Snow Days

Why am I in Indiana? It’s cold here, Well, after my relaxing journey to the Arizona desert, I had some business to take care of back home.

First of all, I finally sold the Coleman trailer. Hurrah! It’s been a year and a half sitting on a lot at an RV dealer. I was selling it on commission and last month I figured it needed to be less expensive, so we lowered the price and Bazinga! Someone saw it at the RV Show and it’s gone. More money in the emergency fund.

In the meantime, I started a new writing platform to sell content. It’s called Vocal and it has many different categories where you can place articles. Payment is by number of views, or readers can pay the authors directly right on the web page. Here are the first 2 articles.

Computer Games – Comfort or Addiction

Convert Your Car to a Camper

Hopefully this will generate a small income. It looks to be better than the sites where you write an article and wait for someone to buy it.  Even though I live quite comfortably on my SS check each month, it’s nice to have another resource.

I’m also exploring marketing methods for the Trivia books. Book stores don’t buy from individuals, so I think I might try to get them placed in children’s stores and gift shops. Guess I’ll find out what kind of salesperson I am. heh.

 

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Finding Your Tribe

Side note: Please disregard what I said in the last post. As soon as I was back among trees and forests I was home. The desert is a nice place to visit but I don’t want to live there.

So…do you have a tribe? Nomads use the term “tribe” to describe a group of friends or like-minded people who they relate to, travel with, and depend on. Society has  lots of names for the special groups which people form: crew, squad, gang, clan, family. Tribe is one that modern nomads have appropriated because of the connotation of a wandering band of people.

The word tribe itself means “a social group existing outside of or before the development of states. A tribe is a group of distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self-sufficient, and not integrated into the national society.” -Wikipedia

In the American past, there have been several groups who were known as tribes, in the sense of being modern nomads. The band The Grateful Dead had the Deadheads, a small army of fans who followed the band on their tours and set up vendor tables in the parking lots as a way to earn gas money. There was a group called the Rainbow Tribe who originally did social services for hippies and others, but have lately declined into a dirty bunch of druggies. The Diggers were based in the Height Asbury neighborhood in  San Francisco and were prominent at Woodstock.

Modern-day nomads usually live off the grid, meaning they do not use buildings or public utilities to survive. They are indeed self-sufficient. Using RV’s, vans, tents buses, or cars, they can cook, sleep, bathe, and live quite contently using camping tools and methods. They do not necessarily live off the land; however, some do forage for food.

As for not being integrated into  national society, most nomads consider themselves to be distinct from “regular people.” Of course, those regular folks sometimes think of nomads as vagabonds, hobos, even outlaws. There are actually places where living in a vehicle is illegal. Sad for those who are truly homeless. Nomads are not homeless. They prefer the term “houseless.”

In nomad culture, there are many concepts. My house has wheels is a popular one. Another is that all are welcome into the lifestyle. I saw this in action during my time at the RTR.*  I bonded with a group who were all parked around me. We became our own tribe.

Since we had a campfire every night, we called ourselves The Fire Council. Every evening someone would propose a subject or two and we would go around the circle letting each person comment, tell a story, or offer an explanation. We discussed favorite road trips, told about our favorite relatives, confessed an unusual experience, offered an amusing situation in our life, and even complained about insects that caused us grief.

But it was the people who made this experience a joy for me. There was Jerry, who was the unofficial moderator. He made sure that each newcomer was introduced and accepted. Dave was the cook. He made breakfast and supper for the group. Every day! He said he just loved to cook for people. Mary and Donna were camped on either side of me. Diane was across the road, as was Doug and Mike and Mark and Marianne and Tim. And then there were the French Canadians. A group of them came together. They were all members of a Facebook group for Quebec Vandwellers. Several others joined in each day. The final group numbered about 20. A tribe indeed.

Even though we had different life circumstances, we bonded over the joy of being able to live our lives the way we wanted to. The open road called to each of us in our own unique way. Whether we were single or married, workers or retired, young or old, we found comfort and companionship in the common feeling of freedom.

*Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, refer to CheapRVLiving.com/gatherings for an explanation.

**If you enjoy finding out how words came to be and what they contribute to today’s culture, see my other blog called Word Love at www.ejgresearch.com.

Desert Scenery

The Scenery of the Desert

I have been in the desert exactly 2 times. And that is more than enough for me to fall in love.

I find a peacefulness there that is different from any other place I’ve been. The air is clear and light. If the wind isn’t blowing too hard, the breeze imakes the temperature very comfortable. Of course, I am referring to the desert in winter. Not sure I want to try summer. I hear it’s hot.  Heh

But the landscape is amazing. You would think, or at least I did being from back east, that color would be absent. Not so!

      

And while trees like I’m used to do not exist, there are the cactus.

