Boondocking Time!

And it couldn’t have come at a better time for this canine. Leaving Alberta did not leave behind my digestive issues, and let’s just say my bathroom needs do not fit well with asphalt and the many close neighbours of the RV parks in St George and Las Vegas (pics below).

Out here in the desert, the world is my bathroom, at any time of night or day. Nollind likes it better too. As my main man when it comes to getting outside overnight, he doesn’t have to worry about what he’s wearing, or isn’t, out here in the boondocks.

For those unfamiliar with the term, boondocking, according to Wiktionary, is “to stay in a recreational vehicle in a remote location, without connections to water, power, or sewer services.” I’d say the term has expanded to include places that aren’t remote at all, like the parking lots of casinos and Walmarts, but the no connections is a standard.

Rolling into Dome Rock BLM camping area.

We’re currently boondocking in an area called Dome Rock, the same place we spent about five weeks during Logan’s last journey to the desert. Gee, I hope that’s not a sign. But, at my age, with less-than-awesome health lately, I will enjoy this winter like it is my last. Good practise at any point in life, really.

Living the life.

Our camp spot here at Dome Rock isn’t exactly where we stayed last trip, but it’s just down the road from our first spot that year and across the wash from our second. Out here there aren’t any posts or painted numbers or lines to stay inside, just a general rule to camp a respectful distance from the next rig. If you’re wondering how we know what that distance is, well, it depends on how many campers are in the area when we arrive.

The neighbour in that sunrise is a nice distance away.

At this time of year, things are pretty quiet around Quartzsite, so we’re about 250 feet from our closest neighbour and he’s 250 feet from the next, and so on. If we wanted, we could find a spot that stretches that out to two or three or ten times the distance in this Dome Rock area, but we don’t mind other people nearby to chat with on walks and such. Once mid-January rolls around and all the Quartzsite shows start—the rock & gem shows, the RV show—that 250 feet will shrink to 100 or 50 or even less depending on where you are.

Our closest neighbour … until they left a few days ago.

If you like pavement and hook-ups and swimming pools, boondocking won’t be your thing. But if you enjoy a little elbow room, dark skies, and open desert, well, you’ve come to the right place. After staying in campgrounds back home the past few years, it felt a little weird when we first arrived, just parking and setting up camp wherever we wanted, but once we settled in, well, it was pretty familiar, and made all those rules, and lines, and numbers seem a real nuisance. Boondocking is freedom.

Look Ma, no leash!

Four years ago, we spent Christmas here at Dome Rock, and the year before that at Hi Jolly, another public land area near Quartzsite. So this feels a little like coming home for Christmas, our desert home. We’ll venture on at some point in the new year, but for now we’ll bask in being here, because there’s no place like home for the holidays.

Home sweet boondocking home.

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope you find yourself somewhere homey and happy this year. I know I have.

Virtual Boondocking

As you probably know, the Canada-US border has been closed to nonessential traffic since March, but until recently, it didn’t have much of an impact on my life or the lives of my humans. We don’t typically travel down that way until late fall or early winter.

But now, as the weather gets colder and snow covers the ground and T walks by the sad, parked trailer on her way to feed horses every day, I know she feels it. It’s not just for the avoidance of winter my peeps travel south, although that’s a huge benefit, but for the trailer time, the boondocking in the desert, the days being distilled down to the very basics of life.

This will be the third winter in a row we’ve not travelled south, for various reasons, and I know that T and Nollind miss the desert and all the many cool places we camp. So, I’ve put together a little virtual boondocking tour of some of the favourite places we’ve parked over the years.

Our first-ever boondocking spot at the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve, CA.

For those not familiar with the term boondocking, according to Campendium (a terrific website to search for campsites of all kinds) it’s this: “Boondocking is the opportunity to camp off-the-grid, far from the services and amenities that can be found at RV parks or developed campgrounds. It’s a quieter way of camping, one that often lands us in beautiful destinations for days or weeks at a time.”

We do a lot of boondocking when we’re south because there are just so many scenic, lots-of-elbow-room places to set up camp. So, sit back, put your feet up, grab a cup of tea or a foursies cocktail (depending on when you’re reading this), and enjoy the tour!

