Arizona Bound

December 26 (continued)

After climbing down from the White Mountains, 70 meets up with US54 in the town of Tularosa, New Mexico. I point Bertha’s nose south and cruise through Alamogordo, after which 70 splits off again and continues southwest.

Not far out of town lies Holloman Air Force Base. After passing the proper exits towards the base, an unmarked dirt road stems from 70 to the north, parallelling a man-made body of water that I believe is called Holloman lake. It’s a good place for bird watching during the right time of year, but of more interest to me is the fact that there is boondocking along the shore.

I park Bertha and Cas at the entrance and walk up to the boondocking sites. No one is here, the road is passable. Good enough for me! Reviews online say that this area is managed by the base and gets patrolled, even though it’s technically on BLM land.

Before long I have Cas pulled up to the lake, and it’s level enough that I don’t have to unhitch. Very convenient as I’ll only be staying here the night. The view from my “office” window is superb.

The view down near the water is superb too.

The setting sun lights up the White Mountains to the east, also quite nice.

Once the sun is gone, the temperature drops immediately. Much of New Mexico is at a high elevation, which is why you don’t hear about boondockers staying in this state in the winter. It gets quite cold. I run my little propane heater for a couple hours before going to bed.

December 27, Tuesday

It’s 26 degrees out when I wake up. I’m fine in my warm sleeping bag and layers, but temps like this could be a problem for the plumbing if it stays below freezing long enough. I lean out of bed just far enough to turn the heater back on, then read in bed for a couple hours while Cas warms up.

Success! Water is flowing freely when I get up to use the bathroom. Once it gets above freezing outside it’s back on the road.

Just a few minutes farther west on 70 is White Sands National Monument. The place is a zoo when I pull in, kids are on winter vacation and there are a lot of families visiting the park. I get blocked in the visitor center parking lot, but that gives me a chance to eat lunch, get online and do some things.

This place is beautiful! The dunes aren’t as big as at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, but they are very white which makes it seem like it should be snow and not sand, a feeling enhanced by the cold weather.

The loop road that goes into the park past the visitor center is only paved near the beginning, but it’s in good shape and wide enough for any size RV to tour.

I get out to take a walk.

Most of the plants are gray and dormant, but the yucca provide a nice bit of contrasting green.

I’d like to spend tonight in Arizona where it’s warmer, this means I can’t stay long and White Sands and am back on the road by mid-afternoon.

That overexposed square is the AZ welcome sign.

70 rolls into Las Cruces, and from there I board I10 heading west. Coming from the north instead of El Paso, I expect to avoid the boarder patrol, but I get stopped shortly west of Las Cruces. The line moves quickly and I pass through without incident (“Thank you ma’am, have a good day”).

The sun has set when I spy the Arizona welcome sign. My phone has a hard time capturing it in the low light. I’ve made it!

Tonight I’ll be earning my ‘finding a boondocking spot after dark’ merit badge. This could go poorly. I’ve read reviews on this place but that’s no substitute for having been there before. I always recommend scouting a potential boondocking place out ahead of time and arriving before dark.

At Bowie, AZ I get off on exit 366 and follow Business 10 until a sign announces the turnoff for Fort Bowie National Historic Site on S Apache Pass Road. I creep along at a slow pace, not wanting to miss the less visible turnoff onto S Happy Camp Canyon (a small dirt road) where the free camping is.

The sign warns about it being a primitive road that is not regularly maintained. Ideally not someplace you want to explore for the first time after dark.

I get lucky. Happy Camp road is in reasonable shape and there’s a nice big spot near the entrance to the boondocking area (Called Indian Bread Rocks) that is open so I don’t need to do a lot of fumbling around in the dark. I’m also able to get level without unhitching and with minimal fuss. It’s good that it went so easily this time, but that doesn’t mean it would be easy next time. I wouldn’t make a habit of arriving after dark.

December 28, Wednesday

Wow, this place is pretty! Traces of snow decorate the boulders on the hillside. The spot I chose in the dark last night turns out to have a great view of them.

The trailer is perfectly level, a boondocking miracle.

