A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Some of the signs, decorations, graphics or whatever you want to call them I saw on RV's.

Not one I would ever have!  No way!

This one is nice.

Just what a caterpillar caregiver is I am not so sure.

 He applied the old covered wagon name of the pioneers to his van.

A way for him to make a few dollars while on the road.
There were no vending or sales of any kind allowed at the RTR on BLM land
 hence the handwritten sign.

 But that didn't stop this couple any.

A hand knitted spare tire cover.  
Practical, maybe not but very colorful and pretty all the same.

Finally this.

Monday, January 29, 2018

RTR Final Days

The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous concluded at the end of last week and new for this year they tacked on three days extra for women only meetings and seminars.  Information was given and shared as how to feel safe living the life of a nomad, easier and better ways of personal hygiene, how to get by with mechanical mishaps, how not to be taken advantage of by repair shops and car dealers and more.  That last one is one that really bothers me as I've heard many of story about unneeded repairs being made just because the customer was a single female and didn't know any better than what was being told and shown to them with their vehicle.

Beans wants the RTR to be over so we will move away from all the hustle and bustle and she can once again go outside to hunt lizards.

I don't do camp fires.  Usually it is too cold outside for me by then plus I'd rather be inside reading my book.  But on the last night I joined my neighbors for a fire and it was nice I have to admit.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Traveling Church

One day I was wandering around and came across what once was a delivery truck now converted to a camper of sorts.  I was taken by the elaborate decoration at the rear.  There appeared no one home so I moved on next door.  There the neighbors asked if I had seen anyone there as they hadn't since the truck pulled in early that morning.  When I said I hadn't one of the ladies suggested we all go over and see if we could roust someone.  And with that we all walked back over and said "Hello inside".
This guy came out.  He was very nice and invited us in to look around and so we did.  Now I hadn't noticed the cross in the bead work of the door until just now when I was working on this post.  
That would have been a clue as to just what we had gotten ourselves into.

He pointed out how he had used pie tins and glass pie dishes for the port hole windows from a thrift store.  I thought that quite clever.

He then directed our attention to the use of willow branches in the ceiling.

At this point he launched into his sermon using an arrangement of plumbing pipe fittings to demonstrate how...well, I'm not so sure as I wasn't paying too much attention.  See, I was thinking of other things like here is another fine mess I have gotten myself into and just how long is this going to go on for before I can make a quick but respectable escape.  Having the other five in there with me helped as they were very kind in nodding their heads in understanding, misdirecting his attention from the one lone individual standing (me) with this deer in the headlights look about him.

It bothered me all day long as to who this guy reminded me of in appearance.  Finally it came to me, my barber who I went to for many years.  At any rate, I/we learned nothing more as to how he lived in this truck or of any of the features it may have had.  Also I didn't learn anything from his sermon but I did learn to be aware of a converted U-Haul truck with these words on the sides.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Labyrinth

This is very near camp just on the other side of the wash.  Someone went through a lot of effort to create this and had a lot of time or nothing else to do.  This even shows up on Goggle Earth images.

I thought about walking it but was afraid I'd get lost and would not be able to find my way out.
I went back to camp instead.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Classic Camper Van

This old high-top Dodge camper van was old enough to qualify in having "Historical Vehicle" license plates.  That is evidently what they call them in Arizona.

The owner obliviously is operating on a low budget.  Cardboard to cover the tires from the sun's rays but at least he was able to afford a solar panel which is serving double duty in not only keeping his battery charged but functioning as the second tire cover.  

 I always enjoy seeing the classic camper vehicles still on the road serving their owner.  Original paint scheme and wheel covers, nice.  No need for fancy levelers when several 2x6's can do the job.

And when a part breaks or goes missing you make-do and be resourceful with a cottage cheese container cover.  The wires going inside are from the solar panel so he may have had to remove what was there for the connectors to go inside to the battery.  But it works.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


My neighbor gave me this Native American style flute.  It is left unfinished so that one can finish it as to how they would like.  I have sanded it real smooth and will get some oil for the finish rather than a stain or polyurethane coating.  Then all I have to do is tie the small dark wood block to the flute with the rawhide strip provided and I can then begin to annoy my neighbors.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Simple Stoves

This is what is commonly known as a Rocket Stove.  It is so efficient that with very little fuel the fire can get roaring like a rocket.  My neighbor who has this stove as since learned she can use a lot less twigs.  You can burn most anything in it and when camping there is abundant fuel lying about in the source of little sticks from trees.  
Air feeds in from the holes at the bottom and the fuel sits on a tray inside.

My other neighbor has this stove which she found on eBay.  I had never seen or heard of one like this before.  It is made in Sweden for boats and sail boats.  It burns alcohol which burns clean with no smoke or carbon monoxide.

It needs very little alcohol so a can last a long time.  The alcohol sits in the middle port then you place the diffuser on the lower left over the flame after lighting it.  The foil wrapped cap on the upper right is to cap off the reservoir of unused alcohol for next time.  I think she said that part was missing when she bought it and so made her own cap from a plastic top wrapped with foil.

You can control the heat by controlling the size of the flame.

 The top tray in position for cooking...

...and turned over to use the unit as a heater for your living space.
She can cook inside and heat the inside of her van with no worries or fumes.
Most of the time she cooks outside and the flame is protected from the wind.

