Living Off the Grid in Arizona Desert

Apr 29, 2023 3.5M Views 4.6K Comments

Two hours west of Phoenix is a desert community living in their own world. People stay here for different reasons, but the one thread that connects this community is the desire to live in freedom. Join me as we meet some of the interesting characters that call Quartzite home.




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► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello
► Researched by: Kymberly Redmond

[wind blowing]
PETER: Good morning, from Phoenix.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned
by making videos in the United States
it’s that you can’t put
an easy label on this place.
So many different types of people
living in so many different types of ways.
So today we’re gonna go two hours west
from Phoenix out into the desert
to get into a community that’s living
from what I’m told, somewhat off the grid.
In RVs, in trucks, in cars.
Some by choice,
fleeing that very cold weather up North.
Others by necessity.
So let’s get out there,
talk to these people,
and see what we can learn
about this lifestyle.
Let’s do this.
[mellow country music]
[truck driving on gravel]
PETER: So guys, this is one of
those videos where I just sort of wing it.
Lot of videos have someone
planned up to meet up with a story
but this one is… Let’s find it.
PETER: So how long you been doing this for?
RANDY: About five years now.
We sold our house in Atlanta.
That was gonna be our forever house.
We remodeled it, we spent a lot of…
Heated floors, waterfall in the back yard
into a pond with koi fish, you know?
And then one day we’re out
in Yellowstone in the park.
We had rented an RV.
We’re driving one morning,
the sun’s coming up,
we’re looking at each other like,
“We could do this.”
[Peter chuckles]
-So we did. We enjoy it.
You meet so many good people.
-Is this your buddy right here?
-Yeah, this is Ram.
He’s been doing this for, like, 17 years.
PETER: Oh, wow.
All right, guys, that didn’t take
too much work to be honest.
PETER: How you doing, sir?
RAM: Pretty good, you?
-My name’s Ram.
-Ram, Peter.
-It’s a pleasure to meet ya.
-Nice to meet you.
PETER: So you’re saying I go down here…
RANDY: The street right here…
PETER: Okay.
RANDY: Go down to the stop sign
and in front of you
is gonna be wide open nothing.
There’s like 14,000 acres
of Bureau of Land Management land.
And you go pick your spot.
-Anyone can camp out there?
-Anyone can camp out here.
-Can you stay as long as you want?
RAM: They have two week, move two week…
Whatever, but then they have like us.
We pay $180 for, like, six months.
RANDY: For six months.
RAM: And they have water station,
and a place to dump your tanks,
and your trash, and all that.
PETER: So this is a good zone?
RANDY: We think so.
You really want to see the crowd,
go down to South.
RAM: Oh, yeah.
PETER: How many miles is that?
-From here, once you hit the main road,
maybe four miles.
PETER: How many people do you think
are living out there in the desert?
-Right now probably at least…
At least a quarter million.
-[Peter surprised] Quarter million?
RAM: During the RV show last year…
PETER: Wait, wait…
RAM: 1.3 million people were here.
RAM: Last year…
RANDY: You missed it by a week.
RAM: You just missed the RV show.
PETER: All right, let me get that straight.
Just out here,
quarter million people in the desert?
-You’ve got about 14,000 acres out here
of Bureau of Land Management.
There’s about a quarter million people
out there right now.
-Well, if this is empty,
I can’t imagine what it was.
Look at this, guys,
for as far as the eye can see here…
Both sides of the road.
[Truck banging over speed bump]
PETER: So Craig,
what’s the story with this truck?
It’s a Harley-Davidson edition?
CRAIG: Yeah, it’s a 2011 Cummings
ISX 13-speed auto
PETER: Look at the design on this.
Who comes out here?
All different types or is it like…
-Everybody from somebody camping
out of their car to the $2 million Class A.
We see everything.
[gravel crunching]
MAN: I’m a retired, after 28 years,
law enforcement.
I did… My last 20 years was as
a federal game warden on the East Coast.
And I had to retire
because of medical reasons.
