Hey there! I’m Mobile Rik, and this website is about my attempt to live my version of “A Simple Life.”
Would you like to know a bit about the guy behind the DIY truck camper? If you’re at all like me, then you sure as heck prefer to read messages from someone you feel familiar with. So I’d like to share a bit about how I got to this chapter in my life… when building my own camper was the best move I could have made for myself.
But it sure has taken a while to get here! Prior to this latest chapter of my grand experiment in Earthly living, I’ve worn a lot of hats — I was a life coach and NLP hypnotherapist, University of California administrator, and a credentialed high school math teacher. Before that I was a long-time high school tutor for disadvantaged kids and an audio engineer / record producer. And long-long-long before that (I’m much older than I appear!), I was just a poor kid from West Virginia (and huge Mountaineer fan) trying to figure out how to survive in the big city at a world-class technological institute, playing around on the Internet years before there was actually a World Wide Web.
But all that stuff — it’s mostly just words to me. All of that stuff that supposedly “defines” you — never really FELT right. Sure, it was experience, but it was hardly *me*. But in between everything I did that was in many ways just an easy answer to the “What do you do?” question, I began finding pieces of my calling in the parts of the timeline where the truest answer I could come up with was that I’m doing… “absolutely nothing at all!”
Certainly, as a person who grew up with a lot of ambitious ideas of things I could do with my life, that I apparently enjoyed “doing nothing” was a strange thing to admit to myself! But over the years those pieces began to add up. That Zen-like “calling” I felt, that there was something beyond the endless cycle of busy-work that attempts to define First World living. Something beyond the hamster-wheel…
We now flash-forward to January 2013, to the relevant chapter in the “the odd adventures of ‘me’” — When I realized something really important about myself:
“I want to live more simply.”
I realized that, ideally, all I really want to do with my time is *JUST BE*. Nothing in particular — just enjoying the stillness of where I am wherever that may be. And I realized that the simple life I was imagining involves exploring the American West, communing with nature, digging for fossils and gemstones, writing books here and there, and blogging about my adventures in between.
So knowing what I really wanted to be doing, I got started making that happen. I knew my first priority was to arrange things so I could stop paying for rent in an apartment I hardly used with money from a job I never wanted to be working anyway! Because of my background, I knew not only that I could make it happen…I knew it would also be a lot of fun.
I really enjoy experimenting with creative ways to live more cheaply and less wastefully. Always have. I like playing with primitive technologies and deconstructing inventions to find simple ways to generate energy and provide for my basic needs without unnecessary expense. 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, as an artistic challenge.
Not a big fan of staying in one place, my ideal home travels with me. In the late-90’s I spent some time traveling around California with a backpack, staying with new friends, in tents, and in homeless shelters. I got around by hitching rides and by hopping trains. But that all got a bit tiring. This time around, I decided that I’d be putting my home on wheels.
So for the first part of 2013, as time and money allowed, I set about researching and building a pop-up truck camper for my 2003 Tacoma Prerunner. Why build it? Why not just pick one up on Craigslist for $2000?
For one thing… Where’s the fun in that?! I like building things. And when I build it myself, I can make it exactly the way I want it!
One of my “artistic” specifications is that it be made as cheaply as it can be. I was pretty certain that I can make the shell for under $80, and get it outfitted with 150W of solar power and storage (I 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 for under $500. I can save a lot of money, because I enjoy putting in the time and work to research, scrounge up parts, and invent better ways to make it all work for cheap.
In the meantime, I put together this site to “bookmark” the cool stuff I come across in my research. Along the way, I was totally surprised at all the amazing work that’s being done in renewable energy. The most inspiring thing I’ve discovered is that the frontier isn’t necessarily in the realm of “high tech,” but in rediscovery of old-world and third-world technologies that are perfectly suited to “living the simple life.”
AND BEST OF ALL — MY CAMPER GOT BUILT!
So over the course of a few months researching, a few weeks planning the design, and a few days building — I finally had my own little off-grid camper on the back of my truck!
I assembled it in only 2 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 called How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper & Get Off The Grid For Dirt Cheap which I launched at the beginning of September 2014.
I’ve now been living full-time in my homemade truck camper for six months, camping for free in national forests, exploring the California desert and northern Arizona, and totally loving every minute. My favorite part of every day is simply waking up surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of nature and my new wildlife friends!
Over the next year — between a lot of hiking and book reading — I expect to continue my off grid experiments and write a few more books and release a few more video courses. If you’d like to follow along, be sure to join my mailing list.