                      

And these bushes that grow tall

     

Here is a bush/tree lined “wash” which in these parts is a dry creek bed.

   

It even appears to be almost forest- like inside the grove along the creek. I do want to come here in the spring to see actual water.

                 

And the mountains ring this valley with majesty

       

The sunsets are particularly appealing, since most of  the ones I see at home are obscured by buildings or trees.

One day I wandered out into the desert around the camp. The feeling of serenity was palpable. I felt like I could easily live here forever. That is, as long as the temperature stayed the same, (haha, never gonna happen.) But I make a connection with Nature like I never had before. I felt wonderful, clean, refreshed, humble.

My relationship with Nature has always been a part of my life. My family traveled for vacations when I was young. We oftern stayed at places that were scenic destinations. At home I also spent a lot of time outside. When we lived in Michigan, there was a river two blocks behind our house with a large woods along it. I would go back there and have “adventures” in my imagination. Of course my love of reading contributed to this, but I was writing even then. Making up characters and stories and – when no one was around – acting them out. Out loud. Boy, I bet if anyone did see me they had a good laugh.

So Mother Earth has comforted me, entertained me, and renewed me many times over. I carry her love with me now as I traverse her ground. I am conscious of the growing need to keep her landscapes safe and clean. One “rule” of being a nomad is to “leave no trace.” I believe this is a good way to live for everyone everywhere. Pick up after yourself. And when you find litter or trash, be kind and clean it up.

A Philosophy of Nomadism

A philosophy of nomadism

Being out here in the middle of Nature is a freeing thing. It allows one to be completely curious, open to new experiences, and able to remember the passions of youth that have been tucked away inside for a long time. Some of my passions I am rediscovering are travel itself, the love of learning by visiting museums and educational sites, and writing.

Retirement for me has become a time of breaking away – from work, from routine, from taking care of everyone else and instead concentrating on me. It is also a time of leaving home and being free to roam. One of my new friends, also recently retired and a widow, says she is running away from home. Me too!

And yet, it is also running TOWARD something. I don’t know yet what that something is, or perhaps it changes with every trip I take. I am discovering new places, new friends, new ideas. That’s what being a nomad is really about. Discovering things about yourself as well as about the country you roam.

Here at the RTR, we had a great seminar on Rites of Passage. It was taught by a former Episcopalian priest who started his own business called wildspiritpassages.org.  He leads people on Vision Quests and teaches about spiritual methods of living, based on Native American concepts.

He told us that nomads go through a rite of passage of sorts when they decide to give up a sticks-and-bricks home and take to the road. He also explained the Medicine Wheel theory of life, calling into play the four seasons which are connected to the four directions. Each one corresponding to a period of the life cycle, i.e. birth, youth, elder, death. Interesting stuff.

We broke into smaller discussion groups to determine which place on the wheel we are at currently. I decided I am North/winter/elder/time of reflection and am heading South/summer/childhood/time of exploration. I can sometimes actually feel myself transitioning from a senior to a young(ger) person.

I took a hike through the desert around our campground the other day and spent a lot of time photographing the scenery and plants. (Look for a post on that soon 😊) After a couple of hours I suddenly had the thought that I could spent the rest of my life here. Quite a revelation when I’ve been in the Great Lakes area of the country all my life. But I think that is what travel does to you. It makes you realize that there are other ways of living.

I find this so very true when I reflect on the friends I am making here. A group of us who are all camped around each other have become a social group. We call it the Fire Council. Every night we gather around a campfire and discuss the meaning of life, tell stories about our travels, and occasionally have a session where a topic is settled on and we go around the circle telling a story about it. The other night was “An Interesting Person You Have Met in Your Travels.” We have even started having dinner together.

This group of random people include singles, married couples, divorcees, widows, and a lifelong bachelor, and we are from all over the United States and Canada and all ages. I cherish them for accepting anyone into the group with absolutely no judgement.

We help each other out with all sorts of things. When I needed a new scrubby sponge, Dave just happened to have an extra and gave it to me. Jerry goes into town every day and takes everybody’s trash to the dump. Mary likewise went and bought vegetables for the communal dinner. And. of course, we all exchange tips and tricks of living on the road.

So I think my philosophy of nomadism is simply this. Be helpful,  be happy, and accept everyone as a friend. A good way to be wherever you are in life.

Travel Tidbits

While traveling I’m always on the lookout for interesting places and things. Place names are especially fun. Did you know there is a Hot Coffee, Mississippi?  It’s actually an abandoned hamlet that used to be a rest stop for travelers going from Natchez to Mobile. It has lots of signs still and is a roadside attraction/photo opportunity.

