Friday, June 22, 2018

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

January 2018

I spent a couple weeks in Quartzsite, AZ boondocking in the desert and going to events at the RTR.  The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is a two week gathering of people that do, or want to, live full time in cars, vans, trucks, trailers and rvs.  There are seminars about frugality, van buildouts, cooking, jobs and just about anything you might need to know to give up conventional life to hit the road.

The website is the main site for Bob Wells, the organizer of the event and has a ton of information along with a great forum full of helpful people to get newcomers started on van life.  Rather than duplicate what he has available, I'll fill this post with pictures.

To live cheaply you need your own power source and the sun is a great source of electricity.  Some have permanent installations while other travelers set out a panel when they need power.

Some people prefer dwellings that are designed to be lived in, while others want to create their own space.

He was going to sell his truck to buy an rv but decided to convert the inside to living space and continue his construction business.

This couple told me their kids never visited so they decided to build a trailer and hit the road.  The entire thing is made from military surplus material and in the last picture you can see that they're adding a kitchen.

To get out of debt she built this herself from salvaged material.  The roof is "poor man's fiberglass" - canvas saturated with house paint.

Too cool not to get a picture of.

Road Trek Row.

Step van living.

And all those Skoolies!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

One Year Financial Summary

Jan 2, 2018

Before starting out, one of the most helpful things I could find on other blogs were details of budgets.  Based on those numbers I guessed I could come in around $600, and after traveling for the last few months of 2016 I revised that number to $650.  To avoid ever being stranded without money, my number crunching sets my available budget at $800 so even a major issue won't be an issue.

Although the numbers didn't line up correctly in their categories, I still ended up pretty close to my proposed budget.  There were more repairs than I planned for (muffler, two new batteries, valve adjustment) and Rabies shots for the cats in July messed up the health budget a bit (also the price of my thyroxin more than doubled in Dec because apparently the plant is in Puerto Rico).  I spent almost nothing on clothes and less than expected on lodging.  Some time in friends' driveways cut the gas bill down as did same friends and family buying a few meals.

Most of the descriptions make sense, but 'food' should be called 'grocery' as it includes food, cat food and accouterments,  anything small I might pick up at the store and probably some clothes.

'Gym' is for Planet Fitness that I started mid year to have a guaranteed place for showers.

Dumping my tanks and getting water (when I had to pay for it) falls variously under 'entertainment', 'lodging' or 'misc' depending on what else I did (stayed overnight, spent the day in the park, etc.

Item Proposed Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec average total
Gas 150 176 96 91 97 139 69 48 135 153 71 161 189 118.75 1425
Propane 8 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 24 0 0 0 4.42 53
Food 250 370 370 286 354 312 216 230 387 303 300 209 318 304.58 3655
lodging 20 5 29 0 0 56 15 0 45 0 0 0 0 12.50 150
Insurance + tags 50 30 30 30 30 51 51 51 51 51 51 51 51 44.00 528
maintenance 20 0 46 11 185 0 0 60 36 0 15 57 0 34.17 410
emergency 20 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 276 0 222 0 41.58 499
entertainment 20 0 25 0 0 24 35 25 15 0 5 31 25 15.42 185
gym 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 19 58 19 19 19 11.17 134
misc 10 15 0 0 11 19 22 31 0 0 0 103 5 17.17 206
phone 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40 40.00 480
health 10 25 0 0 20 0 0 89 0 20 0 0 71 18.75 225
laundry 5 0 6 0 0 5 0 9 0 8 0 5 5 3.17 38
clothing 20 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 11 0 0 0 0 1.42 17

646 691 642 459 737 646 448 588 739 933 501 898 723 667.08 8005

Obviously I adjusted the 'proposed' column when I added the gym and the insurance/tags went up but everything else was set at the beginning of the year.  For 2018 I'll adjust the numbers again to reflect the reality 2017 provided and set a budget for about $670 a month. 

Hopefully there won't be so many repairs this year.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Desert Sunsets and Goodbye to my First Full Year on the Road

Dec 20 - 31, 2017

I've been hauling butt, well, crawling butt in Rigadoon, to get somewhere warmer but continual driving gets tiring.  I decided to spend a few days in the Sonoran Desert to take a break because deserts are warm, right?  Mostly right.  The Sonoran was still chilly at night although nowhere near freezing.  The sky was clear and I got a slight sunburn from a Christmas Day hike.  Sigh.  Lovely.

