Tag Archives: rubber tramping

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes*

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My life has moved beyond a mere change of plans; my whole life has changed.

I met a man at the recent Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, and we hit it off. While it wasn’t love at first sight, we had an easy friendship from the beginning. Our conversations were deep and exciting. I felt as if doors that had been shut were flying open. Since we weren’t under the pressure of dating, we didn’t put on masks in hopes of impressing each other or hiding who we truly are.

We talked about our exes, what went wrong, what roles we’d played in the disasters, what we’d learned. We talked about our past adventures on the road, as well as adventures we still hoped to have. We talk about our spiritual and mystical experiences and of the magic our lives have been blessed with.

Although I thought he was handsome from the moment I laid eyes on him, I didn’t think I had a chance to be his gal. He wasn’t looking for a relationship, he mentioned in conversation. He was newly free and wanted to stay that way. He didn’t think it was a good idea to have sex with someone he didn’t know well because he thought sex tends to bond people and he wanted to be careful about who he ended up bonded with. I hadn’t been trying to get him into my bed, but I figured he was sending me pretty clear messages that he had no desire to go there. I resigned myself to the fact that we’d be friends but never lovers. I was ok with the lack of romance. I’d pretty much accepted I’d spend the rest of my life alone. I had no reason to hope this man would love me the way I wanted to be loved.

After knowing The Man for about a week, I offered to let him and his dog sleep on the floor of my van. It was cold out, sleeping in his car was killing his back, and the wind had mangled the tent he’d manifested from the free pile. I trusted him and knew letting him sleep on my floor was the right thing to do. I pushed aside any thoughts I had about him being my man.

We decided to go to New Mexico together. He’d been offered a van, available for pickup in Oklahoma in April. We figured Southern New Mexico would be a good place for him to hunker down and carve wood spirits until it was time for him to hitchhike to his van. I had a friend in the town, and I thought I could schedule some readings of Confessions of a Work Camper, maybe sell a few copies. I thought I’d help The Man get settled, then we’d probably go our separate ways, even though I liked him very much. I didn’t even hope we might get together, at least no time soon. It’s just didn’t seem fair to ask someone to do something he so clearly didn’t want to do.

There were bits of banter between us. Once I asked him if he had touched my ass when I knew good and well he hadn’t. Another time I told him my three favorite of the seven deadly sins were sloth, gluttony, and lust. He played too. One night I let him hold the best of my shiny rocks, a beautiful, large amethyst crystal. The next day he asked if I’d put a spell on him because after he’d held the stone, he’d gotten really horny. I vehemently denied casting a spell on him.

Then he got sick. We were both still sleeping in the van, me in my narrow little bed and him and the dog on the floor. The second night of his sickness, after we’d settled in for sleep, he asked if I’d rub his back. I readily agreed, not thinking it was anything more than a friend asking for help for his flu aching muscles. Honestly, it was a relief to touch him, but I was still totally surprised when he offered to rub my back, simply flabbergasted (and pleased) when, in a heartbeat, our relationship took a sexual turn.

I didn’t let myself think about loving him. The thing we had going on was short term, for a limited time only. Soon I’d go back to MegaSuperBabylon to dog sit, then I’d go to the forest to work as a camp host. Besides, he didn’t want to be in a relationship.

I got sick too. The Man offered to take care of me, and I basically moved into his tent to recuperate.

We continued to have a great time together sharing lots of laughter and more deep conversation. It was easy to be together.

The day came for me to leave. We had breakfast. We said good-bye. I drove off, listening to Old Crow Medicine Show sing “Wagon Wheel” and watching him in my side-view mirror, watching him watch me go. How bittersweet it was to leave behind someone so wonderful.

I’ve already written about what happened next (http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2017/02/22/plans/). Before I could leave town, I got a text from the woman I was supposed to house sit for. She’d hurt her back and had to cancel her trip. My future was wide open.

I texted The Man, told him what was up. I said I needed a nap in hopes of getting over my lingering sickness. I suggested we get together in a couple of days. A few hours later, I got a text from him saying we needed to have a talk. I texted back and said he could call me, but his next text said we need to talk in person. Uh-oh! I was worried.

