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photo courtesy alseeger, 8/13/2016. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/alseeger-624/

I don’t know if you think the same way that my wife and I do, but very often when we are camping (and sometimes when we aren’t camping) we fantasize about tent camping for longer periods of time, even permanently. Well, while most of us only dream of this situation, I’ve run into someone who is doing it for real. His story is not what you would expect, and I was a little shocked once I heard the full story, but I can understand his position and hope that his living the tenting life permanently pays off in ways we can’t think of yet.

I had the opportunity to exchange several emails with Andrew to ask him about this transition in his life, and I’ve summarized these exchanges here. As you read, be thinking about what you would do if you were in this position. How would you like to live in a tent more or less permanently? How often would you move around? How do you think your friends and relatives would react to a decision like this? I can honestly say that, until this email exchange, I had an idealised vision of what it might look like. Andrew helped me to see both the romantic side of things, as well as the practical, every day side of things.

Can you describe the circumstances that led to this transition of being homeless and choosing to stay in a tent?

Its complicated. Several years ago, I moved from Maryland to Louisiana to be with my adult daughter and grandsons. It took no time at all to realize that Louisiana was no place to raise bright, intelligent kids. It took me a couple of years but I finally convinced her to move north. So, now I’m by myself in this third world state.

3 years ago, while doing some investigating into a kill pen in my area, I was assaulted by the owners and injured. I am nearing the end of a long lawsuit and as soon as it is done – win or lose – I am out of here.

While waiting for this battle to be over, I have been active in helping to rescue dogs from the horrible existence of living in this area. I have developed a strong dislike of people in general and a case of PTSD. I just want to be off by myself. I can’t afford a home anywhere – I don’t believe – though my sisters have stated they would take me in. To me, tent living and exploring the west provides the challenge, portability, independence that I desire. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone and I sure don’t want to be owing anyone. I’m too old for that.

What prompted this transition to tent camping?

I think the single most important thing was my love of Louis Lamour stories. All of my adult life I have yearned to see the west that he wrote about. Of course, that west is long gone but many of the places still exist and I want to see them, camp near them and explore. As I am probably going to be homeless in a month or two, I thought that being homeless out west was as good a place to do it as any.

Do you intend to stay in 1 place for a long time, or to move around more frequently?

It largely depends on the area I’m staying. I plan on staying in BLM areas and national forests. If it is an area that requires much exploring on my part, then of course I will stay as long as I can. Some areas I will get out of as soon as I can.

You are deaf, was this the result of an accident or were you born this way?

My deafness…my dad was deaf in his later years so it is possible I inherited some of it. Primarily though, I believe gun fire and working in a steel mill caused the bulk of it.

How will you support yourself in this new lifestyle?

Fortunately, I have a modest income from social security and a very small pension.

photo courtesy Free-Photos, 12/10/2015. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/free-photos-242387/

What tent and gear will you be primarily using as your new home?

I just received a Eureka Copper Canyon 8 from my sister and her husband. A Teton XXL Cot and Pad because I am too old to be sleeping on the ground. I have a lot of Coleman gear – stoves and lanterns. I like light.

Will you be doing an online diary of your experiences?

I’m thinking about that. Other than Facebook you mean? I don’t know. I would think my mundane life would be pretty boring to most folks.

What do you expect will be the hardest part of this transition?

Apprehension, fear and no a.c. LOL

What has been the reaction of your friends and family to this transition?

Friends are all behind me. One sister thinks I’m crazy…and I concur. My other sister is encouraging me and has financially helped me.

What will you do regarding mail? Will your SS payments and pension payments be direct deposited to an account?

I am going to look into a UPS address this week or next. Apparently, and this is just from what I heard, they have a pretty convenient forwarding system and your assigned address is an actual street address acceptable to motor vehicle and insurance companies. Yes, my checks are automatically deposited.

Do you have any plans to leave the U.S. and spend some time in Canada or Mexico?

I’ve been to Canada and Mexico. At this point, I have no desire to see them again.

With your love of Louis Lamour, would you ever try your hand at writing a western novel, especially since you will be in that part of the country?

I have absolutely zero talent for writing! LOL  I believe just keeping a journal will be enough of a challenge. I am, however, planning on getting a camera soon. We – my dogs and me – spend quite a bit of time outdoors and we have seen some interesting things. I’ve taken some good pictures and posted them on a FB page I started.

Washing clothes and dishes – this would present a challenge at times, what are your plans to address these.

