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Pizza Party at the Vandwelling Tribe at Cottonwood

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The "tribe" doing what it does best, eating and connecting with like-minded people!

The “tribe” doing what it does best, eating and connecting with like-minded people! Here we’re having a pizza party so we can stay connected.

When I started this website I had two goals:

  1. Inspire people to break out of the Rat Race and follow their dreams by living in a van.
  2. Educate them on how to make it as comfortable and pleasurable as it could be.

As time went on I realized there needed to be another goal for my websites and that was creating a Vandwelling Tribe for  vandwellers. While we vandwellers tend to be loners, introverted and almost hermit-like, we also have a need to make a connection with like-minded people. For that we need a very special tribe made up of solitude-loving people who also like to connect with similar folks. I’ve  tried to do that with the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous gathering in January, and it has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams! Every year any of us have gathered together and made new friends and connections with each other and a tribe has emerged. Whenever possible I try to continue that work by opening my camp to all who are willing to join me. Most often its people new to the life who are looking for some initial guidance in following their dreams.

There are 11 members of the tribe in Cottonwood. Five of us are here on the hilltop and the others are in a camp ticked away in the woods..

There are 11 members of the tribe in Cottonwood. Five of us are here on the hilltop and the others are in a camp tucked away in the woods..

After the RTR in Quartzsite there has always been a group that stayed with me and this year was no different. About 15 people followed me from Quartzsite to my new camp in Ehrenberg. But what’s different about this year is that they have stayed with me for a longer period of time, in fact right now there are 11 different vandwellers with me even after the move to Cottonwood. I consider that a wonderful thing as it gives them an opportunity to:

  • Make deep and lasting  new friendships.
  • Feel safe in a totally new and unfamiliar way of life.
  • Learn the ins-and-outs of finding new camps, getting rid of their trash and just general boondocking skills and knowledge.

For the bold and adventurous that isn’t a necessity, they’ll make a leap of faith and just learn as they go. But for many people it isn’t that simple, they really do need some security during the transition. I also have to say that I have run into a few people who simply were not cut out for this life. for example, I emailed back and forth with one lady for a long time and she finally got out to camp with me and it was just too much for her, she couldn’t deal with it and so after just a week she went back to her old life. I think that is the rare exception–most people who feel the call can do this–but it’s important that we each really give thought to if we are up for this strange new life. Some people are so fearful and averse to new things that they can’t get over the initial shock of how very different the vandwelling life is.
I’m not trying to scare you off, but after that experience I felt it was very important that I start giving more a of a warning to people considering this life, encouraging each of you  to really give thought to your personality and whether you are too timid to do this. It’s something you must decide for yourself.
If you do choose this life, my camp is always open to you and I will do all I can to help you make the transition.

After the pizza party we went for a walk and waht stood ut to me was that of the 11 people in camp only 3 were mean and 7 were women (with one adolescent).  It dawned on me that our society discourages women from being independent and so it's often more difficult for them to step out alone into something this unusual.  Creating a tribe and an atmosphere of safety is especially important to them, and something I'm specifically trying to do.

After the pizza party we went for a walk and what stood out to me was that of the 11 people in camp only 3 were men and 7 were women (with one adolescent). It dawned on me that our society discourages women from being independent and so it’s often more difficult for them to step out alone into something this unusual. Creating a tribe and an atmosphere of safety is especially important for them, and something I’m specifically trying to do.

At the Cotttonwood camp we broke up into two camps. Some of them had got here before me and found a camp they liked tucked way in the woods. It was more secluded and sheltered from the winds and a Ranger might not see it. But because it was lower it didn’t have big vistas for views and the internet was not great. They liked that trade-off but I didn’t really want to camp there because internet speed is critical to me and I really love a grand view; so I decided to camp up on a hill that gave me both. So both groups are happy and have just what they need!
We get a big view from our hilltop camp!

We get a big view from our hilltop camp!

