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, September 28, 2007

Bridgeport to Bishop - Hot Springs Galore

This area is rich in natural hot springs. This beautiful one is Travertine Hot Springs, just outside Bridgeport.

The travertine rock dome is formed by minerals leaching out of the hot water. The narrow groove was cut to channel the too-hot water down and over a cooling span of rock.

Here's proof that the best things in life are free.

Another tub at Travertine. Randy's getting the story from a local copper artist.

Clever temperature control system. The sock shunts off excess water.

Diana finally got a photo of this fidgety dragonfly.

One of many natural hot springs in the Hot Creek area near Mammoth Lakes, CA. This one has the redundant name of "Hot Tub." A movable pipe controls flow and temperature. Randy philosophizes with Dacia and her son Clay, originally from Hawaii.

"Hot Tub" hot tub was so nice that we camped nearby to prolong the pleasure.

This spring, called Punky's Pool, is another of the Hot Creek springs.

It's on a hilltop, with a magnificent 360-degree view.

And here's the big secret! These classic books tell all you need to know about hot springs, including pictures, directions, and whether you can camp there. Written by Marjorie Gersh-Young, they are dedicated to Jayson Loam, the "King of the Hot Springs," who originally found and published information on natural hot springs for us all to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mono Lake - Worth Fighting For

Mono Lake, 100 miles around, has no outlet except evaporation (4 ft per year), no fish, but has billions of alkali flies and trillions of brine shrimp, food for millions of migrating birds and coastal gulls, who fly all the way here to mate and raise their young.

Los Angeles bought the lake and, in 1941, diverted its inflowing waters south, dropping the water level dangerously low. Environmentalists fought back in the late 70s and, after a 10-year legal battle, won. The birds are happy, we're happy.

These strange towers, called tufa, appeared when the lake level dropped.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


We moved on to Reno, and settled in behind the Atlantis Casino. They have installed some new, louder, speakers since we were last here, and now the music blares 24 hours a day. But it's free parking!

This is bike week, called "Street Vibrations" for good reason. Why isn't Sally here?

We're in the back, just to the left of the pole. Took this shot from the escalator in the Atlantis. Surprisingly, lots of the bikes are trailered, not ridden in, like rodeo horses hauled to the show.

We were parked next to fellow WIN, Grant, and his son came by with his bright yellow bike.

After 3 nights of poor sleep, Diana found us a spot in an industrial park near an RV repair place for the nights. We were ready with our sad story. We stayed in shopping centers during the day, doing the "boondocker shuffle," as Randy has poetized:

Boondocking in the City

Let us travel more boldly,
Range into urban locales,
Dare to camp in the city
Outside campground corrals.

Enjoy its treasures and splendors
And when comes time for dreams,
Slip away from no-no land
Into the city seams.

Seams are iffy zones
Where oversight is rare.
Sleep a full eight hours,
Then move away from there.

You’re doing the boondocker shuffle,
Moving twice a day,
Living free and easy
In Phoenix or San Jose.

Randy working on the blog. He often writes, and Diana edits and does photos. We try not to kill each other. :-)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gem of Eccentricity

Continuing our journey south, we arrived in Susanville and settled in at Walmart. Riding the town's lovely bike trail, we kept seeing religious messages chalked on the asphalt.

We soon found the writer -- Wade, a strange and passionate individual, using this unorthodox method to have his say.

Randy, of course, had to get the story. Wade is one of millions of eccentric individuals that shuffle around among us, usually unseen and ignored. They fascinate Randy, however, and he seeks them out, sometimes in hidden camps and hobo jungles. With much practice, he relates to them easily, like the "brother" he is, probing for the passions and fears that animate them. Perhaps it enriches his poetry. At any rate, he thinks all us full-time RVers are at least one standard deviation from the mean.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Moving South on Green-Dotted Highways

Health food junkies know what Klamath Lake is famous for -- Blue-green Algae, a superfood, is skimmed, processed and bottled here.

After a full days drive (80 miles), we drove off into the Modoc National Forest and found this "home." We were charmed enough to stay two nights. There are countless millions of good free camping places on America's public lands. To fully enjoy this good life, one must be self-contained.

Diana captured the evening magic.

Near Mt. Lassen National Park, we searched and found parking in this forest clearing.

Diana took a side trip to photograph the park. She hiked to Bumpass Hell, a beautiful mini-Yellowstone, the old eroded vent of a dormant dome volcano.

A boardwalk allows you to walk by hissing fumaroles, boiling springs, and active mudpots.

Later, back at camp, a visitor came calling. Perhaps she was curious or lonely. Whatever, she stayed a long while.

Long enough for Baby to join the party for a drink.

Molly watched the whole show from her private window, and didn't bark once.

This great old cedar tree grew at the edge of our clearing. We were delighted to discover that it is a protected tree.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Walking from Mexico to Canada

Parked near the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, one could expect great hikers and adventurers to pass. And so Todd Galewski, trail name "Burning Man," walked by, pausing a few minutes to answer our questions:

He began at the Mexican border on April 27, walking up to 30 miles per day.

He's not afraid of bears; considers them scardy cats. "They run away if you yell at them." Cougars, however, are something to fear. Hiking one night, his headlamp reflected menacing eyes that didn't run away. Instead they stalked him for 2 miles. He quickly slipped into his tent, but didn't sleep all night.

After being alone a few days, he became "rattled" by normal city traffic and noise. However, being alone made him keenly aware of the value of human contact.

Experienced hikers don't wear cotton; polyester is better.

There are people who prepare elaborate meals and wait by the trail to share with hikers.

His overall, overwhelming trip conclusion is that people are astoundingly nice and generous.

To read his journal from part of his trip, click here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pacific Crest Trail

It got hot in Merlin, Oregon (elev 900', 95 degrees), so we rerouted ourselves east on Hwy 140 to this cool mountain pass snow park (elev 5000', 79 degrees). Nights are delightfully cool. We'll stay here till the weather breaks.

Pleasant surprise! The famous Pacific Crest trail passes through here enroute from Canada to Mexico.

So we followed it a ways through a huge lava flow, with Mt. McLoughlin (9,495') in the background.

We have to put in a picture of Diana every so often so Mara can keep track of "Trailer Grandma."

Big thanks to the trail makers and trail markers. They make it hard to get lost.

A side trip to Lake of the Woods. Randy sat in an Adirondack chair, a comfortable bit of classic design that has spread nationwide.

Molly received a surprise visit from Jimminy Cricket, who urged us to always tell the truth. Diana snapped this lucky shot before he hopped away.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Even More Tweaks!

Randy's been very busy with his and Diana's ideas for improvements in her new trailer. She found some downspout extenders in Walmart(!) which seemed like a good idea.

Randy really hated the idea that you couldn't see out the back of the trailer without opening the bathroom window, because the glass was frosted.

He went to work ripping out the top part of the old window. Diana couldn't look.

Ahhhhh! Much better! The glass is tinted like all the other windows, so no one can see in. (You'd have to be 8 feet tall anyway...)

When the dinette was ripped out, it left an opening under the table into an outside storage compartment. What to do with it?

Molly had a great idea! She decided it was just right for her to see what was going on outside.

Diana found a screen to fit at Walmart! Do they have everything???

And last, but certainly not least, the cabinet has been stained and polyurathaned. All it needs now is the back.