Old-timers and even newcomers are griping about how crowded RTR 2017 is (500 rigs and counting!) We did the same last year, and the year before, but this time we mean it. It looks and feels like a chaotic, no-amenities RV park, with vans, cars, RVs, trailers, and trucks practically sitting on top of each other.

Some of us blame our leader, Bob Wells, for taking to YouTube with his evangelism (eVANgelism, get it? Har har!) Sure enough, when he asked at yesterday’s morning meeting how many came because of his videos, well over half the people in attendance raised their hands.

But this population explosion points to something else besides YouTube popularity. It, along with the huge number of other vandwelling video channels, is a sign of the growing discomfort Americans are feeling. Something is clearly wrong when so many people are turning their lives upside down to escape.

At a women’s meeting yesterday, as each ‘newbie’ got up to share her excitement and happiness with this new way of life, an elderly woman with a cane stood slowly and said, “I did not choose this. I was forced into it.” Her voice broke. “I need to learn how to live this way.”

It was a heartbreaking reminder of the homelessness so many Americans are suffering. Vandwellers-by-choice are defensive about this issue. “I am not homeless,” we say. “I am houseless. My home has wheels.”

But many of us have lost homes, family, friends–everything. We are running from a combination of financial strain, societal judgement, inhuman work stress, injustice, pollution, traffic, noise, and general negativity. We are running toward freedom, nature, harmony, peace, and friendship. We are in pursuit of happiness.

Many thousands of others are still in their “sticks & bricks” homes and apartments, watching videos, reading blogs, dreaming of breaking out and joining us.

It makes me wonder, what has become of our culture that so many people feel the need to run away from it?

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  • Claudia

    This ties in beautifully with Macpack’s mission! Great reminder that many of us are only one paycheck away from being homeless, or being forced to live in a vehicle. So glad you got to CHOOSE to be a van dweller!

  • LaVonne

    Yes, so am I – but I was just realizing that if I had waited until now, I would’ve been forced out myself. The rent on my old apartment is so high I couldn’t live in it on my Social Security check.

    A friend told me she talked to that woman after the meeting and found out she is living on only $200 a month. Even in a van or a car, that is not enough. Another woman told my friend that she sold her house and put the money into her son’s house. When she ran out of money, her son kicked her out! What a world.

  • linda

    I can only say that I will be forever grateful I found this way of life and this tribe.It is very crowded but if i can give just one person half of the hope this gathering gave me four years ago I will feel good about returning the blessing I recived.this gathering is life changing for a lot of “homeless by choice” tonight as i go to sleep under the stars at the rtr i feel blessed.

  • BFG

    Well maybe the next step is to join together with like minded or like disadvantaged folks and make a community together, sharing resources and the strengths of each other. My equivalent of social security, here in NZ after bills are paid and food bought etc, I get $30, to use for gas and “treats” like coffee, and water. Thats every two weeks, so $60/month.

    I feel very sad they way we are all treated as we get older, does not seem to matter which county, its pretty much the same things. My mother who is 80 this weekend, now lives in a flat supplied by a charity, after one of her daughters took all her money “to build a room on the house for her”, but some how the room was never built and the money disapeared.

    I only found out after the salvation army talked to me.

    Ma won’t let me do anything about it, but it hurts my soul.

    My Ma has never driven a car, never learned how. So she has even less choice than you lovely lot.

    Anyway looking on the brightside, if you can stay healthy in your vans and cars, get a good sleep and stay sane, well you are doing better than me. 🙂

    Be Well

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