We are about half way through the 4th annual winter RTR and I think I can say with all honesty this is the best one yet!! We moved it to a new location and it’s my favorite! We have:
plenty of room,
a nice view of the town,
great cell/data signal,
little freeway noise,
we’re far enough away from the road to not have any noise or dust,
lots of trees and bushes in the abundant washes,
and it is very pretty!
A beautiful AWD Astro mini-van with a 6″ lift and huge mud tires! Notice the TV antenna. Most people were getting all the broadcast stations with this antenna. Also notice the motorcycle and bicycles. Cheap transportation is critical to this life!
But what’s even better is the weather has been PERFECT! When you look through the pictures, notice that there is never a cloud in the sky and very seldom is anyone wearing a coat. Daytime highs have been in the mid-70s and lows on the high 40s=amazing! This is the first year we haven’t had a windstorm or any cold nights. It’s just ideal weather!
In many of the pictures you’ll see the same TV antenna. My friends James and Kyndal did a blog post on it so many others of us are now using it. Most people are able to get all the broadcast stations with it here if they elevated it on a mast. Highly recommended. You can buy it on Amazon.com: Antennas Direct ClearStream4 HDTV Antenna
A nice van with 600 watts of solar towing a “Bambi” Airstream trailer! Beautiful! Virtually a work of art!
And what a wonderful group of people it has been. Everyone is nice, interesting and helpful! Many, new friendships and bonds are being formed that will last us the rest of our lives! I’ve stopped counting attendance, but I think it is as large a group as we’ve ever had with about 40-60 people coming out for the seminars and meals.
My wonderful friend Suanne takes very long (6 months) trips in this nice Prius and loves it. She usually averages 45 mpg!
We have every kind of rig here:
one person living off his bicycle;
at least 3 people living or traveling in their cars;
numerous mini-vans, mainly Astro /Safaris but also Toyotas, Chryslers and Windstars;
dozens of cargo and passenger vans;
many conversion vans, mainly high-tops;
3 box vans;
2 very-high-top wheel-chair vans;
cars, trucks and SUVs with tents;
Class Bs: mainly RoadTreks;
5th Wheels ;
4 slide-in campers on pickups;
and travel trailers of every size from Scamps and Casittas all the way up to 24 footers.
Many good ideas in this older box truck: Tilting panels, TV antenna, tarp awning, screen bug-room. And inside it’s even nicer and more innovative!
As you can tell, just about every type of rig is here and it’s great to take a peek inside them and get new ideas of what works for different people and why. Learning the advantages and disadvantages of many types of rigs is one of the most useful things about these gatherings. The free exchange of ideas is incredibly helpful, and fun!! Every rig is more creative and ingenius that the one before it and you can’t help but come away determined to adopt some of the great ideas you’ve discovered here.
The new tepee tent I’m experimenting with. I’m hoping it can sluff off the huge desert winds and finally be a tent I can recommend for desert use.
This year I set up a new potty tent. It’s actually a tipi style tent that I’m hoping will stand up to the desert wind. Tipis worked for the Plains Indians and they have some of the worst winds anywhere so I’m hopeful it will just allow the wind to glance off it. So far I am very happy with it but we haven’t had any real winds to test it out with. But I would never complain about that, I’ll be glad to own it for years without being clobbered with a big wind storm!! I can only hope! I bought it off of Amazon.co for $99. Find it here: Guide Gear 10×10′ Teepee Tent
As a potty tent it just has a 5 gallon bucket, garbage bags, toilet paper and wet wipes. But it is 10×10 foot wide and 6 foot tall in the middle, so a single person and a dog would have all the room they could ever need to live in it.
In my next post I’ll tell you all about our gatherings and seminars!
Our first meal together. We had a chili dinner and there were about 55 of us. It turned out great!
This nice slide-in is owned by a couple who find it plenty big enough and yet it is small enough to get around everywhere they want to go. A perfect choice for them.
This gorgeous set-up is owned by a couple who lives in a van. To maintain their sanity they spend most of their time outside and they’ve made it a wonderful home-away-from-home! Their cargo trailer allows them to have all the comforts they want and still have enough room to move around.
