The Kindness of Friends, Family and Strangers

The end of the year is a time of year to reflect and think of all the places we went and things we did. And to acknowledge that none of this would be possible without the kindness of friends and family and people who became friends along the way.

The nomadic lifestyle definitely has the potential to be a lonely and solitary endeavor. But, thankfully, this has not been the case for us in the last 18 months since we took our home on the roam. In fact, despite being in our wonderful neighborhood in Denver less, we have stayed connected to our family and friends through social media and making time around our work schedule when we do journey back to Denver.

It has also enabled us to visit friends and family who live afar as we journey through their area of the country. And also to get to meet and know family that we never met before, uniting through a shared bloodline and family connections on Facebook.

Nancy and Joe Clark are an example of that. Nancy and I connected through the James Gang Facebook group. She is a cousin of my mother’s, and I had heard of her and my great aunt and uncle, Tom and Dolly. They were popular family members and so loved.

When I started this blog and announced our adventurous intentions to the world, Nancy was one of our first followers. When we came to the Phoenix area in mid-November, we contacted Joe and Nancy and they showed us around. We had a wonderful time with them, and it felt like we had known them forever.Nancy and Joe Clark with us in Tortilla Flat, AZ.

Nancy has a wonderful sense of humor!

When we pause for a moment, we are grateful to people who have come into our lives at the perfect time and opened their homes (and yards and driveways) to us for a “moochdock” as we like to refer to camping on the property of friends and family.

We met our sweet friends, Dan and Peggy, when we were in Michigan in July 2018. The campground we were staying at near Traverse City filled up on the weekend, I was gone visiting friends and family and working and Hans wasn’t sure where to go as there was really no vacancy in that part of the country on the weekends as summer is prime time.

Dan graciously offered Hans a place to park on his beautiful property and explore all that Traverse City and the Leelanau Peninsula has to offer in the summer time.

We were so grateful for his kindness. He said he had never offered his place up to any one before so we felt very special.

  • Our friends, Jerry and Linda, who live outside of Chicago also came through for us in summer 2018. They are avid RV-ers themselves and have a 50 amp plug in their driveway. It was so comfortable to have a great visit with them and also visit family in the area.Jerry and Linda’s beautiful yard in West Chicago. The Rigatos know how to have good time in their backyard.
  • Our composting toilet that we are so proud of and grateful for would never have happened without the hospitality, support and expertise of our friends Wayne and Kathy on the western slope of Colorado. We fondly refer to their beautiful home and acreage as “The Docking Station.” They are always ready with a delicious meal, great conversation and good coffee, not too mention fresh eggs straight out of a chicken’s butt!

    Our dear friends Chris and TR let us camp on their beautiful acreage not far from Denver International Airport at the end of the summer. It was great access to work and family to take care of business and obligations of “real life” that eventually must be handled.Chris feeding something horses near her 38 acres.

    Brother Ben and kids.

    And my brother Ben has bent over backward to make a very nice situation for us on my family’s ranch in Central Texas. He has installed a 30 amp plug and a water line to make it feel like our home away from home.My brother with 2 of his kids.

    My Mom and her husband, Danny, always welcome us with open arms and a willingness to spring for a hot meal and let us moochdock for free and even let us store keepsakes in my childhood bedroom.

    Our most interesting place that we recently stayed in November was on a ranch called The Little Outfit Ranch outside of Patagonia. TThe Little Outfit Ranch.

    We met the owner Pete through another new friend that we became acquainted with when we were visiting the area earlier in the year. The LOR was originally a homestead when southern Arizona was first becoming settled. Pete’s parents had acquired it from the original homesteaders. Lots of interesting things on the Little Outfit Ranch.Pete has all kinds of cool toys!

    Old schoolhouse on Little Outfit Ranch.He really is! 😁

    It had sweeping views from Hill 50, as our campsite was known, looking out over the San Rafael Valley and beyond to the hills of Mexico in the distance.The beautiful San Rafael Valley.Hans making new friends at the Little outfit Ranch.

