Category Archives: Blog

Boondocking with family and friends

Getting out into the “Boonies” as my father used to say when I was growing up cleanses my soul and recreates my personality more so than a cup of coffee! (Yes coffee has that effect on me – without it I am sad, agitated and have no sense of humor!)

So, Boondocking it is, adventure it is. Getting OUT there, away from it all. What makes it better is when I can do it with friends and/or family. As my next blog post shows, I very much enjoy doing it solo but there are times when others are a necessity also. Nowadays boondocking refers to dispersed camping in out-of-the-way places. No hookups. For me electricity is generated by my solar panels. I bring water with me and I use a compost toilet. When I leave nobody will ever know I was there or it will be cleaner than when I arrived.

Boondocking is so much more than just camping. When I mention camping to someone I realize that their definition may be very different than mine. For instance as I grew up my parents took us camping at every chance they had. We almost always stayed in campgrounds or state parks where there were designated areas for people who needed hookups (water and electricity) or not. We mostly went in tents. There was generally a picnic table and a firepit and an area just for that space and we paid a nightly price to be there. Others consider camping to be going to RV Parks, hooking up to all of the services, playing in the pool and recreation area and then returning home. I guess that’s as good as a getaway as anything else, it just seems more fun to sit around a camp fire and make smores or cook scrambled eggs and bacon over the fire in the morning or….. ahhhh, the smell of that stake on the grill!!! yummmmm

Boondocking with others is a lot of fun. Of course there is the comradery, the joking, the falling down drunk or just falling down because! LOL. Goofball sort of stuff. I gotta pick my “Others” to camp with based on my frame of mind.

Sometimes I just want to know that someone I know is around – not that I want to spend time with them or anything (lol), it just comforts me knowing they are there.

Then there are the times when I want to turn up the music, make a roaring fire, dance, get drunk and fall out of my chair! I’ve been known to do that and it has it’s own fun (except in the mornings after).

And then the in between of them both where you share your campfire, your stories, your dreams, etc. where you are with others not as a separate person but as a group who care for one another on a personal basis (not a physical – or maybe that too). A group not predefined but perhaps recreated as the adventure rolls along.

When I boondock I do it far away from city life because I don’t want the lights of that city messing with my view of the stars and I don’t want the city noise or smell – or hassles. I camp in either my RV, my truck or my converted school bus.

As a side note: Many of you know that I am raising my granddaughter (I adopted her after my daughter passed away). Of course that means she is very much a part of Boondocking and she loves it as much as I do. I do not mention her for safety sake but she is always a very joyous part of it all. (of course that means that I don’t drink anymore but that’s probably for the best!)… (ok, ok, ok – I have been known to drink twice since she has been with me – since April 2018 – but that was with very dear and trusted friends. oh my)

Everyone worries that changes to laws surrounding our public lands may make dispersed camping impossible or limited. My vision of Boondockers United is to see it grow as big as the ARA and give us a voice where there is none now. Do you know that there is a National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds? (arvc.org) Do you know that they are a massive voice advocating for the use of RV Parks and Campgrounds as the ONLY solution for campers? Did you also know that Hotel and Motel associations are advocating for LESS camping because of the loss of income to their members?

WHO do we have? Dispersed camping needs a voice – BOONDOCKING needs a voice! Let’s do it! Join us now.

Boondocking….. Ahhhh what a relief!

Many people ask me, “What is Boondocking?” One aspect of it is to ME a relief….. It is that quiet place in nature where I am one with my surroundings. Your surroundings will probably look different than mine, but mine are normally in the forest or desert, in fair weather and few people or none around. Let me paint you a picture of one day in this life:

I arrive at a place of my choosing, walk a short ways and then make myself comfortable. Sometimes that will be a blanket on the ground where I can lay on it and look up at the sky. Other times I may just sit in the lotus position or, if I am feeling my bones, it will be a comfortable lounge chair.

For this picture I have chosen the forest just south of Flagstaff, Arizona in the Coconino National Forest and I am alone. In Arizona the forest is pretty much open where I can see around the trees and into the distance which is pretty nice because if there is an Elk or deer out there I will probably see it as it moves through them. (I have seen them many times, but not today). The pine trees are very tall and majestic with very few dead ones standing. The evidence of a past forest fire shows in the burned bark of many trees.

As I find a comfortable spot to relax I notice that my steps are cushioned by the thick layer of pine needles and a small crunch of fallen pieces of limbs. The pine cones are many and the sizes are varied.

