"Did you see the story on TV last week about the hippy hobo jungle in Moab?" Uncle Spud chuckled.
"No, I must have missed it," I said. "I know Moab attracts a lot of burned-out old hippies, but I didn't know they had a hobo jungle."
"According to the TV story, it's getting to be quite a problem," Spud smiled. "There are several groups of new-age wilderness lovers living in the tamaracks down along the river near town."
"No kidding?" I winced.
"KSL posted pictures on their website of several dilapidated old vans, campers and buses tucked back in the bushes where people are living full-time. It's quite a mess."
"I'll bet they're just camping out," I offered.
"No," Spud insisted. "One guy admitted he's been living there in an old bus for 10 years. He said he's a seasonal employee in the tourist industry and he only works five or six months of the year. The rest of the time he hangs out in his hippy bus down by the river."
"Isn't that against the law?" I asked.
"Some people think it is," Spud affirmed.
"Isn't it a health hazard?" I asked again. "I mean, what do they do about garbage disposal, potable water and human waste?"
"The pictures show lots of clutter and trash scattered around," Spud said. "And we can only guess what they do about toilets. The pictures don't show any restroom facilities."
"So what is being done about it?" I asked.
"Grand County has issued eviction notices," Spud said. "The squatters were supposed to be out of Dodge by the end of September."
"Do you think the bus-niks will leave, or will they just move to a new location around the next bend in the river?"
"We got some idea how it might turn out when a group of concerned citizens showed up at the last Grand County Council meeting," Spud laughed. "They were protesting the eviction notices, saying people should be allowed to live anywhere they want. One guy shouted at the TV cameras that the earth is for all the people. Another eco-advocate said he has lived in caves and camps for eight years and he likes to be with the earth, it makes him feel comfortable."
"Wait a minute," I said. "Were those concerned citizens in uniform?"
"You got it," Spud smiled. "Beards, ponytails, sandals, T-shirts, safari shorts and boonie hats."
"I knew it," I growled. "Isn't that the same bunch that protested a proposed upper-class subdivision last year? You remember, that area near Moab where a developer wanted to build some million dollar homes?"
"I remember," Spud said.
"There was a big bunch of eco-uniformed protesters at that meeting, too. But then they were yelling that subdivisions and beautiful houses would ruin the environment, damage the ecosystem, cause global warming and spoil the rural ambiance of Moab and all of southern Utah."
"Hmm, maybe living in squalid hippy housing buses and pooping in the bushes doesn't spoil the rural ambiance for the green people," Spud smiled.
"I find this terribly hypocritical," I said. "Those people, or people just like them, protest every inch of rural development in this state under the guise of saving the planet. They don't want me to be able to even drive across the well-developed roads on Cowboy Bench and Cedar Ridge. They want to preserve that area as make-believe wilderness. Yet they want to live anywhere they choose, in rusty old junk cars, because, 'the earth is for all the people.'"
"What did the county fathers say when the squatters showed up demanding to stay in their illegal automotive homesteads?"
"Sympathetic council members said they don't have a problem with how the earth people are living; it's where they're living that's a problem. The hobo jungle is in the flood plain of the river and it's not zoned for mud buggy housing."
"Are the nature people going to move?" I asked.
"The last picture I saw on KSL was a hippy bus with a message spray-painted on the side that said, 'We will not leave Moab. Home is where we park it.'"
"If the council doesn't have a problem with the way they live, only the location, maybe they should let them move up on the Moab Rim above town. With no millionaire houses to get in the way, they could turn the place into a futuristic Mad Max eco-paradise subdivision."
"I'd buy a ticket to see that," Spud laughed. "Environmental road warrior living at its best. Can you even imagine?"