Adventure Travel

My tiny town of sixteen thousand has three camper sales businesses. Seems like a lot of campers for such a small population. Ever since I got married I became fascinated by campers and camping. The basic camping lifestyle is learned in Boy Scouts, tent, backpack, wood fires, and sleeping bags. A more sensible or nonsensical camping style depending on how one wants to live is to put your six bedroom, eight bathroom, nine thousand square foot house on wheels and drive it to the edge of the woods. Maybe you would have a small fire to make samores with the kids.

When I got the bug my wife did not have a clue about camping nor did she want to learn. She was that way mostly because I tried talking her into back packing. That wasn’t going to happen and it never did. Instead I got my fill of the rough style by working with the Boy Scouts. That cured me.

Along the way I morphed into going camping in a pop-up trailer. It was the lightweight version of house trailer camping. I dreamed about getting one or better yet building a pop-up tailer. I drew plans for one but never got excited enough to begin building. Instead I began looking at camper trailers at the outdoor show. They made sense, but Barb still couldn’t be convinced that this was for us. Then I saw a used pop-up for sale near where we lived. I called and convinced Barb to come look at it with me. She grumbled and balked a bit but decided to come with me. In fact the whole family went. The seller had set up the unit in his driveway with the attached fly extending out from the tent. Under that fly he had a home-built portable kitchen set up ready to cook meals. The kitchen had pots and pans, dishes, utensils, a stove and wash tubs for cleaning dishes. All of it packed into two boxes that were neatly partitioned for all the goods. The sides of the boxes folded down to make a counter top.

The tiny trailer was a canvas tent set up on wheels. Inside, there was room to sleep six, we were five, and a table with seating for six. There was a tiny indoor kitchen with a sink and ice box for keeping food.

By the time Barb moved from the outdoor kitchen to the inside she was sold. We bought the trailer. It was the beginning of a new life for us. We named the trailer Gypsy II. The two was because our first gypsy vehicle was our tiny Ford Falcon in which we traveled.

Just prior to buying Gypsy II, I had bought a new family truck, a 1967 Dodge van. Vans were a new idea back then, and they became very popular, they still are to this day. I had intentions of converting it into a camper van. After buying the trailer that notion changed. I did build a section behind the rear seat to give the kids a place to play and to nap when we drove. Barb made curtains for all the windows in the back to keep the sun from burning the kid up. That van remained our faithful camping partner for five years. Then, I stepped up to another van, a larger one, with more power, and air-conditioning. We became a two-van family. I sold off my going to work car which was a Toyota Corolla wagon. It was a genuine pre-quality Japanese piece of shit. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it after only two years. I didn’t buy another Toyota until thirty seven years later. It happens to be the best most reliable car I ever owned, and I still have it.

With the new van I sold off Gypsy II and bought a new pop-up trailer with very firm side walls and solid top and a complete kitchen. We named it G3. Our camping trips became more frequent and we ventured much further from home. One summer, I took the trailer back to the manufacturer for warranty work. G3 was stolen from the manufacturing company in Indiana. Eventually G3 was replaced by G4. Five years later I bought a new GMC van with a super interior and a coral full of horses under the hood (~400 HP) it pulled that big trailer like it wasn’t even there. We took the adventure camping trip of our lives, a five week tour of National Parks extending from Chicago to Seattle, down to Los Angeles, and back to Chicago via the Grand Canyon and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The only regret I have about that trip is that it should have been ten weeks instead of five. As it turned out, that was the last time we had all three of our kids with us on a vacation at the same time. The next year the two older ones got jobs and we couldn’t travel long distances any more. Barb had totally adapted to the camping lifestyle and became a magnificent planner for meals along the way. She pre-cooked and froze many meals which we kept frozen until we needed them. She needed a vacation from cooking too, and this is how she accomplished that. We enjoyed her home cooking away from home.

A couple of years after that Barb was diagnosed with breast cancer. One way she used to beat the deadly beast was to dream about camping. I found a used almost new class C, mini-motorhome, and bought it. She and I used it to take respite trips to help her forget her battle with the disease. Our youngest was eleven, and he traveled with us as we explored Canada and the Eastern states. another five years later we used the MH to take respite trips when Barb was caring for her dying mother 24/7.

After our young son was in college I finally sold the motor home and Barb and I began taking trips using airplanes and staying in hotels. We often discussed camping, but never did again. Instead I wanted to show her the hotel lifestyle and to give her a complete vacations without cooking. She loved it and so did I.

Today, I watched a half a dozen short videos on people who live in their cars or who convert a van to live in. I loved it still, the juices are flowing again. I’m afraid however that I would not fare well sleeping in my Toyota while camping in the wilds of Wyoming and Montana. I’d need a more substantial living space and a more drivable vehicle. It would have to be a professional van conversion with total off the grid capabilities, and I’d have to stay in super-safe campgrounds away from the wilde-beastes.

