More than 600 cats saved in Paradise and Magalia, and still so many out there needing rescue, but the time has come to leave this mission to new hands.
Together in Paradise
Time and circumstance have led us here, to the final kittie round up.
We learned so very much.
Together, with strangers turned friends, I’ve shed tears of joy and sorrow.
Living a “Nomadic” life, I have experienced a lot in these past two years. I have personally grown as a rescuer and as a human being in the residue of this tragedy. I gained a new travel companion, along the way.
These hills, strewn with debris and melted cars, will slowly alter and life will prosper.
Life abounds amongst the burned out rubble.
The Earth greens into rebirth despite the sorrows that lay beneath the ashes.
Paradise, Magalia and Concow may never be the same, but the will is strong here to rebuild. The sense of renewal is palpable.
To some it may just be a bunch of cats, but to many here, it is the sign of hope.
Over 600 cats rescued, easily thousands of cats, if all combined rescues are accounted for… and I was a part of it. Just a small part… but part of it nevertheless.
Stay Strong Paradise and Magalia. The sun will continue to rise.
On November 8, 2018, a fire started on Camp Creek Road in Paradise California. The resulting fire become the most destructive wildfire in California history.
Somehow thousands of kitties survived.
Even if locked in homes in completely obliterated neighborhoods, kitties… thousands of kitties… escaped through broken windows. They were found hidden within drain pipes, under cars, inside chimneys.
Dusty aka as Dusty the Campfire Cat was rescued from the fire by a good samaritan on November 13, 2018 and found his way to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical School.
This is his story.
Known as the Camp fire (aka the Campfire) due to its place of origin; the fire ripped through the rural mountain communities of Paradise, Magalia and Concow.
The speed at which the fire burned left it nearly impossible for many to return to their homes.
With no chance to retrieve loved ones, belongings or pets, residents were forced to remain behind the fire lines. Left with no choice but to watch as the fire consumed their world and those they loved.
Many that were either at home or close enough to home to get to their pets, could not find them in time.
Explosions and the resulting confusion during a frantic egress, caused pets to flee. Many hid or were simply too frightened to catch.
The fire, that at one point was burning at the rate of a football field a second, came in so fast, that many people had no choice but to leave the pets they carried behind when the fire roared to their feet.
So many campfire (camp fire) survivors quite literally ran for their lives as the fire surrounded them. Some did not make it out.
After the Fire
The devastating effects of the Camp Fire (Campfire) in the aftermath was stunning. Entire communities were so utterly incinerated, that in looking at it today it is difficult to tell what once stood there.
Homes gone, trees singed, cars that may have pre-fire been brand new, stripped of paint and tires, some even partially melted, left looking derelict and like something from an ‘End of Days’ movie.
FieldHaven Feline Center with the support of Alley Cat Allies, as well as other local rescue groups and shelters worked together (and continue to do so) with online Facebook pages, made up of dedicated cat matchers to find lost kitties and try to reunite them with their people.
A myriad of groups built databases, manned Facebook pages to tirelessly find, trap and reunite kitties from the burn zones.
With the help of so many dedicated volunteers, NVADG saved hundreds, if not thousands of animals. Despite NVADG’s inexperience and refusal to coordinate with other groups and their lack of preparation, the volunteers made a huge impact and helped so many.
I may go further into this matter about NVADG in future posts, but we return to the story of Dusty the Campfire Cat.
Once NVADG pulled out, countless independent trappers, feeders and shelters worked together to seek out and rescue the thousands of surviving cats left behind.
They continue to do so today.
FieldHaven, an established and well respected cat rescue and shelter that has provided shelter and TNR (Trap Neuter Release) assistance in many neighbouring areas for the past 15 years, received funding support from Alley Cat Allies to open a second shelter in Marysville California, to provide space for the unbelievable amount of cats being rescued every day.
TheAlley Cat Allies Recovery Center for FieldHaven, was filled the first day open.
A few months later the Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station for FieldHaven was opened in Paradise.
Having worked civilian rescue remotely, for the last 5 hurricanes and floods, as well as for the Woolsey Fire, I jumped in to support FieldHaven with the campfire kitties.
I can safely assume that this is why my precious Dusty the Campfire Cat is here and with us today. P
See Banana, another Camp Fire cat on Instagram.
This top teaching veterinary hospital, offered a chance for these cats to live and Dusty now know as Dusty Roads or Dusty the Campfire Cat, was one of those survivors.
Found with all of his fur singed, Dusty was covered in 1st, 2nd & 3rd degree burns. His eyes were infected and glued shut, his ears and feet scorched, nipples and scrotum seared. Doubtless to say, Dusty was in bad shape.
