Dispatches from the Desert 5

Quartzite, Arizona
January 17, 2023

What I’ve realized over the past couple of days is that the hobos are out here; here in the desert washes, camped among the rocks and desert bushes, they just aren’t all at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. They are mixed in with the other boondockers, hidden in rigs that are subtly different from Canadian snowbirds and Michigan Escapees. They are permanently on the road. They won’t go home in spring. I look at an older Ford conversion van with an aluminum panel riveted in place of a window or air-conditioner grill. There’s one now. It’s blue, not white and not likely to be mistaken for a contractor’s van parked on the street in a city’s industrial neighborhood. But it’s surely a vagabond. There are many box trucks, some sans windows but sprouting the chimney of a wood stove as a dead giveaway. This desert, it seems, is full of people waiting for something to happen; maybe it’s the RV show, maybe it’s the tent sale, maybe the Ham Radio fest, maybe it’s spring.

Eventually, some will get tired of waiting for Godot and make something happen; like Michael, 76, the long-time professional musician I mentioned yesterday. He’s running from something in Florida; perhaps a failed marriage perhaps worse but he’s practicing many hours a day for his gig. We watch the old film “Blade Runner” and play some music.

Some people pull a horse trailer equipped with living quarters from rodeo to rodeo. But this isn’t rodeo season. No horses but I see a huge, custom-built box truck with its Kenworth logo removed. Inside is a complete repair shop including a welder, compressed air, oversized vise, all the metal-working tools one could imagine and, of course living quarters. It’s builder is from Pensilvania, running from the provincialism of small towns, each with it’s own story, each with it’s own prejudices against people from another town perceived to be of lesser status. If you’re not “from there” it’s impossible to make friends,” he says. He’d come from Ohio to care for his sister. Another gypsy couple, the one’s in the Blue Bird schoolie, are high-tech nomads working from the road via Star link and probably never going back to the office cubicle scene. But I read that “Bossism” is on the rise along with heavy layoffs in the tech world.

Yesterday had been a housekeeping day, with a trip to the Pit Stop for waste dump, water fill and propane. Then a stop for groceries and another for beer in cans so I don’t have to deal with the bottles. Today I took my bicycle with panniers to the dump a mile down the road to dump the garbage. It was a bit of a white-knuckle ride on a narrow shoulder with the RVs flapping my pant legs but the semi drivers giving me a half a lane. Yet, I didn’t want to move the rig today so I just hung out, talking to various people who stopped by and to Peter, the farmer who offered me a beer as soon as it was noon. The sun was out and my batteries are more charged. So I’ll send off a few dispatches and to to bed.

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