The stress of the nomadic life

Most people think living life on the road is the ultimate dream. I sure did… until we actually did it.

I’m sure living this life would be more than amazing if we had an income like so many of the nomads do. We aren’t retirement age, and my disability claim is “pending” (which I’m told could take YEARS!!! what???) so, we have to rely on our ability to hustle and make money any way we can, which is often extremely difficult.

Busking is fun and SOMETIMES profitable, but more often than not, we don’t make enough each day to cover our expenses. For example, we went last week to both Leadville, CO and Salida, CO. In Leadville, we made 9 bucks. In Salida, we made ZERO.

It all depends on the place you set up, the people in the area, and whether or not your music is to their liking.

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At the Traveler’s Campfest (where we were camped) we played around the “campfire” (burn ban, so there was no actual fire… we just circled around a field) and they passed the hat for us. We were SHOCKED and THANKFUL for what we received there. It was enough to cover our expenses for the next week. PLUS, the other nomads just kept coming to our campsite and just giving us cash… 5 bucks, 20 bucks, 50 bucks… they were all sooooooooooooo generous that it really touched our hearts.

Now that the Campfest is over, we’ve moved to a new site with our tribe and Rico is looking for a job in a kitchen. We’ll stay here until it gets too cold and save money for the next leg of our journey. We’ll also continue to busk because you never know when or where you might just make a few dollars.

If you are considering the nomadic life, remember that it costs money – not as much as living in a traditional house or apartment – but it still costs money. My advice to you, if you are in this place, is to make sure you have enough saved for an emergency fund, have a plan to cover your expenses while on the road, and DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! There are plenty of YouTubers out there who have made all the mistakes already, so make sure you subscribe to their channels and WATCH THEIR VIDEOS so you can learn from their mistakes.

Rico and I thought we were really ready when we left DC last November, but we have discovered that there is a HUGE learning curve to this lifestyle and mistakes will be made… sometimes costly ones… Better to be prepared than to be stuck, so do your homework!

Hope to see you all out there on the road!!!

Big Love,

Lainie

Here’s the link to our YouTube channel. I’d appreciate it if you would go hit subscribe 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/buskingbohemians

 

An explanation of my extended silence

Dear Friends:

I wanted to let all of you know why I have been silent for so long here on the blog…

In March, while in Southern California, I had a severe relapse of my Multiple Sclerosis. Rico and I made the difficult decision to leave the road and return to San Antonio, Texas so I could try and recover and get back into remission.

We stayed with Rico’s parents and Rico got a job. I tried to write and paint, but I mostly just slept.

After the weather became too hot for me to bear, I started a gofundme to help us get out of Texas and to cooler temperatures.

We are now in beautiful Colorado where the nights are consistently in the upper 40’s and the days don’t get above the mid-80’s. The humidity is also very low, so I am doing much better.

Rico is again looking for work, and I’m recuperating. We are living in the tent again and roughing it, but life is so much better here!

I will be posting some old videos from our travels in February and March, as well as some new ones from our current adventures. I will also be blogging again, so keep an eye out for updates.

Thanks for hanging with me through the silence!

Big Love,

Lainie

A Day In The Life…

Good morning all! I thought I’d let you get a peek inside our world of boondocking. What is boondocking? It’s a term for those who camp without hookups or any typical camping conveniences (i.e., bathrooms, water, electricity, etc.). It’s also called dispersed camping or dry camping.

 

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Morning:

Wake and head to the toilet – for us this means exiting our sleeping tent and schlepping over to the bathroom tent next door (or across or behind, depending on how we set up the camp), making sure to let the dogs out at the same time. We have a nice RV portable toilet, but many people use a bucket or something similar… that would not have worked for this girl, so we have a “real” toilet. After using the toilet, I clean it (there is no water in the bowl, so I like to add a little bleach water before I “flush” it), and then wash my hands.