It is assumed that Dusty got his name because he came in with all of his fur singed and covered in ash, in result he appeared to be grey and not black.
Dusty was transferred from VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center in Chico and hospitalised at the UC Davis Medical Teaching Hospital on November 13, 2018. Just days into the firestorm.
Dusty aka Dusty Roads or Dusty the Campfire Cat, had his second eyelids removed. He had his eyelids reconstructed, numerous toes amputated and his ears abraded. He was left with chronic upper respiratory issues. Dusty also tested positive for FIV.
Dusty Roads aka Dusty the Campfire Cat
Since the day I saw posts about Dusty I thought about adopting him. But being that I live on the road and travel overseas often, I felt concerned about not only taking on such a responsibility, but also if a nomadic life was right for a cat that had been through so much, so I discounted it.
Yet, there he sat. I adopted. Although FieldHaven is a wonderful place for cats. Huge pens with outdoor access and a well organised and run system. Still it is life in a cage in the end.
As mentioned in my more recent post, my son was sick of caring for my cat Dew, so I headed out from Virginia Beach to Portland to pick her up.
Making a wee detour to Lincoln California to visit Joy Smith the director of FieldHaven Feline Center; the group with which I had volunteered from afar for so long.
The first thing I did once I’d settled into her beautiful and welcoming home was ask about Dusty.
It wasn’t until the second day that I went to meet him. The third day I brought him to Joys house to see how he’d adapt to change. Then Joy and I brought him in a small road trip. Dust The Campfire Cat was nearly unfazeable. He settled into every situation with ease and was completely calm driving with me.
Dusty the Campfire Cat, now know as Dusty Roads, instantly became part of the family.
Together we drove to Portland Oregon, to pick up Dew the cat. Tomorrow we set out on the road to Yellowstone Park.
Does he has issues? Yes. He can’t run. His feet badly scarred, part of his ears have burned off. I do not think he sees well in the dark.
Already sort of a smoosh face, the addition of scar tissue from smoke damage to his nasal passages will mean it likely something upper respiratory that gets him in the end.
Until it is time for him to say goodbye to this Earth, I’m going to be there for him.
A true fighter with an undefinable spirit, I just adore the little guy. I think he feels the same about me.
Stay tuned for Dusty the Fire Cat aka Dusty Roads adventures as a full time traveler with me!
I believe this to be my twelfth cross country road trip in the last year and a half and it is difficult to believe. Nearly two years non stop on the road to date.
Why am I heading cross country yet again? Because my son and his girlfriend are sick of watching my cat. The cat eats plastic bags then runs through the house barfing and they are pretty sick of it and rightly so.
Not that I need much of an excuse to hit the road. I love to travel and am particularly fond of long haul drives.
Pretty much any excuse to go out on any sort of road trip is good enough for me.
Need help selling your house in Seattle? Have a cool place to stay in Madrid New Mexico? Wanna have drinks in Denver?
Festival in Arizona? I’m on my way. Hiking in Maine? Castle in Scotland? Daring bridge crossing in Norway… I’ll be there.
I do not need a specific reason or destination, the drive alone is pleasure enough. A desolate and beautiful drive in the Scottish Highlands? I’ll do it numerous times. (Lately it seems I’ll do anything in Scotland, any chance I get.)
I do love to venture out and explore on foot. Yet driving to and around any destination is one of the best parts of travel for me. Be it cross country or a road trip to the next town, even in its simplest form, such travel it is my bliss.
Routes of the Rootless Cross Country
At about noon I headed west on I 64 from Virginia Beach, bound for Lexington Kentucky. Amazingly I made it as far as Dale Indiana, where I spent my first night.
Having done similar cross country road trip sojourns so readily this past year, I opted to take a new route, staying as close as I could to the middle of the country.
I planned not to go too far north due to bad weather. Not that driving in snow bothers me. In fact I quite enjoy driving in the snow, and did so on a similar trip nearly a year ago
being that my plan this time was to get to my destination as quickly as possible, it made sense to avoid possible snow.
Dew the Cat
More commonly when I drive cross country routes I base them on things I wish to see and do. Yet this trip is more focused on quickly releasing my cat Dew, from my sons care.
Dew the Cat
A sweet cat, Dew is clean, goofy and funny but skittish and sort of… well… dumb. That she does not get along with female cats (of which there are 2 in my sons house) was an issue. As a barf driven in general and has little understanding of boundaries. She also is not fond of the road trip lifestyle, but she is mine, and I love her. So off we go.
