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Showing posts with the label RVcommunity

Blog Spin-off Happens

In the old days, successful television shows occasionally featured guest stars who took off on their own shows. With that pattern as our inspiration, I am advertising a link to a discussion thread I started on , a mountain biking forum.

Its intention is to foster a sort of traveling club of mountain biking RV/van campers. We are trying to be rig-agnostic, that is, we welcome people in any rig. Where they camp is their business. (My cycling compadre and I disperse camp.)

The theme of the autumn and winter Romp is Utah and Arizona. Obviously we will follow the weather, as we head to lower altitudes and latitudes, approximately down the Colorado River. 

We have not advertised on RV forums. Perhaps we should. I don't know where the right place is.  

Why Do Road Tramps Talk Shop So Much?

I go back and forth when using quotes from classic books, that is, I give an anecdote from my own life that seems to illustrate the principle described in the quote. Perhaps some readers would prefer that I just give a juicy, classic quote, without watering it down with my own stuff. Hopefully it adds 'value' to intercalate my own experiences with the quote.

Recall George Orwell's "The Spike", 1931, written about his experience in homeless shelters with smelly bums:
There was nothing to talk about except the petty gossip of the road, the good and bad spikes, the charitable and uncharitable counties, the iniquities of the police and the Salvation Army. Tramps hardly ever get away from these subjects; they talk, as it were, nothing but shop. They have nothing worthy to be called conversation, bemused emptiness of belly leaves no speculation in their souls. The world is too much with them. Their next meal is never quite secure, and so they cannot think of anything exc…

A Newbie Couple Camps With an Ol' Desert Rat

There are some disparities that are made to poke fun at: men versus women, old versus young, northern Europeans versus Mediterraneans, city slickers versus rural hayseeds, and even newbie campers versus grizzled old "mountain men."

A long term bicycle club friend of mine visited my camp recently. She and her significant-other were embarked on their maiden voyage in a converted van. They don't know of my blog. So hopefully I can write about their experience with candor. Although it may seem like I am poking fun at them, their foibles and mistakes are no different than any other newbie, including myself at one time in history. They both have a lot of practical skills, and I suspect that their RV careers will be a great success if they keep with it.

The idea here is to describe a newbie's ideas, habits, and mistakes, in order to let the reader flush out the principles and draw their own conclusions. I will try to suppress my own shop-worn sermons.

They reminded me how diff…

Combining Vehicle Camping with the Great Divide Route

Every year at this time of the year I look forward to reading the travel blogs by people mountain biking the Great Divide Route (GDR). (Do not confuse this with backpacking the Continental Divide Trail.) The GDR is a selection of dirt national forest and BLM roads, and occasionally paved highways, that stays close to the continental divide. The northern terminus is Banff park in Alberta, whereas the southern terminus is the New Mexican/Mexican border at Antelope Wells.

Yes I know, some readers think I dislike travel blogs. But there are some that really do involve adventure. It is a great thing to find them and read them.For instance, if you read the blog of this group getting ready to mountain bike the GDR, you will probably be infected with their anticipation.

An opportunity is being missed here. A person might love the scenery and mountain biking, but dislike the tent camping and the need to find water, biking too many miles per day, biking during monsoonal afternoon hail storms at 1…

Famous "Go Anywhere" Traveler Caught in Boondocking Scandal

I think I had honored my guest, Glenn of, a week before he showed up in Gunnison, CO. The bolts that hold the travel trailer to its frame were loosening -- and credit that vital discovery to my friend Mark (Box Canyon Blog). Since one of those bolts was under the shower stall, it was necessary to remove the shower stall. But hell, why not just get rid of it! You can see I was already under the influence of Glenn's philosophical penumbra, despite him still being a couple hundred miles away.

What horrors would be revealed by removing the shower stall? Tools, money, or cellphones, that were lost years ago? A rodent nest and one pissed-off mama rodent baring her teeth at me? How about ghastly water damage and mildew?

Oddly enough I found nothing except the bolt that needed to be replaced. It was no small miracle that a plastic tub of just the right size was found at a well-known big box retail store. Then I rigged up a cloth shower curtain that hangs into the plastic tub.…

Must a Dispersed Camper be a Hermit?

Saguache/Del Norte, CO. In the upper left quadrant of this photo you can see a white speck. It is my van and travel trailer, camping alone with excellent Verizon service. The photo was taken from one of the dirt roads/two tracks that make for excellent mountain biking in the public lands near Saguache.