    One of our friends, Constance, who is a talented artist, even made a model trailer for us to celebrate our new lifestyle of adventure.

    We even owe our paddle board and and canoe to the kindness of a stranger whom Hans met when he crashed a watercraft trade show at a convention in Oklahoma City. He struck up a conversation with a man who happened to be the designer of the Aquaglide products we went with.On the paddle board getting towed by Hans in the canoe.

    As we close out this year which has been one of the fastest in my life, I am so grateful for and humbled by the presence of the amazing and generous people who have graced our lives. I hope I can impact someone’s life in as positive a way as so many friends and family have impacted mine.

    And I am reminded that no matter how much the media and politicians like to emphasize our differences, when it comes down to it, we as humans are more alike than different.

    All the best in 2020 and to All a good night!

    It’s A Van Life World

    Judging from what we have seen this summer, more and more people are taking to the roads in conversion vans, truck campers, travel trailers (like us) or some other form of gypsy existence. There really are so many ways to live nomadically these days. In fact, a lot of people just travel out of their car these days like my friend Bianca.

    We actually had some difficulty last summer and this summer finding places to camp. We mostly dispersed damp on BLM or Forest Service land. We went to several places listed on Campendium for dispersed camping when we were in Jackson Hole. Granted, it WAS Tuesday before the 4th of July on Thursday so it was already getting busy. We were using AllStays and Campendium apps for our resources. We were having no luck at all.

    The dispersed camping we could find on these apps was now limited to 5 days (most Forest Service or BLM allow 16 days at a time).The camping limit had been changed by the Forest Service from 16 days to 5 days from June 1st to September 1st. This was due to so many people dispersed camping in the last couple of years. The Forest Service outside of Tetons NP had to hire camp hosts to manage the campers and monitor camp fires.

    A volunteer camp host I spoke with said that he found at least one unattended or not fully extinguished camp fire a day which is a really scary thought and reminds me to always have two ways out when we camp.

    He felt the increase in dispersed campers is due to the smartphone age and having easily accessible info on campsites on apps such as VanLife, Campendium and AllStays. New ones seem to come available every month. They all make finding camping as easily as seeing what is around you on a map using your location.

    We finally ended up on a beautiful piece of land adjacent to Clear Creek in the Gros Ventre River valley. We were about 40 minutes outside of Jackson, and we didn’t have any sort of cell signal where we were camped, but it was peaceful, and the 5 day limit that now applied to a lot of the dispersed camping areas around Jackson Hole and the Tetons National Park, didn’t seem to apply to this area as we stayed for 18 days because we attended a memorial for a friend in Chicago.

    After our foray into Banff and Jasper National Parks this summer, we have decided that we need to have a smaller footprint to fit more discreetly into places. Size was an issue in Canada as well as some of the places we looked at in Tetons as well as last summer in Michigan. A 25 foot travel trailer like ours really isn’t big as RVs go, however, when you are trying to cover ground and camp discreetly in a parking lot if campsites have filled up, the travel trailer is too conspicuous.

    There are approximately 10 million RVs in America about 10 percent are used as homes full time. In our travels, I have met people like ourselves who just simply love the flexibility and excitement of a nomadic life. Many jobs now allow or even encourage their employees to work from home (or anywhere) and this can easily be done in today’s electronic world.

    Also, middle class wages never fully recovered after the 2008 recession and house prices have risen extraordinarily high in many cities making home ownership simply unaffordable for many people so they have taken to the road and made their home on wheels. I recently read an article in The LA Times about how many people live in campers and vans on the street in Mountain View, CA, because a median average rent for a one bedroom apartment at $3,450 is out of reach for a lot of workers.

    I really love our nomadic life, and I wouldn’t want to live any other way, right now, but I am so thankful that this is a choice for us and not a necessity. That would greatly reduce the “fun factor” if we felt stuck.

    With the increase in the number of people RV-ing, some cities have become creative with their accommodations for RV-ers. I noticed this on a work trip next to SFO Airport at the Coyote Point Recreation Area. The city had literally created 3 campsites in a parking lot.

