A wanderer wanders no more

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Well-known member
Oct 20, 2015
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A new year is approaching, and with it my four-year odyssey of wandering has reached an end. A little background...

In May 2014, I was an academically gifted but socially inept twenty-year-old nerd who had just finished three years of intensive college courses and three seasons of equally intensive groundskeeping work at a local golf course. Family talk centered around an upcoming move from New Jersey to North Carolina, and restlessness was growing like a disease.

I had never been out on my own before, and as the oldest child of the family, I felt it was my prerogative to do so. However, I balked at the high cost of rent; no way would I pay half my income just for a wooden box to sleep in. But abject homelessness was too much an affront to my dignity. I associated regularly with the local homeless men of my college town; although we had the kinship of fellow social outcasts, there was nothing in the lifestyle that appealed to me.

Then I read "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon, and grew enchanted by his unvarnished depiction of van life. This is it! Adventurous without risk, affordable while maintaining a basic level of comfort and dignity. I signed an agreement to put down $800 a month toward my dad's Ford Explorer. Its gas mileage was horrendously low in the stop-and-go traffic of New Jersey, but voila! The seats folded down flat and there was enough room to sleep in it. 

After some initial flurries, my family quickly became accustomed to my strange habit of stealth camping in the county-owned scrub lots behind our upscale home. I methodically analyzed and solved the problems that arose. When my family sold their home and decamped to the pinelands of the South, I stayed behind for three weeks. My first boondocking experience was camping on the golf course I worked at, to the amused approval of the head groundskeeper.

Fast forward over four years, 100K miles, 60-odd states, half a dozen seasonal jobs and countless memories. There have been times of profound isolation, disillusionment and soul-searching; times of reckless partying and drug use; times of unbelievably hard volunteer work; times of relaxation and contentment with rubber-tramp friends. Watching van dwellers coalesce from isolated individuals to a social community has been rewarding, though I have never considered myself part of the "tribe". 

(I was never a full-timer; after discovering seasonal jobs in May 2015, I spent each summer season since then in company housing all over the nation. This discovery was most fortuitous, as I had set out on the road three months earlier with no income and only a thousand dollars in savings. Ace calculus, fail arithmetic.)

And here we have the "tribe", composed mainly of hardy, plump, and happy retirees in comfy old rigs, content to sit back and relax on the vast badlands of the American West. Long gone are the flood of restless young Dean Moriarty types, driven by powerful and inexplicable forces back and forth across our nation's broad expanse, hungry for money, women and adventure. Did they ever exist outside of Jack Kerouac's imagination, one may ask?

Perhaps the great empty expanses of the West have been finally and irrevocably tamed by placid, lumbering campers and intrepid hikers. The myth of the wild frontier has breathed its last, and from henceforth will only exist in museums and the dreams of restless young men. 

But now is no time to reminisce; the new year will begin a new life for me in a new city on the desert shores of Lake Havasu. The Wild West lives on in this lakefront boomtown. But to the CRVL/vandwelling community in general: 

All of you are part of an amazing phenomenon; the creation of a culture. Visionary leaders like Bob Wells have exerted powerful positive influences, but the future direction of this burgeoning community will depend on the efforts and influence of every leader following in his footsteps. As the community grows in numbers and power, its problems will grow proportionally. There is only so much land; resources are limited as well. The open-door nature of the community will inevitably attract a fair share of predators and wannabe Napoleons. How these issues are resolved within the community will determine what kind of future is in hold for you all.  

Best wishes in this most American of experiments!
Wear a wide brimmed hat, keep your body covered and don't melt this summer! Best wishes and I really enjoyed reading your adventures! Oh yea enjoy the fishing and meeting all the old folks playing with their bait!
highdesertranger said:
"Fast forward over four years, 100K miles, 60-odd states"

60 states LOL.


Well in his defense some pockets of our state seem like another state.  And then there is always Jefferson...
Lumbering? Placid?????

Well, anyway, you young whippersnapper, I hope your break from the road is both satisfying and educational. I doubt it will last long, but of course I've been wrong before, in my lumbering, placid way [emoji1787]

The Dire Wolfess
Do not worry young man there are always 3rd world countries to gentrify. But that will be a long time coming. There are Nomads now as I write this, that has had enough of the population explosion in the west for some time now. They have been paving the way, yet holding back on disseminating any details of the lifestyle for obvious reasons.
"60 states LOL."