This is “Esmerelda.” In her first life she was a shuttle bus with a wheel-chair lift but she has been reincarnated as a wonderful little home on wheels that brings great joy to her new owner!! They are both very lucky girls!
I think older Class Cs are a great choice. You can pick up low-mileage rigs in great shape for amazingly little money. Add solar panels and a motorcycle and you can live very well and cheaply!
Another great choice with a cargo van but he has innovated with tilting solar panels, TV antenna, vent and solar shower. That’s a great camp!
It’s very hard to go wrong with a conversion van: decent stealth, more headroom, sometimes excellent mpg. They are just an all-around great choice!!
An extended cargo van is easy to find, cheap to buy, has a huge amount of room inside and can get fairly good mpg. A great choice!
This is a very simple and basic outfit that is extremely comfortable and affordable. Ideal for many peoples needs!
Bob, have you possibly changed the font for the blog? The RTR report is great but it presents real work because of the script-like font it appears in. Just asking…
Boy Blue, I have not changed the font. It appears just the same on all my devices, but I did hear from one other person who said the same thing and sent me a sreenshot–indeed it was all in script font.
He had an iPad and I assumed somehow it was his operating system. What are you using for a device? I can only assume it is the device since I didn’t do it.
I see the script on my iPod too. Bob, if your webmaster (Katie?) changes the font in the CSS file from “cursive” to “sans-serif”, that will fix it in iPad and iPod (and I’m assuming iPhone).
Thanks LaVonne, I’ll pass that on.
Sorry, I’ve been away since I asked. The post now appears in regular font on my iPad, so thanks Bob & everyone.
That’s good news Boy Blue!
If I came across your pictures without the commentary…one might think that this is a report on a road warrior-ish future…post economic collapse where everyone has taken up living in vehicles.
*I like the potty tent idea for extended boondocking and just the overall vibe of your RTR…nice job!
You’re right Openspaceman, I half way expect to see a young Mel Gibson to pop up with some souped-up super car! Or Mongolian Nomads on the desert plains except we are on wheels and not horses.
That’s an image I like!
sure would like to hear more about how the bictycle does boondocking… stories, tips, gear. I thought about this on quad cycle, maybe with electric assist.
Tom, it all depends on how far you are out of town and what kind of road you have to drive on to get into town. About half the year I am 5-10 miles from town on a road bikes can go on. In those situations bikes work great!! But half the ear I am 15-20 miles from town and you have to drive on a freeway. In that case the bike doesn’t work at all. Bit for most people half a year is enough to be glad they have it.
All good points Bob and things to consider. I think weather, wind and moving to different elevations for good temps would be hard as well. Thought about a quad cycle for the small trunk you could have on the back to lock your stuff. Then just rent a station wagon or a pickup with all the money you save to move long distance a few times a year. When I wore a young man’s cloths I was riding more then 250 miles a week and once a week had a run that was more then 70 miles. I’d be lucky now to do twenty percent of that, maybe 15 miles. Just thinking alternatives, not saying it’s a good one.
Tom, the good thing is you have a lot of time to move with the seasons so you can move slowly. But it is always a move to higher elevation. Quartzsite is at 400 feet and Flagstaff is at 7000 feet. That’s a lot of climbing! And it is mostly concentrated in a few stretches.
Renting a car to make the seasonal moves might actually be a very good idea!
Very nice, thanks. That Astro looks darn sweet! It’s great to see all the different ideas.
The Astro is gorgeous! It has a huge ground clearance and the tires take him anywhere with the AWD. But he said his mpg has dropped so it isn’t perfect. But it’s worth it to him.
Where does the Astro store the bikes and motorcycle when traveling. Does he have a trailer he pulls? I did not see a trailer in the pic but could not figure out where else he would store them when traveling.
Andy, it’s a light dirt bike so he carries it on a motorcycle rack on the back receiver hitch. I’m not sure where he is carrying the bikes. He has a large rack on top and I believe he is strapping them on there.