After breakfast I take a walk around.

The sky is overcast so colors are muted, but it’s still neat. The formations remind me a lot of Enchanted Rock in Texas. The rough texture is even the same and I wonder if this place was formed the same way.

I climb up a ways and get a picture of Cas and Bertha below.

Cas and Bertha are to the left in this pic

By 10 am it’s back to the road, I’ve got places to be. A small group of free-range cattle give me the eye on the way out, that would explain all the cow plops in the boondocking area. I stop where Happy Camp meets Apache Pass and can’t pass up this photo opportunity. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to spend more time here some day.

Back on I10, traffic increases near Tucson, then dwindles again as the city disappears in the rear-view mirror. Bertha dutifully chugs up a hill into a low pass with more fun rocks and a rest area. It’s a good place to have lunch.

After an afternoon of easy driving, I exit I10 and use I8 to bypass Phoenix to the south. I remember I8 being in rough shape when I came through here in January before first light on my way to the RTR, but either it’s not as bad as I remember or it’s seen some improvements since then.

At Gila Bend I turn north on 85. My destination is Buckeye Hills Recreation Area, a well known dry camping and boondocking destination within easy reach of Phoenix. Julie arrives by plane in two days, and this is as good a base of operations as any.

To get here, you take Buckeye Hills Drive to the west of 85 and drive past the Sheriff training facility and the shooting range. There’s a loop with 10 or so developed sites (picnic tables and grills) in a loop at the end of the road, or you can turn onto Robbins Road just before the loop which is dotted with boondocking spots. At the end of Robbins Road is another 3-4 developed sites, and I manage to snag one of these.

By the time I’m set up the sun is setting, I’ll have to get photos of camp another day. Not having to get up and drive again in the morning is going to feel nice!

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In real time, it’s January 2nd. Happy New Year everyone!

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37 Responses to Arizona Bound

  1. gary green January 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    too cool, i will be at the RTR early , sunday , hope to see ya ! question, do you know about the bloggers meet and greet in quartzite , i read it some were and can’t find it, if so can you post the time and date and were at the big Q ? safe travels and all the very best in the new year !

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

      Nope Gary I haven’t heard about the blogger meet and greet. There’s a good chance someone else will know the information once you get to Q though. Thanks and I’ll probably see you at the RTR, I’ll likely be arriving on the 10th.

  2. Lara January 2, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Great photos and nice drive overall. The sand does look like snow in that first pic especially! And you’ve explained why most folks choose a different state than NM for Winter. I hadn’t really thought about the elevation, just know a lot of people like AZ.
    Happy New Year!
    Lara recently posted..A Solo Birthday on the Road My Profile

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Lara, yeah that sand was unreal. Especially with sunglasses on it looked like snow, and sunglasses were necessary because it was so bright. Take care!

  3. John H January 2, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    Looked at trailers today and your stories here are part of the blame/inspiration fo rthat upcoming expense!

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 6:52 pm #

      Have fun shopping John and I hope you get a good one, enjoy!

  4. Jodee Gravel January 2, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    That lake shot with the clouds is amazing! Glad you’re safe and sound, and hopefully warm, in Arizona. We’re looking forward to being there in February.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Christmas in New OrleansMy Profile

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

      Thanks Jodee and yes here in southern Arizona the lows are in the mid 40’s instead of the mid 20’s, I’ll take it!

  5. Wendy January 2, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    Great photos! You use an i-Phone, right? Amazing.

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

      Yep Wendy, all my photos are taken with an iPhone SE, no special apps or after-market lenses.

  6. desi January 2, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

    how do you find so many places becky and do you ever unhitch and leave the rig for pleasure and thinking of getting a 21 ft trailor around 3500 pds could you truck handle that?

  7. Ann cabezas creed January 3, 2017 at 3:11 am #

    Happy New Year to you too Becky!! Happy RVing and Living the Good Life 2017!

    Ann Cabezas Creed

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

      Thanks Ann! I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store. 🙂

  8. wayne thomas January 3, 2017 at 5:23 am #

    Great post, wonderful boondocking spots! Loved the “Happy Camp” sign pic. Hope your new year is more of the same.