I decided I’m not gonna sit on my a**,
and live the rest of my life
watching Netflix on the couch.
I wanted to be outside
like I have been for 20 years.
PETER: Gotcha.
-Doing my job, so I decided…
I watched videos and saw people doing this.
I’m like,
“I wanna come out here and do this.”
And I love it.
[four wheeler revving]
PETER: How’s the vibe out here?
You guys get along pretty well?
BOB: Oh yeah, we get along great.
ROBERT: Oh, yeah.
PETER: When you see the Confederate flag
that doesn’t bum you out or anything?
-Okay, tell me. Tell me.
[Bob laughing]
ROBERT: Why? Why should it bother me?
PETER: All right.
ROBERT: It’s a freakin’ flag.
It’s the North Virginia battle flag
is what it was.
PETER: Yeah, I don’t get into politics
but it’s just you have all different types,
all different flags, and everything
seems to sort of jive from what I see.
-I was with the naked circle.
Is that what it’s called?
BOB: Oh, you went up to…
ROBERT: You went to the magic circle.
PETER: Oh, it’s a magic circle?
[all laughing]
PETER: There are a lot of old men
with their junk hanging?
ROBERT: I tell you what,
my coworker in here, he’s 85 years old,
and that’s where he lives at.
BOB: There’s a lot of big RVs
back over here.
Way back over here.
PETER: There’s an ambulance over there.
BOB: Yeah, that’s my ambulance.
PETER: That’s your ambu…
You’re living in an ambulance?
-You feel safe in there?
-It is very safe actually.
It’s very secure. You’re not gonna
get in there once everything’s locked up.
BOB: Some people just can’t take it.
It’s just too…
You know, you can’t be negative,
because negativity
just destroys everything.
-Um, you just gotta cope.
It’s always something
that you gotta deal with.
Somethings wrong… This guy back here…
His transmission broke,
and he cant’ fix it here.
So he had to go down the road and fix it.
-And it’s always something.
That’s kind of a phrase that everybody has,
“Well, it’s always something.”
You know, “This broke, that broke.”
-How long you been out here?
-I’ve been traveling around the country
since 2014 and for…
This is my third year.
Where I just got rid of everything I own.
-Do you know who lives here?
-Yeah, Kelly and Riz.
-And they’re living full-time there?
-Oh, yeah.
PETER: So this is your ambulance?
BOB: This is the ambulance.
I wish I’dda washed it.
I was gonna wash it yesterday.
I didn’t wash it.
If I’d known you were coming
I woulda washed it.
-It’s looking good.
-A lot of these guys go and they
convert their ambulance into an RV.
-I refuse to do that.
Because I’m an ambulance purist.
-You have a podcast?
-I do.
-Oh yeah, there we go.
Bob, what’s your theme?
-Just living out here and traveling.
Stuff like that.
-All right, so go ahead
and check out Bob’s podcast
if you want more intimate detail.
-There ya go.
Sometimes very intimate.
So basically…
-Out at the magic circle it gets very…
-It’s still an ambulance.
-Unfortunately my welcome mat is that
but yeah.
It’s just still an ambulance.
You don’t have to do anything.
Plenty of storage.
-Right. Built in already.
-Built in already.
-You have, [knocks] insulation?
-Yeah. No, it’s very well insulated.
It’ll get cold but we have heat for that.
-And, you know…
All these systems that people put
in these vehicles are highly overrated.
-Okay, so what’s your theory on that?
Just keep it simple?
-Keep it simple.
Here’s my cow skin blanket.
[taps bench]
-Where you sleeping? On the ground?
-Yeah, I roll all this stuff
out on the ground.
-This is the office?
-This is the office.
-We produce everything here.
-Who’s we?
-You’re calling you, we?
-Yeah, the royal we.
-And this is the electronics area.
-Or is it “We” means you and the ambulance?
-Maybe it does.
Maybe there’s someone else in there
that I’m unaware of.
-You come as a unit.
-So hard to tell.
