January 9 – January 23, 2017
I’d been looking forward to the 2017 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous ever since the 2016 RTR ended. I’d met so many people and made so many friends in 2016, several of who I’m still in touch with regularly on Facebook and through my blog.
There was a good number of us that got there a day or two early, and we’re glad we did. When I arrived, there was already a lot of people already in camp and they were pouring in continuously. Sometimes there was a line at the turn in, and I don’t recall that happening at all last year. It was obviously going to be a very crowded gathering. In the first few
In the first few days, it became so crowded that some people felt overwhelmed and moved to the outer boundaries of the camp, leaving more spots near the main gathering area for the new folks. Over the last year, word had spread like wildfire about the RTR and I think in part it was due to the increasing number of YouTube Video’s that were being made about it. There were a lot of the old-timers here, and a lot of newbies who had come to learn how to live this lifestyle (some didn’t even know how to pee without a regular toilet, they were that new), but also a lot of people who were under the impression that this was a festival of some kind, and that is not what the RTR is about, not at all.
I had settled in a spot near to the new friends I made in Ehrenberg. I’d parked Studley a respectable distance from my friend’s van, but was still wondering if I was a bit too close. One day, someone in another white van came and backed into the spot between us. I looked at him with a startled expression, and he asked if anyone was camping there already. I explained that there wasn’t, but that was my buffering space between my friend’s van and mine, and I was walking back and forth continuously, and I’d be walking right by his bumper regularly if he stayed there. He smiled and said, “Well then, I won’t let it bother me.” Well, what could I say to that? At least he was quiet, and left after about three days, at which point I put some ‘stuff’ in the vacant space to ensure it didn’t happen again. I think that most people who were at the 2017 RTR have a story similar to mine.
I have to admit it was a bit too crowded, and it stressed out a lot of people who were used to camping on their own or at least a decent distance from others rather than in an RV Park, or some other kind of cramped place. There was also a festival type of feel to it, and with that came loud music late into the night, and from many other places around camp. The organizer Bob Wells (YouTube link on Bob), got more than a little upset with all the noise, and one evening it was just too much for him, and he ended up leaving his own camp and driving down the road a mile or more so he could have some peace and quiet.
At the morning meeting following that night, Bob let it be known how unhappy he was with the noise, and in particular the drums (drums sounds carry a very long way). Some people got angry that they were being asked to keep the noise down, and said what right did he have to say anything (he was the founder and organizer of the RTR, and you were his guests), and others agreed with Bob. When Bob asked for a show of hands as to how people learned about the RTR; from his blog CheapRVLiving.com, or his YouTube Channel, the majority raised their hands for the YouTube Channel.
I think that’s when the light clicked on for myself and probably Bob. Most of the information about why Bob created the RTR, what his intention for it is, and what the RULES were for the Rendezvous, were on his blog, and NOT on his YouTube Channel. Therefore, most of these people had never even visited his blog and didn’t even know it existed, let alone seen the rules, and most had no idea why Bob held this gathering. (This link will take you to Bob’s video about WHY he started the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous).
I spoke to quite a number of people who were under the impression that he did it for money, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Bob doesn’t charge for this, and he works hard to help people and asks for nothing in return. He is one of the most generous, kind and gracious people I know. He only has goodness in his heart. The little bit of advertising he does on his web page might help to support what he invests into his web page, but he certainly doesn’t get rich off it. I know how long it takes to create one of these posts, it takes many hours or even days, and that doesn’t include the picture-taking, editing, and uploading time. As for a video, that can easily take half a day to several days to create. They don’t just magically appear as some people seem to think (well they do for the reader/watcher, but not for the creator). For Bob, helping people as he does, is a full-time commitment.
Anyway, after the initial upset, people figured out how to deal with it. The music lovers created their own little area away from camp, but still within walking distance. Bob camped down the road each night, which worked better for him and Cody (his dog) because he didn’t have to keep him on a leash when away from camp, and Bob had his silence and time to recuperate each evening, and some people just left. Things relaxed a bit, and a good time was had by all.
And this is one of the things I love about this group. When a problem arises, a solution is found. One that will work for everyone, at least to as an acceptable level as possible in such a large gathering.
I’m pretty sure that now that Bob knows why people had the impression that the RTR was a festival, rather than a boot camp and gathering to make new friends, he will take care of it over the next year.
As for myself, I had a wonderful time. I made a lot of new friends and met a lot of my followers. I lost track of the number of people who recognized me (actually they recognized my headband/scarf/Buff before they recognized me. Ha! Ha!), and it was wonderful to learn that what some people think is a silly little ego-driven blog, has actually inspired people to break away from their dull lives of slavery to the $$$, and get out and enjoy life a bit more. Even if you only do this for a month or two months a year, it will help to improve the quality of your life. You’ll become more resilient, independent, joyful, free in spirit, less wasteful, less materialistic and there will be many more benefits gained over time. Perhaps you’ll see in that short time just how little you really need to be happy and will adjust your life accordingly, even if you return to a stick and brick after your initial try-out. And it is a good idea to try out this lifestyle before going all-in because it’s certainly not for everyone.
Last year when I came to the RTR, I was living in Mitzi. Mitzi was a Mitsubishi Montero Sport, which is a mid-sized SUV. She was small. I didn’t have room for a ‘proper’ toilet. I had a tiny little pee container, and when I had to go ‘poo’ I took a doggie bag and paper and walked a long way from camp. This year I had room for a ‘real’ toilet. I spent six months looking for the perfect container. Not too big, and not too small. I found one just in time for the RTR. What a difference it has made, I love it. I’ll do a post and possibly a YouTube Video on that one day.
Oh yes, stay tuned, we Nomads love to talk about our bathroom solutions.
The RTR runs for almost two weeks. Most mornings and some afternoons there are classes on how to live this lifestyle. Bob holds most of them, but this year others held their own classes in the afternoons. Many didn’t even make the schedule because they were so impromptu. I think one of my favorite classes was how to make a solar oven for just a few dollars. I’m looking forward to trying that one day. I think I have everything I need with me to create one right now. Maybe I’ll cook a cake on Easter or something.
Aside from all the informational classes, there was a talent competition, a cook-off (there wasn’t going to be one this year because it’s such a lot of work, but someone stepped up and did one anyway), and much more. You can get an idea by looking at the calendar below, and I’m not sure if everything made it onto this schedule.
As you can see, on the 21st we had the Burning Van. This year the van had been made from wood so it would burn a little slower than last year. The burning van was created in 2016 by Karen and Tony because someone had a huge cardboard box they wanted to burn, and Karen and Tony decided to make it into a van to burn instead, and now it has become a tradition. Here is a link to the 2016 YouTube Video I made, and the 2017 one.
And there we have it. In the end, a good time was had by all, and on the final day we all cleaned up the area as much as possible. One lady tore down as many of the numerous small campfires that had sprung up as she could, another picked up micro-trash, others tore down the bulletin boards someone had kindly created, and I helped to pack up the Free Pile which I’d been attempting to keep tidy through the gathering, and many others pitched in to leave the place as spotless as possible. I imagine that when the BLM Ranger came and did his inspection, he could find no wrong. Indeed, I think we even hauled off some trash that campers prior to the RTR had left, and that’s the way it should be. The Nomad rule is to always leave a place cleaner than you found it, and whenever possible, leave-no-trace at all.