AuthorTopic: RE Gets a Stealth Van!  (Read 11470 times)

Offline RE

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RE Gets a Stealth Van!: Building the Geodesic Gazebo
« Reply #360 on: July 30, 2017, 06:27:04 PM »
I JUST finished making the first video on constructing Geodesics.  :icon_sunny:

After I get it edited, I will cut out a Teaser Trailer for it to publish here in the forum.  The full vid has a lot of vids ahead of it that are in the can already, so won't appear for a month at least.

RE
« Last Edit: July 30, 2017, 07:12:55 PM by RE »
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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!: Building the Geodesic Gazebo
« Reply #361 on: July 30, 2017, 08:27:07 PM »
I JUST finished making the first video on constructing Geodesics.  :icon_sunny:

After I get it edited, I will cut out a Teaser Trailer for it to publish here in the forum.  The full vid has a lot of vids ahead of it that are in the can already, so won't appear for a month at least.

RE

OK!  I just finished the edit on the full vid and the trailer for the series.  :icon_sunny:

Here's the Trailer:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/3drG7d55d2c" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/3drG7d55d2c</a>

You will get the opportunity to hear my Schizo/Tourette's upstairs neighbor in this vid if you watch it through the full 5 minutes, not to mention the neighbor kids.

RE
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Offline RE

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Boondocking the Last Great Frontier 4
« Reply #362 on: August 06, 2017, 02:22:45 AM »


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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 6, 2017






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I was going to do all 7 Days of the Last Great Frontier Boondocking Adventure in detail for every day, but I think after 3 days the techniques have been pretty well elucidated.  So I will tidy up this series with a recap of the last 4 days of the adventure.



Day 4– I determined not to spend ANY money, either on food or a campsite.  My choice for this day/night was the Mickey D's which is right across the street from the Wasilla Lake Park.  It was another beautiful day on the Last Great Frontier, and I spent most of it in the Park, scarfing up one of the nicer Picnic Tables for my Outdoor Diner Office and Command & Control Center.  My food for the afternoon was the last 1/3rd of the Subway Spicy Italian Hero I bought at the beginning of the week.  It was a little soggy by this point, you really should try to finish one of these in 2-3 days, not 4.  But it still tasted OK and didn't give me Tomane poisoning.



The park has a bare bones Toilet with no sink, just the Throne.  I used it once during the day.  Otherwise, the afternoon was spent surfing doom on the net, arguing on the Diner and writing for the most part.  Shooting a few pics as well.



One interesting thing was in the middle of the day a Food Truck providing FREE meals for kids showed up.  These charitable sources of food are a BIG help if you are Homeless living in a vehicle with a family to feed.  You can cut a lot out of your daily food budget on the SNAP Card if you use them.  Besides such food trucks, there are also Food Pantries around run by charitable organizations, where usually they give you 1 Food Box a week with size dependent on family size.  I volunteered at one of these in my neighborhood for a while, and the Single person food box was more than I could eat in a week by itself, forget using the SNAP Card if I was low enough income to qualify for one of those.  Choices of foods are not that great, but neither are the choices in the grocery store either for the most part.  If you really wanted to, you could actually hit more than one of these places in a week if you are mobile in a Stealth Van, simply by going to different towns in the area.  Don't do that though to scarf up more free food than you really need this way, leave the stuff for other people who need it more than you.






If you do supplement your weekly food supply this way, then what you do with your SNAP Card is buy long lasting foods like Rice, Dried Beans and Beef Jerky that store well with no refrigeration and keep them in your Storage Unit for hard times when the Food Pantries are out of Food and the Repugnants in CONgress cut or cancel the SNAP Card program.  You should always try to have at least 2-3 months of stored food of some type for temporary disruptions of JIT delivery in your neighborhood.



As dusk fell I headed over to the Alaska Club for a quick sauna & steam and exercised my legs on a couple of the machines.  Then I drove back to the Mickey D's to park for the night.  This McDonalds is 24/7, so there is always somebody parked in the lot and you don't stick out or get noticed unless you do it too often.  My storyline if I ever did get my door knocked on by the Gestapo or Mickey D's employees is that I was just tired after a long drive and catching a nap prior to going in for a McMuffin.  However, as of yet no knocks on the door.



The Mickey D's is great overnight parking because you get FREE Wi-Fi, which you can pick up from the parking lot.  You can increase the sensitivity if you get a USB Antenna for Wi-Fi, but I haven't found this necessary as of yet.  If you do buy one, they are only around $50.  You also of course can use their bathroom overnight if you get the Call of Nature.  Also great for this are 24/7 Convenience Stores & 24/7 Walmarts.  In Convenience Stores though they tend to notice you if you park in the lot too long because the lots are small, so are not good for overnighting.  Small lots are not good Boondocking locations.  You want to look for a Convenience Store that is next to some kind of strip mall to actually park in for the night.  Also scope out the lot you will park in beforehand to see how many carz stay there overnight, the more the better.



Once parked and on the Wi-Fi, I watched a few Music Videos since I wasn't worried about bandwidth, then hit the bunk for a good night's sleep.  Another day of Boondocking tomorrow.



Day 5–  I got up pretty early around 6AM and went into Mickey Ds to wash my face and wake up some, and then bought an Egg McMuffin for $3, not so much because I was hungry or wanted to eat one of these disgusting pieces of shit, more just as gratitude to the McDonald's Corporation for giving me a place to sleep overnight.  I determined to again do another FREE night of parking, this time 1/2 done at the local Hospital/Medical Center and the other half done at a Commuter Parking lot right nearby it.  The hospital has great services, it is open all night, super clean bathrooms and FREE Wi-Fi.  I could stay there all night, but I don't want to push my luck with the hospital and get noticed.  It's too good a parking spot to risk if I don't have to, and I don't.  I don't usually sleep more than 3 hours at a stretch anyhow, so moving parking spots in the middle of the night really isn't too much of a pain in the ass.  Security DOES patrol these parking lots, and staying under the radar is important for Stealth Boondocking.



As opposed to the Hospital, the Commuter Parking lot is as bare bones as you get.  No toilets, no picnic tables, no fire ring and you can't even set up your own stuff in the lot.  It's just park and sleep for the most part in such a lot.  At 2AM though when you arrive, there really isn't much to do anyhow besides sleep, and then you leave by 6AM.  If you do get the Call of Nature during this period, you excrete your waste into the bucket inside the Van without getting out.  I did not have such a call at this time on this night.



Day 6– Leaving the parking lot in the early morning of Day 6, I drove over to another FREE parking spot by the river to make breakfast, again a FREE spot.  Same big breakfast as before, 2 large Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Sausage and Homefries.  While consuming this meal and surfing the net over the 4G network, I decide what I will do with the day.  One task I haven't yet done is go to the Laundromat to do some wash.  I don't really have much wash to do at this point, just some underwear and socks mainly and normally for me when OTR wash day only came every 2 weeks or so.  However, this is a task you have to schedule in when you live OTR, so I felt I should do it at least once during the week.



