Monday, December 15, 2008

ute lake state park

Stopped in Tucumcari for groceries (Lowe’s had tofu!!) and to access the web at the library. The library had blockers too prohibitive for me to access my blog for updating or even look in at the forum. Also, except for Siscily’s, they had the SLOWEST connection that I have experienced in YEARS. Guano. I guess I’ll try Santa Rosa on Monday. Also stopped at the post office to mail a package to the Philippines. Only cost $4. I know, a little late to be sending out a holiday gift.

Well, Ute Lake, along with Rockhound and Pancho Villa, make three NM state parks that I will not be returning to. Although some of the sites without electric at Rockhound are not too bad. It’s mainly that Rockhound is close to an interstate so it’s generally full of RVs. Ute Lake state park campgrounds are developed in fields that butt up to the town of Logan. They are more like town and county parks than what I’ve been seeing at the other state parks. Not my kind of thing but must be very popular for family day use and camping during the summer. I prefer places quite a few miles from a town—the farther the better. I stayed out at the marina campground (24 electric sites) because there is a network of trails off to the north. I hit the trails a little before the sun came up and saw deer every morning and plenty of fox scat.

There’s another campground, with 71 electric sites, down by the park office. Same thing—out in a field butting up to the town. Out along rt.54, south of Logan, are two Ute Lake primitive campgrounds.

Wind was really blowing here. Saw more tumbleweed going by than I’ve probably seen in my life. Onyx and Meadow were pretty excited with all that was flying by along the ground.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever. John Keats


conchas lake state park

For the first hour after leaving Villanueva, I was driving north. It’s December. Maybe I’m heading the wrong direction. Oh well, got to Las Vegas. Spent a few hours there getting propane, groceries, gas, doing laundry, and putting in a couple hours at the library on the web catching up with friends and doing some work. Sure do miss daily access to the web. Love being back in NM for the wide selection of chili. Wish the smaller towns carried tofu; I eat a couple pounds of it a week. But with street names like Dos and Tres, I’m not too surprised. Not exactly a local food staple.

Nice drive east from Las Vegas through high plains to Conchas Lake. Beautiful scenery and so little traffic that most drivers waved. Conchas has a number of nice sites. I stayed in the Bell Point campground and except for the host, mine was the only rig in there for a couple of days. Personable hosts. Shower was a bit hotter than Villanueva but not by much. Still no steam yet. Elevation is 4160’ so it’s warmer than Villanueva even though it is a bit north of it.

Except for a few days with friends in SLC and Moab where they ran an extension cord out for me, this is the first site I’ve had with electric since MAY. Not bad. A bit of a treat. It’s nice to be able to use the ceramic heater to dry out the moisture that has accumulated from heating with propane in cold weather. I use a lot of DampRid in the casita. And there is NPR reception here (88.5fm)! Not all my favorite programs, however. They have Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (what a hoot that can be), Riverwalk Live From the Landing, Thistle and Shamrock, All Things Considered, and a couple other popular programs but not American Routes. Oh well. 93.9fm also plays some good music with a lot of local news including pig and cattle slaughter, livestock auctions, school lunch menus, and weather.

No hiking trails but there is an overgrown road on the south end of the Cove camping area that goes up to the old Boy Scout lodge and radio tower (the main service road comes in from near the dam). There is a couple of old Boy Scout totem poles up there. The park borders on private ranch land so it kind of puts a damper on cross-country trekking. The main road in sees little use in the winter so bicycling along it isn’t too bad but I really prefer dirt roads and trails. Anyway, I’m still getting out for a few hours a day, working on my Tai Chi form, spending time at the bench working with metal, treating M/O to canned food (they are such good company), and catching up on dozens of documents that I have been meaning to read for months. It’s nice here but of the three parks, my favorite has been Villanueva. Not that I would stay at any of them during their main season.

There is a 30’ trailer mounted on a floating platform moored on the other side of the lake. The platform is nearly twice as large as the trailer so there is quite a good size deck area. The whole thing is covered with a roof so there is also plenty of shade. Not bad. I can’t take a picture because it is too far away for my camera. I used my binoculars.

Still seeing geese heading south. I tend to get a bit anxious when I see this in December and am still this far north in latitude. One small flock crashed at the lake for a night and left shortly after the sun came up. Saw my first roadrunner since last spring. I sure do love to watch those birds. This one was about 25’ from the camper. Meadow, Onyx, and I were outside watching it. The bird did not seem to be all that concerned that there were two cats less than 20’ from it; he stayed there quite a while. Although he never took his eyes off of them. Deer pass through the campground every morning and early evening.

Feels real good to be back in the desert. Hard to understand since just about everything here wants to sting, bite, or stick me. Will probably spend seven months down here next year.

One week here is enough. Feel too boxed in with all the fences.

Most people pretty much stay within one chamber of their being. If one never try’s anything, one never learns anything. If one never takes a risk, one stays where he/she is.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

villanueva state park

Good drive down to Villanueva. Stopped in Santa Fe at the La Mantanita food co-op on W Alameda St just a block or two west of Saint Francis Dr. Good selection and plenty of bulk bins. Also left with a great lunch sandwich. Made my day.

Nice park along sandstone cliffs with pinon and juniper trees and the Pecos River with its tall cottonwoods and mesquite. There are only three miles of trails but there are also places to just take off cross-country and explore. Another option is to take the trail along the river heading downstream. There is a fence along the border of the park but not sign for private property. Hop the fence and continue on. The path is cow-maintained and not bad at all. I hiked down just about an hour before turning back and it was all right along the river except for one spot of a couple hundred yards up on the rocks. Had my sling with me so got a good deal of practice in with all the small river rocks along the way. Doing fine with my overhead and underhand throws. REALLY need to work on my overhand throws. One can also walk the mile into the old Spanish town of Villanueva. Be sure to walk down the side streets. There are some old stone buildings still standing from the 1800’s.

Possibly my favorite terrain for going off trekking cross-country is high plains. Villanueva offers some choice opportunities for this. Take one of the trails to the top and then head off. I generally make a big loop of a few miles, keeping track of landmarks, time, and direction. My old dead reckoning skills coming back into play. One of the reasons I enjoy this lifestyle is because of the uncertainty and unpredictability of it. I don’t want a solid idea of what the day, week, or month will be like. Going off hiking where there are no trails reflects this mindset and puts a little excitement and adventure into a simple activity.
For those that do not have a good sense of direction, going off the trails can be somewhat intimidating. Just get a basic GPS, learn how to use it (maybe use geocaches for practice), take a reading of where you are starting out from, mark it down, and if you get a bit confused with where you end up, just take out the GPS and work your way back to the start position.

The elevation here is 5800’, about 1500’ less than Heron Lake so I am having the warmest nights that I’ve had in three weeks. To offset this, the single shower is nowhere near as hot as I like it this time of year. There must be some bored deity up there. I did not think showers would be a problem in NM state parks in the winter but some parks, cut down their showers to one building or even turn all of them off. NOT good. I think this might just be up here in northern NM, though (hopefully). I didn’t run into this problem last winter in the southern parks.

The electric sites were all around an open area, like staying in a parking lot. No can do. Continued up to the El Cerro campground. These sites had some decent space and vegetation between them. I got one (not difficult since there was no one else up there) off sight of the road and backed down to an overlook. After the first lukewarm shower, I was only going to stay until I needed to shampoo by hair again but the site and opportunities to explore were so good that I stayed for a couple more showers. Sure hope the next state park still has the showers turned on and HOT.

This photo is looking down on the park from the cliff trail across the river. I know, not much to look at but I wanted to present the layout. The electric sites are around the open area down on the bottom. You can see sections of the one-way road that goes up through the hilltop campground. The tiny white speck up in the right hand section is the casita.

Some mornings I grab a pair of 8 lb dumbbells and hike up the El Cerro trail for some Tai Chi practice on the hilltop. Every day I’m out hiking for a couple hours.

One day I met a full-timer while out on a hike. He’s been out three years in an older class A and has been from the Florida Keys to Alaska (did Alaska with a Ford Bronco and a tent to Alaska). I rarely come across full-timers while out hiking. They seem to have one foot already in the grave once they get to this point and not the least bit interested in doing anything to help themselves. Mere butt-voyeurs.

A Texan pulled in with a Scamp 5th wheel that he has had for 7 years. First time I’ve been in one. Larger that I had thought it would be. Not bad. Bud travels with a mountain bike and an inflatable kayak and hikes wherever he goes.

A geologist pulled in another day and told me about Valley of Fires National Recreation Site just west of Carrizozo. It is a BLM campground that he was pretty impressed with. Thought it looked pretty new. Will have to check it out at some point.

More RVers pulled in for Thanksgiving but they all stayed down at the electric sites (I knew there were gods). Snowed on Thanksgiving but melted the next morning. While out hiking on the 28th, I saw my first flock of geese heading south. I’m going to be behind them again this year. The next two places I plan to check out are a bit north of here. But at least they are at a lower elevation.

While passing through the lower campground after another hike, I noticed a couple walking along with a dog and three pet carriers. I went over to talk with them. They had cats in the carriers and that’s how they take them for walks. Nice people. Must be quite homey in their class C with four pets. The next day I saw them up on the El Cerro trail. Looking at their picture, it might seem like they are down on the flats but look to the left and you can see the campground down by the river. They usually stack the pet carriers on a pack frame but they did not have it with them.

There is plenty of flint lying around if one wants to try lighting a campfire that way. If one has not done it before, you will need some charred cotton cloth. I’m sure there are web sites explaining how to make it. One does not want to open the tin too soon.