My how times have changed as has my penchant for adventure.

Cross At Your Own Risk

Illinois is a great state to live in if you are socialist. We put California and New York to shame when it comes to one party politics, graft, and families who make politics a business. Our last election put a democrat governor back in the statehouse and our legislature can’t increase taxes fast enough. The increases are not going to fix real problems but to fuel unmet pension obligations for public sector workers. By law the pensions are funded every year, but our politicians have seen fit to use the money elsewhere. The funds are in dire straits. My town is loaded with retired teachers and supervisors. All I can say is what I observe. These people live a whole lot better on a pension than they did working.

Meanwhile we have some very serious infrastructure problems which are going unaddressed. One in particular is the Inter-state 80 bridge over the DesPlaines river in Joliet. Here is how the Illinois politicians have addressed the problem.

https://www.fox32chicago.com/news/392512332-video

By the  time you see this sign it is too late to exit I80. To convince myself of the seriousness I tested the bridge last Saturday afternoon by driving over it. The structure seems to be sound, but the road surface is a total mess. I found my self in the center lane of the three lane road. I could not change lanes because I was in a sea of trucks in front, back, and on the side. I slowed down to make myself feel like that was the correct thing to do. At the very center of the crossing the road surface dips a full four inches over a twelve foot span. On land this would not concern me, but while crossing a river a hundred feet in the air it scared the crap out of me. On land when a road dips it is because the roadbed has compacted but on a bridge there is no dirt below the road surface, only air. This is a terrible accident waiting to happen at any moment.

Why is IDOT waiting to repair the problem? Good question with many answers none of which will hold water after the section of road decides to take a swim. On my return trip I exited the interstate one mile before the bridge and took the city streets. I’m lucky I know the area well enough to be able to do that. What if you are a vacationer from another state passing through. You will ignore the sign even if you do see it, and proceed.

Anyway, when the event finally happens Illinois will be on the map right up there with California and New York. The world will see the news broadcasts of our finest politicians passing the buck and blaming the republicans. Oh wait, they can’t do that there are no republicans.

Why is this bridge crumbling? It is a long story. Once upon a time there was a Congressman from Frankfort whose name was George Sangemeister. There was also a giant parcel of US Government land know as the Joliet Arsenal. George wanted to leave a legacy so he legislated that the land should go back to the people. The arsenal was no longer being used to make bullets, bombs, and torpedos, and is made good sense. George’s plan split the land into three parcels. The first parcel created the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery for veterans. The second parcel created Midewin National Tall Grass Prairie. The final parcel was designated for business. I’m sure George made some side money on that one. The business that settled there is a giant terminal for transporting goods coming from China. This is the culprit. There are thousands of trucks coming into and out of the terminal. Container trains come in from the east and the west they get unloaded and then trucked to our local Dollar General stores with all the crap the Chinese send us. We get cheap goods to fill our garages and basements with and the states get a bill to rebuild highways, and  bridges. Now how cheap is that? What we don’t pay for in goods we wind up paying for infrastructure.

GR3A0941AbeElwood Enterpise Zone22032357_119192876909

 

Another Sub-culture

Nomadland-41JTQFGLbDL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Many times while traveling in National Parks I struck up a conversation with a worker. They were either behind a counter or cleaning a campsite. I thirsted for knowledge about how and why they got the jobs they had. What I learned is that many of them were retirees who just wanted to spend time in a beautiful place. Who could argue that? Spend a summer in Yellowstone National Park, or Sequoia, or a winter in the Everglades, why not?

I often thought of myself doing the same, but never had the nerve to follow through. Mostly, because my wife Barb wasn’t on the same page as I was. Then after she died, I did embark on a solo journey, but it wasn’t to a national park. I rented a condo in Arizona for two months to grieve. We had often talked of retiring to Arizona, and this was my way of taking her with me to finally do it. Never mind all the excuses I had before, my kids were grown and on their own, I retired from my job, the house could stand a winter without me. What about my  friends? Well, except for one young lady, I didn’t have any friends, and she was too young to leave her job to come with me. The telephone would be my link to friends.

This week I picked up a book titled Nomadland, it spoke to me, and I loved it. This author chronicled the life I had dreamed of creating for myself. There is a big difference between my way and the way of the people she wrote about. Her people were all sixty somethings who lost jobs, and then homes, and were left without a way to live. In order to survive they managed to learn to live in vans, trailers, motor-homes, tents, or anything that could shelter them from elements because the only jobs they could find didn’t pay enough to rent a room and eat too.  Jessica Bruder followed these people for three years, and even joined them in a van of her own to experience what it was like to live in their community. There are thousands of these nomads living this lifestyle because of the independence they get and because they can’t afford anything better. They skip from campground to campground to avoid rent, and take part-time jobs with companies who offer seasonal work just to make gas money and sustenance. Would you believe that one of the largest employers of part time nomads is Amazon? Yes Amazon, actually recruits workers through their branch called Amazon CamperForce. The stories Bruder relates to working at Amazon Fulfilment Centers are crazy. Can you imagine sixty somethings logging 12-15 miles walking daily inside one of these big box warehouses scanning goods to either put away or to remove for shipping for ten to twelve hours a day?  I can’t either, but it is happening right now in a place near you. The people doing it don’t really like it but it allows them to make money to live their lifestyle. Many of them refer to Amazon as the largest slave keeper in the world.