This is it, you know,
I mean we got a little pantry right here.
-Almost all the cooking is on a campfire.
-Can I, uh…
[cabinet clicks and opens]
There’s the pantry.
-Don’t have a refrigerator.
-Eventually I’ll get one
but I haven’t got one right now.
My plan is to get solar and then
I’ll be able to get a 12 volt refrigerator.
But basically all the cooking we do
is all on a campfire.
[metal banging]
PETER: Oh, sorry.
That’s the podium for the sermons?
You have sermons out here?
-This is the podium for the podcasts.
This is where we…
“And now, ladies and gentlemen…”
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Now back to the story.
-So what do you get out of this lifestyle?
Break it down for those that have no clue.
-Freedom, freedom, freedom.
It just boils down to that, freedom.
I don’t pay rent.
I do what I want when I want.
I can get up at noon
or I can get up at 6:00.
You know, I have a little business.
So I do my thing and I’m here
because of the high price of diesel.
I just refuse to pay
the high price of diesel.
So a bunch of us,
Mike, over there in that school bus.
-Mike’s in the bus?
-He and I both are just furious
about diesel prices.
So we’re just hanging out
refusing to pay diesel.
-So when diesel comes down
are you gonna get on the road?
-Yeah… No, I’m crazy.
The first year I traveled full-time
I went back and forth across the country
up and down.
Ran the whole border,
went up and down across the country,
coast to coast twice.
It was crazy.
I must have done 25,000 miles then.
PETER: Wow, look at him.
BOB: We would like to be able to…
All of us would like to be able to
travel a little more than we are right now.
We’re just kind of
hanging out because of…
But the price of fuel is coming down, so…
It’s happening very slowly.
ROBERT: That needs to happen faster.
PETER: Do you listen to his podcast?
[all laughing]
BOB: And it’s a good thing.
ROBERT: I don’t because we would
probably end up in arguments all the time.
-Because you’re listening to him
over there every day?
BOB: Or around the camp fire.
ROBERT: We have… I won’t say opposing.
We have different political views.
PETER: That makes it fun, spicy.
ROBERT: We argue.
BOB: We argue.
-[Craig laughing] We were arguing
last night around the camp fire.
-I said, “Get out of the truck and fight.”
And he said, “I will shoot you.
[all laughing]
ROBERT: I don’t fight fair.
PETER: He’s a cop.
An ex-cop, you really want to go there?
He’s got skills.
BOB: I was kidding.
PETER: So summertime,
you guys are getting out of here, right?
-We’ll be here ’til…
Ian and Mike were here ’til June last year.
BOB: Not here but we were down at…
PETER: You just sweat it out?
-It’s great, I love the heat.
-You go to the magic circle at that time?
-No, I do not.
[Peter chuckling]
PETER: So super social out here?
-It can be or it can be not social.
It just… You don’t… You know…
You don’t approach people
unless they approach you.
If you start talking and then whatever…
Over time you get to know people.
-And then they invite you over
or you invite them over
and then, you know, there’s some rules.
If you can, you bring your own plate,
and your own chair, and your own fork.
Most people are very giving.
So they’re giving their food.
If you want to bring food, that’s fine.
Sometimes I go over to his thing.
I’ll take a steak over there
and cook it on his fire
while I’m sitting there or whatever
but it’s social,
and the thing is camping with guys,
you know, it’s social, and then
if I don’t talk to him for three days
he doesn’t care, and vice-versa.
So it’s a little easier camping with guys
than it is when you camp with women,
it’s very social.
-Yeah, what is the singles scene
like out here?
ROBERT: What singles scene?
BOB: Well these are not…
These are older women,
generally speaking but…
It’s nonexistent.
ROBERT: And the younger women
tend to be van-lifers and that.
-Not just that
but younger women are like…
ROBERT: They are all into… Um…
[Bob laughs heartily]
-They’re all into either each other…
[Bob laughing]
-I’m not saying
I disagree with that, you know?
I like to watch but, um…
Or they… They…
Social justice runs strong out here.
