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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the Move Again

After 3 weeks at our friend's house in Santa Fe, we're on the move again. With hot weather nipping at our heels, we stay ahead of it at an average pace of 50 miles per day.

Our first stop was near Abiquiu, NM. In the distance are the colorful hills of Ghost Ranch, made world-famous by Georgia O'Keefe's paintings. An eerie phenomenon puzzled us here: The bushes were crackling as if with electricity. Close inspection revealed that the 17-year cicadas had emerged.

We stopped at Chama to see the famous narrow guage train, the Cumbres & Toltec, that goes between here and Antonito, CO.

We learned about this great spot, on the Blanco River south of Pagosa Springs, CO from Days End, a huge database of boondocking spots.

The world's largest and deepest hot mineral spring is here at Pagosa Springs, CO. At $17.25 a soak, no wonder few people were there!

Of course, there are more pictures on Flickr.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sacred Dirt

Santa Fe is the hub of Western New Age spiritual pursuits. Page after page in their newspapers advertise arcane services such as past-life regression, polarity balancing, taro readings, etc. Thousands flock to be part of the scene.

Chimayo is a small nearby village with a big reputation for its "healing dirt."

All day, every day, pilgrims come to this small church, making their way to a tiny 6' by 6' room and the hole at its center, containing a small pile of "holy dirt." Believers carry it away in plastic baggies, some actually ingesting it. Each morning, a fresh supply "appears" in the hole.

Are you skeptical? Not convinced by this display of abandoned crutches?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Visiting Lamy

Lamy is a one station town way out in the boondocks near Santa Fe. Perhaps 10 people call it home now, but once 3,000 lived here servicing the trains and tourist industry. It remains the Amtrak stop for Santa Fe, and the terminus of the Santa Fe Southern Railway, a sightseeing train, shown here arriving from downtown.

Diana, walking around taking pictures, literally got “picked up” by a charming engineer.

She got to ride around in the engine for 45 minutes, while the engine shuffled the few freight cars the train had, and while they moved the engine to the other end of the train. Kind of a fox, goose, and corn puzzle with LOTS of steps involved.

This closed-up church, viewed through the engineer’s window, hints of better times.

Here’s serendipity for you— Randy quizzed the docent of the Lamy Railroad and History Museum, Thomas Boyer, and learned that he used to be a private pilot for Chrysler, and flew Lee Iacocca all over the world.

More serendipity— Right here in this bar, Glen Campbell got his start, singing here when he was in high school in Albuquerque.

A real gambling room, scene of a real killing. The bullet holes remain in the wall.

Here’s the real thing— Amtrak purring to a halt. The “Southwest Chief” runs daily from Chicago to LA. Randy quizzed the conductor and learned that it was fully occupied.

Like Santa Claus, its visit was brief. It whooshed away surprisingly fast. This is one of the few places where the East-bound and West-bound trains arrive within 40 minutes of each other. They were both on time!

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Heart of Santa Fe

Art and jewelry, bustle and beauty, at the plaza.

Randy cannot resist philosophizing with a perfect stranger: Frugality, freedom, efficiency, meaning of life, etc, etc.

Chilies are a big deal here; they look and taste lovely.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Philosopher's Chateau

Diana and I visit our friend Bushrod in Santa Fe every year or so, settling on special pads he engineered for us. He is a monk-like practical philosopher with a message: Build your own Eden.

This is his Eden—built adobe brick by adobe brick by himself, over a period of 20 years. As you can see, he lives cozily in a custom crafted environment. In the beginning, he slept in a tent, sometimes in the snow, until the first room was complete.

Bush honed his self-reliant skills in the swamps of Louisiana, where I first met him building a shack. A tiny financial toehold was all the help he needed. He bought land near Santa Fe and began building. Living frugally and investing wisely, he won his freedom many years ago.

I’ve been pleased to call him a friend for 35 years now. We regularly exchange views, and he’s made me a member of his philosophy club.

This marvelous woodworking shop explains much—not least of which are the straight seams of my trailer cabinetry.

His collection of toys is as broad as his interests: Hot tub, sauna, satellite internet and TV dishes, sailboat, and camper.

And he uses 150 pounds of sugar a year to keep his hummingbird friends happy!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Four Corners

Nicely symbolic of our lifestyle choice—to sit on the edge of things! The flags at half-mast, even in this remote location, show the unity of our nation.

Camping near Bluff, Utah at the base of the famous Comb Ridge, a huge obstacle to early wagon trains. Nearby are the canyons where the ancient ones lived.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Procession Panel

This is a spectacular petroglyph panel that I have always wanted to see. I had a book with some very poor directions, so off we went. The panel is near the top of Comb Ridge, in Southeastern Utah. Here's Randy climbing near the top.

Success!! I'm very surprised that we found it.Procession Panel contains 179 figures in what is thought to be a funeral procession. There is a picture of the whole panel in my Flickr pictures.

Here's the philosopher pondering the puzzle of an ancestor without opposable thumbs.

Randy working his way back down.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Petroglyphs

On Thursday, we walked down the last mile of Butler Wash to its confluence with the San Juan River. The trail follows a 100-year-old wagon trail you may be able to see in the picture winding around to the left.

Whoops---We hadn't expected water.

Our goal was the River Petroglyph Panel at the confluence. The panels contain several hundred figures, but the older ones were very faint and difficult to photograph.

The spot is also a popular stop for the San Juan river rafters.

Here's Randy on the way back up. It's hard to believe they ever took wagons down this trail!

On the way home we stopped off at the Sand Island Petroglyph Panel near Bluff. This panel also has several hundred figures, but my favorites are the 4 Kokopellis. Here are 2 of them. Kokopelli was a flute-playing symbol of fertility. (You can probably see why...)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Seven Kivas

While at Goosenecks SP, we went on a rather strenuous hike to see the Seven Kiva Ruin in Road Canyon on Cedar Mesa. The hike isn’t that long; the difficult part is getting down into the 400'-deep canyon. Here’s Randy trying to find the rather obscure "trail."

Once in the canyon, the going got a little easier.

The Seven Kivas are in pretty good shape, considering their age, but only 2 of them still have their roofs. Kivas were round subterranean ceremonial chambers used for religious or social functions. The entrance into the kiva was from the top, down a ladder. Each kiva also had a "sipapu," a symbolic entrance to the spirit world.

Lots of artifacts were lying around: potshards, little corn husks, little bones, etc.

Down canyon a little were some nice petroglyphs.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


After leaving Monument Valley, we passed through Mexican Hat, UT on our way to Goosenecks State Park. Here is the rock the town is named for. Believe it or not, people actually climb to the top.

Goosenecks State Park is a great free spot to camp, looking down on the San Juan River as it loops around and around. Here we are parked on the edge, high above the water.

This is really 3 pictures sewn together on the computer, showing what is actually a 180-degree view.