    There are so many modifications that you can do with your RV or van these days that make it very comfortable and homey. My favorite thing about full-timing that we always feel at home everywhere we go. Hans and I have our own very comfortable bed, all our clothes for any season or activity, my CD collection for when I don’t have a signal to stream, all my Doterra oils, all my supplements that I take, my Vitamix, my Instapot, our paddle board and canoe, our bikes…. I mean the list goes on and on because our home and all the things we love are always with us!

    Check out the back of our pickup which is essentially our garage:I wish there was nano-technology to shrink this all down and take it in my roller bag for work!

    We have parked in rest areas and truck stops overnight that seem unsettling at first, but when I pull down the shades and put on music, I’m completely at home.

    But speaking of shrinking down, we have started the discussion of what we will go to next in order to be more fully mobile and less restricted. I love the conversion vans. Although they are tiny, I have seen them with brilliant set ups that include a kitchen, closet and wet or dry bath.

    A class C with a Jeep “towed” may also work nicely for us. We could disengage the Jeep and park elsewhere away from the Class C if we are trying to camp discreetly.

    Also, we are considering an in-bed truck camper also with towed Jeep. We could drop our camper and take off exploring and leave the campsite behind. This would also be super convenient on the occasion that we need two cars.

    We are heading to the east coast this winter, and for whatever reason, it seems that many RV parks in FL do not take in-bed truck campers so we will hold on to our beloved travel trailer for now. We do not usually use RV parks, but the east coast does not have the abundance of public land that the west does.

    Adventures in Kirwin Ghost Town and Double D Ranch

    On our way back to Denver this week from the Canadian Rockies, we decided to visit Kirwin Ghost Town and the Double D Ranch. They are about 35 miles outside of the town of Meeteetse, WY, a long way down forest roads, in the Athabaska Forest in the Washakie Wilderness which is contained within the Shoshone National Forest. It is very far back and remote. I felt like it definitely put the “wild” in wilderness!

    We found a beautiful campsite at (43.9324392, -109.1527996) along the Wood River. 

    There were a few other campers around, but no one very close. We were greeted our first night by an amazing Aquarian full moon rising over the treetops. This pic doesn’t come close to doing it justice:
    We enjoyed a fire in our Flame Genie:
    Hans had heard about the Kirwin Ghost Town when we were in Cody earlier this summer. We love ghost towns and were excited to see this one. It is the best preserved ghost town that I have ever been to thanks to the efforts of volunteers, the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, the Mellon Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and the Abandoned Mines Land Division to preserve this place out of time.
    With our tetanus shots up to date, we set out for adventure exploring the old buildings from a bygone era!
    It is well off the beaten path. We turned off Highway 290 and continued another 10 miles and found our campsite. When we left our campsite this morning, it was another 8 miles to the Kirwin Trailhead.
    If you attempt to go back to Kirwin, you definitely need a 4 wheel drive vehicle or an ATV. This is best attempted in late summer as there are two water crossings. In fact, the road is water in one part of the approach.
    William Kirwin and Harry Adams found gold while prospecting in 1885, but it wasn’t until the Shoshone Mining and Development Company of Kirwin was formed in 1904 that Kirwin became a busy place.
    From 1904-1907, there were 200 miners and their families and 28 buildings in Kirwin. These included a hotel, two general stores, a post office, a sawmill, headquarters building and various buildings to house and feed the miners.
    Oddly enough for a bustling old west mining town, there wasn’t a bar or a brothel. Maybe it was too inaccessible? After all, the railway never reached Kirwin. There was stage coach service 28 miles one way to Meeteetse every other day, but I can’t help but think that must have been seasonal with the treacherous river crossings and the large amount of snow that fell in the winter.
    Or maybe there were some morally upstanding miners in Kirwin. Legend has it that there was briefly a palmist named Luciel in town, but word got out that she would offered more services than just palm readings and she was asked to leave town.
    Or maybe there just wasn’t enough money to attract women and whiskey vendors. After all, Kirwin’s investors put in much more money than they ever got out of Kirwin. There was iron ore, and there was gold, but it was not enough gold to make it a profitable venture.
    And life, quite frankly, looked like it would be very cold and hard much of the time here.
    Plus, it was very isolated and treacherous as it was nestled amongst 12,000 foot mountains. When a huge avalanche engulfed Tewksbury’s Store, everyone abandoned Kirwin at that point.
    In the years that followed, people tried repeatedly to reopen the mine, but nothing lasted.
    This was the old headquarters building:
    This was the mill and some equipment inside:I think this was perhaps a messhall:I love looking at the old nails and materials used to construct these buildings.
    In 1931, Carl Dunrad purchased an old mine from the widow of a miner named Henry Schnitzel. Dunrad hit pay dirt in the form of a dude ranch. Dude ranches were very popular then. People from “back east” would pay to come stay and “play cowboy” for a few months and live the romance of the Wild West. Dunrad opened the the Double D Dude Ranch and entertained clientele such as Amelia Earhart in 1934.
    Earhart was so taken with the area that she asked Dunrad to build her a cabin in this beautiful place. He stopped work on the cabin after she went missing during her attempt to circumnavigate the world solo later that year.
    The buildings were solid construction of stone, cement and lumber. There was even a pool fed by water piped in from a spring nearby. And it was a very peaceful place. The U.S. Forest Service has done a great job of preserving this beautiful place.
    The main house:
    The cabins and a privy:
    Not sure what this was, but I think it related to mining somehow because this looks like a hydraulic operation of some sort. There are also signs above although the writing on them has long ago faded:
    There was a stable with wooden saddle horses:
    If you dig ghost towns, definitely out this one on your list. Just bring your 4×4 vehicle and your bear spray!

