Monday, October 15, 2018

This blows

I saw the forecast. I knew it was coming. I was prepared. But I still don’t have to like howling wind. At least I had the Rolling Steel Tent properly oriented and the wind didn’t change directions, so the rocking wasn’t too bad—just enough to keep waking me up. It did drop the temperature down to a comfortable blanket-to-my-chin level, though. And it kept the flying bugs away, so there was a positive side to it.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

I can’t sleep like this

It’s the in-between season again when it’s too warm to sleep with the Rolling Steel Tent all closed up but too chilly to sleep with windows open. It’s too warm to sleep with a blanket but too chilly to sleep without. So it’s a balancing act with adjustments made during the night—sometimes every couple of hours, sometimes every few seconds. Mix and match between columns A and B.

Honor among boondockers

A guy flagged me down as I was pulling out of my long Class-A-RV-sized boondocking spot. I was going for a shower at the Pilot Travel Center in North Las Vegas. Mmmmm, lots of hot water.

“Will you be coming back?”

“Yes.”

“Oh,” he nodded and shrugged, “I was hoping to take that spot. But okay.” He had a Class A RV.

I figured even if he didn’t snag the spot someone else would, it being the beginning of a weekend with anglers and boaters and locals who just want a break from the city arriving at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. It would’ve been no big deal for me to lose the spot since the Rolling Steel Tent is compact enough to fit a variety of other places.

When I returned, all clean and fresh, with my hair and beard buzzed back into control, “my” spot was still empty. Quelle surprise.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Too near, too far

The past summer’s travels reminded me that while I like being out in the boonies I prefer not being inconveniently far from the benefits of civilization.

I don’t hate cities. I lived in them—happily—for sixty-one years. Sure, they’re crowded and noisy and filled with jerks and crazy people, but so is my head. Now, as a nomad, cities are very useful centers of resources. The larger the city the greater those resources, the broader the options.

I love being out in the beauty of nature, but I’m not the type who needs to be so far off the beaten path that there’s no longer a path and it’s a major trek to get eggs or a fan belt.

I don’t need for there to be no hint of any other humans. I’ve developed the city dweller’s (and the introvert’s) ability to tune out, to ignore it all when I want to. Sure, perfect solitude in a beautiful place is wonderful, but so is partial solitude. By accepting imperfect solitude there are far more places I can be happy. Like now, just over the hill from the craziness of Las Vegas. But like they say, out of sight, out of mind—at least until I’m out of toilet paper.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Wrapping up another day at Lake Mead




Feeling retro

I’m camped at Government Wash, Lake Mead I haven’t seen any sail boats or water skiers with disproportionately large heads yet. But it’s nice here anyway.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Whichever way the wind blows

Snow on the mountains

Yesterday’s rain left a skim of snow up on the peaks. This morning an icy wind howled from the north. It was part of blob of unseasonably cold weather sitting on the western half of the country. Thanks, Canada.

Clearly, it was time for me to move on. Both the forecasts and the wind suggested I should go south. So I did. I’m writing this from the Mojave National Preserve where it’s about 2,700 feet lower than Lone Pine and at least ten degrees warmer. I’m happy just about any time I can drive downhill with the wind at my back to a place I don’t need to wear a coat.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A holiday from solitude

Nearly every morning I leave my spot in the Alabama Hills and go into Lone Pine where I park in the parking lot by the park (that’s a lot of parks in one sentence) and access either the town’s free Main Street wifi or the wifi at Carl’s Jr.

But this being the long Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day weekend it’s also time for the Lone Pine Film Festival. That means vendors in the park and a full parking lot. And it means temporarily blocking US-395 for a parade. And it means people wandering through the Alabama Hills looking at all the movie locations, some of which are right by my campsite.

Meanwhile, in Bishop, where I might want to go for groceries, they’re having the Fall Colors Cruise & Car Show. So it’s a mess there, too.

