Mobile Rik Show: Episode 001
Listen to my first iTunes Podcast and learn how I came to be living rent-free off the grid in my own homemade tiny house on wheels.
Hey there! I’m "Mobile Rik", and this is the first episode of my new podcast about my attempt to live MY version of “A Simple Life.”
What do I mean by that? Well to give you an easy and obvious example, lemme just tell you what's up right now... at this very moment. I'm actually recording this very first podcast under a full moon which I can see through the skylight of my homemade camper right in the most amazing free campsite I've ever been fortunate to find, beside a beautiful creek flowing over a naturally weathered patio made of totally gorgeous red bedrock. The cicadas are out and making enough of a racket that I had to come inside the camper to record. I've got a thermos of barley tea beside me and my led lamp running off my big deep-cell battery that's just been topped off by my homemade solar panel. I just finished my rice and beans dinner that I cooked on my tin-can wood gasifying stove, and I'm planning my hike tomorrow morning to some pueblo ruins.
Sounds like a pretty cool vacation, right? Except the thing is... that's my every day reality. Yesterday I was camped on a prairie with an amazing view of red rock cliffs and accidentally found some ancient petroglyphs in a creek I where I was doing my morning hike. On the way back I almost stepped on a -- I'm not making this up -- a pair of diamondback rattlesnakes mating! After getting the crap scared out of me, of course, I collected myself and gradually figured out that, no that can't be an 8 foot snake... why is there a rattle in the middle, no wait there are two rattles in the middle... and I figured out what I was looking at just before they separated, and when they did, I actually got to see the hemipenis! (If you don't know what that is, look it up.)
So yeah, my life now is that I travel around in my homemade truck camper, camping in National Forests, hiking, reading, writing... that sort of thing. And basically having a ball. The whole point of this for me is to really, as they say, "get away from it all". And out here... there's nobody... it's just me and nature. Peace and quiet, the way I like it. No traffic, no deadlines, no job stress, none of it
You might be thinking that it sounds like I'm retired! In a sense I am, but it's not like I'm living off a "retirement income". The simple truth of the matter is that living so simply the way I do, I just really don't have many expenses. Food, phone, and car... that's all I have to worry about as far as that goes, so it's really easy to cover.
But man, I'll tell ya... It's taken me long enough to get to this point in my life where I can do this! I mean, before this latest chapter of, shall we say, my "grand experiment in Earthly living," I was, let's see... a life coach and NLP hypnotherapist, a University of CA administrator, and credentialed high school math teacher. Before that I was a high school tutor for disadvantaged kids and was training to be an audio engineer / record producer. And long long long before that -- I'm a lot older than I look -- I was just a poor kid from West Virginia (and huge Mountaineers fan, by the way!) trying to figure out how to survive in the big city at a world-class technological institute, where it's funny to think I was actually playing around on the internet and in fact building web pages before there was actually a World Wide Web. Imagine that.
Thing is... All of that stuff -- you know, all that "experience" stuff that supposedly makes you who you are... eh! Weird this is... none of that stuff ever really FELT right, you know. Like, sure it was "experience" but it wasn't really *me*... And what started happening more and more is that in between all those, shall we say, little "chapter titles" that in a lot of ways were just simple ways to give an easy answer to the “what do you do?” question... in between those well-defined episodes, I started to find pieces of my real calling in the parts of my timeline where honestly the truest answer I could come up with regarding what I was doing with my life at that point was... well, apparently I’m doing... “nothing at all!"
And to tell you the truth, that was a bit of a shock to my system. I wasn't raised no hippie. The reverse, in fact -- I had a lot of pretty loft ambitions growing up. So it was a strange discovery that I actually seemed to enjoy this "doing nothing at all "thing! And over the years all those little pieces of hints here and there began to add up. That sort of “deep calling” I felt, that there was something beyond all the busy-work of so-called First World living... Something beyond the hamster-wheel...
Ok, so flash-forward now to January 2013, to what we could call the relevant chapter in the “the odd adventures of ‘me’” — When I realized something really important about myself:
That I wanted to live more simply.
I realized that, ideally, all I really want to do with my time is explore the American West, commune with nature a lot more than I ever had before, dig for fossils and check out archeological sites, write books in the evenings, and blog about my adventures. That's all. If I could spend all my time just doing that, I'd be happy. So the thing I had to do was to figure out how to make that work.
