Quiet Days at Sawtooth

Monday, May 16 (continued)

I had mixed emotions about coming back to Sawtooth Canyon Campground. When I started boondocking in January, I’d decided somewhat arbitrarily that I didn’t want to visit the same camp twice in the same year. There are so many great places to see, and to me one of the points of RVing is to broaden one’s horizons.

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Arriving at a camp not knowing exactly what to expect is part of the magic. Coming over that last hill or around that last bend is like opening a Christmas present. Not yet have I felt letdown upon arriving at a new place. Some are better than others of course, but they’re all unique and that uniqueness makes them special. Going RVing is a great exercise in appreciating what you have, in making the best of a situation.

Coming back to a camp you’ve been gone from less than two months, that anticipation isn’t there. It could have felt tired, like something revisited too soon to be able to appreciate it. But when I pulled in I was relieved to find that it felt correct. It had been about a month since I’d been dry camping (Walmarts and truck stops don’t count) and getting away from the crowds of the San Francisco area was a relief.

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Besides a single tent camper, the place is empty. Last time I was here I was in site 3, which ended up being my second favorite site. But this time my favorite, site 14, is open. Besides being level and having good separation, it has a rock with a window in it. I’ve been waiting to get this picture since I discovered it: Cas and Bertha through the window.

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For newer readers, Sawtooth Canyon is a BLM campground midway between Lucerne Valley and Barstow, CA. It has 14 sites, is a rock climbing destination, and will be a pay campground soon – but until the paperwork is cleared it’s free. Which is a fantastic price for a beautiful place like this. There are no services aside from pit toilets (garbage is pack in pack out), but the scenery is hard to beat if you like rock formations.

The peace and quiet is great. In the evening, a band of clouds to the north provide a point of interest in the sky.

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Tuesday, May 17

The sight of rain clouds fills most campers with dread and usually I’m no exception. But today the rain barely makes it to the ground, the land to the north and west sucks most of the moisture out of the air before it arrives over the desert. Instead I get pleasant temperatures and a fun sky to photograph between stints of work on the computer.

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Around 4 pm it finally sprinkles for about five minutes. I get a picture out of my office (dinette) window at the prominently featured window rock under gray skies. If you still have to work as a full-timer, having a view like this makes it a lot easier!

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The clouds blow over later in the day and the sun comes back out to say goodbye.

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Wednesday, May 18

A winged visitor makes an appearance at camp in the morning, perched regally on the top of the window rock. C’mon, turn your head so I can get a good photo…. yes!

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As the day heats up, Jessica and I retreat to the shaded picnic table for an afternoon siesta of lizard watching and reading, respectively. Fluffy white clouds form and pass overhead in waves, offering a great opportunity to zone out and watch the sky. Near sunset, the changing colors make them even more interesting.

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A bunny freezes on the evening walk, hoping it hasn’t been seen. I get a photo a moment before it bolts into the creosote.

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Thursday, May 19

Today, I took Jessica home to her new foster family. She seems happy with them, and they seem more than happy with her. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up being her forever family.

Mt. San Jacinto

Mt. San Jacinto, as viewed from highway 62 heading south

It’s a day for contemplation. This camp is a good place for it.

Looking out the other side of the window at my site

Looking out the other side of the window at my site

Bees buzz around the last of the yellow creosote flowers, their unique tangy smell thick in the air.

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On sun-warmed rocks, lizards of several types make their beds. Birds, invisible in the brush, sing the occasional song. Otherwise the breeze is the only sound. That’ll change tomorrow when the weekend crowd starts arriving.

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Last light

* * *

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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. David Dube on May 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

    It kind of reminds me of the Lava Flow campground in Arco, Idaho. My wife and I stayed there one May, we were the only one’s there.

