Road hard, or my home really is on the range

Welcome to the Hotel Tacoma.

Some of us want to hit the road; others are compelled to.

I’ve been both over the years, rambling from Maine to Spokane and Bisbee to Bellingham, occasionally by thumb, a time or two by bus, but most often behind the wheel of a Japanese pickup truck with a camper shell and all the fixin’s for a bit of home away from home.

Trucks with beds and friends with couches saw me through my rambling, gambling years, as I rolled the dice with one newspaper after another. I eventually came up winners by leaving the business altogether.

Marrying well didn’t hurt, either.

And while I have kipped in the beds of trucks since, I have done so as a tourist, not an honest-to-Steinbeck nomad like the people in Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book “Nomadland,” which has been reimagined by Chloé Zhao as a fictionalized film set to debut Feb. 19 on Hulu.

It’s challenging to make a go of it when your house has wheels. Finding a spot to camp, a shower, or an unguarded Internet connection is a lot like that job of work you don’t have anymore. It’s a whole lot easier when you’re only doing it for funsies and can splurge on an occasional visit to Starbucks or Holiday Inn Express.

The people in “Nomadland” are not posers. They swallowed their fears, and their pride, and jumped into that endless asphalt river.

And speaking of jumps, it’s time for another great leap forward … into the latest episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: I went back to the Comedy Closet to record this one, using a Shure MV7 mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with a sonic bump from Auphonic. Music and sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat. Special guest appearances by The Firesign Theatre (“Temporarily Humboldt County”) and Mel Henke (“See the USA in Your Chevrolet”). I usually saw the USA in a Toy-o-TA, but to each his own.

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8 Responses to “Road hard, or my home really is on the range”

  1. Says:

    In case you ever wonder…..

    Jan 2009

    Sported at a couple of Ragbrai’s, two Dusty Boot Colorado-Eagle River rides, three Pedal the Plains, several MS 150s, and countless whatevers.

    My all time favorite jersey.

    ***************************************** The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -John Kenneth Galbraith


  2. khal spencer Says:


  3. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Patrick, that was very well done with great writing and sound recording. If you aren’t careful, someone will offer you a gig for serious money. Be careful negotiating the contract so they don’t turn fun into work.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thank you, sir. Radio Free Dogpatch is liable to stay fun, or so I hope. I don’t have the faintest idea of what I’m doing, and I’m too bloody spastic and slow to satisfy anyone who sees a dollar in it.

      “It takes you how long to finish a seven-minute podcast? O’Grady, you’re fired! Madge, bring me a teenager! These kids today can do a solid 10 minutes in under an hour with nothing more than an iPhone and a couple Red Bulls.”

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        But, does the kid produce top drawer bullshit? I think not.
        Anyway, the mixing was good, and it makes me want to see the movie even more.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        It does help to have compiled 60-odd years of obscure references for purposes of entertainment through obfuscation, sleight of hand, intellectual-property piracy, and the clouding of minds. The kid would rather be dancing on TikTok anyway.

  4. Shawn Says:

    You do call it a POG cast don’t you? That almost sounds like something you’d want to copy to write, right? Kind of like the lug effect?

    Regarding Francis and her part in the video adaptation of Bruder’s literary work, I am drawn to it. Without yet seeing it, it stirs the fear in me. The fear of how close we are to not choosing, but being forced into a mobile lifestyle. There are some who have or will adapt reasonably well, and there are many that are noticeably affected by the alteration into a different, perhaps may be considered as other-than-normal lifestyle. I know that I would have some difficulty. I like space, hot showers, sleeping accommodations that don’t smell all the time of a climbing expedition. But it is the future of many. I hope that Nomadland and the subsequent reading of Bruder’s work will allow us all to go, “Wow. This a part of our society that I need to give more caring and respect for.”

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Y’know, I’m ashamed to admit it never even occurred to me. When I was much younger, I signed my cartoons “POG,” instead of “O’Grady.”

      Alas, it seems several people have beaten us to the idea of a “POGcast.” Mr. Google knows all.

      I don’t think I’m cut out for nomadic life. Too many old aches and pains to be living in the back of a Toyota truck and working the night shift at an Amazon fulfillment center. Got the arthuritis, the lumbago, and the gallopin’ never-git-overs, don’t ye know.

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