The Laundromat I choose is in the same general strip mall parking lot that Kahladi Brothers Coffee and Safeway are in, both of which have FREE Wi-Fi.  The laundromat itself also has grid connected electric outlets as well of course, so I can drop a Batt onto one of them for charging while my wash is running.  I still do not really need to do this though, I have been driving around enough to keep everything charged up enough off the van alternator.  I go to another park to hang out for a while, then go over to Lowe's and Home Depot to do some window shopping for preps scooting around on one of their electric shopping carts for Cripples.  I love the hardware stores more than Walmart nowadays for Prep Window shopping.  I don't buy anything though, I just make notes on prices in my head for future purchases while the FRNs still work and the shelves are still stocked.



I have been on an Austerity Budget for the last day and decide to SPLURGE for dinner, and go over to my favorite Asian Cuisine restaraunt in the neighborhood, ordering a small Miso Soup (cheapest thing on the menu at $3) and a Scallops Batayaki appetizer at $10.  I am able to finish the Miso Soup, but only eat half the scallops, the other half go in the cooler for breakfast tomorrow.  I reloaded the cooler with new ice from Safeway earlier in the day.



For tonight's Boondocking, it's back to the FREE spot by the river and I entertain myself for the evening designing and drawing plans for a Geodesic Gazebo to add living space to SaVANnah for longer stays in bucolic locations OTR like the Grand Canyon or Lolo National Forest, site of my Pi-Fi Collapse Novel, How I Survived Collapse.  I make a few posts to the Diner and get back into a long running argument with one of the Diners who lives in the Tropical Rain Forest over whether you should kill or let live Pythons that are crawling about your property.  This remains a disputed question. lol.



Day 7–  This will be my Final Day Boondocking for this trial run.  I am going to finish off IN SPLENDOR, buying a For Pay campsite with electricity, water & sewer at a private campground for $40.  This is a HUGE expenditure and totally unnecessary, but I am doing it just to get some pics of how the "other half" of the Van Dwelling community lives, the RICH ones.  This is relative of course, they may not be rich compared to others of their age group, and they are usually Baby Boomers.  They are the ones who own the Big Ass Diesel Pushers that are the size of Tour Buses or monster 5th Wheel arrangements pulled by monster pickup trucks.  Or in some cases, they actually yank around Tiny Homes.  I have seen rigs being pulled by full blown Kenworths and Freightliners. lol.



I am a dwarf in this crowd of behemoths, and I don't need the sewer hookup at all since SaVANnah doesn't have a plumbing system.  The running water also unnecessary, and in this case the electricity unnecessary also since my batts are all topped off.  If I was actually OTR right now, I NEVER would have bought this campsite.  Total waste of money.  However, I will count it in to my expenses for this week anyway.



When you do buy such a campsite, besides all the hookups you do get other ammenties also.  There is a laundromat on site, so I could have used this laundry instead of the one I used the day before.  There are showers also, and down in the lower 48 such places will have Pools also for the kids to swim in, just like any fairly decent Bates Motel.  Ice making machine to fill your cooler too.  So you do get some value back for this expenditure, but for me it's all a waste of money.



I can never see pulling around a rig this size if you don't have at least 4 people in it.  They seriously limit places you can go because of the turning radius to begin with.  They also hit about ZERO on the stealth scale, and they are whopping good targets for thieves.  Why don't you advertize a little bigger how RICH you are?  Not to mention of course the fuel consumption of such a large rig.  The smaller the rig you can get away with for full-time living, the better.



https://saferide4kids.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/travel-with-kids-rv.jpgWhich brings us round to the BIGGEST controversy this debate engendered on the Diner, which is whether or not you can live the Gypsy lifestyle with KIDS in tow.  Just about everyone agreed it is possible to Van Dwell as a Single Male, and perhaps even as a couple with the gender partner of your choice.  However, opinions were expressed it was IMPOSSIBLE to live this way if you have children, and/or nobody would do it unless absolutely forced to.  Are these postulates true?  IMHO, no they are not true.



https://www.boatsandoutboards.co.uk/upload/sailingyogafamilyfinal.pngFirst of all, Yachties choose this lifestyle on a reasonably regular basis, just they do it over water rather than over land.  A rig arrangement on land is really just a a land yacht.  If you have a family on a Yacht, you're NOT going to be able to get away with a 30 footer.  You're going to need something in the 45' range.  Similarly, on land you are NOT going to be able to bring kids along with just a Van or Pickup Truck/Camper, you're going to need a Trailer for that.



Increasing the size of your rig increases the cost, but of course raising kids always increases cost.  In this case, it still increases costs less than scaling up in McMansion size as you go along that trail.  It also decreases your ability to do Stealth, if you drop in at Mickey D's in the middle of the night with your 4 year old who needs to use the toilet, the staff will probably notice this and call the local Gestapo.  So you're going to have to stick to the FREE Public Use sites for the most part to stay under the radar.



You do have an advantage when working with a Partner, one of you can leave the Boondocking site and get some Gig Work for the day to cover your costs, which you are keeping rock bottom cheap.  You're living even cheaper than the folks who live in Trailer Parks do at this point.  Which of course means you are even below the level of "Trailer Trash" on the economic scale, and most people find being so identified as a mark of failure in their lives.  But is it really?  Again, IMHO, no it is not.



First of all, you are going to be spending a LOT more time out of doors experiencing the Nature we still have left.  Next, you are tons more FREE & MOBILE, to go wherever there is work you can find to support your lifestyle.  In contrast to living with other relatives, you have more independence and freedom from dealing with them.  You are making so little money that you have no TAXES to pay into the Military-Industrial-Complex. So you are making trade-offs here for sure, but it's not impossible and is just a matter of your priorities and whether you can put together enough money to get into a decent size rig for the number of people you are pulling OTR.



I lived a long time OTR, so this type of living is second nature to me, for most people it is not.  Certainly not impossible though, Gypsies have been doing it for centuries.  On land, today, it's going to require you to have enough MONEY to buy the gas to move the rig down the road from place to place.  This however is not a huge amount of money.  My final costs for the week of Boondocking came to $242.  My fuel cost came to $34.  I spent a lot more money than I had to on Premium Campsites, Premium Food and Restaraunts.  Even so, on a wage of just $10/hr, I could have afforded this week working just 25 hours serving up Frappucinos at Starbucks.  The cost for having kids along would not have been much greater, since I could get all the food for them for FREE from the SNAP Card and the Food Pantries.  All the For Pay campsites would have cost exactly the same.  I would just have a larger fuel cost pulling a trailer, perhaps 20-30% more the most depending on the length, weight and type of trailer.  So most this brings up the fuel cost is from $34 to maybe $50/week.



I don't want to try and make the case this form of living is for everyone.  It's not.  You have to have a Nomadic Soul to be happy with it, and you have to be comfortable living in small spaces, although you can creatively increase your living space, which I will be doing on I Spy Doom videos building a Geodesic Gazebo as an Add-On room for SaVANnah when parked for longer periods of Boondocking a given location. You also have to be an unconventional thinker, and not bought into the Matrix Meme of a Double Wide Trailer as your Dream Home.  Most people will buy into this, and become trapped by it.  That is sad, but you cannot help people who are trapped in this mindset.



