Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Boondocking at Saddleback Mountain, AZ

After five great, relaxing days (even tho a couple were rainy & cloudy) boondocking at Painted Rocks Petroglyph campground (at $4/night), we reluctantly left for Phoenix. Our plan was to dump our tanks at Camping World — but learned that’s only available for the rigs they work on. We should have dumped, got fresh water, & filled propane tanks in Gila Bend easily before heading north, but we didn’t. Killed an hour & a half at the Flying J getting all this done, jostling around with some Class A’s who didn’t seem to notice us in line ahead of them.

Anyway, spent the night at my cousin’s house again before heading west. Larry has two 15 yo Rag Doll brothers who are just the sweetest kitties. They have a female Norwegian Forest cat also. All three cats surprisingly came into the room where we were all visiting, with Kira sleeping on the floor. They seemed to barely notice her. Must be that cat scent on Kira that made them comfortable being around her.


While there I mentioned wanting to see a crested saguaro somewhere this winter, & my cousin actually knew where there was something that looked like what I was describing. Yes indeedy — it was a beautiful example. . .right there in Sun City AZ right along the street.


So after doing a lot of research, we ended up on BLM land, backed up against Saddleback Mountain, SW of Tonapah AZ on 1/31/13. The directions on this site weren’t real specific so we sort of wandered around a bit. Exiting I-10 at Tonapah, go south a mile or so & turn left onto Salome Hwy. Another mile or so, turn left onto Courthouse Rd (the road turns to dirt just past this road). There are four dirt trails heading south toward Saddleback Mountain, & since there were a couple of campers located south of the first two trails, we took the last available trail. We passed one camper on this trail but kept going past this gorgeous saguaro & marker until the road dipped rather steeply into a tree-lined wash.


We just backed up & parked with our door facing east & our big back window looking at the mountain! FANTASTIC spot — even better than Painted Rock — AND FREE. We haven’t seen anywhere to get a permit but know it’s got the 14-day limit. The only neighbor we could see left Friday morning, & we can watch the traffic on I-10, 4-5 miles down the valley to the north of us. We have a strong Verizon signal (cell & internet), the solar panels get full sun all day, DirecTV works perfectly, & the ground has small gravel (not loose sand).


We had talked about checking our the boondocking around Bouse, but are so happy here, we’ll probably stay until going to Quartzsite early next week for the Casita Rally at Dome Rock.

This boondocking has gotten pretty comfortable. My worst annoyance tho is moving the plugs to charge or run electric items from their usual 110v power strips to the one power strip plugged into the inverter.


Here are some of the ideas that have keep us comfortable full-timing in this small space and/or makes boondocking pleasant.

Additional counter space: I put a cooling rack over the sink for additional counter space but can still run water when needed without moving it. Dirty dishes can also live in the sink (out of the way) below the rack.

Dishwashing: To conserve water (& hassle), I keep a squirt bottle of Dawn & water used to spray dirty dishes; scrub with a handled brush; & finally rinse with running water.

Bathroom storage: The little lip at the front of the bathroom shower floor is a good place to park frequently used items. I use a tension rod from the base of the toilet to the wall below the shower head to hold those items in place. And it seems that soda & juice bottles, plus dog food bowl & kibble storage now lives at the base of the shower wall. So I use another tension rod to hold those things in place.

Cleaning: Baby- or body-wipes (generic even) are great for not only easy personal hygiene but also cleaning the toilet, floors, & cabinets. No water, no fuss!

Nightlight: Sometimes it’s nice to have a little light at night in the bathroom without needing to turn on the bright light & we’ve found a flameless candle (battery powered) it just the right amount of light.

No –poo: That’s SHAMpoo. My short hair doesn’t need a lot of water when washed anyway, but I’ve been using a baking soda paste & vinegar/water rinse on my hair for 6 months now & am very happy with it. I also use baking soda to brush my teeth, treat the black tank (ending with a vinegar rinse), sweeten the galley sink, & deodorize the litter box.

Toilet paper dispenser: Initially I really wanted one of the water-proof toilet paper dispensers but had to improvise at the beginning. I’ve kept my first idea of stringing a small bungee cord thru the toilet paper roll & attaching it to the bottom of the wire rack on the wall beside the door. Since I use a clear full-sized shower curtain pushed to the shower head wall (instead of the original other side of the door), I pull it over the toilet paper & attach it to velcro tabs above the toilet & on the other wall when I shower to keep anything stored behind or beside the toilet dry while showering.