After those few days of R'n'R (ha!) I continued west towards Yuma.  Totally flat until this weird streak of mountains right across the sky.

Once over those the air became noticeably warmer.  I guess The Chihuahuan is more of a desert than the Sonoran.

After a couple days in Yuma dealing with showers and laundry I crossed the border in California to park at the Quechan Casino.  They have a huge parking lot and it was packed with RVs just hanging out, maybe doing the trek down to Mexico for dinner and drugs.  I parked on the edge of the semi lot next to a little Sunrader and some big RV from Canada. 

I walked the two miles to the border (I'm so cheap; there's a parking lot near the border but I didn't want to pay RV prices for a couple hours of parking.  Some people drive to the point where 'No Parking' signs are erected and stop on the side of the road just before them.  Cuts about 1.5 miles from the journey.) Walking across is quick and free, and once over there you are continually assailed by people asking you if you're looking for dental or eye care.  I do want my teeth cleaned ($20) but not without researching the dentists first and I wasn't prepared this time.

Grabbed some ventolin (3 for $4.50 vs $100 each in the U.S.), paid probably too much for a pretty silver bracelet and escaped the streets without being dragged into an optometrists office.

While at the casino I met this lady:

She couldn't afford a hightop van so her son improvised, adding a truck top to the top of her van. There's plenty of standing room underneath it and her bed is in the section without added height.

One more night in Yuma to really stock up before tooling north to Quartzsite to find out what the deal is with desert boondocking and the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Driving Through New Mexico

Dec 15 - 19, 2017

The first time I passed through New Mexico it was following I40 and then down I25.  I loved the scenery, the colors of the earth and the sunsets.  This time I cruised along I10 through the Chihuahuan Desert and I still love it.  Rather than the towering, rounded mountains of the Pacific Northwest, the desert has sharp spines that look as though they've sawn through the earth like some giant beast hunching its back.

 Sunsets turn the mountains pink.

Veterans' Park, Lordsburg NM

Even the truck stops are pretty.

You may, however, want to keep a close eye on your pets.  See that little sign in the back?

This is it...

Monday, January 8, 2018

Kind of Like the Beach

Dec 11 - 13, 2017

Onward towards the sun...although we may have left the electricity a little too soon.  It was so cold for several days that even Bo wanted some lap time and Butch needed a blankie.  I was wearing two shirts, a hoodie and a fleece jacket while using my bathrobe and a flannel sheet as a lap cover.  Yes, that is bubble wrap around my cup and my stainless steel French Press was wrapped in towels.  Not so cold that the cats' water froze (which has happened) but cold enough to slow us down for a while.

This lovely place is Ruidosa Downs on the Billy the Kid Highway. Somewhere around here he is buried but the actual location isn't precisely known.  Instead, the town of Fort Sumner has a conveniently located grave in town that has nothing to do with The Kid, and another site in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery that is probably close to where the grave is.

Next stop is Alamogordo and the White Sands National Monument that encloses a small section of the gypsum dunes in the Tularosa Basin.  There are several small hikes to interesting areas and one big one through some very large dunes.

The big hike through the Alkali Flats. I only went as far as the first hill to get some photos.  The distance is only about five miles but hiking in sand is a slow process and they suggest planning at least three hours to cover the route.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


Dec 2 - 10, 2017

There are some cool parks in Texas, but none of them are along my route and I don't want to detour north to colder weather so I just kind of slogged across the state.

Cotton harvest is a little later than the one in Alabama

Free!! City park in Lamesa, TX with water, electric and dump station.  The sign says only four days are free but I stayed six, using my electric heater on the last two when the temps dropped to the 20s and it started snowing.

In 1947, an unidentified flying object crashed near Roswell, NM according to witness accounts and left a trail of debris and legends in its wake. And some tourist entertainment.

In case it isn't obvious, that's a street lamp with alien eyes and a Santa hat

Cheesy as all get out, but the UFO Museum is fun to visit.  They have several films to watch, tons of newspaper clippings and some interesting art.

There are aliens and spaceships all over the city if you keep your eyes open and alien-themed welcome signs along the roads.

After the mountains of New England, flat and straight is kind of nice.