This blog post originally appeared in August of 2012. Several things have changed since then. Bob lives in an ambulance now. His friend Steve has passed on. James and Kyndal are no longer together. However, the feet still itch. Fuel prices will keep many of us from wandering this year, but there are far worse places for extended stays than out in nature.
FALL IS IN THE AIR here in the Sierra National Forest. The temps during the days have cooled off from the upper 80s to around 80. Evenings are no longer so warm but have a slight chill to them. For all of us camping here, with the subtle change of season also comes the first twinges of “itchy feet.” Amongst us there is a regular conversation about where we are going to spend the winter, even a few conversations about what we would do next summer.
Steve and I have been here for 4 months (since the first week in May—although Steve returned to Washington state for a month), so that is a long time in one place. He is really ready to get moving, it comes up in nearly all our conversations. I am too, but not as much as he is. This life is all new to James and Kyndal and they seem very ready to go. I can relate to how they feel. My first year on the road I moved constantly; I never stayed in one place for long. Wanderlust took hold of me and I just couldn’t wait to get to the next place. I look back very fondly on those days because I saw lots of new places.
I had to get a job
The problem with that much traveling is it is expensive. After that first year of moving constantly and burning gas, I had to get a job as a campground host in National Forest campgrounds to build up my savings account. That meant spending 4-5 months in one place. Afterwards I traveled in the fall, but in the winter there weren’t that many places to go, so I ended up staying in Pahrump, NV nearly the whole winter. Because I had fallen in love with camp hosting, that next spring I went back to work as a campground host and spent 5 months in the Sierras. That winter I camped in Pahrump, Yuma, Quartzsite and at Slab City. It seems like I have traveled less every year since then.
Now that I live in my converted cargo trailer, traveling has become harder and staying in one place easier. Other than a few extended trips I have planned (possibly Oregon, Washington and the Canadian Rockies next summer) I expect to stay longer in one place than I have in the past.
…the urge to go somewhere else starts to smolder like a fire deep inside me.
And yet I still have itchy feet. After three to four months in one place the urge to go somewhere else starts to smolder like a fire deep inside me. With every week I’m forced to stay in one place that fire grows bigger and bigger. Finally after 5 months the need to move becomes almost a physical ache. Do you remember the old signs on cars that said “California or Bust” or “Alaska or Bust?” That’s how I feel, “Move Now (Anywhere!) or Bust!”
The problem is that it is still hot everywhere but here, and the only thing I hate worse than staying in one place too long is heat; miserable, overwhelming, unbearable heat! So I have to stay put here until the desert cools off and that is at least 6 weeks away. But my feet are just starting to itch, so I will be fine. I’m especially lucky this year because I’m flying back to Alaska for 2 weeks on September. That will throw a bucket of water on the smoldering flame. By the time I get back here it will be nearly time to leave.
What is it in vandwellers that make us unable to stay in one place for long? Do all of you have itchy feet? How do you deal with it?