It does. It does.
PETER: I saw Trump flags everywhere.
-There’s that too.
-Those are the anti-social justice.
PETER: Okay, so you get
both camps out here.
-Those are older people and they tend to be
older Caucasian husband and wife teams.
Is what that tends to be.
With your van-lifers
and some of your schooly people,
it’s the other side of the spectrum.
It’s the old hippie…
BOB: Young hippies.
And they’re actually pretty cool.
PETER: Which are?
The young hippies are cool?
-I think they’re real… I think they’re…
I would love to be…
If I was that age I would love to be
doing what they’re doing,
and what they do is part of their realm.
Which is there’s a lot of patchouli
and, you know…
PETER: So it’s just old school hippies?
BOB: Yeah, basically.
-What’s different about the hippies now
versus the hippies before?
BOB: I don’t know.
ROBERT: They don’t care
about the environment.
BOB: You don’t think they care
about the environment?
-I don’t think they care, you saw
what happened over there in Dome Rock?
They were frickin’ cutting down
and burning trees.
BOB: For firewood,
and then they didn’t like my friend
’cause she’s a Christian, so…
They got into it.
They had to leave.
PETER: They don’t like Christians out here?
-That was my take on the whole thing.
And they… No, most people…
There’s a church over there.
There’s an open-air church over there
and most people,
it’s like whatever, you know?
We’re not making judgments about religion.
It’s just this particular group.
And I wasn’t there,
so it’s hearsay from my perspective
but they were making a lot of noise
and the girls got upset
that they were making a lot of noise,
they went over there
and tried to get them to turn it down.
They wouldn’t.
-[man speaking from a distance]
…you were yelling at.
-He’s got fresh clothes,
his hair is combed.
BOB: He’s all ready to go.
[all laughing]
BOB: We’re making a video.
This is Mike.
PETER: Yeah, they were
really talking you up.
How you doing, Mike? Peter
MIKE: Nice to meet you.
PETER: So what’s going on out here?
You’re sort of the OG in this space?
-Little bit.
-How many years?
So you did it
before it was trending or cool?
-Just got sick of the city.
I didn’t like the high cost of housing.
-I was just sick of it, man.
-What city?
-Grand Rapids, Michigan.
-Oh, that’s not even a big city is it?
-No, not comparatively but for the Midwest
it’s still quite a good size city.
When Detroit died, all the sh*t
that left Detroit came to Grand Rapids.
Came straight to us.
Housing went up, jobs disappeared,
and I was like,
Why am I gonna keep
paying for an apartment
when I can buy an apartment?
-And pretty much
build what I want to inside of it.
-I know this is a big ask
but can we check it out?
ROBERT: It’s a hot mess
in there isn’t it?
MIKE: No, it’s actually not.
Let me get the dogs out together.
BOB: If that dog…
If you go in there with that dog,
you will not come out.
ROBERT: Oh, stop it.
[all laughing]
MIKE: Let me get the dogs
harnessed and out.
-When I met him last year
I was in a bit of a bind.
I had issues with my vehicle
and then I had issues with my solar, so…
He helped me out with both of them and…
…he’s the one that got me,
like, you know, this is…
Do what you can to help people out here.
Because you never know
when you’re gonna need help.
-I was told that with
the first guy I met in town.
He said that’s the vibe out here.
BOB: If you need help, you’ll get help.
People help you.
I mean there’s rules,
you can’t do certain…
You can’t work on your trucks out here.
That’s what the guy
with the trailer up front, his problem was.
You know, but people will
try to do what they can for you.
PETER: Slab City,
have you guys ever heard of this place?
ROBERT: Oh, yeah.
-That’s a totally different vibe, right?
BOB: I think Slab City is, you know…
You hear a lot about Slab City
in… with younger people.
It’s like, “Oh, did you go to Slab City?”
I went there.
I camped out there last year.
Nothing bad happened.
It’s just a…
I’ll give you my take on it is
so there’s a hot springs there.
Which is great. You go in the hot springs
but it’s a mess.
