A blog about living outside, first in my car, then in tents.

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My 3rd Monsoons: Kissing Bugs, Ticks and Pack Rats oh my!

Where pack rats go, so go bugs that bite and suck around the nose and mouth – or anywhere – at night. Big nasty kissing bugs. I found one IN my bed when I shook out my blanket this week. I killed it. It was so full of bright red blood (human? canine?) that it’s probably permanently stained the piece of clothing I killed it with. The day before I found a tick crawling up the tent wall. The wall against which my cot is pushed. One foot above the mattress. Dwyn was sporting a cozy collection of four small ticks on his forehead, all huddled together. I’ve pulled out ticks swollen beyond belief...
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Tent not so waterproof in hard rain storm

I just ripped a 2-1/2 foot slit in my tent’s roof while using a former shovel handle to push up and out the pools of water accumulating in the latest heavy rain storm. Duct tape doesn’t adhere well to wet nylon. So I have a fast leak filling up the dogs’ indoor water bowl. And more pools accumulating in the outside tarps, not all of which I can reach from inside (stick or no stick). I’ll see if I can get the video and pics posted.
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Living Outdoors with Chiggers, Season Two

It started with ant bites swelling into red bumps on my foot and thigh. As if they sensed that a party had started, the chiggers joined in the next day. First my left arm, which I scratched raw a few times before buying Calamine lotion, which only helped a bit. Then something — a deer fly? Some other flying critter that specializes in sharp, fast stings or bites? — discovered the inside of my right ankle. I swatted it, it hurt, I swore, but thought nothing of it. Bug bites are so common as to not merit inspection. Until the next day, when my right ankle displayed a bruise — yes, a bruise —...
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Tent Living: Spiders, Ants and Snakes – Oh My!

Psh psh psh. The dogs jump up and bark. At my command they sit and listen as I sit up from the cot and strain my ears. The soft but distinct noise was paced like footsteps, nearby. I zip open the tent window and look. Carlos looks. Dwyn peers through another screened window. Nothing. Then I see it: A two-inch in diameter spider poised just above (and inside) the window I opened. I sigh. A spider that big could make a ‘psh’ noise moving on a loose flap of nylon window cover. I let the dogs out and sit back down on the edge of the cot just in time to grab a tissue...
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December 2013: I Move from my Car to a Tent

It’s early August and I’m catching up blog entries by posting monthly summaries: *December: A landowner invited me to move onto about 15 acres of his land, at the base of a cliff below his house. It’s private: Only two neighbors drive by, plus guests and sightseers. I never thought a two-sided metal shack would seem like paradise, but I make this former feed-storage shelter into my kitchen. It has a leveled plywood floor. I have electric! The landowner generously improved his well pump’s electric hookup, located on ‘my’ driveway, into a higher powered set of plugs capable of supporting a few outdoor extension cords. He also loaned me an electric spaced heater, so...
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The last of the summer rain

I took this a couple weeks ago (or whatever, sometime in later September). It had just stopped raining, I’d put the window down, and Dwyn was ready to go. In the last week of the monsoons the sky cleared of clouds but it stayed humid a few days. I remember rejoicing the day it was finally both clear and dry. That’s the Arizona weather I love. Especially now, living in my car, with two dogs who track mud into the car — i.e. my bedroom.
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Sleeping With Carlos

Normally my big dog, Carlos, sleeps outside and the smaller terrier, Dwyn, sleeps in the front seat. That gives me the full back of the wagon for my bed, with both back seats pulled down. On occasion a reason presents itself that merits Carlos sleeping in the car. The usual reasons are a) Carlos is driving me crazy barking (actually he does this much less now, having learned greater discretion in distinguishing between a threat and an interesting noise); b) it is raining and I’d rather have him in the car than getting muddy and wet; c) a threat presents itself, such as a bobcat cry, a neighborhood known for mountain lion activity, or...
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Arizona Monsoon Sunsets

A couple people have asked why I don’t relocate. Here is one small part of the answer.
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A Cleansing Rain

This morning I awoke late to the mild nuisance of only one fly, instead of the hordes that have attended me since Carlos rolled in cow shit. (See “Carlos Brings Home Fly Nectar.”) A light rain accompanied by the promise of harder rain — i.e. with lightning over the mountains, wind and the delicious smell of rain — moved in around 4. a.m. I jumped out, slammed the hatch, put up Carlos’ seat and called him in, and reached over Dwyn in the front seat to close all the automatic windows. Changing into a dry pajama shirt, I curled up and slept easily through sunrise and well into the morning. I rise to a...
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A Break from the Rain

It didn’t rain last night, or this morning, thank God! I thought it was going to rain this morning when I awoke to thunder, blustery winds and dark clouds moving closer. That motivated me to organize and pack the clutter around the site before it all got wet again. One bag for trash, another for empty plastic water jugs I want to recycle. Two bags for wet dog blankets and seat covers. Another for dirty kitchen items. I broom-swept around the items in the storage tent, put the tools bag and the propane bag into garbage bags to keep them dry if the equipment tent leaks, moved the laundry from the tent to the...
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I’m close to falling apart

AGAIN it rained last night. Two people have stated their assumption that that is good for me. Lower temperatures, they note. And everyone in town loves the rain, which is so badly needed here. People even accept the storm damage as the price for the blessing of rain. For the first time in nine years living in Arizona, I can not welcome this rain. EVERY afternoon or night for several days the rain has soaked everything. I have no dry dog towels. The campsite is a mess, kitchen items and empty plastic water jugs muddy and scattered on the ground instead of organized. Witnessing a major lightning storm just over head from inside the...
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Temperature Outside My Car

It Was Not My Imagination

Front page news; photo taken through the newspaper sales box.
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13 Painless Ways to Help Someone Living in Their Car

You find out an acquaintance or friend is homeless. You want to help but don’t know how. And, admit it, you don’t really want to get involved. People’s strong emotions make you uncomfortable. You do not want to get mixed up with someone who might have problems that are bigger than you can fix. I know. While not admirable reactions, they are understandable. I had them, too, when I was more fortunate. So here are low-involvement ways of helping with basic needs while also preserving the homeless person’s dignity. FOOD Getting food is not the only problem for the homeless. Storing it, cooling it, and cooking it can be more difficult. Solutions: 1. Loan...
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