From Google Maps, you can't see elevation, and we had NO idea this site would be so elevated and tight.. However, after checking things out upon arrival, we decided to give it a go.. Mark did an awesome job (like usual) finagling around the corner, and I must have done something right in guiding him.. It took us a lot of patience and slow moving, and we finally got it in the perfect spot! Hopefully this toasty little spot will keep us warm in the next few days when it's supposed to be colder.
Place Details: City of Rocks State Park, NM. These rocks were formed by an underlying volcano many years ago. The rocks were pushed upward and many years of wind wore away the sandstone between them. New Mexico made this place a playground. There is an area for electric & water, but all the spots near the rocks are dry camping. We filled up before we found our spot, and we're here for 5 days. Since we're amid the rocks and not trees, our solar panels will work perfectly! Now to explore the area! :-)
Mark hasn't seen his cousin Eric for quite some time, but a little birdie told us they were traveling south-west, so after a few messages back n forth, here we are! What a totally awesome visit with our cousins and new friends for life! Shared a few meals together and a nice day out at Tombstone taking the mine tour and seeing the sites.
May the Lord Bless their journey west, and may we meet up again MANY times in the future! Love you Eric & Michelle!
Took a trip to Tucson for the local sites. Pima was first on our list. It's always cool to see the planes that once protected our country, but also sad that we need so many.
We also drove by the Airplane Bone Yard, then made a quick stop at the San Xavier del Bay Mission.
Stay Details for this week: Butterfield RV Resort & Observatory (Benson, AZ). This resort has about 200 very close spots. We decided to stay here because of the cold front that went through. It has great amenities, and is a beautiful resort with a close-knit bunch of elderly folk that winter here. The swimming pool is heated, there's a large club house, a wood shop, pickle ball court, daily activities, and of course an observatory that houses a 16" Meade mirrored telescope. It is across the road from the post office, they do accept mail, and the resort is just a walk away from Safeway and many local restaurants. The resort is $45/night, and is cheaper if you stay for the week (which we did), or month or year. They also have Good Sam and Passport America discounts.
While visiting the area south-east of Tucson, we decided to stay the week and enjoy some history of the old west.
Today was a trip to Mescal Movie set, just north of Benson, AZ. They made movies here such as Tombstone, Rawhide, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Outlaw Josey Wales, How the West was Won, Little House on the Prairie, The Gambler, Desperado, Billy the Kid, Maverick, Buffalo Soldiers, Magnificent Seven, and many many more..
We arrived at the 3pm show, and because it was cold and windy, we had the tour to ourselves. It was pretty cool to see the real-life sets of movies we'd seen, and to see how things look a lot nicer in the movies! :-)
Many people wonder what "Boondocking" really is and why we love it so much. So, here it is if you're curious.. It is also known as dispersed camping or dry camping.
Meaning: Being out in the middle of public land (some areas need permits), with no hookups of electric, water or sewer.
We we like it?
- Wide open land (fun to explore)
- No close neighbors (watch TV as loud as you want, no barking dogs or screaming kids next to you, and no looking in someone else's windows like an RV park)
- Quiet (except the sounds of coyotes in the distance, maybe a few distant roads or generators).. Most mostly very quiet at night
- BIG very dark skies with no light pollution! - This is our favorite. No pesky street, house or barn lights.. Farther away from the city reduces light pollution and gives us a spectacular view of the night sky!
- Did I say quiet??
In the photo below, we do have neighbors about 1/4 mile away. They introduced themselves to us the day they moved in. The 'boondocking community' is a very close-knit group of people that watch over each other. When someone leaves for a day excursion, the others around that person automatically keep watch.
Our RV Facts:
- Power: When we set out on this journey, we hoped to help with disaster relief projects, so we set up the camper with solar. It has 1200w of solar on the roof and 4 Li-Ion batteries. On a sunny day, it could regain as much as 70% of its batter life. We usually use about 50% battery life in one day, which means we're usually back to 100% battery life by night. Basically, we can do just about anything we want as if we're plugged in. This will come in helpful when we're staged in a disaster area that has no power.
- Tanks: We have a 60-gal fresh tank, 2 grey tanks totaling 87 gallons, and a 43 gallon black tank. We always empty our black & grey tanks at the previous campground and fill up with water there are at a nearby pump station.