My son has been caring for her far longer than ever anticipated. An outrageous amount of unexpected circumstances held me up, including a broken leg that laid me up for over 5 months.
America, the Beautiful Toll Free
The stretch through the West Virginia and Kentucky mountains is phenomenal.
An aesthetically pleasing, as well as enjoyable drive. Rolling pavement brings you up and around beautiful countryside, with steep inclines and descends.
On this cross country passage, I mapped the trip via google maps. For the first time I chose the option to avoid tolls. In result, I ended up on wonderful local small town roads that winded me around the turnpikes and other toll roads. It worked out wonderfully.
Google directed me off of the highway just prior to the toll booth and took me on a few off the beaten path sojourns. Each detour was truly spectacular scenically and roadway wise.
This unexpected bonus only added a few minutes to the entire trip in the end. At on point, I was amused to see myself pull out right in front of the truck with whom I’d been sharing the road for hours, just beyond the clutches of the “pay your toll” booth.
Resting at Rest Stops
I created a cozy little sleeping nook in the back of my Lincoln Aviator.
It was pretty comfy once I got the sun shade thing situated.
I slept at 3 rest stops along this road trip. Not only did it save me money, but it allowed me to hop back onto the road with little wasted time. I think I prefer this to motels when on a cross country route focused on expediency. over sightseeing.
This one in Dale, Indiana was not the most picturesque, but nicely maintained and I felt safe sleeping there.￼
This strip of highway has quite a few decent rest stops normally, but many were closed on this particular trip. I was extremely glad to find this one open.
Good morning Indiana From there I hit a Denny’s for a power breakfast then headed out towards I70 making it as far as Oglala Nebraska.
The Nebraska rest stop was fantastic. Clean with lots of parking. Wide open spaces and lovely views.
Good morning Nebraska!
For some reason google gps routed me through Nebraska instead of my previously designated plan to follow straight through Kansas and Colorado, yet I enjoyed the I-80 drive passing miles and miles of cattle ranches.
Riding High on Audio Books
As much of this particular drive offers such exquisite views, I tend to revel in the scenery without distraction.
But on long hauls like this, driven alone, various forms of distraction are necessary to staying alert, even if that sounds a bit oxymoronic.
One way I pass time is of course my music. When I’m feeling tired I at times rely on talk radio to keep me going. Yet one of my best allies is Audible.
Listening to lectures or books or whatever wets your noodle, is one the most valuable tools when in the more long haul type of journey. Just make sure you download ahead of time.
Your in Reno? I’m in Reno.
Before picking up my cat from my sons house in Portland, I will visit with FieldHaven Feline Center, the group with which I volunteer from afar.
FieldHaven, a long standing cat rescue and shelter in Lincoln California has been working hard to help the thousands of cats affected by the campfire.
Along with the support of Alley Cat Allies, FieldHaven opened 2 temporary shelters; Alley Cat Allies Recovery Center in Marysville and Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station in Paradise. These additional shelters were necessary for the unprecedented amount of cats let injured, lost, homeless or without shelter and food across the burn zone.
Having been invited to stay with Joy Smith, the head of FieldHaven, I remained in touch with her as I headed West. When I told Joy I’d be in Lincoln Friday, she mentioned that she would not return from Reno (where many of the unclaimed campfire are being sent for adoption) and ot back home until 5pm.
Checking my itinerary, it occurred to me that I’d be in Reno by about noon on Friday. In the same time my friend Christine, who I hadn’t seen in years texted me, asking me to stop by when passing through Reno. (Is totally forgotten that she’d moved there)
In the end, I got to stop in Reno, take a much needed shower as well as visit with my good friend Christine, then meet Joy & Rog of FieldHaven, as well as a bunch of campfire cats at Nevada Humane Society then follow them back to Lincoln.
Landing in Paradise
I made it across the US, practically from coast to coast in 4 nights easily.
The expense of the trip was purely gas, breakfast and drinks in the end and it was yet again another fantastic road trip across the US. I GoPro’d every light day of it and will share it, along with my many other recorded journeys, as soon as I am able.
Saturday I was able to visit Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station as well as drive around Paradise to see the devastation first hand. It may seem a grim thing to do. Yet certainly I am not a catastrophe tourist. I’d ridden this area on my motorcycle many years before. The strange familiarity felt by the awareness of knowledge of this place I had rarely ever been. I felt a unique and intimate understanding of the tragedy that affected so many.
