Saddle Mountain

The astute reader may have been counting the days in their head and noticed that I reached the 14 day limit for Quartzsite free BLM camping long ago. I actually left Quartzsite on the 26th, time for a little catch up.

My last sunset at the Xscapers convergence in Quartzsite

My last sunset at the Xscapers convergence in Quartzsite

January 26, Tuesday

My fridge appointment in Phoenix is on Monday and I’ve run out of time here in Quartzsite so it makes sense for me to head east. Incidentally, Cherie and Chris of Technomadia are also heading east, and they’ve researched a boondocking spot not too far outside of Phoenix that should work well for me to the wait the six days.

Caravan to Tonopah

Caravan to Tonopah

Oh darn, six days of waiting in the desert with no plans.

saddle-mountain-blm-az-7

This is going to be awful, nothing to do…

saddle-mountain-blm-az-8

Yeah, who am I kidding? But I’m getting ahead of myself.

70 miles east of Quartzsite on I10 lies the tiny town of Tonopah, AZ. That night we stay in Saddle Mountain RV in Tonopah and for $27 a night (that’s with a discount for my Escapees membership). I dump my tanks and take on water for the first time in 18 days.

Think about it. My first time boondocking and I lasted 18 days. Pretty darn good for how small a Casita’s tanks are. We also make use of the heated swimming pool, and other amenities, good stuff.

Saddle Mountain RV Park, loved the palms and the cooing doves in them

Saddle Mountain RV Park, loved the palms and the cooing doves in them

In the evening, Chris and Cherie show me the ropes of scouting out a boondocking site. Ideally it’s best when you can come out in your tow or towed vehicle alone (this doesn’t apply to vans, Class B’s and truck bed campers naturally) and make sure:

  1. That the road is in good enough shape for your rig to drive on – no soft spots, good grade, wide enough, room to turn around

  2. That there are desirable sites available – level, not too close to neighbors, good views both around the site and in the distance

These steps weren’t as necessary for Quartzsite because that was a very different boondocking experience. You know the roads are going to be okay because everyone drives on them. There are so many people that unless you arrive early you probably won’t get a scenic spot and privacy is hard to come by, but you go there for the community. Cherie and Chris term Quartzsite as “low hanging fruit” boondocking, and what we’re doing out here as high hanging fruit: You need to work harder for it, but the effort pays off.

Watchtower magazine. The Jehova's Witnesses found us!

Watchtower magazine. The Jehova’s Witnesses found us!

We drive out to the Saddle Mountain BLM area south of town and meander on dirt spur roads looking for flat established camping spots. The first two spurs we try are very rocky and the sites are few and unlevel. It takes some time, but near sunset on the third spur road we finally find what we’re looking for.

January 27, Wednesday

Time to leave Saddle Mountain RV and head to the boonies. While the RVs are parked at the start of the spur road so we can walk down and figure out exactly where we want to park, they get visited. Seriously? We’re in the middle of nowhere! Have to give them credit for persistence. We have a good laugh.

A short time later, I’m settled into my new camp. Yes, this will do nicely. I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done out here where there are fewer distractions, and views like this should keep me inspired.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Wispy clouds over the mountain turn pastel pink at sunset. I get a picture and plan to put it up on the blog but then sunrise the next morning really blows me away. What a beautiful spot!

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

saddle-mountain-blm-az-9

Rock art near my site

* * *

And that’s pretty much how things stand. I’ve been writing during the day and taking breaks in the afternoon to go on hikes and geocaching, a new activity for me and quite addicting. There are numerous caches out here as well as other interesting stuff to see.

Tuesday night was quite heavily social with happy hour with friends of Chris and Cherie at the RV park in Tonopah followed by Taco Tuesday night at the Mexican restaurant in town with still others met through RVillage. Another couple has joined us out at Saddle Mountain too, Kelly and Anna who are also here primarily to get work done so I haven’t seen much of them. It’s been nice camping with others who understand that as an introvert I need my alone time, especially after two rallies and with one more coming up before it’s all done.

saddle-mountain-blm-az-10

All of these pictures were taken within walking distance of camp

That last rally starts on the 8th back in Quartzsite. I’ll have been gone the required two weeks so I can go back to Dome Rock for it.

And after that? Who knows!

saddle-mountain-blm-az-11

Notice I’ve got views from 3 different angles of Cas in this post and all of them are nice.