I’m getting the script also (and using an iPad) but it never did it in the past. Thanks for all the pictures of the rigs. Are you still planning to come east in the spring and maybe have an RTR over here?
Hi Edie, I’ll pass on the script problem to my webmaster.
I had thought the East coast RTR had fallen through. We are having a problem finding a free place big enough to hold that many people. Spring is hunting season in the Southeast and we can’t schedule it during a hunting season. But we may have found one big enough in a National Forest in SC that doesn’t have a conflict with a hunting season. I’ll know soon. When I know for sure, I will announce it.
Where is this? Sorry if it says but I don’t see it?
Bill, sorry, I just assumed everyone would know by now. The winter RTR is at Quartzsite, AZ. You can get all the information on it by going to the top of the website and clicking on the “Gatherings” button. There is a map there to our location.
Bob thanks for this report. This really help to decide what option to take.
Nomad by nature, I’m glad to be of help! Today was open house here and everyone went around and peeked in each others rigs and that really helps to see just what it is like to live in a mini-van or in an extended van. It’s one thing to try to imagine it, it’s another to step inside and see what it’s really like to live in one.
If at all possible, you really should try to make it to a gathering before you buy something. I know that the majority of us can’t take the time or spend the money on gas. For you, I try to give you pictures that help.
Bob – that Tepee style tent looks interesting. I always thought dome shaped tents shed wind the best but I hope the tepee works out for you.
The guy on the bike… his name isn’t Mike is it? I ran into a bike nomad in Moab, Utah last year. He was an interesting fellow, said he dropped out of the rat race during Vietnam and became a full time bike nomad. I asked how he sustained himself and he said he built stoves when he needed money, but only needed a small amount of money to buy grain in bulk for the winters. He said he would ride his bike to the low desert when it was cold then back up to the mountains when it got hot, sounds familiar…. Anyway, I’m rambling. Great pics!
Joe, no that wasn’t him, but he sure sounds like an interesting guy I’d like to meet!! This fellow is very private and wants his anonymity. But I am going to interview him and see if I can do a story while maintaining his privacy!
Sorry we didn’t get to talk with you again before we left. Enjoyed seeing the RTR folks we met in Flagstaff and meeting some new people. You did a great job and the location was excellent. Hope to see you somewhere down the road.
Jim and Gayle, I’m so busy here that I never get to spend enough time with people, and I’m very sorry for that! Maybe you can come to Anchorage, AK for the summer RTR!
Hi, Bob. I look forward to one day making the RTR. In the meantime, I’m still learning.
I also would like more info from or about the bike nomad. Doctors tell me I need to stay active to keep a couple of my medical conditions from getting worse. I’d be a pretty slow bicycle traveller, but I can’t imagine worrying about that. I’d have an entire season to get to the next climate zone.
I took a good look at your Amazon link for that tent. It looks pretty good, and it’s a lot cheaper than anything comparable on Cabela’s site. I like Cabela’s quality but it’s all high priced. I look forward to your follow-up on the Guide Gear teepee. It’s light enough for a bicycle trailer and a definite advantage for a car camper. If it will stand up to the desert, it’s a winner.
Calvin, I’m going to interview the bike rider and see if I can write his story while keeping his anonymity. Hopefully I can.
Yeah, I’m hopeful for the tent. The big advantage of a Tipi is there is very little surface up high, it’s all low to the ground where the wind has the least impact and hopefully can just flow up and over. And yet it is 6 foot high in the center. The big problem with all nylon tents is that the sun will destroy it. I’m leaving this one out in the sun to test it, but if I wanted it to last I would always set it up in the shade to prevent that.
I’m torn between wanting a monster wind storm to test it and loving the great weather. Wanting the great weather is winning so far!!
I love the variety of rigs showing up! I bet it’s neat to see how each individual person modifies everything to their needs. I’m still working on mine, always a work in progress!
Myddy, they are all a constant work in progress! It seems like every year or two I tear my rigs apart and rebuild them to meet some new need or want. That’s how things get better!