The stories of loss, heartache and then the ultimate satisfaction of reuniting someone with a cat they were sure had perished in the fire. Cognizant of the feeding station and trapping locations as well as if I’d lived there and physically helped. To know the addresses and stories of human, animal and material loss as if it had happened to my friends and neighbors. It is difficult to put into words the sheer devastation of it all and how keenly I was touched by experiencing it first hand, after all of this time.
And am keenly aware of all hard work and dedication that FieldHaven and the many trappers, feeders, rescuers and shelters have put in just to help give a small bit of relief to the people and animals that have lost so very much.
Sadness and Loss
I GoPro’d the devastation but I’m unsure if I shall share it or not. It was heart wrenching to see the depth loss exhibited by these utterly charred neighborhood’s. Businesses mostly gone. Hearth and home obliterated along with the foliage and trees.
The overwhelming emptiness of the place, bereft in its losses it is tangible as if a solid entity.
But the cats… so many survived. They escaped locked down burned out houses like little Houdini’s. Thousands of cats so far recovered. More found and trapped every day. Their ability to survive in a burned out world of nothingness is remarkable. This place so long considered a paradise for so many, as in name then to ashes.
It was a magical experience and an added bonus to this cross country drive. If it actually meant anything beyond a rainbow happened to cross my path at the most opportune moment or not, I’ll let you decide that. What I will state, is that my expeditious drive across the US, for me was well worth it if just for that moment.
Hell, I live driving and exploring so much, it was worth it just for the drive alone.
Next Stop Portland
Soon I leave for Portland to pick up Dew. Then I will head out with my friend Laurie, her chihuahua Rudy and my cat to cross the country once more, this time via the most northern route heading from Portland to Rhode Island.
After a year of countless US Road Trip expeditions, on October 2018 I set out to Austin to help out my 93 year old mother.
Mom had fallen and broken her pelvis, so in response to her need, I headed to Austin, Texas to help. This would be my ninth US Road Trip in a single year.
I took a small blogging break through Thanksgiving intending to record my journey back to Virginia and begin writing again.
Three days before I left Austin for my next US Road Trip, I fell and broke my leg. Sadly, I have been nearly silent ever since.
That Road Trip; from Virginia Beach to Austin. This was my 11th drive across the US, that covered over 1000 miles in the last year (2018) (so I am excluding quite a few 600 mile excursions in that number). Since that time, (and after 4 months of healing stuck in Austin on my Mothers couch) I have driven a moving truck from Austin to Raleigh North Carolina, flew back to Austin and drove my SUV back to Raleigh and then onto Virginia Beach. My next US Road Trip adventure starts today.
I have traveled from thousands of drive miles from coast to coast, to coast in the United States (East, West, South). Through deserts, up mountains, across cities, to seashores.
I have flown thousands of miles, then driven thousands of miles beyond these shores of ours.
US Road Trip et al
The 6 month delay created by my broken leg, caused quite a few challenges. Hurdles that I am yet attempting to overcome. One of the key issues was that my son (and his girlfriend) have been stuck with my cat for far longer than ever intended and she’s been causing a bit of havok. At
Today, I began a US Road Trip sojourn once again. I will cross the US to pick up Dew the cat. leaving Virginia Beach heading to Portland in an hour. Travel plans are to begin via the middle route and back again through the northern route, then heading West via the Southern route once more, if all goes as planned (and I utilize the road plan loosely, for I am greatly open to enjoyable deviations (even those nt so enjoyable)
On this new US Road Trip, I will be stopping in Butte County so that I may visit those with whom I have been remotely volunteering, FieldHaven since the Campfire. Once retrieving my cat, I shall pick up my friend Laurie and her chihuahua, and together we shall head to Yellowstone Park.
The plan is to US Road Trip across the Northern route ending at Camp Anarchy to attend the festival. From there we head to Rhode Island to try and sell off all of my things. Then we shall pick up my trailer and head West again via the Southern route.
I plan to once again share my travel stories with you. I hope you will follow along my 12th US Road Trip in a year
About a year ago I decided to create a life devoted almost solely to travel. Become… a Digital Nomad so to speak. Somehow I planned to diminish my expenses so that the majority of any future income could be directed to my travels.
Now I knew I wanted to live my life on the road, but had absolutely no idea how I was going to achieve that. Having already sort of ditched my home, I knew I was part of the way there, but when my random and impulsive purchase of a 1971 Fan Lee Liner occurred, my journey towards living a travel trailer life began. I was that much closer to my dream.
Although I am not even living in the damned thing as of yet.
Preparing for my Travel Trailer Life
It has taken far longer than I ever imagined for the stars to align and allow me to move in and start this new travel filled life.
