We’ve been in Quartzsite for over a month and will soon be on our way to Mesa, Arizona. Staying in the desert has been a first for us. It took a while to get used to the terrain–coarse sand, various stones and rocks, a blanket of dirt and dust over everything, sparsely dispersed cacti and thorny bushes, large and small prickly weeds dancing in the wind, flat earth for miles with mountainous protrusions surrounding–all describing this unforgiving and sprawling desert land. It’s extremely different from Florida beaches and the farmlands of the midwest. To me, it’s beautiful, lonely, and haunting.
We initially stayed in a commercial RV park in town. As Quartzsite started to fill up with RVers, the park became more of a sardine can and we began to feel claustrophobic as it limited our outdoor activities and noise from our neighbors disturbed our peace. This past week, we moved to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property on Plomosa Road. This includes hundreds of acres of lands owned by the United States government. Citizens are allowed to camp free on these lands for two weeks or obtain a six-month pass for $180. There are also miles and miles of ATV trails to explore. It’s a natural environment with no modern conveniences, business, or homes. There are no electrical hookups, no running water, and no showers or bathrooms. The stay is self-contained and requires planning ahead and conservation. In other words, we can only operate as much as our batteries and generator can power us, are limited to fresh water we have on board in our tanks and what we’ve purchased from the store, can eliminate only 50 gallons of gray water (which is water generated from showers and dishes and whatever goes down the drains), and have use of our black water (sewer) tank until it reaches 50 gallons. It’s a test in how well we use our limited resources and how willing we are to give up creature comforts to live in the desert and all its beauty. For me, it has been a practice run in preparation for the zombie apocalypse. If the walkers don’t get us, we’ll be able to survive on our own until we can catch up to Rick, Michone, and Daryl.
There are challenges with staying in this area. We are limited to one grocery store whose prices skyrocket during the ‘season,’ (we’re from Florida and used to the hurricane gougers, so it’s not new to us) or drive 30 minutes to Blythe, California or 40 minutes to Parker, Arizona, to stock up on groceries, water, fire wood, and other supplies. There’s no running to the store for that forgotten can of tomato paste. The lesson in planning ahead has been good for me. I’ve actually used my grocery list for the items I need instead of relying on my faulty memory (I still forgot the tomato paste, but the taco soup turned out okay and was delicious enough to share with our neighbors. At least I think it was–they were all polite and neglected to mention the omission).
I much prefer boondocking on BLM land. I do love full hook-ups and doing a load of laundry every day and taking longer showers in the commercial campgrounds, but the scenery out on BLM is absolutely gorgeous. Neighbors are far away and we have our own quiet space. In the evenings, we gather for meals with our friends, grab some beer or wine, and sit around the campfire sharing stories and experiences. In the mornings, we enjoy the spectacular sunrises in vibrant colors and receive a beautiful encore as the golden light of sunset silhouettes the mountains in the distance. We sometimes hear the coyotes cry at night and saw a large bobcat defiantly scourging for food alongside the road.
Quartzsite is isolated from most of civilization and it can become I’m-in-The-Twilight-Zone disorienting, but the nature around is renewing and peaceful. Sometimes, the quiet is all that’s needed for peace and tranquility. It can also help in finding a balance while taking a break in the roller coaster of life.
I didn’t want to visit the desert at first and I was particularly against boondocking, but this experience has widened my view of this majestic country of ours. It’s also taught me we can live with even less of the so-called necessities and enrich our journey beyond belief.
I’m still learning this lifestyle and still evolving. The point of living like this is so much more than choosing to live in an RV to travel. It means even more than having the freedom to come and go as we please. It’s all about what it does to us as human beings and growing and learning beyond our wildest imagination. There’s an elevation in the spirit and quieting calm in tuning out extraneous noise.
It’s finding perspective.
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I miss those enormous desert skies. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for stopping by. The sunsets and sunrises here are stunning here.
We’ve yet to boondock in the desert, Dawn…but that sure does look like fun! 😎
It was our first time and I was against it the whole way. However, I love it and can’t wait until we have the opportunity to do this again. Now that we know we can go a good week, we plan to do more. It’s just so beautiful. Safe travels to you!
I am so jealous! I loved boondocking on the BLM lands! The museum in town is worth visiting as is the used book store. There are several stone house remnants to visit. Ahhhh, someday I’ll get back there!
I resisted boondocking, but have found that I don’t mind it at all. It’s just so pretty and peaceful out here. I’m sure we’ll do more of it. When do you start your trek to Alaska? I cannot wait to hear about your adventures!
We will be leaving FL on March 26 and taking the LONG way!
We are leaving Tuesday for Big Cypress National Wildlife Refuge. Boondocking for 10 days. Can’t wait!!!!!
What a delightful post! I’ve seen the desert but never wallowed in it. Kudos to you for coping with a pared-down lifestyle to get the most out of the desert. Gorgeous photos!
Thanks, Anne. It is truly a unique experience. I wish I had been more open-minded about it earlier.
