Escape to Sedona

March 14, Tuesday

I’m very glad that my friends in Maricopa, AZ have a 20 amp plug in for me to use while I’m visiting. The morning is already heating up and it won’t be long before the A/C becomes necessary.

Tammy and I take a morning walk before it gets unbearable. Heading east has put me back into Saguaro country. Sonoran Desert National Monument isn’t too far away to the south and west.

We pass by a little shrine with a bench and cross dedicated to someone. It would be a nice place to sit if it wasn’t in the sun.

Creosote bushes are in bloom, lizards scamper underfoot, and cholla grow by the road, waiting to snag passing animals with their fruit. The Sonoran desert is my favorite, there’s a lot of life out here.

Near the end of the loop is a hill that can be climbed for a view of the surrounding area. The ridge of mountains makes a nice backdrop.

The afternoon is spent inside watching TV (a rarity for me) and supper is pizza.

March 15, Wednesday

When is the best time of day to drive through Phoenix?

That’s the question on my mind this morning as I prepare Cas for travel. In the end I leave Maricopa around 9:30 am, which has me going through after the morning commute traffic is gone before the lunch crowd is on the road.

It ends up being a good decision, I experience no traffic slowdowns. This doesn’t mean that driving through a large city while towing a trailer is fun, because it isn’t, but it’s the least stress possible given the situation.

A sure sign of spring: bug splatters

The scenery on I17 north of Phoenix is amazing. Mountains, lots of cactus, and everything is green, green, green. I drove this route before two years ago, but it was in January in the heart of winter.

The road climbs north of Black Canyon City and at the top is Sunset Point, a busy little rest stop with a scenic view and ample grass. Already temperatures are more tolerable, it feels good to escape the heat.

It’s getting towards lunch time. I still get a little thrill from making food at a rest stop when the nearest restaurant or grocery store is miles away. After eating I check out the overlook, not bad!

A brown sign announces Prescott National Forest, and the grass gives way to juniper forest. The last leg my journey on I17 is all downhill. A sign announces a 6% grade for 7 miles heading into Camp Verde. Along this descent Prescott National Forest ends and Coconino National Forest begins. This is the one I’ll be camping in! The red rock cliffs become visible to the north.

Not great lighting

At Camp Verde I turn off I17 onto 260, and near Cottonwood get on 89A heading northeast. A crossroads appears about eight miles down, with Forest Road 525 on the west and Angel Valley Road on the east. Both are open to boondocking, I turn down 525 and cross a cow grate. It’s Spring Break week, and the crowds are out in force. The first couple boondock areas along 525 are packed. Nope, not for me…

At the second cow grate a couple miles in, the road splits. 525 continues to the right, and 525C veers off to the left. 525C also has boondocking and I follow that. A couple miles on that and the road comes out on top of a grassy hill with a beautiful view of the cliffs.

This would be an ideal location, but there are only about eight spots and they’re all occupied. If I camped here I’d be on top of my neighbor. I value privacy more, so I end up a spot about a half-mile before the top, tucked into juniper trees.

Sometimes things don’t go your way when full-timing. I could be grumpy about not getting one of the “good” spots, but all that would do is ruin my enjoyment of the area. I can’t change the situation, so I might as well forget about what I don’t have and focus on what I do. For instance, it’s been a while since I’ve camped in trees which makes this spot more novel, and they offer good privacy from the main road. It overlooks a little canyon which is pretty cool. I don’t get much of a cliff view but the hills to the south are quite visible. And best of all, it’s free!

Visible in the above picture is a pole with a yellow sign, it says Closed Area: foot and horse travel permitted. My curiosity demands that I check it out sooner rather than later, but probably not today as the sun is already going down. Scouting out a spot took longer than I anticipated. Goodnight, Sedona.

March 16, Thursday

The little trail behind my site ends up being an extended camping area that has been dismantled, as evidenced by the ash piles without fire rings. There’s some trash back here which makes me sad. On a future day, I’ll bring a garbage bag out with me.

And true to the sign, there’s signs of horse traffic, although I’m not sure why as this isn’t a trail that goes anywhere.

In the evening, Xscapers friends Brock and Janine invite me and their neighbors over to their rig for dinner and a fire. They have a spot with a good view of the cliffs.

Dinner is chicken tacos, they’re delicious. I’ve brought my LED poi with me and have some fun at the fire. Brock has a real knack for photography and the kind of equipment necessary for low-light conditions. After months I finally have picture proof, here it is everyone, me spinning poi!

Photo credit Brock Brinkerhoff

Here’s to food, fun, and friends!

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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. desiderio yanez on March 23, 2017 at 7:17 am

    looks like a scenic trip im enjoying the pictures are there many class c rvs arouind there or class b in these campsits becky or maybe a tab or prius camper sometimes?

    • Becky on March 23, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Of course there are Desiderio, you see all types out boondocking. But out of respect of people’s privacy I don’t take pictures of stranger’s rigs up close when they’re out in boonies. A lot of people come out here because they want to be left alone.

