The Shrink, The Seeker, and The Surprise Visitor

The Fog Rolls In

HERON LAKE SP, NM—Two weeks ago, Ellen Fox dropped by. She’s a psychotherapist and Zen student, so like a good Zen practice we just sat and gazed out over the water, then went for a walk (Zen practice is famous for sitting in zazen then getting up for some mindful walking (usually in slow circles)).

Last week, Andrea Eagles asked me to stop by. She was a long-time student of spiritual guru Andrew Cohen. Even though there are a lot of online rumors that Cohen is quite abusive to his students, Andrea says she never experienced or saw any of this and had nothing but good things to say about him.

Sunday, Boonie showed up and made camp for a night. Though I follow his blog, it was the first time we’ve met. We discussed rig design and human nature (now I understand what Morrissette meant by calling him a “consummate lady’s man“). Contrary to the way he sometimes comes across on his blog though, he’s actually a pretty nice guy.

Three unexpected visitors in three weeks. That’s gotta be some kind of record for me.

My Stealth Camper Plans

Fire Ring, Stump, and Table

HERON LAKE SP, NM—Though I probably won’t do anything on this until early next year (unless someone pops out of the blue and buys my truck/trailer), I’ve been tinkering with design plans for my “ideal” rig.

Edit: Here’s what I ended up doing.

More below the break (huh?).

Read more…

RV Dreamin’

Laying Down and Looking Up

HERON LAKE SP, NM—Recently, three fellow nomads have wistfully discussed alternative rigs: The Kodger, Morrissette, and Boonie.

This has got me thinking, which is never a good thing.

Here’s what I think I’d (I’ll????) do:

In short: A van towing a very small (6-8′) cargo trailer.

The van for comfort: A futon/bed for lounging and sleeping, a Lazy-Boy chair for lounging and working, and some storage for clothes.

The cargo trailer for the utilities: Kitchen, refrigerator, toilet, shower, battery-bank, and solar panels.

A rig like that, you could live comfortably practically anywhere for free: woods, towns, or cities.

You could disconnect the trailer and stealth camp in the van right in the heart of even the biggest city for a few days at a time.

In the forest, you could leave the trailer in the hot sun for solar and run an extension cord to your van sitting in the shade by the river.

Buy a cheap used van for a couple grand and if it dies, buy another one. Toss in your futon, chair, and clothes and drive off.

The more I think about it, the more I’m liking it (which is also never a good thing).

The Rocky Road


Coyote Creek SP, NM—Yesterday, after moving camp a little farther north, I unhooked and took the truck up a rough mountain road to see if I could find a camp Glenn had mentioned last year on his blog.

While up there, I thought I had found his campsite, but after reviewing his photos, I now realize that I must not have either gone far enough, or that the camp was off a little side spur from the main road. Either way, it was a hell of a rough ride and I can see why The Kodger called it quits. Better safe than sorry.

Though I think my rig could make it up (I have more ground clearance than most trailers), it would be very tricky.

The problem is actually two-fold. The first is that a truck/trailer combo is much more difficult to maneuver. It is much harder to keep the big rocks from hitting the holding tanks and valves of your trailer than with a class B (a big van). With a class B rig like both Glenn and Anne have, you are in much more control—you can avoid the holding tank hungry rocks and gullies much easier.

The second issue is more psychological. I made it up there in the truck (sans trailer) while in “explorer mode” and the whole way up I was telling myself, “There’s no way I’m bringing my trailer over all these damn rocks.” If you were in a class B, you are already “bringing” your rig/home up there, so you might as well continue forward.

Score a big one for a class B rig.

Blown Off The Hill

On the Hill

Sumner Lake SP, NM—Because the winds kept blowing my chalks chocks (thanks Barbara!) sideways away from the trailer wheels—chocks are little wedges designed to keep the trailer from rolling forward or back—I decided I didn’t need the damn things anyway, since I had stabilizer jacks lowered on all four corners.

Big mistake.

Now remember, I (was) way up on the hill, exposed to winds from all sides—15 feet from the cliff edge.

Apparently, stabilizer jacks are only designed to stabilize from side to side, not front to back.

Suddenly, a huge gust of wind slammed my trailer with such force that it pushed the entire rig forward and plunged it off the—wait for it—tongue jack (you thought I was going to say “plunged it off the hill” didn’t you?).

I jumped outside, hooked up the trailer to the truck and towed it down into a slightly more protected portion of the park. I’ll have to leave it hooked up until I can get some new stabilizer jacks, since all four of them were damaged and the winds are just too high to risk unhooking without them.

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be an RV supply place within 100 miles of here, so—if I survive the night—I may just have to hunker down until the winds let up in a few days.

Newbie mistake. Chock your wheels. Don’t trust the stabilizers.

