Desert boondocking with the Bayfield Bunch!

From busy truck stop to desert stillness . . .

After researching the web for the nearest Walmart , downing a cup of truck stop coffee, and filling up the gas tank, the crew and I backtrack a mile or so eastward to the previous exit off of Interstate 10. Before descending the ramp I can see the name Walmart above the roofs of surrounding buildings. Oh, good. This is going to be so easy.

I need to prepare for my first boondock.

I pick up a couple of LED night lights and a flashlight with batteries. Next I load six jugs of drinking water into my cart. Then I get some groceries to last me the next few days. Soon we’re back on the interstate zooming towards Tucson.

What a beautiful setting for a city!

The mountains are magnificent, of course. I take the exit for Interstate 19 south toward Nogales, and we stay on it for only a mile or so, turning west onto Ajo Highway. That is when I feel like I’ve been transported to a different planet. A hill rising up to the right of the roadway is covered with cacti. It’s a surreal introduction to the Sonoran landscape.

The road is two lanes through the mostly unpopulated desert.

Saguaro cacti make funny poses as we pass by.  Several times the Border Police pass me or I meet them on the road. At one point we go through a checkpoint, but aren’t stopped. About eighty miles before the town of Why, I stop so we can stretch our legs. Bridget and Spike are happy to be on the ground again, although they are quite stunned by what they see and smell.

On the Ajo Highway, Arizona

Around four o’clock we reach the outskirts of Why.

I see some propane tanks so I stop to get one of my tanks filled. It cost $15.80 to fill my 20 pound tank.

Why, Arizona. Why? Because I need propane.

Following Al’s directions (Travel with the Bayfield Bunch), I drive about ten miles away from Why and then turn onto a dirt road. Al had said, “After about three miles look for the American and Canadian flags up on a hill on the right. You probably can’t drive up there so just park on the road.”

I park the PTV and unload the crew.

We walk up the lane to Al and Kelly’s fifth wheel. Kelly is sitting in a lounge chair out front, reading and listening to music. “Hi, Kelly!” She says hi and runs inside to get Al. The two of them and their dog, Pheebs, walk down to meet the crew and me on our way up. A little later, Rick and his dog, Lady, come down from their Scamp up on another knoll. We pick out a place for our camp and the three of them help me position the Casita.

Arizona . . . out first boondocking campsite

Our front door faces the sunset.

It’s a beautiful spot with a view of the mountains. I turn the PTV so her nose is pointing at the tongue of the Casita. I want the solar panel to be in the right position for tilting tomorrow morning. I turn on the inverter and plug the power cords together. I run the remote meter out the door of the PTV and in the Casita door. I’m anxious to see what it reads after the panel has been under the Arizona sun all day, flat on the roof of the Casita.

 One hundred-five amp hours! Wow!

Spike is absolutely beside himself with happiness at making two new, exciting friends. He plays off-leash with both of them, hopping around like a pup. Bridget, not so much. She clings to my pant legs and shows her teeth at both dogs, which is silly because they could beat her up without even trying.

The crew in their new front yard.

The view from our campsite

The Sonoran Desert is a wondrous place. Tomorrow I’m going to get out my lounge chair and sit in the sun until all traces of winter leave my bones.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
This entry was posted in Bridget The Widget, Casita, Simple living, Spike The CoPilot, Tow Vehicle. Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Desert boondocking with the Bayfield Bunch!

  1. Whee heeeee congrats on your first night in the desert as a boondocker!!!!

    Tell Al and Kelly HI from us… and honestly.. WE WISH WE WERE THERE!

  2. Jay says:

    HI Sue,
    you did a good job getting to your first boondocking place, love the pictures and looking forward to more of your reports.

  3. Judy Bell says:

    Glad at least one of the dogs is getting along with the Pheebs! Give Al and Kelly and the Bunch my best.

  4. Bob says:

    Well Sue!

    You are off the grid … Congrats to you and crew !!!

    Looks like there’s no place you can’t go now. Looking forward to your first reports on the boondocking life.

