Camping for free was our goal when we set out on the open road in April.
We have traveled nearly 11,000 miles through 19 states in our Big Foot pickup camper – and we have not paid for one night of camping!
It was a challenge we set for ourselves to see if we were truly set up to be self-sufficient. That was the necessary obstacle to overcome to begin camping for free.
We proved we can do it! In a few days, we are heading to Quartzsite, Arizona where we won’t have electricity to charge our laptops and phones. We’ll have to drive a mile or two every week to dump our black tank, toss our trash in a dumpster and refill our water containers. Our journey this year proved we can absolutely do this boondocking thing in Quartzsite.
We’ve been on the Naked Hippies never-ending roadtrip pretty much continuously since 2013. We’re living our dream. How are we able to do this? It’s definitely not because we had a huge savings account or lucked out with an inheritance from a rich relative. No, there’s two reasons:
1. We didn’t wait until we had everything perfect.
If we had waited until we could afford a spiffy RV and had a nest egg of savings to pay for gas and camping and all the other expenses of the road, we would still be sitting still in Missouri (and shoveling snow in the winter!)
Instead, we were open to opportunities and blessings that came our way; and mosttof all, just took a huge flippin’ leap of faith believing that everything would be okay, that we would be safe, and that the Universe would provide what we needed. That’s exactly what happened, and it still is happening.
Read the full story of how we began to live our dream – RV LIVING: The Naked Hippies Way: Live Your Dreams, Don’t Wait for “Someday”
2. We are comfortable being uncomfortable
This is really why most people aren’t living their dreams. Most people desire to do something different than they are now, to be free to live life on their own terms … but not if it requires being uncomfortable.
It’s an old Dodge Ram pickup with an even older camper on it. Things wear out. Stuff quits working. We either find a work-around solution or fix it. Most of the time we choose the work-around because sinking a lot of money into something that will have no resell value seems pointless.
So we are comfortable using duct tape and bungee cords to hold things in place; comfortable using coffee cans when the black tank is full and we’re nowhere near a dump station; comfortable making coffee with an antique drip-o-lator on the gas stove because the electric coffee maker requires too many amps to use the inverter; and comfortable with sponge baths instead of daily showers.
The mother of all “get-out-of-your-comfort-zone” is to on occasions be comfortable sleeping at WalMart and truck stops where diesels rumble all night and the lights on the parking lot make it so bright we can almost read a book at night. It’s definitely camping for free and sometimes, all we need a place to sleep for one night before heading on to the more picturesque free campsites we find.
Comfortable, too, when one by one, our tires blew out; when our truck lost power and we had to be towed over the mountains in Arizona; when every mechanic we talked to had a different idea about the truck issue; and when a passing car honked to let us know our wonky back door had flown open again.
Good grief! I’m getting a bit grumpy writing about all that uncomfortableness … but then, I remember.
I remember sinking my feet in the sand at Santa Monica beach, gasping in awe at the bluebonnets and Hamilton Pool in Texas; seeing the magnificent and grand Badlands, viewing the battlefield at Little Big Horn, driving through the Black Hills and standing under the Presidents at Mount Rushmore …
stepping in the headwaters of the Missouri River in Montana, the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota and Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron; crossing the five mile Mackinac Bridge; spectacular mountaintop camping in Colorado; touching the border of Canada; tasting pasties for the first time; the mountains, the canyons, the forests, the wide open spaces …
and I say to myself, “It’s worth it all!”
Most of all, I remember all the friends and family we were able to visit. We had a joyous family wedding in Missouri that brought so many family members I hadn’t seen in years; we met in person for the first time many of our dear Facebook friends; we reunited with friends whom we always make sure we stop to see when passing through; and I had days instead of just a couple of hours of uninterrupted, loving and deep conversations with my sisters for the first time in my life.
It’s the friends and family who offer a parking space and an extension cord who have made our journey of 11,000 miles easier. Who have excitedly welcomed us saying, “Come … stay … shower … do laundry!” Who load us up with movies and books, garden produce, boudin, roasted green chilis edible cookie dough and garden produce. Who provide a free massage, a home-cooked meal of fresh crappie or stew, a boat ride and a campfire.
Could we have done all these miles without their gracious hospitality? Of course, but we’ve learned to never turn down these kind of invitations, these gifts. The time we spend on the deck, around the kitchen table, at a restaurant, or in the backyard or living rooms of our friends and family is a treasure that we cherish.
Thank you for everything Rick Katz, Vincent Molina, Franco and Pammy Gonzalez, Thell and Julia Prueitt, Stephen LeBlanc, Theresa and Pat Griffith, Andrew and Rebecca Christus, Hannah Christus and Patrick Shami, Nick and Sarah Christus, Allison Saufnauer, Russ Mayo, Debby and Dallas Lancaster, Danny John and Marla Jane, Phil and Carol Walsack, Ray Hopkins, JJ Lahr and Keith Haddrill, Barbara and Jim Murdock, Karen and Jim McKy, Dale and Sherri Schlotzhauer, Tom and Janie Sanderford, Tim and Barb-Sanders Cole, Petra Tenwalde, Harold Tsosie, Alan and Niki Schlotzhauer, Robert Tremblay and Carol Begnoche, and Kimberly and Ron Olsen. You have truly made this year’s journey memorable.
Everything ahead is unknown. We’ve never camped at Quartzsite with the massive number of RVers who come there every year. We know a little of what to expect, but not a lot. But this we do know for sure – whatever comes up, whatever uncomfortable issues we have – we’ll figure it out and have an amazing experience. That’s The Naked Hippies Way!