Next up on the Boondocking Level is the trip down to the Lower 48 for THE TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼, which I will view from the PATH OF TOTALITY in Idaho in a Rental Stealth Van.  COMING SOON TO A LAPTOP NEAR YOU ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER.




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Offline luciddreams

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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!
« Reply #363 on: August 06, 2017, 12:42:03 PM »
I'm not saying that stealth living can't be done with a family.  It can be done.  What I'm saying is that it's not advisable, or a good decision to take kids into such an arrangement.  Just think about the daily lives of children in a boondocking situation!  What are they going to do on a daily basis?  Run around like feral children is what they are going to do, and that because they will drive their parents nuts in close quarters all of the time.  So the parents will be more lenient and let them run around so as to not lose their cussin' minds. 

We just kick the kids outside when they are acting nuts.  Kids act nuts about 90% of the time because they have more energy then they know what to do with.  My kids are outside right now making mud pies for our dog with some "secrete ingredient."  I have no idea what that ingredient is, but I don't care either.  However, they are in a fenced in yard where they are relatively safe without me having to concern myself with where they are and what they are doing.  They are on private property. 

I don't know, maybe you are correct and it's just conditioned and conventional thinking based on being brought up and living my entire life with these societal parameters?  I'm not going to argue otherwise.  I know people take their children off grids into the wilderness.  Maybe they are doing their children a huge service by doing that.  Maybe tshtf in the next few years and civilization is no longer recognizable, and those homeschooled feral free range children will be better suited for that world. 

Maybe they will be better suited for the world no matter how it shakes down.  Our kids are sort of a hybrid between homeschooled and conventional.  They are attending public school but we allow them to play in the mud, start fires in the pit, and generally act like hooligans while outside peeing on the nature.  They also vedge out on Netflix somewhat frequently (our only babysitter is Netflix...at least while in the house).  But they also run around outside within our fence.  They eat box store food, drink corn syrup, and even eat candy from time to time.  But we mostly feed them whole foods prepared into meals.  We are not purist. 

Raising kids is composed of a lot of grays and hardly any black and whites.  I guess GM and I are playing it safe with our children.  We get them vaccinated and send them to public school, while at the same time I tell them the truth about the world.  We are counter culture living pretty conventional lives.  I guess that makes us hypocrites to some.  We moved in with family to play permaculture and bamboo.  To be self employed and try to find a way that doesn't revolve around money.  The pressure to do the best that we can for our children has won out in the end. 

It's extremely difficult to break the societal mold and come up with some new and unapproved way of being in the world when you have children.  The pressure to do what is considered normal has a lot more weight with children. 

Basically I think you are wrong to argue that GM and I should live with children in a stealth arrangement.  It's simply not worth the risk and the troubles that we would set ourselves up for.  A yacht is not the same thing as a stealth arrangement on land either.  The living space may be similar, as is the nomadic aspect, but land and sea are not the same.  Also, yacht living would require more money. 

I'll give you one very good reason why stealth van/trailer living is not good for children.  Food.  Good, wholesome, food would be a lot more difficult to provide.  It's a lot cheaper to buy bulk whole foods like oatmeal, rice, dried beans, cereals, cheese, and butter.  You've got to have the space and facilities to provide for bulk foods.  You won't have that in a camper.  We provide our children with back yard chicken eggs.  We grow vegetables.  I'm not trying to feed my children fast foods, or food out of a can.  Stability is good for small children. 

Offline RE

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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!
« Reply #364 on: August 06, 2017, 03:54:53 PM »
I'll give you one very good reason why stealth van/trailer living is not good for children.  Food.  Good, wholesome, food would be a lot more difficult to provide.  It's a lot cheaper to buy bulk whole foods like oatmeal, rice, dried beans, cereals, cheese, and butter.  You've got to have the space and facilities to provide for bulk foods.

That is what you have Storage Units for.

What would the kids do?  Maybe go fishing in the river or go biking on the trails or climb Lazy Mountain with dad?  What do the Yachty kids do?  They go fishing or biking or climb mountains too.   There is zero difference between these lifestyles.  You live in the same size space with kids who have lots of "energy".  You move around and the kids get to see many things and meet many different people.

What is so great & healthy about living in a doublewide trailer in the middle of suburbia with the kids playing the Xbox?  OK, you have chickens and bamboo growing in the backyard.  If you live the Gypsy life, they have all the fish in all the rivers and they have miles of forests to go exploring.  They have beaches to go Body Surfing on.  They don't have a bullshit Public Skule to go to.  How are you going to Homeschool the boys when you are in the Truck all the time?  I guess Gypsy Mama has volunteered for this job.

But you have to have the soul of a Gypsy to want this life, and you do not have such a soul, and nor does Gypsy Mama.  You are not like me.  You are not a Gypsy.

RE
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 04:15:16 PM by RE »
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Offline luciddreams

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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!
« Reply #365 on: August 06, 2017, 04:35:21 PM »
I'll give you one very good reason why stealth van/trailer living is not good for children.  Food.  Good, wholesome, food would be a lot more difficult to provide.  It's a lot cheaper to buy bulk whole foods like oatmeal, rice, dried beans, cereals, cheese, and butter.  You've got to have the space and facilities to provide for bulk foods.

That is what you have Storage Units for.

What would the kids do?  Maybe go fishing in the river or go biking on the trails or climb Lazy Mountain with dad?  What do the Yachty kids do?  They go fishing or biking or climb mountains too.   There is zero difference between these lifestyles.  You live in the same size space with kids who have lots of "energy".  You move around and the kids get to see many things and meet many different people.

What is so great & healthy about living in a doublewide trailer in the middle of suburbia with the kids playing the Xbox?  OK, you have chickens and bamboo growing in the backyard.  If you live the Gypsy life, they have all the fish in all the rivers and they have miles of forests to go exploring.  They have beaches to go Body Surfing on.  They don't have a bullshit Public Skule to go to.  How are you going to Homeschool the boys when you are in the Truck all the time?  I guess Gypsy Mama has volunteered for this job.

But you have to have the soul of a Gypsy to want this life, and you do not have such a soul, and nor does Gypsy Mama.  You are not like me.  You are not a Gypsy.

RE

Yeah, those are all good points.  I'm not so sure about your evaluation of my soul though.  I do have a nomadic soul.  Of that I have no doubt.  I'm not sure about GM (irony I know...what with the avatar name...she likes the romanticism of the gypsy I think). 

I was a roustabout most of my 20's.  Backpacked all over Merika, lived in a bunch of different cities, sailed the seas as a Navy sailor, drove around working odd jobs (mostly bartending).  I spent a good 4 years with just the possessions I could fit in a two door Saturn SC2.  The trunk was mostly full of books and musical cds. 