    Say Yes More!

    I have been trying to make a conscious effort to say yes to more things in recent years. I think something in my consciousness shifted around age 45. I came to one of those mid-life realizations that hit you at certain birthdays that, statistically, you are at the halfway point, or most likely, on the down-sloping side of halfway, and of that, how much of it is functional useful time left that you can actually do pretty much anything you would want to do? After that epiphany, I have been trying to say yes and try things that I was not open to previously.

    Living in an RV definitely would have been something I was not so open to before. I am so glad that I said yes. It was actually Hans’ idea. And I decided I could do anything for a year. Now here we are over a year in, and we have no intention of going back into a sticks-and-bricks anytime soon.

    I have always been late to the game for some things. I didn’t eat avocados until I was 30. It was the same with wine. I have been making up for lost time ever since with these things!

    The most recent thing I made an effort to say yes to was fly fishing last week. And believe me, that took a very CONSCIOUS effort to open my mind to even trying it, but I could tell Hans really wanted me to so I didn’t want to disappoint him.

    In fact, I felt a little guilty as he took a plastic box that had been taking up precious space in the back of our truck for a year. It had waders and boots in my size with the tags still on them that he had purchased for me back in 2014 after I had hired a fly fishing guide for his birthday. He had been hoping since then that I would take up the sport with him, but after seeing six snakes on that one excursion, I wasn’t impressed.

    We had bought fishing licenses for Yellowstone NP so we drove to the Barn Spool section of the Madison River. I put on my brand new fresh out of the box waders and boots and waded across. Hans gave me some pointers on casting. He had also showed me a couple of YouTube videos about how to tie flies on. So, I felt like I could be somewhat self sufficient.

    I GET the idea behind fly fishing. You try to have an idea of what kind of fish you are going after. You look at the bugs on, around and above the water to try to get an idea of what they are hungry for, then you tie on something that sometimes looks like a sparkly bit of bug jewelry and try to put it in their face and hope they bite.

    It seems to take more luck than skill, in my opinion.