And best of all the inner workings are mounted in a way that it swivels always being level, a necessity for boat life.  That works great for on the road life too and I know for it is annoying to have your eggs slide over to one side of the pan all the time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Joe's Van

My ex-neighbor (I've since moved) from New York had this really nice little van set up for camping.  He brought the truck new and the back part was empty bare metal walls.  This is what he and his brother a woodworker created.

Looking in from the side doors.  All of the wood in this project was harvested from his property except for the paneling.  The bathroom holds a composting toilet and his shower.  
He is 5'8" tall and can stand up straight inside his camper van.

The kitchen area holds a butane cook stove and sink.  
The wood on the end flips up for a table giving more counter space when preparing meals.

 A close-up look at the wood and finishing touches.

 I liked that brass water pump from a boat.  Very classy. 

Looking in the back doors another view of the beautiful wood used.  The finished shelf support is from a grape vine.  Stupid me failed to get a photo standing back where you can see the table with two bench seats against the sides facing each other.  The table drops down to seat level, the seat cushions laid flat and his bed is ready.

These next two pictures show more wood usage for attaching gear.  In doing up the post I noticed places for windows yet from the outside view there never were windows.  Interesting.  If I go back over to that street and Joe is home I'll get a photo of the table/bed and ask about this window thing.

The metal on the bottom is to place under the tires in getting stuck situations.  Above is a cellular booster antenna he can extend to pick up weak cell signals.  I have one and a big thank you to Joe in helping me sort out some problems I had with mine.  
No fault of the device, simply owner/operator error.

You can just barely see his shade structure off the side door in this shot.
Another failure on my part.  Okay, I was distracted by the craftsmanship and beauty of the wood.  
That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

A side note on this is when Joe left home for the RTR five feet of snow had just fallen in two days blowing in off of Lake Erie near where his cabin is.  He had to plow the snow away with his big pickup truck just to go the quarter mile out onto the road and begin his journey to Arizona.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

We are at this annual week-long event commonly referred to as the RTR.  It is a gathering of traveling nomads where you learn lots of stuff about living on the road through daily seminars, plus meeting old friends and making new ones all whom share ideas and helpful advice.  Two years ago there were approximately 800 in attendance.  Last year around 1500 and this year's expectation is 3000!

These seminars start at 10 in the morning and should be about an hour long but they drag on well beyond that what with people asking questions which will be covered in the talk if only they'd be patient and wait.  You have to pack a lunch for the morning seminar.

Last year I attended most of them, or at least the ones the topic I was interested in.  
So having done that, this year I can pass on them all (and the crowd) as for the most part they are rehashing the same material.

 The first one is always general information, do's and don'ts and the answering of a bunch a questions.
One day it was all about solar power and batteries.    Another was how to find places where you can stay for free.  Yesterday was about work-camping.  Some people still have to work to live the nomad life so they talk about being campground hosts, seasonal jobs at state and national parks, working at Amazon and even harvest jobs on farms, plus online jobs if you have certain skills.  Today the were sharing gadgets, store-bought or homemade for making camping life easier and more fun.

This was taken from a YouTube video.  A lot of these people live full time in their vans, trailers and RVs and the rest are all here to learn how to escape the rat race and live the life of a nomad.  Funny as it may seem but the vast majority are introverts, loners, those who like the peace and quiet place all by themselves but yet here we all are crammed together for one week out of the year. 

Beans is having none of this and stays inside most of the time.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sunset Viewing

I've probably done this more in any one week on the road than I have in one year living at home.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Powering Your Needs

Camping off the grid, meaning not plugged in to an electrical socket, you need a way to recharge your batteries inside the living space for everything runs off of those batteries which are separate from the car battery that runs the automobile.

The most common way is to get power from the sun - solar power through solar panels.  This panel is mounted so that the owner can tilt it towards the sun for maximum efficiency.  The sun's rays are hitting the panel perpendicular to the panel surface rather than on a slant.

Then there are flexible solar panels for those who do not have a flat roof surface to mount a hard panel.  I understand that these panels are not as efficient which is probably why this owner has four of them out in the sun.  Being flexible you can lay them on your irregular roof and also they are easy to store away when traveling.

This is what is commonly known as a suitcase solar panel.  It folds in half and comes in a case to store it in when traveling.  They work as good as the one mounted permanently on the roof but as you can imagine takes up a lot of room inside when stored away. 

Lastly there is wind power to generate electricity for charging the batteries.  They work good but are very noisy and must be really anchored down solidly as you can see here.  They need to be taken down when traveling.  Not a good idea barreling down the road with this thing up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Beans and Her Banana

When I adopted Beans and asked how old she was the guy said "About a year and half".  He didn't know.  So I backed up the time frame to select a day as her "birthday" and picked January 9.  So for Beans' "birthday" she got a new catnip filled banana.  I kept it stored outside in a compartment until that morning.  She was still in bed when I brought it in and set it on the counter.  Instantly her nose started twitching, she jumped down, sniffed around, looked up then jumped up on the counter.  
It took less than a minuet.  It was uncanny.

I cut it loose from the board and the fun began.

I'm not comfortable with her birthday date and have decided to treat the day I adopted her as her birthday from now on.  She'll be getting a new banana April 9th.