Since I had little plan beyond that which existed in my head, I am not actually off schedule. But I’m ready and it is certainly time!
I left the camper with the guy from whom I had purchased it until April, due to weather. Although I picked the travel trailer up as intended, I ended up heading back to Scotland for a month again. That’s twice in one year now. Since that time, I have been across the US numerous times. East to West, North to South and diagonally covering every existing coast on the mainland.
You just cannot visit Scotland too many times. Ever!
Traquair House grounds 2017
It is not the trailer restoration that has taken so very long, but the typical extenuating circumstances of life. Sort of the expected, unexpected, that we all know will happen but do not know what they will be.
With little warning I had to pick up Roadie from the dog sitter. This was about a month earlier than intended. Roadie was located over 3000 miles away. I was missing her terribly anyway.
This put me back on yet another cross country US road trip, right at the time I had planned to be selling off my shit and fixing up the trailer. It also ate up a large amount of my budget well ahead of time. But it was just part of life’s expected unexpected.
Not being one to miss an opportunity to travel. I turned this diversion into a travel adventure, albeit also a bit out of a necessity.
I flew from Virginia to Portland, drove to Seattle pick up the dog, and back to Portland I went.
Drove from Portland to Austin, Texas and then from Austin, Texas to Providence, Rhode Island, booking AirBnBs in the places I wished to explore. I did indeed get to explore and visit friends and family. But I was far away from the travel trailer that was meant to be a part of these journeys.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Dogs, Cats & Kin
When I found out that I had but days to pick up Roadie from the dog sitter in Seattle, I was staying in Virginia Beach.
Having left my SUV at my sons place in Portland when I left for Scotland, I had to book a last minute flight to Portland to pick it up, then drive to Seattle to pick up the dog. But of course, the travel trailer was still in Virginia Beach. Most of my belongings are in storage in Pawtucket (near Providence) and my Mom was feeling lonely in Austin.
My 92 year old Mom was depressed and needing to see me, so after visiting with my son for a bit I headed to Austin Texas.
Jameson, my son had been watching Dew the cat while I was away and was not at all thrilled that I was not taking her with me. But the dog was sick, the journey ahead long and I just could not drag that poor skittish cat on another journey until I had the travel trailer ready for her.
I must make note that the dog nearly died in Baker City, Oregon. At 16 she is already quite elderly. An amazing vet saved her. Alika Fisher figured out it was a resurgence of an infection from a tick bite shed experienced in 10 years earlier. If you ever have an ailing pet in Baker City Oregon do not hesitate to stop at Baker City Animal Clinic. They saved Roadies life.
So we’ve covered planes, automobiles, dogs, cats and kin. There were no trains involved. Sorry.
Selling Off Your Life
It takes forever to sell off all of your shit. Especially if you’re living nowhere. Staying with friends and in AirBnBs until your home (travel trailer) is ready to move into kinda sucks. You cannot help but feel that you are putting those involved out. Being home is never really being in YOUR home, which puts a lot of ones routine on hold. You stay on perpetual visit mode.
The money consequently runs out pretty damned fast. And you get to the point, after staying far longer than intended, that you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells. No matter how welcoming the people hosting your stay may be, it is indeed their home and not yours.
With my writing, photography, online shops and GoPro editing I need a fair amount of space to work and it is quite difficult for some to share their space in that manner. I don’t tend to just visit, I need t spread out in order to work.
Although my friends in Virginia have been remarkably kind. I have lived amongst them on and off a great deal in the past year. They have become like family to me. A family more accepting and appreciative of me and my lifestyle than one I have ever known.
They have offered me understanding and support. Given me unending space and freedom to live as I wished within the confines of their home. Lent a hand at fixing up the camper and with helping me move about. I will miss them when I go and cherish everything they have so selflessly offered me.
Travel Trailer Life
Yesterday, my 1971 Fan Lee Liner went into the shop to complete the things I could not do myself. Soon I will be on the road doing a cross country test drive. Nothing is even close to ready. Yet the travel trailer is ready enough for me to live in. I will finally truly be living on the road nevertheless.
My travel trailer life will begin.
Well sort of.
I still need to head back to Rhode Island to try and sell off more of my shit yet once again. But at least I can stay in the trailer and not bleed out money to an AirBnB. I suppose once living in the travel trailer, no matter what I am doing I have at least met this one goal.
It’s ironic that getting to the point that I can begin my travel trailer life lifestyle, may be harder than actually living it. Once I finally start living in the damned thing.