Turns out he was afraid of hurting me. We shouldn’t have had sex, he said. He didn’t think we should have sex anymore.

If you don’t want to have sex with me, then we shouldn’t have sex, I told him.

It’s not that I don’t want to have sex with you, he said sadly. He just didn’t want to hurt me.

We talked and talked. He said he still wanted to be my friend. He still wanted to hang out. I could stay at his camp, he said, and we could still snuggle. Basically, only sex was off the table. I decided I could live with the new situation. The sex had been great, but it wasn’t the most important part of what had been going on between us.

I spent two nights in my van, stretched out and sleeping good in hopes of chasing off the persistant cough the cold had left me with.

When I went back to his tent, he put sex back on the table.

I don’t want to have sex with you if you’re going to feel conflicted about it, I told him. That’s what’s going to hurt my feelings. I suppose he worked out his conflicts because he hasn’t waffled since then.

We were still taking life day-by-day, moment-by-moment. We weren’t in a “relationship;” we were seeing how things went. Sometimes he’d slip and talk about the future in a way that made me think he expected us to be together for a long time. One morning he slipped and called me honey, then got a little sheepish and shy.

One day we figured out how long we’d be apart. I’d leave in April for another house sitting job, then in May I’d go to the forest. I’d leave the forest in October, house sit in November. We could see each other in December. See you in eight months seemed like an impossible time to be apart.

The Man takes things happen for a reason to the point of entertaining a belief in determinism. Do things happen because they were meant to happen? Do things happen because of destiny? He wondered aloud if the Universe had conspired to keep me there with him.

The more we were together, the more sweetly romantic we became. We walked arm in arm into Wal-Mart. He leaned down and kissed me in the supermarket. We danced to an 80s pop song in the thrift store.  I shouldn’t be surprised that the more time we spent together, the closer we grew

I’d been falling in love with him for weeks, but I knew I wasn’t supposed to mention it. One day we talked about how we’d both felt we’d never find anyone who’d love us. I used to sit in my cabin and wonder who would ever love me, he told me. My heart broke to think he could go through his life thinking no woman had ever loved him the way he wanted to be loved. Later that night, I whispered to him, Don’t think no one’s ever loved you, because I love you.

Oh no! he teased. You broke the rules. You weren’t supposed to fall in love with me, but he was clearly pleased.

The person who’d offered the van to The Man had decided not to give it up after all. The Man really wanted a minivan anyway and wasn’t too disappointed. However, he quickly realized the town we were in was a difficult place to make money from his wood carvings. He figured he could survive there, but probably wasn’t going to be able to save enough money to buy himself a minivan.

I’d planned to go to Northern New Mexico to sell jewelry and shiny rocks during the Texas spring break, then come back to town for a house sitting gig I’d gotten through a friend. The ten days of house sitting would be the last we’d see of each other for a long time.

A week before Spring Break, we got into a long conversation about our wants and needs. He said eight months was a long time to be apart. Our lives could take different paths, he told me. In eight months, I could be in Maine! Yet, he said he didn’t want to be in a relationship. It was too soon, he said, although being with me was so wonderful and easy. He asked what I wanted.

I realized I didn’t have anything to lose by putting all my cards out on the table. I like you, I told him, and I’d like to be with you. I can live my life on my own–I’ve been living my life on my own–but it’s just so hard. I want a partner, but I know that’s not what you want. I don’t want you to do anything you don’t want to do. I don’t want you to be anyone but who you are.

I left it at that and went down to my van to clean it while The Man took a nap. I thought about his belief in determinism. If we are meant to be together, we’ll be together, I thought, and he can’t do anything to stop it.

A couple of hours later, he showed up at the van. He stuck his head in the open side door and looked around.

What are you doing? I asked.

Seeing how I’m going to get all my stuff to fit in here, he said.

I was genuinely confused until he explained he did want to be with me, he did want to be in a relationship with me, he did want to go to Northern New Mexico with me. Oh happy day! (The next day was even happier when he walked up to me, looked me in the eye, and said, I love you!)