My whole body seems to thrumb to the quietness around me and a feeling of profound happiness envelops my whole being. I almost feel like dancing or singing or shouting – but that would be against all that is right now – maybe later, but right now I just want to chill, I don’t feel like being scolded by squirrels or birds.

The first thing that comes to me is the openness around me, It makes me feel limitless – no walls, no people, no noise, no judgements, no thoughts. Just me and the world around me. It makes me feel very insignificant in a profound way.

In this space in time I feel only deep and all consuming love – I don’t have to identify it, it just is and it’s all the way to my core and makes me smile that inner and outer smile that transforms me. Oh if only the world and my life would allow this feeling to follow me every moment of my days!

As I relax I notice the sun moving across the sky by seeing the shade of the trees move inexorably across the ground. A squirrel is foraging just over there as it readies itself for winter. A crow greets another as they weave through the trees and a songbird serenades all there is.

You may ask me what this has to do with Boondocking? To me, it is the CORE of what Boondocking is. It doesn’t matter to me how I arrived or where I have chosen or anything else – it is the peace and quiet and profoundness of it all. I may do this for an hour, a day, a week, 2 weeks or a lifetime.

Sometimes when I go Boondocking I find trash littering the area I have chosen. I always take it with me and dispose of it as it should be. It is not a natural part of the surroundings so I remove it. I’m confused as to why anyone would want to leave unnatural things in a natural setting, but I do what I can when I can.

Maybe some people who enjoy being in nature don’t understand about keeping nature natural. If I find an area where there was obviously a manmade campfire pit, I will use it. I mean it is disconcerting to want to build a small campfire in one of those pits and find where it is full of burned nails, aluminum cans or melted metal. I use a magnet to get the metal and nails out and then use a small shovel to dig the rest out. Why do people leave these messes? I honestly don’t understand it. Luckily this is not a common problem, just an annoyance that comes up along the way.

TO ME this is one aspect of Boondocking and it is a necessary part of my life. This picture of today many times will be different tomorrow or next week as I seek the varying beauty that life and nature has to offer.

Everyone worries that changes to laws surrounding our public lands may make dispersed camping impossible or limited. My vision of Boondockers United is to see it grow as big as the ARA and give us a voice where there is none now. Do you know that there is a National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds? (arvc.org) Do you know that they are a massive voice advocating for the use of RV Parks and Campgrounds as the ONLY solution for campers? Did you also know that Hotel and Motel associations are advocating for LESS camping because of the loss of income to their members?

WHO do we have? Dispersed camping needs a voice – BOONDOCKING needs a voice! Let’s do it! Join us now.



National Forest Trash

Please look at the end of this post for the link to an article that All About Arizona News recently published.

I have emailed them the following comment:

I would like to comment on the article you wrote:  “Visitors Are Trashing Coconino National Forest Campgrounds”

I do believe you mean “dispersed camping areas” instead of campgrounds because that word implicates that it is improved camping areas with slabs, trash bins, picnic tables and bathrooms whereas dispersed camping areas are none of the above.Perhaps you should hear the “rest of the story”:

Dispersed camping areas are open to all people who wish to camp in a natural setting and the rules are that 1 camping unit may stay for up to 14 days. A camping unit is normally a family or a single person staying in a dispersed camping area. It is open to all people including those who walk in for whatever reason.

The ones who walk in do not have the means to take their trash with them so they leave it all behind and that means EVERYTHING including trashed tents, human feces, cooking utensils, unused food items, bedding, etc….

The “Visitors” as they are referred to in your article are actually the ones who are cleaning up the forest and then putting it beside the road for the forest service to take care of. They feel like they are doing their part. Why do they do that you may ask. The reason they are doing it is because the forest service will not try to do anything related to cleaning up the forest. They say it is not their responsibility. 

Perhaps the forest service for Coconino National Forest and Prescott National Forest should contact Ranger Bill Anderson of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) office in Yuma. He works with local concerned citizens, volunteer groups and non profits every single year to help keep Quartzite* dispersed camping areas and surrounding city areas clean and trash free. The BLM office arrives with 2 trucks and one large flat bed trailer. They also supply trash bags and long  handle grippers as well as gloves for those who don’t bring their own. They haul the trash to the local dump once the area is clean. Did you know that Quartzite can grow to 2 million people every winter as snowbirds flock the area from all across the USA and Canada?