There is a time for doing—and a time for doing nothing. Don’t underestimate the value of porch-sitting and rocking-chairing. They are simple gifts you can give to yourself—and others.
Linus Mundy


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

full-timing in RV parks

I’m almost getting to feel like an anthropologist on those rare occasions when I go into an RV park to visit a friend or acquaintance. I’m detached, observing—wondering what is this world I’m now in? Followed by—how long do I have to be here?! People actually live in these densely populated, rule-bound communal parking lots. The parks are like little urban villages in the wide, open west. Might as well live in a trailer park and have a shed out back. At night one sits outside, sometimes watching TV, surrounded by so many pole lights, party lights, patio lights, and lit up palm trees that only a few stars can be seen up in the night sky.

Most of these retired or semi-retired people I’ve been coming across the last few years seem to spend their days sitting in their rigs, driving into town or along the roads to see what they can see from their butts. Very few go out and look around where they are staying. One rarely sees them walking along the nature or hiking trails, let along going off where there are no trails, or even bicycling along the dirt roads. It seems such a waste to be out-and-about and not take the time to see what’s there. Doesn’t seem to be much awareness of nature in them or the ability to see how much one can get from the simple things. Even most rangers and just about all of campground hosts in these parks don’t seem to know what’s in the area unless they can see it from the roads or from the back of an ATV. They probably think it’s age that has turned them into the shape they are in. These victims of comfort tend to live with one foot in the grave and not even know it. Almost makes me wish I didn’t know people older than me who can hike circles around me.

The idea of nomadic freedom the RV world professes is basically a myth. These people leave their old lifestyle and go off to escape only to find themselves in a claustrophobic closeness with every rig’s curtains drawn, everyone is inside, and the next rig parked 12’ away. RVers long for independence but find themselves tethered each night to cable, water, electricity, and sewer lines. Seems more like dependency. They have reduced their possessions, simplified their life, and moved to living on wheels. There’s such an opportunity to put some spice and adventure back in their lives—and they drop the ball. And after the first year or so, many only move their rig two or three times a year. If one needs to have others constantly entertain them, then this might be the way to go. Living in RV parks and playing the tourist is quite the norm for most full-timers—but others are not satisfied with so little.

A few full-timers spend most months dry camping out on public lands or in primitive campgrounds. They learn the pleasures of sitting quietly and listening to the rush of water and wind through the trees. One’s small trailer becomes something like a small hut—protective, yet inviting one outdoors. The Outdoors is where one can go to get away from the status quo and truly have a taste of freedom and independence. The world of nature can be both a presence and a companion—nature nourishes us. It’s here that one can feel our deepest belonging and affinity. This faction probably thanks the gods that most full-timers and RVers in general, stay in RV parks, out of the countryside, and off the ungraded roads. These campers sit outside at night, look up, and don’t just see a few stars—they see the whole galaxy and more. The stars come right down to the horizon—360. Different strokes.

When making choices, opt for the plain, the simple, the functional.
Less goes wrong when you stick to life’s standard equipment.
Linus Mundy

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Saturday, November 15, 2008

heron lake state park
canaries, snagging, and custom doormats

Heron Lake has five campgrounds, two with hookups, for a total of 115 sites and a few more places where camping is allowed. A lot of rocky mountain junipers and pinon and some nice space between sites. With the annual $225 pass, the sites without hookups are free and the ones with electricity are $4. One can stay for 21 days. Heron Lake has about ten miles of trails for hiking, running, and mountain biking. Very nice. I generally always see some osprey on my morning runs. The lake can be beautiful shades of green when the light is right. REALLY need to get a kayak next year if the other lakes I’ll be checking out are as nice as this one. Been practicing Tai Chi, hitting the trails, sent some silver pieces out, shooting my long bow, and watching the moon work towards full. Life is good.

The last two nights it has gotten down into the single digits. The first night I was caught off guard. One of the uncertainties of camping without hookups. When I had to reach over and light the catalytic heater at only 11:00, it should have clued me in. Normally I don’t have to do that until I’m ready to get up or it goes down into the teens and rarely that early in the night. The other clue should have been Meadow and Onyx kept trying to crawl into my mummy bag. But the fun part was the first morning. I had two catalytic heaters going and used the stove to heat up water for chai and a clay flowerpot for additional heat. One window next to where I sleep was cracked open a bit but the range hood vent was closed because it was so windy when I turned in (it is usually always wedged open with a clothespin for ventilation no matter how cold it is). After drinking my tea I noticed a candle I had burning to help dry out the air had gone out. The wick appeared fine so I relit it. I went to light the stove for breakfast. The lighter would no longer work. I lit a match and it went out. I lit another and same thing. The candle also went out again. I’m starting to think canaries and mines. I went outside, leaving the door open, and wedged open the range hood vent. All the windows were frozen in position so I could not open the one by my bed any more or the others at all. After keeping the door open for a bit, low and behold, as if by magic, I was able to light the stove. Who would have thought a little oxygen could be so useful. I found it interesting that I was not getting a headache, drowsy, or dizzy. Oh well, turned out to be no big thing. The second night was fine since I was prepared for another single digit night. I guess if I did not take things like this in stride I would opt for hookups and electric heat.

One of the rangers invited me over for her birthday party. I’ve never been into parties but we all had a stellar time. Started off standing around a campfire in her backyard, watching the full moon come up, drinking wine, and telling stories and jokes. Very nice people.

Fish and Game have been netting the kokanee salmon, milking them, collecting millions of eggs, and then sending the eggs over to the hatchery. They have to wrap it up before snagging season.

I was getting spoiled with my site—secluded with a safe area for Meadow and Onyx to roam. Then snagging season started and many of the campsites started filling up. Snaggers are a different class of people from regular fisherman, let alone campers. Definitely not my kind of people. Have got to be out of here by the second Friday in November next year. What a zoo! I had always thought snagging was a type of commercial fishing. I can’t imagine what barbless fly fishermen say about snagging.

Snow crushed the grocery store up in Chama so getting groceries was a bit of a drive, like an hour. So one day I tagged along with Siscily down to Alcalde for a shopping run. She also pointed out Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in Abiquiu. OLD little town. One can see that O’Keeffe did not have to go that far for inspiration for her paintings.

While in Chama, be sure to check out the blacksmith, across from the Chevron station. Nice work. The tourist office offers free wi-fi. The laundromat up on Pine St. has a book exchange shelf. The Stone House, four miles south of Heron Lake also has a book exchange shelf.

If you stay at Heron Lake, DEFINITELY stop in Otra Vuelta in Los Ojos. Robert Archuleta makes custom mats out of old tires with just about any color combination of colored spacer beads that you want. VERY reasonably priced. I got mats for the Cherokee and a doormat for the camper.

I’m stuck here through the first few days of snagging season since I’m waiting for my monthly mail package. Would stay here longer but I do not want to be here for another weekend of snaggers. Then its down through Santa Fe and east to Villanueva State Park along the Pecos River.

Smile and get others to smile.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

heading south to new mexico
‘my canyonlands – the adventurous life of Kent Frost’

Eight new state parks to check out this winter in New Mexico along with returning to two or three that I liked from last winter. Also plan to check out some BLM areas. Should be good. Then back to Bisbee for a month around March to visit friends and take a month or so to work north to Utah. Probably go up the west side of NM; have not been through there yet.

There was a good time visiting with friends in SLC. I had a chance to have lunch with my old zen teacher, Genpo Roshi, the abbot of Kanzeon Zen Center and founder of Big Mind ( He is SO busy these days that I felt truly blessed to have him take the time to meet with me. Life is good.

This shows where I parked for a few days in front of a friend's house in Moab. We went to a premier on the life of a Utah legend; Kent Frost is like a Utah John Muir. ‘My Canyonlands – The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost’ directed by Chris Simon. If you like the Utah Canyonlands area or just like nature, look for this DVD when it comes out.

Found out there are not a whole lot of places to disperse camp along rt.160 through the San Juan National Forest. Many of the FR are pretty rough and steep. There are some nice places south of Pagosa Springs on rt.84: Blanco Road (FR 656), Kenny Flats, and Buckles Lake Road (FR 663). Will have to find out about other places to dry camp between Durango and Pagosa Springs. The shot here is of where I pulled off on Buckles Road.

Over four months without going to a laundromat! Got by with doing a handful of items in a 5-gallon bucket every other day. I always bring a book when I go to a laundromat but it’s still not one of my favorite activities, so this was a real treat. After hitting a laundromat in Moab, I came across the most expensive laundromat I’ve ever come across in Chama, NM. At least she had a book exchange shelf where I switched some books. Can’t wait to get back to my bucket.

Set your desk, your chair, your sink, your sights with a view to the great outdoors. Life is simpler out there. Linus Mundy


Saturday, October 11, 2008

maybe time to roll-installing solar panel

So this is what it looked like one morning. It's been down in the lower twenties a couple of nights. My summer job ended a couple weeks ago and I have just been hanging out enjoying the canyon and the quiet. I went hiking up towards Deseret Peak yesterday with a friend. Really nice. A bit slick once we got into the snow and ice, though. Cathy had brought hot herb tea up and it really hit the spot. Good conversation and exchange of ideas on camping and traveling in small rigs (she has a camper on a Tacoma).

I finally got a closer shot of the deer eating some of the hay I have been putting out daily for the horses. I brought a low-rider chair up to the pasture and just sat there for a while. They kept looking over but Meadow was on my lap and that might have put them somewhat at ease.

A few more days here, then off to visit friends in Salt Lake for a couple days and take care of some city-type stuff. I swear Meadow and Onyx are also getting antsy. They have just been sitting around and staring off into the distance, occasionally looking at me and meowing (and yes, their food bowl is full and the litter box is clean). They have not been wondering around as much. It’s like, “Okay, we’ve seen all there is around here. Let’s go!”

I made feet for the solar panel out of aluminum angle channel and used 3M VHB double-sided foam tape to install the panel on the roof. I removed the vent cover and drilled a hole in the base to run the cable through. Then I drilled a hole in the roof right up against the vent so the vent cover would conceal the hole. The cable runs down along the vent pipe in the closet, attached with zip ties. Another hole was drilled in the floor right next to the vent pipe for the cable and then it runs under the trailer along the frame with numerous zip ties back to the battery box with one more hole up through the floor. Sealed all the holes with calk.