    I fished for a while without so much as a nibble and then noticed grasshoppers around. Conrad at Bob Jacklin Anglers in West Yellowstone had sold me a crazy looking piece of abstract art that he had referred to as a grasshopper. I didn’t see how this would fool any normal fish, but I decided the green caddis wasn’t doing it for them so I might as well try something new.

    I had no sooner put it in the water than I was locked in a fight with a HUGE brown trout! I was trying to keep my reel up. I finally grabbed her and took a picture!

    Shortly after my big catch, I saw a snake and lost interest in fishing any more that day as the limbic system of my brain had me seeing snakes everywhere.

    But the next day, I went out and, after some minor, fly adjustments, I caught a rainbow-cutthroat hybrid. It was beautiful! I am “hooked”.

    Another thing I have recently started trying are ice baths. I would have rather died than have an ice bath. I always detested cold water. I am hooked now! I think it started with some videos I watched featuring a guy named Wim Hof. He is European and swears by a breathing technique now called Wim Hof breathing. He claims it enabled him to climb Everest without oxygen in shorts. Someone did a film about this. It is fascinating.

    I went from filling up my bathtub in hotels with ice and water and plunging in to going to a cryosauna in Denver. Yes, it is cold. Yes, it sucks for a few minutes, but then you feel incredible after! It is a full-on endorphin high that surpasses a runner’s high!

    Today, I did something I never though I would do…. took a brief plunge in a glacial lake at the Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park. After all, you only live once, glaciers are rapidly disappearing from the planet. Climatologists say that the Glacier NP glaciers will be done by 2030. I decided not to let the opportunity pass me by.

    It was brisk. My heart felt like it was beating like a butterfly, and I had a hard time moving my limbs because they were so cold, but it was so exhilarating to know that my reward for a 12 mile round trip hike was this amazing dip in the pool of one of the last glaciers left on the planet.

    I intend to keep going with this plan of saying yes to things that scare me and challenge me in weird ways I can’t anticipate.

    One of the things I said in the past was that I could never live in a space smaller than a 25′ travel trailer…… Maybe a truck camper is the next thing I say yes to?

    The Instapot Miracle

    Admittedly, I’m a little late to the game on the Instapot, a sensation that the rest of America has embraced judging from the number of online advertisements at Christmas last year.

    I had borrowed my sister-in-law’s IP a few times when we lived in her stick and brick in Denver. She did not use it much. I liked it, and she, being a very generous person, gifted it to me. But after I cooked maybe five meals in it, the “new” wore off, and it went back on the shelf collecting dust again.

    When we purged everything last year and moved into our 25 foot Arctic Fox trailer, I wasn’t sure I should bring it so I gave it to my Mom and her husband Danny. He does most of the cooking, and he went to a class at their church on Instapot cooking.

    But, last summer when we were in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Michigan, places that get quite warm, I really missed it. Yes, I have a full kitchen in our RV, but you do NOT want to heat your trailer to 90 degrees using the oven or the stovetop just trying to get a healthy meal fixed. Yes. You can grill outside, but that doesn’t work for everything.

    So, when the Instapot was blowing up all over the internet at Christmas last year, and we happened to be at the ranch visiting my Mom and Danny, I mentioned I was going to order one. Mom said they had not used the one I gave them despite taking the church class, and why didn’t I just take the one I gave them back?

    I was so happy to have it back! I find I am using it several times a week this summer. this is the one I use:

    When we are plugged into “shore” power, such as an electricity post at a campground, it is a snap to use. We seldom camp at campgrounds though, so often I must start the generator to use the Instapot. It is easy, all the same, as it is like starting an old-school gas lawnmower with the pull of a cord.

    Most recipes are finished in half an hour or less of pressure cooking so I don’t even have to run the generator that long, the trailer doesn’t heat up, and, because there is a sauté mode, I only have one pot to wash!

    One of my favorite things to make is chicken broth. I buy precooked whole chickens at Costco or any other grocery store (most places around $5). I save the bird carcass in the freezer along with any onion and celery ends. When I have two frozen carcasses, I throw them in the IP…..