I read so many blogs about the travel trailer life, the RV life, Van life but I have yet to read about what a pain in the ass it is getting to the point where you have cut enough ties from stuff and expectations to actually move in and start… well living the travel trailer life. But I am close, so very close!
If you wish to find out how it all shakes out. Follow my blog and we can experience it together.
Overwhelmed with relief to see the sign ‘Welcome to Madrid’, I knew my turn onto Back Road was close at hand.
No longer any need for the low tire pressure warning since now there was no doubt that the tire was entirely flat.
After turning on Back Road it was only one half mile left to the AirBnB.
The night was even darker, but it did not take me long to realize this was yet another unpaved road, laden with huge gaping potholes.
Here we are, actually in Madrid and subsequently what I thought would be the end of our ordeal. But now I was driving on a pitch black, unmarked dirt road, riddled with fissures and huge holes.
I started chanting again. “Come on baby, you can do it”.
The shaking of the SUV caused Roadie to sit up and try to peer out the window.
“Lie down dammit!” I yelled, worried she’d get hurt flying across her bed, even within the doggie hammock.
A nice comfy bed was ahead of us. I just needed to make it. Only one fourth of a mile to go.
I envisioned sleeping in a bed as I traveled down the mild grade of the unlevel and poorly maintained, muddy road.
Before me the rent in the road was wide, deep and on the same side as the flat back tire.
There was little room between the cars parked on either side but nothing was going to stop me at this point.
Slowly I pulled forward, the front right tire fell into the unavoidable hole causing the SUV to lean dangerously to the right.
Unpaved Roads & Anxious Dogs
The dog fell backward (I had told her to lay her ass down) and clunked her head on the door.
Thankfully, once we made it out of the hole she sat up, after a bit of struggle to get her ground and started panting like the happy dog she is.
How could .3 miles take so long. I swore the GPS was stuck.
As soon as I got close to what looked like the turn for Waldo Mesa Road, the map would expand showing it to be further ahead.
One more gaping hole in the road, of course it was also on the right. We made it through and were once more on level ground. Now making our way up a mild hill covered with huge sharp, rocks for gravel. (don’t they know what gravel is in New Mexico?)
We completed the last turn in the road and the roadway mellowed.
Flat dirt, no holes and I was pretty sure the light shining up ahead was the light for our AirBnB.
As we got closer though I groaned. The house was just as pictured, but subsequently on another fissure ridden hill.
“For fucks sake!”
I turned onto Waldo Mesa Road and stopped in front of the gate. I got out and took a deep breath. It may have been quite a challenge getting here, but I was in the New Mexico desert and it was beautiful.
Grateful in Madrid
I was so grateful to have made it I could have kissed the sand below my feet.
I took a few moments to appreciate my surroundings and remind myself how lucky I was to be here at all.
The AirBnB was adorable and it was surrounded by the scrubby, rolling hills of New Mexico.
Even in the dark it glowed with a tinge of pink. If I had to have 2 flat tires, then better in this place. I was infinitely glad to be there.
Roadie whimpered. She had to pee.
Leaving the SUV on the road I helped her out of the back seat and escorted her to our new digs.
The key was on the table as promised, so I let her in and went back down the hill.
Pulling the SUV in was not easy. The Aviator sat at a precarious angle but I really wanted to get into bed and sleep.
After hauling everything we needed for the night, I loaded the cold stuff into the fridge, washed up, changed and fell fast asleep.
Was the level of desolation on this road a good or a bad thing?
Regardless, I was determined to get to my Madrid AirBnB and lie down in a bed that night. Even if the damned sun was rising by the time I got there.
The Aviator crawled up a steep and curvy incline, as I murmured my mantra… slightly amending it each torturous mile.
Just 10 more miles, just 8 more miles.
Come on baby… you can make it.
A Dogs Life
I checked the rear view.
Roadie was quiet as usual. Asleep in her backseat and nestled in her hammock. Completely accustomed to long hauling at this point.
Even at her age the dog has the bladder of a champ and only asks to stop 2 or 3 times in a 16 hour stint. 16 hours being generally my limit for long distance driving.
She’d slept through the flat tire. Through the most of the tow truck guy changing the tire with my equally flat spare. (Thanks a lot you asshole)
She sat up and watched a bit as said “help” did not check if the spare tire was good. Even after I repeatedly shared my concern and told him that I was completely ignorant to the condition of the spare.
Roadie wasn’t worried, after all she’s a dog. For a moment I wished she was the driver and I was the dog in the hammock.
The Turquoise Trail
Tow truck dude reassured me that the tire was good.
Then drove off in his tow truck. Leaving me on a gravel road, that not one, not even two roadside assistance services could find without a great deal of direction and description from me.