- Usage: Each shower takes 1-2 gallons of water per person. Dishes usually take 1-gallon/day, and flushing & misc take up 1-2 gallons. If we're frugal with the water, we can last about 2 weeks without hookups. However, we've only stayed 10 days once, and we still had about 15 gallons left. When boonocking, we just make adjustments. Paper plates instead of our Corelle, quicker showers, etc. This makes it more like camping instead of living. Most of the time, we're out hiking or taking excursions so that means even more water savings.
- Night: Imagine it being so quiet that your ears hurt! That's what it's like in the wilderness. The soothing sounds of howling coyotes or the gentle breeze is all it takes to fall asleep. We almost always have our windows open.
So, maybe some people think we're living more like hermits.. I'd like to see it as enjoying nature to its fullest. Being out in nature without the chaos of life is extremely comforting and de-stressing.
Hope you enjoyed the run-down of boondocking! Let me know if you'd like to know more.
Took time today to drive up in the mountains to go see some more Native American ruins. The Superstition Mountains were absolutely gorgeous! We were amazed at all the gold and copper mining remnants in the little town of Globe which is now almost a ghost town. Once there, Best-Ba-Gowah ruins and Desert Botanical Gardens was a nice outing.
Further south of Phoenix, Casa Granda was also amazing to learn about, and we were treated to a rare owl siting above the ruins.
Tonight's sky is spectacular and clean, so Mark set up his new telescope to do some star searching and learning. I can hardly wait for warmer weather so I can spend more time outside looking at God's amazing skies!
This holiday was FULL of surprises for us!
1st.. After being at Palatki for 8 weeks, we finally had a beautiful rain and snow storm, which intensifies the beauty in the area. However, this also means the roads getting to our location are extremely muddy and mostly impassable, so Palatki has to close. This raised some tense moments, as we had planned on spending our days off with Maria and her family, and did not expect a storm.
However, Maria drove the 28-hrs strait to arrive, and because the roads were not as bad as the day before, she braved the mud and 4 miles of back road to meet us at Palatki. We had a quick dinner, gave them a tour of our site, then opened gifts. It was a spectacular evening, but we had to send them to their hotel before dark.
The next 2 days were magical. We spent time in a neighboring hotel with them, and toured Sedona, Jerome, Montezuma Castle & Tuzigoot. We treated her for a birthday dinner out at the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome. I can't believe Maria is 40 already!! WoW! We celebrated with a cake in the hotel, then spent the evening swimming. We saw them off Tuesday, as we took a quick drive to Phoenix and browsed some shops.
Below are some photos of this Christmas and Birthday week.
1st Photo is Mark and Bob beginning a tour. This was a big group, so they divided and conquered.. :-)
2nd - 4th photos are the walk up and in the Grotto Rock Art area. Water in the Grotto area is rare, and when it's there, a small pebble dropped into the water creates a beautiful ripple effect. See the video below. We believe the native people used to do this while smoking their pipes.
5th - 7th photos are during a walk up to the old brother's homestead and garage. In video, Mark explains what is found on the floors.
8th photo was after a rain on our drive home. The beautiful sun reflected on the mountains just so that it looks like lemons! These photos are NOT doctored.
9th photo is on an evening walk to check the trail camera. You can see the pueblo at the bottom left of the photo.
10th photo is our view of the night sky on a 3/4 moon night.
There are many fun and secret places in our area, but this one is public knowledge. It's outside our heritage site on public land, but it's not advertised because the forest service doesn't want it discovered and ruined. The pictographs are awesome! It was so cool to see more and clear drawings from the Sinagua and Hopi people.
Left early to see some area points of interest and to learn more about the native people that lived here years ago.
Wukoki Ruins: Just north of Flagstaff, these ruins also housed the Sinagua people, the same people we had at Palatki. It was really neat to see and learn more about the natives that used these lands years ago.
Wupatki Ruins: Part of the National Park service, these protected ruins also housed the Sinagua and Hopi people years ago.
Sunset Crater: Just because we wanted to go see it. :-)
Grand Canyon: We were close enough, so why not? Haven't seen the canyon since we went with the kids, so it was neat to reminisce at the same rocks we took photos with the kids.
Lowell Observatory: In the spur of the moment, we wanted to go see the stars through those beautiful large telescopes. We bought a membership which includes many more observatories, and we were blessed with seeing some awesome things in the solar system we've never seen before. Looks like we'll be looking for a new telescope! :-)
Walnut Canyon Ruins: This was a spectacular excursion to protected pueblos from years past. Many different native Americans lived in these pueblos that were built deep in the canyons. This is an amazing adventure for anyone!