    I use the broth in various other recipes or just drink it plain. It also makes killer chicken tortilla soup.

    I made this last night with what I had on hand:

    Lentils and Chicken

    • 1 c. Lentils
    • 1 1/2 c. Homemade IP chicken broth
    • 1 1/2 TB oil if your choice (I used coconut)
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
    • 2 chicken breasts (this is what I had on hand but you could use thighs or even a different kind of meat)
    • 4 cloves of garlic diced (or use the garlic in the jar)
    • 2 t. Paprika
    • 2 t. Rosemary
      2 t. Oregano
      Salt and pepper to taste
  • Put the IP in Sauté mode and add the oil. Let it get hot then add the onions and garlic and a sprinkle of salt. Keep stirring this as you cook it for about 5 minutes.
  • After the onions are slightly soft, turn off the IP and add in the broth, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the chicken on top. Put the lid back in the IP and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Let the pressure naturally release and viola!!!! You have a hot dinner and an unheated kitchen!
  • You could add parsley or feta cheese or whatever to this to garnish it and make it look pretty.

    The IP makes boiling eggs super easy and screw-up free. I make a lot of boiled eggs when I work for a healthy snack or on-the-go snack. Oatmeal is also easy and fast, and you can feed a lot of people very quickly with this one. You can lay out a la carte toppings in bowls so everyone can customize their oatmeal.

    Here is a handy chart:

    There are lots of great IP recipes out there, vegetarian, paleo, keto…. any thing for any diet with the exception of a raw food diet, perhaps. Just check Pinterest or there is also an Instapot app.

    One Year In

    June marked a year since we set out from the ranch in Texas and truly commenced on our full-time RV living adventure.

    We have learned so much about our new way-of-life and how we operate in this new realm.

    One thing we have learned is that we need so much less than we thought we did. Although the back of our truck may say something different. We took time out at our friends the Marshes house in Montrose, CO, to empty the back and reorganize/reevaluate our gear. We had a decent sized donation pile afterwards and left our donations at the Salvation Army.

    Even so, I would say that we could easily cut our stuff down by half again and possibly move into a more mobile and versatile unit such as a truck camper or a conversion van. A 250 square foot travel trailer seems like the height of luxury these days.

    I had this affirmed for me when we stored our trailer, and I set out on a month-long journey. With the help of 2 space-saver bags from Dollar Tree, I managed to get enough clothes for 9 days of work, a beach vacation, a visit to my parents’ ranch in Texas and my semi-formal Anniversary Banquet at Southwest Airlines all into my 21-inch roll aboard that I use for work. I didn’t even have it expanded out (at least until the last flight back to the home-sweet-trailer).

    I didn’t feel like I was doing without or that I had forgotten anything. Having access to a washing machine in all the places I stayed, did help. I did do a couple of panty wash outs in the sink.

    Another quirk in our personalities that I have begun to embrace is that, even though I used to plan our lives for months out when we lived in a stick and brick is that, in this nomadic lifestyle, we are loathe to commit to anything. We do not know what we are doing until we are doing it. And I love it! It feels good to live loose and carefree!

    Something that we began to realize as we began to stay longer in some places, is how limited we were by our resources. We figured out a hack for our freshwater which was to tote collapsible 5 gallon containers of water back with us and refill our tank.

    With our gray water, we use biodegradable dish and shower soaps such as Campsuds and all Seventh Generation products, so we could usually let it go wherever.

    However, our black tank would fill up after about a week. Sometimes we could stretch it longer if we were out a lot and not using our RV toilet. But inevitably, we would have to break camp to dump our black tank or use our Blue Boy tank to dump it which was gross, scary (as lifting a 180 pound fully loaded tank of sewage into the back of the pick up was suspenseful in a very bad way) and not convenient.

    So, to celebrate our year anniversary of the full-time RV living lifestyle, we acquired an Airhead Composting Toilet!

