Camper brings his own style to county campgroundPublished 8:14am Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Robert Voyles has become quite used to people staring at him as he travels the back roads, highways and pig trails across the lower 48 states.
Voyles has a friendly, easy-going personality and hours worth of stories that would easily draw in a crowd, but the flocks of gawking spectators are always initially drawn to his mode of transportation – a 1985 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon and accompanying camper that have been turned into the ultimate survival kit on wheels.
Just one glance at Voyles’ traveling caravan lets people know that this is no ordinary station wagon and camper.
Each part has been carefully transformed to serve a specific purpose for Voyles, who has made being a survivalist a lifestyle for the past 40 years.
The front end of the car has been extended to make room for a generator that operates the many gadgets Voyles has attached to the rest of the vehicle, like the mini fridge, the camp stove and other necessities.
Mailboxes have been spray-painted red, to match the vehicle, and attached at different places on the roof and sides of the car to serve as storage compartments.
The passenger seat has been converted into a makeshift bed and an actual window air-conditioning unit has been installed in the passenger side door to keep Voyles cool.
Voyles has created his own water filtration system that is affixed to the vehicle, which allows him to take showers when he is on one of his weeks-long journeys.
In the camper, emblazoned with the words “Mississippi Redneck” on the exterior, Voyles has a second place to sleep and he has storage areas for most of his food and other supplies.
He even has a space toward the back of the station wagon where he stores all of his firewood that he takes with him from place to place.
All of this may seem unfathomable to most people, but to Voyles, his traveling home is nothing but normal.
“Anytime I leave my house, I take two to three weeks worth of supplies with me and I just set out on the road,” Voyles said.
“I have everything I need to live, and I just see where the roads will take me. When I get tired, I find a camp to pull into or even a Walmart parking lot. Just wherever I end up is fine with me.”
For more than three and a half weeks, Voyles has called the Piney Point campgrounds in Franklin County his home.
“I’ve been to Franklin County several times now,” Voyles said.
“I always like it here. The people are friendly and real good to me, so it’s always hard to leave. It’s going to be real hard to pull out of this campsite because everyone has been so hospitable.”
Campground manager Rhonda Demps said she has enjoyed having Voyles stay at Piney Point.
“Mr. Voyles is a nice man and so fascinating to talk to,” she said.
“He has so many stories and you could sit and look at that vehicle for hours with all the contraptions he has on it.
“All the other campers have seemed to enjoy having him here, too. We’ll be sad to see him go.”
Franklin County is fairly close to Voyles’ north Mississippi home, but Voyles hasn’t always stayed close by. He has traveled across all the lower 48 states and says there’s nothing more he’d rather do than “go see something.”
“I usually don’t care where I’m going as long as I’m going,” he said. “I’ll be gone from home for several weeks at a time, but the longest I ever went was six months. I ended up in Augusta, Maine.
“There’s nothing that’s prettier than nature, and I love to see it all.”
Voyles said he first got into this lifestyle 40 years ago when he was working in construction.
“When we would be working a job, they would want us to stay in hotels and usually the prices would be jacked up because they knew we had to stay there,” Voyles said.
“I decided there was no sense in paying all that money when I could just bring a camper and live in it, so that’s kind of how it all got started.”
Voyles said he began working on his current vehicle about eight years ago, making modifications that would make it durable and functional.
“I have everything I need right here and I love it,” he said.
“I love to let people look at it, too. I always have a crowd of people come up and want to know what everything is and what everything does. I’m glad to let them look and take pictures. I enjoy the company.”
Voyles said he planned to pull out of Piney Point this week but he doesn’t know if he’ll head back home or stop somewhere else along the way.
“I don’t have a particular schedule,” he said. “I just go where the wind blows me. I usually avoid big highways and the interstate if I can and just travel on the back roads.
“I don’t always know where a road will take me, but I figure if I just follow the road, I’ll come out somewhere.”