Never resist the opportunity to learn something new.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

campground management position

Taking a position as a campground manager for a summer can be a memorable experience. You will regularly hear envious statements from campers saying that they would love to be doing it. Only they can’t afford to do it, time and money-wise, or they just have way too much stuff to be able to leave it all for so long. More often than not, it can be a pretty good job. Many have been doing it for ten or fifteen years. There are also those who quit in the first couple of weeks or in the middle of their first season (not a good thing) or who bag it after the season is up. Some just do not like dealing with the two hours of weekly paperwork.

If you are contemplating a campground manager position at some point, be sure to do some research. Ask yourself what kind of people you like to spend time with. If you enjoy being around lots of RVers, you might want a position in an RV park or a national park. Or get a position through There are also national forest campgrounds which gear towards RVers. Look for NF campgrounds that have paved roads and, possibly, hookups. You’ll probably have a golf cart to ride around in to do your chores and a leaf blower to clear the sites. Not exactly my kind of place—but different stokes…

There are also numerous primitive campgrounds out in the national forests if you prefer the company of tenters and small RVers. The roads will not be paved nor will there be hookups. The campground manager’s site, though, will generally have water and maybe sewer. Sometimes a generator is provided.

Note the distance from the nearest town. If it is only ten miles or so, you could have some problems. There will be some locals who come up just to drink for a few hours at night and then drive back home. They can leave a mess, cause damage, make a disturbance with the campers, and tend to skip out without paying the fee if you don’t catch them. At least the local sheriff deputies generally don’t mind coming up and taking care of any disturbances. All in all, however, not all peaches and cream. You can weed most of these lowlifes out in the first couple weeks, though. They definitely do not like paying the fee so if they know you will be there enforcing it, they tend to go someplace else the next time. A very good thing and much appreciated by all.

Campgrounds farther out, tend to have less of this type of problem. You can get an occasional rowdy group up for a weekend, however. The first night might be rough but they generally get the message. If the campground is large, there will probably be two or three couples managing the sites. Strength in numbers might be helpful, or at least supportive. Also look for campgrounds without any ATV trails in the area. There are definitely exceptions, but those people tend to be a little rougher around the edges and not overly considerate of fellow campers. Large campgrounds with sites not all that far apart, sometimes have fewer rowdy problems since they will have so many other campers telling them to shut up. Granted, there will be exceptions to all these scenarios.

Depending on the campground, the biggest problem might be theft. Many just do not want to pay for using a site. Skipping out without paying and stealing the fees is theft but you will hear all kinds of rationalizations for it. Unreal. There will be no problems with those who appreciate and respect our natural resources and the campgrounds. They don’t mind contributing to their upkeep. It can be difficult to deal with the freeloaders.

You will find that a good number of people who come to the campgrounds are not ‘campers’. Some pick up a tent and sleeping bags at Wal-Mart and come up to get out of town. Their radio is blasting; the tent is pitched so that if it rains, it’s going to get flooded, and they can have 8 foot logs draped over the fire-pit ring! Clueless. Thank the gods most of the people you will be meeting over the summer are pretty good. One just has to focus on the good people (not always easy). You will have some stellar conversations throughout the season and become friends with some of the returnees or even those just passing through from out of state who you will exchange email addresses with. You will regularly be invited into campsites for morning coffee, breakfast, and dinner or a beer (not a good idea while on duty). Sitting around talking with these campers is one of the best aspects of the job, by far. Then there is also the quiet time during the week when there are only a handful of campers around and you are out and about taking care of the various chores, listening to the sounds of the forest, and watching the wildlife.

During the week your days will be filled with: emptying trash cans; picking up, raking, sweeping off tables, and shoveling out fire-pits in sites where campers have been; cleaning outhouses; painting; replacing missing signs; fixing knocked over posts; trimming brush and tree limbs; whacking weeds; possibly mowing grass; sweeping foot bridges and walkways; collecting fees; seeing if campers need anything, answering questions, or just asking how things are going; picking up cans and bottles tossed out along the road; making a weekly run to the landfill; a Monday run to the bank to deposit the week’s take, and various other tasks. The days and weeks can go by fast.

For primitive sites, they will probably have you get there a week before the campgrounds are scheduled to open. One will need to clean up all the sites and outhouses so they are looking good for the campers; putting up signs; distribute the trashcans, digging out fire pits, putting out supplies, etc. The end of season wrap-up takes less time, with a final digging out of fire pits, covering up/taking down signs, collecting/storing trashcans, and the like.

All in all, it’s not bad. There will be times when you want to throw in the towel. There will be many more times when you are walking around with a big smile on your face, really glad you are doing what you are doing. Find out as much as possible about the campground that you are applying to; why isn’t last year’s manager returning; what will you be responsible for; will the company provide you with a pickup if the roads are rough; how do you handle the landfill runs; day off; and all the basic stuff. The first month I tried a job like this, I was saying, no way am I ever doing it again. I was getting tired of dealing with drunks in the dark around their campfires; free loaders trying to skip out without paying; calling the sheriff at 12:00 at night; dealing with the mess some ‘campers’ were leaving, and the like. But I was also meeting and spending time with some wonderful campers: artists and actors from Salt Lake, a writer from Reno, quite a number of locals, and many more. I just had to learn what to focus on. Getting campers laughing and feeling good about their experience in the canyon really makes one feel good. Walking into the various campsites with a smile on your face tends to set the scene for a more congenial outcome. I’ll be going back and doing it again.

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

chompin' to hit the road - big eyes at night,
homemade trailer, onyx and turkeys

I generally follow the geese south. Now I’m thinking of following the hummingbirds. They left the last week in August. I had to, at least, dig out Wright’s book and the Delorme atlases. Planned a tentative route to New Mexico for whenever this job is over.

Went through three 25 pound bags of sugar this summer with the hummingbirds. A handful of birds stuck around for the first two weeks of September but finally left. Sure hope they still found flowers along the way. There have been some transients coming through but I’ve taken most of the feeders down, given them a good scrubbing with bleach, and stored them away for next summer. Guess I’ll try it here one more summer.

It’s been pretty slow here since the forest fire. If the weekly take gets any lower, AL&L will probably tell me to wrap things up here. Oh well, so much for working until October 15.

Finally hooked up the 50 watt solar panel. Works great. Way more power than I use. Before I head south, I’ll install it up on the roof with 3M VHB tape. Since I’m parked in the shade here, I just run a wire out along the ground.

One night Meadow was giving me a hard time about coming in. After a while I went back out with a flashlight to try and track her down by catching her eye reflection. What I saw was two large, wide-spaced eyes about 4’ above the ground. Holy sh*t! Then I remembered we’re having trouble with a big, black cow wandering around the canyon. Good grief, give me a break here. Anyway, I finally got Meadow in for the night.

Now that the pasture grass is getting dry, I put an occasional bale of hay out for the horses. What I did not expect was deer coming down and eating the hay right out there side by side with the horses. I really need to get a camera with a longer zoom for shots like that.

A camper came in for a couple of days with the trailer pictured here. Someone was throwing out an old tent trailer so Lee took it, ripped the canvas off, and made this gypsy/sheep herder type rig. There are short, vertical pipe holders bolted to the inside of the trailer and PVC pipe is inserted into a tube on one side, bent over, and inserted into its opposite tube. A custom cover was made for it and a tarp is generally stretched over it while camping, as in this picture. There’s about 5’ 8” of headroom. Lee is working on getting larger wheels for it. Looked pretty cool.

One morning I was sitting out next to a small campfire, reading and drinking coffee. I looked up and a doe, small buck, and three little ones were not more than 50 yards in front of me at the edge of the trees. Way cool. Not five minutes later, I heard a turkey. I got up and looked out on the road and there were three wild turkeys. Granted stuff like this does not happen all that often, but it sure brings a grin to my face and tells me how much I am enjoying this bucket lifestyle. Did not want to wait until I was in my sixties in case something came up and prevented me from going for it.

Have been taking care of some annual and semi-annual chores: doing the Casita sides with Mequiar’s Paint Cleaner and then using a good fiberglass-rated wax, going over the inside fiberglass panels with the same wax, cleaning and vacuuming the wall and ceiling carpet, apply Pledge to all the cabinet doors, a thorough cleaning of the inside, wax the Cherokee and have some things done to it in the shop, etc. Not exactly fun but it’s not as if I do not have the time.

This is Onyx out with some turkeys up in the horse pasture. Something he does from time to time. If he gets too close, one of them generally flies up towards him and he turns and takes off. He sure loves to bust chops. I swear he knows every way to annoy both me and Meadow.

The carving is off on someone’s property just before one enters the canyon. They did a nice job with it.

And always remember…when life hands you lemons,
ask for tequila and salt
and call me over.


Friday, August 1, 2008

evicted - forest fire
Rizzlo is found

Well August started off with a twist. I got evicted. Lightning started a forest fire in the next canyon to the south. Hot Shot crews, 10 smoke jumpers, eight 20-person crews, a Type 1 helicopter, a Type 2 helicopter, and two Type 3 helicopters were assigned to the fire. Last night it came over the ridge and started burning down into South Willow Canyon. I took the night shot from in front of my camper at 4:00 am when one of the Hot Shot crews stopped by to give me a heads up. Everyone in the canyon was told to leave. When I left, the fire was close to the top two, of six, campgrounds.

Now I hear it is two miles down the canyon. That would take in four campgrounds and possibly the old guard shack if it reached down to the road. We’ll see what’s left when I get back up there next week. I’m presently visiting friends in Salt Lake.

