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Escape With the Escapees


In planning a future of permanent travel I was vexed with the problem of where to park the camper overnight or where to park for a longer term. I asked The Advisor and was given some help and then another person wrote in with more suggestions. These suggestions were appreciated but I was not finding more information. Enter the City on Wheels.

I live in Northern Kalifornia and so became aware of a rally, called an Escapade, to be held in Chico by members of the Escapees. The Escapees is a club for people who travel in recreational vehicles (RVs) campers, vans, and buses. There are over 100,000 members 80% of whom are "full-timers". Full-timers have no fixed residence outside of where their vehicle is at the time. Although the government tries to demand that each individual have a regular address, this is just a small inconvenience which the Escapees work around, as I will explain below. The rally was a chance for them to gather, socialize, and exchange information and just plain party. Escapades happen twice a year and are the high points of the Escapee social scene.

Visiting the Escapade was a chance for me to see just how a person can full time it comfortably. The Escapees--hereafter referred to as Skips (from S-K-P)--have a support system that makes traveling full time less of a hassle than it might otherwise be. What utility is this to a pack of lone wolf anti gov capitalists? Well, I'll tell you.

By hiring the Escapees club you are outsourcing some of the hassle of full-time travel. They own some RV parks, and there's lots of other stuff being a member of the Escapees gets you:

You get all of this for only $60 a year. Just imagine that if the Government "provided" you with those services--it would cost far more than $60 FRNs.

Does this mean that you may not be as private as you might wish? Maybe. However, the club does not care what name you register under, nor where your vehicle is registered, or what state you are a permanent resident of. Though it is suggested that you have your papers in order in case of a stop by revenue agents.

The Skips are composed mostly of retirees in the older age range, but this has been changing over the past few years as younger people are taking to the road. Some did retire from Government service, but most made their money through working in the productive sector. They worked hard for the money and are enjoying that money now. The amount of discussion I heard on how to avoid paying taxes or avoid having to declare income was warming to my heart. While they may not be on the hard-core fringe (as I am) concerning the concept of government or the morality of the State, many had much disdain for government and its operatives. An entire discussion focused on the best place to register your vehicle in order to keep car taxes low. References to the stupidity of government always got a laugh and applause, and a more pointed and funny statement about the intellectual capabilities of government workers brought cheers from a big audience. Also, as more people with kids enter the club the amount of information and support for home... er, roadschooling increases. One woman I talked to said, "My children do not belong to the State". Outside of conversations with people explicitly libertarian or anti-government I had not heard anyone say anything like that.

Many Skips have their official residence in Livingston, Texas, which is the headquarters of the Escapees. No state income tax, friendly homeschooling laws and low car registration costs make this an attractive state to be "from". I met two Skips who are "Texas residents", yet they have not been there but twice since the time they joined.

I did not meet one busybody or Nosy Nellie the whole time I was there. I think the Skip lifestyle does not appeal to those who want to concern themselves unduly with their neighbor's business. Skips are of a different quality of people I see these days. Even the bible thumpers were restrained. A person cannot be too insistent about his cause or the audience might just up and drive away. The cost of getting away from rudeness is much lower for a Skip than it is for someone living in a house. This reality permeates the community. That plus the fact that most grew up in a different meme nexus than people today ensures that the Skip community is one of respect, politeness, and neighborliness. I did not hear one curse word the entire time, not even from me (oddly); "please" and "thank you" were always used, people were good-humored and helpful. They are so helpful that if one sees your rig broken down on the side of the road he will pull over to help. In fact a Skip maxim is that if you want to make friends in a park put the hood of your rig up. This will send out a special signal to other Skips nearby and they will start to migrate to your vehicle. Even if they cannot see your rig They Will Know. Kay Peterson, the founder of Escapees (SKP #1), tells a story of how once when she and her husband Joe were eating, a man parked in the space opposite them came out of his rig and put the hood up. Seeing this Joe started eating faster, almost choking himself so that he could finish and then mosey over and see how he could help.

I also learned that there are many places a person can camp for nothing. Some places--like Wal-Mart parking lots--are just for one night, but others like Slab City, Quartzsite, or parts of the Colorado River can be camped on indefinitely. Of course, these places have no hook-ups, so a boondocker must have a self-contained rig--that is, batteries, water tanks, and waste tanks. I learned much more about RVing than I have space for here. The debate about which is better--RVs, bus conversions, fifth wheels, and travel trailers--could be a whole 'nother article. Diesel vs. gas. Ford vs. Chevy. So many things to know. The information on the importance of weight distribution alone was worth the price of admission. A person who owns an RV just for vacations and weekend trips need not be too concerned with this topic, but a full-timer must pay attention. It will save money and possibly lives.

How many times have we heard the fallacy that coercive government is needed for a civil society? We must "volunteer" our time, measured in taxes, to "help" this or that group or be harassed, arrested, or killed. High school students must "volunteer" to help, or they don't get that piece of paper. This group is voluntary; the members have no mandated obligations to one another and have the means to go wherever they wish, yet when you need them they will be there. Compare that to government programs and initiatives. Which is better?

The Escapees are the epitome of community: a voluntary association based on respect for the individual. When I read books by pro-freedom authors what often pushes my emotional buttons is the chance, however slim, of living in such a society. The Escapees have a start on that with their dispersed City on Wheels. If you're on the road, or thinking about a mobile lifestyle, check out the Escapees.

(c) 2001


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