I mean it’s all slimy,
and the wood is all old,
and you can fall into the water,
and there’s garbage everywhere.
They have a spot over there
where they just throw the garbage.
-Yeah, yeah,
it was pretty trashy when I went.
-The flies are terrible and it’s like
you would think that somebody would say,
“Hey, let’s get 20 guys together
and clean this up…”
“…and fix the stuff by the hot springs.”
They won’t even do that.
So I’m not very impressed with…
It’s the typical smarter than…
You know, what is it?
Too smart by half or whatever it is
of the Libertarian, Anarchic…
“Oh, you know, we don’t need a government.
We don’t do anything.”
I don’t know if I could live there.
ROBERT: He’s probably long gone by now
but you’ve got Bob Wells,
of the movie, Nomad, fame.
BOB: Don’t promote Bob Wells.
[Mike laughing]
ROBERT: Of the movie Nomad, fame.
I think the one
that looks like Santa Clause.
He will tell everybody, “Oh, you can
live out here for $600 to $800.”
BOB: In a car.
ROBERT: In a car.
And he convinces
senior citizens to do that…
…and I don’t agree with it.
BOB: Mostly women.
ROBERT: Because it can get very difficult
out here and if you’re an older person
that isn’t a little savvy,
then it’ll kill you.
MIKE: It’ll kill ya.
BOB: So many women, older women,
listen, watch this guy,
and they will come out here in cars
and they’re…
It’s not for the faint of heart.
It’s just… you are constantly lifting,
moving, grabbing, pulling,
and if you want to eat
you gotta start a fire
or you gotta have
some kind of propane, something.
It’s not like being at home
and washing dishes at the kitchen sink.
-You know, and it can be demanding.
And so it’s pretty contentious.
You go out and talk to those people
in the ambulances…
Pam, we call her “Pam of the Pambulance.”
She’ll tell you for sure she doesn’t like
him sending people out here
that don’t have any
real means to protect themselves.
ROBERT: Right.
-So you’re saying there’s a whole group
of ambulance campers?
-It’s starting to be
which I hate these trends.
MIKE: It’s becoming a trend.
BOB: It’s becoming a trend
so I’m gonna have to get a bus.
[all laughing]
PETER: Wait, I thought busses were a trend.
ROBERT: That’s already a trend.
BOB: I know but at least everyone has one.
MIKE: This is very much military-style.
PETER: Military-style, okay.
MIKE: It’s very Spartan.
PETER: An old Army bus, yeah?
MIKE: Um, I don’t know what service it is.
I’m a vet.
-Oh you are a vet?
-I’m a vet.
-Do you miss the service at all or no?
-I do.
I do, it’s…
You wake up in the morning,
you don’t have to think about
what you’re gonna do for the day.
You don’t have to worry about not having
somebody around to help if you need help.
Stuff like that.
-Out here you’re completely on your own
unless you got a good group of guys around
like these guys here.
-You’ve got that then?
-And you love Hot Wheels?
-I do. It’s just a hobby.
Something my dad used to get me
when he would go on trips,
or vacations, or out for a weekend.
He would bring me back one
and I just continued the hobby.
-Okay, that’s cool.
PETER: Wow, it reminds me…
I haven’t been in a bus since I was a kid.
[Mike laughs]
-It’s kinda short.
You know, I’m a short guy.
So I got the clearance
but if you’re a taller guy
it can be a little bit of a challenge.
She’s a beast, she’s solid.
About five and a half miles
to the gallon in the city,
about seven and a half
to nine miles on the highway.
What did you pay for it?
If you don’t mind me asking.
-Six grand.
-Six grand… 17 years ago?
Last year.
-You upgraded?
I had a Class C that I was in
that was 30 years old
and water pump failed,
everything in the back broke
all at the same time
when I went to have it assessed.
So like, that’s five grand.
I was like, “Oh, sh*t.”
For that price
I’m going to find something else.
This was my dad who just passed in March.
-Oh, I’m sorry.