One good point is that the fire crews rescued the lost dog. Rizzlo was out on his own for over a week coping with a night of thunder, lightning, and pouring rain and then, three days later, a forest fire. I had the owner leave a shirt at the campsite during the week and it looks like Rizzlo has been coming back at night and sleeping on it. There was a creek close by and I was leaving cat food out. The fire crew was ecstatic about capturing Rizzlo and returning him to his owners. They had been trying to catch him for a couple days. Rizzlo would follow them around but would not get close. I heard there were a lot of smiles up there.

After a week in SLC, I moved out to another American Land & Leisure campground, Ledgefork #2 in the Uintah Mountains. Nice. It’s a destination campground so there tends to be a different type of people here than what I have to deal with. The two ladies who manage it are doing a stellar job. This is their second summer in this campground and they have it all down pat. I introduced myself, stated that I was presently ‘canyonless’, and one drove me around pointing out the sites she thought I might like. Could not have worked out better. I took a somewhat secluded site so Meadow and Onyx could roam around. In Salt Lake they had to stay on a leash. Took the solar panel out of the box and started to plan how to set it up. One evening I was invited to dinner with the area managers, my two campground managers, and three ladies who work for the forest service. Good group of people who work well together.

Well, one day short of two weeks and they let me back in my canyon. The bottom three campgrounds will be closed for the rest of the season and probably through next spring run-off. I'll post what I think of the changes after I live with them for a week or so.

I was sitting out back a couple days ago and Meadow was lying there, intently looking behind me. When I turned around, there were six little wild turkeys and their mum. Way cool. This morning a doe and her little spotted fawn, came within 40’ of me while I was having coffee. One generally gets to see so much more wildlife when camped out away from others. It’s definitely worth trying from time to time.

Fortunate too is the man who has come to know
the gods of the countryside. Virgil


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

life in south willow canyon, UT
rattlesnakes, pack goats, didgeridoo, prayer flags,
connect-the-campers, and Rizzlo

Well, been here a month and its been okay. A lot of rattlesnakes, though. After seeing and hearing about over twenty, I stopped keeping track. Maybe I should learn how to milk venom to pick up some extra pocket change. There has not been any problems with them so most campers just leave them alone. Never thought I would be shooing rattlesnakes off the road with a broom so they would not get run over. Can one carry ahimsa too far? Don’t really think so.

Fewer rowdy groups coming up. Most notable was probably the two groups up one Saturday night. Starting dealing with that situation at 12:30 when a camper drove down and gave me a heads up. Got back to bed at 2:30 am. Needless to say, when the alarm went off at 5:00 am, I did not get up and go out for a run. Had a fabulous hour the next morning going around talking with the campers in the other five sites affected by these lowlifes.

Been getting a nice 3 1/2 to 4 hour hike in each week on my day off. Generally nice and quiet during the week.

Have only seen one other fiberglass trailer up here. A couple had just picked up a Trillium in California and were bringing it back here to Utah. They found it on They were pretty excited with it and were already planning on some restoration projects. Hope to see more fiberglass RVs. Plenty of small stick and tent trailers.

Saw some people camping down in one of the disperse sites with a utility trailer with the boy scout symbol on the side. All the kids were wearing face shields and holding paintball guns. Didn’t think I would ever see that. Should have taken a picture.

A local ranger keeps three horses up in the pasture here and when I walk up there in the evenings to spend a few minutes with them, Meadow frequently tags along. She’s been going right up to them lately. It seems too far a walk for Onyx, and besides, he might be putting on weight. The cicadas are out and he’s always munching on them. Nice and crunchy.

When Meadow and I walked up to the horse pasture the other morning, there was a doe and two fawns grazing by the spring. Beautiful. Don’t think I could ever go back to living mostly indoors.
Lately I’ve been bringing carrots up to the horses in the evenings. If I don’t, they usually come down to the gate right behind the camper, looking for a treat.

When sitting outside and working with silver, it can seem like one is in the middle of an old world war I dogfight. Hummingbirds are frequently zooming right past my head—sometimes three in a row, chasing each other. One time the feeder right by my bench ran out of sugar water and one bird stopped and hovered right in front of me. Probably just a coincidence but it sure seemed like she was saying, get your butt up and fill the feeder! I mean with six other feeders to go to, it seemed kind of picky.

A raccoon found the open-top trailer where I load all the trash to take to the landfill each week. What a mess each morning!!!!!!! I picked up some ‘Critter Ridder’ (oil of black pepper, piperine, and capsaicin) and sprinkle it over the bags each night and that seems to help quite a bit.

At the mouth of the canyon is a wild turkey with all her little ones tagging along after her. They are out and about quite a bit. Real cute.

Earlier in the week, two guys hiked up to Deseret Peak for an overnight. They had two pack-goats to carry their stuff. Big goats—nearly 200 lbs. It was like a breakdown cruise—working out the kinks for a week long trek up in the Uintahs.
The other day a dad and his son came up and did the same trip with two llamas.

Some hikers stretched the Tibetan prayer flags across one of the chutes just below Deseret Peak. I thought they looked pretty impressive up there.

A didjeridoo maker ( camped here a couple nights. Will definitely have to try to make one when I get back down to the desert. Marko said one can even make one out of 1 ¼” (ID) PVC pipe. If I can’t figure out circular breathing, I’ll get a lesson from him when I come back up next summer. The sound sure sounds nice out in nature.

Had a great group of campers staying for a couple nights and I stopped in from time to time to talk with them and wished I could have pitched a tent there with them. The day they were leaving, however, one of their dogs ran away. I wrote down phone numbers and told them I would give them a call when I came across Rizzlo. It rained the proverbial cats-and-dogs that night along with substantial lightning. Not good. I saw Rizzlo twice the first week but could not get close to him, called the owners, they drove up from Salt Lake, but were not able to find him. They brought up some flyers to post in the canyon, though, so I was getting reports of sightings for other campers which I related to the owners. I suggested bringing up an old shirt or sweatshirt to leave at the site the next time they came up. It seemed to help in that it looked like Rizzlo was going back there at night and sleeping on the shirt. I was also leaving out some of M/O’s food. Some other animals were probably eating the food but, hopefully, Rizzlo was getting some of it. The owners came back up the next weekend to camp and I had put out a reservation sign so they could have the same site (not suppose to do that). It got worse. About 10:00 one night, Tony was knocking on my door. A camp stove exploded and his son had some bad burns. I remembered that a SWAT medic was camping in the canyon so I jumped in the back of their car and directed them over to medic. The burns were so bad that I could smell skin burning. Eric calmly took over and covered all the bases. What a professional! The ambulance got up there much quicker than it would have taken for the campers to drive over to Tooele. And still no Rizzlo when they left to go home.

I ordered a 50watt solar panel kit but it’s on backorder. I don’t really need it but it should prove useful in the winter months. Besides, it gives me something else to learn about. This month’s living expenses should only be about $300 so might as well go for it.

I’ve always preferred the mountains over the desert but lately I’ve been missing the desert. Strange. Already looking forward to spending the winter camping through eastern and southern New Mexico.

Oh well, we’ll see what the next month brings. Sure do like living in the Outdoors.

God made the country, and man made the town.
William Cowper


Thursday, June 12, 2008

campground job

Maxed out on the RV park so went off and dry camped for a couple nights in the Uintah’s before heading to my first campground position. Nothing special but at least there was breathing room. Good grief, how most can do RV parks all the time is beyond my comprehension.

My trail runs are still giving me a beating—must be taking a full body slam to the ground two out of three runs. Sure do miss the mere tripping and stumbling from when I had foot speed. At least I’m seeing some progress towards my goal. Then there is the tick factor. With all the sage (tick heaven) around, I have to remember to check my body and clothes whenever I get back from a run. A couple of times I missed one and didn’t notice till later after it was dug in. For joy.

The camper tires were three years old so got some new ones just to play it safe. Do too many dirt roads to mess around with questionable tires.

There was still too much snow up at Bountiful Peak so they asked me to fill in at South Willow campground, south of Grantsville, UT. It’s pretty good so I’m staying here for the summer. There are more hiking trails than up at Bountiful Peak. The trails are gorgeous. Many go up through alpine meadows with red, blue, purple, and yellow flowers and then continue up into the quaking aspens. This is Dry Fork. I know—it looks pretty wet. But—the name comes from when they use to run sheep up Mill Fork. The herders moved the dry ewes over to the next fork each year. Eventually they started calling it Dry Fork.

There’s a beautiful stream running down the canyon. Campers are hooking brook and cutthroat trout from it. The first night here, there were sixteen deer in the upper campground and two wild turkeys crossing the road by the lower campground. Life is SO tough.

A campground manager job is generally set up for a couple but sometimes they take singles. The couple gets to their assigned campground two weeks prior to its opening date to clean it up and make any repairs. I got to mine the night before it opened—Memorial Day weekend. You can probably imagine what a scramble the first week was.

A typical day goes: up a 5:00 and out the door for an hour run by 6:00 > put on the uniform shirt, hop in the truck at 8:00 and drive to the bottom campground and work up to the top one to see if everyone has paid who came in after my last run of the night before. There are 33 campsites spread out in six campgrounds along three miles of narrow road going from 6,000’ to 7,400’ elevation. As I work back down, I empty trash bins, check out sites where campers have left to see if they need picking up or raking. The outhouses also need to be cleaned and TP replaced. I though the outhouses was going to be the least enjoyable task but they aren’t that bad. I generally stop and talk with different campers and finish back down around 12:00 or 12:30. Then I make a midafternoon run to collect fees from picnickers and to just check things out and do some quick maintenance. At 5:00 or 6:00, I start again at the bottom and collect fees from new campers and picnic people (not fun). On the runs I also take care of such tasks as shoveling out the fire pits, paint picnic tables and outhouses, replace signs, fix knocked over posts, trim brush, cut limbs, whack weeds, mow grass, sweep bridges, pick up beer cans tossed out along the road, and various other tasks.

