Thoughts, humor, motivation, irreverent opinions and Judgments, product reviews about my favorite sport road, trail and mountain running.
I run 5 to10 miles everyday; Why ? Because I love it !
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Homeless No More by Anton Krupicka
Supping on the banks of Wyoming's Snake River--and the Roost's tailgate--this summer. Photo: Anna Frost.
Back in early 2008, I was looking for a little more flexibility for my upcoming summer of mountain running–as much as I enjoyed all the options that the greater Pikes Peak Region had to offer, I was ready to more fully explore other mountains–and was hoping to minimize my living expenses, so I began considering my options for, let’s say, ‘liveable wheels’. After a couple of years of driving around a rotating set of hand-me-down vehicles (mostly a pair of late-80s model stationwagons), I had plenty of money saved to buy a vehicle of my own (I’d totaled my first car–a 1983 Chevy S-10 that I purchased for $1500 from my grandpa–in an icy roll-over a couple years earlier). After a few weeks on Craigslist, perusing my options, I seemed to hit upon the winner: another S-10, but this time a 1999 long-bed with a tapered cap and only 77,000′ miles. After meeting with the private party and taking it for a quick test-drive and look-over, for only $4000 it was mine. Awesome! And the truck bed was already carpeted, no less.
The next step was to turn the back of the vehicle into, basically, a bedroom. With a couple of 2x4s as cross-pieces, I bolted a dumpster-salvaged whack of plywood to the 2×4 closest to the cab with a pair of hinges. This set-up allowed me to use the entire floor of the bed of the truck as storage space that I could access by simply lifting my bed and propping it with a stick. A futon mattress placed on top of the hinged platform completed my new sleeping space. For the summers of 2008 and 2009 I lived comfortably in the Roost, hanging out at 10,000′ in Leadville, CO, working as a barista, before spending the next two summers at lower environs as a grad student, training for hot, low altitude races (Western States 100, 2010) and with a broken leg (2011).
Back in early March of this year it was the night before I was to board a plane to New Zealand for the following three weeks when I was walking down west Pearl St in Boulder, CO and noticed a For Rent sign…affordable apartments don’t go on the market very often in that part of town, so I was quick to seriously consider signing a year-long lease on the space. I was injured–had been for over a year–and didn’t think that many big mountain hi-jinks were likely in my near future.
Maybe an hour later, however, I got a text from my buddy Rickey Gates. Rickey is a notoriously well-traveled mountain runner, and has willfully experienced many unconventional living situations himself, including a $175/month, no plumbing, no electricity, one-room cabin on the backside of Flagstaff Mountain near Boulder. In winter.
“wanna grab a drink?”
“hmmm. leaving for nz tomorrow and might have to pack up my entire apartment tonight to move into a new place before i leave.”
Needless to say, a couple hours with Rickey and the crisis was averted (“Dude, DO NOT sign a lease”).
When I returned from New Zealand three weeks later Boulder was in full-on springtime mode and the day after getting off the plane I moved into the Roost. It was April 1st. Seven months later, I’m finally unpacking again. In between, there have been a lot of mountain summits (thank jesus), and more than a little experience gained at existing around the quasi-homeless fringes of society.
Things get a bit messy after seven months.
A few things learned:
–Surprisingly, April was a totally reasonable time to start living in my truck. The weather was really nice in April this year and I think I only endured one relatively minor spring snowstorm. That is semi-unusual for the Colorado Front Range. November 1st was an unreasonably late time to still be living in my truck, but I was only off by a week. Boulder almost always gets its first major snowstorm the last week of October and this year was no different.
–The cold is not an issue when living in the Roost. I have a warm sleeping bag. Weatherwise, rain and snow, however, are giant pains in the ass. When all of your belongings are stuffed into a Chevy S-10, there is no convenient place to A) change clothes, B) dry out wet clothes. In general, when I’m living in the Roost, almost all of my “living” is occurring outside of the Roost, which brings me to my next point…
–Car camping in an urban environment is awkward, sometimes depressing, and feels vaguely illegal. Quite simply, when I’m living in the Roost, I mostly try to stay out of the city. It is way less awkward, way more pleasant, and way more private if I’m sleeping in my car and it’s at a trailhead in the woods or parked in some random, secluded spot on public land high in the mountains. Plus, being mobile so as to access mountains is the whole purpose for living in the truck, anways. This is why the upper Arkansas River Valley (Leadville area) is generally an awesome place to come back to in the summertime: camping is normal there and big mountains are plentiful and proximal. I have my favorite streets in/around Boulder for parking, but–even though I’ve never had a single issue with law enforcement–something feels slightly wrong about being too much a regular, too predictable. At one of my favorite spots in Boulder there have been times when there have been at least two other people sleeping in their vehicles on the same street. Rather than feel some sort of kinship, however, this just makes me feel a little depressed. I’m fortunate to be voluntarily homeless and transient; I have sufficient financial means. I am assuming, however, that these people probably don’t, and that sucks.
–Showers/bathing is definitely a big constraint on this sort of lifestyle, but really only on either end of the season. From April 1 to November 1 I bathed daily in mountain streams with biodegradable soap. It’s really not an issue, but the temperature is always on COLD. And in the last week of October it’s on POSSIBLY HYPOTHERMIC REALLY F****** COLD. I am not a polar bear, apparently.
–Because I don’t have a bike rack–nor am willing to sacrifice the highway gas mileage that comes with installing one–I am essentially bike-less when living in the Roost. Which sucks. When I have an apartment, I basically never drive anywhere. I’m not sure how many miles I’ve logged on the truck since April but suffice it to say that it’s been roughly a shit-ton. Give or take.
–It’s sorta cliche, but what looks like a giant explosion on the inside of my truck is actually a bit of controlled chaos. I pretty much know where things are. General regions of the car at least. In fact, the smaller something is (like my toothbrush, contacts, favorite shorts, sunglasses, etc) the easier it is for me to find it because I always put it in exactly the same spot. Two big storage bins on wheels easily roll out from underneath my sleeping platform and are intended to house most of my clothes. Of course, the things I wear most tend to end up in a pile on my bed or in a pair of more boxy storage bins that sit in the space between my sleeping platform and the tailgate.
–Cooking occurs via a JetBoil stove. I keep things very, very simple. Usually a bag of frozen veggies and a box of instant cous cous. I keep a one gallon jug of water in the car. It’s typically enough, if I remember to fill it.
Now that I’m in an apartment (for a couple of months at least), I must admit, hot showers and a proper cooking range/oven are much appreciated. I have no doubt, however, that once the snow starts melting next spring and the creeks become tolerably swimmable, I’ll be back in the Roost.
Pretty typical summer post-run scene, sittin' on my porch. Photo: Anna Frost.