It's not that I'm not a gypsy soul, it's that I have a wife and kids, and that life is contrary in many ways to what society expects.  Not that those expectations ultimately matter.  If it were up to me I'd probably pay the truck off and buy a camper and try to live that life.  Nothing is set in stone.  My mind is dynamic and capable of change on a moments notice.  There's still a chance I'll never go truckin'.  Until I call Roehl and make the arrangements there's no telling. 

Currently, however, my plan is to do just that.  Because of money, and kids, and stability.  We get no support when we take the kids boondockin'.  Society won't support us, family and friends won't.  About the only support we would get would come from this virtual land called the Diner. 

I think the difference here is not our souls.  The difference is that I have dependents and you do not. 

Offline RE

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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!
« Reply #366 on: August 06, 2017, 04:55:06 PM »
I'll give you one very good reason why stealth van/trailer living is not good for children.  Food.  Good, wholesome, food would be a lot more difficult to provide.  It's a lot cheaper to buy bulk whole foods like oatmeal, rice, dried beans, cereals, cheese, and butter.  You've got to have the space and facilities to provide for bulk foods.

That is what you have Storage Units for.

What would the kids do?  Maybe go fishing in the river or go biking on the trails or climb Lazy Mountain with dad?  What do the Yachty kids do?  They go fishing or biking or climb mountains too.   There is zero difference between these lifestyles.  You live in the same size space with kids who have lots of "energy".  You move around and the kids get to see many things and meet many different people.

What is so great & healthy about living in a doublewide trailer in the middle of suburbia with the kids playing the Xbox?  OK, you have chickens and bamboo growing in the backyard.  If you live the Gypsy life, they have all the fish in all the rivers and they have miles of forests to go exploring.  They have beaches to go Body Surfing on.  They don't have a bullshit Public Skule to go to.  How are you going to Homeschool the boys when you are in the Truck all the time?  I guess Gypsy Mama has volunteered for this job.

But you have to have the soul of a Gypsy to want this life, and you do not have such a soul, and nor does Gypsy Mama.  You are not like me.  You are not a Gypsy.

RE

Yeah, those are all good points.  I'm not so sure about your evaluation of my soul though.  I do have a nomadic soul.  Of that I have no doubt.  I'm not sure about GM (irony I know...what with the avatar name...she likes the romanticism of the gypsy I think). 

I was a roustabout most of my 20's.  Backpacked all over Merika, lived in a bunch of different cities, sailed the seas as a Navy sailor, drove around working odd jobs (mostly bartending).  I spent a good 4 years with just the possessions I could fit in a two door Saturn SC2.  The trunk was mostly full of books and musical cds. 

It's not that I'm not a gypsy soul, it's that I have a wife and kids, and that life is contrary in many ways to what society expects.  Not that those expectations ultimately matter.  If it were up to me I'd probably pay the truck off and buy a camper and try to live that life.  Nothing is set in stone.  My mind is dynamic and capable of change on a moments notice.  There's still a chance I'll never go truckin'.  Until I call Roehl and make the arrangements there's no telling. 

Currently, however, my plan is to do just that.  Because of money, and kids, and stability.  We get no support when we take the kids boondockin'.  Society won't support us, family and friends won't.  About the only support we would get would come from this virtual land called the Diner. 

I think the difference here is not our souls.  The difference is that I have dependents and you do not.

No, the difference is you aren't a Gypsy Soul.

The Yachties I put up the story about are a perfect example of Gypsy Souls.  They gave up everything they had in regular culture, big McMansion and Big Incomes to go live on a 45' boat with 3 kids on poverty level income.  A real Gypsy will take risks like this.

You have enough money and you have the equipment and you have a way to make the money you need independently.  But you are not a Gypsy Soul, so you will not do that.  I do grant that having a wife and kids makes it more difficult, but even you have now admitted it is possible to do.

RE
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Offline luciddreams

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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!
« Reply #367 on: August 06, 2017, 05:02:08 PM »

No, the difference is you aren't a Gypsy Soul.

The Yachties I put up the story about are a perfect example of Gypsy Souls.  They gave up everything they had in regular culture, big McMansion and Big Incomes to go live on a 45' boat with 3 kids on poverty level income.  A real Gypsy will take risks like this.
 

We've already established that that couple had at least a million dollars to set themselves up for that life.  Gypsies don't embark on a gypsy life with a million plus dollars.  Gypsies live on petty thievery. 

Quote
You have enough money and you have the equipment and you have a way to make the money you need independently.  But you are not a Gypsy Soul, so you will not do that.  I do grant that having a wife and kids makes it more difficult, but even you have now admitted it is possible to do.

RE

I have enough money to do what?  Live in a box trailer with my kids in a McD's parking lot?  Please RE...get a grip. 

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Re: RE Gets a Stealth Van!
« Reply #368 on: August 06, 2017, 05:37:38 PM »


I have enough money to do what?  Live in a box trailer with my kids in a McD's parking lot?  Please RE...get a grip.

You have enough money to live in Land Yacht and park in Expensive for pay sites with Full Hookups.  I explained how in the other thread.

The couple that went on their journey likely had no more than $500K to get going, and I doubt that much.  They are too young to have built up much equity in the McMansion they sold.  The 45' boat they bought can be had on the used market for around $80K.  More than you have granted, but you already have a truck and trailer to do the land version of the life.

You just do not have the Gypsy soul.  Grasp this.

RE
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You do NOT have to be a Rich Fuck to live the life of a Gypsy on Land & Sea
« Reply #369 on: August 06, 2017, 07:15:20 PM »
The sailboat below is currently selling for $22K.  At 37' it is a bit small for a family, but we have additional land dwellings of Vans, Pickups, Camper backs and trailers to park in the Marina lot for a LOT of additional living space.


I will pay half the cost of this boat, even though my Meat Package represents only 1/5th of the people who will use it as a domicile.  Most of the time, I will live in SaVANnah on land, or an attached trailer.

Dockage Fee at the Isle of Palms Marina in SC with full hookups is as follows for Monthly:

MONTHLY
April - September $12.00/ft
October - March $10.00/ft
$100 Yearly Ramp Decal Required


So for a 37' boat, you are talking about $400/month rent.  I will pay half that again out of my SS Mailbox Money despite the fact I am one of only 5 people renting this space.

The Marina is very nice with Group Events & lots of good safe places for kids to play.




Besides my land rig, we also have yours, and could easily add to it with a camper back or trailer.

For you as well as me, the cost for this Gypsy living arrangement is $11K Up Front and $200/mo rent.  No sewer to put in and lots of amenities.

37' is a LOT of sailboat.  Here is the layout of a Tayana 37' Canoe Stern boat:


As you can see, it has a Double Berth up front and single berths back in the cabin.  Very nice Galley and a nice Dining Table too, which converts to another double berth.

All this is possible to do on much less than the $30K you figure to be left after the lawyers & banksters take their vigorish.

