Originally posted 4/4/2013
After a false start, I made it to a rather remote area that’s somehow just a few scant miles from Wickenburg, Arizona. I’m camping in the same area as Bob Wells, intrepid VanDweller, and three others. We’re up high on a ridge overlooking a wide wash where 4WD enthusiasts go to wear out their machinery.
The false start was to not go far enough down a rather interesting mix of pavement and washboard dirt in order to get to a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) area. I had dutifully gone my 2.8 miles, watched an AWD station wagon have to get pushed out of a deep sand area (which I was about to descend into with the trailer) and turned around, figuring I had missed the turnoff. I really didn’t want to have to boondock again at North Ranch though, and didn’t want to try to locate Box Wash just a few miles away.
So, I cranked it around again and went for broke. Seems I needed to go less than another half-mile. Straight ahead was a combination dead end and small parking area for people to unload their ATVs, with a very unappetizing rough path leading down into the wash. I could have wedged into that lot by turning around and backing into it, but I would have had plenty of manly, beer-swillin’ company on the weekend. The turnoff to the left was plainly the intended path, but surely, this couldn’t be it. Urging a combined 16,200 pounds of vehicle up a somewhat steep, rocky path did not appeal. This is just not something you do with TT’s. It was not really wide enough for two vehicles to pass, and the big question was whether there was any place to turn around along its length. Sure, call me a coward, but then, when you try this, we’ll see how you fare. Many are the stories of hasty decisions, and of having to back up a trailer for several miles. Doesn’t appeal to me.
Bob’s campsite was allegedly 0.2 miles up this trail – if it was the proper trail. I put the rig in park and hoofed it up the hill. Wow. Big imbedded rocks on the slope, creating doubts in me about traction. At the top though, there they were. Darned vanners! Easy-peezy for them! Oh well. Everyone has their own reference point, and so do I. Spotting a very nice turn-around loop off to one side, I walked back down the path and put the Furd in 4WD Low just to ease the stress on the torque converter. Then, I crawled up the hill with the hope of not redistributing the trailer’s contents. Traction was no problem at all, so now in my mind, I’m a mountain man. Really though, no sane person with a 26’ trailer would try this road just from its appearance at the start. Looks like one big headache.
I pulled in and there was Bob going over the next stage of a first-time solar panel installation with Mike, who has a very nice Ford work van conversion going. I don’t think you need to be particularly smart to adapt a TT for full-time boondocking. It helps of course, but like me, you eventually get there, given enough error and cash. Full-timing in a van requires a lot more finesse, because space is so limited. We talked for quite awhile and frankly, although most RVers are accepting and pleasant to be with, VanDwellers know what they’re about, and are exceptionally open with each other and anyone who appreciates the lifestyle. They are the philosophers of the RV world, I suppose.
Time duly blown on too much conversation and too little work, I returned to the rig, puzzled for quite a while over where on earth I could position it for maximum solar panel exposure without crowding someone or blocking them in, and backed into a spot which I think will do the job nicely. Out came the solar panels and connecting wiring, and I’m now in business. My hope is to investigate the Old West town of Wickenburg, and also to walk the trail I’m beside to see where it goes. The cacti here are many and varied, and I plan to show that as well. It’s a beautiful area, and although it’s not well-suited for a 53-foot rig, it’s worth the pursuit. Time now for an evening refreshment, and a good dinner to celebrate the rewards of persistence (or desperation, depending on your point of view). My next post will review my Smartweigh results, I think. Share the pain!