Why It’s Better for Me to Stay on the Mountain



#1 When I’m in civilization, I spent too much money. I get into town, and I suddenly have material desires. I go into the Mexican supermarket to use the restroom, and I’m overwhelmed by wanting a sweet treat from the panadería. (I stand in front of the racks of goodies for a comically long time, weighing my options of 79 cent pastries. Thankfully, I make a good choice with a pumpkin empanada.) I go into Wal-Mart to stock up on propane, then remember I really want a tablecloth for my picnic table, then decide I need clamps to hold it down. And a stainless steel camping cup with collapsible handles would really be useful when I want to heat enough water for tea but don’t want to haul out my multiple-quart glass saucepan. Suddenly I’m almost $50 down, most of it on comforts I could do without.

#2 I eat better when I’m on the mountain. At my camp, I’m all brown rice with beans or tofu, some veggies if I’ve got them. Sure, I eat eggs for breakfast, I love cheese, and I probably eat too many processed potato products. But in town, in addition to the aforementioned emapanada, there’s a grilled breakfast burrito at Taco Bell, then later in the day, a pizza from Little Caesars. I know it’s junk food, but it’s cheap and oh so delicious. On the second day in town, in an attempt to save money (and have more time to write), I tend to not eat enough, so I return to the campground with a headache pounding behind my eyes and up my forehead.

#3 In town, I get distracted from my routine. I forget to take my glucosamine after breakfast. I find I don’t have dental floss with me when I go into the restroom of the big box store to take care of my teeth before bed. I go to sleep later than I should, and I’m generally out of sorts.

#4 The lower elevation of town means it’s hotter there. The guideline I hear from migrating rubber tramps is that for every 1000 feet drop in elevation, the temperature increases by 3˚F. My campground is at a little over 6000 feet. If it’s a warm (but relatively pleasant) 85˚F there, it’s at least 100˚F in town. By mid-summer, by the time I pull into town, I feel as if I’m in an oven and wonder why I thought leaving the mountain was a good idea. There aren’t many trees near the coffee shop I spend my days in, so the van sits in the unrelenting sun all day. Even if (if!) the night air cools off, the interior of the van stays hot for hours. (I really wish I had a roof vent.) The summer heat in town is not pleasant.

#5 I sleep poorly in town. Even since the cop knocked on my van after midnight, I don’t like to spend the night in the supermarket parking lot. (Read about that experience here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/07/cop-knock/.) I found a place I like on a residential street, near a couple of duplexes and what looks to be a shade tree mechanic. My van doesn’t seem out of place there. I pull in after 10pm, and I’m gone well before 6am. I don’t turn on my light. However, I’m still nervous about being there. Is someone going to notice me and call the cops? Are the cops going to notice me and decide to check me out? Is someone going to try the handles on the van’s doors? Sometimes the workers from the restaurant across the street make a lot of noise putting out the trash. Some mornings the garbage truck wakes me before 5:30am. Even the reduced traffic of nighttime is noisy and it’s always so damn bright in Babylon. Also, even with my windows open, I’m usually hot all night. (See #4)

#6 When I’m in civilization, I drink coffee. Some other time I’ll go into detail about the joy and sorrow which is coffee for me, but in a nutshell, coffee makes me all jacked up. I drink it, and my whole being hums, buzzes, and twangs for hours. And hours. And hours. Bedtime rolls around, and I’m still awake, even if I’m back on the mountain and the night is dark and the air is cool. Because I usually sleep well on the mountain, I don’t need coffee up there. Because I usually sleep for shit in civilization (see #5) I have coffee on the morning of my second day in town, and I’m still feeling the effects that night. (For real.)

#7 The mountain is good for my spirit. The mountain is peaceful. The mountain is beautiful. The mountain is (mostly) natural. Just being out there brings me peace. Seeing tall trees growing just for themselves is good for me. Sitting in a place so quiet I can clearly hear the sound of the flapping of a raven’s wings as it flies over is good for me. Feeling the earth under my boots is good for me. Being on the mountain brings me a contentment I’ve never found in any city.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

10 Responses »

  1. Re: coffee – I’ve never developed the taste for it but once drank way too much diet cola. I switched to unsweetened iced tea year round but the caffeine would get to me. I like herbal tea I buy from Amazon, although it can be pricey. I now drink water and herbal tea off and on and when I’m out I will have the occasional unsweetened iced tea as a one off for the day. Enjoy the mountains. Brent

    • Brent, I think caffeine is a serious drug that our society drinks way too casually. I am currently drinking iced tea while at a restaurant. I need to switch to water next time I’m offered a refill.

      Thanks for your comment and for being a loyal reader.

      The mountains are great. I went on a little hike this morning. Trees! River! Yes!

  2. Decaf coffee isn’t really bad tasting if it’s brewed like regular coffee. I’ve been drinking it for years, and it tastes just as good to me as the regular stuff used to. Minus the jitters, heart palpitations, and staying awake half the night. I visited an old friend and had a coffee or two at his house–like noon-ish and was still awake at 3 AM. I’ve switched to tea when I visit him—at least I can sleep at night. I didn’t like tea much when I was younger, but it’s not bad now that I’m considerably older. We are capable of changing things that make us dis-satisfied.

    • Thanks for the comment, Marcia.

      Maybe I’ll try decaf next time. Part of the problem is that the caffeine high is pretty fun. As I said to Brent, I think caffeine is quite the drug. I do tent to be particularly sensitive.

  3. Two suggestions that might help on the above topics…

    Find a health food store that sells loose tea in bulk and try some of them — they’re cheap that way — just spoon some into a small bag.. Some of those stores also carry reusable muslin tea bags (here, $3 for 10). Or, you can just brew it in a teapot (etc), and pour it through a fine strainer. After reading some of Alexander McCall-Smith’s “#1 Ladies Detective Agency” books (takes place in Africa), I found some of the bush tea (aka Rooibos or Red Bush tea) that the main character drinks, and I like it; no caffeine, either. They also have other flavors, like peppermint.

    Finding a safe place off the street in town: If you can spend a night w/o having to leave the van to go to a restroom, you’re “self-contained”. Well before dark, drive around a bit and look for private properties that are decently kept. Stop and ask if you could park on the far edge (etc) of their property just for the night, that you are self-contained, you would only be sleeping there, and you’re careful not to leave trash. If you have a dog, keep it on a leash and pick up after it. Be nice if you’re refused, but ask if they know of any place that would be safe to park that wouldn’t be on the street. Stress SAFETY. They may know of someplace or someone that would be suitable. If they okay it, park somewhere else for the rest of the day, and just quietly go back to the property to sleep, just like you said you would.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Sue.

      I really only drink coffee when I am in town and sitting at a coffee shop using the internet. The coffee is under $2, with unlimited refills, so the price is not really the issue. Since I’m sitting in the coffee shop using the internet and electricity, I think it’s only fair I buy something. I could buy hot or iced tea too, but I like the coffee…the taste and the thrill. But I’m better off without the temptation.

      Also, there is no health food store in the town where I go when I when I go to civilization.

      I don’t really feel unsafe where I sleep in town, except for the possibility of the cops knocking on my door. Sometimes I think about people trying my doors to see if they are unlocked, but being hassled by the cops is the possibility I worry about most.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. I switched to decaf because I was getting jittery and irritable. An added benefit is that I don’t need to have coffee every day. I used to get a headache if I didn’t get coffee daily.

    I’m looking forward to getting to the mountains to get some rejuvenation for my spirit. Headed to Maine soon!

    Love this post!

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