I’ve been practicing reduction of kitchenware for quite a while. Between paper, not foam or plastic, plates and my single plate, dishwashing should not present much of a challenge.  I only need to do laundry every 30 days as it is now. I will, of course, need to go to town pretty often, if for no other reason than to take a shower and buy food.

photo courtesy notaclueadventures, 4/20/2012. Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/notaclueadventures-442405/

Wrap Up

This email interview just scratches the surface of Andrew’s situation and how he’ll go about handling tent camping on a permanent basis.  Fortunately, Andrew has a great support system in his family as well as the tent camping community on Facebook.  Do you have any suggestions for Andrew or anyone else thinking about tent camping on a permanent basis?  Do you ever think about tent camping on a permanent basis?  What would help force you to be a permanent tent camper?

Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!

Featured Image photo courtesy LUM3N, 8/14/2016.  Photo was taken from: https://pixabay.com/users/lum3n-1066559/

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Comments Section

5 replies
  1. Happycamoer
    Happycamoer says:

    I love tent camping, but think full-time would be to difficult for me. I am thinking about RVing.

    You didn’t mention if you have transportation/truck. If you do, a simple pop-up trailer might help with the hard ground and portability. You can buy one for as little as $1500(used). You can get fancier one for more. I know you don’t want to use anyone, but monthly payments are super low.

    Just throwing out an idea.

    Reply
  2. Richard Michael Boyden
    Richard Michael Boyden says:

    I camp full time on public lands in the Western USA. I have a car and a tent, sleeping bag, etc., and my Chihuahua. We are really happy in our trillion star hotel room, but wind and rain can be inconvenient. Budget restrictions dictate our level of affluence, which at present is meager but sustainable (hopefully).

    Reply
  3. Sharron
    Sharron says:

    My situation is much like Andrews, I’m a senior and had been living with a brother who is ill, he is now living with his girlfriend and I have lost my housing. I have never camped before but have been part of a solo women’s camping group on FB for a while and decided to give it a try. My brother did give me a 2004 Jeep Liberty and I have spent a few weeks camping and I love it. I’m now caring for my sister who is facing open heart surgery, and I’m glad I’m able to be here for her, but already plotting my next trip.

    Reply
  4. Mike Latta
    Mike Latta says:

    I’ve been tent camping full time the better part of 9 months 2019 to 2020. I use a 10 x 10 foot Springbar canvas tent that has a rubber attached tub floor so no water intrusion. I’m in a small RV campground that has tent sites and also I have electicity and have, in addition to my 10,000 BTU Kersun Radiant heater, a small electric heater that runs 24/7. I have a twin size 18 inch Air mattress with a built in electric air pump. I have a 5 shelf storage unit for food, tools, soap, dishes, utensils. I have 4 of these plastic drawer units for clothing. I have a 20 pound Propane tank with a 3 outlet tree for using a coleman propane gas lantern top and and a 2 burner stove. I will be buying a small microwave unit soon since I have electric . Before pitching my tent, I obtained (free) two 10 x 10 pieces of good foam carpet pad and a piece of good carpet some nearby home owner remodelers were discarding. I put these down first and a 10 x 10 tarp over these two pieces fir insulation. No cold wet floors at all–very important. These layers help immensely as some nigjts here in the Utah mountains at 6000 feet elevation have got down to single digit nightime temps. Two nights ago it was 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much snow so far, maybe 15 inches total. I have a tarp over my roof for extra protection. I broom the snow iff my roof immediately as I don’t want tbe weight bending my ridge poles. Nearby is the campground restroom facilities with 3 toilets & 3 shower stalls with good hot water. Very clean restrooms. For me, irs worked out really well. I invested in a good canvas tent, the best tent material invented in my opinion. Had canvas tents since my youth in 1951. Im in my vmid 70s now. Springbar Canvas tents are great tebts, made in Sakt Lake City, Utah. Springbar tents are the official tents of the Boyscouts, for what that is worth. Fir someone wabting to fulltime it tent living, give it some forethought and planning. Get good brand name gear. I bought my Springbar tent used for $300. New, it would cost $900 today. Its my second Springbar tent. Having a second smaller tent for storage is an idea I will be utilizing in the spring. Since I’m close to restroom shower facilities is a big issue resolved though I do have sudless rinsefree soap/shampoo I buy in the homecare invalid care section of Walgreens pharmacy. Well, good luck fellow campers, hope I’ve left a few ideas to make your life tenting camping a littler easier.

    Reply

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