It is the last week of March and my wife, Lynda, our dog Buddy and I are RV boon docking on BLM land in central Arizona. Within half a mile are twenty plus RV’s of all shapes and sizes, even tents. We have been here almost two weeks and during that time I have had the opportunity to visit with various neighbors and learn their stories.
While many are just spending a retirement winter somewhere warm until they head north to their homes, some are living their retirement dream and living in an RV. However for others this is not a dream or a nightmare it is their reality.
Of course there are the couples with their modern comfortable rigs towing a large trailer containing a vehicle and various big boy toys. They seem to have no restrictions as to where and when they may travel or what experience they may chose to enjoy. They definitely seem to be living the RV retirement travel dream.
Wild about Dogs
A young couple, camped close by have decided on early retirement. In their late 40’s they have managed to pay off their mortgage and any other debts. A mobile hot dog stand will be their part time income. Wild about Dogs is their handle and website is www.mywildaboutdogs.com. John and Michelle are based in Washington state and will be traveling with their dogs around the country. They have restaurant experience and are waiting for the dept. of health certificate to start up.
On the other side of camp a little farther away is Virgil and his supportive wife. The reason I know she is supportive is because when I was chatting with Virgil she was very much involved in showing off his wares and is obviously very proud of his work.
After semi-retirement he became bored and started making walking staffs, they began to sell like hot cakes, and although Virgil was happy with his success he wasn’t satisfied with the product.
Virgil has evolved his walking staffs into hand carved works of art depicting various types of snakes and fantasy creatures. Some of his works taking weeks to create. email milam98@hotmail.
The adjacent RV to us is the full time home of a single woman, yes a single woman living on her own in a large RV. The fact is since we have been here we have met several single full time Rvers and several have been women. Of course my first question to our neighbor Janet was are you afraid or had any problems. No was the answer and as she said, “ you just use your head and don’t take chances”. She has been a full time Rver for 13 years while her sister is the same but for a shorter period.
Janet belongs to one of a growing number of singles RV groups called WIN. The wandering individuals network. Website www.rvsingles.org. There are many other,s one called LOW, loners on wheels, and singles international, and many more.
D & O
Unfortunately there exist the much less fortunate people whom I have seen at this site living in old dilapidated RVs that seem to barely make it from point A to B. People living in tents and even cars.
One unfortunate soul was Rachel whom we met a couple of years ago at the Sultan Sea. We had been staying at the Fountain of Youth RV park in the area. One day I took my motorcycle for a ride along the sea and pulled into a state camp ground to check it out for future considerations. I parked my bike and strolled to the water’s edge past a middle aged looking women sitting in the very hot sun at a picnic table with a gallon jug of water and a collapsed tent nearby.
As I neared the water I was horrified to see hundreds of fish carcasses strewn along the edge. It was a disturbing site and immediately peeked my concern as to the cause of this disaster, also it seemed a good reason to strike up a conversation with the curious looking lady sitting in the baking sun.
I began the conversation by asking her about the poor decaying fish. She quickly responded articulately that the fertilizers from the farms being washed into the Sultan Sea had caused the algae to bloom sucking all the oxygen from the water causing the fish to suffocate. As she answered it was obvious to me that she was intelligent but suffered from some crippling disorder.
I introduced myself and explained where we were staying. As I did this I noticed her car was loaded with stuff. Piled high in all areas except for the drivers seat.
I cannot recall exactly how the conversation went from there but I did manage to confirm as I had thought. She was living in her car and had been for several years.
In the heat of the moment and I guess literally the heat of the day, I felt it was impossible for me to turn my back on Rachel and ride away. I invited her to join us for dinner.
What was I going to say to Lynda?
As I arrived back at camp after signing Rachel into the park I hollered cheerfully. Lynda we have company. As it is her way she took everything in stride or maybe shock. She listened intently as Rachel maneuvered herself and her walker out of her car. She had MS.
It was a sad story, as Rachel told it, she was an RN working at an east coast hospital and inadvertently got pricked by a needle and subsequently started to display the symptoms. In the end she lost everything, even the custody of her son and ended living in her car. She made the trek twice a year back east to live in the summer and visit her son, and spent the winters in the warm south where she could tent and live cheap.
Rachel had a seizure and had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital in Brawley.
After a couple of days she recovered and was released. While she was in the hospital Lynda and I contacted the government agency responsible for handicapped persons and made arrangements for Rachel to check out subsidized housing.
In the end she couldn’t afford anything she liked and opted to stay in her car. After filling her car with fuel and paying for a motel for several nights we had done what we could and parted company.
In spite of her affliction Rachel became an accomplished violinist and hoped to be accepted by a professional orchestra.
We kept in touch and Rachel even sent us money to help defer our expense for her.
Last we heard she was living in slab city near Brawley, California.
Her time with us was short, but she left a long lasting impression. She had a great time swimming at the resort pool and enjoyed the company of us and others.
She said she felt like a Queen.
I hope this article was not too sad but that is how life goes for some. We should feel fortunate for the life we have.
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