    • Becky on May 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Sounds nice David. I haven’t seen much of Idaho but did see a lava flow area on one of the interstates and though it was pretty cool looking. πŸ™‚

  2. Becky Charlotte on May 23, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Now that’s a beautiful landscape if I ever saw one…
    Becky Charlotte recently posted..Electromagnetic Health BonusMy Profile

    • Becky on May 23, 2016 at 6:29 pm

      Sure is. πŸ™‚

  3. john on May 22, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Looks like a great site. I like the cover over the table. Nice pics Becky!

    • Becky on May 23, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      Yeah, really handy for those warm days John. Thanks and glad you liked them.

  4. Swankie on May 22, 2016 at 10:03 am

    You should make that last panorama photo of the window rock, the header photo for your blog. Great photo. Glad you found a new home for the pup.
    Swankie recently posted..Back in the Rockies, Arizona Trail Scouting PostponedMy Profile

    • Becky on May 22, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Not a bad idea Swankie, although I’d have to flip the image so my logo isn’t over the RV. I’ll see what it would look like as a header…

  5. Jodee Gravel on May 21, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    My exact feeling about re-routing back to Roswell after just two months – not looking forward to it, and then happy with the familiarity πŸ™‚ Love the flowering creosote bushes – such a wonderful smell!! Glad Jessica is happy with her new foster, and you are able to move forward now. Safe travels.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Three Years in the BlogosphereMy Profile

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Glad it worked out Jodee and thanks, I have yet to explore New Mexico but am looking forward to it.

      Don’t creosote bushes smell great? I wonder if there’s any company out there that makes creosote scented candles…

  6. pamelab on May 21, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    Love the photos through your ‘window’ – very nice. I can see why you were looking forward to getting that shot. I really enjoyed your photos and always enjoy and learn something from your blog.
    Happy Trails.
    Pamelab in Houston

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      It was a very unique opportunity Pamela. Can’t imagine there are many places in the country where you can climb up to a natural window and get a RV close enough to get a photo of it framed like that. Glad you enjoyed this, take care.

  7. Dennis Potts on May 21, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Looks beautiful this time of year, can imagine what it will be like this July/August. I’m going there this Tuesday to break-in my new Runaway wAv camper. From L.A. only a two hour jaunt. Need to get away from CITY!!

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      How do you like your wAv Dennis? I saw the announcement on the Runaway Facebook page a few months ago and was wondering how the new model would be received.

      This will be a fun camp for an escape from the city, although I imagine it’ll be quite hot here by then. But you’ll have that covered picnic area to escape the heat. πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy it, take care!

  8. Rene Kipp on May 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

    As others have said your ‘window’ photo is priceless. That looks like a nice campground to rest, relax and figure out your next move.
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Painting Doors Made EasierMy Profile

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      I can almost see the line of RVs waiting to get in here to get a similar photo with their rigs now that the “word is out”, haha. Glad you enjoyed this Rene, thanks.

  9. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on May 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I have not commented in awhile, trying to wrap my head around the whole “Jessica” matter. Even though we say we can’t walk in your moccasins, I kept trying. In the end, I concluded that among other things you have a tremendous sense of responsibility. Why else would you drive all the way back from the Bay Area, to a campground between Lucerne Valley and Barstow IN MY NECK OF THE WOODS. For those that don’t know, and therefore cannot appreciate, that is a LOT of driving, and a radical change in scenery in the complete opposite direction of the planned itinerary.

    Having met you, and having a sliver of insight into you, we respect your decision. This chapter of your “book” has presumably ended. We look forward to your next chapters, and where you (we) go from here. As for us…about 40 days and counting to “full-time” status, ready or not.
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..TemptationMy Profile

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      When it comes to animals, yes Ed I do take matters seriously. A pet depends on the person who cares for it for everything, and it is a big responsibility – what can be more precious than a life? When I failed to be able to provide a home for Jessica, of course I felt responsible for what became of her. So when the rescue told me she had to come more than 350 miles south, that’s what I did. I owed it to her… and to myself. It would have compromised my sense of integrity to leave her (and the rescue) hanging. Although I know they would have much preferred that I’d honored my original commitment and kept her despite my feelings to the contrary.

