Musings on the Stealth Camper

Un-stealth Camping

MT. HOOD, OR–I’m still up on my mountain (don’t ya love that, “I own this mountain”). I’ll get into the why soon, but in the meantime, here are some thoughts on living in a cargo truck.

More below the break (huh?).

I love the fact that I am free to explore and stay practically anywhere. Just the fact that I don’t have to worry about finding an available campground eliminates the planning stage and I end up finding beautiful places that I would have never found using the typical RV point-to-point driving method. This freedom fits my spontaneous nature perfectly. If I want to head into Portland tomorrow, I don’t have to find an RV resort, pay huge fees, and get stuck right next to my neighbors. I just find a strip mall or industrial park and I’m set.

I love the gas mileage. I get about 12-14 mpg which is twice what I used to get in my RV and practically the same as I got in my jeep. Fuel economy is no longer a factor, I just think of the truck as a big jeep. (I know, I know, but please don’t tell me what mpg you’re getting in your cars (or sailboat, Jeff)).

I don’t like that it is an “all in one” vehicle. If it breaks, there goes my house. Also, since I like to spend days and weeks in the wilderness, a separate vehicle would be more convenient during those stays. This isn’t such a big issue though, as I could just set up a tent or canopy to “hold my spot” while running errands.

Since I didn’t like the bucket and cat litter toilet, I replaced it with a portable toilet, so that isn’t an issue. I just dump it out every few days in a campground toilet.

The shower still frustrates me (a pump sprayer and a tray to catch the water), but I know if I decide to keep the rig, then I can fairly easily build a permanent shower.

I need a heater. I’m freezing my butt off up here. Seriously, I thought I saw snow “dust” yesterday.

I love my bed. Kmart’s “Bed in a Box” or something like that. It’s a memory foam mattress that comes folded up in a box. It is very comfortable. Surprised the hell out of me.

Solar panels would be nice. If I moved every other day, I wouldn’t need them–the alternator charges my batteries enough for 36-48 hours of my electric usage (computer, phone charger, dorm refrigerator)–but since I like staying in one spot for awhile, the solar panels would mean I wouldn’t have to run the engine for half an hour a day.

I have two big issues with the stealth camping in urban areas though–and this surprised me. My one guiding principle since waking up is “Do no harm,” and, because I have a very broad, vague, and far reaching definition of “harm,” I have to rely on my gut feeling on whether I’m doing harm or not. It’s pretty straight forward: If I’m doing harm, even if it’s “stupid harm,” I feel guilty.

Issue #1 is when I stealthily camp out on someone’s property, even if that someone is a corporate conglomerate (ie: a shopping center), I feel guilty. What’s the “harm?” I don’t really know, but it isn’t a rational thing. Like I said, it’s a feeling thing.

Issue #2 is that I don’t like “hiding” in the truck at night. This is obviously related to Issue #1, but I’m very aware of making any noise in the truck or turning on a light at night (I haven’t gotten black-out curtains yet). The feeling is, “You’re doing something wrong, so be quiet or you’re going to get caught.” Silly really. What do I care if I get “caught?” Drive away and find another spot. No big deal. But still, there’s that feeling…

So that is why I’m not working to make the truck more comfortable–it hasn’t become clear whether I’ll keep her or not. True, I could just stay on public lands as I often did in the RV and just go into “stealth mode” while en-route. I can live with that. But there are other reasons too, which have nothing to do with the truck, but with the nomad life altogether.

The nomad life takes up a lot of energy that a “rooted” life doesn’t (moving, planning, exploring (all these new places have to be explored!)) and I’ve got the feeling that I may need this energy for something else soon. Again, I’m kind of waiting to see where She wants me to go, so I’m just coasting along until She’s ready to let me in on it (and yeah, I know how crazy that sounds, but there’s more to that story too).

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2 thoughts on “Musings on the Stealth Camper

  1. Dear Wayne,

    For me, this picture , “says it all”. May I suggest you might find it surprisingly
    helpful to re-name your transportation/housing vehicle. This may take you to
    some interesting new concepts. Have enjoyment ! ( :

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