After my desert tour of Southern California, combined with a quick one-nighter in the LA Basin, I headed east, back to Arizona for a few weeks. First stop was Saddle Mountain, a spot of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property near Tonopah, and about 10 minutes off Interstate 10. It’s also far from the craziness that is the Quartzsite area this time of year, when snowbirds, full-timers, and lots of RVing groups converge on that area. More than a few of us showing up at Saddle Mountain had either completely bypassed Quartzsite or were seeking refuge after a few days stay there.
Camping here felt like how I imagined it would be to camp on the set of an old John Wayne movie: lots of craggy hillsides and worn mesas, bright sunshine and clear blue skies. At night, Venus and then Orion led the parade of stars across the velvet dark sky until the sliver of a waning moon made its faint appearance after midnight.
Cooking breakfast one morning, I looked out the window to see the morning light on this tree. Breakfast could wait, I grabbed my Sony A7 and spent several minutes playing with composition and shutter settings. That golden light, coming in at such a low angle, lit it that tree like no other time of day. It was worth the cold breakfast.
Six days and six nights in this quiet and beautiful place was just the refresher I needed. Way better than a state park, even, because the dozen or so campers spaced ourselves far enough apart that I could (and did) walk outside in my pajamas to capture images of that tree and no one was around to notice or comment!
Boondocking isn’t for everyone. There’s no electric power grid to hook into, no water spigot to fill up at, no showers or bath house. The nearest grocery options were the Pilot travel center in Tonopah or the Dollar General about five miles farther down the road. But if you can generate your own power (I have solar panels on top of my Alto and a solid battery), bring your own water, and deal with your own wastewater, boondocking is a really great way to get away from it all. This was my third boondocking adventure this year, and I’m kind of hooked. I like the space, the quiet, and the freedom of it.
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.