Why should I camp alone, instead of sharing it with other campers that I have something in common with? I don't expect them to be mountain bikers, of course. Most people can be interesting about some topic or activity. 

In fact I rolled into a parking area in a special recreation site near Del Norte CO, and quickly told the camper who was already there not to worry about having his little sanctuary invaded, because I just wanted his opinion on any special dispersed camping restrictions there. I did end up camping next to them and it was great. They had a pickup camper that pulled a small utility trailer. When he told me that he even helped a buddy turn a utility cargo trailer into an …

The First RV Boondocking Team Member

And so my career in the RV Quest for Community Caravan is over. I left for another campsite in the same area this morning.
It was a noble experiment and, I think, a successful one. By "success" I mean that it involved non-trivial interaction between members, resulting in certain changes in their behavior or daily lifestyle.

Whatever else, we avoided the standard malaise of intentional/planned Utopias: repression and stasis. Recall your Toynbee (*):

For these works [planned Utopias] are always programmes of action masquerading in the disguise of imaginary descriptive sociology.

Hence in almost all invincibly stable equilibrium is the aim to which all other social ends are subordinated and, if need be, sacrificed. The experience also required me to scrutinize my behavior around other campers, and then try to file off some of my sharp edges.

Or one could look at it as a good little Hegelian. Think of the RV stereotype as the "Thesis"; the Quest for Commu…

Teaming up with a Bear in the Laundromat

It has been a long time since I've come out of a store with a big smile on my face. The Western Drug and General store in Springerville AZ was really too big to call a general store. It was really a home-grown department store of a type you probably thought extinct. Now I know what you're thinkin': that I'm about to use the cliche, eclectic, to describe it. But 'eclectic' usually implies gifts, souvenirs, or cyootsie-wootsie junk that appeals to women. Instead, the store had an excellent selection of practical goods.
The store reflected the local character of Springerville, the capital of Arizona's White Mountains, by having an excellent collection of camping supplies, hunting and fishing equipment, etc. I've had a running argument (a joke actually) with a fellow camper about how easy it is to buy 3/4" wide Arno straps and Benchmark or DeLorme atlases. She contends that these items are so exotic that they can't be gotten in a small western town,…

The Exercise Partner Syndrome

I make no secret of having little faith in building a loose RV camping caravan/community on the basis of idealism, platitudes, hippie-dippie cultural values, or group therapy while sitting in chairs. Talk is cheap. For me what matters is common activities in the outdoors -- activities that really matter to people -- and then acknowledging that these outdoor interests are more fun when sharing them with other people.

It is a great challenge to do this within an RV milieu because of mainstream RV culture's fanatical negativity towards using the human body for anything other than operating a motor vehicle or waddling down to the next potluck. And most of them are too old, too fat, completely out-of-shape, and have health problems. 

I have an ex-RVer friend who now lives in Tucson, which has a huge hiking club. He has had many hours of enjoyment with them. He had little opportunity for the same success with RVers, and that's one reason why he abandoned RVing. Apparently he made a go…

Update: How to Enjoy a Windy Day

Consider for a moment how much boondocking can enhance the RV camping experience, compared to the sterile non-adventure of suburb-imitating RV parks.

Likewise, any kind of non-motorized activity can enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors.

It makes sense to combine these two things -- boondocking and exercise  -- and hope that 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.'

Yet look at how rare this combination is in mainstream RV culture, with its attitude of "windshield tourism" and "channel surfing with gasoline." Do they really think the RV Lifestyle is 365 days a year of scenery vacationing?

When I got back on the road last August I claimed to be looking for ways to be a better camper. This wasn't just an empty platitude. Perhaps I have now found my main project/mission/cause: to build a loose caravan of RV boondockers-who-exercise. If not me, well, then somebody needs to do it. The goal is a three-way combination of group camping + boondocking + exe…

Using a Fellow Camper as a Minesweeper

Springerville AZ. My fellow camper and I were finding so many RV boondocking sites that it was almost embarrassing. We were having so much fun with the drive that we climbed above the ponderosa pine and hit cheerful aspen and (ugly) spruce/fir. 

Large yellow/black butterflies made use of clumps of pale blue/purple flowers. (Moved to my animals Picasa photo album.)

Perhaps my fellow camper was surprised that cynical ol' Boonie would stop for 20 minutes just to photograph butterflies and flowers.Is it a Western Tiger swallowtail alighting on a columbine?

I wish somebody would correct me. I do have a desire to know the names of things that I encounter at the moment of observation and inspiration, but you can act on this impulse only if you have a field guide, or these days, some kind of gadget and app. By the time you get home the impulse disappears.