Once a week take a run to the county landfill. Gives me an opportunity to do shopping and hit the other library. Both libraries allow patrons to use USB flash drives so it makes my correspondence WAY easier.

There are also seven hummingbird feeders to keep up on. Sugar is left for me in 25 pound bags. The forest service wants all bird and small animal feeders taken out if there are any indications of black bear in the area. We’ll see what develops. One somewhat unpleasant thing about all these hummingbirds, is that I get pooped on quite a bit while I’m sitting outside working at my bench or reading. At least it is a clear liquid.

I have drinking water and sewer hookup but no electric hookup let alone wi-fi. The water comes from a spring and tastes great. Having running water and sewer is quite a treat from what I generally have for most of the year out in the desert. With the ready water access, I wash a handful of clothes every other day in a 5 gallon bucket and hang the stuff up to dry. Anything to keep me out of going to laundromats.

A Young Women’s group came in for three nights with about thirty people. A few hours before they arrived, two guys arrived with the makings for a tepee. I had always wondered how one was erected so I asked if I could help them set it up. It was a twenty foot tepee and used 27’ poles. The owner wanted a heavier than standard canvas so he ordered the tent from Nomadic Tepee. It seemed well cut with thick reinforcements in critical locations. We put it up in about 45 minutes, including the liner. Never know what the day will bring with this lifestyle.

Onyx has learned how to open the screen door when he is outside and wants to come in. He stands up on the step, reaches up, pulls down on the door handle, and leans back. That is not so bad but he does not wipe his feet, nor does he close the door. He leaves it open for the flies, bees, mosquitoes, and whatever.

Life is full of little surprises. Pandora


Friday, April 25, 2008

not quite limbo

Have to stay in a RV park for two months, definitely not my favorite thing, but as you can see, for an RV park, it is not all that bad. When I got here at the end of March, the dirt roads out on public lands were under snow and now they are WAY too muddy. Am definitely chompin’ to get out and dry camp. Doesn’t look like I’ll be doing any of it until after my primitive campground host job ends at the end of September. If you use Google Earth, type in latitude: 40°58'54.29"N and longitude: 111°48'23.08"W. Will be nice there—but it’s not the boonies.

Once the snow melted in the RV park, I moved to this site along the edge by a wooded section. Aren’t any other rigs in this corner so I let Meadow and Onyx out a couple times a day. They were sure ready after a month of walks on a leash. This site also has access to plenty of deadfall. Any night it isn’t too cold has me sitting out by a small campfire.

I get in some decent hiking a few days a week over in Midway. Not far from where I’m set up. Been a long time since I’ve seen so many elk, moose, and wild turkeys. Could have used snowshoes for the first four weeks and then there was the mud. Ah yes, springtime in the mountains.

My silversmith classes at the Kimball Art Center were fun and each student worked on a silver pendant with a bezel setting. I’d like to teach another class in October but I need to find some public land within a half hour or so of Park City where I can disperse camp. There’s no way I’m going back to a RV park. Does not look promising with all the expansion in the county. Guano.

Have had to do most of my bench work inside with the weather as it is. A little cramped. Oh well, not all that much longer. Taking advantage of wi-fi and getting loads of work done on the MacBook since I’ll only have web access one day a week during the summer.

Two more weeks here so I’m focusing on getting back into trail running. The first month here, I carried a 25 lb pack while hiking just to work muscles, heart, and lungs. My runs are now up to a bit over an hour. Slow, but at least I’m finally getting serious about it again. Still shooting for running another ultra. Had an interesting run the other morning when a lens fell out of my sunglasses. Never tripped so much during one run before. Don’t know if I am going to survive getting back into trail running, however. On one fall, as I was slammed down to the ground, a stick cut the side of my neck. Three inches to the right…. Another fall had me tumbling down a hill, off the side of the trail. Must have gone a good 20’. I felt like moaning but I was lying there looking up at the sky and started to chuckle. It’s as if the gods are saying, “Well, like what do you expect!” Except for a few token weeks here and there, I’ve been away from trail running for years so I guess I have some adjustment to do. Not bad for one getting close to sixty, though.

On yesterday’s run I was thinking that I’ve only been seeing mule deer lately. The elk and moose have moved farther up the mountain. It wasn’t five minutes later when a moose cuts across the trail not more that 50 yards in front of me. What’s this!? Is one of the gods listening to my thoughts!? Maybe I should ask for a winning lottery number on my next run.

I’ve been seeing two sandhill cranes when I’m up in the hills, now that the snow is gone. I wonder if they come over for the new growth among the sage or just for the field mice.

Saw the first hummingbird of the year yesterday so I went into town and picked up a bag of sugar. A hummingbird found the feeder in about two hours. This one was quite colorful. It’s a treat having two bird feeders hanging off the back of the camper and watching birds from five feet away.

We were in for the evening one night and a skunk goes walking by outside. Meadow and Onyx dart to a window to check out this new creature. Sure hope they don’t go looking for him when they go out in the morning.

There are two osprey nests not far from the park. All in all, not too bad.

I have learned to be content with whatever I have.
Philippians 4:11


Thursday, March 20, 2008

heading north
weekday asphalt, BLM and
second mesa on the Hopi reservation

Springtime, time to start thinking of heading north. It’s nice to take a month or two to make the trip. This year, however, that time came WAY too early. My first job was in Park City, UT, starting at the end of March. Having lived in Park City in the past I knew what it was going to be like but it still felt like getting use to winter all over again. Down around Bisbee and Naco, AZ, I was wearing T-shirts and watching roadrunners.

I pulled out Don Wright’s book and DeLorme AZ and UT map books and planned the route up. Wright’s book is pretty good but even with the current edition, many fees will be higher than those stated in the book. Also, sometimes a place listed in the book is no longer there. So, anyway, it has its faults but it is still a very useful resource for those who don’t like staying in RV parks. I probably find most of my camping spots with just DeLorme, anyway. BLM land and forest roads are easy to see. One thing to keep in mind if camping on BLM land that is used as open range. Don’t set up camp next to water troughs set out there for cattle. Ranchers who lease the land could, understandably, get upset with you. Your rig and movements so close to the water can easily scare the cows away from their water

It was a good trip up. I took about three weeks for it on secondary roads, driving less than 150 miles a day with stopovers for a few nights here and there. Remember Nilsson’s ‘Land of Point’? Good road CD, though definitely not for everyone.

I generally make it a point to not travel the asphalt on weekends. If one needs roadside assistance, businesses tend to be very busy on Saturdays and are frequently closed on Sundays. I stuck around Bisbee for a Saturday night film, the Dharma Film Series film "Zen Buddhism: In Search of Self". Very good footage. On Sunday, breaking one of my rules, I hit the road. It took me seven hours to go 130 miles. The gods are always watching. The rig started to feel a little squirrelly after a while. Got out and noticed a low tire (and yes, I had topped them all up). Broke my lug wrench trying to take the wheel off. Called Good Sam road service (well worth the annual fee) and the truck that came out also could not get the wheel off. Finally something was worked out. The next day I purchased four new LT tires. The light truck tires ride rougher than P-rated tires but since I do so many gravel roads and have a lot of weight in the Cherokee, it seemed like a good route to go. They are working well. Not for everyone but fulltimers tend to carry more weight.

I stopped on some BLM land east of Safford, AZ for one night, went for a hike along a dry creek bed that had heavy brush along both sides. Had the living daylights scared out of me. A javelina came charging out of the brush a few feet away, making so much noise that I would have jumped ten feet in the air if it was possible. Sure did not need my afternoon mug of yerba matte to give me a boost after that.

I don’t do state parks during the summer season, too many people, but in the off-season, many are not too bad. Fool Hollow state park in Show Low has some nice well-spaced sites and a lot of trees in a few of their loops. Expensive though. Plenty of hiking around the shoreline. First hookups in nearly a month and a half—a bit of a treat—and NPR access. Life is good.

Second Mesa up on the Hopi reservation has free camping next to the culture center. It’s a network of dirt roads so you have quite a choice of places to park. There’s a restaurant right there and good trekking cross-country to the north. A lot of stray dogs so I could not even take Meadow and Onyx out on their leaches so we only stayed there one night. When you get close, be sure to tune into 88.1, the Hopiland volunteer radio station. BUT the main reason for going up there was to visit the Tsakurshovi shop. If an Indian shop could be described as funky, this is the place. Not a lot of glass counters with bright lights. Locals go there for ceremonial and household supplies. There are all kinds of unmarked bags of powders and herbs. I go there for the DON’T WORRY – BE HOPI shirts. This is where the design originated. My last one was wearing thin. Good quality shirts, nice colors, and a well thought-out design between the two lines.

Through the reservations you’ll probably see more horse warning signs than cattle signs. And yes, the horses (and llamas) will be right out there grazing along the shoulder. Drive safe.

The gods must be smiling, I managed to get my favorite site again at Sand Island state park in Bluff, UT, right on the San Juan river. $10 a night. There were some geese on the other side of the river the first evening. It was spring break and two teachers from Moab were staying in a Scamp a couple sites over.
I set up my bench and did some silverwork for a few days. Back in January, Saturn and Venus were low in the predawn sky and one morning the waning thin crescent moon was in a nice position with the planets. Gave me an idea for a silver pendant and I finally got around to making it.

Moab was a zoo with Jeep week so I just stopped for supplies and kept going. Besides, my friends are both in education so they split to spring break.

As one is getting close to Price on rt.191, Horse Canyon goes off to the east and there are plenty of places to dry camp down the dirt roads going off north and south.

Staying in Heber for a month and a half as I teach silversmith classes in Park City. Sure nice to be teaching again. Then it’s on to my summer job as a campground host.

