In 1997 even a simple lifestyle in California was becoming expensive. To remain there would require more time spent working for the basic conveniences than I was willing to sacrifice. I’ve never found conveniences all that convenient, the time spent working for them wasn’t worth it.
If you want to live cheaply you have to go where no one else wants to live and be open to an alternative lifestyle.
The search requires staying away from conventional real estate listings. I discovered an ad in the back of a motorhome magazine, motorhome magazines not only have listings for camp spaces to rent but many are for sale. The ad read, “Beautiful acre plus parcels for sale in the high desert mountains of Arizona. $100 down $75 a month financing, no credit checks.” I called the listed number and talked to the land agent. The parcels were located in a defunct subdivision accessed only by dirt roads. There weren’t any public utilities or services, water had to be hauled in from the nearby small-town railroad well, 25 cents for 55 gallons. I sold everything I had except for some basic tools and bought a ’72 Dodge class-c motorhome and headed out. My monthly income from investments at the time was $600 a month and I had all the time in the world.
The trip took 13 hours and traveling through Arizona was a wonderment at every turn, from vast open spaces to rolling hills covered with huge rock formations it was a sight to behold. You don’t enter Arizona; you’re enveloped by it.
The small town I was directed to by the land agent had a KOA campground where I spent the night. The next morning I met with the agent and we headed for the hills.
Many of the parcels were barren and rocky with a few Indian Paintbrush bushes, some were too steep to walk on but in the middle of the subdivision was a section of heavily treed parcels. Juniper and pinion pines aren’t tall and majestic like California’s Redwoods, but they’re sturdy trees that can easily survive the high desert winds.
We drove back to the land office and filled out the purchase contract, I handed him $100, and the parcel was mine. The next day I left the KOA with a few supplies, 40 gallons of water and bounced up a series of rocky dirt roads for 12 miles and parked in front of the lot. The trees and bushes prevented parking on the lot, but I had arrived ‘Home’ in the solitude of nature; there wasn’t a soul for miles and I was elated.
Solitude is interesting because it affects people in a variety of ways. Many panic in its openness, there’s nobody to grasp, there’s a complete absence of reassurance with from the familiar. I seem to settle into it with a slight apprehension that’s soon replaced with an expansiveness that embraces me. The further out I go the longer I want to stay where there isn’t a human made sound, just the whispers of nature through the Junipers.
By the end of the next day I had cleared enough space to pull the motorhome in 10 feet off the road. I made some coffee, took a lawn chair out amongst the trees and sat there long into a night of vivid stars and what seemed liking roaring crickets.
The 40 gallons of water and supplies lasted a month so there was no place I had to go and spent the days clearing out rocks and bushes. Once a month I’d bounced down the roads for water and supplies and after three months I had enough space for a 21′ travel trailer and traded the motorhome for a 4-wheel drive pickup truck.
Over the years improvements were made in sanitation, water storage, solar equipment and heating. I added an 8’X12′ front room with large windows to the trailer giving me 230 square feet, plenty of room for the dog and me.
Gabbie and I spent the next 15 years wandering the hills in solitude, excluding the once-a-month hour in town getting supplies.
In 2012 I met a wonderful woman who said I was living her dream; we were married a year later. She was and still is my dream.
“Life is hard at times but we find living it is easier.”