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Caravans

HOWA Cleans Up the Desert Near Pahrump

Pahrump, Nevada, has been HOWA’s home base since its inception, so the Nevada desert holds a special place in our hearts. That’s why, during the spring 2022 BYOV (Bring Your Own Vehicle) build in Pahrump, a group of HOWA volunteers took it upon themselves to clean up the desert.

For Jaime Abbas-Restorff, it all started when she drove past some king-size piles of garbage on her way to the build. And we mean that literally—she saw a king-size box spring and a household toilet littering the desert, among other large piles of trash. “The people of Pahrump open up their community to us when we travel here as nomads,” says Jaime. “We want to leave the land better than we found it.”

       

Meanwhile, BYOV volunteer Georgia and HOWA Executive Assistant Phyllis Bickford had the same idea. Independent of Jaime and her co-organizer Jake Holster, they contacted the Pahrump BLM Field Office to ask about collaborating on a cleanup effort. 

At first, the two groups were unaware that they worked separately toward a common goal. But over the course of the month-long build, what began as two small independent cleanup efforts (using volunteers’ pickup trucks to transport garbage) transformed into something much bigger. 

           

Every Friday morning in April was dedicated to cleaning up the BLM land east of Pahrump. Dozens of volunteers participated, despite long days and weeks spent working on vehicle buildouts. The BLM Field office even supplied 30-yard dumpsters to ferry trash to the local dump where it belonged. All HOWA had to do was fill them up.

By the end of April, HOWA volunteers had put in hundreds of hours and picked up over 100 yards of trash.

Nicholas Pay, Pahrump’s BLM Field Manager, shared a hearty thank-you message: “Please pass on my thanks and admiration to the volunteers of your organization that have helped clean up our public lands … The work that you accomplished in a relatively short time is absolutely incredible.”

Jaime even shed a few tears when she was able to admire the beautiful landscape without a pile of trash in sight. ”It made me cry because it looked so different than it did before,” she says.

As nomads, we gratefully use these lands for dispersed camping. Acting as responsible stewards of public land is just one way we can give back to a community and a landscape that does so much for us. Bob Wells, HOWA President, put it this way: “We aren’t the source of the problem, but we want to be part of the solution.”

Here are some tips for picking up litter wherever you find it:

  • Save plastic shopping bags from places like Walmart to pick up trash as you travel. Even picking up a single piece of litter each day adds up over time.
  • Set an example. When others see you cleaning up, they notice your example.
  • Don’t leave it to the states. More and more dispersed camping areas are closing down because state officials are overwhelmed trying to keep the land healthy. State budgets are feeling the squeeze of higher gas prices and other economic shifts just as you are, so don’t assume that state officials will handle cleanup. We can each make a difference.

The cleanup was such a resounding success that we’re already planning to do it again. In October, we will partner with the Pahrump BLM Field Office once again to pick up any trash that accumulates over the summer on our beloved public lands.

Post written by Sarah Kuiken

 

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The Caravans are Back!

photo by Sarah Meg Hart

New nomads are often timid about camping alone especially if they have little experience. To fill the need for companionship and support, Bob Wells, the president of HOWA and founder of Cheap RV Living started the caravans in October 2018. Watch Bob’s Video HERE. Early in 2019 HOWA became the sponsor of the caravans. Caravans continued through 2019 and into early 2020 when the outbreak of coronavirus made in-person gatherings too risky. A wonderful solution was found by holding virtual caravans – the first on March 30, 2020. The virtual caravans have been a huge success but now that coronavirus vaccines have proven to be very effective in cutting the chances of contracting the virus, in-person caravans have started again! HOWA strongly recommends that all attendees follow the CDC guidelines to stay safe and healthy.

photo by Sarah Meg Hart

Caravans are open to everyone – new nomads, experienced nomads, full-time nomads, and part-time nomads. All types of rigs are welcome. Typically caravan groups camp on public land for 14 days, then move to camp at another place for 14 days, and so forth. Camping is free and no amenities are provided. For more information click HERE.

