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21 Years in a 1973 Dodge Van




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#61 Barbuchon

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Posted April 14 2008 - 01:04 PM

This is the best thread i've ever found on hipforums (it's been few years)..!

I just wish you could share some of your stories without us asking... There's so much to cover and you are the only one that knows what you've been trought.

#62 Mr.Anonymous

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Posted April 15 2008 - 10:33 PM

Hey there TwoDogs, I just wanted to say thank you for being an inspiration. I've explained some things about myself in my introduction, but I wanted to say thank you personally. I've always had it in my nature to be a wonderer, but you are a real encouragement that it can be done. I've had my eye on an old Ford conversion van that can be had for cheap, and I'll be picking that up as soon as funds allow. Then I'm going to pack up, and head for... well, you say you like Arizona pretty well, huh? You've made me realize what freedom really is, and by sharing your story I feel I've really been blessed by you, and I hope that all is well for you in your journeys ahead.

#63 TwoDogs

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Posted April 18 2008 - 06:54 PM

This is the best thread i've ever found on hipforums (it's been few years)..!

I just wish you could share some of your stories without us asking... There's so much to cover and you are the only one that knows what you've been trought.

Thanks again Barbuchon.

There's so much to talk about and relate but...I don't know what is of interest to others and what is just of interest to me. Cruising in a different direction every day on foot after parking at the end of a dirt road I've found so many things that fascinate me but may be of little interest to others. I've had run-ins with mountain lions, bear, javelina, deer, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, you name it.

In a secluded wash I stumbled across a Native American sweat lodge that is still in use today. I found a pet cemetery that had it's origin in the 40's and is still being used by the "Bright Family" to this day. It was so unexpected and touching. That's why it's so much easier to have people ask and then respond. I'll tell you what...make it out here and I'll show you things that words can't explain. We'll cruise some ruins that have been left alone since the original inhabitants lived there. Tiny corncobs are still scattered over the area. All the stone tools are still sitting there. If people had found these places the artifacts would be gone.
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#64 TwoDogs

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Posted April 18 2008 - 06:57 PM

Hey there TwoDogs, I just wanted to say thank you for being an inspiration. I've explained some things about myself in my introduction, but I wanted to say thank you personally. I've always had it in my nature to be a wonderer, but you are a real encouragement that it can be done. I've had my eye on an old Ford conversion van that can be had for cheap, and I'll be picking that up as soon as funds allow. Then I'm going to pack up, and head for... well, you say you like Arizona pretty well, huh? You've made me realize what freedom really is, and by sharing your story I feel I've really been blessed by you, and I hope that all is well for you in your journeys ahead.

Thank you for the kind words. When you get your van make a trip out here and I'll give you the same tour I've offered Barbuchon.
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#65 sunshine gal

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Posted April 18 2008 - 08:07 PM

hey there fellow dog lover! i just started reading you on here. how interesting of a creature you are!! well my name is lori and i would love to chat with you...email me if u wish at oreoj3@aol.com. i shall wait to hear from you....

:rockon:



#66 Barbuchon

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Posted April 18 2008 - 10:16 PM

Thanks again Barbuchon.

There's so much to talk about and relate but...I don't know what is of interest to others and what is just of interest to me. Cruising in a different direction every day on foot after parking at the end of a dirt road I've found so many things that fascinate me but may be of little interest to others. I've had run-ins with mountain lions, bear, javelina, deer, rattlesnakes, tarantulas, you name it.

In a secluded wash I stumbled across a Native American sweat lodge that is still in use today. I found a pet cemetery that had it's origin in the 40's and is still being used by the "Bright Family" to this day. It was so unexpected and touching. That's why it's so much easier to have people ask and then respond. I'll tell you what...make it out here and I'll show you things that words can't explain. We'll cruise some ruins that have been left alone since the original inhabitants lived there. Tiny corncobs are still scattered over the area. All the stone tools are still sitting there. If people had found these places the artifacts would be gone.