Passed a painted fiberglass trailer (not sure of the make) south of Globe, a Casita by Salt River (be sure you have good brakes), another Casita south of Moab, and the Scamp in Bluff. Four fiberglass trailers out on the road in only a few hundred miles. A record sighting for me at this time of year. Not bad.

This is another aspect of full-timing that I like, being able to take so long heading north and south each year (except for this spring). Not many other rigs in the primitive campgrounds or out on the public lands. But then again I like solitude. At this time, I have my own way of life, my own simple rules—my own realm. It seems, at times, that I am living just outside of society. Coming in for supplies and socializing and going back out into nature. There’s so much out there that I feel I’ll never get my fill. Livin’ my bucket life. We shall see.

Today is yesterday's tomorrow.


Monday, February 25, 2008

useful items to have along for full-time
dry-camping in small rigs

Here’s a list of items mentioned in the previous entry that I find useful for full-timing in a small trailer.

  • Low Rider chair, either a Remington furniture chair from SLC, UT
  • OR a chair from Blue Ridge Chair Works in Asheville, NC
  • 7-gal Reliance water jug (I have 3 7-gal, 1 4-gal, and 1 2-gal jugs)
    (I’m no longer a fan of the 7-gallon jugs > read the October 2012 entry)
    I keep a 4’ hose handy for filling the Reliance water jugs
    when refilling the Reliance jugs from 5-gal buckets, a grain funnel purchased from a feed/ranch supply store works well. For a narrow neck, cut down an oil refill funnel
  • Coleman stove (I have the old fuel type stove)
    (May 2012 update – If one will be doing one-pot meals, get a single-burner stove. I have yet to use the second burner so I purchased a single-burner stove and will be dropping my two-burner Coleman off at a thrift store)
  • small one-piece European surplus shovel
  • steel feed pan for campfires—CAL Ranch store
  • $1 box of birthday candles for starting campfires
  • DeLorme road atlas for each state you will be spending time in—just about all I use to find desert and forest roads. Just as important, DeLorme shows clear boundaries for national forests and BLM and state land.
    If you will primarily be staying in campgrounds, the black covered ‘Road and Recreation Atlas’ for a state seem to have more campgrounds listed.
  • Don Wright’s Guide to Free Campgrounds—probably most helpful during your first year. Have not used mine the last few years.
  • headlamp—I like my Petzl
  • two cats
  • roof rack for tow vehicle
  • 5-gal portable waste tank
    (Oct 2012 – I only used this twice so I got rid of it.)
  • 2-gal gasoline jug for Honda 1000 generator
  • 6’x8’ blue tarp—Home Depot—and 4” nails with washers to hold it down for a patio area—have one or two additional 6’x8’ tarps to cover things up, such as, a bicycle, firewood, or stuff in general if it starts to rain or if you want it out of sight
  • a corn broom to keep the patio tarp clean and to sweep out your tracks when you break camp—leave-no-trace (be sure to store it flat or upright on the handle)
  • a shrub rake (around 8” wide on a 4’ handle) to aid leave-no-trace
  • Japanese Hori Hori weeder knife, maybe one from Garrett Wade
  • heavy 6’ locking cable
  • small vacuum—something like a Dirt Devil that you can run from a Honda 1000
  • tall, insulated mug with a lid and a stainless steel tea-ball
  • 5-gal solar shower bag
  • Absorber towel—I have one for drying off after a shower, another for drying the Jeep and Casita after washing, and a third one for wiping condensation off the windows in the morning
    A 3-square-foot microfiber ‘drying’ towel (found in an automotive section in Walmart) is also enough of a towel to use after a shower
  • microfiber towels—used for dish towels, wiping down pets, and cleaning blinds—fast drying
  • washcloths (not dishcloths)—old ones also work well for dish towels, especially for solo campers who don’t use a lot of dishware
  • 5-gal bucket for hand laundry—Home Depot or paint department in Walmart
  • paperback books
  • USB flash drive—I don’t use mine much but it’s handy for transferring files to a friend’s laptop
  • external drive for backing up your laptop
  • emergency road service

Okay, here’s the rest of it—miscellaneous useful items and some strange food staples. Keep in mind that this is all geared to extended dry camping and full-timing in small rigs. Remember I’m one of those with the camper mindset as opposed to the RVer mindset—apples and oranges. I’ve tried RVing in my fifth wheel and Holiday Rambler trailer—it’s not me.

  • black rubber bucket from a ranch supply store—these buckets can take a lot of abuse. A horse can even step on one and it won’t crack.
  • 6’ ladder—used to wax the roof of the trailer and check vent calking, etc
  • pack only enough silverware for two and 2 plates, 2 bowls, and 2 glasses, four at the most—one’s not out there to entertain, besides, if anyone else is out there, they’re camping so they can BYO—try mismatched items to add a little variety and color.
  • Tackytac or similar adhesive putty—two-sided tape generally does not hold up well in an RV—unless, of course, it is 3M VHB tape (it’s holding down my solar panel). One needs the putty to hold things in place or you have to pack them away whenever you hit the road
  • binoculars
  • 0˚ sleeping bag (even a good bag starts to lose its insulating factor over time) and a much lighter summer bag (NOT Wal-mart grade bags)
    be sure to always wash your sleeping bags in front-loaders. The bags have internal stitched panels/battens that keep the insulation in place. They can rip in top-loader washers, even on delicate cycle.
    get 2-3 silk or nylon bag liners (you’ll get tied up in cotton ones and won’t sleep as well if you are wearing cotton boxers and a T-shirt)
    replace your pillow every 18 months – studies have shown that older pillows are repositories of dust mites, dead skin, fungi, and drool, all of which can aggravate allergies, asthma, sinusitis and respiratory disease
  • small kitchen rugs (without backing) to place on seat cushions to save the upholstery, especially if you are traveling with pets—Wal-mart and Target have 19”x32” and 21”x34” woven rugs
  • 50’ of 3/16” or ¼” rope for many uses
  • 1/8” line for clotheslines—outside and inside the trailer—and clothespins
  • duct tape and WD-40: if something is loose and it shouldn’t be > duct tape it. If something is stuck and it should not be > spray on WD-40
  • rescue tape: self-fusing silicone tape, waterproof and airtight
  • runner rug down the length of your trailer (if you have carpeting)—easy to take out and clean with a stiff brush and a spray water bottle
  • door mat just inside the door (in addition to the one outside)—I always take off my shoes at the door—wearing shoes in the house is a major contributor to indoor air pollution—I also use the floor for exercising so I don’t want to be lying in outside dirt
  • 2 or 4 gallon Reliance water jug for using in the galley if not using the fresh water tank and water pump
  • one can line the head with a plastic bag (8 or 13 gal or 22” wide trash bags works well [Walmart bags have ‘odor control’]), turning it into a porta-potty—not a lot of dump stations out in the sticks, but I generally use the Japanese digging knife for a cat hole
  • floor jack for changing a trailer tire
  • pick up one or two cafeteria trays at a thrift shop—ones without the molded-in sections. They are priceless if you are going to be doing a lot of cooking outdoors or just need to carry a number of things outside.
  • flush-wand hose attachment—if you use the water heater, use this wand to flush out the heater from time to time. If you do not use the water heater, drain it, flush it out, and leave the drain plug out.
  • carbon monoxide detector—if you will be doing any cold weather dry camping, you might want to invest in one of these battery-powered units. They are under $20. Install it in the sleeping area. You might also want one in the living area. CO is pretty much the same weight or slightly lighter than air, so mount the detector at eye level or above.
  • a package of foam ear plugs if you will be staying in campgrounds
  • a bow saw can be handy if you have to cut some dead branches to get into a nice secluded spot or for cutting firewood if you are into the larger stuff
  • a Stanley 15” SharpTooth general purpose handsaw
  • covers for trailer tires, the sun eats rubber—I just have a pair for the Nash and use them on the side that gets the most exposure
    think about getting a pair for the tow vehicle
  • yoga/exercise mat for doing stretches and exercises

For low power music, you might want to consider an iPod nano, external speaker, and an auxilary cable. The nano recharges from a USB port or plays from such a port. The auxilary cable (Radio Shack) plugged into the earphone jack and the other end into the auxilary port on the trailer’s radio will play the nano through the trailer’s speakers (remember to jack up the volumne to hear it). The photo is of a nano plugged into the house stereo and powered through a USB port. An external speaker such as this iHome speaker (Walmart) puts out plenty of sound if needed and can be used outside or in (also recharges through a USB port). Through iTunes, one can download various free podcasts as well as music singles and albums. My nano with ear buds, is what gets me through moving days; I hate driving but listening to Wait, Wait… podcasts make it bearable.

Consider a SiriusXM radio for your trailer. You might have one in your car but you will be spending much more time in your trailer. I have their $10/month plan and it provides more than enough channels. The Classic Radio channel is priceless.

If you are considering packing along a bicycle and using it mainly for tooling around campgrounds—reconsider. Those people pedal slowly (less than 60 rpm) and coast a good deal; not really exercise. There would be more health benefits from walking. Also, walking by other people’s sites would provide more opportunities to meet people. If you plan to use a bike to explore single and double tracks and old logging roads, get a good mountain bike from a bicycle shop.

Another stellar resource for finding places to disperse camp is BLM district maps. Stop at a BLM office and purchase any relevant ones for $4 each. One thing to keep in mind if camping on BLM land that is used as open range is don’t set up camp next to water troughs set out there for cattle. Ranchers who lease the land could, understandably, get upset with you. Your rig and movements so close to the water can easily scare the cows away from their water.

Disperse camping is going to have you on uneven surfaces. Pick up one of those blue square plastic bags of Lynx Levelers. Sometimes even three levels of these blocks is not high enough, so then I’ll also scoop out a shallow trench for the high-side wheels to drop down into.

