Friday, December 22, 2017

Vandwelling Myths

This morning I want address a few myths that are related to Vandwelling.

There is no place that you can go park completely free as long as you like...unless you've bought land with no restrictions for off grid. (See Hannelore Inman at for help with that).

You cannot just find a piece of public land in the desert or the national forests and squat on that. It leads to a large ticket, and it damages the earth. It takes 25 years for the land and plants to come back after being driven on. Humans (and their trash) change the balance in the ecosystem.

And when you have groups of humans, the damage is exponential. This is one of many reasons that "The Rainbow Famiily" is harassed by law enforcement. It's an ecological nightmare. Public lands belong to all of us. We all need to learn to be good at taking care of the land.

If you must travel together, keep the group small, only 3-4 vehicles.

I also advise getting an acre of undeveloped land. You don't have to go live on it or build on it. Taxes are usually minimal on undeveloped land.

Having your own land will do several things for you

Owning land changes your perspective about other's lands and property.

You become a taxpayer as opposed to homeless. You're no longer regarded by police or rangers as homeless. It gives you a legal permanent address. You can always go stay on your land for a short (or long) period. You can host a small gathering.

There's actually a town in the South that's settled by no-one but travelers. This is not a new or revolutionary idea.

Another myth
You can't just urinate, defecate, or not pick up your dogs poop just because you're out in the desert.

You need to learn how to handle human waste. Piling your poop up like a manure pile from horses or cattle is not safe and unsanitary. There is actually science behind composting humanure. While you don't need fancy expensive equipment, you do need to learn how to safely compost.

In the not so distant past, diseases abounded related to human waste. Typhoid, cholera were rampant, as recently as 75 years ago.

Human waste (urine, feces) always always always at least 200 feet from any water sources or washes.

In urban environment, I look for a porta potty or a vault toilet. I can empty the urine bottle directly into it.  In urban environment, for feces (poop), use a plastic coffee can with Lid. Keep urine and poop separate. Poop in can. Put any paper and tissue in it. Put Lid on. No smell. Empty daily.

Composting humanure takes one year before it's safe for the environment. You have to learn the composition and methods of safely composting.

Another issue trash and food garbage. Let's face it, humans are very wasteful. Packaging, cans, broken stuff. First of all separate your trash, paper, plastic, cans, glass.

Recycle and reuse when you can. All of the " canisters in my van or travel trailer are recycled containers. Glass jars, coffee jars, plastic salad containers, reused #10 cans.

Did you know you can stop at any scrap yard. Separate aluminum, cans, glass, plastic. They'll not only take it, but give you a couple of dollars. Empty cat litter 30 pound containers make great recycling bins.

Don't throw your food scraps out for the animals. It changes their habits, attracts bears, raccoons, and other animals. It sometimes results in the animal becoming a pest and getting shot.

Wild animals are wild. Use a long lens to get that perfect photo. DON'T TAKE SELFIES WITH THAT ADORABLE ANIMAL. Nothing says I'm a city idiot like a selfie with a wild animal.

Tread lightly on the earth. Pull into that trashed camp and while you are there...restore it to pristine condition. You'll be welcome back so many places.

No matter what it looks like when you get there, when you leave, leave it in a condition that you'd be proud to have someone see.

I've had to do emergency repairs in the woods. Put a good tarp under your vehicle. When you are done, fold it carefully, keeping al fluids and dirt inside.

Those houseplants...many areas depend on agriculture for their economy
Houseplants or wood can bring in pests that will destroy the ecological balance. The gypsy moth is one such example.

If you're gong to live free of normal conventions, take the time to educate yourself on how to tread lightly on the earth. Any blm ranger, forest ranger, or local university agricultural extension office will be happy to point you in the direction of the knowledge you need. Learn to be a responsible part of the world and nature.


I called blm in New Mexico. In New Mexico if you overstay the14 days (in a 28 day period) it is a $100 citation and you must move immediately.

Good Coffee To You

See ya down the road


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