    This solves our problem with waste disposal as the composting toilet can go weeks before it must be emptied and, when it is time to empty it, you simply discard the “dirt” into a composting bag and discard it into a trash can. Then, you refill the chamber with more moistened coconut hulls to start the process over again with a new batch. The urine gets diverted into the black tank and can go a long time before being emptied. Also, it is more sanitary as urine alone is sterile. When it mixes with number 2, it becomes “sewage”.

    A composting toilet is also better for the environment because it uses less water.

    While I was in Texas visiting my Mother and attending the Southwest Airlines anniversary party, Hans went to Montrose, CO, to his friend of 30 years, Wayne Marsh, and enlisted Wayne’s help and his shop in order to make the modifications (it took a LOT of modifications, but so worth it) to install the toilet.

    I came back to a fully functioning composting toilet with the addition of a bidet. (The first time I ever went to France when I was 17, I was fascinated by bidets and resolved to someday have one. I just never realized my wildest dreams would come true in the toilet of my camper!)The bidet!

    I have to say that the composting toilet is even better than I thought it could be. It strangely doesn’t smell AT ALL… even less than our original porcelain toilet.

    The price tag is high on the composting toilet, over $1000, but thanks to my mother-in-law, Patricia, we are proudly perched on our new throne. She did something nice for Hans’ sister, and she believes in being fair, so she wanted to do something for him and he chose the toilet for us!

    Hans making some mods:

    This brings me to another thing that we have learned about ourselves. Somehow, some way, everything that we need is provided for us when we need it. The Universe Has Our Backs. Gabby Bernstein apparently wrote a whole book about this concept, aptly titled, “The Universe Has Your Back”.

    Our beloved Arctic Fox 25Y was manifested out of the blue when we happened to find a used one only an hour away and at the right price when we were ready for it. This, despite the fact that I could only find 3 used ones in the country, and they were all thousands of miles away.

    From month to month, I used to wonder how things would pan out. Would we be able to “clear our boards” and not have to commute back to Denver to work? Did we manage to work enough to cover our expenses? But I have ceased to worry about these things as apparently, things manage to work for us, even when we aren’t sure at the moment how this will manifest.

    I don’t understand it, but I do believe it! And I believe this probably operates for all of us, but we have to give it SPACE TO HAPPEN for it to work it’s “magic”.

    When we simplified and slowed down, we created the space to let the magic happen.

    Strategies for Camping Inexpensively

    Besides mooch-docking off your friends and loved ones, there are many ways to camp very inexpensively or even free. Thanks to the Information Age, there are many resources at your fingertips via your smartphone to help you find some of the most beautiful and convenient locations very easily.My favorite free boondock was in our new friend Dan’s backyard.Not to be confused with a mooch-dock which is what we had in the Rigatos’ side yard in Chicago because they had electric that we could plug into. That was lovely also!

    After all, if you can camp inexpensively, you can spend more money doing fun things and acquiring paddle boards, bikes and other gear with which to appreciate the outdoors. And in our case, we can put off going to work just a little bit longer!

    One of our favorite apps is Campendium. It is by far my favorite app for finding campsites. It is available for FREE in the App Store. It has a filter that ranges from free to $$$$$ and can show you where public land, RV dumps, parking lots and RV parks are located. Other campers can post their reviews and give you insider information and insights on particular campgrounds. For us it has been an invaluable tool.

    There is also an app called All Stays. It is a bit pricy at $10. It does have good information on it such as campground information, rest stop locations, bridge heights, locations of Cracker Barrels (they always have RV parking in back…. and biscuits and apple butter!), RV dump locations as well as gas stations that can accommodate the height of your rig.

    Surprisingly, casinos are a great place to camp and many of them even provide free electric hookups! We had stayed at several that have free dump stations. (Maybe it is just me, but I really do not like paying for dumps and some places charge as much as $20, and you are doing all the work!) And even if they do not have hookups, they often will let you “boondock” AKA dry camp for free in their parking lot for several days at a time. The idea is that you will come into the casino and give them some business through gaming, the spa or the restaurants. is a great resource with reviews and information. Many casinos will give you a senior discount on food if you are 50 or older.

