Revisiting Saddle Mountain

Dec 21, Thursday

With good cheer, I pack up camp at Snyder Hill BLM area in Tucson, AZ. Bertha is running well, I finally got a hike in with my friends, and now that invisible tug is pulling me westward again. Back on the road I go!

The drive west on I10 is uneventful. Phoenix is a little slower to drive through than usual, likely owing to it being mid-afternoon on a weekday.

Before 4 pm I’m pulling into the tiny town of Tonopah, AZ, just off the interstate. Tonopah consists of three gas stations, a Mexican restaurant, a post office, a motel, and an RV park. I’m here for the later.

Saddle Mountain RV Park isn’t fancy, a gravel lot with palm trees and a swimming pool, but I’ve ended up overnighting here numerous times because it’s just so convenient. I get my laundry done, shower, charge all my electronics, and dump and fill the appropriate tanks. The wind has picked up throughout the afternoon and now it’s blowing quite hard and the temperature is dropping fast. I timed my stay at the RV park intentionally to be able to run my electric heater tonight.

When I return from the laundry house I run into Viki, a friend I made in Quartzsite last winter. As far as I can tell we’re the only two overnighters in the park tonight, how funny that we landed here at the same time. We catch up in the evening, and then I return to Cas and enjoy the humming of my heater while the wind blows outside.

Dec 22, Friday

The wind has stopped, the sky is clear, and if it’s not that warm, it’s at least not that cold. I pull out of the RV park and don’t have far to go for my next camping destination, Saddle Mountain BLM area south of Tonopah.

This was one of the first boondocking locations I ever stayed at, and coming back for the first time since then, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come. The dirt road in seems so much easier now, the narrowness of it doesn’t bother me. Discovering new boondocks is a lot of fun, but coming back to a favorite is just as enjoyable.

And compared to Snyder Hill, it’s practically deserted – mission accomplished. My old spot at the end of one of the spur roads is open, and no one is camping nearby. A little peace and quiet is just what I need before dropping into Quartzsite. Near sunset I take a little stroll around camp to reacquaint myself with the place. It’s good to be back.

Dec 23, Saturday

It’s really hard to make myself sit still and work my first day at a new camp. All morning the view out the Casita’s ample windows beckons to me like a siren call. The mountains to the south whisper of new things to explore and the birds flitting between the creosote bushes sing the day’s praises – after the brief cold spell it’s warming up nicely.

In the afternoon I finally give up on writing and hit one of the numerous 4-wheeler tracks towards the mountains. It’s a fun cloud day. The sky is mostly overcast, but the clouds are thin and sunlight still seeps through. I’ve always been a lover of life’s simple pleasures, and traveling like this, I get to experience so many of them.

I pass by my favorite cactus out here, a very photogenic specimen located at an intersection with seven shapely arms. It’s still doing well, but I can tell it’s been a while since there was appreciable rain out here. All the saguaro look like accordions, their tough skin contracting as they use up their water reserves. Hang in there buddy, the rains will come again.

I set up my little camera tripod and fiddle around with my poi in front of the mountain. Poi is an interesting endeavor. Getting good at the individual tricks or moves is a matter of repetition and practice, but putting the various tricks together into a cohesive dance is a matter of art more than skill. Some days it all just comes together easily, some days it does not – the same with anything creative I suppose. Today isn’t a good flow day, but I enjoy it never the less.

I sit out in my chair near sunset with much anticipation. Days with a lot of wispy clouds like this usually foretell of colorful sunsets. The minutes tick by and the sky gets darker. Just when I’m starting to think nothing’s going to happen, nature delivers.

* * *

In real time, I’ve arrived in the Quartzsite area (staying in Kofa until the RTR starts on the 11th) and as such I may be hard to reach online until the two gatherings are done. First because I’m going to be busy talking and mingling with people offline *gasp!*, and secondly because the cell towers around Q get bogged down with all the people trying to get on so internet speeds slow to a crawl. When I arrive at the RTR on Thursday I’ll release my coordinates here and on YouTube to make it easier to find me. Just be courteous and don’t come calling before 9 am or after dark, and don’t expect I’ll have hours to gab – I still need to get work done, too. Looking forward to seeing you!

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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. Mary on February 7, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Another great post, Becky. I so appreciate your evocative writing. Even without your photos, I can picture where you are just from your descriptions.

    Had to laugh at Clare’s mention of Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley.” I’m old enough that, in my day, that book was considered a must-read classic. Indeed, I think it’s the first mass-market paperback I ever read, from my dad’s library. In many ways, it’s an extension of his classic fiction piece, “The Grapes of Wrath.” Though written 21 years later and lacking the anger that powered his fiction, “Travels” captures that familiar yearning to see America, to discover what’s over the next rise, and in the process, what’s inside ourselves. It’s what makes it such a timeless classic.

    The RV crowd may enjoy the Wikipedia listing, which shows Steinbeck’s rig.
    Mary recently posted..A Bit About Full-Time RV LifeMy Profile

    • Becky on February 7, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks for reading Mary! Glad you enjoyed this. 🙂

  2. Cinn on January 27, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    What a beautiful place, love the photos on your 2016 post as well! I’m going to go check this out soon. Is it windy there?

    • Becky on January 28, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      It can be, just like about anywhere in the southwest.

  3. Becky on January 11, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Okay, I’ve arrived at the RTR and have internet again! Slow internet, but enough to get online.

    I’m glad you guys enjoyed this post, and for those of you coming to the RTR I hope to see you here. For those who can’t make it this year, I’ll likely be back next year again and even if I’m not, I’m sure there will still be plenty of awesome people to meet. 🙂

    Clare – I’ve heard of that book but haven’t read it, would be interested to know what you think of it!

  4. Clare Sente on January 9, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Becky. I too agree with Judy and you are an inspiration. Bought my 2017 Casita (Amelia) last month and she is in storage until April in Chicago where I live. I will be flying out to Phoenix for 5 days and on Sunday, my friend John will drive with me to Q for just the day. I’ll be attending Carolyn’s Boondocking lecture. I hope I get to see you in person and say hello. You really are an inspiration. I plan to be at RTR with Amelia & Joe (my truck) next year.

    Did you hear of a book from 50 years ago by John Steinbeck called Travels with Charlie? He supposedly wrote about his RV trip with his poodle Charlie in the 60’s. I’ve ordered it on Amazon. Plan to get it for my trip to Phoenix this weekend. Best wishes and Haoiy New Year. You Rock!
    Clare Sente recently posted..THERE ARE NOMy Profile

  5. Ed Vaughn on January 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Really enjoy your posts. Keep them coming. Still about 5-7 years out before I can retire and start my own travel adventure. Can’t wait!!

  6. Robin on January 9, 2018 at 7:39 am

    I’m going to miss Q this time. I am quite disappointed as there are so many interesting persons such as yourself that I wanted to meet in person. Hopefully next year will be just as well attended. Oh, and Saddle Mountain is a dear favorite spot! We were there after you and the Technomads left such detailed directions.
    Safe travels!! ☮️

  7. Rob on January 8, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    We’re miles east of Q at a rest area, not sure what to do Tues & Wed yet. Maybe we’ll see you at the RTR?

  8. Judy Blinkenberg on January 8, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    I want to say Hi, it’s very nice to meet you. You are my hero, and maybe get a picture with you. Then maybe watch you sometime when you are doing your poi. That is all I will bother you. You are the influential person who started us on our journey, and to me, you are pretty special!

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