New Jack City, CA

Thursday, March 31

I said goodbye to my friends and their adorable kitties as they pulled out on Monday and hooked up and pointed Bertha’s nose into the coming windstorm. I don’t think the gusts got up to 65 mph like the weathermen were predicting, but the Casita was rocking. That night was only one during my stay at the dry lake bed when there weren’t any tent campers, I can’t imagine why…

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Tuesday and Wednesday were chilly with a chance of rain. On Wednesday evening a fellow in a pickup drops by while I’m changing my propane tank out. “Its going to rain, and you’re in a flood plain.” I tell him I’m keeping an eye on the situation and thank him for his concern. While there were visible showers both days, most of the precipitation never made it to the ground. It sprinkled just enough to get truck and trailer dirty.

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Today my 14 days are up, it’s time to leave Joshua Tree, CA. Bertha creeps down the dirt road out of the BLM area, past the solar farm into an endless blue sky. It looks like a great day to travel.

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The town’s namesake is in great evidence as I motor west on highway 62. In Yucca Valley, I turn north onto 247 which curves to the west, skirting around the San Bernardino mountains. The joshua trees vanish and creosote bushes spread as far as the eye can see. Snow capped peaks float behind the nearest ridge of brown rock. Houses disappear and the desert becomes empty and untamed.

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Lucerne Valley is the next sign of habitation, a small and dusty town. Here 247 curves north again, climbing to a pass at 4,100 feet. On the north side of the pass, the road glides down into Barstow, but I’m not going that far.

Sawtooth Campground sits at 3,500 feet, tucked back out of sight from the highway down a one mile dirt road. This is an old rock climbing destination, and was called New Jack City in the past. A couple years ago, the BLM started renovating the campground. Every site has a fire pit, grill, and pagoda shaded picnic table. It’s small, only 15 sites including the camp host spot, and one of them is a group site. Camping is first come first served.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

It’s free for now, but won’t be for much longer. A BLM worker is painting the bathrooms when I arrive and she says the paperwork is in to make it an official paid campground, but it takes some time to go through. There are two pit toilets, no other amenities. Garbage is pack in pack out. There are signs all over stating no fireworks, shooting, or off road vehicles, for which I’m glad.

It’s beautiful though, I can see why it got such good reviews online. The sites are all near masses of brown boulders, offering privacy and something interesting to look at. Many of them are also recognized climbs.

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Site #2

After the dry lake bed, the place seems to be teeming with life. Songbirds abound, and rabbits hop through the brush. Most of the people who stay here are tent campers who come out for the rock climbing. Most of the sites here could fit a smaller RV, but not all. Numbers 4-6 and 10-11 don’t have much parking area and are close together, I’d avoid them.

Site #13

Site #13

Numbers 2, 3, 9, and 14 are ‘single’ sites that don’t share a driveway with any other sites, I like them best. 14 is my favorite, a pull-through with a window in one of the rocks behind it, but it was taken when I arrived.

Site #14

Site #14

I went with #3, which is a good second choice. It’s a large pull-through that just about any size rig could fit in, but whether you could get it level is another matter.

Site #3

Site #3

The sun sets behind the ridge to the west, casting an orange glow on the thin clouds. Morning doves coo in the distance, the stars come out, and it’s a peaceful night.

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Saturday, April 2

Yesterday I spend the morning writing, and the afternoon taking a trip into Barstow for internet. The 3 gb data plan that I have through Verizon for all of my online needs is usually enough, as long as I ration it carefully. In March I failed a little at that. Today though it has reset and I’m connected to the outside world from the comfort of my RV once again.

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I also got that phone call I’ve been waiting a week for. It looks like from here I’m going to be heading toward L.A., but plans are not finalized yet, I’m still waiting on more information.

In the meantime, there are mountains to climb. There are several hiking trails around the campground, marked on my smartphone’s GPS but not noted on signage anywhere. Maybe it’s something the BLM hasn’t gotten to yet. This one is called, according to my phone, Bighorn Buttress Trail, which leads into Dike Wall Trail, it’s off the west side of the campground near the Mojave Desert interpretive display

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Without any signage to guide me, I have no idea what to expect. At first I’m not even sure I’m on a trail, as the desert terrain makes it hard to tell. But through a combination of looking at my GPS and watching for footprints, I edge up the rocky slope.

