Join the Vandwelling Tribe! Summer RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous)
I just got an email from a reader asking me about my efforts to create a tribal community. He said that he had seen posts on the blog about people joining me in my camp and my standing invitation for all of you to feel free to join me. He was curious about exactly how that worked. It was such a good question I thought I should answer it here for everyone to see; especially since the Summer RTR is only three weeks away. Here is part of his question:
I’m sort of hung up on this “tribe idea”. I like getting away from everything but I really also enjoy people (some of my best friends are people). It seems from your posts that your developing a small group of folks (disciples ?) that tend to want to go where you go(?). I was wondering, for instance, when you went to Prescott did you go alone, did others follow, did you go and, after awhile, others joined you?
It just seems that there are times when it’s nice to have a neighbor or 2.
First, I have to finally come-clean and tell you my original intent with all my gatherings was to gather an army of mindless drone “disciples” who would do my every bidding and give me all their money!! But it just didn’t work out that way! I would have had better success trying to do that with a herd of cats than I had with all you crazy vandwellers!! So despite my best efforts at mind-control, brain-washing and manipulation, I still don’t have any disciples!
Of course I am just kidding; I have no desire to control anyone, mainly because I know that is totally impossible with such rabidly independent people as vandwellers and RVers. No, my goal was very much like the author of the email: “sometimes it’s just nice to have a neighbor.” The truth is that very few of us are actually hermits, we like people, we just want a limited number of them and when they are around, we still like our privacy and boundaries. I love having others around, but need my “alone-time”. My general routine is that I go for a walk every morning and night and after each walk is my community time when I gather with others and we just sit around and BS and enjoy each other’s company. Then generally we go our separate ways and enjoy our alone time. If you look out and see others gathering, you can come and join in, or you can remain alone. Whatever works for you; there are no rules or expectations. We occasionally do group meals or group trips, but it is all spontaneous, it just happens. We try very hard to watch out and care for each other. If you need something and I can help, I do. If you are going to go into town I might ask if I can come along or if you can pick something up for me. Again, no rules or expectations, just good people doing good things.
Now, let me add one caveat; don’t come here expecting to be entertained. We each have such a need for alone time and privacy that if you come here with any neediness, you will probably be disappointed. There is only so much of “Me” I can give away, and when that is done for the day, I head for my trailer or off for a walk. There is nothing here (except for a connection to nature) that will make you happy if you aren’t already happy in yourself.
As far as moving camp, I try to remain in one spot for as long as I can to save on gas. I only move if there is some reason to, like a Ranger has asked us to move or if the weather is getting unbearably hot or cold. Sometimes we all just get itchy feet and somehow we know as a community it is time to move on. Once there is a general consensus it’s time to move and where to move to, everyone decides for himself if that works best for him. If it does he comes along and if not he stays or goes somewhere else. People come and go all the time. Most don’t stay for long, but a few stay a long time. It all depends when your feet get itchy, and that is different for everybody. When we do move camp, we rarely drive together. Again, we are just too independent; I’m going to drive the speed I want, and you can drive the speed you want. Usually we agree to meet someplace and then drive the last little distance together. Most often we meet at a Walmart and do our final shopping. Once in the new camp, some camp close by and some camp a mile or two away. Whatever works for you is fine with me.
I have two goals in opening my camp:
- First, I think of it as a training stop where all the knowledge and experience I, and others, have accumulated over the years is available to anyone who wants it. I know how hard it can be to make the leap into living in a van, but then to add a whole new way of life like living on public land can be too much for some people. My goal is that they can come here and ease into the transition. As they discover the problems I can offer solutions that I have found and often I actually have what they need. As I write this a new friend is borrowing my 90 watt suitcase solar panel and another is charging her laptop off the solar system in my van. Another friend found her dark van was too hot so she was glad I had an 8 feet step-ladder she could borrow to paint the roof white. With all the sincerity I have, I say to everyone reading this post that YOU are welcome in my camp. All that I know and nearly all I have is available to you (there are some limits!). I want nothing in return from you except that you live your best possible life and you help others as you get the chance.
- My second goal is to create friendships and bonds between vandwellers. We all need to know we are not alone, that we have a friend who understands us and is ready to stand by us when we need them. We need someone who has our back. I want that for each of you! I meet most people at the Winter RTR (Rubber Tramp Rendezvous) which is a wonderful time for all. Unfortunately, it is such a busy and hectic time for me that I don’t really get to know you then. I am just constantly on the go and I can’t really connect with people very well. I feel bad it is that way, but I think most people understand. So my goal is that everyone come and make deep, lifelong friendships with the people they meet there, even if it is not me. That is something I see over and over again. They come to a gathering and make friends and gain the confidence to go out on their own. My goal is to establish loose connections with many people and to facilitate their making life-changing bonds with others.
Right now there is a group of my friends over near Sedona. I haven’t seen them since they got there but I feel just as connected to them. Our connections run unusually deep; they aren’t fragile. We can go a long time without seeing each other and then pick up right where we left off as if no time had passed at all. Each of us knows we have a friend who has our back!
If you come to the Summer RTR or to my camp, I can make stronger connections with you because there are less of you and I am not as busy. Coming up on June 18 through July 2 will be the 2nd annual Summer RTR. It will be a small group with lots of time to relax and play and to get to know some really great people. We will be camped in a National Forest very close to Flagstaff, Az. We will be within an easy afternoon drive of two of the most beautiful places in the world, Sedona, AZ and Grand Canyon National Park. If you haven’t seen either of them, it’s worth the trip all by itself just to see them.
Come for a day, a week, a month, a season, or the rest of your life! However long you stay, and whatever you drive or live in, you will be welcomed! If you are still in a house, you are invited to camp in your tent. Everyone is welcome from people living in their tiny cars, vans or gigantic RVs Here are some things you need to know:
- Because I do not want to have problems with the 14 day camping rule in the National Forests, I can’t give you the exact location till the last minute. Head toward Flagstaff and I will post a map on my blog a day or two before it officially begins. In the meantime, there is always a map to my current camp so you can join us there and we will move to the RTR location as a group.
- No permits are required.
- Dogs are welcome; they need to be under your control.
- Nothing will be provided! Everything you need, you need to bring with you. There will be no water, showers, plumbing or trash disposal
- Flagstaff is a large town with everything you could need and I expect it to be about 15 miles away or less.
- It’s all free, there is no charge.
- We will have internet and cell phone coverage if you have Verizon.
- The weather should be great. But come prepared for cool nights, hot days and rain just in case. Come prepared for insects as well. The Arizona sun can quickly burn you to a crisp so a hat and sunscreen are almost mandatory.
- Chances are very good we will be under a fire-ban and can not have camp fires.
So there you have it, if you are looking for like-minded, good people to be your vandwelling friends, come to the Summer RTR. I think you will be very glad you did!!