      But as you said, it’s impossible to know another’s mind. It’s also impossible to please everyone. I did what I had to do, in the best way I knew how to do it, and I feel relieved that it’s over now. Next time I think about adoption (after this, it won’t be anytime soon), I’ll approach it much differently I think.

      But enough of that. I’m looking forward to getting back into traveling and sight-seeing mode and seeing where the road goes from here. As I’m sure you two are! Congrats on your impending departure, safe travels and happy trails. πŸ™‚

  10. Jay on May 21, 2016 at 9:33 am

    HI Becky,
    just checking in! love the pictures , Im going to show them to my son as he is a hobbies photographer and has several first place ribbons from the county fair and the local paper,

    I have been busy since we got back from our trip (camped in the mountains on the way to the Oregon coast). Found a small wet spot on the carpet in the Casita and found the cold water check valve leaking and could not repair it so replace it, and no damage done.
    With all RVs they need to be checked for water leaks so do it from time to time, that is the first leak that we have had since we bought the Casita new in 2002.
    Take care and enjoy the adventures, Jay

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Only leak since 2002, that’s really good Jay! I usually find something leaking in mine once a year or so, I redid almost all the caulking in March (took 15 hours) so I should be good for a while. πŸ™‚

      Glad you enjoyed this post and I hope your son likes the photos too, safe travels and happy trails!

      • Jay on May 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

        Becky, with you doing more off roading than me I’m sure that it can cause more leaks and it’s nice that you are so handy to beable to fix a lot of things ( helps to save money ).

        I really enjoy your postings Thanks for bringing us along with you.Jay

        • Becky on May 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm

          Yeah, I’ll agree with you there, I’m actually surprised I haven’t popped any rivets yet as much bouncing around as I do down washboard dirt roads (knock on wood). Doing my own leak repairs certainly does help save on money. Take care.

  11. Jeff on May 21, 2016 at 8:45 am

    If logistics have you do a campground twice, Sawtooth isn’t a bad choice! As usual great pictures! Safe journey.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Yep Jeff, it sure isn’t. πŸ™‚ Thanks and take care.

  12. Jim W. on May 21, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I love BLM sites in the Southern California deserts. They are truly gems to be admired and experienced.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Next time I come through here I’ll need to locate more of them Jim. But hopefully that won’t be until next winter because I’m ready to trade the desert for somewhere more “summery” πŸ˜›

  13. Ernesto Quintero on May 21, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Becky, what is that rectangular cement item in the image from your office window? It reminds me of the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, since it’s not natural while everything else in image is. While I was studying the image to contemplate your view that thing stands there screaming look at me, look at me, now I gotta know what’s the purpose of that thing, thanks. Those rocks look like lava rocks.

    (note to Becky’s readers, I’m a 55YO single male who is buying a small class c RV to live in full time after I sell my home, chiefly due to Becky giving me the courage after I started to read her blog)

    In my experience going back to places visited before I can “see” things I didn’t see the first time, I suffer from sensory overdrive due too my photographic memory trying to capture the whole experience, hope you understand what I mean by that. While traveling on business or for fun in the past, I have learned my mind needs decompression time to calm my introverted way and if I experience “new” places while in that state I do not “capture” the scene the first time around. What I’m trying to say is that visiting a place second time is often the “first” time for me. I’ve come to realize/understand my chief personality traits in the last five years and I’m more attuned to it’s quirky and unusual ways. Also due to my “photographic” memory I’m going to become a portrait photographer, no weddings, just images of people in a controlled way. I welcome mastering new things and portraiture will be a income source when I “retire” working in someone’s else salt mine. Be safe.

    • Dawn from Camano Island on May 21, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Ernesto, my husband & I camped at Sawtooth Canyon for a week in January 2015. We were just north (across the road) from #14. Becky’s right–it’s an awesome camp site. RE: the concrete rectangle–My husband & I remember it as a barbecue grill. However, we could definitely be wrong.