For a lifestlye of mostly disperse camping, one definitely needs a heater that does not draw juice from the house battery. I presently use an Olympian Wave catalytic heater. Catalytic heaters should be kept covered when not in use. Air pollutants and dust can make real problems with the "cat bed," which is the most expensive part of the unit.
If I had more room, I might have chosen a ceramic brick heater. Blue flame is a third option. Do some research before making a choice. Be sure the model you choose will work at altitude. Some are not recommended above 4500’. Good grief, I’m rarely that low. Others require larger propane tanks than are on RVs. Be aware that these units are unvented so be sure to keep a vent or window open a bit. On cold mornings, teens and 20s, you might want to turn the furnace on to quickly bring the trailer up to a comfortable temperature. Then turn it off for the day and just use your other heater when you need it.

I have a tracfone to use for emergencies and to keep in touch with friends. Tracfone is supposed to use the towers of other providers so coverage is good. At some point I will probably go with Verizon. Most of the year I camp in areas where there is no coverage, however, so presently it won’t work for me and I’m not willing to pay for a satellite phone. For long calls and long distance calls I’ve used Snype. For $30 a year, it provides unlimited calls from a laptop. Just go where one can access free wi-fi.

If one is going to be doing a lot of dry camping, an etón radio is a good investment. They are solar powered and have a fold-out hand crank as a backup. Just keep the radio in a window or outside and you’re set. Besides AM and FM, the etón covers NOAA weather, all 7 channels, and has a cell phone charger and LED flashlight. It even has a spigot that provides a decent chardonnay. Well, maybe not the wine, but it has all the other features.

Get a handheld GPS—just a basic one for $100 or less. Go to and give geocaching a try. A GPS is also useful for marking the location of disperse sites in your road notebook. Sometimes you find a dirt road on a map that you want to take a look at but it can be hard to find; there are no street signs out in the sticks. Take the coordinates off the map and use the GPS to find the road.

One must have an outside fold-up table if disperse camping. I use a 6’ heavier one since it is used for tasks other than just meals. Acquire a wood stool to use at the table if you will be working there for hours at a time. Cut the legs until you get a perfect working height. I also use the stool inside at the end of the back table so I can look out the 3 back windows. Not quite like working outside, but close.
Purchase a short stool. I use one primarily for a table when I’m sitting in a low-rider. It’s also handy when working on a bicycle or anything low to the ground or when you need a bit more height. I use mine all the time. One of those fold-up RV type stepstools would not work for me since I need a higher, sturdier stool for some exercises. I have been pleased with dirtbike stands like the Ocelot Aluminum Stand II for $30

You’ll have a stool that doesn’t look like everyone else’s and the welded aluminum holds up to hard use.

Put some thought into what kind of window coverings you want. RVers tend to have day-shades since they are parked 12’ from the next rig and want some privacy. Many campers prefer drapes. They add color to the rig. If summer sun is shining in the window, one needs to close the drapes to keep the trailer cool. If you are camping, there’s probably a decent view out the window. It’s lost behind the drapes. Others prefer blinds. But many don’t know how to use them. Be aware the next time you are around rigs with blinds. If summer sun is shining in a window, most close the blinds. Why? One does not need to close the blinds to keep the sun from beating in and heating up the rig. Just adjust them so the sun is prevented from shining directly into the living space. Plenty of light still comes in, a good thing (especially in small rigs), and the view is not lost behind the blinds. I do this lifestyle so I can live out in nature. I sure don’t want my views blocked. Order blinds on the web. You can get good deals and there’s quite a selection of colors. Be sure to take them up on the free offer of sending color samples. The blues looked good to me on the web but when I got the samples, they looked pretty drab so I went with a shade of green.

A mountain bike is a given for me. I not only use it for keeping active but also to find new camping spots. When I go off for a ride, I occasionally come across other places to camp a few miles down dirt roads. So I find myself moving later in the day or the next morning. It sure beats just cruising around in the Jeep looking for new sites. Sometimes I’m not sure about a narrow dirt road that I might turn down so I’ll either pull off to the side and walk down it a few hundred yards or jump on the bike. Saved me from getting stuck a couple times.
One needs a bicycle pump but not only for the bike. I also use mine to top up the tires on the Cherokee and casita—cuts out the bulk of an air compressor. Works really well and it doesn’t take much effort or time. I also use the bicycle pump to blow out the water lines before winter if I had access to water hookups during the summer.
(October 2012 update) When I got a heavier tow vehicle, I needed a regular tire inflator. I purchased a 12V unit by Slime and it has been working quite well.

You’ll need tools. I have mine packed into two canvas rigger bags (something like short, sturdy tote bags) since I’m always keeping weight in mind. When deciding what to pack, try to choose tools with multiple uses. For example, instead of a hammer, I packed a hatchet with a flat end that can double as a hammer. I know, not overly safe but what the hay. I also use the hatchet for splitting wood and digging (probably sacrilegious). Probably not a choice for most but I carry a Stanley Wonder Bar. From time to time I need a pry bar, like taking patio tarp stakes out of the ground, as well as, harder tasks and the Wonder Bar sure is tough. The only power tool (besides a Dremel used in my silverwork) is a 3/8” drill that I run off the Honda 1000. Remember to pack a volt meter.

Have not chosen to make many additions to the casita. It’s pretty livable as it is (except in winter). Items added: 12V oscillating fan, Fantastic fan, 12V CD player, a good deep charge battery (a Wal-Mart-type deep cycle will not hold the charge as well), LED lights for all inside lighting, a gooseneck spigot on the galley sink, and a Wave catalytic heater. I pulled the A/C unit off the roof since I wasn’t using it.

The Honda 1000 has been enough for my needs but I don’t run the microwave or ceramic heater while I am dry camping and I don’t live with a TV.
I installed a 50watt solar panel, and again, it’s enough for my needs. There’s enough power to run the 12V oscillating fan, the LED lights, the CD player, and to charge the iPod nano or Tracfone. A 200 watt pocket inverter gets plugged into a 12V outlet when I want to run the laptop or charge it, run a Dremel tool, my drill, or my camera charger.
If you need more power go with a larger solar panel, 2 new deep-charge batteries, a higher watt inverter, or a 2000 watt Honda generator.

You’ll need a laptop; mine, of course, is a Mac. I’ve never been much of a bandwagon type person so there is no way I would have a Windows machine. Apple has always had a good product. It’s where Gates got the look for Windows. Sure wish Apple had put more effort into their marketing program right from the get-go. OS X runs on a very stable UNIX base. Some of the arguments for using Windows over Macs are pretty lame if one only stops to question. The Apple site offers articles for those thinking about changing up to Mac.
Be sure to have a flash or firewire drive for periodic backups and DO NOT keep the drive and laptop in the same vehicle. If there is a fire or burglary—you’re screwed.

One will end up taking way more photos if they have a camera small enough to carry around in your pocket. I currently have a Sony Cybershot (2012 > started using a Nikon Coolpix). Take all kinds of shots and just delete the ones you are not pleased with. It’s not like you are paying for film and developing.

You’ll need a mail forwarding service. I’m not sure, but I think Good Sam Club and Escapees offer a service to their members. Others use a regular mail forwarding business. Some use a specific UPS store. Look into how your mailing address will read. You don’t want it to say, ‘box#’ or ‘PMB#’. Law enforcement, especially Homeland Security likes everyone to have a home location. You want your mailing address, license, registrations, whatever, to all have the same address.
If you are pulled over, you might get asked, “Well, this is a box number. Where do you live?” “Nowhere.” “Step out of the car please, and keep your hands insight.”
Mail forwarding businesses generally make you use something like ‘PMB.’ I think it stands for “personal mail box”. I use a UPS store and use something like “357 Maple St. #164.” It sounds like an apartment rather than a box and works fine.

It can be difficult to get packages if you live primarily off-the-grid. You’ll only be coming into a town every couple of weeks for laundry, supplies, etc. and then drive off to find another place to set up camp. Sometimes you can plan for a General Delivery pickup. If it’s a UPS or Fed Ex, they won’t deliver to a post office. If you will be stopping at friends, you can have packages delivered there that you can pick up when you see them. If you are going through a decent size town, check to see if there is store that handles mailing packages, like a Pac-N-Mail type store. You can have a package mailed there and pay a fee or if you will be getting a number of packages, some offer a ‘one month’ deal. If you like the area, go online, order your packages, go back out camping, and come back to town in two weeks to pick up your packages. I’ve done this a couple times and it worked out well. Once I paid $10 for a month and had 16 packages delivered. Not bad. If you do the standard RV lifestyle, this will probably never be much of a problem.

Get a good size safe deposit box in a bank where you have an account and store your valuables, papers, medals, handguns, priority keepsakes, and whatever. Have the box located in a town that you will be passing through each year. Set it up with the bank to automatically deduct the annual fee from your account so there is no chance of missing the payment.

Baby wipes are priceless. I don’t know how many of those 140-wipe tubs we go through in a year. I use them primarily to conserve water. M/O frequently come in absolutely filthy, so first thing I do is wipe them off with some baby wipes before using a wet microfiber towel. They are also handy for cleaning hands or feet and for wiping down prior to a washcloth bath. Whenever you use one and it’s still pretty clean, use to wipe down the galley area. My two dirtballs would use up half my water cleaning them up if I did not use baby wipes. I still find it hard to believe how dirty they get.

I rarely use my fresh water holding tank, preferring Reliance jugs. I installed a 6” deck plate ($12 at a marine supply store) on the tank. I soaked up all the standing water in there and cleaned out the inside with bleach. After the tank dried and aired out, I began using it for storage. I don’t come across natural food stores all that often in my back-road travels, so when I do, I hit the bulk bins and stock up with about 15 pounds of TVP, nutritional yeast, cous-cous,and other grains and legumes and place the plastic bags in the holding tank. Works well. I’m sure others won’t consider the storage aspect but anyone who regularly uses their water tank should consider installing a deck plate for periodic cleaning of the tank.