But you will not do this, you will buy a doublewide trailer to live in the middle of suburbia, and you will take on still more debt to the banksters to do that too.  I just cannot help you.  You are too bought into the BAU model.

RE
« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 09:07:36 PM by RE »
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RE Gets a Stealth Van!: A visit with the old Bugout Machine
« Reply #370 on: October 01, 2017, 01:30:53 PM »
My upstairs neighbor the Native UE Carpenter helped me get the seat out of the van, so now I don't have to go over to the Dealership to get this figured out/done.  I had the latching mechanism right, I just didn't have the muscle power to pull it out.  It took Eddie (the Native guy, not our Eddie) about 30 seconds, then he carried it and dropped it in my digs for another 30 seconds of work.  I paid him in Barter.  He doesn't drink beer so I gave him a couple of frozen T-Bone Steaks.  :icon_sunny:

With that area now cleared out for storage of Preps and to make a comfortable Office area to work and administer the Diner while on the road, I can now get SaVannah fully Road Ready for this Summer's Adventures here on the Last Great Frontier.  She won't be accompanying me (or carrying me really) down to the Lower 48 for the Total Eclipse of the SUN☼ this year, but next year she will get to tour the crappy part of the FSoA with me, assuming SHTF Day doesn't come between now and then.  For this trip, I am just renting a Dodge Grand Caravan.

Getting SaVannah fully ready though is a pretty big job overall, and I'm not even talking getting the Solar Panels installed or getting a new Heavy Duty Tow Package to pull a big trailer.  Just getting all the right Preps selected and stowed efficiently so I can get to them as needed and also still be able to have good room for sleeping is quite a challenge!  I go out every day to my carport and experiment with different ideas to do things creatively (and as CHEAP as I can!).  For instance, I would like an Awning over the main Side Door entrance when parked at a campsite.  You can get some really nice ones that deploy electrically, and I might go for one of those at some point but they are rather expensive.  Besides that, since they are attached on the outside they do more to ruin the Stealth aspect of the "stock" look than even the solar panels do.  Being on the roof which is raised and laying flat unless angled up  for deployment at a campsite, you really could not see the PV panels from street level, you would need to be about 7'6" to do that.  From the street, it should look more or less like a normal roof rack unless deployed and angled up.

So I have been experimenting with just using a cheap Tarp I picked up at 3 Bears and how to get it attached quickly and easily, and in such a way it will withstand at least a mild breeze without blowing off into the woods.  I'm trying to do this without making any permanent modifications to the exterior, such as installing permanent attachment points.  Overall, I am making the effort keep SaVannah as "stock" as possible both inside and outside.  I'm sure I will have to compromise on this eventually, but so far I have figured out some means of doing everything I want so far without drilling any new holes into SaVannah.

In terms of drilling holes, this finally gave me an excuse to Unbox one of my prep sets purchased a few years ago, a 7 tool set of 18V "ONE+" tools from Ryobi purchased at Home Depot ON SALE.  Drill, Circular Saw, Reciprocating Saw. Light and 2 Batts and the Charger.  I got all that for under $200!  Just the batts alone cost $60 for  a set of two Ni-Cads, and Li-I for 2 is $100.  Ryobi isn't quite as high quality as Dewalt or Mikita, but it's a huge step up over Black & Decker.  For some of the stuff I am doing I will need a jig saw also, so I'll probably hit Home Depot sometime next week for one of those.  $50 when I priced it online.   For right now though I have so far been able to get away with using an Electric Turkey Carving Knife for jig type work, since I am using mostly cardboard and foam insulation, and the electric knife is pretty good with cutting those as long as they don't get too thick.  I learned this trick while installing Ethafoam on Gymnastics Spring Floors.  :icon_sunny:

Besides the construction though is the actual STUFF to stuff into the van (sic).  For this, I already HAVE every prep known to mobile man, and a few of them actually made it all the way up here from my OTR years, like my Immersion Heater (great for warming up soup or coffee prior to arguing with a lumper on how much he will charge to unload the box) and my portable Walkie-Talkie style CB Radio (good for being able to get out of the truck and not have to sit by your CB to get you dock call, which if you miss you are probably fucked for another 24 hours.  Nowadays, maybe they use smart phones and text messages for this).

Most of the shit however has been purchased up here in the years since 2008 getting ready for SHTF Day.  Quite a bit of the stuff sits in Tioga, my old Bugout Machine in it's Storage Unit spot where it hasn't moved from in roughly 2 years.  Both batteries are doornail dead and one of the tires on the rear duallies is a bit flat.  Otherwise, I think it still works, but I haven't had a reason to get it working.  It just costs too much gas to drive that mother fucker anywhere.  If it ever gets driven again, it will make one trip out into the Bush and that's where it will remain, along with my frozen body.

For more current active traveling around, SaVannah is much better of course, though obviously nowhere NEAR so spacious and comfortable inside as Tioga.  Neither is it possible to store anywhere near as many Preps in SaVannah.  So there has to be triage on this, as to what I just really need or want to have with me, on what should generally be no more than a month between resupply trips.  One has to remember Stealth Van living will only last as long as BAU does, AKA the ability to buy affordable gas at the pump.  Once that is gone, SaVannah is parked wherever the last tank of gas and jerry cans ran out, and as permanent living quarters stuck in the middle of nowhere go that is pretty Spartan, although better than a tent.
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The Old Road Gypsies have ARRIVED!
« Reply #371 on: November 07, 2017, 08:32:11 AM »
This doesn't sound too bad to me.  No Mortgage, freedom to go where you like, change jobs when you get pissed at the boss or Corporate Management, low overhead.  Definitely better than slaving to pay for an expensive ticky-tacky McMansion in suburbia.

RE

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/many-older-americans-are-living-a-desperate-nomadic-life-2017-11-06

Many older Americans are living a desperate, nomadic life

Published: Nov 7, 2017 3:09 a.m. ET


They live in RVs and drive from one low-wage job to another
Getty Images

By
Richard
Eisenberg

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org. It is part of a partnership between Next Avenue and Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative on poverty and opportunity.

In her powerful new book, “Nomadland,” award-winning journalist Jessica Bruder reveals the dark, depressing and sometimes physically painful life of a tribe of men and women in their 50s and 60s who are — as the subtitle says — “surviving America in the twenty-first century.” Not quite homeless, they are “houseless,” living in secondhand RVs, trailers and vans and driving from one location to another to pick up seasonal low-wage jobs, if they can get them, with little or no benefits.

The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s AMZN, -0.09% “CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night. Living on less than $1,000 a month, in certain cases, some have no hot showers. As Bruder writes, these are “people who never imagined being nomads.” Many saw their savings wiped out during the Great Recession or were foreclosure victims and, writes Bruder, “felt they’d spent too long losing a rigged game.” Some were laid off from high-paying professional jobs. Few have chosen this life. Few think they can find a way out of it. They’re downwardly mobile older Americans in mobile homes.

During her three years doing research for the book, conducting hundreds of interviews and traversing 15,000 miles, Bruder even tried living the difficult nomad life; she lasted one workweek. I recently interviewed Bruder to learn more about the lives in Nomadland and what the future holds for these people:

Next Avenue: How did you come to write “Nomadland?”