-So he was the one who helped me
get approved on the bus.
It was the last thing he’d approved
for me to work on.
-What do you mean he approved
for you to work on the bus?
-My cash limit to buy the bus.
-Your what?
-My cash limit to buy the bus.
-Oh, okay, okay.
-He backed me on that
and that was his last thing he did.
Like a month before he passed.
-I’m sorry.
-You did good job. Good girl.
PETER: What is this here?
What’s going on here, Mike?
-Somebody made this
last year apparently or 2020.
-I just happened to find it
and it made a good reference point
for if I come back in the dark.
I have a line-up site
that I can come in and pull in on.
PETER: So what are people missing
from the outside?
ROBERT: What are they missing?
PETER: What do they not get?
ROBERT: They think we’re homeless.
BOB: They think we’re insane.
MIKE: Drug addled, reprobates.
BOB: All our families think it’s dangerous.
BOB: My sister,
I sent her a picture of the desert.
Beautiful picture of the desert,
she goes, “Looks dangerous.”
And I’m like, “What’s dangerous?
It’s the desert.”
PETER: Saguaro cacti? Pretty dangerous?
BOB: Yeah, they’re very dangerous.
PETER: If you fall into them.
ROBERT: Yeah, if you fall into them.
BOB: Yeah, they think it’s dangerous.
It’s not dangerous.
MIKE: This is my idea of true freedom.
I mean you get to do what you want
when you want.
You set your own rules and as long as you
got a little bit of common sense
you’ll be all right.
PETER: What’s the drug scene out here?
BOB: I don’t know.
I don’t do drugs.
MIKE: Out here,
mostly there’s meth cookers out here.
MIKE: There’s not really
any jobs in town, man.
They peddle to the tourists.
-Tourists are into meth?
Some of them that are.
-The locals will cook the meth,
the tourists will buy it.
BOB: Go sit up at the Pilot.
PETER: What’s the Pilot?
BOB: The Pilot truck stop.
There’s some unsavory characters up there.
Wouldn’t you say?
PETER: They’re just
peddling meth over there?
-No they’re just… You’ll get it.
ROBERT: They are the truly homeless,
most of them.
-They are, um…
Every one of ’em
is wearing a fricken’ duster.
Old Western Duster and…
-[Mike offended] Hey, man.
-I’m not saying…
[all laughing]
ROBERT: They are an eclectic bunch.
-To say the least.
BOB: They’re travelers.
ROBERT: It’s funny, they all have dogs…
…and they panhandle,
and try to get your sympathy for the dog.
You know, “My dog’s hungry,
can you give me a couple extra dollars.”
And then you give them a couple dollars
and they go buy booze.
MIKE: When they leave,
they dump the dogs in the desert.
PETER: Do you guys feel
disconnected from the country at all?
Like you’re in your own world out here?
You’re not following politics
or you feel very much connected with…
BOB: Well I do anyway.
Like, I have a whole system
of checking out things.
So I’m constantly doing that anyway
’cause I just do it.
I’ve done it for years but…
It can be a dreamworld.
Especially when you’re traveling,
traveling. It’s a dreamworld.
But then… Which is real?
Is this real
or is the “back in the world” real?
Because it’s kind of a dreamworld
back in the world too.
ROBERT: You can be as disconnected…
You can be as disconnected
as you want to out here.
If you want to continue following
what’s going on in the real world
then you got internet.
You got your cell phone,
you got internet, what have you,
but if you truly want to be
done with all of that…
You can be.
BOB: There’s lots of delineations
and echelons of
quote-unquote society out here.
Because you have RVers
who are only here if they’re snowbirds.
So they’re gonna go back to Ypsilanti,
or Lansing, or Chicago, or Minneapolis.
-When the weather gets warm up there.
Then there’s people out here
who are just here.
We’re nomads ’cause we’re gonna go
to Colorado in the summer or Utah.
I’m gonna go back to Wisconsin or whatever.