Me, my ancient dog and my Lincoln Aviator with an equally flat tire as the first.
Alone on this unpaved road, in the middle of the desert, on a seemingly clear but oddly starless night.
Me and my sweet dog.
Left as fodder for the coyotes, only a few miles from our destination.
It seemed hours ago that I’d turned onto the Turquoise Trail and started on the last 12 miles to Madrid.
So you want to be a digital nomad? Pay me and I will tell you how!
It is big business and it is a scam. This new “travel the world” “digital nomad” MLM industry is outright treachery. These people travel the world by making money in a pyramid scheme. A scheme selling information to others about how they can travel the world without “working”.
Essentially a pyramid scheme that will likely not help very many to ever see the Pyramids. Although the shithead to whom they have just paid their hard earned money might.
Become a digital nomad they promise. All by selling the same story of how to become a digital nomad to equally unwitting but hopeful souls. In the end they make money on the concept of an idea, by getting others to sell the concept of the idea, to others who dream of that concept of an idea coming true.
But being a digital nomad by squeezing dollars from the backs of others with similar dreams, by promising them independence is… well not independence at all. It is being a money grubbing shill by making others beholden to you with something not likely to ever actually give them what they believe they are getting.
Sure you may actually pull it off. Make enough money to travel and live the life of a digital nomad. Then sell similar ideas to others that in turn might sell these ideas to others.You may even make a fortune from it.
But most will never find a way to put in the time needed, and in the end it is not a sustainable career, nor is it conceptually or otherwise actually what it claims to be. It is a scam and even if you are successful at it, YOU are a scammer.
Deep down, I know you fucking know it. Maybe you don’t care. Good for you. You’re living your dream. Isn’t that what America is all about? Living your dream off of the backs of others? Fuck yeah!
A True Digital Nomad
Ok, so maybe some of those working hard to sell this idea, do not see the harm in it. Afterall, it only claims to be what it is. Yet, hot blonde, bikini clad beauties, standing ankle deep in azure seas, on a desolate beach, drink in hand, buff boyfriend at side is not realistic. It happens, but it is NOT for sale.
Life on the road is neither that pretty, that easy, nor is it anywhere near that romantic. Half the time it sucks!
The sun is shining, the waterfalls are calling, the birds are singing and I’m sitting in my shitty hotel room trying to get a half decent post written with dodgy wifi and a churning stomach from the shit I should not have eaten the night before, but there was nothing else available when I arrived at 3am.
I haven’t had a decent nights sleep in days, my Mom is upset she hasn’t heard from me and AT&T means nothing over here. My credit card is expired, there is a hurricane heading my way and the ferry I already booked and paid for may not run to bring me to the AirBnB I also already paid for and booked. YAY!
Being a true “digital nomad” is finding a way to make things work for yourself.
Living free of the constraints of the day to day rigors of a typical life. But it also means, lost luggage, missed planes, stolen passports and wandering the streets for hours in search of a decent wifi signal. Horrifyingly discovering the best wifi is in McDonalds.
So there you are, in this beautiful fucking exotic place, sitting in McDonalds a place you would never go to at home, picking at french fries that disgust you, and you would never eat at home, while snotty faced American kids run around with coke products erupting from every orifice, screaming like banshees.
You never see pictures of an exhausted, pale faced, chubby brunette, sitting in McDonalds. Their broken laptop taped together with duct tape, hair knotted, dark circles under their eyes, in stained and dirty clothes now do ya?
A life full of travel is full of wonder. Amazing people, glorious food, beautiful landscapes and awe inspiring experiences. It is also, flat tires, false promises. Being sick in a country where no one speaks your language, money lost, money stolen, broken cameras and no cellphone signal.
Sure the digital nomad life is a form of being a free spirit. Seeing the world, meeting amazing people and it certainly has its moments of toes in white sand watching a sunset.
But it is hard work before, during, after and everywhere in between of your travels. It just IS.
Bikini Clad Instagram Babe
It is an enticing concept. This pretty, young girl hits you up on Instagram asking you if you would like to join her Facebook group of fellow travelers. The group explodes with people seemingly just like you. Traveling or dreaming of travel, trying to find a way to make their dream come alive or working their way through a similar dream and finding it hard as Hell.
There are the pictures of her firm, thin, young body, next to her buff boyfriend on some veranda. The sun setting. Wind blowing her long blonde hair. Maybe she is yoga posing on a rock. Or shot from behind, her straw hatted head looking into the horizon of the setting sun. Behind her some exotic landscape looms.