That sure sounds interesting! If it wasn't about the money, or life I have built here, I would really love to... I'm kinda tired to restart my things all over again everywhere.

I'd throw you some topics I'd like you to cover so this may help you for some writtings. By the way you give good answer, you are such a great character man.

I'd like to know more about the bound or connection you have with your two dogs, they gotta be your brothers!

I'd like to know more about how you find your spots (wildlife), do you have some tricks... I seem to have some trouble looking for one, somewhere I can park my car in the middle without being seen, and as possible set a little camp... what's your way to cover your ass if something happens. And when you are riding for it, what's the best way to run into them.

I used to be a lot in the wild myself too in the past... I used to deal with lots of loneliness and time to kill... what's your way to deal with them... Do you have some sort of hobby, what do you do when you are once on spot exept for trekking, scouting the area.

What were your best times of this trip?

How do you see life after all this, what's your philosophy?

Is there anything you would have change after all this?

What were the most valuable lessons you have learned trought all this?

That might only be me, but I've found people on the road a lot of the time too fucked up for me, like the road belonged to the crazy one, while I was just a calm kid that was just seeking for nature and scenary and maybe some adventure like in our dreams... But you often found drugs, alcohol, sorrow...

What are your toughts on that...


Sorry "bout my english I'm a french canadian.

#67 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 02:23 AM

That sure sounds interesting! If it wasn't about the money, or life I have built here, I would really love to... I'm kinda tired to restart my things all over again everywhere.

If you get some time to get away just shoot down for a week or two and check it out if you want to...open invitation.

I'd like to know more about the bound or connection you have with your two dogs, they gotta be your brothers!

My big fluffy white dog, TwoSpot, is the son of my last male dog that was with me for 13 years. The scruffy little terrier mix is BabyGirl. I rescued her from the back of a black pick-up truck at the swapmeet in Prescott Valley, AZ. This guy had 7 puppies in the back of the truck with no shade in the middle of the Summer. He said he wasn't leaving until they were all gone. I walked around the swapmeet for a while and when I came back I got the last one that no one wanted. I couldn't stand to see her fry in the back of that truck any longer.

My dogs and I are together 24 hours a day. We communicate on all sorts of levels. They are extremely in tune with patterns and progressions of events. They know 7 or 8 moves ahead that we're going for a walk and start getting excited. BabyGirl especially, she has these ear-splitting yips that she uses to convey her impatience if I don't get moving quickly enough. And God help me when I start breaking out the metal detector! She goes CRAZY! She knows when she sees it that we're going rabbit hunting. Every time we go metal detecting we spook at least one rabbit and now she seems to put the two events together. She goes twice as crazy than if we're just going for a walk.

We have a great bond. We're inseparable.

I'd like to know more about how you find your spots (wildlife), do you have some tricks... I seem to have some trouble looking for one, somewhere I can park my car in the middle without being seen, and as possible set a little camp... what's your way to cover your ass if something happens. And when you are riding for it, what's the best way to run into them.

I just drive out to the end of a dirt road and hang out usually. I'm trying to see what's down every dirt road in my area and I'll die of old age before I'll get to see them all. Of course I have my favorite spots too that I return to again and again. Water is a big deal in the desert and knowing where the springs are, or the sandstone washes that hold water for a long time after a rain helps. Water always draws the wildlife.

I spent a week up on the side of a mountain and every night about sunset a mountain lion would scream it's displeasure at having to share the mountain with a stinky human and his stinkier dogs. After about 3 days I found out why it was upset, I was parked about 500 feet from it's latest kill...a mule deer doe. I followed my nose one day and found what was left of it stashed under a juniper tree.

I used to be a lot in the wild myself too in the past... I used to deal with lots of loneliness and time to kill... what's your way to deal with them... Do you have some sort of hobby, what do you do when you are once on spot exept for trekking, scouting the area.


