Yesterday I drove away from my desert. I don’t really OWN it, but it felt like it was my very own desert. It was hard to leave. Even though I’d only been there from January 15th to the 27th (not counting the days I had to dash over to Phoenix to get my generator fixed), it seemed I’d been there always. It was my first time to actually dwell in the desert.
Eighteen months ago when I started full time RV living, I talked and thought about boondocking. I was going to do lots of it. As I traveled around, I found myself wanting amenities the way I sometimes want comfort-food. I was still trying to figure out just what I was doing living in an RV; what I wanted to get out of it. I was always looking up places to stay off-grid and it was an awesome goal, but at that early point of being on the road by myself, I found that staying in the parking lot of a Walmart or a Cracker Barrel was as much of a boondock as I cared for. Going into the desert and meeting up with women from RVing Women was a great way to introduce myself to the idea of really doing some off-grid boondocking. I watched what others did and asked questions. I’m an introvert so I didn’t ask as many questions as I wanted to. But I did better than I had expected. I came prepared, too. I had empty grey and black tanks, a full fresh water tank, bottled water, full propane tanks, food that I would cook and some that I wouldn’t need to cook.
I just wasn’t sure how to handle being out there and taking care not to drain my batteries, get so cold at night that I couldn’t sleep, how to keep myself entertained, or making myself get out there and socialize. I’m an on-line gamer. I play Guildwars 2, Final Fantasy XIV, World of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm. I have friends that I play with and we switch from game to game. I don’t play all the time. I have days when there’s not much else to do and I might play for several hours, but that’s rare. Many of my gaming friends are kind of like me…they’re artists or writers. I haven’t met any that are Nomads yet.
While in the desert I found out that you can stay on BLM land in that area from October till April 1st. I seriously considered paying the money and staying until April 1st. I wondered what I would do with my time out there in the profoundly silent desert. I had good cell signal, much to my surprise. I’m a Digital Nomad, meaning that I spend a lot of time doing things on my computer to earn money or just for the fun of it. Would I be able to still do that out there? With my generator I could probably do some of that, but I would not want to run my generator all the time. It uses gas and, even though its inside the basement of my RV, its still quite noisy. I turned on my generator when the sun went down and it gave me a couple hours to spend using my computer and running my electric fireplace. Without the generator I could use lights and I was able to charge my phone. I didn’t use my heated blanket or run the electric fireplace without the generator. The in-house batteries kept my refrigerator going. I learned a lot about conserving energy. I learned that at first its hard to be still and not be using my phone or computer. I felt edgy and restless. As the days passed, I developed a routine appropriate for that life and I got used to doing different things – reading, sitting outside, going for walks, taking a trip into the small town of Quartzsite, cooking, and sometimes just plain taking a nap.
The United States has lots of deserts. Some are sand…and evidently some are just not. I never knew there would be so many stones. There was no sand anywhere…only stones, rocks, and fine dust. As I drove to and from my RV, my Jeep bathed everyone I passed with a cloud of dust. “Sorry! Sorry! Oops! Sorry about that!”
During the day, it was in the 60’s (in January!!!) so I got to open all the windows. How wonderful! However, I was never able to wear shorts or flip flops. The sky was almost always the deepest blue I’ve ever seen. I’d call it “Shelley Blue” – LOL. At night, it dropped down to the 40’s. I didn’t turn on my furnace, but I had lots of blankets on my bed. In the morning the temperature in the RV was usually hovering around fifty degrees. If it was colder than that, I turned on the propane furnace to warm things up enough so that I could do my morning chores. I had a full tank of propane and I have two small 20 lb tanks that I can hook up and they were both full. I could have been toasty warm all night long. I didn’t do that. I’m still learning and wasn’t sure how much of a drain it would be on my batteries to be running the propane furnace, as it uses electricity to blow out the heat.
There were days when the view out my window was just desert. Other days it was a plethora of RVs and women strolling along with their little dogs, stopping to talk with other women with little dogs. Occasionally there were big dogs, but mostly it seemed like little white dogs. Its an easy way to meet people…take your dog for a walk.
From the first evening to the last, the sunsets were spectacular. I think I took more photos of sunsets than anything else. They made me think of paintings. High five, God!!! Each one was as amazing as a painting in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. I couldn’t stop looking at them as they deepened and then faded.
I think the things I’ll take with me about my experience in the desert were the quiet and the beautiful night skies. So many stars!!! One evening my friends and I were sitting around a campfire and someone nearby was sending up something into the air that defies explanation. Each one looked like a floating paper bag with a candle suspended beneath. There were quite a few, one at a time. It was so cool!
We sat there around the fire, talking about RV life, about things we like, things we have to figure out and overcome, and about the sense of accomplishment it gives us to fix things ourselves. We talked about nothing of consequence, too, and it was a fine thing…sitting there with the crackling fire and absolutely no other sound. Debbie wielded the little shovel, pushing embers around, positioning a log from time to time. We roasted hotdogs and it was fun. Really fun. The companionship for us, who are usually each alone most of the time, content with our solitude, was indeed sweet.