled. All the signed photographs around the place blew me away. Just about all of the film stars from the '30's to '70's have stayed at the Parry Lodge.

I get a daily email from listing job openings. This was one:
Arizona: Workamper needed for 12 hours weekly light yard maintenance in exchange for full hook-up RV site, at clothing optional property in Tonopah, AZ. Included: telephone, Satellite TV, laundry, electricity, water, sewer & trash. Call: 623-810-0594.
Sounds like they might use more sun screen than most.

This photo is of looking down onto Kanab from the top of the mesa with the 9,000’ Kaibab plateau in the background.

Found some great geocaches in the area. One was up on the mesa above town and another was eighteen miles east of town and then a few miles along sand roads to Eagle Sink, the largest sinkhole I've ever come across. This sinkhole drops into the ground about 100 feet and is the size of a football field. Another cache has me stumped. Been within a hundred feet of it twice. There's just 75' of river in the way. Someone told me there is a dam downstream that I can walk across. I'll nail the sucker next time.

The site I'm in at the small RV park is right next to the tenting area. Couldn't be better. There's grass in my ‘backyard’ and I can relate much better to this type of camper. The other day I was talking with a bicyclist who was heading down to the North Rim. Tanja is German, in her early thirties, and has been on a solo bicycling trip since 2005. Last year was spent in South America. She keeps a travel blog going ( Next it's across Nevada, up the California coast, and on to Seattle, British Columbia, and Alaska.

Another lady was staying in the tenting area for a while and volunteering up at Best Friends. CC has been living full time with her dog in a class B converted van for the last two years. Pretty spry for 62. She also dry-camps quite a bit in her travels.

If you enjoyed ‘Forest Gump’, read ‘Gump and Company’. It's a hoot. How can one person get into so many fixes? The cast of characters alone will have chuckling.

I screwed two plant hangers into the back window frame and hung up a hummingbird and a chickadee feeder. Can you guess where Lapis and Onyx like to hang out when they are inside? Looking through the glass, they are like one foot away from the birds—bodies quivering and tails lashing. They need all the entertainment that they can get this summer. I don’t allow them to go outside while in the park. I also got a cage and have it hanging out a window so at least they can get out in the breeze.

Actually played tourist one day. Linda Lee, a friend from Florida, visited and we went down to the Kaibab plateau for a week and spent a day at the north rim. We walked around the campground they have in the Park while we were there and had some entertaining conversations with some of the campers. Nice time.

Half way through the summer, I was able to switch my two weekend days off to weekdays. From that point on, I headed up to the Kaibab plateau for a double-overnight each week. Some absolutely stellar disperse sites along the east rim of the Grand Canyon. One morning, two dogs came into camp and Meadow ran up a tree. She did not know how to climb down and I don’t like heights. To make it worse, it was a Ponderosa pine, so there were no branches low to the ground. You can see from the photo that I had to back the Cherokee up against the tree, put the table on the roof rack, and climb on top of it to reach the first branch. Not fun. Ah, the joys of owning a pet.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

lake powell

Spent a night here at Lone Rock, Lake Powell. Wind was blowing something fierce all night. Sand was EVERYWHERE by the next morning. Lapis and Onyx would not even go outside.

Get alone. It is one sure way of getting yourself together.
Linus Mundy


Saturday, January 20, 2007

one foot in the grave
get back in shape and experience the Outdoors

When you have something precious, the only way to go is to take good care of it.

Many say that they can no longer participate in such activities such as hiking—they are ‘too old’. They adopt the ‘can’t do—give up’ mindset and jump up on the ‘it’s part of growing old’ bandwagon. They then live the last twenty or thirty years of their life with one foot in the grave. Ever notice that these people are the one’s not doing much to help themselves? The older we get the more important exercise is. There are a couple things some of us have learned over the years. One is that if we are dealing with something that has moving parts and we do not take care of it—it starts to break down. The other thing is that if we start to work on it—it begins to work better—be it an old car or one’s body. There are all kinds of little things we can do to keep active. Many of them do not seem to make much of a difference but taken all together, they can really tone up our body—the home of our soul while here on earth. Many feel that they are so out of shape that it is hopeless. I almost felt this way after my transplant. After six weeks in a hospital bed, tethered there with a Hickman line down into my heart, every muscle in my body atrophied. But stop and think. Maybe the physical body is not the major problem. Maybe one first has to strengthen one’s mind and spirit (and I’m not taking about religion or a supreme being here). One’s head is what’s going to get the physical body off its butt and make the commitment. One needs to develop self-respect and discipline.

Simple observation and common sense will tell one that the mere fact that one is growing old is not the key factor. The key factor is disuse. All too many stop being active by the time they are forty. One’s tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones all become weaker with disuse. Often one then packs thirty pounds or more of excess weight onto this weakened structure and, of course, there are going to be aches and pains, stiffness, weakness, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, and what have you. It’s a given. One has the responsibility to take care of their own health—to take care of what has been given to you.

Some finally realize that this is no way to live and start doing something about it. It might be best to initially loose the excess weight and start walking. Just begin to eat with a semblance of restraint and get down to a healthy weight. Then start building some strength, flexibility, and endurance. MANY just as old and older than yourself have done this. I have a friend who stopped smoking when in her fifties, started to lose weight and exercise in her sixties, is now in her eighties, and can still go out for a 6 mile hike all above 6,000’. She also believes that if one does not learn something new from time to time—one might as well be dead. She’s learned to use a computer, a GPS, and has a decent handle on Spanish. Makes a stellar role model.

It’s important to realize that active living is more important the older we get. For inspiration, talk to people who have taken back some control of their health. If there are not any in your crowd, go to a running race and talk with entrants in the sixty, seventy, and eighty year old classes. Or visit one of the senior games ( or transplant games ( to see what can be accomplished if one works at it. It will definitely take a number of months or in my case, a few years to get back in shape but one will have a much better quality of life for years to come. Others will then see that you truly appreciate what you have been given and accept the responsibility of taking care of it. One can also look at exercise as ‘giving thanks’. It helps me get out the door in the mornings since I’m not going out to ‘exercise’.

To exist in a functioning body is a magnificent gift and to keep reasonably fit honors the sacredness of that gift.

“I would hate myself if I ever got fat, stared at TV every night, and sat in a passive park by day.” Anne LaBastille in Woodswoman.

The ten most powerful two-letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’