I listen to a lot of music. I have a GREAT stereo system. Sometimes I'll read, I work on jewelry occasionally, fix pocket watches, mechanic on the van or just scope out the ground for artifacts in the area. I'm never bored. There's always something interesting to do.

What were your best times of this trip?

This is probably the toughest question you've asked. Exploring new places, or new areas of old places gives me the greatest pleasure, I think. Second has to be the run-ins with the wildlife. To sit on that hilltop and watch with binoculars as a mountain lion glided across the plain below had to be one of the most beautiful things I ever saw. It sent chills up my spine. Oh...also the sunsets are incredible up here in the high desert.

How do you see life after all this, what's your philosophy?

I see life as the most precious thing that exists in this universe, but conversely, I'm ready to go when it's my time. No kicking...no screaming. I've lived an interesting and full life. From a kid in NYC to a crusty old fart in the AZ. boonies. From one end of the spectrum to the other. From Chaos to Peace. I've made plenty of mistakes and tried to learn from them. I'm not saying that I've never made the same mistake twice, mind you. But...I've learned what works for me.

My philosophy? Don't be afraid to grab for the ring. Carpe diem!

Is there anything you would have change after all this?

Nope. Every single thing that has happened in my life is what makes me who and what I am today. I love my life and I like who I am. I didn't care much for myself for the first 34 years...I was a pretty bad dude, but...change one thing and it would alter everything.

What were the most valuable lessons you have learned trought all this?

I have to reply that it's that you HAVE to follow your heart...no matter how scary it may seem. I've found that "The devil you that DO know is NOT better than the one that you don't know." To allow fear of the unknown, or perhaps the lack of all the comforts stop one from following his/her dream is insanity. A lot of people confuse luxuries with necessities. The fact of the matter is that I found out how simply one can live and still enjoy life and it suits me. Maybe it's not for everyone out there, but it suits me just fine. There is no one in my circle of friends and acquaintances that is anywhere close to being as financially poor as I am, but most of them envy me. Go figure.

That might only be me, but I've found people on the road a lot of the time too fucked up for me, like the road belonged to the crazy one, while I was just a calm kid that was just seeking for nature and scenary and maybe some adventure like in our dreams... But you often found drugs, alcohol, sorrow...

What are your toughts on that...

For the first half of my life I was one of those crazies. No more...
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#68 sonik

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Posted April 19 2008 - 04:08 AM

Fantastic post and great outlook on life!

This may have been asked before, but how hard of decision was it for you to start living this way? What were some of the biggest adjustments you have found and had to make?

#69 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 10:45 AM

Fantastic post and great outlook on life!

This may have been asked before, but how hard of decision was it for you to start living this way? What were some of the biggest adjustments you have found and had to make?

I'll be honest...even though it was a childhood dream of mine to live in a van...giving up apartment life was a bit scary. I had just gotten back into a mainstream sort of lifestyle after many years of battling alcohol and living out of a sleepingbag in culverts or where ever I could bed down. 1n 1985 a gentleman in Cottonwood, AZ. gave me, and took a chance on me by giving me a job. Having been a road tramp for all those years made it a bit easier, though, moving from an apartment into a van was still a giant leap upward from moving back into a cardboard box.

I think that the biggest adjustment was living a life without alcohol. I had never wanted a vehicle while I was drinking because I knew what would happen...sooner or later I would kill myself or someone else. I was six months dry when the van fell into my lap. I was also just about to become unemployed. The way it all happened is just like throwing a box of jigsaw pieces onto a table and have them fall in such a way as to complete the puzzle. It still amazes me when I look back at how things came to be. If I had planned it all it couldn't have worked out better.
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#70 Barbuchon

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Posted April 19 2008 - 11:10 AM

Do you have some tips on how to start a van from scratch? I'm not looking for the same lifestyle because of some issues of my past. But I live this way if we could say somehow "part time"..!

I might be looking to start a van eventually when we are done building the garage soon this spring. My buddy is a good mechanic guy and I'm a contruction worker pretty handy and arty.