What I love about camping with vandwellers is our independence! We can be camped very close to each other, but still totally respect each others needs for “alone” or “me” time.  Once I express my need for privacy it has always been respected and honored! It’s just in the nature of vandwellers to need to be alone and so we respect that in each other. But, even as much as we need our isolation, we also need contact with others. The way we have it set-up we all get both and can establish our own boundaries.
But to keep in touch we need times as a group so yesterday I hosted a pizza party where we all came together and had a good time. As you can see in the pictures there is a very special camaraderie among us and even though we are basically loners, we love being together sometimes.
So come join the tribe, everyone is welcome!
Part of the group is tucked away in the woods which gives them plenty of shade, relief from the wind, and seclusion.

Part of the group is tucked away in the woods which gives them plenty of shade, relief from the wind, and seclusion.


  1. Al Christensen

    I’ve spent the past few days totally solo. It surprises me how an introvert like myself kind of misses having at least one other person around.
    (I’m sure Judy’s thrilled to be shown in her blanket skirt.)

    • Bob

      Al, you KNOW you are always welcome in my camp! You are the perfect camp-mate. Around but not too close.
      Funny thing about her blanket skirt, all the ladies commented on how they used to do the same thing and wondered why they stopped. As you know, Judy is a very practical person.

  2. Myddy

    Soon.. I just keep telling myself.. soon! I’m definitely hitting the next RTR in January though!

    • Bob

      Myddy, you are always welcome in my camp!

  3. CAE

    I love my alone time. But I have noticed a need to be around people for the occasional conversation or just to know people are doing things. It’s hard to explain. Must be deep in the psyche of people.

    • Bob

      CAE, I totally relate, I often feel exactly the same way. I really do think I’ve stumbled on a workable solution to have both.

  4. Calvin R

    I have noticed that humans are a social animal, although some of us are less so than others. That balance is the remaining issue for me, other than acquiring the “up front” money. That is, do I remain in one place and continue or build long-term friendships or go out and get to know many people? I have noticed on this blog and other Internet places that some people do both, making long-term connections to people who share some of their migration patterns. RVers do that too. That seems a reasonable way to live.

    • Bob

      Calvin, agreed, one of the big fears people have about the mobile life is “Will I be lonely?” It’s a valid fear no mater how much of a loner you are. But I’ve made more friends since I’ve become a “hermit” than I ever had before! Of course a lot of that is due to the website and the RTR, but I think anyone can do it.
      It really is the best of both worlds!!

  5. Jo L

    One of the reasons that I am so glad that I found this site is that I am also an introvert that likes my solitude. I also enjoy the occasional get-together with people. When I go camping, I like a few people around, but not many and not too close.
    I agree that many of us women like the safety factor of having people within hollerin’ distance. When I used to tent camp on the beach, I always made sure that I was within hollerin’ distance of a family camping there or a group of fishermen that looked safe. Didn’t socialize except for exchanging pleasantries about the weather or fishing, but I felt safer than when no one was there.
    I hope to meet all of you one day.

    • Bob

      Jo, I think that urge you have is nearly universal, most of us like knowing someone else is nearby–we just feel safer. One of these days maybe you will join us! You are always welcome!

  6. Jamo

    Where is the Cottonwood camp?

  7. Openspaceman

    I like the room/van with a view as opposed to hiding in the bushes…but it’s probably a little more windy.
    *I figure the reason there are a lot of women vandwellers is because statistically they are a bit shorter and can fit better in smaller spaces and are more flexible….but most of those gals look pretty tall.
    **Made it thru my first Midwest winter…it’s supposed to hit 50 degrees today.

    • Bob

      Openspaceman, I’d never thought of women being shorter/smaller as one reason they took to vandwelling so ell. That makes sense to me!
      If only it were your LAST mid-west winter! That’s the one I’d celebrate!!

  8. Sameer

    It is a wonderful group of very diverse people who are linked by a common thread. A true tribe, who respect each others privacy and yet, on a morning walk when asked, “How are you doing today?”, truly mean it. It is a microcosm of what a Society could be like with freedom loving, caring people who respect each others space. Thank you for the pizza, Bob!

