Incredible week (and a half) out here so far. I wasn't sure what to expect but despite the isolation, I have to say everything is much more intense than I anticipated. I don't think I've managed to capture it in photos yet, but the desert is beautiful. Yes, it's very dry, very rocky, but the play of colors and textures has caught me in awe more than once.
The camp is fluid - groups come in, individuals come in, others leave. Friendships form quickly. I've found everyone has strong personalities. I don't mean aggressive, but there are few shrinking violets. I think to live fulltime like this you have a certain strong core.
I am finding gendered differences. Women often tell the story of coming out here because they got to a certain age and no longer had to take care of children, a husband and parents. They are living for themselves now. Men seem to often end up here after divorce and or a changed financial situation that forced them out (this is NOT the rule, just I'm seeing some commonalities).
However, all seem talk about improved health. I ask if it's healing from nature or the community and there seems to be a belief that it is both, but community is the bigger part of it.
Just as the groups are fluid so is the exchange of resources and the camaraderie. A generator is borrowed, gas money is passed around for the person who takes trash into town, bagels that someone doesn't want is passed on to someone who is low on food waiting for the first and their check to be deposited, and someone helps me fix a sagging screen door hinge. Potlucks and campfires aren't planned, but occur somewhat spontaneously.
It's not perfect. This lifestyle draws some people that make others uncomfortable - despite feeling like I've happily found the land of misfit toys, once in awhile sometimes someone is just a little too strange. Other times it's just personalities just don't mesh. Different ways of dealing with pets (leashed vs unleashed) can create friction. That adds to the fluidity. But overall there is a sense of immediate protection cast out to newcomers that is only rescinded if they transgress. I haven't quite figured out what that transgression can be - sometimes it's just a consensus that the newcomer makes everyone feel uncomfortable.
This makes me sad - I once had a good friend that had aspergers and schizoid tendencies, and a sister that had a bipolar break that left her, for a short time, the crazy homeless woman in the park that wore a multitude of feather boas. But even out here, where there is a 'live and let live' attitude, there does seem to be a line between eccentric and mentally ill, and it's guarded closely.
That's my report - as you can see now that I'm here I'm starting to reorient my thinking to culture, subcultures and my research.
As far as practical things...Jim (the guy we call the power station with 1100+ watts) has taken a look at my energy needs and is researching the best deals - going to put in a second 100ah battery under the dinette, 200 watts on the roof and charge controller that will allow me to charge both the new and original house battery. Agreement is that it makes sense to keep them separate which we had already come to that conclusion here.
Also will be rewiring my electronics station with heavier gauge wire (oops). I'll be doing most of the work, but it's good to have folks here to help (especially with installing the panels).
I've given this URL to one of our group who is out here in an 85 Tioga that needs some advice before he digs into his brake lines. I know someone here will be able to offer some wisdom. I've already offered to hand him tools and be his assistant. You all got me hooked on learning more :-) Self-sufficiency is addictive. Course that said, it still takes a community as I well know!
What an adventure!!! Thank you everyone that held my hand along the way.