A Valuable Lesson

Being a nomad isn’t all fun and games. Today I learned that no matter where you are, the right people can find you.

I locked my keys in the van last night.

Oh hush, you know me… I can be scatter-brained at times. (Pay no attention to my daughters.) I was watching movies in the van. When I went into the tent to sleep, I locked the doors with the automatic lock. This morning it dawned on me that the car keys were in my jacket pocket.  In the van. After a hour or so of berating myself, I thought the tow truck place in town might be open by now, so I called and they were. And they came out after I gave detailed directions and promised to meet the truck at the entrance to the camp.

So NOW…I pat my pocket every few minutes to make sure the keys are with me. I may start wearing them around my neck.

The rest of the day was good. The morning session was people showing off their favorite travel gadgets.

And the afternoon was a women’s meeting. We all shared why we were on the road and what interested us in this kind of life. There were some sad stories about divorce, illness, and plain hard times. Although more than half were women just like me, wanting adventure and a non-conformist life. There were 102 female travelers in the group, all ages, some solo, some with a husband/boyfriend/companion. I even met one woman who’s blog I had been reading for a couple of years.

So, even though Friday the 13th proved its reputation, the day turned out to be a great one after all.

Today at the Rendezvous

The morning session was on Safety. Learned a few things, got some ideas. Bear spray is a deterrent for both bears and humans. There’s almost no crime on public lands. As the speaker said, what criminal would travel miles into the wilderness to find someone to rob? And nomads just aren’t the criminal type. They form friendship groups and look out for each other.

The afternoon session was on health and first aid. Excellent speakers, one a retired paramedic, the other a retired army medic. Lots of good sense suggestions for what to have in an emergency kit. What kinds of medical situations to expect and what to do about them. And I should be drinking a lot more water than I do. Coffee really doesn’t count, darn it!

Tomorrow it’s going to rain here. Don’t know what I’ll be doing other than watching the DVD’s I brought.

 

Ah the Life of a Nomad

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Today I went into town to take a shower. As I said before, Quartzsite is geared towards travelers. The laundromat has shower rooms. For $7.00 you get 20 minutes in a very clean shower room, well ventilated, and they provide a washcloth, a towel and shampoo.
I drove around a bit, although there’s not much besides RV campgrounds, RV dealers, and tourist traps.

And then I did a bad, bad thing.

I went to a bookstore.

Reader’s Oasis is a used bookstore where I spent a pleasant hour wandering. If you Fort Wayne people have ever been to Hyde Brothers on Wells, this is the same kind of place. Crammed to the ceiling with books, magazines, DVD’s, CD’s, vintage and retro paraphernalia, and more books. I promised myself I would spend only S10.00. I got 8 paperbacks. And she threw in the local tourist newspaper.
This morning’s RTR session was an intro to Quartszite, the schedule for the rest of the Rendezvous, and then anyone who had an item to sell, or a service they can provide, got to announce it. Since there are about 200 people here, you have to connect with the seller yourself, but they hang around after the meeting to do so.
This afternoon was a crafts session, and since I am not crafty… I went to town instead.

And So It Begins

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Well, I’m officially here.  Pulled into the BLM entrance about 3:30 on Monday. Registered with the BLM volunteer camp host and found a spot to park. Set up the tent, moved all the heavy stuff into it so it wouldn’t blow away. Learned that from a woman who is right across from me. She was in the military. She said they never pounded stakes cause it attracts the enemy. (But I pounded my stakes anyway, just in case.)

Everyone is sooo friendly and helpful. I struggled a bit putting up the tent and 5 people stopped by to help. Then in the evening, people were out walking, stopping to say hi and introduce themselves. It’s a very nurturing atmosphere. The whole idea of the event is for newcomers to learn from the veterans.

This morning we had an informal welcome meeting. Bob Wells, the guy who create the RTR, spoke and answered questions about how to do things around here. He does all this for free just because he wants people to learn about dry camping. He’s been camping for 20 years and his website is one of the ones I have been devouring as research the past 2 years.

I drove into Quartzsite this afternoon to get a few supplies. There’s a group walk at 4:00. Tomorrow classes start.

I’ve met 2 other Beths here already so my name button says Beth from Indiana. heh

Still Driving

Today was another lovely day with sunshine throughout. I stopped in Elk City, OK where I will be sure to stop again. This is where the Route 66 Museum is. In fact, I drove on Route 66 today. A bucket list item! More exploration is definitely warranted.

There are a lot of places I have passed that need exploring. A small town in Illinois that has the world’s largest rocking chair AND the world’s largest wind chimes AND the world’s largest golf tee. And then there is Fantastic Caverns in Missouri which must be something incredible just based on the multitude of billboards I saw. LOL

One thing I love about this country is the variety of scenery in one day’s drive. This morning I enjoyed a beautiful drive through the Ozark Mountains and by the time I stopped tonight I’m on the wide open plains of Oklahoma.