Fortuna Pond near Yuma, AZ. The people in the rigs beside us became good friends.
We camped with them at Ogilby Road in SE California a few years later.
Near Bouse, AZ.
Clark Dry Lake near Borrego Springs, CA.
Craggy Wash near Lake Havasu, AZ.
Saddle Mountain west of Phoenix. It was a km to our nearest neighbour.
Telephone Cove on Lake Mohave near Laughlin, NV. That’s our white box in the middle of the lakefront row.
Vulture Peak near Wickenburg, AZ. It was green that year!
Snowbird Mesa near Overton, NV.
Stewart’s Point on Lake Mead, not far from Las Vegas, NV.
Cibola National Wildlife Refuge near Blythe, CA.
Whitney Pocket, near Mesquite, NV.

We’ve travelled to the southwest deserts five winters now, and only one place has been on the list of stops for all five trips — Quartzsite, Arizona.

In any direction, there are plenty of places to camp around Quartzsite, and plenty of elbow room.
Plomosa Road north of Quartzsite.
Scadden Wash east of Quartzsite.
Dome Rock west of Quartzsite.
Another Dome Rock stay.
And yet another. Yes, we like Dome Rock.
And, no matter where we camp, always the desert’s evening show.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual boondocking tour of the southwest deserts. If it doesn’t make T dissolve into a puddle of tears, I might take all y’all wandering again!

Flashback Fur-iday – Home Is …

Since we first set out with our fifth wheel in 2011, we’ve spent more than a year and a half travelling and boondocking in the southwest United States, nineteen months broken into segments from two and half to five months each. It’s become like our second home with its familiar terrain and temperatures, our winter residence for all but three of the past eight winters.

Wupatki ruins in Northern Arizona with “Larry” in the background.

We’ve been back home in Canada since early March of 2018, the longest home stretch since we started RVing and, although I miss our desert time, it’s been good to be home for a while, reconnect with all things Alberta, and enjoy the great outdoors of our grand country.

Almost home in March of 2018.

Logan was really good at appreciating, and very attached to home. It might have been partly his dislike of vehicle travel but I think this prairie place was deep in his bones.

After a week in Tucson we spent a couple of days next to a lake in the far south of Arizona, Patagonia. Sandy soil, a lake to swim in, and grassy hills mostly without cactus, dog heaven! Well, almost. Dog heaven was actually the next stop just a few miles up the road near Sonoita at Xanadu Ranch. I felt like we’d come home — pastures, horses, wide open spaces — it was a sight for a travel-weary dog’s sore eyes.  

Sore Feed and Sore Eyes, March 2012
Near Sonoita in the high country of southern Arizona.

Generally, Logan was a “be happy where you are” kind of guy, always keen for the next adventure, eager to explore new places, but he did worry now and then about what was happening back home on the farm and he sometimes wrestled with bouts of homesickness.

Here I lie under the trailer but, unless there’s a breeze, it’s not nearly as cool as that basement I’m dreaming of. I think I’m starting to feel a little homesick, missing my farm and my daily routine there. I hope things haven’t gotten too out of control without me there to keep order. I hope my girlfriends across the road haven’t forgotten me. What am I saying? Of course they haven’t.

A Little Desert Weary, March 2015
A hot day at Stewart’s Point on Lake Mead.

But then he’d think about the alternative.

When I’m not happy, I’m just not that much fun to be around, or at least that’s the impression I get. They worry about me. They even started talking about it being better for me to maybe stay home next year. At first my response was, “Yay! What a terrific idea!” But it would mean months away from my people and, as annoying as he can sometimes be, my buddy Chico. I realized that “home” wouldn’t be “home” without them.

Home is Where the Hedgehog Is, January 2017

Wait a minute … Me? Annoying? Ah well, at least he called me his buddy.

Hiking in the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas.

One thing that Logan and I definitely agreed on was the following definition of home. I’ve been a lot of places in these past eight years, some good, some awesome, and a few not so great (at least not for dogs), but always there was this …

That was when I looked up “home” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and it turns out it’s more than one thing. The first three in the list were 1) one’s place of residence; 2) the social unit formed by a family living together; and 3) a familiar or usual setting. So, although I’d be in my place of residence (number 1) if I stayed “home”, I would be separate from my social unit, my pack (number 2). As for number 3, Sid is just about as familiar as the farm house after the many months we’ve spent living in here.

Home is Where the Hedgehog Is, January 2017
Logan making himself at home in Nollind’s home-away-from-home office (aka the ver”man”da)

We’d hoped to be heading down the road about now but family and business circumstances are keeping T and Nollind home in Alberta for another month. However, although it’s getting cold and snowy here in Canada and the desert is calling, it’s okay, because it’s where we live, we’re here together, and it’s familiar in that very good way.

Home in the barnyard with Storm.