Roger Golden is eBike boondocking his way across the United States, living, in his words, “home free, not homeless.” He has a great story and some boondocking tips we can all take to heart.
Out on the road I recently met into Roger, a “home-free” American with a dream to travel around the USA and raise awareness for Ostomates through his nomad lifestyle.
I met Roger in a park off US 98 in Fort Walton Beach, FL a few weeks ago.
When I checked in with him tonight as I wrote this post, he was in Texas, still headed west.
Roger rides a converted 26″ mountain/eBike, pulling a trailer that houses his 200 Watts of solar power and a place to store his gear. He doesn't travel alone though… his cat Phideaux comes along on every trip.
Roger's store of ebike boondocking is featured in Episode 342 of the RV Podcast. You can hear the whole podcast in the player below. Or scroll down for a video version of the interview, and a transcript of our conversation
You can learn more about Roger, and follow him as he continues his mission here: https://www.facebook.com/diginomad3
Here's my video interview:
Here's an edited transcript of our interview:
Roger's story of eBike boondocking
Mike Wendland: Meet Roger. He is on an e-bike and he is on his way across the country from Florida to California, boondocking all the way. He wants you to know that he is not homeless, he's home-free. Having sold off his sticks and bricks home, he is towing a small homemade trailer with solar panels that charge the battery for his e-bike, his laptop, and cell phone. He is not alone. He travels with a very cool cat and he is the ultimate boondocker who's doing this for the adventure, despite some very serious health issues.
Roger: This will be my second trip across the country. My first trip was from Washington state to Florida, now I'm going from Florida to California. In 2019 we went from Jackson… That was the first trip my cat was with me, we went from Jacksonville, Florida to Calais, Maine at the border, turned around, and came back. I got about as far as Washington DC and started having problems.
Roger is doing this eBike boondocking adventure despite a major health challenge
Mike Wendland: Chest problems?
Roger: No intestinal problems. I got as far as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and I couldn't do it anymore. I called a friend in Jacksonville to come pick me up. That's the first time I've ever had to give up on a trip. I got back down to Jacksonville and I had surgery and I woke up and there were intestines sticking out of my belly. They told me I had to give up my biking lifestyle.
He said, “You can't do that anymore.” I told him, “That's not an option. That's what I do.” So here I am doing the impossible with a cat, 200 watts, a solar panel and electric bike.
Mike Wendland: I want to just look at this. I ask you because we see down here, in Florida, there's probably a lot of homeless people. I said, “Are you homeless?” You had a great phrase for it.
Don't call him homeless!
Roger: I am home free. There's a difference between being homeless and home free. A lot of times homeless people are at the mercy of their environment. I'm experienced in my environment. For a lot of homeless people, they don't have a choice in the matter, it was something that happened to them. In my case, I gave it all up to get rid of all of the time that I waste to give money to somebody else.
Mike Wendland: What do you mean by that?
Roger: We spend most of the waking hours of our adult lives working so that we can give our money to somebody else.
Mike Wendland: Taxes.
Mike Wendland: Mortgages. Credit Cards?
Roger: Mortgages, your car insurance, your tires, your maintenance, the list goes on and on. Without that, I don't have to have as much money to live. With that I have to make a lot of money. It's also that I can support somebody else and I can't afford to support somebody else, I can afford to support me.
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Roger's tows two 100-watt solar panels with his eBike
Mike Wendland: Well, I'm going to call this an RV.
Roger: It's definitely a recreational vehicle. Yes, sir.
Mike Wendland: Walk me through and let's tell me, show us what you have.
Roger: From Walmart, after lockdown started, I had just had my surgery, I ordered this bike. It took four months to get it because three of the four months, every single day, it was listed as out for delivery, but it never even showed up. I ordered the 500 watt electric motor off of eBay and I put the kit on this bike. The solar panels I got from a company out of Chattanooga off of eBay.
Mike Wendland: These are the solar panels.