Westward Ho!

This first day’s drive was lovely, sunny all day. But I still couldn’t help wondering when was the snow going to disappear! Sigh…maybe tomorrow.

For entertainment on the way I listened to one of my favorite travel books, Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. This book, along with the travelogues done by Charles Kuralt back in the day, are major elements that fed my wanderlust. Oh yeah, and the TV show Route 66. My long-term goal is to travel the back roads like they did.

I got the audiobook from Hoopla, a download website of the public library. You can get movies, TV shows, ebooks, and music, too. I also download books from Overdrive, also connected to the library, which I transfer to my Kindle app to read. The cool thing about these sites is that anything you download is subject to the library check out policy and when it’s due back, they just take it off your device. No overdue fees!  Ain’t the internet great?

I stopped for the night in Sullivan, MO. Found a nice, cheap motel with Wi-Fi. Across the road is a Walmart. Time to get some supplies. (Yeah, I forgot to bring shampoo)

Note to self: Do not eat crunchy tacos while driving.

Here I Go Again

On the road tomorrow, so today is packing day. WARNING: this post contains minutiae

There are a few things I bought just for this trip: a small space heater (the desert does get cold at night), an inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter in the van, a couple of DVD’s, food.

I already have and will be taking:

Sleeping bag, tent which may not get used considering the weather, all my clothes, a duffel bag to keep them in, an overnight backpack for when I stay in a motel, kitty litter toilet for when I can’t find a restroom, DVD player, computer, cooking and eating items, toiletries, various other supplies

The inverter can charge both USB and AC devices, so the phone, computer, hotspot, DVD player, even the heater.

I have an insulated bag that will keep any perishable food cool. I don’t plan on having many perishable items but some butter and cheese and milk, maybe vegetables and fruit I can buy along the way. The trick is to put in a frozen item to generate the cold. When it thaws out I’ll eat it and buy another.

This will be my permanent setup for when I start full-time van dwelling March 1st.

I’ll start out early tomorrow cause I’ll need to travel at least 7 hours a day to get there on time. And from the looks of the weather across the country for the next few days, I believe I’ll be staying in a motel at night. An expense but there’s no way I’m sleeping outside in freezing temperatures!

The campsite is just 2 miles outside of Quartzsite so we can go into town every day.  It’s a small town but it has a grocery, a Family Dollar store, a McDonald’s (free wi-fi!), and a laundromat that also has showers. Also there are 2 truck stops.  Like I said in the last post, the place is set up for RV’s and camping.

I’ll be posting from the road, so I’ll talk to you soon!

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

1ff8d16b58086dccc933fab5d99b229f  Here are my travel plans for January: I’m going to Quartzsite, Arizona to attend a gathering of RV and van dwellers called the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. It’s based, on the mountain men gatherings in the 1800’s when the hunters and trappers would come down from the mountains once a year to a city for social time and business deals. The Rendezvous (affectionately called the RTR)  has been meeting there since 2010. It was started by Bob Wells, a van dweller for 20+ years, as a way to connect with his friends and pass on his experience to newbies (like me). His website is a wealth of information and philosophy called cheaprvliving.com. If you want more info on the rendezvous you can get it here.

The camp is based just outside Quartzsite in a BLM area. BLM is Bureau of Land Management which is government owned land where you can park your rig for free.

I’m really excited to attend because they have educational lectures on different aspects of van dwelling, social events, and networking sessions. They cover subjects like safety, first aid, health insurance, getting mail on the road, camp cooking, jobs for RV’ers called workamping, solar energy for campers, as well as the philosophy of living this kind of lifestyle. There are social events including crafting, a soup dinner where everyone throws a can of soup into a pot, a chili dinner (same thing), a garage sale, and even a talent show. For networking there are special meetings for solo women travelers.

The RTR coincides with the Quartzsite, AZ RV and camping show which begins when the RTR ends. Quartzsite is an interesting little town that focuses on gems and minerals, since this area is full of mines where prospectors worked. I understand that a lot of people who are interested in jewelry making and gemstone collecting consider it a mecca.  The town seems to be built expressly for RVers who spend the winter there (the map shows that half the town is RV campgrounds) since the collectors prefer that mode of transportation. They have a special show every January for gem collectors and because the people show up in RVs the town started an RV show, too. It’s said to be the largest in the world. Last year they estimated there were 750,00 attendees.

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So, anyway, I will be there. The RTR is from the 10th to the 22nd. I’ll leave on the 6th, which gives me plenty of driving time. In my next post I’ll tell you a little bit about my set up.