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

44 Comments

  1. Harry on February 12, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Hey Becky, fellow Amason box thrower here. How was the Verzion signal that Saddle Mountain? Thanks, Harry



    • Becky on February 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Where I was it was just fine Harry, with I10 visible it helps a bunch. Didn’t need an antenna or anything. Not all the sites there may be as good as this one though so check before you set up camp.



  2. Jodee Gravel on February 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

    So nice to have time with some veterans while you’re getting comfortable with a new experience. 18 days on your water tank is indeed impressive! Glad you’re able to stay warm enough, it’s been very cold in AZ this winter! Safe travels as you return to Quartzsite.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..We Move On to New MexicoMy Profile



    • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      Yes it has been Jodee. After those cool nights when that front came through it’s already warmed back up again here. 80’s starting tomorrow which is actually a little too warm for me, haha!



  3. Colleen / Maryland on February 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Hi Becky,
    Just wanted to say I really like your blog. You said you are writing your 2nd book.
    What was or is your 1st book about ? Is anyone else having a problem opening your blog from Exployer?? I am having the most difficult time. It was suggested that
    I download Google crome “” and open it that way. I did and finally was able to open and read it. I enjoyed your interview with Chris and Cherie. I hope they got all the bugs work out for the next broadcast !!!! I was my first live one. Can’t wait to read more your your experiances down the road..
    Have fun,



    • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Hello Colleen,

      My first e-book is called “Solo Full-time RVing on a Budget”, it’s a how-to guide available as a PDF and also for Kindle. https://interstellarorchard.com/solo-budget-rving-guide/

      You’re not the only one having problems with Internet Explorer. For some people updating to the latest version (11) fixed the problem but for others it hasn’t. I don’t know why, everything is updated on my end and on Chrome/Safari/Firefox everything is working normally. I’ve tried searching for answers online but haven’t been able to come up with anything so far, any WordPress/internet gurus out there have any ideas?

      Glad you enjoyed the video and thanks for watching. I think the answer for the technical problems Chris and Cherie came to is that the tower we were getting the signal from kept switching back and forth and when it did that we’d lose connection.



  4. Blaize Sun on February 7, 2016 at 8:40 am

    I’ve been wanting to camp at Saddle Mountain for a year, but have yet to make it there. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos. Maybe I’ll go out there before I leave Arizona.



    • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      You wouldn’t regret it Blaize, it’s a neat area!



  5. JimS on February 6, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Becky,
    Congrats on getting solar and finally having your first boondocking experience! Add me to the list who’s interested in hearing about how your solar setup is working out (any additional info on your batteries, electrical setup, and usage would be welcome, too).

    Is the Quartzite area still crowded once the big tent show is over?

    One last question: Do you subscribe to an Internet plan or still relying on free wifi? Part of my “escape plan” includes relying on free wifi spots.

    Interesting drama on the fridge replacement. Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers!
    JimS (Colorado)
    PS New email address, same username.



    • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Heya JimS,

      Thanks, I’ve had a fantastic month in the boonies so far.

      I left Q shortly after the big tent show ended so I don’t know. I won’t be back for a few days yet to see how it’s changed.

      I had to get a cellular data plan for my internet when I was working at Yellowstone (no WiFi out there). https://interstellarorchard.com/2015/06/29/getting-lucky-with-mobile-internet/

      Take care!



  6. Nancy on February 6, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Becky. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. Love your writing. We r new to boondocking too and I have been soaking up as much information as I can. It’s a learning experience. We just had solar installed yesterday and are excited about that. We are camping right now at Dome Rock until the 17th. Watching all the Casitas roll in. We are up the hill just behind. It’s quite nice here. Liking the info on Saddle Mt. I think we will stop on our way to Phoenix. Have fun at the rally.



    • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      Hello Nancy,

      I hope you’re enjoying boondocking as much as I am. Saddle Mountain is as pretty as Dome rock but just in a different way. Definitely was nice to get away from the crowds for a while here.

      Solar is a pretty spectacular thing. A requirement for me since I don’t own a generator, haha. You have fun too.



  7. Jim Schmechel on February 6, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    It is nice living vicariously through you 🙂 I really enjoyed your photos in this post. It is good to know you are getting some needed alone time. Enjoy!
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..Live Like ThatMy Profile



    • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Will do Jim!