Next, I round up the pups and give them their breakfast, after which I check the weather (extremely important whilst camping). If all is right with the weather, I usually sit back and read the news, scroll through social media, and watch a video or two. If there is something bad forecasted in the weather, I let Rico know and we get busy addressing whatever issues need to be handled before the inclement weather arrives. (It should be stated here that we ALWAYS check the weather before bed, so we’re usually well prepared before morning, but weather forecasts have a bad habit of changing rapidly, so better safe than sorry.)

Once Rico and I are fully awake, Rico cooks breakfast. Our typical morning fare is eggs with some sort of protein on either tortillas or toast. Sometimes we have oatmeal and fruit, or bean and cheese tacos. When the weather is bad and Rico can’t cook, we have sandwiches because they’re easy. Sometimes I do the dishes after breakfast, but more often I don’t, much to Rico’s annoyance.

Afternoon:

Laundry

After breakfast, we plan our day. Here are some of the activities that we have to choose from:

  • Go to town to do laundry
  • Go to town to get ice
  • Go to town to get groceries
  • Go to town to dispose of our trash
  • Go to town to dump our toilet
  • Go to town to busk
  • Scavenge for firewood
  • Practice music for busking
  • Edit videos
  • Upload videos
  • Blog
  • Write things other than the blog (i.e., music for Rico/novel for Lainie)
  • Visit with our neighbors and/or camping companions
  • Make art
  • Go sightseeing (where we are now, that is mostly going to the hot springs)
  • Play with the dogs
  • Research where we are going next
  • Take a nap… or two… lol

For the town runs, we always combine activities, but laundry and showers rarely happen on the same day because they both take a lot of time.

As you can see, we have a lot of activities to choose from, and every single day includes a nap, for sure.

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Lunch is usually something quick and easy, and we often skip it and have a light snack instead.

Evening:

Once the sun heads toward the western horizon, Rico starts making a fire and preparing to cook dinner. Our meals are often shared with those around us, which is really nice. We enjoy the community feel of these dinners, and everyone pitches in groceries and/or helps cook or tend the fire. I usually get stuck with the dishes (which I detest), but sometimes Rico does them for me (which I greatly appreciate).

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After dinner, we hang out around the campfire and talk about life on the road, past adventures, and future destinations. Rico usually gets out his guitar and we sing songs or just listen to him play something beautiful. It’s really nice. Sometimes we pass the phone around the fire and allow each person to choose a song to play for everyone. You wouldn’t believe some of the songs we’ve heard… from Opera to Irish folk tunes and everything in between.

Night:

We also like to stargaze, and we’ve seen a lot of falling stars. We are super in tune with the phases of the moon now that we’re out here away from the cities. With nothing to block our view, and no bright lights to compete with the beauty of the night sky, we’ve been awed by the things we’ve seen in the heavens. We even saw the SpaceX rocket boosters fall away earlier this month. We thought it was a UFO at first… lol. I’m sure we’ll see one of those eventually.

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We are usually in the tent by around 8pm, and in bed by 9 or 9:30. No late nights for us because once the sun is up, so are we. I expect this to change as the days get longer.

When it’s cold, we have our little heater that we huddle around before climbing, fully clothed (sometimes in multiple layers), beneath a mound of blankets. The dogs snuggle up to us and we keep each other warm.

So, that’s a typical day in our lives. We don’t have jobs, we live without a clock or a calendar, and we try not to plan things too far ahead. We are truly free to live life as we choose, bound only by our budget, which isn’t too bad. We have the time and the talent to make a living out here on the road, and the freedom to do that is worth all the struggles we face.

Yes, I’d rather have a real flushable toilet and a hot shower on board, but I don’t mind doing without those creature comforts in order to live this life of freedom. I have a very comfortable bed, a nice tent, a great portable toilet, plenty of clothes and jackets to keep me warm, a great man to share these adventures with, and I’m unencumbered by the trappings of a “normal” life. To me, this is bliss.

We’re heading to Slab City, so stay tuned for pictures and fun stories from our adventures there!

Big Love,

Lainie

 

 

Hot Springs… Aaahhh!

Paradise! That’s all I can say… it’s truly a paradise in the midst of the desert. Don’t they call that an Oasis or something?

