After a visit to northern Arizona to spend time with my brother, who lives in a lean-to along a creek, and a few chance meetings with other boomers who are barely scraping by, I thought I would inform you about one I know very well.
My brother’s case is the most extreme that I personally know of, because he is basically homeless, but in his case he is also happy. He moved south from Durango six years ago with no particular destination, and ended up camping along Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona, Arizona. His family had no idea where he was for three years, until he got in trouble with the Forest Service, and a kind ranger suggested he should give us a call. When I visited him recently he told me the whole story.
Within a week after arriving in Sedona, he found some construction work, but he also had his sleeping bag stolen. The head of his construction company bought him a new one, no questions asked. He has found nothing but helpful people in this city full of millionaires and those that serve them. Someone is always willing to help him out, and the best part for him is living in nature.
He is now on private land and providing a type of care-taking along the creek. We discovered quickly that getting down to the creek is no small accomplishment. The trail is quite steep with parts of it roped to help with some rocky footing. After you make it down there, the next challenge is fording Oak Creek, scary for me, but Mike went over to see John’s camp. He lives in a wood-framed tarp lean-to with a solar-powered lantern and wind-up radio.
His favorite pastime is sitting outside playing his guitar. He is an accomplished singer and songwriter. I wish more people could hear his music. Here’s a sample on YouTube. I have a CD of his mostly instrumental creations if anyone would like one. He picks up extra money playing in the coffee shops and bars in Sedona.
I have never met a person who so loves living in nature. Everyone in our family enjoys solitude and nature. My Dad is a botanist and naturalist, and we were raised camping out more than most, but John is willing to put up with snakes in his sleeping bag and scorpions in his lean-to to continue in his chosen lifestyle. He recently started receiving Social Security, but still chooses to live outside. Besides, he could never afford the rents in Sedona!
How many more years will he be able to make it down that steep hill and across the creek? He doesn’t appear to be worried…
Brother John will always be “Mother Nature’s Son” to me.