This change in his wants has brought about other changes. I reorganized my belongings and got rid of stuff I didn’t really need. The Man built a double bed for us, with storage underneath, then we moved all his things into the van too. I’m no longer single. I’m no longer a single woman traveling alone in her van. I’m now traveling with a man, my sweetheart, and his very nice dog. I called my boss in California and told him I wouldn’t be working as a camp host this summer. I’m back to selling jewelry and shiny rocks by the side of the road, and I don’t have to wear a uniform.

The new life hasn’t been without challenges. I’m not writing nearly enough, and I haven’t been promoting my book or working on a new one as I’d planned. I also have to think about another person’s (and a dog’s) wants and needs. But I will learn to work my writing into my new life, learn to compromise so we all get our most important wants and needs met.

Overall, my new life is fantastic. The Man is caring and loving and generous. He thanks me whenever I help him. He cooks breakfast every morning and tells me I’m wonderful and beautiful and interesting and smart. Life is so, so good.

* Thanks to David Bowie for the title.

Ten Reasons I Like Living in My Van

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#1 I don’t pay thousands of dollars a year in rent

#2 I don’t pay monthly bills for water, electricity, internet, and/or trash pickup.

#3 Because I have fewer bills, I don’t have to work 50 weeks a year.

#4 Living in a small space helps me keep my tendency to collect things in check.

#5 If I want something I own (my towel, my pillow, a certain shirt, a certain book), I only have to walk out to my van to get it.

#6 If I don’t like where I’m staying, it’s easy to go elsewhere.

#7 Whenever I’ve got my van with me, I’ve got my bed with me. If I can park, I can nap comfortably.

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I took this photo showing the decorations on the ceiling and walls of my van.

#8 I’ve got the ceiling and walls of my van decorated with mementos, so it’s like living in a scrapbook.

#9 I’m less isolated from nature than are most people who live in conventional homes.

#10 I can hear the sound of rain hitting my metal roof.

To read more about why I like living in a van, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2017/04/30/10-things-i-love-about-van-life/.

 

Report on the 2016 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

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I recently attended the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR) in Quartzsite, Arizona. If you don’t know the first thing about the RTR, you can find more information at http://www.cheaprvliving.com/gatherings/. You can also read my posts about my experience at the 2015 RTR here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/21/the-rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-1-2/ and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/24/rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-2-2/.

The 2016 RTR ran January 5-19, and was once again held at Scaddan Wash. Everyone agreed there were more people at the 2016 RTR than ever before, but I haven’t heard an official count of attendees.

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This is what the Scaddan Wash area looks like.

In 2015, I parked very close to the main fire pit/meeting area, but this year I made my home near far end of the road. Being so far back forced me to walk more to attend workshops and visit friends.

The weather was cold and rainy the first few days of the RTR. I drove in the rain to get to Quartzsite, and I enjoyed hearing raindrops on the roof of my van the first couple nights in the desert. Although the low temperatures were cold for Quartzsite, they still beat the lows in most of the U.S. Many folks I know used their Mr. Buddy heaters, but I never even pulled mine out of its tub.

On most days of the gathering, at least one educational seminar was offered. Seminar topics included the following: gold prospecting; work camping; setting up and using solar power; gadgets; lithium batteries; cooking methods; making a dream catcher; traveling to Algadones and Baja, Mexico; safety in the desert; boondocking; nature photography; car dwelling; and receiving mail, health insurance, and residency.

I only went to two seminars this year, the welcome seminar on the first morning and the seminar about living in a car. Most of the seminars were repeats from last year, and I either wasn’t interested in the topic or felt I already got the information I needed from the seminar when I sat through it before. Most mornings I didn’t want to carry my chair all the way to the meeting area and sit in the sun for a couple of hours.

I did attend the two women’s meetings at the RTR. Each meeting had about 30 women in attendance, although it wasn’t all the same women both times; many women only attended one of the meetings. I did not facilitate the women’s meetings this year, which was something of a relief. I won’t be giving a full report of the meetings, as both consisted mostly of introductions. In the second meeting, women shared information in answer to specific questions such as How do I get a job work camping? How do I eliminate bodily wastes while living in my car/van/RV? How do I get electricity in my van? What do folks drive and what kind of gas mileage does that vehicle get?