    One of our favorite stops in August was at Kewadin Casino in Christmas, MI, where, you guessed it, every day is Christmas! They had 6 free electric sites in the parking lot and it was minutes away from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park.I found the Kewadin Casino to be rather low-key for a casino.

    Even better, it was next to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

    Granted, when you stay in places with free hook ups, there is often a lack of ambiance at your campsite. But, it is great to use these places as a jumping off point to see other things in the area. You just come back to sleep and regroup for more activities elsewhere.

    Walmart was renowned for a long time for allowing RV-ers to park for free in their parking lots but recently that has changed, and the policy on parking and sleeping in the parking lot does vary from store to store now. One blogger that we follow tells the story of how he spoke with a Walmart manager who gave him permission to stay in the parking lot for the night. That was around 8 pm. Evidently, there was a shift change at 11 pm and the night manager felt differently. There was a knock on the door from security telling him to leave. He had to explain that he could not because he had drank a bottle of wine while watching a movie and was not safe to operate a vehicle. It was all sorted out, and he was allowed to stay. But if you are going to stay at Walmart, be sure to go into the store and get permission and request that he overnight manager be informed of your presence, too.

    Cabela’s is also known for allowing RV-ers to park overnight in their parking lots. They have a separate RV parking area. We stayed at the Cabela’s in Owatonna, MN, overnight on our way west to the Black Hills. It was peaceful and there were other RV-ers there such as the Dubbels Family @dubbelsornothing on Instagram.

    Truck stops and rest areas are great places to park for some shut-eye when you are on your way somewhere else, but they fill up surprisingly fast, especially if the truck stop has a good restaurant. I found a free app called Trucker Path that drivers update that will let your know if there are parking spaces left at a particular rest area or truck stop.

    Another beautiful and free option is to park without hookups (aka “boondocking” or “dry camping”) on Forest Service land and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. These are some of the most beautiful and serene places. Of course, you have to prepare by making sure that your black and gray tanks are empty and your water tank is full. If you require air conditioning or want to use your TV, you will need a generator. We have dual Yamaha EF2000 generators. They are quiet compared to other generators on the market and fairly lightweight. They run about 8 hours before they run out of gas.

    The view from the most scenic FREE boondock on our trip so far. We were perched on the edge of a canyon in the Badlands of South Dakota. We found this on Campendium. You had to open a barbed wire gate (it was haaaard to wrassle it shut again and people were not shutting it so this may affect access in the future) and drive up a dirt road toward the bluff.Us as well as other campers taking advantage of this beautiful and FREE campsite!

    I only recently discovered the app “Boondocking”. It is free, and it has a map of BLM and Forest Service land for all states where this kind of land is available. People have added their first-hand accounts of the roads and sites as well as GSP coordinates. Of course, if you are pulling something that could easily get stuck such as a large trailer or fifth wheel, you may want to drop your trailer and scout the area first before you bring your rig down these rustic roads! Also, be fire aware and have two ways out of your camp.

    We stayed a few nights ago in a well-kept city park with hook-ups in Wheatland, WY. It was donation only. We jumped on our bikes and explored their cute little downtown. Once again, we found this on the Campendium app.We are behind the tree. These are the donation-only sites at Wheatland, WY.Wheatland had a pretty park and wonderful donation-only services for campers!

    There are lots of state and national parks with organized campgrounds and a camp host that are relatively inexpensive ranging from $8 to $30 depending on if you opt for hookups or not. Sometimes they are serene and peaceful, other times they are crowded and noisy so it really helps to do your research on apps if reviews are available.

    My friend Miss Mazuma has a great blog post about her amazing cross-country car camping trip. She has some great pointers on free camping as well. Check it out!

    At any rate, whether you are like us and try to stretch every dollar to the max or you like to live it up and stay at posh RV resorts and KOAs that are a kid’s dream come true with pizza delivery and pools, live your nomadic life to the fullest because there is nothing more exciting than waking up and letting the day and the road unfold before you.