We are currently camped on BLM land in Southern California, about ten miles north of the Mexican border, and forty miles West of Yuma, AZ. We found out about this place via word of mouth from some of our RTR peeps, and we are so glad we decided to check it out!

Holtville, CA is a sleepy, dusty little farming town about two hours East of San Diego. It is much less like California and much more like rural Texas than I would have thought. The people are friendly and helpful, the town is quiet and slow, and the prices on everything (except gas) are pretty cheap… sometimes better than Texas.

Another thing, there is a free hot spring pool.

Yes!!!

You read that right…

FREE

HOT SPRING POOL

And it’s right out here where we are camping.

We have a really great spot, it’s got some natural protection from the wind, and it’s an easy drive (two miles on a graded dirt road) to the hot springs. We’ve been going a lot… sometimes twice per day… and we LOVE it! It’s especially good for my Fibromyalgia, and if I don’t stay too long, it helps with the MS as well. I love it!

It’s clean (kept that way by volunteers and the camp hosts), and it’s got both a hot pool and a warm pool, and it’s FREE!

What could be better?

We also have a fairly strong and dependable signal out here, which is why I’m able to blog and post new videos more regularly.  This is a HUGE plus for me! I wish we could stay for a month, but the BLM rules say we’ve got to move on after fourteen days.

We’re planning on going to Slab City to check things out in a couple days. If we find it to be hospitable, we’ll probably move there after we leave here. It’s close enough to Holtville that we can come back to soak at least once a week, which is fine with me!

I’m currently uploading a video about the hot springs on our YouTube channel, so look for it.

Our YouTube Channel

Hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

Thoughts on Going Home

Rico wrote a song years ago about a guy we had met who was a nomadic musician. One of the lines is “Sometimes you just wanna go home.”

I’ve been feeling that way a lot of late.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE this nomadic life… but sometimes the thoughts of a real roof over my head, a flushable toilet and hot shower in the next room, a comfy couch, and cable TV are a bit distracting.

These thoughts usually hit me in moments when we are having difficulties ( The Tent Killing Winds – Part Three ), or when I’m up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep, and bored. I think back to our last home in DC that we loved so much. I think about all our friends and wonder what they’re doing. I think about my children and how much I miss them. I scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, trying to catch up on what everyone is doing, and inevitably get depressed because I’m not with them.

But then, usually while sitting at a beautiful campfire, or watching an incredible sunrise or sunset, or just spending time with Rico and the friends we have made on the road, I come back to myself. I realize this journey is a necessary one for me, and I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is good for me, no matter the difficulties I face.

These thoughts are especially pervasive when I’m not feeling well. But then I remind myself that pain is a constant part of my life no matter where I am. If I was in a house, I would still be in pain, still have gastrointestinal issues, and still need to take meds and get rest.

I also realize that any time we feel the need to be with family and to enjoy some time in familiar places, we can always turn Pearl’s nose East and head back to Texas. It’s as simple as that. So, for now, we’re going to continue our journey.

We’re planning on visiting Slab City this week, and will probably make our way to the West Coast and Mexico by mid-March. I hope you’ll follow along on our journey via this blog, our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds, and YouTube.

Our YouTube Channel

Our FB Page

Our Twitter Feed

Our Instagram Feed

‘Til next time… Big Love,

Lainie

Problems & Decisions, Decisions & Problems…

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While we love our nomadic lifestyle and the freedom it provides, it does come with a few difficulties. Trying to keep everything organized, making sure we have enough ice, water, groceries, and supplies so we don’t have to go to town every day, untangling paracord, trying to keep everything clean, and making sure the dogs don’t get into something they shouldn’t are the everyday things we deal with.

However, there are other things we have to deal with that are on a much larger scale. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are in a sticks and bricks house, an RV, a car or, like us, in a tent… there are always going to be problems you have to deal with that involve your dwelling place. Sometimes they are easy to figure out, fix, and handle… other times, they are downright difficult.