My favorite RTR activities were again the group meals. As we did last year, everyone who wanted to participate contributed canned or fresh ingredients to be added to chili one week and soup the next.

Once again, the Chef and his crew turned the contributions into two delicious meals. At the chili feed, there were three offerings: vegan chili (which I ate and can say was Yum!), chili that was a little hot, and chili that was a little hotter. Folks also contributed homemade cornbread; crackers; and toppings like cheese, onions, and cilantro.

At the soup dinner, the soups offered included a vegetarian minestrone-type soup, chicken noodle, beef barley, and one with spicy sausage. Crackers were also provided, as well as dessert! I was in line with Lady Nell and Mr. Jay, and they didn’t care for dessert, so they gave me their share of the sweets. I ended up with a no-bake cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, and some sort of chocolate chip/coconut bar, all homemade. Super yum!

The third group meal was a potato bake hosted by the same couple who made it happen last year. The potatoes (180 of them!) were baked in the coals of the main fire pit, and folks contributed just about any topping one could imagine putting on top of a baked potato.

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Cacti and mountains surrounding the RTR 2016.

I was a lot more social in 2016 than I was in 2015. Being social was easier for me this year because I already knew folks. I often have difficulty approaching a stranger and striking up a conversation, but I can usually think if something to say to someone I’ve already met. In addition to reconnecting with people I met last year, I actually made several new friends, at least two of whom I think I will stay in frequent contact.

My personal highpoints of the gathering happened when I met people who told me they read my blog. I have readers!

Mr. Jay was the first person I spoke to at the RTR. When I knocked on the rig to find out if Lady Nell were home, Mr. Jay answered the door. After a few moments of chit chat, he asked kindly, And you are? I said, I’m Blaize. His face broke into a smile and he said, Oh! I read you! It was a moment of great happiness for me.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

My Vans

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I’ve had three vans since I started rubber tramping on my own.

I was homeless when I got my first one. I’d made some money selling sage sticks and hemp jewelry, and several friends had helped me out with funds. As summer moved into fall and nighttime temperatures dropped in the mountains, having an indoor sleeping spot was becoming more urgent. It was soon going to be too cold to sleep outdoors, even in my snuggly sleeping bag.

I saw an ad on Craigslist for a Chevy G20 (my favorite kind of van) from the late 80s. (I think it was a 1986, but my memory is fuzzy.) The owner wanted $1000 for it, but the ad said the windshield was cracked and neither the gas gauge, the speedometer, nor the heater worked. It seemed like a high price for a van that wasn’t in really great shape. Besides, if I spent $1,000 for the van, I wouldn’t be able to afford insurance, license, registration, or gas. Since it was the only van for sale in the small town, I contacted the owner.

The woman selling the van seemed nice. I told her $1000 was a lot for a van in the condition her ad described and asked if she would consider selling it for $800. She said yes!

I’m not great at bargaining because negotiating seems like conflict to me. But I know people trying to sell vehicles ask for more dollars than they really want so they can drop the price during negotiations.

I set a time to meet the woman and test drive the van. A man I knew who claimed to be a mechanic had offered to look at any vehicles I was interested in, but when I tried to take him up on his offer, he was too busy to help. I was on my own.

When I saw the van, the body looked good. The crack in the window didn’t obstruct my vision. The back seat was folded down into a bed, so I could sleep comfortably right away. The van started up, and I took if for a test drive. Apparently I still knew how to maneuver a van, even through narrow small-town streets.

When I returned to the seller’s house, I offered her $700 cash on the spot for the van. She accepted, and I was on my way with not only a vehicle, but a new home too.

This is Betsy, my first van as a single woman traveling alone. Thanks to the Lady of the House for helping me get this photo off of my phone and into this post.

This is Betsy, the first van I got when I started rubber tramping on my own. (Thanks to the Lady of the House for helping me get this photo off my phone and into this post.) Notice the sliding side door. The door broke after a couple of months on the road and could no longer be opened or closed. My friend had a van with a sliding door that wouldn’t close and latch properly; we had to tie it shut with rope. I strongly recommend avoiding buying a van with a sliding door.

That van took me and my friends literally across the country, almost from coast to coast. Unfortunately, one cold February night, I hit an elk and destroyed both the critter and my van.