I suspect you are enjoying this experience more because it took you by surprise. Way to go!
Enjoyed the story. Well written. I’ll bet it’s a big difference to the city life. I’ve read where the Q might be a good place to get upgrades done on one’s rig. I’ll have to go back in your blog and see if you guys are running a residential fridge and solar or not.
Have fun and be safe.
Thanks, Mark! Lots of people get their solar set up here or in Yuma, but I’m not sure where or who. We did get a new windshield while here and they came to the rig in the campground to do install and took away the cracked one. We do not have solar and probably won’t consider that substantial investment until next year. We do have a residential fridge. Right now it is more economical for us to run the generator for short periods of time to charge the batteries. With the cooler weather, our electric use is minimal and we are far enough from everyone that the generator is not disruptive when it’s running. Your full-time adventure is just a few months away, right?
We are planning on starting full time as late as November of next year. This August I’m eligible to retire but it makes since to stay until the following year. But that final year we should have our rig and a lot of vacation time to burn up using it part-time.
I noticed the residential fridges are taking over in the luxury units. How many batteries do you have? And are they 6 volt or 12 volt?
Mike says we have four 6-volt Duracell AGM batteries from Sam’s Club. He says he did that to save money, but next time he’ll bite the bullet and get 6-volt Lifeline.
Thank you. Every time I look at a potential fifth wheel to buy I wonder were four batteries would go without having to move it all to the basement. Figure we will just build a box and keep it in the generator compartment. Last fall my sister and I stayed in a class C for three days off grid. The two 12 volt batteries were a pain to keep charged.
I was surprised we made it as well as we did. Our generator automatically kicks on when the batteries get low. Since we weren’t running air during the day (propane heat at night) we did very well. I know solar would help things out, but right now that’s not on the table for us. We’ll have to see how it goes. I can let Mike chime in on the battery issue if you’d like (he wouldn’t mind sharing our experience with them even by phone, etc.). He is the one that handles that stuff and has much more knowledge than me.
I made a note for myself to get in touch with you guys once we get closer to the decision on batteries. I’m thinking I’ll follow his lead as I’m sure the research was done.
Beautiful! As a person from the Northeast I was surprised the Arizona desert has captivated me so much. I love it.
I was surprised at the beauty also. It evokes a lot of emotions for me, actually. We have enjoyed our time here and I can foresee us coming back next year.
Great post! I am new to blogging (I have a travel with pets blog I started last week) and a very PT RV-er and really only started RVing in 2015…that all being said, I am just wondering how did you find out about the BLM property? I had never heard of that until your post and think it sounds great.
I visited your site and followed! I love your Wee Tots–how precious! I heard about BLM land through word of mouth from other RVers. The BLM website may have maps, etc. Also freecampsites.net lists BLM land, too. There are also tons of blogs and YouTube videos from other RVers who utilize BLM land often. It was our first time and we absolutely love it–I didn’t think I would. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. I’m happy to answer any questions! Dawn
Thank you so much for your reply, I am definitely going to check them out!!
Wonderful post! Sp happy you are pushing your limits with boondocking – it really does put the free in the freedom that we have as nomads. I loved your desert pictures. Beautiful!
Thanks, Joy! This was a first for us–and I came kicking and screaming. We love it and will probably do much more in the future. We are headed to Mesa for a couple of weeks. Are you guys still on the move?
The scenery is stunning. I learnt a similar white lesson. White cloth runners for hiking in the red desert sand. I was never able to get them completely clean after that.
I have no idea why I wore that sweater–it was a last-minute decision to get on the cart and go and I grabbed it to ward off the chill. Thankfully, it came clean–sorry your runners did not. At least it makes for a great memory, right? 🙂
You’re a better woman than me, Dawn. I’m not sure I could go for all that dust and dirt (not that I clean my house regularly but you know what I mean). However, those are some gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing your world.
I’m saving the deep cleaning for when we are in a dust-free location–there’s a film of it everywhere (even my lungs, I think) and it’s impossible to keep up with it all. It’s a good thing it’s totally worth it. It’s beautiful here.
Like you, I would hesitate, too. But now that you have shown me those gorgeous orange skies, well, I’d love to be there with my camera. But I’d worry about the dust. No place is perfect. But it is what we make of it, right?
good on you for getting out and getting dirty … living off-grid is great, realise how much resources we waste … our Australian deserts are also amazing places … a spiritual rest 🙂
I hope to make it to Australia some day. It is a dream of mine!
lol it is well worth the effort believe me 🙂
All of the pictures are great, but the one with the sky in them are just on another level.
Thank you so much. My photography skills are very amateur, so your compliment means the world! Dawn
Those sunset photos are just gorgeous.
Thank you! It’s hard to get a bad sunset/sunrise photo in the desert. They were ALL gorgeous and I have the 3000+ photos to prove it. 🙂
The first times without full hookups is an experience to remember 🙂 I had mine in the deserts of Nevada.