Nov 30, Thursday (continued)
From Benson, AZ I turn south down 80, which for a while follows a wash and is surprisingly green. Just before Tombstone, I veer east onto N Middlemarch Road.
I’m headed for a well-known boondocking area, and all the reviews boil down to the same thing: Beautiful spot, rough road in.
They aren’t kidding. N Middlemarch is a wide two-lane with shoulders, there are houses down it and even signs for school-bus stops. There are no ruts, no wash outs, no big rocks, no tight curves, no sharp dips or bumps, it all looks good at first. The problem is it’s very washboard-y. And when I say very washboard-y, I mean I drive the ten miles in at 10 mph, it’s that bad (with just the truck I can do most of it at 20-25 mph).
So going ten miles at 10 mph, it takes me an hour to get down Middlemarch road, it’s now about 3:45 pm. Finally I get to forest road 687, where Coronado National Forest (and the boondocking) start.
The photogenic mountains to the northeast are the Dragoon Mountains, something I learn after the fact as the range is not labeled on my GPS. 687 follows along the front of the mountains, it’s a 1.5 lane road and not as washboard, but it’s less level with more dips and bumps. As always when faced with a new boondocking location, I park Bertha and Cas near the head and walk down the road a ways to assess.
Sites are not exactly plentiful, and many of them are occupied by deer hunters – it’s that time of year. A little over two miles of 687 is passable by most rigs, ending in a loop that looks more like a triangle. Vans and the like can potentially make it a bit farther beyond the loop where there are a couple more spots.
The tall grass is pretty, the plentiful trees are also a nice touch, but they will make getting solar more challenging. I choose a large site closer to the start of 687, as it’s available and close and I’m not feeling like messing around.
Some RVers can pull into a boondock, park, and be done with it. Not me. I’m like a picky cat that has to try every remotely flat surface in the house before choosing the best spot for that nap. By the time I’ve finally decided where and how to park the Casita, the sun is down and it’s getting dark out. Phew! I’m pooped. But I am happy with this spot!
Dec 1 & 2
The next two days at Dragoon Mountains are also overcast, bummer for my battery. I take short walks along 687 both days, enjoying the silence at this site. There’s no road noise to speak of, probably because everyone driving on the closest road is having to do so at a crawl to avoid having their vehicle shook apart from the washboarding…
There is a little traffic on 687, mostly hunters. Especially on Saturday I see vehicles going to and fro, not once do I spy a deer in any of them. I do hear gunshots on a couple occasions.
I don’t own any florescent orange, but I do wear bright colors every time I go walking (the above pic in darker colors was staged right outside camp), and I resist the urge to strike off from the road to go investigate things. The view of the mountains doesn’t disappoint, despite the poor lighting.
Saturday is a hard day, sometimes I have those. Trying and failing to concentrate on work a couple times, I drive into Tombstone instead to make use of a better cell signal to upload several videos for YouTube. I’m not in the mood for sightseeing though, and don’t take any pictures. One of the streets in town is blocked off from vehicle traffic, and there’s people in old west costumes walking around. If you’re into touristy things, it’s probably worth a visit if you’re in the area.
December 3 & 4
The sun, the sun!
On Sunday and Monday the sun returns, and I can finally get some good pictures of camp.
Walks are also better with the sun out, and on Monday the hunters have all gone back to work and traffic on 687 is all but non-existent.
I’m pretty sure this area counts as a savannah – grassland with scattered trees. I’m at about 4,300 feet here if the listing on Campendium is correct, and the terrain is much more like a standard desert at lower elevations. Having grown up in a flatter part of the country, I’ve found it fascinating since hitting the road how much the vegetation can vary in an area based on elevation. I use to have to cross state lines back east to see this kind of variety. Here I only had to drive ten miles up towards the mountains.
Speaking of elevation, it may not seem like December the way most of the country experiences it, but camping up here at the foot of a mountain it’s definitely getting colder at night than down in the valley below. In fact the low on Thursday night is expected to be 23 degrees, and that’s colder than I want to subject my plumbing to. Time to be thinking about the next camp.
But for tonight, the sun turns the Dragoons pink at sunset, the wind is calm and all is well. As I sit in my chair a full moon slowly rises behind the mountains. A few insects that have survived the frosts so far chirp in the grass, offering one last serenade to the departing fall. It’s a beautiful night to be an RVer.