I guess my Fool on the Hill post was one of those dangerous, dark premonitions that I sometimes seem to have.

Update 4/27/12 9:45am MT: I managed to get under the trailer and push the stabilizer jacks straight enough with my legs so I could lower them and stabilize the trailer. If they hold up in this wind, I’ll drive the truck into Clovis and see if they have any at an RV store there.

Life on the Hill

Standing Squirrel

Sumner Lake SP, NM—On the lake, a fish leaps into the air, its yellow belly glistening, its tail slapping the water’s surface before it splashes back into the depths.

A small white heron struts in the grass, darting forward erratically as it snaps at some invisible prey.

Down below, an old man struggles with his canoe by the boat ramp. He eventually slides it into the water, then gingerly steps inside, pushes off and paddles silently across the lake.

The heron, seeing the dock is clear, takes flight. He soars downward and alights on the ramp. He settles in for a moment, making sure the area is safe, then peers deeply into the water.

A squirrel pops her head above a rock at the edge of the cliff. Cautiously she comes forward, sniffing the ground, stopping, evaluating. Then she shuffles forward again. She pokes her nose in the grass and pulls forth a morsel. She sits back on her haunches and eats it, her black eyes like tiny shiny marbles. Finished, she stands up and looks at me. I point my camera, shoot her picture, and lean back into the chair just as a seagull floats by overhead.

I close my eyes.

The sun warms my face and I listen to the breeze and the waves lapping at the shore below.

Across the lake, the seagull caws.

The Fool On The Hill

The Fool On The Hill

Sumner Lake SP, NM—The fool on the hill? That would be me.

High winds shaking the rig make it hard to sleep at night, but I’ve got lakefront on three sides, a great view, unlimited solar, Internet and the hill all to myself.

One Of Those Days

Stuck Truck

OASIS SP, NM—Yesterday, I got the truck stuck in the sand. Anything I did just made it worse, just made the hole deeper.

There was no phone service.

There was no Internet.

But it was in a state park, so there was no danger either.

I used my truck jack to lift the trailer up so I could block it and level it (a large tilt will kill the refrigerator), and set up camp.

This morning, I went to the park’s visitor center and called for a tow. He got my truck out, then got stuck himself. We managed to get him free but that left me with the problem of getting my trailer out of there without getting re-stuck.

The ranger then called a friend of hers who had a big four wheel drive and he just slid right in there, pulled the trailer out and set me up in a new site. He didn’t even want anything for it (but I tipped him well).

The ranger, feeling guilty for all my troubles and not thinking of calling her friend first, upgraded my site (the NM park pass is free for no-hookups) and said I could stay as long as I wanted.

With the full hookup site, my A/C is keeping me cool in this really hot weather, and I even have Internet up here on the hill.

Still no phone, but I can live with that.

What did I learn from all this?

  • When you live as a Soul, strangers are really amazed at how carefree you are about “serious problems.”
  • Everything has to work out (eventually).
  • When you start to get stuck: stop, turn off the engine, jack up the wheels, and put your RV leveling blocks under your tires for traction.
  • My next truck will have four wheel drive.

Higher Ground

New Camp

BRANTLEY LAKE SP, NM—I awoke this morning to the gentle lapping of water near my trailer—much closer than it was when I went to bed.

With the lake waters rising, I quickly hooked up and moved the rig to higher ground. I’m still lakeside, on a little cove, but with about a six foot elevation rather than the six inches of my last spot. The rangers told me later that they’re allowing the water level to come up in preparation for the spring irrigations, and that I’ll be fine where I’m at.

I would have moved onward to another park, but I want to see how long I can last with my water tank. One of the main reasons I bought this model travel trailer is because it has a large freshwater tank—50 gallons, as well as decent-sized black and grey tanks—35 gallons each.

It’s been almost three weeks now, and I’m still holding out well. I’ve been drinking bottled water and showering at the campground restrooms, both of which have helped conserve my water supply dramatically.

I’m using the New Mexico Annual Camping Permit ($225) and pretty much after you spend three weeks camping, it’s paid for. I bought mine in the beginning of March and it’s good through March 31, 2013, so for the next 12 months my New Mexico camping (at any of their state parks) is free.

Free camping. Free water. Free showers. Free dump stations.

And plenty of sun means free electricity.

Dual Infestations

Bees Moving In


Apparently, my “no neighbors” remark from yesterday’s post was premature (or anti-precognitive?).

Today, my serene lakeside beach camp became infested—infested I tell you—not with cows (with horns), but with both boy scouts and bees in my air conditioner (the bees are in my air conditioner, not the boy scouts).

My Dark Side immediately pondered, “I’m sure there’s a way to get these two forces to somehow negate each other…”