Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Camelot Lost

Van + cargo trailer + extra crap = pretty nice little camp!

Van + cargo trailer + extra crap = pretty nice little camp!

Intrepid vandweller Swankie Wheels got into nesting mode the other day and unpacked a canopy, screens, table, and chairs. She set it all up and added an outdoor rug to keep dust down, and had the perfect place to work on the rocks that she likes to rework and polish. Add a little folding table for a laptop, and it’s home. Another vandweller was in for a few days too, and had

set up camp close by.

The Swankmeister in her lair.

The Swankmeister in her lair.

Alas, it was not to be. For the first time I’d ever seen them, two BLM rangers came by and stuck red tickets on each van. The dreaded red ticket! Actually, it’s a demand to move the vehicle to within 500 feet of a porta-potty or vault toilet. Technically, any vehicle not having at least a ten-gallon waste tank is not considered “self-contained” by the BLM, and they must stay in certain areas when within the Long Term Visitor Areas. Both vans have workable facilities, but neither can meet that 10-gallon minimum.

Why didn’t they just camp down there first? Easy! I assured them that I hadn’t seen a single ranger in the six months of my last season here, and what’s the point of spending taxpayer money on being the Potty Police? It’s not like these two women were hitting the bushes. It’s all properly disposed of. Second, Swankie wasn’t thrilled with a couple of the campers in the “proper area”. Their camp gave her an uneasy feeling, and it’s a good idea to go with the flow in that regard. I wasn’t that impressed myself. Still, I’m surprised that my own “creepy campsite factor” isn’t at least a match. I suspect the “filth factor” distracts attention away from it. The latter kept them well over a football field away. Could be they noticed the dust blowing OUT the door each time I opened it!

Advice: don't camp near a rockhound. You'll find yourself looking down, searching for interesting rocks even though you don't want them for anything.

Advice: don’t camp near a rockhound. You’ll find yourself looking down, searching for interesting rocks even though you don’t want them for anything.

Nonetheless, Swankie had to break camp, pack up, and move 1/2-mile further down – just before a 3-day rainstorm was due to hit. And I mean minutes before.  It’s been raining since, because a storm off the California coast has stalled in position. So, she hasn’t been able to set up camp at her new, slightly creepy site. She’s simply huddling in her van, toiling away on artwork in this rainy 50-degree weather. Once the rain is over, she’ll be able to search for a permanent site. All the “best” areas offer surrounding bushes for a little more privacy, but those also tend to be in the low areas – not a good idea in a prolonged rain like this.

A shot out the wet dining area window early on Day 2 shows the same old thing. The gravel pad I'm on is raised, but still pretty mushy.

A shot out the wet dining area window early on Day 2 shows the same old thing. The gravel pad I’m on is raised, but still pretty mushy.

And the evening before the storm came in, this was what things looked like. I prefer this, but Arizona hadn't seen rain in months, so...

And the evening before the storm came in, this was what things looked like. I prefer this, but Arizona hadn’t seen rain in months, so…

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7 thoughts on “Camelot Lost

  1. I’m not sure about this, Amok, but I think the holding tank has to be a 20-gallon tank. And another vandweller over at LaPosa East said he talked to Ranger Clyde when he registered and Clyde told him as long as he was behind bushes he didn’t make an effort to be strict about the 500 foot boundary. Maybe it’s just women that he enforces it with, or my bush wasn’t big enough????? Anyway, I’m going to go scout out the other side of the tracks, so to speak. (it also didn’t help my mood much that a tooth I broke off kayaking back in Illinois, resulting in a root canal and temp crown, then perm crown, broke off again in the midst of all this) Thanks for the nice write-up.

    • If you Google “self-contained BLM LTVA”, the first choice may come up as Supplementary Rules for the LTVAs and lists 10 gallons as the minimum. Me, I’d just rig up a dummy waste valve attached neatly to the floor and see how it goes over come visit time. I’d also glue a dummy tank vent to the roof. Trouble is, it’d be more visually convincing to see a tank bottom suspended within view. I can’t imagine any open place to fit a tank under there, dummy or not, but who knows? Just random thoughts.


      Sent from my iPad

  2. Doug,

    Thanks for the “slice of life” piece that has taught me another tidbit or two about what a van-dweller may be in for.

    I find that an important aid in coping with nearly anything is not being overly surprised by it. And now, it it comes to it, I won’t be surprised by rangers and their red tickets.

    • You’re welcome, Michael. The LTVAs, being much more heavily used than other areas, do not allow dumping greywater or use of catholes for waste. Some vanners live that way, while the more fastidious ones use blueboy tanks or disposable waste bags. The BLM can’t sort through them one by one, so stock vans and cargo trailers are all lumped together. I find it puzzling that the BLM sees a cassette toilet as non-compliant, but still offers a dump facility specifically for them. They probably hope to keep the vault toilets from taking the brunt.

    • Hi Michael, and just after I moved I met another vandweller who was told by Clyde that is was o.k. if he was more than 500 feet from a toilet, since he only uses his portable toilet anyway. So, why is it not o.k. for me???? Clyde told him he needed to be within 500 ft of the toilet in case he needed to go fast. Is he nuts? If I was in a hurry to “go”… I certainly would not make it 500 ft. Is it a male, female thing??? Anyway, I am sick of Clyde (actually I got sick of him a couple of years ago)… and so today I explore to see if I can find an acceptable campsite that fits my needs and Clyde’s/BLM’s arbitrary rules. Signed: Sad Swankie

  3. Michael on said:

    Doug, yes…the inconsistencies of bureaucratic systems’ rules. In truth, I’m such an individualist, and hold such scorn for “rules mandated from on high,” and the technocrats and bureaucrats who promulgate and enforce them, that the only time I’m truly surprised is when a set of rules actually do make sense. Then, for a moment at least, I suspect that I’ve judge institutions too harshly. But soon my frustration and impatience with those-who-know-what’s-best-for-us-and-insist-on-controlling-us return with renewed intensity.

    Swankie, ‘sounds like Clyde’s enforcement actions constitute just one of those little annoying mysteries life throws at us. Good luck on your quest to find a better campsite…and, with your experience and resourcefulness, I’m sure you will.

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