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 #2185 - Monday, June 27, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz



this issue features a coupla posts from walker, a guy who writes on a list i read.  walker comes across as a walden on wheels, and that's nondual enough for me. the topics are living in a van, playing poker, and staying warm.






i've been living in my van for over five years now,
going south in the winter and north in the summer.  i
don't keep track closely, but some months i live on
less than $100, other months maybe $500.  i have no
utility bills, no mortgage, no debts of any kind.

my only regular bills are car insurance, around $500 a
year for the van and a Geo toad, and $30/month for a
storage unit.  i intend to clean out the storage this
summer and get rid of that expense - i haven't missed
the stuff in there for five years, so why should i
keep it?

food and gas expenses vary, but if i stay put for a
month, the gas bill is near zero and i have stocks of
bulk foods which last me a long time, supplemented by
small amounts of fresh fruit and veggies, meat,
cheese, eggs etc.  propane for cooking is an
insignificant expense, maybe $5.00 a month.

my income comes from playing poker, which i've been
doing for many years, and now there are more and more
places in almost every state that have poker games.  i
play lower limit, just trying to win enough to pay my
expenses, which isn't hard.  if i have a particularly
good session, i may go several weeks or a month before
playing again.  i recently hit a bad beat jackpot in
northern California and won $6000, which more than
covered my entire winter's expenditures.

i live an almost entirely cash existence.  i'm looking
for a newer rig to purchase right now, probably a
class C MH in the $5-10,000 range, for which i'll pay
cash.  i already have a solar system, laptop and other
electronic entertainment toys.  it's tempting to go
for a satellite internet dish, but i hate the idea of
paying a monthly bill for service.  right now i use
wifi and libraries.  i don't have any need for a

i originally intended to buy a chunk of land and build
a cabin, but the longer i live as a vandweller, the
more i've come to like it.  the freedom of movement,
of new and different places and people, of no regular
bills to pay, and the changing views out my front
window are very satisfying.

as a person who spends the vast majority of his time
on public lands boondocking, i'm apparently in the
minority among vehicle dwellers.  i do stop in
different cities for a week or so here and there, but
i much prefer the company of coyotes, deer and wild
birds to the belching buses and screaming sirens of
urban life.  so i don't need a gym membership - i swim
or use my solar shower to bathe, and i hike on trails
instead of treadmills.  but, to each hir own.  my dog,
a spirited Aussie shepherd, also much prefers our life
in the woods and desert to the alternative, the city
world of leashes and pooper scoopers.

in my travels, i've met people who live even simpler,
more inexpensive lives than i do, so it's possible to
live a happy healthy life in this country for almost
nothing, if you're willing and able to travel by foot
or bicycle, and glean food from the forests and
dumpsters.  i admire these folks, but i'm spoiled by
the luxuries of my comfy bed in a rolling metal box,
at night watching DVDs on my laptop or listening to
music and reading, and by day exploring the backroads
of the great American west all year round.


~ ~ ~


>>Sounds like a great lifestyle, altho consistantly
winning at poker is a mystery to everybody


>>I've always wanted to get by, playing poker. Any
tips you'd care to share?

patience, patience, patience and well-timed

patience: do not play every hand, wait for good cards,
such as big pairs or big suited connectors (we're
talking about hold'em here).  if you're in a
ten-handed game, the odds are that you'll only have
the best hand dealt to you one out of ten times, on
average.  so if you play seven or eight out of ten,
you're going to lose.  a good player can increase
these odds by:

well-timed aggression:  once you have figured out how
some of the other people at your table play, through
keen observation, use position and intuition to raise
or reraise at the right moments to get them to throw
their hands away.  the great thing about poker is that
you don't have to have the best hand to win, you only
have to have the best hand of those remaining in the
pot, or nothing at all if you're the only one left in
the pot.

remember though, limit ring games like those i play
are nothing like the tournament games you see on TV.
at low limits you can't bully people out of pots too
often, which is why you have to learn to pick your
spots and play the players. 

but patience is key.  if you only play top hands,
while everybody else is playing any two cards, you'll
usually win in the long run even if your luck is
average.  the good thing about the new popularity
created by the cable shows is that there's a seemingly
endless supply of new players, many of which are
basically clueless.

and learn to walk away.  if you get up over $100 in a
3-6 or 4-8 game, keep playing as long as you're
winning, but cash out as soon as you're back down to
that $100 mark.  play tight to start out, get to know
the players and the feel of the game, then loosen up
if you get hot and play your rushes for all they're
worth, but know when the rush is over.

there's obviously a lot more to it than this, but only
experience can really teach, not books or emails from
bums like me.




~ ~ ~


>>Your $5/month propane costs do not reflect HEAT.
Even with well-timed pinpoint migration cycles, you
must run into some cold nights. I think you need to
factor those costs,

i have used propane for heating, but only on the
coldest of nights.  i have one of those Mr. Buddy
heaters and a 20 pound tank.  layers of clothes and
climbing into layers of sleeping bags works like a
charm most of the time.  in the Yuma area or down the
Baja in the winter, you might get two weeks out of the
year where you'd really need to fire up the heater.

but in my new rig i'm thinking of installing a
woodstove.  i've seen guys who use them and they're
highly efficient, toasting up that little space
quickly and efficiently.  you don't need much more
than twigs, bark or small sticks in a tight stove and
there's plenty of wood in both the desert and woods
where i stay.  i'm one of those who really hates the
cold, so believe me when i say that i don't suffer
from it very often!

>>Boondock recommendations please !

it seems like i've gone through this so many times
already on this and other lists.  look at maps that
show public lands - national forests, BLM, state
forests, Bureau of Reclamation, etc.  there are
MILLIONS of acres open to free camping in all the
western states, and lots of gravel and dirt roads to
explore.  you can legally stay in one spot for 14
days, and then move 25 miles away for another 14 days,
but in reality you never see any rangers in most
places and they don't know how long you've been there.

visit BLM and NF offices in the region where you are,
get maps and ask somebody for "dispersed camping"
recommendations.  you don't have to go only where they
tell you, you can be on almost any public land, but
often they'll clue you in on some great sites.

beyond that, just drive down unmarked roads and
explore.  sometimes there are roads built by railroads
or utility companies during construction phases that
are now almost totally unused.  i've found great sites
this way - such as once on a high cliff above a
thundering river in Montana, the opposite shore of
which was Glacier National Park.

recently i was gambling at Seven Feathers on I-5 near
Canyonville, Oregon.  i wanted to get away for awhile,
even though there's free dry camping there (with 24/7
shuttle service to the casino), so i got out a map and
found the Cow Creek Byway, a paved loop starting a few
miles from there and ending back at the freeway 30
miles south.  along the byway were numerous places to
camp, including a free BLM cg with a vault toilet,
where i didn't see a soul in three days.  there was
also a public goldpanning area, and lots of roads
leading off where you could find places to park and
stay as long as you want.

it's really easy.  i just spent two months traveling
from Arizona to Oregon, through California, and never
paid once to camp anywhere.  national forest, BLM,
rest areas, Wal-Marts, small town city streets,
various unclassifiable undeveloped lands, just use
your imagination, observation, and MAPS.

looking for boondocking sites is half the fun!



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