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Wayne!

  9. GKLott January 3, 2017 at 6:14 am #

    Recognize the Texas Canyon rest area on I-10. Thanks for the info on these boondocking spots.

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

      You’re welcome GKLott.

  10. Donna McFarland January 3, 2017 at 7:43 am #

    Happy, happy, healthy New Year dear Becky!! Thank you so very much for allowing us all to peek inside your wonderful peaceful life…something we’re all aiming for!! You’re an AMAZING and extremely resourceful, capable, brave young woman!! Hurrayyyy for you!! Hugs to you sister girl!!

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks Donna! You’re welcome for this post and I hope you have a great 2017.

  11. Bob January 3, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    Great pics. Cas & Bertha make a really nice looking couple.

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Bob.

  12. Rene Kipp January 3, 2017 at 10:52 am #

    I bet it did feel good not to have to drive shortly after awakening! I love lazy days 🙂 I can totally relate to arriving in the dark. Unfortunately we’ve done it a few times. This last time we forgot to check for levelness side to side before we unhitched… So we had to re-hitch in order to put leveling blocks under the tires. Yuck!! Enjoy your visit with Julie!
    Rene Kipp recently posted..Friends, Family And An EngagementMy Profile

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

      Yep that was a good day Rene, haha. Julie arrived and we’re enjoying the desert peace and quiet.

      Yikes, I would probably have cried if I unhitched in the dark to discover I was still unlevel and had to rehitch. I hope to never again arrive after dark to find a new boondock.

  13. Tom Niemeier January 3, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    Enjoyed the article and pics. I’m a newbie following you.

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

      Welcome to IO Tom! I hope you continue to find my blog enjoyable and helpful.

  14. Norm H. January 3, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    Happy New Year! Nice to see you traveling again in the great Southwest. You found some awesome boondocking spots, too. Hope you and Julie have a good time.

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

      Thanks Norm! We’re having a good time so far.

  15. Dan January 3, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    Hello Becky,
    Glad to see that you are in Arizona now. Thanks for the great photos and narrative about the journey so far. Will this location be your main location for the RTR? I am still in Atlanta trying to get things sorts; family issues!
    With the “possible” snow showers/ice storm this coming weekend, I may be delayed leaving until next week.
    Still hopeful, itching to get underway! 🙂
    One quick question regarding your ability to post on the website. What do you use for internet access? Do you rely on WIFI at your locations? I’m trying to figure out what I will need to stay connected when boondocking. Sorry if you have answered this question in another post.
    Thank you for any information.
    Take care,
    Dan

    • Becky January 3, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

      Heya Dan,

      Here’s my article on mobile internet: http://www.interstellarorchard.com/2015/06/29/getting-lucky-with-mobile-internet/

      Phoenix is still quite a ways from Quartzsite, I’ll be moving closer once Julie flies back to Wisconsin. If you don’t know how to get to the RTR and where the camping area for it is, you can find more on Bob’s site: http://www.cheaprvliving.com/gatherings/

      Take care and I hope the weather holds!

      • Dan January 3, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

        Hey Becky,
        thank you so much for the info! Still trying to get it all “figured out”.
        Many moving pieces! Lol!
        It’s fun though!
        We have our fingers crossed for the weather to cooperate! Hopeful!

        Enjoy your current location. Love the scenery!
        Dan

  16. Anne January 3, 2017 at 8:07 pm #

    Just beautiful!

    • Becky January 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed this Anne!

  17. Sarah Shillinger January 3, 2017 at 10:00 pm #

    Beautiful pictures as always. Happy New Year

    • Becky January 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

      Thanks Sarah!

  18. Dale January 5, 2017 at 10:00 am #

    I have been to Fort Bowie several times. It is one of my favorite places to visit, but I never knew about boondocking at Happy Camp. Thanks for the continued info on places to stay.
    Dale recently posted..Family PhotoMy Profile

    • Becky January 5, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

      You’re welcome Dale and enjoy! It’s a pretty place, great boondocking spot.

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