HEY NOW BOB, GOOD JOB ON THE RTR THIS YEAR AS AWAYS!!! HAD A GOOD TIME HATE TO LEAVE, I LIKE THE NEW LOCATION AND EVEN GRADE THE ROAD FOR US!!!! MAYBE SEE YOU WHEN YOU GET DOWN THES WAY YUMA AND SIDEWINDER RD HOLTVILLE ?
gary green, it was great to see you again also!! I doubt I will make it down that way to camp. I have to go back in May for the next step in the implant, but if it is hot I may well stay in a motel. I’m not trying to sleep in a van at 100 degrees!
Very nice looking rigs thanks for the pictures as always i enjoy see them looks like you had a nice turn out for your chili dinner i hope the ranger does not make you all leave i see it is very dry out your way i see on tv where they are cracking down on people camping with camping fires
The Rangers have gotten very strict here. We had a ranger in camp the first day!! He wrote down our license numbers so we have to leave right after the RTR.
I think this chili dinner was the most people we ever had for a dinner and it still went very well.
There are no restrictions against campfires in the desert. It really is not susceptible to wildfires. It is illegal to gather firewood from the desert and I am very strict about that. We have a campfire every night but we only burn wood we buy in town.
There is a fire season in the desert (BLM) the same as in the forests; it’s during the hot, windy season when the creosote is bone dry. Joshua Tree National Park had a nasty wildfire a few years ago; you can still see the burned cacti in some places. I don’t think the fire permit applies to Quartzsite, but BLM does issue a fire permit and it has varying degrees of restrictions during the year. Usually, restrictions are lifted around October and go into place around May or June.
Thanks for that info Linda!! I’m not as brave as you are to be in the desert in the summer!! So, I was unaware of that. Thanks,
Nice Blog Post (as always!), Bob…
Could you possibly have a blog post r/e the bicyclist & how he/she is able to pay for food & other essentials?
Also, how does the bicyclist fare in the snowy weather?
I’m thinking of just chucking it all & dwelling via tour bike.
-thanks in advance 😉
White Trash, I’m going to interview him and I will pass on the info I can. He is a very private person so I’m giving him final approval on the post so I don’t violate his anonymity. But i should be able to pass all that along.
“Happiness is found along the way, not at the of the road.”
I though you might enjoy it.
That is a good one Patrick, I do appreciate it!
That teepee is not for the novice tent pitcher. Lots of ropes and stakes.
I took off before the full moon so no one would see me turn into a werewolf.
It’s true, there were a lot of stakes and I staked them deep with stakes made of rebar. Fortunately Al had a 2 pound maul so that really helped! I’m willing to learn so I now own one as well Al!
There is a single very strong pole so set-up was easy, but there are many stakes so it is time-consuming. I think that’s a BIG plus because in the wind storms the load will be well distributed. This is the only year I have been in the desert without NUMEROUS wind storm with steady winds 40-50 mph and gusts much higher. We had a fellow with a wind meter so we actually measured them and know they were that strong.
Al, I’m very sorry to have missed that show!! You are a warm and cuddly werewolf aren’t you!!
Yikes, there are so many people here now that I didn’t even realize you were gone, Al. I hope you’re back to normal now. 😉
Fab report, Bob. I could have sworn I saw the gray van with an Airstream Bambi down here in Yuma for the last couple of days, so now I have to bike on over to take another look and see if there are solar panels on the van’s roof!
Yep, that’s Dave. He left to head down to Yuma a couple of days ago.
He was surprised when I told him he was now a celeb by being featured on the Internet. And laughed when I asked for his autograph. 🙂 Remember thou art mortal! Remember thou art mortal!
Doug, it probably is him! He had some friends with emergency dental work at Algodones so he ran down to be with them. Stop by and say hello! You are the only guy that I know who has more solar!
Hello Bob and RTR folks! Been lurking for a while and d rd cided to come out and talk to yall. This is a awesome resource you have put together Bob. A lotta work and a lot of upkeep. Glad you done it pardner. I hope to be traveling out there starting March 1st. Do you have a date or location for a summer RTR? Thanks, Bill
Thanks for your kind words Bill! I’m going to Alaska this summer so if there is one it will be in Anchorage, AK. Wanna join us!?