I enjoyed reading these stories and following the campers as they moved from city to city to attend events like the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in the desert near Quartzsite, Arizona. I remember passing through Quartzsite on Inter-state ten on my way to California. It looked like a giant flea market from the road I never wandered off to see if there actually was a city there too, next time I will for sure.

If you are into reading books about our American culture and how people cope with life this is a great read. I give it five stars.

Map-to-RTR

Excellent advice to avoid Flagstaff on your way to warmer climates during winter months.nter a caption

images (2)RTR-amazondsc01402andrew_waits_a15images (1)

rtrspread

Amazing Adventure

mqdefault-2.jpg

One of many items on my bucket list is to read the biographies of all the Presidents. So far I have read about twenty. The book I just completed is a piece of the life of Theodore Roosevelt. Imagine living a life so rich in accomplishment that a major adventure fills a book and is just a small part of one’s life.

Teddy Roosevelt had just lost the election to become President of the USA for a third term. He tried what is today described as a losing affair. Teddy formed a third-party he called the Bull Moose party to run against Woodrow Wilson a democrat who today is by some considered to be one of the greatest presidents that we ever had. Others, like myself consider him to be the father of American Progressivism, or Socialism. Nevertheless, Roosevelt lost big. In his recovery from the loss, he was talked into making a speaking tour of South America. To make a dull trip more exciting he chose to add an adventure to his itinerary. A friend talked him into an exploration of a little known river in Brazil. The friend imagined the tour to be an easy down river float with all the comforts of home, including chef cooked meals of extraordinary cuisine, and fine wines. Roosevelt’s biggest mistake was to trust the friend to plan and outfit the excursion.

While in South America giving speeches, he met a man known for exploring the Brazilian rain forests. The man, Cândido Mariano da Silva Rondon, suggested to Roosevelt that his expedition explore a totally unknown one thousand mile long tributary of the Amazon called the River of Doubt. The adventure would allow Rondon to put this river on the map. The idea appealed to Roosevelt and the whole trip changed in character.

Author Candice Millard crafted an extraordinary narrative from details recorded by members of the expedition. The story keeps the reader interested throughout. This story would make an excellent adventure movie, but it is too big to tell, and was made into a series.

Strange Travel

TRAVEL PLANS FOR 2017
1.    I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone.  You have to be in Cahoots with someone.  
incahoots-roadsign2.jpg
2.    I’ve also never been in Cognito.  I hear no one recognizes you there.
 map.png
3.   I have, however, been in Sane.  They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there.  I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.
northernmichiganasylumctraversecitymi.jpg
4.     I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore. 
conclusion.jpg
5.  I have also been in Doubt.  That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.
military-humor-when-in-doubt-poop-tank-600x336.jpg
6.   I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm. 
How-Flexible-is-TOO-Flexible.jpg
7.  Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older. 
capable-2.jpg
8.  One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense!  It really gets the adrenaline flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age, I need all the stimuli I can get!
puerta_misteriosa_dark_door.jpg
KetoJENic Vibe

Keto Junkie 🥓🥑🍳 Health and Wellness based, Easy Recipes, and Keto Product Reviews

Quotes Database

Your Site Of Influential Quotes!

The Lockdown Chef

A cooking survival guide for those who don't know how

myserenewords

Seeking Solace in the Horizon of Life & Beyond.

MRS. T’S CORNER

https://www.tangietwoods

Parties & Events

events, fun

ESL Ventures

Teach ESL and Travel the World

Survival Garden

How to make it

Heart Felt

This platform is for the people who likes to talk straight from the heart🤩

Suzette B's Blog

Inspiration and spirituality **Award Free**

Bhutadarma

Nothing is impossible (at least that does not violate the laws of physics). When you can..violate the laws of physics!

I Know I Made You Smile

cartoons/humor/fiction/nonfiction

galesmind

Come take a journey through my mind

Nutsrok

The humor and humanity of storytelling.

Gamintraveler

Travel Couple and Digital Nomads on a World Travel

summershaffer

A topnotch WordPress.com site

blogsense-by-barb

at the Re-Birth of America!

The Honking Goose

something to honk about

THE WAKING GIANT

United States Second Amendment Pitbull

Caustic Synergy

United and alone in the world

Aspiring Conservative

Conservative blog with articles about today's politics!