    • Bob

      You are very welcome Sameer, I’m very glad you are in our little tribe!!

  9. Gloria Brooks

    I’d consider myself a more “severe introvert”. I can spend weeks without human contact, but, after that, I do get the itch to at least walk the streets in town. I used to think I wanted to totally escape to the wilderness like in Alaska and be alone for months or years, but, I’m not sure I could do it now.
    I’ve learned with my personality type to be pretty selective on who I socialize with. Like yesterday I went to the local hot springs in Bishop, fully prepared and excited to really meet other folks on the road to chit chat with, but it ended up being just mainstream locals at the pools, which I just shyed away from. All them had young kids around making a racket, so, that was even less appealing to be around. So, I found a lone pool and soaked happily by myself. No fellow RVers that day. A bit disappointing, but, heck I had one pool to myself, so, it was all good.
    I spent most of my adult life in various communities and I have to say that Bob and crew are the most free flowing without ANY obligations to join or participate. A true loner/anarchist’s dream! I look forward to rejoining you good folks probably late fall next year and or hopefully for RTR….without committments or strings attached, but because I’ll probably be ACHING for community by then if I don’t find much of it this spring/summer.

    • Bob

      Gloria, you are very much a true LONER!! But I sure like hanging out with you! Judy and I are looking forward to seeing you again!

  10. Linda Sand

    I love pulling into your group’s area then just sitting until people start coming outside. It feels to me like the best of both worlds. I need a LOT of alone time but when I need people your group is the best place to find them. I do wish I had the ability to go on your daily walks, though.

    • Bob

      Linda, you know you are always welcome in my camp!!

  11. LaVonne

    When the ranger came by our camp yesterday, he asked Sameer if we were a club, lol. Sameer said, “I guess we are!” That sounds way too organized to me. Tribe is closer, but that might have sounded too much like hippies. Anyway, the clock is now ticking on our little paradise. Wondering what new paradise is waiting?

    • Linda Barton

      LaVonne what a big smile I see on your face, the entire tribe really.Judy is just so dang happy looking. I live for the post and pictures like these.How is it I ask myself that I can connect on such a level with folks I have met for 1 week and talk to on a computer. You are all so far away yet I feel the connection,The call, The desire to live the life. What a great tribe. You will make the 2 years go by fast as I watch you all live your dream, my dream, our dream as a tribe. I’ll see ya all in Jan. Keep me posted.

      • Bob

        Linda, there is always a lace for you here!

    • Bob

      laVonne, when you see this many vans you have to wonder if they aren’t together! And, we are!
      Right now I’m thinking we Judy and I will go to Flagstaff. It’s a little early because there is always a good chance of more cold and snow, but we can handle that. Nothing is decided but that is what we are most inclined to do.

  12. Bill from NC

    I will be leavin Q soon. Shoot I missed the pizza! So how do you cook enough pizza for 11 people?

    • Bob

      I hate to give my secret away Bill, but it was Little Ceasars Pizza Pizza!! It only cost $28 to feed 11 people with a couple pieces leftover and I think it’s very good pizza! You should have been here!

  13. Sam

    Some things never change, Homer is still a “chick magnet”.

    • Bob

      Sam, he is indeed! It’s not enough he got all the brains but he got all the looks too!

  14. Dan Cordray

    Great post Bob. Good stuff spoken here. Of the 5 essentials I teach the hardest one for most is the one called security. I think because that comes on as many levels as there are people. That human need for interaction and companionship is a real survival need, not to mention making life enjoyable. For some a small dose of interaction is plenty, others may need much more. I agree with you most van dwellers have learned the importance of respecting each others “me time”. Hope to see ya in the desert this year, if I can pull away from the forests. 😉 Dan

    • Bob

      Most of us vandwellers struggle to find a balance of me time and us time. We need both but in he right proportion.
      It’d be great to see you this winter!

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