From where I was stranded in Colorado, it was a long, strange trip to Austin, TX, where I stayed with friends and worked to earn money for another van. (Again, good friends chipped in to help me.) I was scouring Craigslist for vans for sale before I had money to buy a vehicle. I was disheartened to see nothing available for less than $1,000, way more than I could afford.

One fine day, I saw this ad:

The Hippy Van of your Dreams!

Ol’ Blue has been in my family for 20 years! She’s a 1989 Dodge Ram Van with 191K on the odometer. RV with bed and couch! Great for road trips and camping. Definitely a one of a kind ride looking for the perfect owner! Some rust damage, but runs like a beast! If you are interested I can send pics. $789 obo

I was so excited. Ol’ Blue sounded great and $789 was possible. I showed the ad to Lou, and she said I better write a really good message to the van owner so s/he would like me.

This is what I wrote:

Hi,
My name is  Blaize.  I have been traveling for the last 3+ years, hitch hiking, riding the ‘Hound, and rubber tramping. I had a great van I loved very much named Betsy. Betsy took me to Colorado, through New Mexico, across Arizona, into Nevada, to LA, then all the way to Mt. Shasta, CA. After that, she took me across the country to Asheville, NC, then to Austin for two months before rolling me into Colorado again. Unfortunately, Betsy and I hit an elk. The elk died and took Betsy with her. RIP, Betsy.
After a month of hitch hiking and traveling with some folks who went sort of crazy a few days ago, some kind Christians bought me a bus ticket to Austin. My plan is to stay with friends, do odd jobs, buy myself another van, and get back on the road.
I just saw your ad on Craigslist. Yes, Ol’ Blue does sound like the hippy van of my dreams. But I promise you, I am the hippy that Ol’ Blue has been dreaming of. If she were my van, I would drive her to the coolest places, like New Mexico and Montana, take her to every hot spring I could find. I would make sure she never got bored by being stuck in the same place for more than a few months at a time. I would fill her with kids and dogs and backpacks and food. I would make sure her oil was changed right on schedule and never let her run out of gas.

The email must have worked because the owner seemed to like me. He even agreed to take a down payment, then hold Ol’ Blue until the refund check on the insurance I had prepaid on Betsy arrived. Once I bought the van, I had to park it outside my friends’ house until I could pay for insurance.

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This is Ol’ Blue. Notice the side door swings open instead of sliding.

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Ol’ Blue had both a full size bed and a couch.

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Ol’ Blue also had Celtic knots spray painted on the hood and sides and liberal stickers in various spots.

Ol’ Blue had some problems other than rust damage. The main one was that it didn’t always start. An old friend who’d gone to mechanic school put in a new starter for me. A few days after the replacement, the van wouldn’t start when I tried to leave a shopping center. I called my friend who came out and hot-wired it for me. He thought the van needed a new ignition switch, but he didn’t have the time and I didn’t have the money to put in a new one, so he just put in a toggle switch as a bypass. In the next year, whenever the van wouldn’t start, I flipped a switch to get it going.

Knowing that if I have a problem at night, I can climb into the driver’s seat, start the van, and leave helps me feel safe while van dwelling. When Ol’ Blue did not start, my peace of mind was shaken. Sure, I had that toggle switch, and it did get the motor going, but it was hard to get to. I couldn’t simply reach down and flip it while sitting in the driver’s seat. To get to it, I had to open my door and lean my body out while reaching down awkwardly and feeling around for the switch. Opening the door was not going to be an option if someone was hassling me enough to make me want to drive away, and I was going to look pretty dumb (and vulnerable) sitting in a van I couldn’t get started.

The van had other problems too. It needed new tires, I had to add coolant fairly often,  and sometimes when the indicator showed the van was in park, it was actually in reverse and rolled slowly backwards when I took my foot off the brake. I decided to start saving money and look for a new van before I found myself stranded.

I found my current van on Craigslist too. The headline made the van sound really good, and the price was do-able. When I clicked on the ad and saw the photo, I caught my breath. This was my van! It was a G20, and it had a high top. A high top! I’m fairly short, so a van with a high top means I can stand up in it.