Yeah right. It took 50 shots and an awful lot of outtakes to get there. Most beaches like that are crowded as Hell. Where the fuck is she anyway? And is her boyfriend a professional photographer? (likely YES!)
It seems so easy. For only $150 or $350… Hell one was $1500. You too can learn how to convince others to hand over their money to learn what you will soon pay to learn.The money will roll in and you will set out on your nomadic life.
Your waist will thin, your hair will grow. Sand will never find its way between the creases of your tight ass.You will skip through the jungle with ease. Your groovy, bearded boytoy at your side. Some… a very few some I might add. Will make a veritable fortune and maybe even travel the world. Albeit on the backs of the suckers they drew in.
Rationalizing their bullshit con job, by convincing themselves that they are truly selling an idea that will help others. Or just not giving a shit how they make their money so that they may travel.
Well FUCK YOU!
Many just won’t be heartless enough assholes to pull it off. Only to be left feeling like hopeless losers instead of the likely better people that they are. Certainly better than the shit heads that lured them into their web of deceit in the first place.
The AMWAY of Digital Nomad ing
Selling promises via MLM marketing is the same or even worse than some of the shittiest products sold via MLM out there.
In the end, at least with AMWAY or Cutco Knives, you end up with an overabundance of unwanted and unneeded product. As well as does half your family. But with “how to be a digital nomad” concept, all you end up with, is advice and the dashing of a dream.
Maybe a shitty book or better yet, an ebook. Advice on how to bilk others out of their money by promising them a streamlined path to their dream, so that they too can become a piece of shit like you and bilk others out of their savings and their dreams.
Yes you can travel the world and be a digital nomad.
Being a “Digital Nomad” is not NOT working. How do I know this? Well because I am one. Not working while traveling is really fucking hard unless you have money already in the bank! And… that shit goes fast so you better have a fucking LOT of it!
It is working your ass off doing things you LOVE in order to help support your dream of travel. Or creatively finding ways to cover you as you work your way across the world.
Selling your half assed self help books or pyramid schemes while living off of the dreams of others may be fine for you. It certainly is not illegal. It is in and of itself pretty hard work. But what do you gain? A beautiful instagram, a chance to travel, money and an empty black heart!
Don’t get me wrong, there are good books and advisors out there. Nomadic Matt or Trey Ratcliff and quite a few of the early innovators in this space are fantastic sources for ways to make things work.
There are new and innovative digital nomads discovering new ideas and sharing their ideas every day. Some at a small fee. But it is practical and helpful advice and it never suggests anything like what these pyramid scheme hucksters promise. But for every one of these truly valuable resources there are thousands upon thousands of absolute crap.
If it seems to easy to be true. In fact if it seems easy at ALL then it is bullshit.
If there was some secret way of making such a life work, it would not be a secret for long. Trust me!
The Successful Digital Nomad
Some people get the formula right. Others just get fucking lucky. They ALL work hard enough to get their blog to a point, where they experience money coming in.
This often entails at the very least 4 to 8 hours of work 7 days a week, working on something that may never bring in a dime while traveling and will likely take at least a year or two to hit if at all. Which is really fucking hard.
You have to understand the semantics of social media, write well, understand SEO, take good pictures, be consistent, be tireless in hitting up people to help sponsor, connect, link or 5 million other things you must do to succeed.
Other people have careers that allow them to work remotely. Some are writers, photographers (real photographers not just good picture takers). Programmers, nurses.There are a lot of great careers and or skills that will make such a life easier to obtain. But, the life itself… it just is not easy. Freedom is hard, fucking hard.
Living outside the realm of what is considered “usual” is even harder. Many of the alternately successful people. Those who more quickly than is common built up a way to survive on the road, often have a background in SEO, writing, advertising, journalism or communications.
A knack for storytelling, writing and are skilled at web building. They are organized, committed, focused and realistic. Many saved money for years before hand.
There are world travelers living life on the road who do not go digital but find odd jobs and work here and there. Some dabble in buying and selling or trading their way across continents. There are so many legitimate ways to get by on the road. Hard work, creativity, passion and dedication are the keys to all of it.
But selling an idea to the hopeful to pave the way to your dreams. Knowing full well that most of them have no chance of ever making any of what you suggest could happen is just the opposite of being a free spirit. It is being a money grubbing, scammer.
Of course you may travel the world. You may even get rich doing it.
But no matter how far you travel, how much you see. You will never really see the absolute beauty in world like those more true to heart.
I know how hard it is and I’m ok with that. You will never see the glory of the world I get to see! There is no glory in living your dream off the backs of others.