Due to the popularity of virtual caravans, they will continue, so if you can not go to an in-person caravan, attend a virtual caravan where you can chat and make friends with like-minded people. Click HERE.

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Caravan Connections -“A Wonderful Source”

Being part of a community is important even when we cannot meet in person. HOWA’s Caravan Connections with Zoom meetings on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, are a popular way to get to know fellow nomads. Everyone is welcome to join and participate! The Caravans use both Meetup and Zoom so participants must sign up for Zoom and Meetup.

 A few thoughts from a recent Sunday Morning Women’s Coffee Connection:

 

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Join a Virtual Caravan!

 

The first nomadic caravans were started in late 2018 by Bob Wells, the president of HOWA and founder of Cheap RV Living. Watch Bob’s Video HERE.

 “The time has finally come! I’ve laid out all the plans and have leaders in place: THE CARAVANS ARE HERE!!! Yes, starting on October 31 you can join a group of people and travel with them through the RTR! The rules are very simple; 1) We must move every 14 days. 2) We must leave each place cleaner than we found it. 3) We must treat each other with kindness, compassion and caring (treating others the way we want to be treated). 4) We must each come prepared to be fully self-sustaining and able to take care of ourselves.”

The Caravans proved to be very popular with as many as eight caravan gatherings taking place in different locations at the same time. Groups were kept small to avoid overcrowding the locations. For many new nomads, this was their first experience at boondocking on public land and the camaraderie of the group helped them to feel secure and to learn the basics of their new lifestyle.  Friendships were formed and as their confidence grew people began to form their own groups separate from the Caravans which freed spots for newer nomads.

  Early in 2019 HOWA became the sponsor of the Caravans and began utilizing  Meetup as an easy to use platform to organize the Caravans, to keep track of the number of participants, and to allow members to chat with each other.

  The outbreak of coronavirus in the US meant an end to in-person gatherings but not a complete end to gatherings. After a little brainstorming by the HOWA management team, the Virtual Caravans were born! By using Zoom, a video communications service, Virtual Caravan participants are able to interact on a more personal level than is possible through other types of social media. The first Virtual Caravan was held on March 30, 2020 and they will continue to be held until it is safe to gather together again. 

  Virtual Caravans are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. A women’s only Virtual Caravan is held on Sunday morning and Virtual Caravan Classes are held on Saturday mornings. The Virtual Caravans use both Meetup and Zoom so participants must sign up for Zoom and Meetup.

 

 Attendance is limited to 100 people and participants must RSVP before the meetings begin. Everyone is welcome. Attendees include long time nomads, new nomads, part-time nomads, and future nomads. Although it’s not the same as attending an in-person Caravan, the Virtual Caravans have become a wonderful way for nomads to meet. Friendships are formed and plans are made to gather together in the future. We welcome you to join one of the next Virtual Caravans!  More information HERE.

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An Evening Potluck

Caravans are groups of people who choose to camp together during a published time. As a nomad, you don’t have to be alone out here. In the Caravans, participants make friends, have fun, and create community.

Vans, RVs and a car .. all types of rigs are welcome in the Caravans.

Caravans meet on public lands where dispersed camping is free. Typically, a Caravan Group will spend two weeks at a location and then move to another camp, satisfying BLM and National Forest Service (NFS) rules. Participants practice Leave No Trace ethics, where they carry everything out that they brought in.

Sunsets over a shared meal at the Caravan.

Recently, the Homes On Wheels Alliance Staff were camping in the same general area as one of the Caravan Groups — Pahrump, NV. So, we decided to share a meal and visit together one pleasant April evening. (See photos.)

Bob satisfied after his meal.

Caravans began under the auspices of CheapRVLiving. Shortly, Homes On Wheels Alliance will be assuming the program. The official switch-over date is July 1, which is the beginning of the summer quarter’s Caravan Program. To find where the Caravans are located and then RSVP, go to the Caravans group in Meetup.

Suanne enjoys chatting with Caravan participants.

Consider joining us!

By Suanne Carlson, Executive Director

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