Well, I put together that one of my ongoing themes is that I've always really enjoyed experimenting with Life, especially with creative ways to live more cheaply and less wastefully. Nowadays, they call that kind of outlook "Life Hacking." As much as I think high-tech stuff is cool and all, I'm even more fascinated now when I learn about primitive technologies and and I always get a kick out of kind of deconstructing inventions, seeing if I can find simple ways provide for my basic needs without unnecessary expenses. Basically, if there’s a way to do something for “free” (never minding if it involves a bit of hard creative work on my part) I’m much more interested in doing it that way, kind of as an artistic challenge.
I'm also not a big fan of staying in one place -- the ideal home for me... it travels with me. In the mid-90’s I spent some time traveling around California with all my possessions in a backpack. Along the way, what did I do... I stayed with new friends I made, I stayed in tents, and in homeless shelters when I was in the city. I made my way around the state by hitching rides and actually by hopping trains, which I learned by this old ex-Green Beret guy who taught me the "road dog" way of life. But after a while... that all got a bit tiring. Really tiring. So this time around, I decided that I’ll be putting my home on wheels.
So that's what I did -- For the first part of 2013, I set about researching and building a pop-up slide-in camper for my 2003 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner. Some might say "Why build it? Why not just pick one up on Craigslist for $2000?"
Which kind of makes me laugh! Never minding that there was no way I could afford that at the time… The big thing is... Where’s the fun in that?! I like building things. And when I build it myself, I can customize it exactly the way I want it!
Beyond the design that I can make as simple or fancy as I want -- One of my most important “artistic” specifications for my project was that it be made as cheaply as possible. I was pretty certain that I could make the shell for under $80, and get it outfitted with 150W of solar power and battery (I really don’t need a lot, because I know how to save energy), along with low tech versions of a refrigerator, stove, shower, composting toilet and other stuff -- all for under $500. I knew I could save a lot of money, because I actually enjoy putting in my own time and work to research, scrounge up parts, and basically invent better ways to make it all work for cheap.
In the meantime, as part of my master plan, I put together a website. In the beginning the purpose was just to use it to sort of “bookmark” the cool stuff I come across in my research. And that was really cool, because while I was researching off-grid inventions, man, I was totally surprised at all the really amazing work that’s being done in renewable energy -- including a lot that's being done by kids. The most inspiring thing I think I’ve discovered is that the new frontier of sustainable energy isn’t necessarily in the realm of “high tech,” -- which is what the power companies would want you to think -- but in rediscovery of what are basically old-world and third-world technologies that are perfectly suited to “living the simple life” the way I want to.
AND THE BEST NEWS WAS — MY CAMPER GOT BUILT!
Surprisingly fast! Because I mean, I was motivated. It was only a few months researching, a few weeks planning the design, and a few days building — and I finally had my own little off-grid camper on the back of my truck! (The same one I'm in right now!)
Believe it or not, I actually assembled it in only 3 days for less than $250 and not only wrote up what I did -- I also shot a few hours of instructional video and put it into a course -- which I finally launched at the beginning of September 2014 -- called How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper & Get Off The Grid For Dirt Cheap.
So as of right now -- we're talking October 2014 -- I’ve now been living full-time in my homemade truck camper for seven months, camping totally for free in national forests. Besides a few days here and there that I spend in town at Starbucks doing internet stuff like managing my website and uploading videos, I've pretty much spent most of my time since last March hiking and reading, real a lot of exploring... particularly the California desert and northern Arizona, and you know, totally loving every minute. I mean my favorite part of every day is simply waking up surrounded by nature. Literally the wilderness is my front porch, and I can have a new front porch whenever I feel like driving somewhere new.
So I figure over the next year — between a lot more hiking and book reading — I also expect to keep on with my off grid experiments and eventually write a few more books and release a few more video courses on things like making your own solar panels and finding free campsites.
If you like the sound of that and you’d like to follow along learn more about what I've discovered about getting off the grid in your own style, what you should do is join my camper building mailing list, which you can do by visiting my website at MobileRik.com, and you can get a free 50 page preview of my book by clicking on the animation on the right side. That applies even if maybe you're not interested in building a truck camper right now, but maybe interested in the idea of getting off the grid really fast or really cheap... I'll be releasing more stuff along those lines in the near future so it'll be worth it to be on my mailing list when all that becomes available... AND you might even find, like a lot of people have, that my book preview has a lot of great tips in it for anyone to get off the grid quick. So again, check out my website and get on my list: MobileRik.com. I'm Mobile Rik, signing off.