  8. Pamelab on February 6, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Hi, Becky – I have been reading your blog regularly, but not commenting each time. I enjoy your blog and I am so happy for you in your new experience of boondocking that you have Cherie and Chris to show you the ropes. That sunset photo is gorgeous! I also like the palms silhouetted against the colorful sky. Sounds like you had good help with your new fridge and won’t have to use your big cooler as much. Happy trails and thank you for your very nice blog.
    Pamela in Houston



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Hello Pamela, it’s okay that you don’t comment every time, I understand. 🙂

      Yeah, I feel like I hit the jackpot meeting up with Cherie and Chris at just the perfect time to get their advice on boondocking. Serendipity at it’s finest.

      Glad you enjoyed the photos, and as always thank you for reading.



  9. Joe Aro on February 6, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Thanks for sharing. I learned of you watching the interview on Technomadia’s channel. I really like this site. It is clean and no nonsense. You have a great eye for images. I looked at your video channel and encourage you to make a video of your stills with music. You can do that with PowerPoint – no need for fancy video software. I bet it would be stunning and mood altering. I’m a wannabe RVer with plans to take to the road later this year. You and other credible folks are helping me with my decision making. Thanks again for sharing your life and likes.



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Welcome to IO Joe! Glad to have you here.

      I enjoy doing little videos but with my limited bandwidth it’s impossible to keep up with unless I have access to free WiFi which I haven’t in some time. I have a lot of video of Yellowstone to put up still and a little from Texas. Your idea of stillshots is a good one though, I bet that would take less data to put together and get online. I’ll look into it.

      I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time on the road and I bet you will too, there’s so much to see and do out here…



  10. Karen -SC on February 6, 2016 at 8:48 am

    I think it is amazing that your fresh water lasted so long. Your pictures of the desert are so beautiful. I understand completely about your being introverted. I also am introverted and need my alone time. I am camping now at least 2 weeks every month. I see it as my time to get some R and R. Happy trails and glad you are enjoying your boondocking experience. Not much chance to do that here in the Southeast.



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Yeah Karen I surprised myself!

      The desert is a beautiful place, although SC is beautiful too. I lived there in the Beaufort/Bluffton area along the coast for three years before I started full-timing and I miss the Spanish moss and Palmettos and salt marsh on occasion. I think one of the reasons I like traveling so much is that I love all sorts of climates and ecosystems. You’re certainly right about boondocking not being a thing in that area, although some of the National Forests in SC have $5 a night dry camping which isn’t bad…



  11. Furry Gnome on February 6, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Love your pictures in this post. Great pictures, and nice framing. Glad you’ve discovered geocaching too. I’ve done a bit of that, and hidden a few caches here, so i know it’s fun. I find earthcaches a particularly interesting challenge, bot to fine and to establish. What are you writing these days!



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      Glad you liked the pictures Gnome, they were fun to take!

      I haven’t officially signed up on the Geocaching website yet but I think I will soon as I’ve enjoyed it so much out here.

      I’m writing my second book! Details are still to come.



  12. Lee on February 6, 2016 at 7:17 am

    That sunrise shot is just spectacular. Thanks for updating the rest of us who are considering Quartzite in the future.
    Lee recently posted..Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Mansfield, MOMy Profile



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      You’re welcome Lee. This is a pretty special place to boondock, I give it two thumbs up.



  13. Ed Brownfield on February 6, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Becky, I’m glad that you got the refrigerator replaced, good decision to replace vs repair. Not only was you thinking clear but your attitude about spending the money was impressive. I continue to admire how wise you are compared to your numerical age. You can’t have had the “life experiences” that normally bring people to think the way that you do. You seem to enjoy what you have vs spending you life clambering for more material possessions.

    I love you pictures, we fell in love with the Phoenix area in 1991 and have been coming back ever since. I love the crystal blue sunny sky that appears day after day with no humidity or rain. The clear star lit night sky, sun rises and sun sets, warm temperatures beautiful vistas wide open spaces, there is a lot to like! Glad that you are having a good time! BTW, there is a huge Amazon facility in Phoenix might consider it for next winter! Don’t even think about it for the summer months everything that I mentioned above to like goes away in the hot summer months. The summer heat is a good thing, without it the Phoenix area would be even more crowded than it already is and it has exploded just since we started coming. Safe travels!



