In the last few days I’ve been making contact with some old friends and making new ones, and as I visited with old and new friends I was struck by how deeply my life has been enriched and improved by the hundreds of vandwellers I’ve met in the last 6 years. Like most of you I’m a pretty private person and much more of an introvert than an extrovert. I thrive when I’m in the desert or forest with very few people around me and in the idea of living in an RV Park, campground or city is literally repulsive to me. Being packed in with so many other people is my idea of hell on earth! But no matter how much of a loner we may be, every single one of us is born with a need to make connections with other human beings.
From the earliest dawn of human history we’ve gathered together in groups for safety, comfort and companionship. Making deep and lasting tribal connection with others was a matter of life and death and so over the eons being a member of a tribe has literally been written into our DNA code. Because of that, it’s difficult to be fully happy without a connection to a tribe. But, at the same time, there has always been a small group that could not resist the lure of individuality, travel and adventure–they had an irresistible urge to know what was around the next corner and over the next river or mountain. They pulled away from the tribe and followed the beat of a different drummer. They are the nomads, gypsies and adventurers who changed and shaped our world.
I’m one of those people, and since you’re reading this, you probably are too! Like every personality trait, there is a scale of those are extremely introverted and on the other hand some are just mildly reclusive and others who hate to be alone. Whichever you are, your life will be better if you are connected to a tribe because even the most rugged individualist isn’t free from the genetic need for connection.
A perfect example of that is the Mountain Men of the early 1800’s. They hated the monotony and drudgery of civilized life and couldn’t resist the lure of the mountains and desert, so they left the old life behind and spent much of their time alone in the glory and beauty of wild nature; constantly on the move, seeing new places and new things. But even in the midst of their need for travel and solitude they had a craving for companionship. They solved that by gathering once each year for a giant party called a Fur Rendezvous. During it they played games, drank, caroused and sold their furs.
The Native Americans that surrounded them had a tribe, so they created their own tribe! Everybody (even the extreme loner) needs to belong to a tribe!
In many ways we modern day vandwellers are much like the Mountain Men of old: to varying degrees we need to be alone and on the move, but we equally need to occasionally gather together and make connections with like-minded people who understand us. At least I know that’s true for me! I have an unusual need for isolation and alone-time. If I don’t spend quite a bit of time alone every day I start to get antsy and unsettled feeling like the world is closing in on me. But I also love to have others around–just not too much and not too close!!
As I thought about how much I was enjoying visiting with old and new friends I was reminded at how many of my friendships have been made at the many gatherings of vandwellers I’ve been to. Since many of you are new to the website, blog and vandwelling in general you may not know just how many of us there are out here and how large a tribe we have created. It’s such a wonderful community, I want every vandweller to know about it!
Five years ago I set out to create a Vandwelling Tribe and because of the reach of my website I’ve been able to do that to a large degree. I’ve done that in two different ways:
- So many of us gather together in the Arizona desert every winter I’ve opened my camp up to all who are looking for a tribe. It’s opened to you! Every winter 10-20 of us camp together in the desert near Quartzsite, AZ before and after the RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous).
- Five years ago I began the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous which I modeled after the old Mountain Man Rendezvous. It’s grown every year and I expect this one to be the biggest and best of them all!
So in today’s post I’m going to tell you all about the Thanksgiving dinner we have planned for this November, you are all welcome to join us! We may do a Christmas and Thanksgiving Dinner also, but those plans aren’t firm yet so I can’t announce them.
Every winter RVers and Vandwellers flock to the Arizona and California desert to spend the winter in a warm and beautiful area. I make it a point to be in a large area of free BLM land so that as many people as want can join me there. Many people are new to the life and it’s easier to get started when you can hang around with experienced folks who love to help and answer questions. But there will be just as many old-timers who are there to make new friends and spend time with old friends. Don’t worry about being crowded, we camp in a huge area and you can be as close and out-going as you want or you can be remote and reclusive. Everyone can find a comfort level that works for them!
Very often we camp loosely camp together for several months after the RTR. In 2014 there was a group that camped and traveled together until April when we finally split up and scattered to the four winds.
In my next post I’ll tell you all about the RTR that’s coming up in January 6-20, 2015.
Come to the Vandwellers Thanksgiving Dinner
Because the Holidays are such a difficult time for so many people, back in 2012 my good friend Steve and I held a Thanksgiving Dinner that was open to all Vandwellers. Cooking is one of Steve’s hobbies so he cooked the entire meal and I brought all the store-bought things like rolls, pies and Cool Whip. That went so well we did it again on Christmas Day that year. If you are wondering how a vandweller cooks a turkey, we de-boned a turkey breast, wrapped it in foil and cooked it in our portable Weber bar-b-que grills. We both love them and you can get it here from Amazon: Weber Go-Anywhere Gas Grill
In 2013 I cooked the turkey for Thanksgiving and (to my complete surprise) it turned out very good! I don’t think we did a Christmas Dinner that year but we did have a New Years Day Dinner. My good friends Mark and Donna cooked an incredibly delicious ham in their cast iron Dutch Oven and it turned wonderfully well! I can’t recommend Dutch Oven cooking enough! Find an excellent Lodge model here at Amazon: Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven, 8-Quart
This year Steve and our good friend Bryce want to cook a Thanksgiving Dinner again and they want to provide everything, all you have to bring is yourself, an appetite and a plate! They camp together much of the year and they both love to cook! Every Sunday is a gourmet meal in their camp so they get a lot of practice cooking! If you come for Thanksgiving, you are in for a real treat!
Every time we’ve held a Holiday Dinner I’ve announced it ahead of time and I always ask people to let me know as far before as you possibly can that you are coming because we need to know how many to cook for! You can understand that can’t you? If we cook for 20 but 50 people show up, everyone is going to leave hungry! Please, let me know if you are going to come. I very well know that our lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to planning ahead so even if you let me know a day or two ahead that’s a big help. Obviously, let me know as soon as you can!
We’ll make plenty of food so if a few extra people show up unannounced (which they do every year!) that won’t be a problem. Don’t misunderstand, we want as many people as possible!!! We’ll be glad if a hundred of you show up! We just need to know in advance.
The dinner will be near Quartzsite, Arizona on November 27. 2014. To get a map to the exact location Email me at [email protected]
We hope to see you there!