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.

Musings About the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

Now that’s it’s over, I want to consider what this event means.

1. Philosophy – Bob Wells, the man who created this gathering, is a gentle, kind man whose motto of living is “if you don’t like the rules of society, don’t live by them”. He has been living by his own rules for more than 20 years. He lives in a van, works as a camp host, has a website, and loves his life. The Rendezvous is his way of passing on his expertise. Check out cheaprvliving.com for the rest of his story.

I have adopted the idea of minimalism in order to live comfortably on the road. I also believe that treating others as you want to be treated is the only way to survive as a human being.

2. Organization – The camp is Bob’s regular winter spot and he invites anyone who wants to learn about living on the road to join him. He holds seminars and classes on all types of things you need to know about living on the road. He encourages anyone attending to create a class, or lead a hike, or set up a group discussion.

I appreciated the structure of the event and the informality make it fun.

3. Classes – He started the classes because so many newbies started coming he had to find a way to teach them. Classes include everything you need to know, from finding a place to boondock to methods of cooking without a kitchen to health and safety issues. And if you need to know something else, all you have to do is ask someone.

I attended almost every class and group discussion. I learned a lot and enjoyed myself immensely.

4. Location – The desert west of Quartzsite, AZ. Boondocking on BLM land.

I found out I don’t really like the desert. It’s COLD in the winter. And it aggravated my sinus cough. I need trees and rivers.

I am so glad I went to the rendezvous. I needed some encouragement to get out of my solitude and into the world. And this was it. I met many people who I admire, made a few good friends, and learned more about myself than I have in the last 10 years. I believe I’m ready to get back to writing and get those books published.

 

 

 

Boy Am I Tired!

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I spent several hours today at the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show. Fondly called the Big Tent, because there’s a …you know…big tent. Actually the tent is huge, I think close to 500 vendors inside. And what’s more, there’s another 1,000 vendors outside! I didn’t even count the number of RV dealers selling rigs.
I drove out to the site about an hour before they opened and was rewarded with a parking space only two blocks away.
Everything and anything was for sale. Inside the tent was RV equipment and supplies, camping equipment, jewelry, skin care (lots of things that promised no more Botox, because of the average age of the customers? IDK), cookware, bed linens, bikes, motorized chairs, clothes, decorations; all with demonstrations. Also many campgrounds, individual cities and states, insurance companies, and work opportunities had booths.
And then OUTSIDE…food vendors, clothing vendors, household goods, booths specializing in knives, or leather goods or baskets, hippie style clothes and accessories, wood carvings, rocks and gems, plain old flea market stuff, and much, much more.
There were several pop up restaurants and I had lunch at “Beer Belly’s Adult Day Care” LOL.
I only bought 3 things (so proud of myself) and did not pick up EVERY pamphlet. I bought firestarters that I’ll need when I have a fire ring (the guy even threw in a free lighter and several more samples so the 25 I bought turned into 35!) which are good indoors and out. I picked up a pack of Techni Ice, which is a chemical that freezes when you soak it in water and the pack keeps your cooler  cold for 5 days.  Then you soak it again so it’s reusable. The other thing is a surprise for my grandkids so I won’t tell you what it is til they get it, cause their mom reads this blog. (Sorry Jill)
All in all a satisfying day. Now I think I’ll take a nap.

Rainy Day

Jan 20 We had a morning session on boondocking. That’s what R V’ers call dispersed or dry camping, meaning setting up a campsite on public lands where there is no electricity, water, or bathroom facilities. Out in the boondocks. You can do this on BLM land, in National Forests, and other government owned land like wildlife refuges. These lands are mostly west of the Mississippi River, not much in my neck of the woods. The seminar was on how to find such land.

We also talked a little bit about overnight parking. That’s when you park somewhere while you’re traveling just to get a night’s sleep. Walmarts are very friendly to nomads, so are Cracker Barrels and truck stops. Sometimes you can even spend a few hours at a rest stop.

The rest of the day it rained, so I stayed in the van reading. It gets quite windy during a rainstorm and a couple of times I had to jump out and fix the tent that the wind had blown in. I quickly learned to park my van on the side that the wind was blowing from to keep it up. I have an app on my phone that tells me where the wind is coming from.

This was the last day of the RTR so I will be doing a post soon with all my thoughts about the event.

It’s Off to Work We Go

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Jan 19   Today sessions were about working on the road. The morning was all about workamping, which is what we call working a temporary job as an RV’er.  National Parks are good for working at gift shops and concession booths. And if you have experience, you can be a tour guide, river rafting guide, horseback ride leader, and have fun doing what you love.

National Forests have campgrounds where you can be camp host. That means you are the one taking reservations, keeping the campground clean, and cleaning the toilets and showers. In return you usually get a free campsite for the season.