  2. Alane in Durango Colorado on March 23, 2017 at 3:47 am

    I have been reading your blog from the beginning and just caught up to real time today. It took several months and has been a very enjoyable read. Now I get to follow your story as it’s unfolding.
    I’m in my late 50s. I work 2 jobs–I’ll retire from one of them this summer and will spend the coming year emptying and selling my house. Then I’ll detach from my other job as well and stride joyfully into retirement. I own a Casita similar in age to yours, and plan to be on the road full-time sometime in 2018.
    The Sedona area is beautiful. I look at your pictures and imagine myself there. Not long now! Thanks for demonstrating that the lifestyle works and for providing so much useful information. Your blog is a treasure trove for those of us following in your footsteps.

    • Becky on March 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Hello Alane and major props for reading through IO, that’s a good five years worth of blog posts now and is no small feat.

      Congrats on your upcoming retirement! You must be very excited to get out more with your Casita – I hope you enjoy yours as much as I’ve enjoyed mine. Sedona is a very beautiful place and I definitely recommend having it on your travel list.

      You’re welcome and I hope the transition goes smoothly for you! Safe travels and happy trails.

  3. Dianna on March 20, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I’m curious about how often you use Bertha once you park at a campsite? Also do you see many of the same people at these free sites or is it continuously new people? As I ponder being on the road these are some of my questions.

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:34 pm

      Quite a bit Dianna. I often park the Casita for two weeks at a time as a sort of home base and use the truck to explore everything I want to see within a reasonable distance from there. While I’m here I’ll be taking the truck into Sedona, driving out to trail heads, and visiting a nearby state park.

      I’m rather introverted and usually don’t go out of my way to meet neighbors when boondocking, so I’m really not sure. But the vast majority of people are new every time I’m pretty sure because we all travel at a different place, are heading different directions, and stay for different lengths of time. There’s some overlap, but in Brock and Janine’s case this is the first time our paths have crossed since we first met in Colorado last September. I wouldn’t even have known they were camping out here if I hadn’t seen their Instagram pictures of the area, they were parked about 20 minutes from me down a different spur road.

  4. Dale on March 20, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Don’t you hate it when you come to a beautiful campsite and someone has left trash? I try to leave a campsite cleaner than when I found it, but trash disposal is sometimes difficult for us travelers. I once complained to a forest ranger about the trash left by irresponsible campers and he told me if I wanted to clean the site I could leave a bag by the road and they would collect it. I didn’t because I felt that would leave the impression I was leaving my trash by the road.

    When you mention spinning poi in your posts it always makes me chuckle. I met you at the RTR when you were spinning beside Cas and asked you what they were called. You told me “poi toys”, and because my hearing isn’t as good as it once was, I thought you said “boy toys”!😉

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      I try to as well Dale. I feel like if we don’t take care of these wonderful free camping areas, they’ll no longer be free. I’ll take the trash into town and dispose of it properly.

      I remember that conversation! I hope you’re been well since last we talked. Safe travels and happy trails.

  5. Sherone on March 20, 2017 at 7:10 am

    We have been scoping out Camp Verde for snowbirding in the future. Thanks for this little peak into the weather.

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      You’re welcome Sherone. This is actually unusually warm for this area at this time of year. On Wednesday a cold front is coming through and highs for Sedona will be more like 70 than 80.

  6. MnDreamer on March 20, 2017 at 4:55 am

    Love the poi pic! And, ooooooh, the scenery in this post has me longing for my own days like these. Thanks being there for those of us with a dream, Becky!

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:24 pm

      You’re welcome Mn, and I hope your time to get out and explore beautiful places like this comes soon!

  7. marijka on March 19, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    That poi shot could be an amazing RV advertisement! I’ve yet to make it that far west, but absolutely fell in love with the desert in south Texas. Am loving the stories and pictures in this area!

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      I think Brock has plans to submit one of the shots he took to Escapees magazine, he’s been on the cover of it once before with a great milky way picture.

      Texas is nice! I’m glad you’re enjoying your time there.

  8. Jodee Gravel on March 19, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Isn’t the variety in Arizona just wonderful?? Those cliffs are incredible, I haven’t seen the area from the south yet. Looks like a pretty sweet camping spot to me 🙂 Love the poi shot. How fun to have LED instead of fire!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Before We Get Back to See Our Kids…..My Profile

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Yes Jodee, it’s such a pretty area! You definitely need to camp here sometime.

      I still hit myself too often for fire poi, maybe in a couple more months. 🙂

  9. Ron on March 19, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Wonderful Poi shot. When do you announce Summer plans or did I miss them. Ron

    • Becky on March 20, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks Ron, it was so nice to have someone with the right gear able to get pictures.

      I announced them last year while I was working at Amazon. Generally heading northward as I need to renew my SD driver’s license by the end of May, then heading east to visit family and friends in Wisconsin for a couple months. Will be flying to Vancouver and backpacking a national park in there somewhere. Will be working in the fall again, possibly the beet harvest before Amazon.

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