Desert Dreaming

December 30, Friday

My boondocking spot at the end of Robbins Road in Buckeye Hills Recreation Area calls to me to come out and explore, but there hasn’t been time for a hike yet. Yesterday was spent preparing for my best friend Julie’s arrival, today I drive into Phoenix to collect her from the airport.

The drive from Buckeye to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport isn’t too bad. Of the large cities I’ve driven through, Phoenix is one of the better ones in my opinion. There seems to be enough road for the number of people traveling it that traffic isn’t as big of a problem. The lane switches and exits make sense. The roads are in good shape.

The airport is large but easy to navigate. Terminal 2 pickup area… ah, there it is!

Julie and I drive to Tempe to have lunch at RΓΊla BΓΊla, a popular Irish pub. We’re not here just because of the reviews though, we’re here because this place features in an urban fantasy book series we’re both fond of, The Iron Druid Chronicles.

I get the fish and chips, it’s delicious.

After that we wander around downtown Tempe for a while, window shopping and playing Pokemon Go.

It’s a neat area and there is a lot to see.

It’s warm today, in the 70’s, and there are flowers blooming. The weather is suppose to change tonight.

On one of the street corners sits this sculpture celebrating the new year, what a clever idea. Many people stop to get pictures in front of it.

We walk to the AMC theater and I finally get to see Star Wars Rogue One. Julie and I have both been waiting to see it until we met up. I enjoyed it. The sun has set by the time the movie is over and it’s raining outside. The walk back to the truck is less pleasant.

But the day isn’t over yet. A late supper is had at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Peoria. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve had alcohol this year (I’m not much of a drinker) and as it’s two days before the new year, that’s saying something. By the time we get back to the RV it’s after midnight, but what a fun we had!

December 31, Saturday

It’s an overcast and gloomy day in the Sonoran Desert, but that doesn’t keep Julie and I from enjoying a walk. The Creosote bushes smell amazing after the rain last night, and despite the lack of sun there is some color to be found.

According to Google Maps, Robbins Road continues north all the way to Robbins Butte Game Management Unit and exits back to 85 on W Robbins Butte Game Road. In reality, the graded, maintained part of Robbins Road ends where I’m camped and you’d probably want a high clearance vehicle to traverse the dirt track farther. It’s just fine for walking on though, and that’s where we head.

Near the reserve is a solitary cone of a hill, dark in color – probably Robbins Butte. At the base of it people are out shooting so we don’t get too close, but it’s pretty neat looking even from a distance. The clouds have started breaking up while we’ve been walking, maybe we’ll get a good sunset tonight. I’d like Julie to witness one of those spectacular Arizona sunsets.

Cactus spotting is an activity I enjoy, and since I’ve been away from the desert for a while it at feels fresh and new again. There are quite a few Saguaro out here and Julie and I make a game of trying to find the one with the most arms. This stately old specimen doesn’t win that contest, but it does have an impressive nest in it’s arms. There are some pretty big sticks in there, whatever made it must be large.

Within view of Cas is another of these large stick nests wedged in a Saguaro’s arms, and this Saguaro has eleven arms, making it today’s winner. It’s not as photogenic as the first one though, so I opt to put the photo of the first nest in the post instead.

This evening’s sunset isn’t anything to write home about, but I enjoy it in my new hammock which Julie got me for Christmas. The hammock fits really well on the bars holding up the picnic table shelter.

January 1, Sunday

It storms overnight, the rain much heavier than the night before. When I peer out the Casita’s windows the clouds are already breaking up, but the temperature has dropped. Julie and I spend the morning inside, me working on the blog, and her reading.

In the afternoon our friends arrive. Julie and I first met Rayn and JJ of Holding Intentional Space in Reno during the fall of 2014 at Amazon, and we instantly hit it off. They’re in the area to get some work done on their RV tomorrow, and we’d arranged to camp together for a night.

We take a hike up the ridge nearest camp. It’s not all that steep or tall, but there’s a lot of loose rock which makes footing treacherous.

The view at the top is great though. Our RVs are just dots down below, the black cone standing apart to the left.

On the way down the other side of the ridge are several deposits of quartz among the darker rock, pretty neat! The sunlight also makes the Saguaro pop more in photos.

The sunset is almost a no-show this evening. Ah well. Rayn and JJ come over to the Casita after dark and we play card games until late.

January 2, Monday

Rayn and JJ pull out before we get up, and they capture a nice picture of Bertha and Cas in the sunrise, which is nicer than any of the sunsets have been so far. By the time we’re up it’s overcast. Today’s hike starts through the wash near camp. The scenery looks almost black and white in this lighting.

The problem with walking in washes is all you can see are the plants growing along the edges. A promising Saguaro (it didn’t end up having more than eleven limbs) lures us from the wash and before long we’re up on another ridge near camp.

This one is higher up and offers an impressive panoramic view.

Today’s photos may be almost colorless, but the contrast between the spines on this cactus still makes for a neat photo.

Tonight’s sunset? We’ll call it a 3/5. C’mon Arizona, you can do this!

* * *

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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. Marie on January 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Hi Becky,
    Over the last couple of weeks I have read your blog from the beginning to current. I just have to say thank you for sharing all the info and experiences that you have. I hope to one day full time. Possibly sooner rather than later if some other options in life don’t go my way.

    When I do hit the road (either full or part time), I hope to spend the majority of my time in federal park campgrounds (NPS, NFS, ACOE) and boondocking. I have also read about I’m curious if you have ever considered that option for inexpensive overnights.

