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Down By the River

Monday, April 18

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Morning sun glints off the water, the Mallard couple are lounging on a rock nearby, and a breeze rustles the leaves of the cottonwoods. I’m happily engrossed in a book, enjoying the peace and quiet that comes after the weekend when a new sound breaks the silence. It takes me a while to place it. Mooing.

The old cow pies scattered throughout the camping area here at Keyesville Recreation Site, CA gave proof that cattle occasionally come through. Now I get to see them firsthand. It’s a group of cows of all different colors – some with horns, some without – and a couple calves. One massive black bull watches over the herd, he’s the one making most of the noise. I load up the truck keeping a wary eye on them, but they show no interest in me.

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Curiosity demands that I get a better look at the recreation site and see if my choice in camping spot was truly the best.

Bertha rumbles down Keyesville road. Off of this road run several dirt roads, some of which lead to more boondocking sites, some of which are meant for ATVs and not passable without a high clearance all wheel drive vehicle. Usually it’s easy to distinguish which is which.

The terrain here is pretty neat. Thick with golden grass, strewn with tumbled gray rocks, and lightly forested. The locals probably don’t think anything of it, but after a winter of desert camps it’s nice to see something other than sand. Although the ground is sandy where there isn’t grass.

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About 0.7 miles in on Keyesville Road from the north entrance is the spot where the big rigs go. Tucked back behind a hill, campers here are invisible from the road and in the shadow of a rocky ridge. The road is flat, the camping area grassy and open.

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Two large 5th wheels and one sizable Class A are camping here and there is room for several more without crowding. It’s not a bad boondocking place, but I’m happy I got next to the water.

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Keyesville road becomes dirt about a mile farther south and curves through several switchbacks on it’s way up into the mountains. A van or truck camper could probably make it through, but it’d be the end of the road for my rig. Before reaching that point though, near where the larger rig boondocking is, Pearl Harbor Drive splits off and that has a few camping spots along it too. It’s a dirt road, but well maintained.

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All in all, I like where I am best.

Tuesday, April 19

There’s a picnic table located on a little island in the river, accessible from my camping area. It’s an idyllic spot shaded by trees with a rapids running nearby. The water isn’t deep on this side of the island, only to the ankles or so. But the riverbed is full of rocks, so watch your footing. High clearance vehicles can also drive out to it through the water.

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The view from the picnic table is quite nice indeed. This spot gets a lot of use from day visitors, so I haven’t had the opportunity to check it out until now.

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Cas is visible from here, as is my new truck camper neighbor. I’ve seen very little of him, he drives off on his dirt bike for a couple hours and comes back. Doesn’t sit outside that I’ve seen.

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In the evening a subtle light plays over the clouds, giving the look of wisps of cotton candy.

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Wednesday, April 20

When I go to plug in my solar panel this morning, I get only a moment of power before it shuts off. As is usual with RVing mishaps, I’m initially angry and upset that the universe should conspire against me so. Then, I put on my big girl panties and get to work. In this instance, it doesn’t take long to find the problem. The 10 amp fuse in the line the panel connects to has blown. I have a spare.

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The cows are back, and when a second bull shows up, the two of them bugle at each other and paw at the ground, churning up sand. The cows continue to graze, they don’t seem impressed.

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It’s a busy day on the computer, not such an interesting day for blogging. A full moon rises out the back window at sunset, and I take a stroll after dark up to the dumpsters without needing a flashlight.

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Thursday, April 21

Lake time! I motor into Lake Isabella (town), and continue north on 178 to Lake Isabella (lake). As expected, water levels are low. The area is brown and dry as I was warned and there aren’t any trees to impede the strong wind blowing out of the west.down-by-river-keyesville-ca (14)

A boat ramp sits on sand hundreds of yards from the current shore and dirt tracks cross the dry lake bed. Several campers are in residence along the water. The mountain views are nice though, easier to see than where I’m camped at the bottom of a ravine.

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I explore along the lake bed in the truck, eventually coming back up into Axilliary Dam Campground.

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This land is in Sequoia National Forest. Similar to Oak Flat campground in Angeles NF, a person needs a pass to camp here, the America the Beautiful/Interagency pass counts. An additional permit is need for boats or to have campfires. It’s not a bad looking campground (take site 3 if you want a tree), but is so far from the receding lake that very few people are in it.

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Friday, April 22

Today’s my last day at Keyesville BLM area, tomorrow I make the 300 mile drive to see a dog. My impending departure spurs me to take an extra long walk, as I likely won’t be coming this way again for a while.

The flowers have really picked up since I arrived. They don’t cover the ground in carpets, but clumps of blooms flourish among the rocks.

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An ATV trail leads up to a good vista of my camping area. The sky is cloudless, it’s hard to believe there’s rain in the forecast later today. After five days in the mid-80’s, today is noticeably cooler. After this front moves through the highs will be in the 60’s for several days.