We chose a patch of ponderosa forest (8500 feet) that belied my previous assertion that timber harvesting was a thing of the past in nation…

Building an RV Community of Outdoorsmen-Boondockers

Long-suffering readers know that I'm not naive about utopian, pie-in-the-sky dreams about some vaunted community, especially one tainted with Age of Aquarius culture. But that's not the point.

A better RV lifestyle needs to be constructed, and the term "community" expresses that goal as well as any other single word. Before theorizing and polemicizing about this project, let's keep our feet on the ground by observing some very tribal animals: our dogs.

My fellow camper has two Corgis, a grandmother and her grand-daughter. Notice the moral support Grannie gives to the Pupster as she engages in community recreational activities with my dog, Coffee Girl (the larger, black dog at the bottom of the pile):

Initially Coffee Girl was afraid of the Pupster. But soon she learned how to play with her with just the right amount of roughness. Clearly it has become fun for both of them.

Normally their play begins with the Pupster trying to bring it on. The caption here might be, &…

Designing the Ultimate RV Camping Machine

This is a followup to a post a couple days back about getting a group of RVers to design the perfect rig. 

Like baseball, real RV-camping (boondocking) is a 'game of inches.'Too bad I didn't photograph the inch or two of clearance yesterday when I almost pinned my travel trailer between two ponderosa pines. 

It could have been worse: I could have bought my travel trailer a few years later, after the RV industry had "progressed" from the old 7-foot-wide standard (mine) to 8 foot. (For comparison, a Ford Econoline van is 6.5 feet wide.)

Once again I have benefited from traveling with a group and getting a chance to weigh the pro-s and con-s of a group of rigs. One of our party has the standard 8 foot width in his travel trailer. Bad news! The greater width will make life more comfortable when winter-camping in the desert, or on a casino or Walmart parking lot, but 8-foot is terrible in canyons, mountains, or forests.

'Nothing exceeds like excess,' should be the…

A Project for an RV Camping Group

Although there are boondockers who praise Solitude for the sake of itself, I disagree. Solitary camping for me is largely the result of two things: 
1) most men are paired with a woman who thinks boondocking is uncomfortable and unsafe, as well as boring since it's a 5 hour drive to the nearest Coach or Nieman-Marcus. 
2) most rigs are not designed for, or well adapted to, the needs of boondocking. (Point 2 is partly the result of Point 1.)

Therefore if you want to boondock, young man, my advice is to stay single and get a good dog. Hence I usually had to camp alone, by necessity.

But if we do manage to found a core group of boondocking outdoorsmen, it would make a great group project to "design" a suitable rig for our lifestyle. The RV industry builds rigs for a typical customer whose desires are very different from ours.

There are two basic approaches: 1) Select and combine a system of mass-produced rigs/vehicles/appliances that are readily available and repairable, or 2)…

RV Caravan Becomes Reality Television

Even people who don't watch television can't help but be aware of reality TV hit-shows. Although I've never watched "Survivor", I can imagine it. It seems that our Quest-for-Community caravan is becoming the show. In fact, it looks like a 17-year-old miniature poodle is likely to be the eventual winner.

So far, we've survived being towed up mountains, infected doggie sutures, possible food poisoning, cargo doors that wouldn't close, tooth infection and pain, bad U-joints, a holding tank's drain valves being smashed against a rock, and nearly stepping on a rattlesnake.

To the hard-bitten realist, solving problems and surviving disasters is a better way to build a real community than rhapsodizing about dreamy platitudes in the clouds. So maybe all these problems are a blessing in disguise.

The latest disaster created an educational opportunity. In cellphone service-free Glenwood NM, we were struggling to find an old fashioned public phone in order to call …

A New Community for RV Camping Outdoorsmen

No doubt a couple people -- including myself -- have been surprised by me surviving almost three weeks in a mobile "intentional community,"without being booted out. Another phrase for what we are doing is "an RV caravan witha difference." We are attempting to build a community, rather than one more routine RV group.

Normally RV Gatherings and caravans are about having a good time, i.e., potlucks, happy hour, local sightseeing, and maybe some how-to seminars. RVers -- typically newbies -- have paid dues to join some organization, and they see the gathering as a chance to recoup some of that money by plugging themselves into a standard product that is at least good for a little entertainment or education. You all arrive as amiable strangers, spend a few days playing "Ten Questions" (Soooooo, where ya from...?), and then depart as strangers, never expecting to see that group of bores again. 

For the next few weeks I will learn what I can from our experiment, b…