There is one person I met who I want to mention. I have never found the courage to go up to someone who looks like they might be a fellow nomad until this trip. I was at a rest stop somewhere in New Mexico. There was a woman in the car in front of me who was rearranging things in the car. Looked like she had a whole home in there. So I took a deep breath, walked over and said hello to her dog. (Always a great conversation starter) We chatted a bit and I asked her if she was indeed a nomad. Well…that started a half hour talk. She told me about living in India and Mexico and I told her my story. She designs and creates jewelry and hand knit bikinis and has a children’s line. I told her about my books and she was interested in them. We talked about selling our own products, she mentioned she was starting a website and offered to put a link on it to my books!  We exchanged info and promised to stay in touch. Thus a friendship is born.

Being an introvert all my life, it’s been hard for me to make long lasting friends. I have a few who I always turn to for companionship, but I admit, most of my friendships are casual.  However, I believe I am getting much better at it.  Having a common subject to talk about is a great thing. And when it’s somewhat unusual, like being a nomad, it’s even wonderful.

One way I made a few friends here at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous was through yet another car problem. Somewhere along the way I must have picked up a nail in a tire. It was quite flat after sitting a couple of days. There is a group of guys across the road from me who all offered many suggestions. One has an air pump, which he gave to me to use to inflate the tire so I could go into town and get it repaired. I pumped it myself, which, being older gentlemen,  they all thought was crazy. (They should have done it for me, ya know.) But my independent streak got the better of me and I persevered. I might get a pump myself, it’s great exercise.

 

 

Traveling Again!

Now that the holidays are over…new year, new trips. I’m on my way to Arizona for the annual gathering called RTR in Quartzite. That’s the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, created and run by Bob Wells who is a popular nomad “celebrity.” He started this camp/meetup/school for newbies  several years ago. I went last year. Did you read about it? Check out my posts from last January. A summary is here.

I won’t do a day by day again, but if anything new and interesting happens I’ll be sure to post it.

Later in the year, maybe spring, I want to head to Maine. I have a thing for rocky coastlines. And I’ve always dreamed of exploring Acadia National Park so this is the year.

Then in June I have a family reunion to attend. It will be in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio. King’s Island is on the agenda. Whoohoo!

Retirement is turning out to be more fun than I hoped. I thought some boredom would show up, but I’ve done many trips and had many family situations. Not much down time. So this year my “resolution” (laughing because, when have I ever…?) is to get that novel written.

For the rest of the year I think I’ll do a little crowd sourcing. Got any place you want info on? Send me a comment and I’ll go there and report back.

Christmas Memories

I grew up in southern Ohio. Dayton, to be exact. And Christmas was always a very big deal at our house.

Memories include making homemade caramels with Mom. The kind you cooked on the stove and then wrapped up in wax paper. Wrap one, eat one, wrap one, eat one, until you were caught. And Daddy’s popcorn balls  that we kids couldn’t help with cause the syrup was so hot. And the chocolate fudge. Oh boy, I’m gaining weight just thinking about it.

It wasn’t just food either. We always went downtown to Rike’s department store to see the windows. Glorious animated figures in winter and holiday scenes. Different every year. Rike’s was one of the big stores in Dayton, along with Elder-Berman’s, neither of which is still around today. Recently I was back in Dayton. I visited the theater center downtown which happens to be on the property where Rike’s stood. This what is looks like inside. Marvelous architecture.

And they have re-furbished and preserved some of the animated scenes and put them on display. Each scene is inside a giant case set up to look like a window. I spent quite a while peering into them. There’s so much detail.

                 

And they even brought back the best part of going to Rike’s during the holiday season. Tike’s Gift Shop. It was a room set up especially for children to go shopping for their family. The doorway was about 4 feet high so no adults were allowed. Store clerks assisted us in purchasing just the right thing for mom and dad. I believe nothing cost over $1.oo And they gift wrapped the presents so the folks would be just as surprised as we were on Christmas morning.

Another great story from my life is about the year we got the piano. I wanted a piano badly. I had been taking dance lessons and wanted to change to an instrument. So that year, I think I was 8 or 9, my parents bought one. But didn’t tell me. It was to be a complete surprise. I ran down the stairs Christmas morning and there it was. I could not speak. (I know, I know, …ME?) It wasn’t possible. We did have a fireplace, but how on earth had Santa got it down the chimney? Well it turns out, the night before we had gone to the 11:00p.m. Christmas Eve church service like we always did. When we got home, I was tired, almost asleep on my feet. My mom walked me through the house with me on her left side, my dad had my brother on his left side, (the piano being on the right side of the room) and they walked us up the stairs without us seeing what had been delivered while we were gone.

I took lessons for three years and no I can’t play without HOURS of practice. So don’t ask.

Christmas is still a special time for me. It means family and giving and kids squealing with joy. And food, Lots of food.

You can look forward to my next post entitled “My Exercise Routine.” LOL