Do you have any special idea of what would be cool since I have kind of a huge income.

#71 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 06:00 PM

The first thing that I did was insulate and panel the walls and roof. Then I built my bed. As mentioned...a hinged top front third with a divider beneath to stash clothes or whatever. My bed goes from side to side rather than back to front. Plywood and then carpeting on the floor. My carpeting runs a third of the way up the walls for even more insulation.

A solar panel is a must if you're going to run any electronics. A two battery system is nice but not absolutely necessary. Spare parts, tools, a jack and tire iron are a must. A spare tire, of course.

Then it's up to you to make it a home.
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#72 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 06:56 PM

Okay folks. Here's some pics from my road trip last fall to get together with my California Hippie Chicklet in South Lake Tahoe.

One of the places that I stopped to spend the night on the way there. About a mile or two off the highway in western Nevada just north of Town of Walker Lake.

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Lake Tahoe. What's that white crap on the mountains?

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On the road back I stopped by the Walker River to walk the dogs.

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I decided to hit Death Valley on the way back to AZ. Here's Scotty's Castle at the northern end.

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#73 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 07:05 PM

I decided to head out to "The Devil's Racetrack" since I was in the neighborhood. If you aren't familiar with the place, rocks move and leave trails across a dry lake bed. People say that when it rains that the mud gets slick and the wind blows the rocks. No one has ever witnessed this phenomenon and it's never been captured on film. I saw things that make me doubt that explanation.

First, it's 27 miles of BAD dirt road to get out there. Here's where I spent the night...Teakettle Junction. Reason for the name is in the next pic.

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Teakettle Junction.

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#74 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 07:12 PM

Here's the "Racetrack" and the left half of what is called "The Grandstand." It's the only large thing that disturbs many, many acres of dry lake bed.

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Here's some racing rocks and the almost perfectly straight trails behind.

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The rocks aren't very fast. My dogs had no problem catching one. It's odd that they were both drawn to the rocks. They sensed something strange. BabyGirl pretty much stalked the rock.

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#75 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 07:21 PM

One of the strangest things is the number of rocks that are missing. These dead-ended trails are over a mile from the parking area and I seriously doubt that someone carried a big rock off as a souvenir. As you can see...these missing rocks were LARGE.

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Do you think that the wind REALLY blew this rock?

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And what about this? Was that rock caught in a dust devil?

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Look at the smaller rock's trail...it's pretty straight. How could the wind have moved the larger rock in the opposite direction without the smaller rock being affected Look at the larger rock's trail. What made it change direction? Peer pressure?

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#76 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 07:30 PM

Here's a better shot.

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Look at the size of this rock. it has a jagged edge protruding from the bottom. How easily do you think this big honkin' rock slides?

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On the way back out from "The Devil's Racetrack" I stopped at The Ubehebe Crater. Here's a shot from a distance of all the black cinders that were blown out by the volcano.

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The eruption here was so violent that it blew the entire volcanic cone into the surrounding countryside leaving bare rock behind. If you've ever looked into a volcanic cone you know that this isn't usually the case. There's usually a basalt cone.

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#77 TwoDogs

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Posted April 19 2008 - 07:32 PM

A couple more shots from the crater.

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#78 scatteredleaves

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Posted April 19 2008 - 08:03 PM

wow! what an amazing landscape. ive never been anywhere like that before. i cant wait to hit the road!
those rocks are incredible :O

#79 Barbuchon

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Posted April 20 2008 - 06:01 PM

man that is so weird..!

#80 sapientia

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Posted April 21 2008 - 04:28 PM

Very inspiring, in fact. this is my first post here.

Ive dreamed of living out of a backpack, or a van. one day i will get to it.

i have a few questions.. do you always stay on BLM or other public lands? where do you mostly sleep, and how often to you rotate, or move spots?
do you think your strategy could work in any kind of an urban environment, or slightly more civilized areas?

what sorts of things do you do or have you done to create money?

thanks alot! and you are an inspiration to us all.