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Not far upstream of the campground, the Kern River cuts through an interesting rocky area. There’s no water access, the sides of the rock formations are sheer and have been carved by the elements into interesting shapes. In many places, it looks like a giant icecream scoop has been taken to the rock, huge spherical gouges decorate the rock face.

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A heron lands in the shallows farther ahead. Crows fly overhead occasionally, and brown lizards flee before my passage. It’s been a good camp, but there will be other good camps ahead. Until next time, Keyesville!

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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.


  1. Bob Wells on April 25, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    I didn’t know you were a Mormon–you must be since your under-wear have magical powers!!

    (Disclaimer–Just kidding!! No disrespect meant to Mormons in any way! I actually admire them greatly as people who don’t just talk the talk, but truly walk the walk.)
    Bob Wells recently posted..Plans Written In JelloMy Profile

    • Becky on April 26, 2016 at 5:28 pm


      The Trading Post I worked at in Zion was owned by a Mormon family, they were good people.

  2. Terri on April 25, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I am glad to hear that even after all this time, when things go wrong, they can really piss you off.I thought it was just me and my ineptitude to do anything of any sort of mechanical nature that made me panic so. So, thanks for the honesty.

    I want you to know that even though I have not been commenting as much lately (Watching my mobile data usage as that is how I connect to the internet these days, through my computer – internet in the lake powell area is not great, even in town), I have been reading and keeping up. I’m so glad for you that you are adopting the dog (and won’t give anything away via this comment.) Can’t wait to read your first post about your companion!

    The pictures are simply gorgeous.

    How are you handling so much alone time now that you are not working? I know loneliness can be a factor.
    Terri recently posted..Selling the RV, moving into a studioMy Profile

    • Becky on April 25, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      Heya Terri,

      It’s good to hear from you, glad you got your kitties back and all is well with them.

      Yep, I’m still a human with human failings. I get mad. I get nervous. I don’t always know what I’m doing. The difference is with this many years of full-timing I handle the unique stresses of the lifestyle better because I have experience at it.

      Glad you enjoyed these photos. Loneliness hasn’t been an issue this year so far. I had a very social winter in Arizona with all those meet ups I went to and almost went into people overload to be honest, being more on my own the past two months has been nice, and I’ve made new friends with the rescue folks – I just haven’t shared that much on the blog to protect their privacy.

      Speaking of the rescue, more on that coming soon. 🙂

  3. Dawn in MI on April 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I feel an under tone of melancholy at leaving this beautiful place, but excitement over the next adventure!

    • Becky on April 25, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Not melancholy Dawn, just thoughtfulness. I did have a great time here. 🙂

      • Dawn in MI on April 26, 2016 at 7:46 pm

        I’m glad.

  4. Beverly in CA on April 25, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Loved the pictures. Never been there, i didn’t even know it was there and it is beautiful. We got more rain then last year so still have a drought problem. I hope your weekend plans were a success.

    • Becky on April 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Yep I had a good weekend Beverly. And yeah, I think it would take a couple years of good rain to make up for the deficit California has experienced. Glad it’s better this year than last year though!

  5. Jerry Minchey on April 24, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Maybe the next time you get to camp beside a river, you can title your post, “Down by the Riverside” like the song. Just a thought. That song came to mind when I saw your title, Down by the River,”

    • Becky on April 24, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Hehe, that is a good one Jerry.

  6. Alan Belisle on April 23, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I have to agree, about the desert. It is nice to visit for a while, but I get to really missing the green. I love the flowers and trees and grasses. During our visit to Ventura, we could see pine trees, deciduous trees, palm trees, and cacti, all in one spot. Loved it!
    Always a great collection of photos. I especially like the one with the 10 amp fuse. OK, not scenic, but it made me think… how did she do that? Interesting shot.
    Happy trails.
    Alan Belisle recently posted..Casita Springs, California 4/9/6 – 4/6/16My Profile

    • Becky on April 23, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      It took me a couple tries to set that picture up Alan, trial and error. It’s a genuine selfie using the front camera on my phone, so at least I could see what the picture looked like on the screen while I was taking it, haha.

      I loved my time in the desert. But now I’m ready for something else.

  7. VallAndMo on April 23, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Have you noticed the small mosquito/wasp at the top right corner of the first picture? Was it planned?

    • Becky on April 23, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      I did (it’s a mosquito). I was wondering if anyone else would notice. Congrats on a sharp eye. 🙂

  8. Kevin on April 23, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Aren’t solar panels great for recharging a RV’s batteries without having to listen to a generator when boondocking? The sun comes up, you can leave the RV for a hike or to take care of business and around noon you are charged up, if you have spare fuses.

    • Becky on April 23, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      I’ve never had a generator to compare with Kevin, but I absolutely love my solar panel. No gas to refill and keep track of, just plug and forget it. 🙂

    • Rob on April 26, 2016 at 7:47 am

      Solar power is magic!

      • Becky on April 26, 2016 at 5:27 pm

        Yes it is!

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