I called the owner, a young woman who had bought the van to live in. She told me her life situation had changed and she was living in a house. She said she’d had lots of calls about the van, but no one had come by to see it yet.

When I got off the phone with her, I called my friend the Rock Guy and told him about the van. I asked me if he could drive me to the city where the van was (about two hours away) in a couple of days, but he told me we needed to go that night. So we did. I bought the van for the price the woman asked; I didn’t even try to talk her down.

I’ve had quite a bit of work done on the van since I bought it (new starter, four new tires, brake work, new battery, lots of front end work), but I love this van so much! (At one point I told my friends I loved the van so much I wanted to marry it!) It’s my safe space, my cocoon, my home.

 

 

Some Thoughts on the RTR 2015

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The following is based on an email I sent to the main organizer of the 2015 RTR.

First of all, I really enjoyed the RTR. I think it was a good blend of structured activities and free time. (I tend to need a lot of alone time and was happy that I had plenty of room for that, while people who wanted/needed to be social could get their needs met as well.) I learned a lot from the seminars I attended, and I’m truly grateful to everyone who shared knowledge.

The group meals were nice. The food was good, and group aspect gave me some structure for socializing.

The best part of the RTR for me was meeting cool people, closely followed by the haircut service. Well, maybe the give-away pile was my second favorite part of the gathering, but it’s in a close race with the haircuts. In any case, I was glad to be able to give to and take from the free pile. Gift economy rocks!

The biggest, happiest surprise for me at the gathering was finding other single women who travel alone. I had been afraid the RTR was going to be a bit of a dude fest, but I was pleased to meet so many other single women living on the road.

Now for my concerns. (There are only two.)

There sure were a lot of dogs running around off leash. I personally was peed on twice while sitting at a morning seminar. Two dogs on two different days casually peed on my chair while I was sitting in it and ended up peeing on me too. Not cool! Also, I found dog poop in my camp, and saw it throughout the area where the RTR was held. I don’t think dog owners were walking with their dogs and failing to clean up after them. I think dogs were running free and pooped and peed wherever they liked. Actually, I KNOW plenty of dogs were running free because I saw them, and I saw the poop they left behind.

I’m neither allergic to nor particularly scared of dogs. However, for anyone who is allergic to or scared of dogs, the RTR would not have seemed like a welcoming place.

I think there should be an expectation at the RTR that dog owners need to keep their dogs close and know where their dogs are peeing and pooping. Perhaps dog owners need reminders that not everyone wants some dog’s head in their lap or eating out of their bowl when they look away to talk to a neighbor.

My second concern is that of people taking photos of other people and people’s rigs without permission and posting those photos anywhere on the Internet. (I am concerned with the taking of photos without permission, whether or not they are posted on the internet.)

I believe taking and/or posting photos without permission is inappropriate. I think the issue needs to be addressed at the welcome seminar and every morning at announcements (for the benefit of folks who did not attend the welcome meeting).

I made the mistake of thinking that everyone at the RTR was on the same page concerning security and privacy. Obviously, I was wrong, or I would not be writing about it now. If I had realized that some folks believe that because I am at the RTR, I have no expectation of privacy, I would have addressed the issue early on, or I would have not attended the gathering.

Of course, some people don’t mind if photos of them are taken and posted on the internet from here to Christmas. I think photographers should take lots of photos of those people! A suggestion was made at the women’s meeting that people who do NOT want their photo taken be provided with a colored sticker they could wear. It would be the responsibility of photographers to check for stickers before shooting photos.

I do not believe that being at the RTR means I am agreeing to give up my right to privacy. I believe no one should take a photo of me or anything I own without my verbal permission. I believe anyone wanting to post photos  (on the internet or anywhere) of me  or my belongings or any information that identifies me  should have my verbal permission before doing so. I think everyone at the RTR should have this same expectation of privacy.

All in all, I had a good time at the RTR, and I’ve been encouraging friends to attend next year.

The Second Women’s Meeting at the 2015 RTR

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Image result for women symbol and fistAt the end of the first women’s meeting, I asked everyone to think about what they wanted to discuss at the next meeting and to come prepared with suggestions so we could start by making an agenda.