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The sort-of-trail winds around a bend into a small canyon, and follows a wash up. It’s not long, but the elevation gain is significant. At the top, I’m rewarded with a nearly 360 degree view. The campground stretches away one direction with Barstow in the distance, and on the other side of the ridge lies the valley Lucerne is in, the snow just barely visible in the mountains beyond. What a find, this is quite the gem of a campground.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

* * *

A friend of mine asked if I’d be willing to put a little blurb up for Rock Creek Lakes Resort where she is going to be work-camping this summer, and I agreed. This is the place I almost ended up at this summer myself, I spoke with the Kings over the phone back in September and they seemed like a great family, and you can’t beat the location. If you’re not looking for a summer job I’ll see you next post, but if you are, read on – even if your rig isn’t self-contained or you don’t have an RV yet this is a viable opportunity because there are facilities right there. Here’s the info Rayn sent me:

(C) Rayn Hetterscheidt

(C) Rayn Hetterscheidt

The employer we worked for last year is searching for crew members for the summer, and asked me to get the word out that they need a few more folks for the season.

Rock Creek Lakes Resort is a family owned mountain getaway at 9,700 feet in the Eastern Sierra between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, CA. Crew members work in the general store, cafe, and cleaning rental cabins. 40 hours per week, 2 consecutive days off each week, and all hours paid, plus all your food is provided. This job would work for those with or without housing; there are trailers available on site, and a parking area for RVs. The only “hookups” are access to a 15 amp outlet, but there is a nice employee bathroom, shower, and kitchen for use. Closest dump station (and internet service) is 9 miles down the canyon.

The King family owners need dependable, hard-working folks from May-October. The work is intense and physically demanding, but the perks are awesome, with the whole Sierras right in your backyard. We loved working there, and are returning for our second season.

If you’d like to learn more about working for the resort and see more of the area surrounding it, you can read this blog post. To apply, visit www.rockcreeklakesresort.com.

(C) Rayn Hetterscheidt

(C) Rayn Hetterscheidt

Sawtooth Campground from above

Sawtooth Campground from above

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Becky

Forget about what the world tells you your life should be like. At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and go full-time RVing before retirement. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

34 Comments

  1. Diane Ely on April 4, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Becky:
    Regarding your plans for working this summer, can I venture a wild guess: Would it by any chance be at the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita (actually just outside the Santa Clarita city limits, in unincorporated LA County)? I live 3 miles from there. I know you have experience working in that field, and if they don’t provide a place to park Cas, Acton would be the closest place with hook-up campgrounds.



    • Becky on April 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      I’m actually not taking a job this summer Diane if I can help it. Nope, the news is about something else that I’m not quite ready to reveal yet…

      I hadn’t heard about this Gibbon Conservation Center though, now I need to look into it! Thanks for sharing.



      • Diane Ely on April 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm

        They have a website – I think it’s gibbon center dot org. When you’re on the road right across from the center, you can really hear the gibbons “verbalizing” (although my place is not quite close enough to hear it)!

        I have another guess of what you might be doing this summer (it’s kind of Acton-related), but I’ll wait to hear your reveal. Can hardly wait!



        • Becky on April 6, 2016 at 10:25 am

          Primates do tend to be vocal! It’s probably just as well that your place isn’t close enough to hear them. 😉



  2. LisaMarie on April 4, 2016 at 9:22 am

    For the past couple of months I have been following your blog about working & traveling around in your casita trailer. Your blog and book have been my inspiration as I am only in my 30’s and will need to find ways to support this lifestyle on the road. I am planning to hitting the road by August 2018, but first I need to save enough to purchase myself a small trailer, and then I’ll need to trade my new car in for a truck.



    • Becky on April 4, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      So glad that you’ve found my guide and blog helpful LisaMarie! I wish you the best and hope your transition is easy and painless.