Coffee: I heat water in the trailer in the morning & pour it over the grounds in our top-opening Mr Coffee maker, but decided to make a second pot one morning by taking the coffee maker & heated pot of water OUTSIDE for the process. Yum!


Cooking outside: Friday was such a perfect day that we cooked our Wal-Mart’s fillet mignon steaks & backed potatoes on our Little Red Campfire (propane). Jeff put some aluminum foil around the side to deflect the slight breeze, but it still took over an hour for the potatoes. I DO miss having the microwave for this. Boy was my mouth watering tho as the steak cooked. For less than $6, these little steaks are melt-in-your-mouth tender & delicious!



I spent most of Friday catching up on 2-wks of email & blogs, & still had time/energy to put together the little Skil X-Bench Jeff got recently. I got tired of it laying around on the patio mat in pieces waiting for him to assemble it. We have some projects that need a work bench. (Boys & their toys!)

Kira spends her days laying under the trailer napping & Boots has been in & out on his leash (in & out, in & out, in & out) all day long. He even chased a couple of lizards in the surrounding bushes. And although we haven’t seen or heard any coyotes, everyone is safely inside when it gets dark or we go inside for the night.


Yeah, mom, what?                                Stalking a lizard!

Saturday we cleaned & organized the pickup bed. Wow, what a difference. Jeff is an expert at packing things tightly & squeezing out every inch of possible space — BUT I’m much better at organizing [‘cause I’m lazy]. So we grouped like items together in rows going toward the cab according to what gets used most often & stowing what can mostly stay out of our way up next to the cab. I also redid my faux stained glass door window with Sharpies. This Arizona sun sure faded it quickly. And finally trimmed the window shades we got in Quartzsite & had enough left over to make a bathroom window screen too.


Sunday was SUPER BOWL DAY &. (of all things) it sprinkled most of the day. The solar panels & inverter lasted the day of television but died in the night. We took a drive north of I-10 Monday morning while the batteries recharged. Ended up in Wickenburg – north of Tonapah. That’s an interesting, hilly little desert town!


Have you heard Tim McGraw’s song Live Like You’re Dying? It usually brings tears to my eyes, but I got to thinking about the concept the other day. Now most people say they’re OK with being dead at some point but are mainly concerned with the actual process of dying — no one wants to be in pain getting to the dead part. So, I adjusted this idea a bit for my new daily mantra:

Live today like it’s my last!

            This includes daily gratitude for this life &                 forgiveness for anyone I feel has wronged me.

This is a great guide for my daily life. It feels good to be grateful for even the bad things that we’ve gone thru (like unemployment, cancer, foreclosure, brother’s death) because it reminds me that I ALWAYS have a CHOICE about how I feel [happy, sad, mad, ashamed, or regretful] — which creates the only thing in life I CAN actually control — my behavior.


I can’t imagine having any better life than this! And Jeff commented that this is FINALLY our chance to see, learn about, & experience all the parts & pieces of the country we both served years ago.

We traveled Tuesday to Quartzsite for the weekend Casita Rally. It’s so nice being near other fiberglass eggs.


  1. What a special post...I just saw an interview with Tim McGraw on CBS sunday morning....heart felt for sure! Cool story about his father and how that song came to be.

    Glenda you seem to have come to terms with your journey and how you capture it.

    THX for all the tips...I'm jotting them all down.

    I'm copying that parking spot down on BLM...what a view! Have fun with all the other eggs!

  2. Excited that you are going to be at the Quartzsite rally!
    Some very nice people that I know will be there!

    We're also a fan of those little Walmart steaks.

    Enjoyed your post.

  3. I like reading all your hints and storage ideas. I agree with your thoughts on being grateful. Have a great time with the Casita group.

  4. Your boondocking is what I consider real Casita living. It's so much fun to watch your fulltime adventure evolve.

    I'm surprised it's still working out so well for you with the critters. In fact, it sounds like it's working better than ever!

    I'm looking forward to your impressions of Quartzsite.

  5. Thanks for all your tips and boondocking tips. You seem to have your system down pat!

    One tip for you from our sunscreen maker: ROLL the screens to store NOT fold! We're so happy with ours that we had an awning extension made too.


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