The first topic we discussed was what motivated us to live our lives as vandwellers/rubber tramps/travelers. While everyone there had a different story, several women spoke of wanting to live more simply. Some women started living on the road after nearly devastating personal hardship. Others decided not to wait until their final years to travel and see new places.

Next, we talked about our creative outlets and how we manage our supplies in our limited living spaces. A couple of women who work with fabric shared their techniques for storing all their cloth. A woman who works with glass told us how she stays neat and organized.

While we were writing our agenda, one woman said she wanted to discuss how to deal with men she wants to be friends with when they start giving off  vibes suggesting they’re looking for romance. Recommendations ranged from wearing a fake wedding ring to being straight-up honest about feelings and intentions.

Another woman was interested in how traveling women manage to date and sustain relationships, especially if one’s partner doesn’t want to travel. One suggestion was to break up with the partner because if the partner wants such a different lifestyle, he (or she) must not be the right one. Another suggestion was to go out traveling while the partner stays at home but to stop in for visits as often as possible.

(Side note: The woman sitting next to me arrived after we had set the agenda and didn’t realize that a woman in the circle had asked to discuss this topic. When the discussion was lagging, the woman next to me said sharply, “I don’t think this is an issue!” I think she thought I’d put the topic on the agenda and was telling me no one wanted to talk about dating and relationships. Obviously someone wanted to talk about this subject, but the woman who’d ask to talk about it wasn’t talking. So I had to bring the discussion back to the original woman and get her to talk about her specific issues so others could present ideas that might help her. I wish people would get to meetings on time and not assume they know what’s going on when they don’t.)

The most polarizing topic of discussion was about shooting and posting photographs, as well as sharing identifying information about others, on the internet. (Coincidentally, before we had a chance to discuss photography, the woman sitting next to me got up, went to her rig and got her camera, and was about to shoot photos of the whole group. Another woman at the meeting told her that she should get permission before taking any photos. It turns out that the woman with the camera was quite irritated at being told she should ask first.)

We started the conversation talking about physical safety, elaborating on some of the safety methods we had discussed the week before. One woman talked about her habit of being aware at all times of who is around her, what those people are wearing, and what they are doing. She spoke of the importance of looking people in the eye so they know she is aware of them. This woman then started talking about security measures she takes when writing her blog. This (unintentional, as far as I could tell) segue took us right into a discussion of internet security.

Several folks pointed out that photographers should not be taking photos without permission and certainly should not be posting photos anywhere on the internet without permission. The woman next to me expressed that she was upset that she had been told she shouldn’t take photos (when actually, she was told she shouldn’t take photos without permission). She said she’d been doing this (and I assume by “this” she meant going to gatherings and taking photos without permission) for years and no one had ever said she shouldn’t do it. As the conversation progressed, she then asked if facial recognition software was what people were worried about. When people said yes, she seemed to understand at least a little why people were concerned.

While there was a group of women who were vocal about not wanting their photos taken or posted, another group said they were totally fine with having their photos posted any and everywhere. Someone suggested that in the future folks at the RTR who did not want to be photographed could wear a sticker of a predetermined color so folks with cameras would know who it was cool to take pictures of and who to leave alone.

The last topic discussed was how women could find other people (particularly other women) with whom to travel. Some already established group mentioned were Sisters on the Fly (http://www.sistersonthefly.com/), RVillage (http://www.rvillage.com/), and the Wandering Individual Network (https://rvsingles.org/). (I have done no research on these groups–other than finding a web address for them–so I can neither discourage or encourage folks to check them out.) Someone also mentioned a Facebook group for traveling women, but I didn’t write down the name, and I have no Facebook navigation skills, so I couldn’t find it. The last thing we did was pass around a sign-up sheet so women who wanted to could share their contact information with each other.

Facilitating the women’s meetings was a positive experience for me. It allowed me to get involved with the RTR, and made me stand out a little bit to people who might not have noticed me or talked to me otherwise. I also felt like I was doing a job that no one else wanted, but for which I was qualified. The main way attending the women’s meetings helped me was by giving me a chance to learn a little bit more about other women so I could use what I had learned there to strike up a conversation later. It was also extremely encouraging to see how many women at the RTR were single and traveling alone.