Jessica Bruder: It grew out of a story I wrote for Harper’s in 2014. I had read a story in Mother Jones and it mentioned a woman working in a warehouse who was living in an RV and said she couldn’t afford to retire. I went ‘Goodness!’ Call me naive, but when I see an RV, I assume it’s owned by one of the last of great pensioners enjoying retirement and going to see the National Parks. I regarded it as a life of luxury and a neat retirement choice. After all, they call them ‘recreational’ vehicles.

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I started doing some research and learned there was a whole spectrum of thousands of employers hiring people in similar situations — in oil fields, harvesting sugar beets and helping out at amusement parks. These are not easy jobs or the kind typically associated with people in older stages. But nobody had been looking at it in context of the retirement crisis in the wake of the Great Recession. And a lot of the recruiting materials for these jobs made them look like summer camps. Some for Amazon’s CamperForce said if you come, you’ll make friends. It felt so strange to me, so I started talking to RV’ers outside Amazon warehouses in Nevada and Kansas. Some lost their savings; some thought they would retire on the equity in their homes, but their homes dropped in value dramatically, while the cost of traditional housing kept going up. A lot of them were living hand to mouth; it was hard for them to save for tomorrow.

What else were the people like who you met in “Nomadland?”

The people I met on the road were so creative and resilient and I spent time learning from them. Following them was the most exciting opportunity I’ve ever had.

Why do you think so many older people are living and working this way?

I think it has been the pretty bad economic times. We saw in the 1980s a shift from pensions to 401(k)s; that was a raw deal for workers. These retirement plans were marketed as an instrument of financial freedom, but they were really transferring risk from the shoulder of the employers to the backs of the workers.

I met a lot of older women. The gender wage gap has meant women have lower lifetime earnings then men; they spend more time out of the workforce doing unpaid labor, raising families or caring for parents.

Do you have any sense about whether the numbers of people in “Nomadland” are growing and why?

Anecdotally. Amazon’s CamperForce says it’s getting more and more applications. And when I track Facebook FB, -0.62% groups of these people, they’re all exploding. There are probably in the tens of thousands of people in Nomadland, and that’s being conservative.

Why do Nomads live like this?

We live in a culture where if your number didn’t come up, you’re a bad person, you’re lazy, you should be ashamed of yourself. It eats away at people. It makes them more exploitable.

What are the challenges they face?

I talked to one couple, Barb and Chuck. He had been head of product development at McDonald’s MCD, -0.25%  before he retired. He lost his nest egg in the 2008 crash and Barb did, too. One time, Barb and Chuck were standing at the gas station to get $175 worth of gas and the horror hit them that their account had $6 in it. The gas station gentleman said ‘Give me your name and driver’s license and if you write a check, I will wait to cash it.’ He waited two whole weeks before he deposited it.

These jobs can be rough physically, right?

I know someone in his 70s who walked 15 miles on a concrete floor, sometimes for 10 hours. Your feet can get messed up, you can get repetitive stress injury and a tendon condition. The Nomads talked to me about soaking their feet in salt baths at night and being too tired to go out. When I went to the sugar beet harvest, it was 12 hours a day in the cold, shoveling. Oh my God, my body hurt! And I was 37!

Tell me about Amazon’s CamperForce program, which hires thousands of Nomads.

It began in 2008, within months after the housing collapse. Amazon contracts with an RV park and pays the CamperForce to do warehouse work loading and packing and order fulfillment. From the outside looking in, you’d say: ‘Why would you want older people doing this? The jobs seem suited to younger bodies.’ But so many times, the recruiters in the published materials talk about the older people’s work ethic and the maturity of the workforce and their ‘life experience,’ which is a code word for ‘Hey, you’re old.’

You write that sometimes the Nomads are exploited. How?

I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Forest Service and learned that some of their workers aren’t getting paid for all their hours. They weren’t allowed to invoice.

Some of the Nomads had to work alongside robots, such as in the Amazon warehouses. How was that?

The robots were making them bonkers. This is isolating work and there’s one scene in the book where a robot kept bringing a woman in her 70s the same thing to count.

What needs to change to prevent people from having to become Nomads or to help them live better if they are?

For one thing, Amazon should pay its workers more and give them better working conditions. It’s laughable that the workers get a 15-minute break when they have to spend it walking to the break room. It’s completely insane.

Nomads need a voice, but at the same time, it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll organize for better working conditions because they’re vulnerable and always on the move.

Richard Eisenberg is the Senior Web Editor of the Money & Security and Work & Purpose channels of Next Avenue and Managing Editor for the site. He is the author of “How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis” and has been a personal finance editor at Money, Yahoo, Good Housekeeping, and CBS MoneyWatch.@richeis315

This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org, © 2017 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved. It is part of a partnership with Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America, a public media initiative. Major funding is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Ford Foundation.
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The beautiful Airstream myth and painful RV reality of life on the road
« Reply #372 on: November 25, 2017, 07:08:56 AM »
This article has numerous errors of fact, not the least of which is it takes nowhere NEAR $25K to live the Nomadic Life as long as you scarf up free parking half the time.  Even paying for parking it shouldn't cost that much.  My budget was around $30/day, and I could have easily gone under that.  That works out to $10K/year.  On $15K, you are living a life of Nomadic Luxury.

RE

http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-ca-jc-nomadland-airstream-20171122-story.html

The beautiful Airstream myth and painful RV reality of life on the road


 


Ellie Robins

“You have taken over the job of creating desire, and have transformed people into constantly moving happiness machines. Machines which have become the key to economic progress.” So said the secretary of commerce and next president, Herbert Hoover, to a group of PR men in 1928, after America’s decade of revolutionary consumerism.

“Constantly moving happiness machines” is an apt description of the Airstream dwellers presented in Karen Flett’s recent book, “Living the Airstream Life.” In 160 full-color pages of interviews, guidance and — most enticingly — photographs of dreamy Airstream interiors, Flett lays out the brand’s vision of American freedom, a call to the wandering spirit. “We don’t sell trailers,” Flett quotes Airstream founder Wally Byam in the opening pages, “we sell a way of life.”

This school of sales was invented by Sigmund Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, the “father of PR” (foremost among those addressed by Hoover in 1928) and an engine of early consumerism. Bernays drew on his uncle’s work to sell products by appealing to humans’ innermost desires — for freedom, for instance; for a certain way of life. Next he set his sights on restructuring American democracy itself. In Bernays’ view, humans were irrational and highly manipulable, making true democracy dangerous. His ideal was to hold up the illusion of democratic empowerment while curbing democratic impulses through a voracious cycle of consumerism that would pique and then sate people’s desires.

Living the Airstream Life.

Under this consumerist vision of democracy, freedom is a brand to be bought, rather than a natural state or one to be achieved by active engagement in civic affairs. The Airstream that Flett so uncritically presents is the ultimate brand of this bought freedom.

