Previously posted elsewhere March 14th, 2014
I spent the winter at the Long Term Visitors Area (LTVA) which is a place you can go boondocking in Winterhaven, California just North of Yuma, Arizona. It is BLM land with extras! Most serious Boondocker’s consider the LTVA’s to be uptown boondocking since they offer you clean water, bins for your trash and a place to dump your tank. For me this was indeed an incredible place to stay and truly a haven for the winter.
More than anything else though it was the people I met that gave of their time, talents and even some of their Stuff? No. Junk? No. Not junk, their Extras? Cast-offs? Recyclables? Just bits and pieces that were too good to throw away but they did not really need any more? However you want to put it, their bits and pieces have been incredible gifts to me and have made my life this winter so much more than just bearable, they have made it lovely and wonderful.
Some of these friends, most of them new to me, have asked me to refrain from using their names, so I will go with Initials for everyone instead. Although there are those who may never see my blog, much less this post, it is important to me that I say thank you again and this post is also here to help me remember that there are wonderful people in the world. People who live in trailers, vans, tents and occasionally, yes, even houses, can be some of the most caring people you will ever meet.
So much has happened. So many incredible gifts from people, that I am not sure where to begin. My van has been through some serious renovations this winter. Well now, THAT is a good place to start. My van. A gift from the elders at my home church. Yes, they just gave her to me! It just does not seem possible to me yet. I was looking at spending the winter in my little car and praying that some how the good Lord would work it out for me. Talk about working it out. That was just the beginning of an incredible ride! So here is a list of some of the gifts and the wonderful people who gave them to me.
J and RS for allowing me to stay at their home for that first month after leaving my apartment. It helped me get to the point where I was ready to live in my car. DD for giving me a place to park last summer and JW for asking DD about it in the first place. Both of those warm, caring women have been a blessing to me in ways too numerous to list. Loaned me all kinds of things to get me started on my journey, I mean really, how many people do you know that would allow you to borrow their privy? Now that is a good friend! To say nothing of the long list of things they gave me. Everything from buckets and tubs to clothes and even a winter jacket for my little Macha! Best of all DD has already told me I have a place to stay again this summer.
SK & LS, boondocking friends of mine, for asking me to live near them in Bouse, AZ. Even though it did not work out for me there, (I could not handle the bitter cold snap they had) it did allow me the opportunity to meet SW in Quartzsite who made curtains and helped me hang them in my van. She also taught me the benefits of Reflectix and wrapped my little cooler in some to show me how effective it could be. Another camper there provided the funds I would need to help me meet and drive an online friend, SL, to New Mexico, who in turn gave me half the money I would wind up needing to be able to pay to stay at the LTVA. SK provided the other half of the money when I was trying to find someplace else to stay. LS for the computer, though she said it had some issues, it is now my first ever laptop! Both LS and SK still email and write to me! Yes, old fashioned snail mail and I love it! I actually had an online friend, LR, the crazy tech guy, as he likes to be called, who helped me walk through some of the setup to get my computer tethered to my phone. I actually use my phone as a hot spot! Another camper at the LTVA battled it out with the computer in the first place to get it running and then tried (and purchased) all kinds of things to get it set up for me to use in such a way that it would not hurt me.
Ah yes, you read that right. A computer can hurt me. Another part of the story. But that will have to wait for yet another post.
D, C, J and J, for all the work they did on my van in Casa Grande. Their list of help is huge! Everything from purchasing and helping me lay flooring and a total scrub down to get the mold issue out of the van, to sewing material to act as a rug, labeling my jars and so much more. B and S for the two 6 gallon jugs to use for water that will replace my loaners and they also gave me a solar panel and a rack. Since they were moving into a smaller camper, they no longer had room for these things and gave them to me. My second solar panel! My first was a Christmas gift from another camper to keep my van battery charged up so I could watch movies on the DVD player from PG. It had been sitting in her closet for several years unused. There is another whole story there as well. B and BW for the solar controller they gave me, it was too small for their new set up but still worked. Since they no longer needed it, they gave it to me. They also found the little wooden feet for my cot to keep it from digging holes in my foam floor, lumber for under my wheels to level my van. But more than that, the afternoon chats and the caring they showed me, as my first neighbors at the LTVA, let me know I was in the right place!
I bought a tiny home made solar oven and a deep cycle battery dirt cheap from PT and he also gave me the cushions I am now using on my cot which has made my bed so much more comfortable. So four different sets of folks helped create my solar system. It not only runs my computer, it charges the batteries for my lovely flashlight which can hang inside my van, both of which were given to me by another camper, along with the batteries to run them. MH for the Tu Tuff to cover my Styrofoam flooring and her hubby GH for some invaluable research. Which allowed me to purchase a hand cranked pump to transfer water from jugs too heavy for me to lift. Then there are the two P.A.’s at two different Doctors offices. One gave me a down filled mattress bag for my cot and the other a shower bag. I can stay warm and clean. This is huge when you are living in a van with no heat and no plumbing!
R, T and B, who gave me a bigger and better cooler than what I had (No worries, my son is going to inherit my old one, you know, too good to throw away! LOL) and let me have the table with an umbrella, which I used while I was in Winterhaven (I could not take it with me, but again, no worries, S who invited me to tea one day is now using it) and thanks to T for the shoulder to cry on and the wonderful talks.
By the way, sitting at that table, overlooking the lake, having my tea in the morning, while reading my bible or playing my guitar and singing in the evening. That is more than just food for the soul. It is a delight to the eyes, to see the glory of nature around me, while reading and singing about the artist? Each morning I would have only one thing to say. Just one, quiet, very gently spoken word, indeed said almost as a whisper, quite simply “Wow”.
Several of the folks listed above would make runs to Yuma for me for ice and groceries, one even took me twice. That is how I found out that Yuma is not a good place for me to go. Another post will be out shortly to cover that issue. There is a base just a couple miles from where I was parked. Since I am a military spouse, I can go to the commissary for most of my groceries. I still find it hard to believe this one, but this particular base, was not only actively looking for and purchasing organic food for staff and visitors like me, they were also using green products in the fitness center where I could go to take a lovely, hot, long, delicious, shower for free, without fear of getting ill. The base Chaplain found blankets for me when it turned out that my sleeping bags were not working well, which yet again, another camper helped me with by washing them over and over again to get the chemical residue out that had been left in them by detergent and fabric softeners.
Are you overwhelmed yet?
PMW for the pan and the walking stick and her hubby BW for the chair and ladder. BP and EP for the camp table, a set of funnels, measuring spoons and a whole raft of other items, my favorite being my spoon rose which lives on my dashboard. (Ask me sometime, it is a lovely story all by itself!) M at the base for help on my van, B the kayak guy for the cookies he gave me as a Christmas present. The list goes on and on. I assure you I have Not listed everything. Every time I get up from the computer to go fix lunch or get more water I am reminded yet again of another gift from people, most of whom, I met since being on the road. Clothesline when I had none, an inverter to run my grinder, a meter to check the status of my battery, the loan of tools, help setting up my roof rack, a pocket watch, a camera, yes you heard me right again, a really nice digital camera, when it became to dangerous to use my phone that way. Each time I would attempt to defer and say I could not accept something so expensive, I would hear the words, ‘It is not being used, it is an extra, and you need it now’. The list just keeps going. I can assure you I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown to me this past winter.
So many gifts from so many giving people. I am truly blessed. Thank you to each of you and may the Lord bless you all in very special ways.