A duster (Kakadu is one good brand) is a great article of clothing to have (I’ve worn out two over the years and am on my third). In cold weather over a fleece jacket and a scarf, hat, and gloves, it’s like being in your own little shelter, impervious to the elements. If you like to sit out in the mornings and have a mug of something hot or sit around a campfire in the evenings, a duster makes this comfortable for more months of the year. They also work well in the rain with a wide brimmed hat. If one stays at state parks in the winter, just throw it on, step into Teva sandals and you can walk right over to the showers, take it off, and walk right in without having to do the one-legged-dance-with-the-pants. Keep an Absorber towel, soap, shampoo, and brush in a shoulder bag that can be hung up, like a musette bag, so you’re always set to go.

I never thought of using hiking poles or a staff until a year or so ago. Thought they were kind of wussy. After a fall hike up on a ridge with some icy snow, I changed my mind. A friend had poles and she was having very little trouble. So, what to get? I did not want hiking poles because I wanted a free hand. I do like hiking poles as they were designed to be used, however. They’re not used that way in this country, though, people just tap along with them. The Norwegians are avid cross-country skiers. During the summer months, a skier can lose some of the upper body muscle developed over the winter. I’m not talkin’ about the weekend shuffle here, but true kick-and-glide—you’re bookin’! They started using poles while out hiking in the summer months and used them like ski poles—reaching forward, extending the arm back and pushing off, working the delts and arms. In this country hikers use the poles for balance, not for working on muscle tone—they just tap along with the poles. When one is hiking, the body is making all kinds of adjustments to keep in balance. Tendons, ligament, and muscles are all being used to maintain balance. Using poles and merely tapping along for balance will weaken the body’s natural system over time (you’re not using it). But there’s a lot of marketing to buck to get that simple point across.
So that left a hiking staff. But the standard wooden staff would not work for me; I need a point on one end. So, I made my own staff for $3 and have been very pleased with it. I bought 5’ of ¾” PVC at 40 cents a foot and a #4 rubber cork for 80 cents. The top of the staff was cut at an angle and using the pointed end of the staff is great in mud, crossing a slope with shale or sand, hard snow, ice, and poking the hiker in front of me. I also cut some lines in the top third of the staff to provide a grip. Works well. Put some paint in a bottle cap and used a toothpick to add some color to the cuts. I also drilled a hole for 1/8” line since, at times, the staff it is used for a support pole.
The staff is helpful on steep up-hills to give the quads a bit of a break, going down steep sections, crossing streams, and when climbing over deadfalls if I go off cross-country. It also stabilizes my binoculars if I am scanning for wildlife. Could not possibly be happier with my choice, and another plus for my way of thinking is that it does not look like everyone else’s.
As you can imagine, I don’t just tap along with it. If I’m out hiking for a couple hours, it seems a good opportunity to get in some upper body exercise. So I use the staff as a ski pole, extending my arm back and pushing off. By the end of the hike there is a good burn in the triceps.

If your used rig’s finish is looking kind of drab, use buffing compound on it. If it’s not too bad, polishing compound will do. Two things to remember when using these abrasives: do less than one square foot at a time and wipe it off immediately. The work is being done as you rub them on so use some umph. These compounds do not work like waxes. If you let them dry, you’ll have streaks and you will have to do that area over again. Apply with a back-and-forth motion rather than circular and use more compound than you would think, maybe a tablespoon for each small section (the stuff is real cheap). It’s a chore so I break it down so it takes me a week to do my small trailer. Use microfiber cloths to take the compound off. Wax the trailer twice a year to protect the surface.
If you like to clean your rig from time to time, Protect All’s Quick & Easy Wash is excellent for conserving water while dry-camping. Sponge it on and wipe it off with an Absorber towel. No rinsing is required. It takes less than two full buckets to do both my camper and Jeep.

Some staples I like to have in stock are: tofu; TVP; nutritional yeast (nice cheesy taste); tortillas (they keep longer than bread); canned legumes; couscous; quinoa; rice; different types of spaghetti; canned Mexican style tomatoes; canned jalapeños; salsa; dried tomatoes; hot sauces; soups and vegetable bouillon cubes; peanuts; peanut butter (only from fresh pressed peanuts); sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds; almonds; pecans; oatmeal; milled bran; cereals; raisins; prunes; dried apricots; wasa crispbread; dry chili pods; tepines; spices (cayenne, ginger, turmeric, pepper flakes); whey protein powder; non-fat dry milk; coffee; decaf; yerba mate; tea; Ovaltine; and wine. There are a couple bags of vegetables, a loaf of bread, and cheese in the freezer. After a shopping trip, there will be fresh fruit, some vegetables, two gallons of non-fat milk and 3 quarts of non-fat yogurt in the fridge.

Originating in the Andes, quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wä’) was a staple food and, pretty much a miracle grain for the Incas. It grew in high altitudes where the temperature ranged from blistering hot in the sun to frosty cold at night, a climate in which few plants could survive. And it provided the tribes with superior protein. Quinoa looks like millet, yet it has more protein than millet, barley, corn, oats, rice or wheat—and more essential amino acids than soybeans. Good stuff. I eat pounds of it.

If water is available for twice/daily rinsing, there will be sprouts growing in a jar. If a grain is combined with a legume, one will have complete protein—like wheat berries and garbanzo beans or lentils. It’s also a much more filling taste than alfalfa sprouts. Combinations that germinate at the same time enables them to be mixed in the same jar—much easier.

Here's a quick list of rules for combining foods for complete protein:
Grains + Legumes (like rice and beans, corn and beans, bean burrito)
Seed or Nuts + Legumes (like in hummus, sesame with tempeh)
Grains + Dairy or Eggs (like bread and butter, rice and eggs, creamed corn)
Vegetables + Dairy or Eggs (like sliced eggs in salads, vegetable omelettes, eggplant parmesan)

Interestingly, most cultures of the world naturally established dietary staples that provided complete protein combinations long before the words amino acid was conceived. Beans and tortillas in Mexico and chick peas and rice in India are just a couple of examples.

Examples of complete protein combinations:

Peanut butter on whole wheat bread or crackers
Cheese and crackers
Cheese and bread (grilled cheese)
Lentil soup with bread
Milk and oatmeal
Rice and cheese
Meatless pizza (whole wheat crust and cheese)
Nachos (real cheese is better than processed)
Hummus and tahini sauce
Bean soup with muffins
Beans and rice
Tortillas and beans
Beans and cornbread
Eggs are complete protein in themselves.

It has been thirty-nine years since I’ve eaten meat (any animal, be it fish, birds, mammals, or whatever) so I know this all works. I used to compete in mountain ultras—running 100K (62 mi) in less than twelve hours. So one has plenty of strength and endurance with this way of eating.

I have not had any medical problems while out on the road and I know it doesn't cover everything, but I'm a firm believer in following the basics: no more than five pounds of excess weight, exercise everyday at a brisk pace, eat low on the food chain, and spend time working on one's spirit. I also like to hang out with other people who look at life like this. One does not then hear all the grousing about growing old. If I need prescriptions or dental work, I try to hold off until I'm down by the Sonora border.

If one has a dog or cat, she’ll need tags. The Boomerang Tag site is a good source. They have two sided tags. For my felines, on one side of the tag I have: her name, my name, email address, and mail service address. On the other side there’s: cell phone number, “on-the-road-home”, “Casita”, “17’ travel trailer”, and the license plate number including the state.

Meadow and Onyx have a tendency to stand up as they are peeing so the deep dishpan I was using for a litter box was not working. Especially since I had it right to the side as one walks in the door and they were doing a number on the floor and wall carpeting. I did not want the litter box in the bathroom nor did I want a standard covered litter box. I purchased a 10-gallon tub and it works great. Walls are WAY high but low enough that the closet door opens over it. Perfect.

I ordered a foldup cage and mount it outside one of the windows so M/O can at least lie outside if we’re in a spot where I won’t let them out. I got 4 brass curtain rod hangers, reshaped them and screwed them into the window frame with sheetmetal screws. Since both of them are frequently out there, I cut two pieces of ¾’ PVC to different lengths to use as supports. I also got a T fitting and cut 2 short pieces of PVC and use this T configuration to help support the cage. The 2 different lengths of pipe are useful if I have the casita up on leveling blocks; a longer length is needed.

If one is contemplating a lifestyle like this with a good deal of dry-camping out away from people, I highly recommend having a pet. They are not only entertaining and good companions, it also fills you with a good feeling taking care of an animal. Seeing to her needs and trying to be in tuned with her is very rewarding. Watching Meadow and Onyx while they are outside stalking and wrestling with each other has me chuckling all the time. I don’t sleep as well during the winters, however, with these two around. My bed is 25” wide which, ordinarily, works fine. In cold weather, though, M/O are up on the bed with me. Makes it tight. During the summer, they generally spend most of the night out in their window cage. Maybe I should start keeping some heat on during the winter nights so they will sleep in their own bed.
If you have a cat, get 100’ of hemp rope and wrap a table leg to use as a scratching post. 50’ won’t be enough; it takes about 80’. Guess how I know this. Or get ½” hemp and 50’ will be enough.

Also think about hanging a couple of birdfeeders off the back of your rig. Small screws can attach a plant hanger onto the window frame or use 3M VHB two-sided foam tape. One feeder for finches and one for hummingbirds.

One really needs an art, craft, hobby, sport, or whatever for this lifestyle—preferably a few. A sedentary person or one who needs others to entertain him, like those who spend way too many nights veggin’ in front of a TV, would probably go nuts living like this. A pet helps. So does truly enjoying Nature and being fit enough so you can get out there. True Nature is not what one can see from a window and you are certainly not experiencing it if you are looking through glass or merely standing on a paved path.

When we speak of tomorrow—the gods laugh.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’