And the real nomads,
the schooly people mostly,
lot of van-life people,
they live in their vans, and they tour,
and they go around,
and they’re in ’em 24 hours a day,
and they either have YouTube channels
or they have some
digital work that they do.
-And they have means of support.
Other people are on disability,
or they’re on Social Security, or whatever,
and they have money.
-So it’s…
People do it
and they come down here because…
So if you wanted to go to the Keys.
Well, it’s gonna cost you a fortune.
Where as here you pay $180 at the LTVA.
You’ve got, you know,
an RV like that one…
-So you’ve got a beautiful house.
You can just go sit in your house all day
if that’s what you want.
-So it’s all different types of people
doing this?
-All different types of people.
-You see there’s a nice
fifth wheel over there.
There’s a bunch of beautiful Class A’s.
Which are the, you know,
it’s like you drive…
Like, they’re big busses basically.
And those things are $400,000, $500,000.
-Are there any socioeconomic divides?
Like someone’s got the Class A,
they’re not gonna hang with you
’cause you’re in the ambulance
or all that stuff goes away out here?
Well, we get a little irritated
with some of the trailer people
because most of them bring generators
and they just run their generators all day,
and sit in there, and watch television.
And so we get a little irritated.
-This guy in the trailer over here,
he’s got a CPAP machine.
So he has to charge up
his batteries during the day.
So we give him a pass.
-But the trailer people,
the snowbird people are a little…
They like to gather in groups and I think
they’re probably people that they live with
back in their other…
And they all get together.
-Or they have friends
and they get together, you know?
If you have the resources
and you have the money,
who am I to say it’s right or wrong?
But if you have high levels of resources,
and people come into this
with different levels of resources.
Some people have no resources,
some people have some resources,
and you just go with what you got.
Once it hits you that you want to do this,
well, you know, I said,
“I don’t want to do this in my ambulance.”
“I need to do something.”
So… and the more I looked at
the ambulance sitting in the driveway
I thought, “Well, I’ve got the truck.”
I know it’s a 7.3 diesel,
it’s dependable, it’s a great platform.
I know it’s gonna run.
Finally I was like…
So I had to literally get rid of everything
because there’s no room
in there for anything.
But I’m telling you, everything I sold,
I felt better, and better, and better,
until the whole place was empty.
And then I felt great.
So it’s just, you know,
some people couldn’t do it
’cause they couldn’t
give all that stuff up.
♪ country guitar ♪
[truck driving on gravel]
PETER: It’s so beautiful out here.
♪ mellow music from campsite ♪
The colors of the desert.
Dark blue, lighter blue, out to the orange.
Soft breeze, perfect temperature.
PETER: How you doing?
MAN: Doing good, how are you?
PETER: How ya doing?
MAN: Good, what can I do for you, sir?
PETER: Oh, I’m just making a video
of the whole area, is it all right?
-No, my poster might be
on the post office somewhere.
[all laughing]
PETER: Do you guys live up here?
-I am going to sleep here tonight, yes.
-You live here for the moment? Okay.
-Yeah, I live here,
for three weeks I’ll be here.
-But he’s been full-time for two years now.
-Oh, no way.
-Travel all over
the United States and Canada.
-Where you from?
-Oh, okay, never been there.
-Based out of Ohio now
but South Louisiana, I was raised.
-People… This is Mark, Cajun Mark.
-Cajun Mark, Peter Santenello.
-Hi, Peter.
-Yeah, nice to meet you.
[to the tune of Santeria by Sublime]
♪ I don’t practice Santenello ♪
♪ I ain’t got no crystal ball ♪
-It’s Italian.
[all laughing]
PETER: Do you guys live near each other
or you’re just old friends
that get together?
-No, no, he invited me over
for dinner a few minutes ago.
-We just met. I just met him.
-I’ve only known this guy
for a couple months.
-We met in…
-We met this guy…
-It’s that type of place?
-It is, you meet a lot of people.
-Exactly that kind of a place.
-You catch up with them,
you know, and say,
“Hey, I’m in this part of the country.”
and you go camp with ’em for a while.