Wel, he did admit to failing arithmetic...at least, I think that was what he meant...his communication skills were a bit baffling at times, too!
IGBT said:
Well in his defense some pockets of our state seem like another state.  And then there is always Jefferson...

And Franklin.

Some folks haven't yet forgotten about the Republic of West Florida.....

All arithmetic aside, I found his post to be a well thought out  farewell. 

I also enjoyed reading his first short story : http://winterwanderer.over-blog.com/2016/10/pickup-a-short-story.html

Similar in theme of a Flannery O'Connor story. A good first draft. I liked it!

You'll be back. Until then, send  me your Lake Havasu address so I can boondock in your driveway.

I actually am old, plump, placid and lumbering. All I need is coffee. No worries.  :D



P.S. Read A View Of The Woods by F. O'C. That's the one I was reminded of. I just remembered the title.

I hope you keep writing.
It's been great following your journey. I hope you'll visit us at the RTR. good luck in all your future endeavors.
4 years already I remember when you first started out, that went by fast, hope you got your book written. Have you found love or is it the pursuit of money, work, career that has parked you up, was it the loneliness, the constant wanderings, the lack of community, solid friends, please tell, must be more to it this story of coming to a stop where you have. Why that particular place, why this month what has changed???
Perhaps the great empty expanses of the West have been finally and irrevocably tamed by placid, lumbering campers and intrepid hikers. The myth of the wild frontier has breathed its last, and from henceforth will only exist in museums and the dreams of restless young men

their is no myth, you just have to pull your wagon out of the ruts and follow the path less traveled. i could drive continuously at 20mph for the rest of your life and not even come close to covering all the back roads that are still wild and empty. good luck on your present course, when you are ready to wander again. just remember, you cant follow the mob and hang out with the "tribe" if you want to find the wild expanse of emptyness. it will be there waiting for those who seek it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, thank you!
very good thread to read
not much wild to be conquered but there is wild unknown to everyone personally :) you have to make your own new wild actually. I know we do on every trip out and about. We find all the new and unexplored to us.
I think a lot of it is all about your mindset when searching for something out there. Do you enjoy the search or start to wilt thinking what you want doesn't exist? I don't know, lol, just keep on looking for what ya want and how you want to travel thru life is best anyone can do!! Detour around things and make your own new paths to discover.
Of course from the perspective of many decades it is always fun to see the written ramblings of fresh youth newly hatched from the educational system. Their knowledge of life and their influences for their philosophy of life having been deeply drunk for literature written years ago mostly by other young men often under the influence of drugs and alcohol. No matter that the men they were influence by often self destructed. Or that those individuals of influence had underlying psychotic disorders.  

But yes, much of the world those writers imagined for themselves and the various behaviors of characters they treasured were generated from their imaginations. They created fictional characters to inhabit their worlds, exaggerations of people loosely based on their friends.  Then they reached the point of themselves becoming an exaggerated character living in their own world. Of course as young men those writers also began their adult journeys that led to their writings by being influenced by the previous generation of men who launched out into the world to explore, to become their own versions of characters, and that generation was influenced by the previous.

But do anyone of them realize that they are just following the same path and the same scenario that has been going on since the days when the printing press made it easier to access the writings of others?  Or the days of oral history when stories of heroes were told around the campfire. Many young men need to have their own Odyssey before they become one of the plump happy retirees in their comfy RVs.  But I wonder if they ever take the time to find out if those plump happy retirees did much the same thing in their youth?  Quiet likely not as after all those plump, happy people do appear to be of the rather boring and unadventurous types. The meet them and pass over them while never realizing that those are the  people who were the contemporaries of their literary influences. That we are comfortable and enjoy the nomadic life because our youth was about being free and different and of course influenced by the writings of others.

What goes around comes around and around and around. It is nothing new, not all that different than previous generations although buzz words may change and drugs of choice may change. But it is always refreshing to see the new generation of youths following down the paths we ourselves took in earlier years. Of course some adults have come to that path in later year and are newly discovering the "road" and the writings and philosophies. But at any age it can be fun to be on the road for a short time or for a long time. Many experiences to be had; many new tales about it, real or fictionalized, to be written about and passed along.
maki2, No way I could have said it better, We are all products of our past even the new trail blazers.
"Some folks haven't yet forgotten about the Republic of West Florida....."

and Lenny, always remember The Conch Republic!
Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, etc. are (nation) states. ;-)
That's giving us the swift-'n-vague about your new life.
Pray tell.
What new life are you planning out yonder by Havasu, what city?