    • Becky on January 9, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      You’re very welcome Marie and congrats, it’s no small feat to read IO from beginning to end these days. πŸ˜‰

      I have heard good things about Harvest Hosts but as it costs money to join the site and then you’re expected to spend money at the places you stay on top of that, it just isn’t my thing. When I’m not working a seasonal job, 95% of my camping is boondocking or other free options because that’s what my limited budget allows for.

  2. Ann cabezas creed on January 7, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Beauty of the desert! Wow!
    Ann cabezas creed recently posted..NO, NO’s While Vacationing Costa RicaMy Profile

    • Becky on January 9, 2017 at 10:05 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Ann.

  3. Kevin J on January 7, 2017 at 3:32 am

    Long time subscriber. If you had a partner and needed a bigger trailer what would you recommend? The caseti seems too small for two persons. Just figure in your travels you might have found something sooner or later that you could recommend for two.

    • Becky on January 9, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      I’ve never looked closely at them Kevin as I don’t expect to be in that situation anytime soon so I can’t give you any advice beyond the basic: Try visiting dealers lots and tour as many different trailers as you can. A lot depends on how much personal space you and your living partner each need, and that varies a lot from individual to individual.

  4. Lara / InspiredTrekker on January 6, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Neat. I haven’t been to the desert yet so cactus spotting as an activity hadn’t really been known to me. I guess I’d have thought there’d be many thus easy to spot!
    It’s cool to read about a solo RVer having a guest visit and staying in the RV with you. I try to imagine having my best friend do this and laugh at the thought. Not impossible but not my preference unless there was a tent or cabin or someplace else for her to stay so with me but not right with me. In a bigger RV and one, say, with a bathroom that’s always a bathroom, I suppose it’d be easier and better.
    Lara / InspiredTrekker recently posted..More Amelia Island as I Return to Florida in Late 2016My Profile

    • Becky on January 9, 2017 at 10:01 pm

      I lived with Julie and her cat in the Casita for four months before hitting the road in 2012 and again for six months in 2014/2015. She’s like my sister and the only person I could share such a small space with.

      It should also be noted that my model of Casita can be configured to have two beds (which we did) and the bathroom is always a bathroom. It does make a difference. πŸ™‚

      • Lara / InspiredTrekker on January 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm

        My best friend I was thinking of and I spent a year super close in college. If I think back to that, I can see it being doable, it’s just been so long since I’ve lived with someone else so close like that(and we didn’t share a room! Just chose to spend a lot, lot, lot of time together), it’s just not appealing at all. πŸ™‚
        I can have two beds in my RV, too. My next RV will have a bathroom that’s always a bathroom.
        It’s awesome you’re so close and can enjoy it- even if you didn’t live in an RV, that’s a cool relationship to have. πŸ™‚
        Lara / InspiredTrekker recently posted..Changing My WebsiteMy Profile

        • Becky on January 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

          Yes it is Lara. I don’t know too many people who have a friendship as close as Julie and I, I hit the best friend jackpot. πŸ™‚

  5. Cheryl Kline on January 6, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Great blog, love the beauty of the dessert. Safe travels.

    • Becky on January 6, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Thanks Cheryl, and yeah there’s nothing quite like the desert in wintertime. πŸ™‚

  6. Rena McClain on January 6, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Immediately recognized the name Rula Bula. Am an Iron Druid myself. Love your blogs. Living vicariously until I can head out! Keep them coming πŸ˜ƒ.

    • Becky on January 6, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Rena!

  7. Michael on January 6, 2017 at 4:14 am

    I didn’t REALLY need something else to read πŸ™‚ but I bought the first episode of the Iron Druid. I enjoy light, drama-free fantasy. Thanks for the mention!

    I haven’t been to Arizona in many years (trying to remember how many, but it escapes me at the moment), so reading about it is a good refresher, and preparation for some of the things that have surely changed in the name of progress. (Another reason I let myself buy the Iron Druid book, since it takes place there.) Good job with the photos, too.

    Remember, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” Since a storm blew through that night, no surprise that the sunset was mild. The most colorful sunset seem to come from dust, and when it’s raining, not much of that blowing high, so expect a few days of mundane sunsets after these big drought-busting fronts.
    Michael recently posted..Troubles with Trivials (The Trouble with Tribbles?)My Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2017 at 7:41 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the first Iron Druid book Michael! And you’re welcome of course for the info on the Phoenix area.

      My Dad use to bring that quote up when we went on family camping trips as kids, good memories. What you say about the dust makes sense though, it’ll be interesting to see if they get better next week now that the rain is past.

  8. Kit on January 5, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Sky Harbor is “large but easy to navigate”? You must have gone to a different one than the one I went to… I remember driving around in circles there at least four times once, before I could figure out where to go, and I normally have a good sense of direction

    • Angelack on January 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Yeah, that was my experience at Sky Harbor as well. Terrible signage.

    • Becky on January 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Odd. I had no problems getting where I needed to be and signs were large and well placed, maybe it’s been redone recently? The easiest big airport I’ve ever had to navigate, granted my experience is somewhat limited (Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta).

  9. Jodee Gravel on January 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Glad to see Julie made it safely and that you’re having such a lovely time in the desert. For me there is nothing more wonderful than the smell of Creosote in the rain! Love the turquoise skies of the last photo – very Arizona πŸ™‚
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..ArcadianaMy Profile

    • Becky on January 6, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Thanks Jodee and yes, that has quickly become one of my favorite smells! πŸ™‚

  10. pamelab on January 5, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Nice photos, Becky. Even though the hikes weren’t on steep slopes, your view is pretty impressive. Thank you for your interesting blog.
    In Missouri City TX for now.

    • Becky on January 6, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      You’re welcome Pamela, thanks for following along.

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