The tent situation is on the more difficult side. We know we are going to have run-ins with wind and rain and other types of inclement weather, and we realize having a plan in place for each of these events is important, but figuring out the solutions for each scenario is more difficult than we anticipated. Especially with our limited budget. After the last tent killing winds episode, we felt we needed to address the problem.

Ideally, we’d have an RV, but that is a mere pipe dream at this time on our journey. So the questions remain:

  • How are we going to handle bad weather?
  • How can we protect the tent during windy weather?
  • Where do we sleep if we have to collapse the tent?
  • Where do we put our stuff if we have to collapse the tent?
  • Where are we going to put the toilet?

Bad Weather (i.e., rain, thunderstorms, snow):

  • If in a flood-prone area, get to higher ground immediately
  • Double tarp the tent
  • Put toilet and supplies in tent
  • Move everything indoors (tent, car, or trailer)
  • Make sure we have all our stuff charged up (phones, laptop, tablets, battery pack)
  • Have food, water, games, etc. handy

Windy Weather:

  • Collapse the big tent and secure it
  • Empty trailer and stash everything
  • Tarp all stuff stashed outside of trailer
  • If wind forecast is for moderate winds, leave bathroom tent up
  • If wind forecast is for high winds, collapse bathroom tent and secure it
  • Organize trailer and car for sleeping

The last windy weather we had, we followed the above protocol. Rico slept in the trailer, and the dogs and I slept in the car. We put the toilet in the front of the trailer for ease of access, and Rico had the buddy heater since I could start the car and use the heater if I got cold.

Everything seems to work well, though schlepping through the blowing sand to use the bathroom at 3am isn’t fun. Another drawback is that everything is covered in sand and it’s really, really hard to clean. We feel we’ve got a good working plan, but it will certainly need to be adjusted as time goes on. We also have the second tent we’re using for the bathroom, changing room, and storage, which we could sleep in if the winds aren’t too bad. Meh… it’s a work in progress.

By the way, for those of you who follow our videos on our YouTube channel, you know we were dealing with possibly replacing Big Betsy (tent). We did replace her with another of the same exact tent, but it seems a little bigger if that’s even possible… We named this tent Brutus, hoping the wind will be intimated by that name.

Our YouTube Channel

weather

As you can see… we’ll probably be implementing the wind plan in the morning. If any of you have any other suggestions, please comment. We’d appreciate it 🙂

‘Til next time…

Big Love,

Lainie

 

The Tent Killing Winds – Part Three

Yes! It happened again! Despite all we’ve learned along the way, we were again caught unprepared to deal with high winds. We thought we had taken all the precautions necessary and prepared the campsite the best we could, but all of that was no match for those infamous Santa Ana Winds… I don’t actually know if it was the Santa Ana Winds, but they were devil winds none-the-less, and they wounded Big Betsy. We still don’t know if she will survive the ordeal.

The second day at the Joshua Tree BLM camp, we were joined by one of our tribe members, Deni. She is a joy, and we are blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with her. We all discussed the upcoming wind forecast and began prepping for the night. Deni is in a van, so all she needed to do was make sure everything was inside and find a safe place to park for the night (away from any trees, which are few and far between, so it wasn’t too difficult).

We, on the other hand, are in a tent, as you all know by now, so we had a lot of preparations ahead of us.

We put everything we could in the tent, trailer, or car, and then set to the task of shoring up Big Betsy for the event. We made sure the tent pegs were securely in the ground, secured the rain-fly, and even wrapped the tent with extra tarps. I cleaned out the car, moved the seats back as far as possible, and got it ready in the event we needed to sleep there. Next, we put the dog’s crate and the toilet inside the tent, had dinner (delicious quesadillas), and then hunkered down for the night. Everyone was inside and battened down by 6:30 p.m. as the winds came whipping down the mountain.

About 1 a.m. I got in the car because the wind was deafening and I couldn’t sleep. Rico and the dogs joined me around 3 a.m. because Big Betsy had given up the ghost. We were both exhausted and feeling very defeated. I shed some tears, and we discussed our options. We purchased the warranty on Big Bertha, so we knew we could get Big Betsy replaced, but we were really questioning our ability to continue on the journey in a tent.

