The Adventure Begins
Finally! I buttoned up the Defiant at the RV park in Wellton yesterday and took off for the grocery store in the Yuma Foothills, then headed for a trial overnight at Adair Park, a few miles north of Yuma. Trial? Yep. I’m not above knowing that I might forget to pack a thing or three, so a quick overnight at a place within striking distance of Wellton struck me as a good idea. Adair Park has half a dozen firing ranges, so I can’t recommend it as a quiet getaway, but it did the job. By morning, I had a list of 3 things that I’d missed packing. Important? Yup. Can opener, kitchen/utility shears, and Amoxicillin, something I must take just before I visit my dentist. I’d also neglected to wear a decent belt, as I had temporarily swapped in a worn, undersized one that eventually stains whatever it’s wrapped around. My only regret of that return trip was that I didn’t think to toss that bad belt in the dumpster on the way out. Why do I even have it? “Packratism” never dies, I guess. It just lies dormant, waiting.
So back to Wellton I went for these things in the morning, and then looped through Yuma Foothills to drop off a bit of waste engine oil I’d gathered in order to make room for an additive. I’d forgotten to drop off that, too. Then up to Palm Canyon in KOFA I went, where I’m now camped for a couple of days of sunshine in the low 70’s. KOFA is a wildlife preserve a few miles south of Quartzsite. After that, it gets beastly hot, and it’s time to head for the higher elevations of Wickenburg by way of Bouse.
I had intended to try my luck along King Kofa Road, further south, but the GPS coordinates I had led me further north somewhere. But where? A quirk of my psyche suddenly made it more important to discover what on earth I had noted down. Turns out, those coordinates led to the intersection of Palm Canyon Road and the branch leading to where I camped last year. I was tempted to take that branch, it being remarkably rocky as it climbed a long rise. But a combination of “been there, done that” and the fact that 3 miles or so of ground-pounding at a shuffling pace had produced little privacy from 4-wheelers during the day, made me prefer to simply pick a campsite on the windward side of the main road.
A broad area of what resembles volcanic rock laid atop dust, it requires a sudden climb up of about a foot to enter. That simple climb in past years would have solidly grounded the Trailer Defiant, so it was a reminder to me to appreciate the Intrepid’s abilities, such as they are, as a five-ton mountain goat. It’s quite windy here and will remain so for the duration of my stay, so it pays to camp on the side not exposed to the dust of passing cars. Oddly, there’s been virtually no traffic all afternoon, so peace and quiet has been the rule here. My nearest neighbors on either side are just short of half a mile away. Not too shabby, I must say.
The Intrepid is packed to the gunnels this year, which makes accessing things more cumbersome. Some things are not available on the road and must be stocked for the entire 7-8 month trip, but the situation should improve somewhat as time goes on and those supplies are gradually used up. As always, this trip will eventually help shape future ones as to what must be carried versus what can be, but really need not. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the ride. Honestly, given the Grandby’s creature comforts and spaciousness, it’s hard to believe that I’m living in the bed of a pickup truck most of the year, and that it’s enough.
I understand about not tossing the belt. Sad because I do understand about not tossing it in the trash 🙂
The latest comeback song of the Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Bedeviled. 🙂
I always appreciate your skillful and self-deprecating wordsmithing of both your geographical and chronological journeys. And as a fellow card-carrying gearhead the equipment reviews and updates are a treat.
A couple of questions: if you were starting over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would be your choice of dwelling/conveyance? And, how’s the composting toilet working?
Thanks and continued safe travels!
Thank you very much, Rod. As a one-time perfectionist, recognizing and accepting my lapses has proven a boon to correct the “unrealities” of my self-image. May as well air them out in public!
Starting over, only the order would change, not the end result. I think it would be better for me if I had begun with the Four Wheel or other lightweight truck camper first, then eventually picked up a used travel trailer in Arizona. The TT is by comparison a hotel suite. A later pickup of the TT would have given me a much greater selection and chance to avoid some basic problems that the long and low Defiant has – partly by design and partly by prior abuse. A higher and more modern TT would have been a better choice. I’m very glad that I avoided a unit with slides. In reality though, this sequence would not be possible for me, given the exceptionally tight departure schedule I had, and the uniqueness of the front-dinette Grandby floorplan which may not have even existed in 2012. Adding the much-needed cargo box would have been unlikely at that time, as well as the composting toilet, which version did not exist then. I’d have simply run out of time with nothing to show for it. And keeping my remaining possessions that I value and/or use would have been a serious ordeal in that sequence. Setting all that aside, I can’t imagine any further improvement to my current combo of lightweight truck camper and “luxurious” TT to winter in. They represent two quasi-extremes, each incomplete without the other waiting.
The composting toilet has been working so well that I use it every day! 🙂 Since I prefer to boondock in more remote places, the freedom it provides from being dependent on dump stations has been quite freeing. The C-Head has proven to need no changes or improvements apart from my trimming the front of the seat off so it will fit inside one of the Grandby’s floor-level cabinets. Of all the “systems” I interact with in and on the Intrepid, the C-Head requires the least monitoring and attention – with the exception of the cargo box and front bike carrier, which are entirely passive. Though horrifyingly expensive, the C-Head has since literally paid for itself over time, and allowed me to go where I like rather than stay within striking distance of a dump station. That radically affects the travel itinerary and timing. If one prefers to go from RV park to RV park however, or their rig already has full tanks installed and working well, I see no big advantage to choosing a composter. But it’s made to order for a converted cargo trailer, van or stripped-out truck camper, especially where weight capacity is limited. Just make sure you have made some external provision for storing poo bags should your cup runneth over due to scheduling overruns.
Thanks Doug for your comprehensive reply. I’m glad to hear that you are not dissatisfied with your choices of equipment, especially under the historical circumstances. I’m also very encouraged about the composting toilet which to me sounds like the answer for those of us seeking just a bit of convenience in our later years. Safe travels!
My particular ying-yang “solution” is a bit too polarized for the needs of most campers, but it works for my love of solitude and the fact that I already had a 4WD pickup to start out with. Keeping a TT in an RV park year-round can be more expensive than I’d like, but it currently works out acceptably well. I could have gotten either a conventional 2-1/2 gallon porta=potty or a cassette toilet (which they no longer seem to offer) in the Four Wheel when I ordered it, but that tethers back to frequent dump station stops. I’m glad I took the route I did. Works well!
Reading this post is a excersise in emotional ups and downs……leaving too soon……visiting Bouse……fantastic views……don’t like slides(?).
Sorry you didn’t stop……you are always welcome my friend.
Thank you, Delmont. As for slides, I view them as just one more mechanical device prone to problems since, depending upon floor plan, many must be deployed to get full access to interior areas, so should they stick in either position, there are showstopper problems. Enough designs are poorly engineered enough that it becomes a crapshoot in choosing a decent one. When I stayed in the LTVA in the Defiant, I tended to see neighbors up on ladders trying to address water leaks or cold air drafts, or hear complaints about the seals deteriorating. That’s just not for me, given that I travel solo and don’t need the extra living space or the big weight penalty for any given trailer length. The benefits just aren’t worth the drawbacks for me. For all the Defiant’s (Gulfstream’s) aging, structural issues, and poor build quality, they did at least top it with a single sheet of aluminum which, at 24 years old, is still hanging in there without any maintenance or attention. Just don’t try to walk on it. 🙂