certainly one of the oddball projects—being a successful
homeless person. here are some ideas and references for the
bozeman, montana area.
as i posted on the winged leopard web log (version two)
in july 2005, “for me, it's about the bankroll,
the simplicity, and the solitude.” i wanted to save
money by not paying any rent, i wanted to minimalize my
possessions, and i wanted to be alone.
“Well I don't care, all I want is to be
alone up there this summer.”
“You're sayin that now but you'll change your tune soon
enough. They all talk brave. But then you get to talkin to
yourself. That ain't so bad but don't start answerin
kerouac, the dharma bums, 227
of course, i'm doing this in the gallatin valley while going
to school, so i don't run the risk of writing in the manner
that jack did on desolation peak.
Up in the valley
and down by the mountain,
Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake
Wake Wake Wake A W A K E N
A K A K E N A W A K E N
A W A K E N
N O W
This is the
the millennial rat
—Theriomorphous, highest perfect
kerouac, desolation angels, 58
that is, unless i'd write similar things anyway. i fantasized
about living life without a home for two years. and i finally
decided to give it a try beginning october 2007.
of course, there are drawbacks. it's cold, and it will be
getting colder. i'm in school, so my time is limited and
costly. i started two whole years after my wildest fantasies,
so i'm not appreciating it as much as i would have then, but
i'm much more capable now (having taken a trip to alaska alone
for two weeks).
i originally planned to use my fixed gear bicycle to get
around town, sleep in city parks or close to campus, and never
use my car. i figured that this would be my contribution: a
minimal environmental impact as a human being. i wouldn't
require the continual heating or cooling of a living space,
nor would i require fossil fuels for transportation.
unfortunately, the city parks didn't yield much cover for
urban camping, so i had to venture a few miles from campus to
some state trust land. because my bike is a fixed gear, the
terrain is hilly, and my time is limited, i have to drive to
my camp site nightly.
my gear isn't ideal, but i get by. luckily i have an office
where i do all of my cooking, and where i keep some bathroom
supplies and contingency clothing (if i want to go out for a
drink and look decent). my arc'teryx bora 80 (liter) backpack
- black diamond firstlight tent with footprint
- thermarest matress pad
- down sleeping bag
- jetboil stove with french press
- two 8oz fuel canisters
- msr water filter
- 1.8L platypus and 1L nalgene
- petzl headlamp
- msr packtowel
- tops: 1 silk-wt poly, 3 mid-wt poly, 1 mid-wt
- bottoms: 2 mid-wt poly, 2 mid-wt merino
- socks: 3 merino
- shetland wool sweater
- coat, jeans, belt
- magellan explorist 210 gps unit
i have identified a variety of public lands that can be used:
- city parks can be used if a suitable place is found,
but you're at the mercy of police because overnight
camping violates city of bozeman code 12.26.030.P.
- msu campus could potentially be used, especially a
remote area managed by the university. unfortunately
campus is well-patrolled by msu police, and you would
be violating msu policy and procedures 230.00.F.
- the closest public land that may be used to camp
legally is montana state trust land. you have to
purchase a general recreation permit from montana fish,
wildlife, and parks for $10. but you can then camp on
any state trust land for two consecutive nights within
200 feet of a customary access point.
- of course, dispersed camping is allowed on u.s. forest
service land; fish, wildlife, and parks land; and
bureau of land management land. the closest of these
is forest service land.
the best site for finding eligible camping sites is
montana's GIS website
my favorite place to camp near the msu campus is a parcel of
state trust land at 45.64575°, -110.99157°.
i love rising with the sun in the middle of nowhere by myself.
but i hate pitching my tent every night, just as i hate
tearing it down every morning. scouting new sites is fun,
unless you are crunched for time. so despite being fun
sometimes, it's a waste of time. i spend 30 minutes in the
morning tearing stuff down and packing, and i spend 30 minutes
at night pitching the tent. so i spend 7-10 hours a week being
homeless. but working ten hours a week could get me a pretty
nice apartment. ultimately, it's a battle between experience
and specialization of labor.
benefits of being homeless include a smaller environmental
impact, minimalistic necessities, rising with the sun, saving
money, solitude, and more. costs include high performance
clothing and gear (for montana winters), time setting up and
tearing down camp, time scouting campsites, commuting time if
the camp is out of town, and many more. it's an experience
that you pay dearly for.