  3. Bill on April 3, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Another awesome post. Sawtooth campground is going right on the bucket list, for sure. Thanks for the great pics too!



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      You’re welcome Bill, glad you enjoyed this!



  4. Hemi on April 3, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Do you have an I-phone or Android cell phone? Which GPS program do you like? I have an Android phone and want to install several helpful apps… IF you or any of your followers have any helpful recommendations. Be safe out there!
    Hemi



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      An old iphone 4S Hemi, I use Google Maps, it’s free and simple. I don’t have many RV related apps myself because my phone has low storage space, but http://www.technomadia.com has a couple of apps they designed themselves especially for RVers and they’re quite good!



  5. Joe on April 3, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Going to L.A.? your brave! Lol. [off the record] During traffic jams I’ve driven solo in carpool lane. No one thinks our house on wheels is occupied by only one. Shhhhhh. Lol



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      I’m hoping to not have to go ‘in” LA Joe, did that once before with the Casita driving down to Culver City to moochdock in a friend’s backyard. Never again! 😛 Maybe the Acton area near Angeles NF, still looking into it…



  6. Viktoria on April 3, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I love the way you write. I’m now living in my RV too and in the LA area…. Actually today in Desert Hot Springs. I hope I get to meet you if you are camping in this area. I should visit the campground that you described. That sounds amazing. 🙂



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Yes Viktoria, Sawtooth is worth a stop! I’m going to be moving closer to LA after this, probably the Acton area near Angeles NF – got something to take care of down that way. How long will you be around?



  7. Micky on April 3, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Becky,
    Really enjoyed Sawtooth Campground when I stayed there in December of 2014…I spent Christmas there .It just doesn’t get much nicer than that, for free. The weather was getting cold at that time though, and it really does get very cold there in the winter.

    Owl Canyon, on the other side of Barstow is excellent too…though not quite free. The area is as different as night and day, and I believe I paid $4 a night with my senior pass, also in December of 2014.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Yeah, at this elevation I imagine it would Micky. You aren’t the first to recommend Owl Canyon, I’ve seen pictures and it looks like a nice area, thanks for sharing.



  8. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on April 3, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Jeesh Becky! You’re in our back yard, just around the corner from Apple Valley. In fact, SO close that on Friday, April 1st, we took a short motorcycle ride and passed right by the entrance to your campground out at the intersection with Hwyy 247. Our destination was Slash X Cafe just a bit further down 247 from where you turned off the highway. It’s a well-known spot oozing with character, catering to off-readers who cross the desert from all directions to get there. Good for a burger and a beer. It’s about 3 miles from you.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Thanks for the info Ed! From my campsite I can see just a bit of 247 far in the distance, It’s just possible I may have been looking that way when you guys passed, even though I didn’t know it. 🙂



  9. Ernesto Quintero on April 3, 2016 at 10:46 am

    lol the aerial view of the sites reminds me of a Chaco Canyon and the Anasazi Indians ruins map. BTW Pueblo Bonito is a not to be missed massive sized archeological ruin when touring the southwest. Yes the 20 plus mile road to Chaco Canyon N.M. is a dirt road(in 1991 anyhow) so the trip can be a challenge but well worth the effort. Pueblo Bonito IMHO is more amazing then Mesa Verde’s cliff sites. Becky, be safe.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      There are a lot of great places I want to see in NM someday, thanks Ernesto for sharing.



  10. Jodee Gravel on April 3, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Sawthooth looks like a wonderful place to stay! I think our motorhome and toad would fit in your site – with you still in it!

    You are pretty savy about what’s going on around you so I’ll just remind you that regardless of what the weather is doing overhead, if you’re in a flood plain (which of course you know is the case for a dry lake) when there is a chance of rain in the mountains around you, it’s time to move. Flash floods can be devastating and there are lots of them in that area. I’ll take off my mom-hat now……

    L.A. sound interesting as a destination. Hope there’s a beach in your future!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Just West of Flagstaff It’s a Much Different PlaceMy Profile



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Yeah Jodee this pad has to be 80′ or longer. 😛

      As for the beach, not sure about that yet. The coast is a really expensive place to be.