Roger: This trailer is a Walmart Allen Sports two-child trailer that is doubled in size because I needed to be able to get some incline on my panel. So I extended the back end of the trailer, about 24 inches.
Mike Wendland: These are flexible panels?
Roger: These are flexible panels.
Mike Wendland: You can move them to get the angle of the sun.
Roger: This is actually a fixed pivot, but this opens all the way up and will fold up so that these panels can actually be extended into a straight line.
His eBike boondocking travel with a cat
Mike Wendland: I've got to meet your cat underneath there. I know he's sleeping. What's your cat's name?. What's your cat's name?
Roger: My cat's name is Phideaux. Phideaux was a feral barn cat four years ago.
Mike Wendland: Now, why do you call him Phideaux?
Roger: Cause that's her name.
Mike Wendland: That's a dog's name.
Roger: Yeah but she doesn't know that. Her name is spelled P H I D E A U X.
Mike Wendland: French… Phideaux.
Roger: Her name came from a stand-up comic routine by Justin Wilson. A lot of people know him today as a chef on the Food channel, but he was a stand-up comic for many years telling Cajun jokes. He had a couple of jokes about a bird dog named Phideaux.
Mike Wendland: You say this cat was a feral cat in a barn?
Roger: She was. She came up on my door and she smelled the Turkey cooking on Thanksgiving and she was ratty looking. I felt sorry for her and I tore up a Turkey wing and put it outside. The next day she wanted more. The next week she was coming in the house, and the next week she was sleeping in my bed.
Mike Wendland: Oh my goodness. She tamed quick, or maybe she tamed you.
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Roger's eBike boondocking gear
Roger: I have clothes, I've got a tent. I have a single burner propane stove that… What I want to do is upgrade my inverter and just pick up an electric hotplate. Then I get rid of having to buy gas canisters and disposing of them.
Mike Wendland: So what did you do in your previous life?
Roger: Spent most of my previous life in construction. In 2008, I got tired of my occupation being dependent on everything else in the world. I had no say so in it. So I got to looking around online and I've always enjoyed writing. I started writing articles for people's webpages. I've been doing that now since 2008 until the pandemic. As of October of last year, I'm down to making maybe $350 a month.
Mike Wendland: That's what you live on?
Roger: I don't have any choice. I live on that and human kindness. I am hoping that things are going to turn around soon and I can start making some money again.
Mike Wendland: So do you have a computer?
Roger: I do. I charge it with the solar panels.
Mike Wendland: You're on your way where?
Mike Wendland: So how can people get in touch with you and learn more about you?
Roger: I have a Facebook page at Diginomad3.
I'm currently on the Opal tour. Called it the Opal tour because I have an ostomy. They had to remove a section of my intestine and now I have an ostomy. They tell me it's reversible but I don't have insurance and it is elective surgery so in my case it is likely permanent.
Mike Wendland: Has it been a safe trip for you? No problems with the… You know, it can be rough out there on the road when you're…
Roger: Pretty much. I have to be careful, I have to watch my surroundings. The difference between being homeless…
I can't go where homeless people are. I've got too many things that are too easy to walk away.
Mike Wendland: Where do you spend the night?
Roger: On a road like 98 I will look for some track going out into the woods. Get away from the businesses, get away from houses. The rule is you don't sleep near businesses. You don't sleep near houses. You don't open a gate and you don't sleep on a place that's fenced in, or has a posted sign. Beyond that you can do it and if the police do show up on you they say, “Hey, you can't be here. You got to get.” More often than not what they will say to me is, “Well, we were just checking to make sure you're okay. You're all right. Just leave in the morning.” Which is what I do.
Mike Wendland: Roger you are the ultimate boondocker.
Roger: Yes. Very much so.
Mike Wendland: I am really impressed with you and I hope that you get lots of interest from folks. They're going to be very fascinated with this and keep that riding and stay healthy.
Roger: Thank you very much.
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