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A (Benign) Monroe Doctrine Of Boondocking


You, who are on the road, must have a code

that you can live by. ~~~ CSNY (listen)

Since the mid 19th Century, the US has asserted the Monroe Doctrine in the Western Hemisphere to protect US national security and economic interests and serve as a pretext for Imperialism. It’s basically a huge “Keep Out – Private Property” sign, backed by the US military.

(Interestingly, one hundred and ten years after its inception, a German madman adopted his own version of the doctrine, calling it lebensraum. While the intellectual roots of Hitler’s twisted worldview were primarily grounded in German history and culture, it is not widely known that Hitler was aware of and adapted other US policies, including Jim Crow, eugenics, and aspects of FDR’s New Deal.)

Well, I’m not greedy and I don’t have the Pentagon to enforce it, but I have my own personal “Monroe Doctrine” that governs my daily life on BLM lands and National Forests.

The photo above is an egregious example of a violation of that doctrine.

While I live on public lands that are legally governed by federal laws and regulations, and my fellow nomads tend to be anarchists, that doesn’t mean that anything goes. We have higher standards and expectations.

The rules of the doctrine, while not formalized, are pretty simple: have some respect for your neighbors.

Respect means understanding and respecting the legitimate territorial and privacy needs of your neighbors.

Respect their desire to be left alone. Understand that some people are not interested in imposed social engagements and prefer solitude. That they would like to control if and when they interact with people and not have people imposed on them.

Respect his “space” – don’t roll up and settle inside a sensible zone of privacy.

There are plenty of places out there, like Quartzite, Arizona, where nomads gather in small communities. There are plenty of RV ghettos. Go there.

General areas of concern are sight lines, light pollution, noise/music/talking, smoke/fires, “space”, and view sheds.

Huge ostentatious $250,000 Class A RV’s and luxury tour buses and ORV’s inject orders of magnitude of nuisance, but I’m no fan of the Mercedes Sprinter Van – YouTube Channel – selfie crowd either.

Try to stay out of sight. I didn’t come to the desert to look at campers, RV’s and Sprinter Vans.

I prefer the mountains, and sunsets, and solitude, and silence, and clean air and vegetation and wildlife, and stars.

I don’t want to breath the smoke from your campfire. I hate your night lights and vehicle headlights and closing vehicle doors and barking dogs.

If you play music or party – and especially if you have a generator – stay at least a mile away. Sound and light travel far in the desert.

Bouy, my dog, has different criteria and standards. Generally, his are based on smell and noise – he has about a quarter of a mile security perimeter, where anything that enters and moves triggers barking and (peaceful, exploratory) engagement. If you have an Alpha male dog, stay even further away. Respect my dog’s needs too.

Most importantly, never insinuate yourself between me and a lovely view, especially a desert sunset over the mountains.

The guy in the photo above violated cardinal rules of the Monroe Doctrine for Boondockers.

He’s about 100 feet from me and the sun sets right over the mountains behind his rig. Disgraceful disrespect.

And that sucks.

Typically when this happens – and thankfully it rarely does – I head out and find another campsite ASAP.

But Word has it he leaves tomorrow. Let’s hope so.


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