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Messaging like this is insidious. Presented with all these pictures of beautiful trailers in majestic settings, it’s easy to fall for the narrative that you can buy freedom. I know how easy it is: I’m a former Airstream dweller. And I was repeatedly flummoxed by Flett’s assertions about the economics of Airstream life. “Less of your finances invested in your home and more efficient use of the income that you do have can lead to a life of being debt-free,” Flett posits, only to later glorify the most expensive ways to live nomadically. “If you have the finances to cover it, getting a professional to be part of the project [of renovating a trailer] is ideal,” she writes, amid page upon page of beautiful interior shots and free advertising for the featured designers. Of course, these designers “charge a pretty penny,” she adds. Airstreams are already more expensive than most RVs and trailers. What other freedoms might a person sacrifice in pursuit of this high-end version of liberty? To her credit (though in conflict with her message about money-saving), Flett cautions against ambitious DIY Airstream renovations, a message I wish I’d heard before embarking on my own, which swallowed time and money and left me in debt – the best lesson I could have had in the wrongheadedness of freedom via spending.

Living the Airstream Life

Then there’s the question of living expenses. Flett calculates that “the majority of full-timers live comfortably on about $25,000 a year (plus any trailer or vehicle repayments).” That’s $25,000, after taxes, that must be earned without a fixed address. Freelance work is on the rise, but only certain workers can earn this kind of living. Flett’s interviewees are web designers, writers, and other skilled professionals. But think of a full-time Uber driver taking home $11.21/hour in Denver (the most lucrative of three cities surveyed), who would make $23,317 after tax — and have very little time to “live the Airstream life.” This particular brand of freedom, then, is available only to those who already enjoy a certain degree of economic and social freedom.

Flett herself inadvertently hints at the inaccessibility of the dream. In a throwaway suggestion, she offers “workamping” as a way to make your $25,000 a year. What is workamping? Here is a vision of dystopia for you, via Jessica Bruder’s compelling, deeply researched and alarming “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century”: During peak seasons, Amazon hires legions of temporary staff to operate its warehouses under a program called CamperForce. CamperForce workers are overwhelmingly senior citizens who cannot afford to retire, people who have moved into RVs and travel from job to job.

Nomadland

Over the course of three years and 15,000 miles, journalist Bruder embedded herself in America’s swelling community of nomads — not Flett’s hip Airstreamers but the full-time inhabitants of cheaper vans, RVs and cars found in cities and open spaces around the country. The book centers on the experiences of the charismatic 64-year-old Linda May, who embarked on the nomadic lifestyle after a lifetime of hard work that won her zero economic freedom. Linda lives in a tiny, rickety trailer she calls the Squeeze Inn and makes her money workamping. She’s an upbeat and appealing companion as Bruder buys her own van, makes repeat visits to an annual nomad meetup and works stints at Amazon and the sugar beet harvest.

Many of the workampers Bruder meets would once have belonged to the middle class: Their former professions include accountant, McDonald’s executive, advertising art director and broadcast journalist, as well as jobs in the retail and service industries. “Sometimes I felt like I was wandering around post-recession refugee camps,” she writes. She meets victims of bad investments and people who hadn’t been able to set aside enough of a safety net to survive divorce, illness, or injury. Most frequently, she meets victims of the 2008 recession, people who were laid off or saw their 401(k)s and other assets wiped out. “Many hoped life on the road would be an escape from an otherwise empty future,” she writes.

Nomadland

Yet the temporary workamping jobs they found are often physically punishing and poorly paid, with no benefits except a free place to park your RV. A CamperForce employee might walk more than 15 miles a day on concrete floors, ceaselessly squatting and bending. Dispensers dotted around the warehouses dole out free painkillers, and an on-site medical team deals with more serious afflictions. Other workamping jobs include working the sugar beet harvest in Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota and campsite hosting, a job that offers pretty camping in exchange for low pay and plenty of toilets to clean. Even with a free parking spot thrown in, most of the workampers Bruder meets struggle to make ends meet. She writes of one of Linda’s stints as a campsite host: “Even if Linda convinced her employer to give her full-time, forty-hour weeks all year long – and didn’t take any vacations – her annual salary would amount to $17,680, with no benefits.”

 

“Nomadlandis strongest when considering the possibility of choice in late-capitalist America. The nomads Bruder meets distinguish themselves sharply from the simply homeless, stressing that they have chosen this way of life. Bob Wells, a van-dwelling guru, “suggests van-dwellers are conscientious objectors from a broken, corrupting social order.” “No matter how narrow the options one had to pick from, choice was key,” Bruder observes. And yet everyone she meets has been squeezed out of mainstream life by necessity, and many of these conscientious objectors are forced to sell months of their lives to the consumerist system – doing physically punishing work at Amazon’s warehouses – even as they try to opt out of it. Poignantly, when nomad LaVonne’s van breaks down, destroying her precarious finances, she writes on her blog: “You realize you have joined the growing club of people who live on the streets, and there is not so much difference between the two of you after all.” This subculture is marked by its resilience and clear-sightedness about social ills, but their stories suggest there’s no true escape from these ills.

The great trick of democracy hijacked by consumerist capitalism is to give the illusion of choice (so many pretty things to buy!), thus obscuring our essential choicelessness in determining the kind of society we inhabit. Where Karen Flett enacts this trick, Jessica Bruder shows its endgame and the battle being quietly waged against it in vans and RVs around the nation.

Robins is a writer and translator who lives in Los Angeles.

"Living the Airstream Life" by Karen Flett

Living the Airstream Life

by Karen Flett

Harper Design: 160 pp., $35

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Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America's new nomads
« Reply #373 on: December 03, 2017, 01:51:49 AM »
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/02/nomadland-living-in-cars-working-amazon

Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America's new nomads
Jessica Bruder

Rising rents are leading Americans to live in cars and other vehicles, writes Jessica Bruder, the author of Nomadland
camper van


‘The cause of the unmanageable household math that drives some people to become nomads is no secret.’ Photograph: Alamy


Saturday 2 December 2017 10.42 EST
Last modified on Saturday 2 December 2017 11.02 EST

Millions of Americans are wrestling with the impossibility of a traditional middle-class existence. In homes across the country, kitchen tables are strewn with unpaid bills. Lights burn late into the night. The same calculations get performed again and again, through exhaustion and sometimes tears.


Wages minus grocery receipts. Minus medical bills. Minus credit card debt. Minus utility fees. Minus student loan and car payments. Minus the biggest expense of all: rent.

In the widening gap between credits and debits hangs a question: which bits of this life are you willing to give up, so you can keep on living?

During three years of research for my book, Nomadland: Surviving America in The Twenty-First Century, I spent time with hundreds of people who had arrived at the same answer. They gave up traditional housing and moved into “wheel estate”: RVs, travel trailers, vans, pickup campers, even a salvaged Prius and other sedans. For many, sacrificing some material comforts had allowed them to survive, while reclaiming a small measure of freedom and autonomy. But that didn’t mean life on the road was easy.