Let me tell you first hand what has happened when I have contacted the local forest service. I called on one occasion and asked if my friends and I could clean up the area outside of Thousand Trails campground in Cottonwood (on the way to the bignotti Picnic Site) and could they haul off what we got together (there were multiple areas of trash all around which were from those people who walk in). They told me that they do not do that and they don’t have the means to haul it. So my friends and I cleaned it up and called a local landscaper to come and haul it off and we paid for it out of our pockets.

The next year a friend called the same office and was told, “then the prisoners wouldn’t have anything to do”. The next year they had closed the area completely off to all campers because of trash that they refused to help anyone try to clean up.

“Those who walk in” are often those who have no other option nor a vehicle to leave in. Many times a local “help” organization will give them a free tent, food supplies, a small amount of water and then they further help by giving them a ride out to our National Forest and tell them they must leave within 14 days. They never return to check on them. The local campers who don’t walk in find the trash left behind and the only option they have is to leave it beside the dirt access road because they don’t have the means to haul it off. 

This feels like a no-win situation. Responsible campers (which the majority are) find trash left on our National Forests repulsive and they can only do what they can do. If the forest service would put together a system whereby campers can help with or participate with them, I think the trash problem would diminish considerably.  A way to do that would be to contact a visiting camper facebook group or website and put out there that help is needed or even put a notice in the local paper or online that on this date and at a given time a clean up will be scheduled and that volunteers are needed. If the forest service would handle it much like the BLM, I think the outpouring of help will be unforgettable.

Let’s try to work together as  a positive unit instead of “them” against “us”attitude.

*The traditional notion of “home” has little meaning here in Quartzsite, AZ. During January and February, homes on wheels outnumber permanent houses by about 500 to 1. The sleepy town of less than 4,000 year-round residents receives a winter migration of nearly 2 million humans and their mobile dwellings each year” Jan 22, 2020

https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+the+average+population+of+quartzsite+in+the+winter&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS783US783&oq=what+is+the+average+population+of+quartzsite+in+the+winter&aqs=chrome..69i57j33.29848j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Homeless Solution #1 – Let’s create a TLC – Temporary Living Center!

There is a lot of talk about the homeless crisis in America. I don’t have all of the answers but I DO have some ideas.

Let’s begin by talking about what Homelessness is, sort of defining what we are trying to address.

There are varying ideas of who the homeless are and how to handle “them”. You would think “the homeless are those without a home” but what is a home? Is it a sticks-and-brick affair only? I know many people who will tell you that their vehicle (van, car, bus, truck or motorcycle) is their “home” or the tent they have with them to put up each night is their home. What is the saying, “Home is where you hang your hat”? Then bring in all of the full time RVers and their respective homes. Many of these I mention in this paragraph will never say they are homeless, in fact they will vigorously disagree with that. They are very happy in their “homes” and in their chosen way of living.

Then we have the “down and out” sort of homeless.The DaO’s are the ones who, for whatever reason, have only the option of living on the streets or in the surrounding forests, under bridges or wherever they can find to sleep for the night and put their meager belongings (changes of clothing, medicine, etc). Many of these unfortunate persons are struggling with drug addictions, alcoholism or mental and/or medical issues. Others are forced into these situations because of a loss of income, family or other reasons including legal issues. The people in this paragraph are the ones who I feel like could be helped by giving them back their dignity. 

How do we do that? I’m glad you asked. I believe that if we can construct and maintain a place I will call a “Temporary Living Center” it will help with the homeless situation across America and possibly beyond. I propose this as a place which could be described as a transitional point for persons to acclimate themselves before returning to a “normal” life. It is not intended as a permanent, long term answer. I see it as a peaceful, safe and relaxing space full of opportunities for them to grow mentally and physically. Just by giving them safety it can ease their mind out of “frantic” mode and into a more creative place where they can become productive members of society once again. Imagine yourself in their places right now: On the street worrying about theft, abuse or other personal issues. Trying to find a bathroom and food to eat all the while protecting yourself and what’s yours. Maybe one answer to one part of the problem is to just throw a million compost toilets at them and hope they maintain them correctly.

I see this village as a wonderful solution or a sort of jumping board from the streets to main stream society. I think it is necessary for them in so many ways.

I can imagine that once each person is welcomed into the village they are given an identification card with a ribbon on it to keep around their neck. That ribbon can be an identifier to management in lots of ways. When they first enter a blue ribbon could indicate male, a pink one female and a purple one transgender. Entwine a yellow one to indicate they have a medical marijuana card and a red one may tell us they have some emotional issues and would need to be handled differently. A dark blue one may indicate they take medications and will have access to the medication facility. A green one may indicate that they are a volunteer at the facility. You get the idea. It’s a simple and efficient concept agreed to when they are accepted into the community.