All in all, I’m glad I facilitated the women’s meetings.

To read about the first women’s meeting at the 2015 RTR, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/22/the-first-womens-meeting-at-the-2015-rtr/.

To read about my first week at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/21/the-rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-1-2/.

To read about my second week at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/24/rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-2-2/.

To read about how I decided to go to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/19/the-rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-1/.

The First Women’s Meeting at the 2015 RTR

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Image result for women symbol and fist

I offered to facilitate the first women’s meeting at the 2015 RTR because I knew I could do it. In a past life (and by “past life,” I don’t mean a life I was living in a different physical incarnation before I was born into my current body), I facilitated many meetings on a variety of topics.

Before the meeting, a couple of women approached me at different times and asked me about my plans for the meeting. I was told about a past women’s meeting where a women new to van living took over the meeting to talk about how hard this new life was to her and how scared she was. I was determined not to let anyone hijack the meeting, even if the hijacker really needed assistance and support. I was certain we could help anyone who needed it and still have a meeting where everyone who wanted to could participate.

I opened the meeting by saying that anyone who wanted to facilitate the next week’s meeting was welcome to do so, but there were no takers.

I then suggested that each women introduce herself by telling the group three things she wanted everyone there to know about her. I thought asking each woman to share three things would give some structure for folks who wouldn’t know how to respond to “tell us about yourself” and would  limit folks who would otherwise never shut up.

At every meeting, there seem to be people who just don’t want to talk. It seems like a gun to their heads wouldn’t get them to join in, but something about being in a group must appeal to them because they show up and continue to sit there…quietly. Maybe these people are exceedingly shy. Thankfully, everyone at this meeting managed to say at least a few words about herself.

Of course, on the other side of the coin are the people who can’t seem to stop speaking. There were a few women in that circle who probably would have talked for two hours straight, never noticing all the glazed eyes and drool dripping lips. Did these women perhaps receive no attention as children? (I’m making jokes, but the sad truth is that a lot of people didn’t get enough attention as children and have barely recovered as adults.)

As the facilitator, it was difficult to know when someone’s introduction had gone on long enough. It was even more difficult to know how to hurry along a rambling biography. On the one hand, I didn’t want to be rude or hurt any feelings, but on the other hand, I wanted everyone to get a turn.

I think the coolest part of the first women’s meeting was when someone asked how many of the women sitting there were single women traveling alone. Out of the 30 or so women at the meeting (unfortunately, I forgot to get a count of women in attendance at both meetings), I believe about two dozen of us raised our hands to answer yes to the question. I seldom meet single women traveling alone, so to have so many in one place was really exciting.

After introductions, talk turned to toileting techniques. I think folks new to rubber tramping will always want to know how to take care of their bathroom needs. I feel grateful for people willing to speak/write candidly about such matters. I think some of the women who have been living on the road for a while were bored with this discussion.

We also talked about safety, a topic all women should be discussing. The following are some ideas that were shared:

One should carry herself so she looks alert and in control. If a woman doesn’t look like an easy target, someone looking for an easy target is less likely to bother her.

Be ready to leave an area at the first sign of trouble. Have a clear path to the driver’s seat. Know where the keys are. Park so the vehicle can easily exit.

Think about what items on hand can be used for self-defense.

Next we talked about…I don’t remember. Honestly, I don’t remember if we wrapped up the meeting here or talked about other things. Perhaps this means that whatever was discussed wasn’t all that important to me. Or maybe I was busy facilitating, and couldn’t pay good attention to the discussion. In any case, at the end of the meeting I suggested we think about what topics we wanted to talk about the next week so we could set an agenda at the beginning of the meeting.

This post wasn’t very much fun for me to write. I think it seems more like a school report than an interesting story from my life. Sorry, kids. I guess they can’t all be winners.

To read about the second women’s meeting of the 2015 RTR, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/25/the-second-womens-meeting-of-the-2015-rtr/.

To read about my first week at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/21/the-rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-1-2/.

To read about my second week at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/24/rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-2-2/.

To read about how I decided to go to the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/19/the-rubber-tramp-rendezvous-week-1/.