I left Quartzsite, heading south for “BLM Roadrunner” Campground. BLM is the Bureau of Land Management, the US government department that manages public land in the USA. “Campground” is really not what this area is, other than the sense that you are camping on it. No facilities provided, other than a bunch of informal fire rings that people have cobbled together.
I pull up at the entrance area and register for my free 14 day permit. This is not something that you have for most BLM land – the norm is to make sure you are on BLM land, look for signs telling you the local rules (you can’t always camp just anywhere for example), then camp. Here, we are still fairly close to Quartzsite, so the crowds of people have gotten to the point where the government is extending the first tendrils of oversight and control. Sad to say, I could see this extending to paying, and more restrictions over time. You need to manage the balance between freedom to do as you please versus the damage people unthinkingly do in the process of doing as they please. Paying is not about the government figuring out another way to get your hard earned dollars, it’s about paying for the control, and perhaps just a few amenities to encourage people to have a lighter tread on the land, like garbage bins. To be fair, for the number of people here, the garbage problem is very minor – but things do get away from people in the blowing wind despite their best efforts. There is a good reason for this control – more people seem to be coming here every year and even just driving around destroys the natural landscape – with many people and no control the area could be turned into a very dusty bowl over time.
I head down the road from the registration following the googles pin to my camp. I was about to meet my heroine. I was thinking of the saying, “don’t meet your heroes”. I have known Carolyn for about a year now only through the internets and various digital media – this was to be our first time meeting face to face. Was it going to be a disappointment? Was she going to be a totally different person in the flesh as compared to the online persona?
I see her rig ahead, with another camper nearby – this is it! I pull in, carefully spacing my rig equidistant from the other rigs. I’m new here and I know the rule of not crowding your neighbor out here. But I still need to learn what “crowding” is considered to be, in this wide open space. I seem to be level enough, put it in park and I’m camped.
I Look over to where her rig is, she is out there with another lady and fellow, enjoying the early afternoon sun. I take a deep breath and head over. “Bring a chair!” one of them yells. I exhale and u-turn back to my rig grabbing my camp chair, a good sign I think that I’m going to be visiting for a while. Over I go again, to see Carolyn for the first time for real.
What can I say – she is just like she is in her videos; just four inches shorter than I expected. Evidently, the camera adds height, as well as weight. We hug and introductions are made. If you think I’m skipping a lot of details here, you’re correct. It’s not me editing for the online world, no, it’s more for the memory being a blur in terms of detail. It was an overwhelming moment. But I remember the hug, and a moment of happiness. Some of you who don’t know me would be wondering at this point, who is this Carolyn that Ralph is blathering on about? I am referring to this Carolyn, on YouTube at Carolyn’s RV Life, but the real gem, if you want to actually read, is her JMT Blog, which will give you quite a bit of insight into this unique individual.
The introductions are to other Patreons – these are people who are members of Carolyn’s channel on that site, who think enough of her to support her with a few shekels a month, so she can keep making videos in what seems to be an ever declining revenue share from YouTube video adverts. In joining Carolyn’s channel on Patreon, I have met online a lot of other kind, unique individuals, an added bonus I did not expect for my paltry donation per month. Everyone hugs me, except Larry – whom I familiar from on Patreon for his short but meaning packed comments. I, on the other hand, need to go on for much longer to say anything of significance.
We talk the afternoon, break for dinner, then have a fire with the setting sun – more talk around that. I see these are deep people who see the world more clearly than most. Conversation ranges from the shallow Hollywood “actor in this show, blah blah blah…” to deep topics showing the concern these folk have for the state of their nation, and its people. There is definitely more deep conversation, a lot of filling in of details lost on little comment boxes in Patreon. We find each other of like minds, even the interloper Canadian nods his head in agreement with most of what is said around the fire. We break with the dying embers of the fire and head back to our rigs – me being quite pleased for not only having met Carolyn, but others of like mind. The journey of the mind moved forward to new realms today.