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Ed, someone told me, years before I started full-timing, that we don’t need to live our lives the way others expect us to, and that was all the ‘permission’ I needed to start thinking about life, money, and happiness very differently.

      Yes, southern Arizona is simply beautiful and what I’ve seen of Phoenix itself I’ve enjoyed so far. There are no Amazon facilities in AZ that are a part of the CamperForce program as of yet, but that would be pretty neat. 🙂

      Thanks and happy trails to you.



  14. Denny on February 6, 2016 at 6:39 am

    Becky,
    Is camping on the BLM lands strictly on the honor system? How is the 14 day limit enforced and more importantly, how do you prove you’ve been away for the required time (you wrote two weeks) before returning to the same area?

    Also, please post your secret to 18 days on on such a small holding tank and water use.



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      It’s enforced by rangers Denny, in some places you need to pick up a camping permit and others you don’t. The laws on stay length and length of absence before you can return (and even how far away you need to move to be considered “absent” vary from state to state. I’m still new to the whole thing myself and trying to figure it all out – what I’ve learned is what I’ve been able to gather from other boondockers in the areas I’ve been staying in.

      I replied to Scott’s comment about the water usage above. A more in depth analysis will be forthcoming. 🙂



  15. John Hussey on February 6, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Now that ypu are becoming an expert at it, here’s a title for an upcoming post for you to write:

    “How to find boondocking sites”.

    It would be interesting as well as helpful for many of your readers.

    Ponder it.



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      I will John, although I’d like a bit more experience first before I’d feel comfortable writing about it. Luckily it looks like I have plenty of practice in my future.



  16. Scott Baldassari on February 6, 2016 at 4:32 am

    How DO you make it 18 days with 16 gallons of water??



    • Becky on February 6, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Is that how big the fresh water tank is in a Casita? I’ve been wondering that for some time, haha.

      There’ll probably be a blog post coming up on that too Scott. The biggest saver is that I’ve never showered in my Casita and I still don’t. I pay for a real shower in town once a week and use baby wipes and sponge baths to stay clean between them.



      • Marilyn, Dania Beach, FL on February 6, 2016 at 4:32 pm

        Becky,

        After using the baby wipes, do you feel clean? If so, you must be as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom.

        No offense, it just made me smile.



        • Becky on February 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

          Clean enough to last until the next shower Marilyn.



  17. Dawn on February 5, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I think RV Sue was just out in your area, though she’s moved on. Love it where you are. Enjoy every moment of it!



    • Becky on February 5, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      Yes she was Dawn. I commented on her blog post the day she put it up, haha.



  18. Ron on February 5, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Wow, sounds like you are having a great Winter other than the refrigerator and that’s behind you. Continue to have fun and enjoy. Waiting to hear about your summer plans.



    • Becky on February 5, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      I will Ron! Still working on summer plans but let me say I think it’s going to be a great one.



  19. Marilyn, Dania Beach, FL on February 5, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Unbelievably gorgeous photos, Becky. You have the best of both worlds, time to write and time to socialize and you are doing both quite well.

    Solar working, check, refrigerator working, all is well.

    Enjoy your boondocking adventure.



    • Becky on February 5, 2016 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks Marilyn. It’s hard to take a bad photo out here with this kind of subject matter to work with.

      And that sunrise… still can’t get over it.

      Several people have asked for a review of my solar setup and that’ll be coming soon.



  20. Steve on February 5, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    That looks like a great location for you. Great information on how to find the boondocking spot. Not all roads are the same and many are different than what others have photographed. Glad ot hear you are enjoying your boondocking experience.



    • Becky on February 5, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Saddle Mountain is a hard landmark to miss so yeah Steve it’s pretty easy to find. There is quite a bit of space out here. We aren’t the only ones boondocking but everyone is pretty spread out. You definitely get different views depending on where you’re at.



  21. Cherie on February 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    It’s been such a joy being temporary neighbors with you for the past few weeks. A perfect blend of having awesome people around who understand the need for getting work done and alone time, but can still appreciate each other’s company when we’re all up for it 🙂
    Cherie recently posted..What can a Boondocker Learn from a Martian?My Profile



    • Becky on February 5, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Exactly! It’s been good Cherie. Thank you both for showing me how boondocking is really done!



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