My first encounter with one group of the new nomads came in 2013, at the Desert Rose RV park in Fernley, Nevada. It was populated by members of the “precariat”: temporary laborers doing short-term jobs in exchange for low wages. Its citizens were full-time wanderers who dwelled in RVs and other vehicles, though at least one guy had only a tent to live in. Many were in their 60s and 70s, approaching or well into traditional retirement age. Most could not afford to stop working – or pay the rent.
camper van


There’s no clear count of how many people live nomadically in America. Photograph: Jessica Bruder

Since 2009, the year after the housing crash, groups of such workers had migrated each fall to the mobile home parks surrounding Fernley. Most had traveled hundreds of miles – and undergone the routine indignities of criminal background checks and pee-in-a-cup drug tests – for the chance to earn $11.50 an hour plus overtime at temporary warehouse jobs. They planned to stay through early winter, despite the fact that most of their homes on wheels weren’t designed to support life in subzero temperatures.

Their employer was Amazon.

Amazon recruited these workers as part of a program it calls CamperForce: a labor unit made up of nomads who work as seasonal employees at several of its warehouses, which the company calls “fulfillment centers”.

Along with thousands of traditional temps, they’re hired to meet the heavy shipping demands of “peak season” – the consumer bonanza that spans the three to four months before Christmas.

While other employers also seek out this nomadic workforce – the available jobs range from campground maintenance to selling Christmas trees and running amusement park rides – Amazon has been the most aggressive recruiter. “Jeff Bezos has predicted that, by the year 2020, one out of every four work-campers – the RV- and vehicle-dwellers who travel the country for temporary work – in the United States will have worked for Amazon,” read one slide in a presentation for new hires.

    The ranks of American itinerants started to boom after the housing collapse and have kept growing

Amazon doesn’t disclose precise staffing numbers to the press, but when I casually asked a CamperForce manager at an Amazon recruiting booth in Arizona about the size of the program, her estimate was some 1,400 workers.

The workers’ shifts last 10 hours or longer, during which some walk more than 15 miles on concrete floors, stooping, squatting, reaching, and climbing stairs as they scan, sort, and box merchandise. When the holiday rush ends, Amazon no longer needs CamperForce and terminates the program’s workers. They drive away in what managers cheerfully call a “taillight parade”.


Amazon has been the most aggressive recruiter of this nomadic workforce. Photograph: Jessica Bruder

The first member of CamperForce I corresponded with at great length, over a period of months, was a man I’ll call Don Wheeler. Don had spent the last two years of his main career as a software executive, traveling to Hong Kong, Paris, Sydney and Tel Aviv.


Retiring in 2002 meant he could finally stay in one place: the 1930s’ Spanish colonial revival house he shared with his wife in Berkeley, California. It also gave him time to indulge a lifelong obsession with fast cars. He bought a red-and-white Mini Cooper S and souped it up to 210 horsepower, practicing until he was named third overall in the US Touring Car Championship pro series.

The fast times didn’t last.

When I started exchanging emails with Don, he was 69, divorced, and staying at the Desert Rose RV park near the warehouse in Fernley. His wife had gotten to keep the house. The 2008 market crash had vaporized his savings. He had been forced to sell the Mini Cooper. In his old life, he’d spent about $100,000 a year. In his new one, he learned to get by on as little as $75 a week.

By the end of the 2013 holiday season, Don anticipated he’d be working at the Amazon warehouse five nights a week until just before dawn, on overtime shifts lasting 12 hours, with 30 minutes off for lunch and two 15-minute breaks. He’d spend most of the time on his feet, receiving and scanning inbound freight. “It’s hard work, but the money’s good,” he explained.

Don told me that he was part of a growing phenomenon. He and most of the CamperForce – along with a broader spectrum of itinerant laborers – called themselves “workampers”. Though I’d already stumbled across that word, I’d never heard anyone define it with as much flair as Don. He wrote in a Facebook direct message to me:

    Workampers are modern mobile travelers who take temporary jobs around the US in exchange for a free campsite – usually including power, water and sewer connections – and perhaps a stipend. You may think that workamping is a modern phenomenon, but we come from a long, long tradition.

    We followed the Roman legions, sharpening swords and repairing armor. We roamed the new cities of America, fixing clocks and machines, repairing cookware, building stone walls for a penny a foot and all the hard cider we could drink.

    We followed the emigration west in our wagons with our tools and skills, sharpening knives, fixing anything that was broken, helping clear the land, roof the cabin, plow the fields and bring in the harvest for a meal and pocket money, then moving on to the next job.

    Our forebears are the tinkers. We have upgraded the tinker’s wagon to a comfortable motor coach or fifth-wheel trailer.

    Mostly retired now, we have added to our repertoire the skills of a lifetime in business. We can help run your shop, handle the front or back of the house, drive your trucks and forklifts, pick and pack your goods for shipment, fix your machines, coddle your computers and networks, work your beet harvest, landscape your grounds or clean your bathrooms.

    We are the techno-tinkers.

Other workampers I spoke with had their own ways of describing themselves. Many said they were “retired”, even if they anticipated working well into their 70s or 80s. Others called themselves “travelers”, “nomads”, “rubber tramps”, or, wryly, “gypsies”.

Outside observers gave them other nicknames, from “the Okies of the Great Recession” to “American refugees”, “the affluent homeless”, even “modern-day fruit tramps”.


America’s modern-day nomads show great resilience. Photograph: Jessica Bruder

There’s no clear count of how many people live nomadically in America. Full-time travelers are a demographer’s nightmare. Statistically they blend in with the rest of the population, since the law requires them to maintain fixed – in other words, fake – addresses.
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Despite a lack of hard numbers, anecdotal evidence suggests the ranks of American itinerants started to boom after the housing collapse and have kept growing.

The cause of the unmanageable household math that drives some people to become nomads is no secret.

Federal minimum wage is stalled at $7.25 an hour. The cost of shelter continues to climb. There are now only a dozen counties and one metro area where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.

At the same time, the top 1% now makes 81 times more than those in the bottom half do, when you compare average earnings. For American adults on the lower half of the income ladder – some 117 million of them – earnings haven’t changed since the 1970s.

This is not a wage gap – it’s a chasm.

The most widely accepted measure for calculating income inequality is a century-old formula called the Gini coefficient. What it reveals is startling. Today the United States has the most unequal society of all developed nations. America’s level of inequality is comparable to that of Russia, China, Argentina and the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And a bad as that economic situation is now, it’s likely to get worse. That makes me wonder: what further contortions of the social order will appear in years to come? How many people will get crushed by the system? How many will find a way to escape it?

Despite mounting pressures – including a nationwide crackdown on vehicle-dwelling – America’s modern-day nomads show great resilience. But how much of that toughness should our culture require for basic membership? And when do all the impossible choices start to tear people – a society – apart? The growing ranks of folks living on the road suggest the answer might be: much sooner than we think.

Excerpted from Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder. © 2017 by Jessica Bruder. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
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