Grumble grumble grumble. Cranky reclusive old fart problems. I’ll go hide in my cave.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Cave man

As much as I like Alabama Hills, two things get me wishing I were somewhere else: high winds and essentially no cell reception. But I’ve finally found a location where those problems aren’t problems. I have a strong Verizon signal and piles of rocks that block the wind from three directions. I’ll be staying longer. At least until my forwarded mail arrives.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Desert art

Jael Hoffmann started out making jewelry. The jewelry became tiny sculptures. The tiny sculptures became large sculptures. Somewhere along the way she moved to Olancha CA, where the mountains meet the desert, set up an off-grid studio and installed some of her large works next to the highway. Here are some samples.

Getting rid of one’s demons

We are what we consume

Children hidden under priestly robes

I might’ve encountered this creature somewhere

I took nothing but photos

A prison of one’s own making, or an introvert’s defense system?




The morning show

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Another photo

Buenos días, Rosa.

The edge of tropical depression Rosa moved in during the night, raising the humidity from the teens to the fifties and dropping just a hint of rain.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Habits are our friends

When I settle into a campsite I always toss my key and wallet on the counter. Well, almost always. About 99.999% always. It might not be the optimum place to leave them, but it works for me—until those rare times I break from habit. Like yesterday afternoon.

This morning I was packed up and ready to head out when… dammit. Well, at least I was in a van rather than a three-bedroom house. There are far fewer places for stuff to hide.

I eventually found the key in the pocket of the jeans I had changed out of when the day become too hot for them. The wallet was in the dash cubby where I had stuffed it after paying at the drive-through. (Black wallet, black dash, easy to miss. It’s about time to replace this one. Maybe I should get something more visible.)

They say a place for everything and everything in its place. The everything in its place part is the most essential, particularly when living in a van.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Surrounded

I had checked the forecasts in several directions. To the north the nighttime temperatures were in the freezing range. To the east it would be in the high nineties. To the south, the remains if Hurricane Rosa would be dumping rain with the possibility of flash floods. To the west, at the coast, it would be cool and very humid. The best option would be to stay put for a while. I felt hemmed in.

Then, just after sunset, a caravan of strangers decided they were going to share my campsite. Without bothering to ask. I would’ve said, “Sure, squeeze in,” but, come on people, this was bad camping etiquette. It’s not like this is a trailhead parking lot where just grabbing a spot is perfectly acceptable.

Oh well. They were quiet, with only a little chatter and a minimum of door slamming. And I had been thinking about returning to Lone Pine.

UPDATE: Half of them left at about 8:15 a.m. and the rest left at about 9:00. Alone again, naturally.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Sacrifice

I was thinking about my friend, Jon. Then I thought about a conversation I had with his wife, Katherine. She collects folk art. I used to. I told her about the paintings by well regarded folk artists I had to sell before becoming a nomad. I really loved that art.

As I contemplated that conversation I was surprised I couldn’t remember one of the artist’s names. I guess I had really closed the door on that part of my material world.

I googled around until I found the artist, Jimmy Lee Suddeth. Then I googled the others. To my astonishment, there on the interwebs were two of the paintings I’d sold. They were up for sale again.

Sigh.

I had been imagining my buyer wanted to keep and enjoy the art rather than make money off it. Oh well. We can’t control what people do with our former possessions. At least not without some type of contract.

Getting rid of our stuff is one of the big challenges for many aspiring nomads. Most of our stuff is generic. (How did I end up with so many potholders?) But some of it is cherished, irreplaceable and filled with meaning. Those things are hard to let go. Or forget.

Up to Bishop

It was time to get supplies and the prices are really high at the small grocery in Lone Pine. So decamped to Bishop where the prices are only sort of high.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Location, location

Morning shade or afternoon shade? Maximum shade or maximum solar exposure? Best view or best sun/shade ratio? How level do you want to be? And what about privacy?

There are decisions to be made when choosing a campsite. Fortunately, the rock formations at Alabama Hills offer many options.

I moved a short distance to gain some privacy, to have the side door facing north, to get a nice breeze flowing through the van without it becoming a wind tunnel, and to add some distance between the van and the afternoon-heat-radiating rocks. And to feel like I’d gone someplace new.