How would we handle the wind situation going forward?

What if we ran into worse storms?

Should we go home, get jobs, save up money for a van, RV, etc. before hitting the road again?

Should we abandon the plan altogether?

We knew we were both tired and frustrated, so after looking at other tent options and researching the weather for the coming week, we tabled the discussion until we had rested.

The winds finally died down around 11 a.m., so Rico shored up Big Betsy and we all took a long nap.

Poor Deni, safe in her van all night, had been so concerned about us that she didn’t sleep either, so she slept the afternoon away as well.

By 4 p.m., we were all up and moving, though still exhausted. I was in a depressed state, and Deni saw that, so she set about to cheer me up and encourage me to continue our journey. I am truly thankful for her words because they did the trick. Rico had already made the turn from defeat to “let’s do this!”, and Deni helped me take that turn also.

Turns out Big Betsy held up better than we first thought… only a tent pole bent and one little rip in the velcro that holds the tent fly to the frame… so she’s fixable. I’ll call the manufacturer today to see if they’ll replace the pole or if we need to replace Big Betsy entirely.

This was our camp before the winds…

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Now all the tarps are gone, as is the shower tent, and we’ve patched up Big Betsy as much as possible while we wait to hear back from Field & Stream and Dick’s Sporting Goods (they have been no help thus far).

We’re also working on a contingency plan because, although Pearl is awesome as a car, she is terrible as a bed, so we need to find another option in the event that we have this happen again… which I’m sure it will. Better safe than sorry, right?

After we get these issues figured out, we’ll go back to enjoying the journey. We’re heading to Slab City in a couple of weeks, and going to busk here in the area until then, so stay tuned for more exciting adventures!

Big Love,

Lainie

Joshua Tree National Park

We arrived in California and had a lot to do before we could find and set up our camp. We had to exchange Big Bertha for a new tent, as she had several tears and her zippers were toast. We had a bit of a problem, but Dick’s Sporting Goods finally came through and we left with Big Bertha’s twin, which we dubbed Big Betsy.

By that time, it was dark, and we were hungry, tired, and dirty, so we opted for a Motel 6 (cheap and pet-friendly). Our goal has always been to avoid paying for lodging or eating out, but sometimes circumstances don’t allow us to keep to our higher intentions.

The next morning we were ready to go in search of a campsite. We had heard from some friends that there was good BLM camping near the north entrance to the park, and since we don’t want to pay to camp, we decided to go check it out.

We headed Pearl up the road to Joshua Tree National Park and had a little difficulty climbing the mountains (which makes me question Pearl’s ability to pull the trailer through the Rockies, but we’ll cross that mountain when we come to it… hopefully).

We finally arrived at the Oasis Visitor’s Center and I went in to get maps and information while Rico walked the dogs. He found a beautiful Oasis that we’ll go back to in a couple of days, and I am really looking forward to that. I acquired the maps and a lot of helpful information from a Park Ranger, and then we met back at the car to discuss our options.

I discovered from the Ranger that the BLM land was over an hour away from the park, so we felt that wasn’t an option. I also found out that there were only four campgrounds inside the park that didn’t require reservations 48 hours in advance, and because I have an access pass, they would only cost us $7.50 per night.

We decided to go check out those campgrounds and see if we could find a spot before heading to the south end of the park and the BLM lands located just outside the south entrance.

We really loved the scenery we encountered as we drove through Joshua Tree National Park. It is incredibly beautiful in a desert sort of way. I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to love the desert as much as I do, but I find it to be oddly peaceful and somewhat mesmerizing in its simplicity.

After discovering that the first-come-first-camped sites were all full, we headed toward the south entrance and the BLM lands located just off of I-10, which is where we were earlier in the day. We laughed at the fact that we’d just made a very long and time-consuming circle, but were both glad for the experience and the sites we saw.

We found a great spot right away, close to the road (which usually isn’t ideal) with a tree and a full signal. We decided to look a little more and almost got stuck on the rutted road several times, so we opted for the first site.

