Monday, March 7, 2016

Boondocking in the Desert - Part 1

It was Tuesday, December 8.  Twenty days had passed since we left our house in Arkansas to begin our adventure of RV full-time living and traveling. The time had come to drop the 4x8 trailer that I was towing with the Chrysler van.  Next, we unloaded things that we did not need immediately from both of the vans, and headed out to boondock in the desert.

What is boondocking?

Boondocking is a very simple way of life. It means different things to different people. Even though I always thought we lived very simply, nothing compared to this new experience. The first thing that I noticed is that boondocking is the absence of any facilities.  In other words, it is when people camp with no facilities, specifically electricity, water, and sewer, provided by a third party.  

By a third party is the key. For many, the sun’s rays generate electric power through solar panels. Normally they are mounted on top of the roof. Occasionally you see a solar suitcase setup that opens up flat, facing the sun when in use, and folded up like a suitcase when stored. Others may have an on-board generator run with gasoline or diesel from their vehicle tanks.  Depending on the size of the rig, their water source and facilities may vary. Some units have on-board holding tanks and some carry extra water with them.  Some have an actual bathroom with shower facilities and others have a porta-potty and a shower tent or they find paid showers.  


We were excited!  We had arrived!  We spent almost a full month boondocking. Rather than make an extremely long post, this will be the first of a series of posts covering our adventures.     

Angel and our rig boondocking in the desert.
As far as rigs and RVs went, there were a lot of vans, including a few with cargo trailers.  There were a couple SUV’s camping with tents.  Although not as many, there were also a combination of trailers, fifth wheels, motorhomes, and toy haulers.  One fifth wheel had three slides.  The motorhomes and toy haulers ranged from a Class B Roadtrek to a variety of Class A’s and C’s in various lengths and types. Units dotted the large landscape, many individually, and others by groups, but there was plenty of room for everyone  because the area was so vast.  We were on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. Some BLM lands have restrictions and vary as to cost, facilities provided, and length of stay.  This section was free and had no restrictions on how long one could stay.  

After we got parked and settled in, we set our portable table and two chairs outside facing the western sky to take in the sunset. We had a snack of chips dipped in salsa I had made using a blend of spices and one can of diced petite tomatoes. We and Angel were on our own.  

We enjoyed many sunsets while in the desert.

The day temperature high was 76 degrees. After the sun went down, it began to get a little chilly, going to a night low of around 40 degrees, a good night for a bowl of soup.  Tonight we used our Coleman Butane stove to heat a can of Campbell’s tasty Philly-Style Cheesesteak Soup. It was one of the new varieties we purchased at the Walmart in Casa Grande, Arizona, when we were having our trailer tires replaced. We always enjoy trying new flavors. 

Around us, there were mountains in the distance. There was a lot of desert, and it had a lot of rocks. People could camp close within 200 to 500 feet of each other, farther away and appear as a speck in the landscape, or be totally out of sight of one another. We could see the city lights at night. Occasionally, we would be blessed with night rain showers, but nothing serious.  

Mountains to the South

Mountains to the North
The roads were not paved.  A few places were nice and smooth, but most had rocks, little, big, jagged, and plentiful coming up in the roadway.  They seemed to rise above the dirt, when, in fact, the loose dirt blew away from them giving the appearance of rocks growing up out of the ground. This area was a great place for four-wheelers, who crept upon the landscape every weekend, bringing the rumble of engines with dirt trailing behind them as they kicked up the dust. 

This quartz-like rock was fairly close to our camping area.
Every four or five days, we would go to town.  Ehrenberg had a small convenience store if we needed something and didn’t want to make a trip to the supermarket across the state line in Blythe, California. We could fill water jugs and dump our port-a-potty for $5.  Clean showers and laundry facilities were also available. Washers were $1.25 per load, with large dryers where I could put in two loads of washed clothes and get 10 minutes of drying time for 25 cents. 

Beautiful sunsets were plentiful and every night was different.   

On one afternoon, one of the people that camped here in the desert had an afternoon get-together and served a variety of pizzas…pepperoni, vegetarian, pineapple, and bread sticks.  We heard about it from one of the van dwellers when he came by and introduced himself as Rob. We felt a little awkward about going because we were not sure if we were included, but everyone strolling past on their way to the get-together said to come and bring a chair, so we did.  Around twenty-five people attended. Many people already knew each other from previous get-togethers.  We met and talked with a few of the people attending.    

Stay tuned for more pictures and experiences while living full-time and traveling in an RV in Part 2 of Boondocking in the Desert.

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