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!

We’ve Been Boarded!

It was bound to happen. When you’re always parked out in nature, sooner or later nature is going to move in. And, on top of that, here at Craggy Wash, a lot of people don’t seem to be following the golden rule of camping — pack it in, pack it out — which leads to more critters being attracted to the camping area.

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Craggy Wash campsite.

I’m a pretty good hunter, caught fifteen gophers last year, so I’m embarrassed to admit I slept right through the intruder. I noticed the strange smell in the trailer on Wednesday morning but I assumed it was something blowing in off the desert.

3d Pirate mouse with cutlassAnyway, there it was all over the counter and in the drawers … the evidence. Aaarrr … we had been boarded. A rodent had been in our house, sampling from the fruit bowl, walking around in the dishes, leaving a trail of droppings as it went. It was probably just a mouse, but a big one based on the size of the pellets it left behind. For his sake, I hope the little pirate has moved on as Nollind has laid out a trifecta of rodent repellent and killer.

Me, I slept with one eye open on Wednesday night and, as a result, was a bit tired for our long walk day yesterday. Long walk day comes every second day when T and Nollind take Logan and me for our usual morning walk and then take me for a second, longer adventure.

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Keeping watch.

 

For yesterday morning’s long walk we drove to a place called Castle Rock at the north end of Lake Havasu and hiked along the cliffs above the marshy area where Lake Havasu becomes the Colorado River. I was dragging by the time we reached the top of the first sandy hill, envying Logan who was no doubt lying on his couch back at camp. But, after a rest stop to enjoy the view, I got my second wind and led the hike the rest of the way.

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Getting my second wind.

We came up here to Lake Havasu City when we left Quartzsite last Friday. I would have been happy to stay on and continue to explore the washes of Dome Rock BLM but our fourteen days were almost up and it was time to move on.

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Dome Rock wash walk.

Sadly, I didn’t get my trip to Beer Belly’s. T and Nollind did go one more time, but it was at the end of a ride to Dripping Spring that would have been too long and hot for me. I’m okay with it. There will be other dog-friendly bars and patios, and I’m sure we’ll be back at Q one day.

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Apparently, the chairs inside are smaller, but this one would be perfect for me (with a boost). No more spilling out!

The weather has turned cooler which has meant a little less time hanging outside at this camp. In fact, one day T and Nollind didn’t leave the trailer other than to take us for a walk. If you ask me, they’ve gotten soft, and I’m a little worried how they’re going to fare back home in Alberta. Okay, mostly I’m worried I’ll never get outdoors! But, they have more clothes there, warm clothes, so that should help. I might even willingly don a jacket (yes, you read that right) if the temps are still below freezing. I’ve shed my warm undercoat over the course of the winter.

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Chilly morning walk at Craggy Wash.

Anyway, I’ve gotten way off track from the pirate story. So I’ll just wrap this up with a, “Yo ho ho, ye landlubbers and scallywags! This son of a biscuit eater’s got to get back to the poop deck and give that freebooter the old heave-ho! Aaaarrrr!”

High Maintenance Mutt

I know I’ve not been the easiest dog to live with—anxieties, fussy eating habits, a fierce independent streak, and a bad leg—but now, I hate to admit it, I’ve officially become high maintenance. And, although I appreciate everything they do, I’m starting to feel a bit awkward about Teresa & Nollind planning the trip around me and my needs.

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A low-maintenance moment.

 

They’ve always been play-it-by-ear, go-where-the-road-takes-us kind of travellers … until this year. This year, every move we make has to be considered as follows:

  1. Is there room and ability to put out a ten-foot ramp? A camp spot on a slope, a camp spot with a bush in front of it, or a camp spot in a parking lot or RV park are just not options this year.

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    Room for my ramp. Check.
  2. Is there reasonable footing for me to walk on? I’ve always had issues with the rocky ground in parts of the desert but, until this year, they just put boots on me. Now, with my mobility issues, the boots add just enough weight and awkwardness to tire my arthritic leg more quickly.

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    Plomosa Road north of Quartzsite where we stayed just two nights. Quiet, plenty of space, but too many rocks for this old dog.
  3. Is there a vet nearby? I have intravenous injections every couple of weeks so we can’t wander too far from an available veterinarian. Although, I’d be quite happy to give up the regular stab in the neck.

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    My vet in Blythe, California,just a short drive from Quartzsite.
  4. Is it somewhere we can stay long term? My drugs are a huge help on moving days, but travel still takes it out of me. Teresa referred to me as a “noodle” after our latest travel day. Noodle… not something I aspire to.

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    After our latest travel day. I guess I kind of see the “noodle” thing.
  5. Is the temperature moderate? My black coat has always been an issue on hot, sunny days, but, as I get older, I have less and less ability to deal with temperature extremes. I wilt in the heat and shiver as soon as it’s a bit cool.
  6. Can I be off leash? I’m very good about staying in camp and I love to just lie on the mat or under the trailer but, in some places, it’s just not allowed. Other places, people and their dogs are too close and I’m constantly inclined to wander over and visit. And I’ve just never done very well with being tied. There’s that fiercely independent thing.

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    Enjoying my off-leash freedom at Plomosa Road.

Number six is part of the reason we’ve come here to Wickenburg for a couple of weeks. During the last half of January, Quartzsite fills with RVers. There are always a bunch of flea markets around Quartzsite, but during the last half of January are the rock & gem shows, a swap meet they call Sell-A-Rama, and a huge RV show. The town, the RV parks, and even the desert fills with people. The area at Dome Rock where we’d been staying had rigs rolling in every day.

So, here we are, camped on State Trust Land near Vulture Peak. We’ve been here before, and it’s a favourite for walking and, last year, became a favourite for riding. There are trails and mining roads all over the backcountry.

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Home for the next couple of weeks.

 

I won’t be exploring very far afield this year, but that’s okay, there are plenty of sandy trails near the trailer that have easy terrain for me. And this area has a lot more wildlife than Quartzsite so many interesting things to see and smell along the trails. We even hear coyotes singing at night sometimes.

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Sandy wash walk near our Wickenburg camp.

 

As for being high maintenance, I guess I’ll just have to get used to the idea and be thankful I have people who are willing to accommodate the new me. I have to admit, they don’t seem to be suffering.

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The faces of suffering? I don’t think so.