-It’s a good vibe out here.
-Yeah, that’s why I’m out here.
-But everybody comes down here
in this area for the winter.
This is the new Florida.
PETER: So you live out of this, Nicole?
NICOLE: I live out of this thing.
-Full-on bike stand…
Oh, that’s cool.
-It’s my son, he did this build. [laughs]
-All right, show us the home.
Show us the home.
-I’ll show it off.
My stove,
it’s not gonna come out right now.
I have issues with how he back here…
the connection but someone can help me.
This platform folds down.
-Right here and that’s my bed.
-It’s all tucked…
I have to take it out and, you know,
put it away every time but…
-When did you make this choice
to live like this?
-It’s been about an eight year
in the making for me.
-And I am finally living out of this thing
and have been for about seven months.
So little by little,
I got closer and closer, you know?
You’re a cyclist?
-Yeah, I am.
Not heavy-duty cyclist but [laughs]
just a means of…
This is built to get me
far off-road somewhere.
-And then I have an awning
and I can add walls to it
and if that’s the case
I need another means of transportation.
I have my backpack up top.
-So what do you get out of this lifestyle?
Like what do you feel out of it?
Oh, freedom and where I need to be
on this planet.
Honestly, like…
-And it’s just living this and giving back
to whatever I can give back to…
…as a collective.
-I’m not bound to a time frame.
I am not bound any of it.
It’s just me and the road,
and me, and, you know, people…
-Do you meet people out here?
-Oh, I meet cool as hell people out here.
-Medicine Bear.
-Where’s Medicine Bear?
-He’s in there right now.
We just went on a hike earlier today.
We were just over in this ridge line
over here and we went on a hike
and he’s…
Maybe he’s crashed-out in there.
[both laughing]
-And he is legitly a medicine bear.
You look at him and you’re like,
“You are Medicine Bear.”
-So it’s all types out here, right?
-It’s all types.
-It’s everyone?
-Oh it is, and it’s cool
’cause there’s a thread,
and that thread is just like,
“What can I do for you?”
“What can I do to make your experience
a little easier?”, you know?
-You know, everyone’s within
their own little section or whatever.
-Okay, okay.
-There’s more parties in certain sections,
there’s more, like, you know,
meditation in certain sections,
but I could walk over there and, like,
say hi to someone over there and…
You know what I mean?
-You just do that?
You just walk to whomever?
-It’s almost like you’re doing something
independently but collectively in a way.
-Yeah, yeah.
-So it drops the guard.
And, like, every door is open in a way.
Like you can go talk to…
-Collectively, we’re tied.
I had no idea this community even existed.
-Where are you from originally?
-Until, like, three weeks ago.
-Originally from Utah.
-So do you get more community out here
than in typical life, let’s call it?
-Yes, I do.
-I mean, maybe I’ve lived in a home,
and I have neighbors, and it’s like,
am I getting into their living spaces?
And, like, you know what I mean?
It’s just different here.
-You have adult kids?
-I have adult kids, yes.
-What do they think of it?
-They know this is me.
-You look happy. You look very happy.
-Well, it’s like… You know what I mean?
I hope that’s what just exudes
and gives back to this planet, so…
-Now mom is cool?
-Mom was always cool.
-Yeah, yeah.
-Mom’s rocking the Tacoma
with the mountain bike.
-Oh, yeah.
[both laughing]
-Look at that moon.
-Yeah, I know.
Full in, like, three days from now.
-Oh cool, take care.
-Yeah, see you.
-See you.
All right, guys.
That’s it for today.
Nice little view into Quartzsite,
or Greater Quartzsite, Arizona.
A few takeaways.
It’s got a good vibe here.
All different types of people,
different walks of life,
different socioeconomic situations,
but it seems quite respectful,
Very interesting, gotta say.
I could definitely come out here
for a few weeks.
Wouldn’t be living,
but could come out here for a bit.
All right, guys,
thanks for coming along on that.
Until the next one.
♪ country guitar ♪

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