Imagine if we were to add a workshop for wood and metal training as well as a place for crafting. Just imagine what those newly unfrantic minds could create!

An Overview of what the village would look like and then a detailed discussion to follow:

I see a transitional village as a very large piece of land surrounded by a fence (to keep the inhabitants safe from Coyotes, Foxes, Wolves, Javelinas, wild donkeys and horses as well as other critters of the night). Inside this fence would be many spaces with varying sizes where there is a 10×10 cement building on each lot which will serve as a shower, commode, sink, and charging station (Solar energy via a solar panel on the roof) and electronic storage area (for the solar system). The rest of the space would be for personal use. Some lots may be large enough to park a vehicle on or an RV or even to put up a tent or two if so desired. As a revision, I believe the shower should be a small extension out the back of the 10×10 accessible by a doorway to keep mold and other humidity issues out of the main area.

I challenge you to put up a 10 x 10 canopy and just imagine a cot in one corner, a 2.5 x 6 countertop on the opposite wall with a sink and storage area. At the foot of the bed would be a 2.5 x 3 area with multiple shelves (probably built into the structure with cement blocks and a door on it). On the far wall from the entry is an area they put a work table/desk and chair and beside that would be the entrance to the outside shower which is 2 x 6. beside the sink area and shower would be the restroom. the last wall would be the entrance door and then open area for moving around in. Outside you could put a picnic table or built in bench on each lot. The solar storage which includes 2 lithium batteries, 1 inverter which is wired to several outlets in the room and the solar controller. This area would only have access from the outside via a vented and locked doorlet accessed for maintenance. Around the top of the structure walls could be separated opaque glass squares that let light in during the day and you could also put those in the bathroom area and/or down a wall in the main area. Look at the diagram above for what I “see”:

I further see a complete common kitchen and eating area where meals are prepared in a cafeteria type style for everyone to enjoy and many outdoor picnic tables. This area could also house a small library and a board game area. It would be great to have this area with lots of small trees and a nice walking path and personal space areas. this could also be a family visiting area if a larger space is needed. In warmer climes this could be an open type area whereby the walls are 3 ft high and then the rest is a screened in room with a palapa style roof. This is very Mexican traditional.

This village would also need to have a medical room that perhaps has covey spaces for each lot where medicines can be housed safely and given out as required to those who need them. This would cut down on overdoses or theft or illegal distribution. An onsite staff Nurse would be in attendance or available.

The village would not be complete without a full garden area where the habitants can help grow their own food and enjoy the exercise and pride in their accomplishments. Over production could relate to income via a vegetable stand outside.

It would also be great to have an animal husbandry area where their are goats for goat milk, cows for cow milk, chickens for eggs and other great animals to help keep our village organic and well fed. I think the population may enjoy the interaction as well.

I think a small commissary onsite would be beneficial and purchases would be based on a per person allotment delegated by approved funds through our funding options and managed by the Village. This would allow the villagers to get needed personal items like Soap, toilet paper, personal hygiene items, tooth paste and tooth brushes, etc.

Admittance to this private village would be based upon need. Each person would need to be personally approved by the approval committee and would sign an agreement to the terms of living in this village. That may include a clause that no drugs or alcohol are allowed under any circumstances and if found that person would be immediately evicted indefinitely. The approved person would then receive a Village issued identification card with their picture on it. This is the card that they would keep on themselves at all times.

Maybe you want to know about where the water will come from and how will the waste water be handled. My vision is of a main well that is attached to a tall water tower. From the water tower lines are run to each and every lot where an on-demand hot water heater is used for the sink and shower area. The wastewater is easy. My son is in the Air Force and he has been tasked many times with setting up new encampments with wastewater systems. One idea of this is to use an underground container where up to 3 lots can be emptied into it for the black water and it is leached out or pumped out regularly. The grey water could be tubed to the garden area for treatment and recycling.

So, you say, this all sounds very grand but how would it pay for itself? Again, I’m glad you asked! By helping cities, counties and states with their homeless they could be charged a per person fee for the ongoing care of the individuals helped. The Federal Government also has grants, etc. to help fund this type of establishment. Private funds would be needed as well and fundraising events could be held. This would be a nonprofit establishment.

To get something like this started, it would take a considerable amount of investment money and there is a lot of land available in certain tax-free zones. It CAN be done and I think it should be done. What do you think? Email me: Boondocker16 @gmail.com

Let’s help give people back their dignity!