#81 Barbuchon

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Posted April 22 2008 - 12:28 PM

Very inspiring, in fact. this is my first post here.

Ive dreamed of living out of a backpack, or a van. one day i will get to it.

i have a few questions.. do you always stay on BLM or other public lands? where do you mostly sleep, and how often to you rotate, or move spots?
do you think your strategy could work in any kind of an urban environment, or slightly more civilized areas?

what sorts of things do you do or have you done to create money?

thanks alot! and you are an inspiration to us all.

Dude.. you should have the respect to the topic starter to at least read the whole post before asking any questions... Most answers are already there...

For the urban environment, don't make your van look to much hippie, taint the windows, or better, have no windows. Don't let your van park there for too long, you should always park somewhere different. But some boss would let you park your van at the job... (farms, and yeah there's farms really REALLY close to the city... at least from where I am). I guess you'd have to be as silent as possible when you just park somewhere in urban area. To me that's just too much problems.

#82 BobbinBecca

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Posted April 22 2008 - 03:04 PM

[For the urban environment, don't make your van look to much hippie, taint the windows, or better, have no windows. Don't let your van park there for too long, you should always park somewhere different. But some boss would let you park your van at the job... (farms, and yeah there's farms really REALLY close to the city... at least from where I am). I guess you'd have to be as silent as possible when you just park somewhere in urban area. To me that's just too much problems.[/QUOTE]
Yeah, I lived out of my van for 6 months in 1998 in and around San Fran... funny that two dogs got a cop visit once in 21 years and I got visits probably 20 times in 6 months. In the city always moving around is a must, except that every new place someone will potentially call in the cops on you. but if you stay too long in one place someone will call too. We always moved during the day for jobs or whatever but eventually couldn't handle the city "camping." The safest spots are by busy roads and that's really not fun at night, with your van rocking as the big cars go by, a random honking waking you up for a time, someone with their brights on flashing by waking up your cop instinct. We stayed by the city for work and there were good things about it, no rent was great and we'd drop a hundred on fancy wine every now and again. Mighta stuck with it and learned a few things except we got pregnant and my parents would not have stood for their grandchild living in a van. Actually, their child either, but we did this when it was legal to have a private mailbox with a seeming apartment address, now your physical address has to be registered when you get a mailbox and the mailbox address has to have "PMB" not "#" "unit" or "apt". So you can't trick your rents into thinking your legit city. ;-) But my question for two dogs is, do you have a mailing address? Insurance/registration needs something, right?

I plan to do this one day again, but don't know how you could do it without human companionship for so many days on end. I guess the chicklet lives in your heart even when you're far away? Even with different interests I'd rather van it with a person, but maybe that's just my age, my time in life right now. Now we got kids but we'd love to swing down and get a tour of the area on a summer camp. We camped by Verde HS and there was cell coverage because of the power station, which was on its way to shutting down, but I was able to work on the internet while camping out there. What a beautiful area!

So I can't believe you don't have a tarp or awning setup when you camp out in the desert boonies. Is this to be on the down low or just no space? Hummer makes a nice one for their rigs that mounts to the roof and pulls out over the back. Of course a tarp can do this trick too!
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#83 sapientia

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Posted April 23 2008 - 09:51 AM

i did read the whole thing. maybe i missed something though.

good question about the mailing address for insurance.

#84 xexon

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Posted April 25 2008 - 06:43 AM

Twodogs,

Ever been to the meteor crater? It looks more like a canyon when you stand on the edge of it.

I think you'll like New Mexico. I spent a little over a year working in Alamogordo. Nice country. White sands is interesting. And the Stealth fighters based at next door Holloman AFB fly overhead daily. They look like black arrowheads slicing the sky.

I can't stand the heat or the crappy water though.

Where I live (in a coastal rainforest), it seldom gets above 70.



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#85 TwoDogs

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Posted April 25 2008 - 09:41 PM

But my question for two dogs is, do you have a mailing address? Insurance/registration needs something, right?

