RTR 2019 + Par-T-R

I really can’t believe it’s been an entire year since we were out here in Quartzsite, AZ for our very first RTR (Rubbertramp Rendevous for those of you who don’t know). It’s been a year of learning new things, dropping old things along the path, and gaining many new friends, experiences, and a lot of knowledge.

From Arizona to California, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Nevada, we have traveled America’s highways and byways only to end up back here with both old friends and new, in the place where our journey really began.

This year’s RTR has grown much larger than last year’s, and Rico and I, along with a lot of other cool people, have added an unofficial component to the mix… the Par-T-R!

Bob Wells, the creator of the RTR, and guru to many of us nomads, is an amazing human who has dedicated his life to helping others learn how to live a life of freedom the cheapest way possible. Rico and I love and respect Bob so much, and we owe him so much, that we didn’t want to disturb his wonderful Rendevous with our loud (and sometimes obnoxious) music and parties, so… we decided to occupy the space where last year’s RTR music camp was and have our own UNOFFICIAL gathering of friends.

The group began with about 30 like-minded people who love to play music and party as much as we do, so we thought it would be a blast, but remain very small. However, we underestimated the number of people who like to make/listen to music and party around a campfire in the desert. We have been greatly surprised and excited to have so many people join us at our fires every night. It’s been an amazing five days, with many more to come.

If you are out here in the Arizona desert, at the RTR, or just close by, and you want to have a blast making and listening to great music around a campfire, come join us!

Hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

Living in a tent SUCKS!

Okay – it only sucks sometimes.

We have been living in tents since November of 2017 (with a couple of months spent living in a travel trailer in Texas in Rico’s parent’s backyard) and for the most part, we have really enjoyed it.

But…

There are times when it is really challenging!

We are currently on our 5th main tent and we’re about to have to replace it again. We’ve decided we’re not going to get another one like the last three because they’ve all had the same issues. The zippers on the doors stop working, and the front loop for the tent stake tears, causing the nylon part of the tent to rip. We’re done with that tent! Hasta la vista, baby!

Wind is also a HUGE factor. If you’ve read past blog posts, you know what I’m talking about.

The Tent Killing Winds Part One

The Tent Killing Winds Part Two

The Tent Killing Wings Part Three

There is also a video about it on our YouTube page. Please subscribe to our channel while you’re there!

After the current main tent was recently battered and beaten by the wind, and since it is already needing to be replaced because of the zippers and strap, we started looking for something smaller and more suited to high winds. We still haven’t found what we’re looking for but we are on the hunt.

We also need to make sure it is big enough for our bed, because we are currently sleeping in what used to be the secondary tent, and it’s ALL bed. Not fun when you have to change the sheets.

Speaking of sleeping, when one is housing themselves in a tent, one must make certain the bed is the absolute best! Ours most certainly is. It’s a Coleman Cot with a built-in air mattress and it is the most comfortable bed I’ve slept on in years! (I’m not getting any kick-backs for recommending this bed – I just want to inform y’all)

We have had to replace the air mattress one time, but we got a cheap one from a big-box store and it works great. It also comes with a battery powered air pump that makes inflating and deflating the bed super easy. The only drawback is that it’s pretty heavy.

Hopefully, we’ll find our forever tent this time around. I’m getting sick of replacing them for sure!

Hope to see you out there on the road!

Big Love,

Lainie

Moving On… It happens every 2 weeks

As boondockers (camping somewhere without water, toilet, electric, showers, etc.) we have to move camps frequently. Most free sites (BLM land, National Forest land, etc.) only allow a 14-day stay, which means every 2 weeks or so, we have to pack up and move. This also means a lot of my time is spent researching new sites and driving to them to scope them out if they are close enough.

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The worst thing is to arrive at a site we haven’t been to before and find out it doesn’t meet our needs. It is either full, or the road in is too treacherous for the Mini to make it, or it has no shade cover for the tents or has no cell signal or something else that makes it unsuitable. That’s why I like to go investigate it first.

When we do find a good site, the move takes about three days. Day one is packing everything up (we don’t have a rig, so we have a lot of stuff in the tents). Day two is actually moving and setting up enough of the site so that we can cook and sleep, and day three is finishing the setup. So in a 14-day period, 6 days are spent moving. It gets tiring for sure, but it’s free, so we do it.

The best thing about moving every 2 weeks is the adventure of exploring a new site. And, if we move far enough, we also get to explore a new town or city. That’s always so much fun!

However, most of the time, we make short moves. It’s just easier, and since we’re not on a schedule, for the most part, it is our preference. Right now, Rico and Eric (my brother from another mother) are working in the town of Buena Vista, Colorado at a restaurant for the season, so we need to stay close. We’ll probably have to move at least 2 more times before the job is finished, so I’m currently scoping out our next site.

After the guys finish working, Eric will head back home to Texas for a bit, and Rico and I are thinking about going over to Utah to see the National Parks there before it gets too cold. I’m really looking forward to that.

We had hoped to see more things in Colorado, but the job was too good to pass up, and we really needed to save up some money before winter. There’s always next summer, right?

The area we are in now is amazingly beautiful. I had been here before as a child, but Rico had never seen it. On his days off, we have been exploring. We’ve been wanting to go up to Maroon Bells near Aspen, but the smoke from the wildfires west of us has been hovering over the mountains, and we really want to see the Bells in all their glory, so we’re waiting it out.

We are going to go see The Royal Gorge over in Canon City (pronounced Canyon) and make a trip to Colorado Springs to see all the sites there. It’s really great that we’re so close to so many awesome places!

Before we head out to Utah, we’re definitely planning to drive through Rocky Mountain National Park if we make it out of here before the first snowfall.

Stay tuned for awesome pics headed your way, and be sure to go subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you can keep up with all our adventures!

https://www.youtube.com/buskingbohemians

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

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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