Being a RV transfer driver is another good way to live on the road and earn money. Transporting rigs from the factory to a dealership, or from a dealer to a campground for a customer, you can live in the RV and tow your own car to go to the next job. A woman here who does it says she makes 1 or 2 runs a month and enjoys visiting National Parks on her off days.

Other jobs are for companies who like to hire RV’ers because the work is seasonal, just a few weeks or months. Amazon has it’s own CamperForce that do inventory picking and shipping in November and December for the Christmas rush. There’s a beet harvest every fall that sugar companies use nomads for. Not at the farms, but at the sugar factories, sorting and preparing the beets for processing.

And Bob told about a friend of his who is a poker dealer and follows the professional tournaments all over the country.

Of course if you have a skill or offer a service, that’s another way to have an income. Here at the RTR I’ ve met musicians, writers, carpenters, welders, RV repair guys, seamstresses, beauticians, dog groomers, computer experts, a traveling nurse, a psychic, and a yoga instructor, all who use their expertise to make money.

So there are lots of ways to earn a living even when you’re on the road.

The afternoon was going to be a talk by a woman who wrote a book about her own workamping experiences plus how to sell stuff on EBay.. However, it’s been raining off and on all afternoon so I didn’t go. Isn’t that what retirement is about, deciding not to do something cause you just don’t wanna? hehe

Down Mexico Way

Today we learned all about going to Mexico for medical stuff. People go there all the time to get really cheap dental work, eyeglasses, and prescriptions. Lots of the group have been there and say it is perfectly safe. In fact, Americans are treated extremely well because we have cash. Most of the medical office workers speak English. And the services are just like here in the states, even some taking American insurance.

The town this group goes to is Algodones, which shares the border with Yuma, AZ. A lot of people in Yuma go across the border for lunch . Now getting across is easy, you just walk through the gate. But if you want to come back, you need a passport.
I’m not sure I will ever do this, but who knows?

In the afternoon there was no session so I went out to see a bit more of the desert. Drove north to Parker, AZ, and visited an old friend. Walmart. LOL

Then in the evening was our talent show. Nomads are creative people. They need a way to pass the time without TV, so they develop talents. The show included a guy who does professional yo-yo tricks, a flute player, several poets, a woman who did a comedy routine about making balloon animals. And my favorite was a singer-songwriter who performed a lovely song about traveling called, “My Heart is with the Highway and the Wind.”

All in all a another great day at the RTR. Oh and if you wonder why we’re called Rubber Tramps, well, we travel on rubber ya know.

Education and Relaxation

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January 15, 2017 Today’s morning session was very interesting. It was a “Tin Can Seminar.” All week there was a can sitting on the speaker’s table which people could put questions into. Then today, the leader, a 40-year camping veteran, read them and asked the group for answers. It was educational, thought-provoking, and sometimes just funny, Questions included “How do I meet a nice girl?” and “What books inspired you to travel?” and “Does traveling make you a better person?” and “How do I determine what makes a safe stealth parking spot in a strange city?” It was my favorite session so far.

This afternoon Vincent was getting restless so we went for a drive. I drove west on I-10 to Blythe, which is the nearest city. It also happens to be just across the state line in California, so yes folks, I actually drove all the way across the country!  (kinda, sorta)

Interesting fact about California. They have completely banned plastic bags. I stopped at a drug store to buy a couple of things and was not given any bag to carry them in. Luckily I only got a card and some trash bags. I found out that you have to take your own bags when you go shopping or purchase a reusable one at the store.

Then I came back and walked around the outdoor marketplace in Quartzsite, which is basically a place for traveling vendors that is open all winter. I had an ice cream cone! It was sunny and 66 degrees, I couldn’t resist.

It’s been getting pretty chilly at night here, so I’ve started sleeping in the van. The tent is useful for dressing and bathroom, but crawling in and out will get old sooner than I think. I may try a little conversion on the van, putting in some kind of bed and storage. I’ve seen a lot of ways to do it here, so with some careful thought and planning, I believe I can do it myself. Lots of women have, so why not me?

Busy Day

Saturday, Jan. 14

The morning session was on solar panels and how to use them. It’s way more complicated than I thought. So what I learned was that if I decide to use them, I need a LOT more learning!

The afternoon class was on lithium batteries which did not interest me at all. So I went into town to do something I love.

I went to a concert!

Quartzsite is celebrating 150 years as a town this year. So there was performance today by The New Christy Minstrels. They have been coming to Quartzsite for the last ten years because Randy Sparks, the leader, wrote a song about one the local historical figures.

It was a wonderful concert. They are, of course, great musicians and singers., although not as strong as I remember due to there being only 7 members now. But funny! The comedy was as good as the music.

And then for supper there was a group meal of chili dogs, chips, and desserts.

I just noticed that WordPress is dating my posts as the day after I write them, so I will start dating each one, to eliminate confusion and preserve my sanity.

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.

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.