      You’ll love RV’ing. Taking photos of people you meet as a source of income is a wonderful plan. There are SO many interesting people with amazing stories out there on the road. Happy, fun trails to you, Ernesto.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Dawn is correct Ernesto, that’s a grill. The ashes fall through into that rectangular base, and there’s a little door at the bottom on the other side that the ashes are pulled from when it gets full. Each site also has a fire ring, but that’s not in the photo.

      I understand what you’re saying about the way your memory works, I’ve known people like that.

      I know a couple full-timers who earn some money from photography, it’s certainly a viable model. I wish you all the best as always.

  14. Reine in Plano on May 21, 2016 at 7:29 am

    I love the picture of the Cas and Bertha through the window rock. Looks like it ought to be part of a coffee table book. Glad you’re away from the crowds and have some time for contemplation. Looking forward to seeing what you do this summer. Where will you go? What new adventures await? Quiet days are a good time for plans to gel and writing is often easier with beauty around and no interruptions.

    For our news, we made a flying visit to LHC last Friday night to get a new AC shroud to replace the one the hail punched holes in. While there we had Mike and Larry check the brakes and got their opinion on the uneven tire wear on our curbside tire. Final opinion is that the wheel might not be correctly round so that wheel gets replaced and goes to the spare. We’re headed for a long trip in July so want Cassie to be in perfect shape.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      I keep thinking it would be fun to get a book printed with some of my pictures, but without a publisher that’d be a lot harder than my e-books which I publish myself. Maybe I’ll come up with a solution someday.

      I have tentative plans in mind but I’ve decided not to share them on the blog since any plan I make tends to change so drastically from conception to implementation, haha. If I don’t share them, then no one can be disappointed or curious when I end up doing something different. πŸ˜‰ I will say I’m ready to get out of the desert and see mountains though, that should give you a few ideas…

      I didn’t realize you’d had hail damage, yikes! Glad it’s all taken care of now, I’m sure Larry and Mike treated you well. Have a great trip!

  15. Karen SC on May 21, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Looks like a really nice campground. I really love your pictures. I’m sure this time around you found some interesting things to see that you may have missed before.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Glad you liked this Karen. Yeah, I have done some additional exploring beyond what I saw on my last visit. It might sound odd, but I like to leave a place having not seen anything, it gives me something to look forward to on occasions like this when I go back. πŸ™‚

  16. Mary in FL on May 21, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. I really enjoy reading about your adventures and the beautiful pics that you post. The gorgeous scenery is breathtaking. One day I’ll be doing the same. I hear that the issue with the dog was difficult, but it took a lot of courage to make the decision to let go and move on. I wish you many blessings.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm

      You’re welcome Mary, glad you’ve found my blog helpful and inspiring. I wish you the very best getting on the road, it’s a fun way to live!

      Yes, making the decision with Jessica was hard. Mostly I feel bad that I put her through the hassle of getting use to the RV and moving all the time (and getting use to me) when it didn’t end up working on my end. Luckily she was/is an easy-going dog who adjusts to change well – which is one of the reasons I chose her. I don’t believe she suffered for her time with me.

  17. MB from VA on May 21, 2016 at 5:38 am

    Beautiful pictures! And, I wanted to ask…..what things do you power with your solar panel?

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      Not much MB. I charge my laptop and phone, my LED lights, and my water pump. That’s really about it. My 100 watt panel works just fine for it. Glad you enjoyed this post!

  18. Dawn in MI on May 21, 2016 at 5:13 am

    Some great photos here; it seems very peaceful, and I’m glad you enjoyed it even though it’s your second time there. I understand wanting to see new things, that IS the reason to be mobile, but I’m also glad you got the window rock shot. Some things were just meant to be.

    • Becky on May 21, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Yep Dawn. If there had to be a place I visited twice this year, this is a good choice. It’s just so pretty. I’ll be sad when it becomes a pay campground, haha.

  19. Ron on May 20, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    What a beautiful campsite, your window photo is priceless.

    • Becky on May 20, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      Yes Ron, love this site! How many campsites do you think there are out there that have a view of such a unique rock formation? Not many I reckon.

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