You’re All I Need to Get By

It was good to get back into the desert, into wide open wild spaces. It’s worth remembering that Nature is everywhere, even downtown Manhattan, there is in fact nothing but Nature. That said, it’s undeniably nicer for those of us who enjoy them, to be in less inhabited, vast tracts of wild, which is exactly what we had outside of Gila Bend, AZ.

We spent the weekend out in the wild, getting back into our groove, which had been thrown off considerably by California. I worked the mornings, and sat around playing with the kids in the afternoon. We had fires, we stared up at the milky way. We did very little other than relax and slow down the pace of life.

The pace of life in California is so dissimilar to how we live that it produces this background tension in me, like static on the radio that you barely hear, but is there when you listen for it. I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t explain what a weight was lifted from my shoulders when we drove out of California. It’s like being free again, like I imagine that first breath of air would be if you were trapped under an icy lake.

When Monday rolled around we drove into Tucson to visit some family, run some errands, one particularly long errand that I’m saving for the next post, and provision ourselves for some extended time out in the wild and on the road.

Sunset, catalina state park, tucson photographed by luxagraf

catalina foothills, catalina state park, tucson photographed by luxagraf

We re-grouped and re-stocked. And of course enjoyed ourselves as best we could amidst the traffic and jumble of consumer experiences that constitutes modern city life.

One of the interesting things about living in a self-contained RV, camping mostly out in relatively remote natural areas, is that we have very little need of the sort of consumer experiences that make up modern American life. We very seldom buy things. We’re very seldom in places where there are in fact things to buy. We don’t have a house to buy stuff for, which eliminates a huge amount of shopping. We very seldom buy new clothes. We very seldom go to restaurants. The last time I went to a bar Big Papi was still on the Red Sox. All of which is to say we very seldom have consumer experiences anymore.

Once you stop shuffling around the retail world for a while doing so becomes much more horribly tedious than it ever seemed when I did it regularly. I can feel the hours of my life slipping away at stoplights in strange cities. I can watch the strange packages of things we call food rotting away as I wait in line at the supermarket. I stare at retail endcaps for far to long trying to workout why in the world I would want any of this stuff. In fact I walk around stores in a kind of stupor, working out in my head different ways we might be able to run errands even less than we already do. I find myself in line thinking surely the freezer and icebox could hold enough food for 10 days instead of 7? Perhaps I should start fishing along way to supplement the freezer? Is there a farmer’s market near camp? Maybe we can forage for veggies?

Those things are fun to contemplate, but the biggest way to avoid spending your days running errands is to embrace a very simple philosophy: If you don’t have it, you don’t need it.

Out of garlic? It’ll still taste okay. Nozzle of your hose broken? Water still comes out, you’ll get by. Radiator overflow tank blow a hole? By pass it with produce bag twist ties, an old spark plug and some bent hoses. back on the road. Just find a way to make it work. In almost every case you can think of, you have a choice, you can use some ingenuity and find a way to make things work with what you have, or you can get in your car and go shopping. Choose wisely.

Don’t feel bad if you’re the shopping type. There’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes you have to. Out of salt? Yeah it’s probably not going to taste very good. Hose leaking non-potable water all over the place? Yeah that’s probably not good. Radiator hose has an actual hole? Well, that might still be fixable. You’d be amazed how long an engine will run with duct tape on a hose. Trust me.

But the extremely poor quality of goods these days means you’ll be doing fair bit of shopping even if your ingenuity is in overdrive. Still, before you grab your keys, always sit down for a bit, take stock of what you have and try to figure out how you could make things work with what you have rather than heading straight to the store.

In Tucson we had to run the sorts of errands there’s no getting out of, stocking up on food, picking up the bus registration which was “overnighted” to us (it took three days to get to us “overnight”, thanks USPS), getting medications, and one more big one that I’m just going to keep teasing you with again.

We also set aside an afternoon to catch up with some my extended family who live around here, including my great aunt who just turned 95. If you want to bend your brain a bit sit down next to 95 year old and watch a couple five year olds run around and contemplate everything that’s changed in those 90 intervening years. It’ll split your head open. I got caught up thinking about the speed of movement that’s changed in the last 90 years. In 1927 the car was still a thing that went about 40 MPH over rutted dirt roads. To start the engine you got out, opened the engine and cranked it with a long metal rod. Of course if you’re me you still start your bus by opening the engine and lifting the choke flap with your finger, so maybe less has changed than I think. In some cases anyway. Whatever the case, happy birthday Marge, hope you liked the burgers.