It didn’t take us long to set up Big Betsy, and we had the camp functional by the time the sun painted the skies over the mountains a delicious shade of peachy pink. Rico made us a simple meal, and we settled in for the night, both of us tired from the long day.

The dogs were tired too, and it wasn’t long before we were all tucked into our beds, anticipating the beautiful day ahead.

Here are some great pics of Joshua Tree National Park for your enjoyment:

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Stay tuned for The Tent Killing Winds – Part 3! Yes… Big Betsy bit the dust.

Big Love,

Lainie

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Part 2

The best-laid plans of mice and men…

Yeah… I fell again. Rocks… I blame it all on those darned rocks so prevalent in the Arizona desert. Anyway, I am a beautiful array of purple, green, and blue bruises on my right side and quite sore. Thankfully, it seems I was spared any broken bones.

That being said, we haven’t busked in Lake Havasu City yet, and we probably won’t. We are also delaying our departure to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs to give me a chance to recuperate.

Right now, Pearl (the Mini Cooper) is getting a check-up and oil change and I am looking forward to another shower and hydro-massage at Planet Fitness later, after which I will visit the local Wal Mart to purchase a new air mattress. The one that came with that wonderful Coleman cot is torn beyond repair. I really liked it too but it seems it was no match for the desert (you know, cactus and stickers out the wazoo!).

I’m doing all of this because it is easier than being back at the camp packing things up. Rico is doing that, thankfully. I’m so sore, that bending or picking things up brings tears to my eyes. Sitting in an auto-repair shop and going to Wal Mart is a breeze in comparison (sort of – only the occasional wince), and that hydro-massage will be amazing I’m sure.

Here are a few pictures Rico & I took around the camp:

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Most of our companions have departed for other adventures, and once Rico and I and Garrett leave, the Craggy Wash area where we’ve been for the past two weeks will only be a memory. I’m sure we will all return there eventually, as it has been a great experience, but leaving now is somewhat bittersweet. It was truly hard to say goodbye to all our new friends as they left one-by-one, or two-by-two, but we are already making plans to meet up again in the early summer.

I’ll try to keep you updated on our wanderings as much as possible (finding a signal in the remote areas where we camp is difficult at best), and I’ll be sure to check in as often as we are in town and can get free Wi-Fi.

Until then, we hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

Lake Havasu City, AZ – Part 1

Oh, Lake Havasu City, how I love thee.

It’s really a great little town, and if you’ve never visited, you should put it on your list. It’s right on the Colorado River, across from California, and sits pretty on Lake Havasu, which was created when Parker Dam was built in the mid-1930’s.

Lake_Havasu

It is also home to the London Bridge… really… not kidding. Seems there was a guy – a very rich one – who for some reason decided to purchase the actual London Bridge from London, England when they decided to replace it with a newer one. This guy, Robert P. McCulloch of McCulloch Chainsaws fame, spent a ton of money to buy it, have it meticulously disassembled and numbered in London, shipped to Lake Havasu, AZ, and then reassembled. And there it still sits for your curious enjoyment.

There are other things about this delightful little town that make it a desirable destination, such as the multiple festivals they have during the year, the lake and all the water activities that go with that, the fantastic temperatures during the winter months (we are here in January and it was 80 yesterday!), and the large amount of nearby BLM lands, which makes boondocking easy. [For those of you who don’t know, boondocking is a term used for “dry camping” or camping without amenities like water, bathrooms/showers, electricity, etc., on public lands, and it’s free!] There are also several State Parks and multiple RV parks and hotels if boondocking isn’t your style.

There are also a lot of casinos nearby, and even a ferry that will take you from the shores of Lake Havasu City out to an island casino for $2 roundtrip. Quite the bargain!

Here are some of the sites you might just see in Lake Havasu City, should you choose to visit:

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If you’re adventurous and want to try boondocking, stay tuned for the next blog. I’ll be including pics of our camp area and our set-up.

Big Love,

Lainie