I plan to do this one day again, but don't know how you could do it without human companionship for so many days on end. I guess the chicklet lives in your heart even when you're far away? Even with different interests I'd rather van it with a person, but maybe that's just my age, my time in life right now. Now we got kids but we'd love to swing down and get a tour of the area on a summer camp. We camped by Verde HS and there was cell coverage because of the power station, which was on its way to shutting down, but I was able to work on the internet while camping out there. What a beautiful area!

So I can't believe you don't have a tarp or awning setup when you camp out in the desert boonies. Is this to be on the down low or just no space? Hummer makes a nice one for their rigs that mounts to the roof and pulls out over the back. Of course a tarp can do this trick too!

I have a P.O. box for all business and bill related stuff. My "physical address" is Duff Flats Road, Clarkdale, AZ. There are many areas of the county which don't receive P.O. delivery so I'm not hassled about my address.

Yes...the Verde Hot Springs area is beautiful. They're about 35 miles downriver from my neck of the woods.

One of the reasons that I've only had one run-in with Rangers is that I never show any signs of permanance. If I sit in a camp chair I put it away when I'm done. If I cook hotdogs or hamburgers I dismantle the fire ring as soon as I'm done cooking. To the casual onlooker it's tough to tell if I'm just there for the day or what.
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#86 TwoDogs

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Posted April 25 2008 - 09:48 PM

i have a few questions.. do you always stay on BLM or other public lands? where do you mostly sleep, and how often to you rotate, or move spots?

Always on public lands.

do you think your strategy could work in any kind of an urban environment, or slightly more civilized areas?

There are people that live in nothing but Wal-Mart and Safeway parking lots. I've never understood why someone would want constant noise while they're trying to relax. Must be the herd instinct. I guess if the cost of gas is a consideration I could understand.

what sorts of things do you do or have you done to create money?

I work occasionally at a welding shop and do swapmeets during the summer.
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#87 TwoDogs

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Posted April 25 2008 - 09:53 PM

Twodogs,

Ever been to the meteor crater? It looks more like a canyon when you stand on the edge of it.

Yes. A couple of times. Pretty cool place.

I think you'll like New Mexico. I spent a little over a year working in Alamogordo. Nice country. White sands is interesting. And the Stealth fighters based at next door Holloman AFB fly overhead daily. They look like black arrowheads slicing the sky.

I lived in Las Cruces for four winters in the early Eighties. Who knows, we might have crossed paths. When you were in 'gordo did you ever have a car or truck repo'ed by a scruffy old hippie dude?
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#88 xexon

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Posted April 26 2008 - 10:26 AM

No. I was last down there in 98/99.

Las Cruces is a party town. College kids everywhere.

Alamogordo is a weird place. Very "white" town with all the military there. There's even a contingent of the German Air Force that trains at the base. Their jets are LOUD. The ranchers hate the way they scare their cattle.

Cloudcroft, up the mountain about 16 miles, is a tiny town on a mountaintop. Over 8000 ft up, it's very much an oasis in the desert. Big trees and everything. They got burned out pretty bad a few years back.


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Zionism is to the Jewish people what Nazis were to the German people.
Something that needs to be stopped before it spreads.

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#89 sunshine gal

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Posted May 03 2008 - 09:22 AM

Two dogs...how r u? Havent recieved an email from u latley. Must be I scared you off or something?? Hope things are going well 4 u and your dogs.

#90 TwoDogs

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Posted May 04 2008 - 08:58 AM

Two dogs...how r u? Havent recieved an email from u latley. Must be I scared you off or something?? Hope things are going well 4 u and your dogs.

I've been having some things to deal with that haven't really made for a pleasant two weeks. I haven't been in the mood for conversation with anyone but my dogs. And PLEASE don't forward any more generic internet emails...they're ALWAYS nothing that I care to read and are deleted as soon as I see "fwd" in the title line.
The internet allows me to meet every butthead in the world that I won't get to meet in person.




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