  11. Dawn from Camano Island on April 3, 2016 at 9:27 am

    We loved Sawtooth Canyon! It was so quiet during the week & we enjoyed meeting & watching climbers on the weekend. Great hiking & lots of room for our dog to run & have fun! We would definitely stay there again & would pay to camp there–if each site had water.

    Looking forward to hearing about your next gig. Until then, take good care.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      This weekend was hopping Dawn, so busy tents were springing up all over along the road as the official sites were all taken, guess the word is getting out, haha. I’m looking forward to it being quieter now that it’s over.

      Thanks, you take care as well!



  12. Jeff on April 3, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Another great camp site! Have passed thru but never camped in Lucerne. Looking forward to explorations and your posts on this area.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      Yes Jeff it is! Next time you come through you should give it a peek. 🙂



  13. Sandy on April 3, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Becky…can you tell us more about your chosen wifi plan and what you need to use it (which jetpack)? Prepaid? Contract? Is your smartphone on the same plan? I’m sure you have a blog about it, so a link to the right place is fine.

    You have become a seasoned boondocker so fast! I hope I can do the same when I hit the road (next month). Right now, I am in the east and sites come at a premium here. I need to stay put for a little while to deal with appointments….head to Florida for a bit….and then parts unknown.

    Love your blog. It is the best.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      It’s linked right in the article Sandy, the “all my online needs” text links to it. 🙂 But here you ago again: https://www.interstellarorchard.com/2015/06/29/getting-lucky-with-mobile-internet/

      Yeah, RV sites cost more in the east. And in California too actually, which is why I’m avoiding paid sites at all cost. 😉 Can’t avoid them much longer though, got some business to take care of…

      Hope your appointments go well and your transition to full-timing is easy and painless! Thanks for reading.



      • Sandy on April 4, 2016 at 5:18 am

        Gosh, I became one of those oblivious people who don’t see the obvious when you put it right in front o my nose!. Thanks for your patience!

        I had hoped I’d never be ‘that person’, but I think I’ll cut myself a little slack.Everything is in upheaval (including my attention span, apparently) and I am not sleeping…wondering when to quit my full-time job and getting rid of all the ‘stuff’ and paring down, getting ready for what’s next and not knowing what the heck I’m doing. 😉

        The cost out East is absurdly ridiculous, especially when you are in this little space inches from the next guy. I will avoid CA for a while anyway. Lovely state, but crazy with too many people (like here) and too many rules/regs. That’s what happens with overpopulation.



        • Becky on April 4, 2016 at 2:24 pm

          You’re welcome! My first summer living in my Casita I spent along the coast in South Carolina, so I understand on the prices…



  14. Beverly in CA on April 3, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Definitely want to go to Joshua Tree. What other measures to you take for high winds? How
    do handle the rocking in the Casita? How do you handle heavy rains? As you can tell I am not in a RV yet, I am still at the dejunking stage. I work full time and spend my weekend dejunking.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Most RVs have stabilizer jacks that keep it from rocking back and forth, but mine are rusted and no good anymore. I could replace them, but don’t see the point as the rocking doesn’t bother me much.

      As for high wind, not much you can do other than be pointed into it so there is as little wind resistance as possible. Don’t leave awnings out of course and for RVs with slides if the wind gets real bad pull them in.

      Heavy rain is no different than heavy rain in a house. Just watch for leaks and fix them if you spot any next time it dries out. 🙂



  15. Jeff Wrinkle on April 3, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Wow!!!
    Rock Creek Lake Campground was an annual summer destination for my family. Our family had an old Fire Ball RV and we stayed in several different campgrounds there, East Fork, Mosquito Flats and Rock Creek Lake. Some of the best trout fishing any where in the Sierras.
    I went on pack trips out of the Rock Creek Pack Station with an Uncle and his friends to the Hilton Lakes from there.
    Those bar stools are where we had many a breakfast or lunch.



    • Becky on April 3, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Awesome Jeff! Rayn and JJ tell me it’s an amazing place and if I had needed a summer job this year, I would have chosen this place in a heart beat. Glad you have so many good memories of it.



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