Life on the Open Road (April 2006 - May 2008)

The continuing saga of a single fulltime RVer who travels the western US. This is part one of my journey, from April 2006, when the blog started, to May 2008, when the blog continues at

My Photo

I have been a full-time RVer for 18 years, primarily "boondocking," camping free without hookups, in the Western US. I am connected electronically with the world via satellite TV, phone and internet. My batteries are charged solely by solar panels. I welcome your comments and emails.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Cranbrook, BC

Our RV group is doing a tour of BC and Alberta this summer, and we joined them here. We were all settled in at the casino outside Cranbrook, when the casino folks decided not to allow overnight parking anymore. With a holiday weekend coming up (July 1st is Canada Day), we were in a real bind. But the nice folks of Cranbrook, in particular the principal of Parkland Middle School, invited us to stay in their parking lot. It’s a little crowded, but we’re happy, and getting to know each other a little better...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

More on Glacier National Park

While visiting the park, we stayed in Whitefish, Montana. It’s a wonderful old railroad town, kind of old-fashioned. I felt like you could leave your door unlocked there.

I wanted to do some hiking up at the pass in the park, but there was still a lot of snow there. I did drive over the pass to Saint Mary Lake (picture #1). I then hiked 2 miles in to Avalanche Lake, which is at a lower elevation. Returning from the lake, a mule deer let me follow along behind him on the trail. He didn’t seem concerned about me at all. The third picture is of Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Helicopter Tour of Glacier National Park

I decided about a year ago that I should do more tours by helicopter or small plane of areas that it is impossible or too difficult to hike to. This one has to be the crown jewel of them all. Wow! I even got to sit in the front seat. (The trick to getting the front seat is to go on the tour by yourself.)


Mobile Codger Rendevous

I have discussed with Scott Legear and Al Vargas the idea of creating the world’s first Mobile Codger Rendevous; a gathering of independent, freedom-loving, wandering, eccentric souls for purposes of comradeship, information exchange and inspiration–somewhat like the rendevous of mountain men a century ago.

We could focus on common concerns such as free boondocking places (escape from heat, cold, hassle, sameness; the city challenge), dealing with authority, technology (that liberates, connects, amuses), rigs (tweaking secrets), strange and wonderful experiences, hobbies, etc.
And–we will elect from our number a King of Mobile Codgers.

Location and time are still under discussion. The Slabs, Anza Borrego, and Ajo after Thanksgiving have been mentioned. We will cast a wide net inviting SKP Boondocker and Boomer codgers, WIN codgers, Freeroaders, etc. More later. Open to ideas!


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good Reason to Be Mobile #1

Smelled some roses cycling by
Sweet aroma on the fly
The owner noticed less than I

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The River of No Return

Shopping in Salmon, Idaho, we learned an odd fact: One-third of the land area of Idaho is occupied by only 5000 people. A glance at the map shows the central section is a vast and dangerous wilderness area, sliced in half by the raging Salmon River. It has earned the name, "The River of No Return."

Lewis and Clark strongly considered canoeing down it to the Pacific. After exploring 27 downstream miles, a scouting party returned exhausted and said in substance, "No way, Jose!" The explorers wisely chose to trudge on northward 100 miles to Lolo and then cross the mountains on horseback.

We drove downstream from North Fork 20 miles to confirm Lewis’ judgement. President Carter was not intimidated, however. He rafted through the worst of it clear across the state to Riggins. We stayed the night on the north bank of the river.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sawtooth Valley

Leaving Ketchum, we drove north over Galena Pass into the Sawtooth Valley. The valley is bordered by the Sawtooth Mountains and is the birthplace of the Salmon River. We've followed the river all the way to our current location, just south of Salmon, ID. Each time, we've camped along the river, primarily at Sportsman’s Access Areas. The river is very high and therefore not good for fishing, but Ron actually caught one today. He threw it back, but he said it was just huge. Hmmmmm.....

Idaho is loaded with wonderful natural hot springs. The one pictured is called Russian John, north of Ketchum near MM 146. What a beautiful back drop! The other picture is the Sawtooths and Redfish Lake.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ketchum, Idaho

This is the vacation home of the rich and famous. Along with Barb and Ron, we settled ourselves 5 miles out of town on Trail Creek Rd in the National Forest. Later, we also found lots of wonderful, free, officially numbered campsites on Corral Creek road nearby. The photos are of our campsite and the view out our front window. The area is surprisingly sparsely used–we saw only 3 other campers.

Three minutes away at Sun Valley, the wealthy spend gobs doing wealthy-folk things. Also within minutes are the vacation homes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, Paul Allen, and lots of other celebrities, who come here to escape the spotlight. Locals, by unspoken consent, do not hassle them when they are out and about. We visited Hemingway’s grave; he killed himself here in the 60s when his cancer got too painful.

Fierce thunderstorms and hail swept over us frequently, but in between we managed to hiked some nearby trails. This area had a lot of snow this winter. The rivers and creeks are quite high and the higher trails are still snow-covered and not open yet. It would be better to visit a little later in the summer.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rainy Days in Idaho

Time to be pensive, even philosophical. Here's an excerpt I like from Randy's speech at his 50th high school reunion last October.

When people ask what I do with all my leisure time, I give a Confucian answer: I seek to diminish my faults!

What I do is talk to people, get their story, read books, visit museums, write articles and poems and in general enjoy myself. Often I camp with 50 or so of my friends who have chosen the same wandering lifestyle. Thoreau could have been speaking for me when he said "Time is the stream I go fishing in." I have managed to write these 4 books of poetry which I leave with you.

Now for the greater challenge: What have I learned in my 25 years of travel?

First, that I don’t know anything for sure; all I have are theories which always need revision.

I think its true that journey is more important than destination.

I’ve learned a lot from Thoreau, including the fact that most people do "lead lives of quiet desperation."

And that we work far harder and longer than necessary. "That to maintain oneself on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime if we will live simply and wisely."

"That things are more easily gotten than gotten rid of."

"That we carefully set our traps to catch the good life then turn around and find ourselves caught in our own traps."

I’ve learned that if a person "advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours."

I’ve learned how to have a lot of friends: be interested!

How to have no friends at all: be interesting!

From the movie Harvey I’ve learned that to make it well in life one must be really really smart or really really nice—and that nice is easier.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Stealthmobile

An interior shot with my doors open to the whole Idaho outdoors. I’m happy and comfortable in this little house I’ve built inside a cargo trailer. I make improvements almost daily. All my life I have maneuvered to be mobile, and free of rent and bills. This little trailer is a major tool in that strategy. At a future time, I will detail some of its unique features.


Friday, June 02, 2006

City of Rocks National Reserve

This is a place we had never heard of, located WAY out in the middle of nowhere, near Almo, a little town in southern Idaho. It sounded interesting, so off we went, traveling 25 miles of dirt road to get there. There are lots of unusual rock formations, which make it a rock-climber’s paradise. Although the guy in the picture had a rope, we saw climbers go hundreds of feet straight up without any ropes or safety gear at all.

The California Trail cuts right through the park. Thousands of wagon trains passed through here on their way to California during the years of the gold rush. Although the ruts are pretty much gone, there is a rock here that is covered with the names of pioneers written in axle grease.