  5. Steve says:

    Nothing, nothing beats the smell of a campfire and the night desert air. Glad to see you’ve made it there and are soaking it all in.

  6. Cynthia says:

    Woohoo!!! Congrats on your boondocking first, Sue!

  7. Geri says:

    Don’t rub it in! It’s still cold here! High today was 43 degrees and into the low 20’s tonight and for the next 4 days it will be the same! Yuck! The Sonoran Desert is a beautiful place! I boondocked there when I lived in my slide in camper early 1980’s… didn’t know they called it boondocking, but I was on the east side of Tucson. The saguaro are downright regal! Do you know they are at least 50 years old before they start growing arms???? So glad you are warm and with friendly folk! Have fun in the desert boonies boondocking!

  8. Reine says:

    WARM is GOOD and you apparently have a signal which is also good. Enjoy the sun and the FREE camping but don’t be surprised if you have to run the heater tomorrow morning. You are truly blessed to be living the life you want especially with friends around.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Reine!

      Yes, it’s all good. The signal is weak . . . I wasn’t sure I’d be able to post. I’ve already had the heater on. As soon as the sun goes down it gets chilly.

  9. Tootles says:

    Hi Sue. I’ve just read your posts since the very first one and have laughed and cried with you. It’s everything I can do from popping in every hour to see what is going on. Just glad to know you are safe, happy and finally boondocking! We bought our new to us 2004 Casita last year. I can’t wait for retirement and our upcoming adventures. Keep the stories coming.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Tootles . ..

      Welcome to my blog and congratulations on reading your way through it all!

      So you have a Casita, too … good for you. I wish you many exciting adventures on the road. Retirement is fabulous. Being able to plot the course of each day is priceless.

  10. Chuck says:

    Hey Sue and crew!!!!
    Do ya’ll know there is a full eclipse at about 6:45 AM tomorrow morning??????? What a beuatiful event for your 1st boondocking event!!!!! Miss ya, kid, going to Groovy tomorrow nite!! Glad to see you got your propane at the independent dealer. Chuck

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’ll probably sleep through the eclipse. Normally I’m up and around before seven, but after a night at the truck stop, this quiet desert is going to make sleeping awfully nice.

      • Chuck says:

        First it’s too cold here in T or C, then it’s too early to get up to crown your boondocking event……WIMP!!!!!! I ain’t gettin’ up eaither though……….

  11. First Night Boondocking… Exciting! One more great experience, Im sure.

  12. Nan says:

    There’s nothing like Boondocking….It’s the best!

  13. Mick says:

    Four dollars toward your solar system payback and counting. Thanks for the great pictures. Good to hear you had a safe trip.

  14. Donna K says:

    Warm sounds good! I haven’t been warm since we left Desert Hot Springs. Love what you’ve done with your front yard…you must have a master gardener. Enjoy the sunshine your visit with Al and Kelly.

  15. Grace says:

    Yea! So thrilled for you! Now if I could just find that “transporter beam me up Scotty” thingy, I’d pop in tomorrow and do that happy dance with all of you…. have a great time!

  16. kaytoo says:

    Sue – Great news about your first night in the real desert! and you can still get internet, albeit weak signal. off the grid is great! love your blog.

  17. JoJo says:

    Today was a beautiful day for your first visit to our Sonoran desert. Enjoy and don’t forget to carry a comb around to remove those nasty stickers the crew might pick up.
    Glad you are with more good friends for you first boondocking experience.

  18. Welcome to Arizona and the great boondocking lifestyle. Your adventures have truly begun:))

  19. Reine says:

    And since Daylight Savings Time is over, you didn’t even have to change your clock from NM time.

  20. Mike Leonard says:

    According to my computer, it is only 1116 miles to Sells, AZ from Battle Ground, WA. Well, that is as the crow flies. Another calculation of highway miles makes it 1588. Tomorrow morning, instead of hooking up our Casita to our Nearly Perfect Tow Vehicle (NPTV), I’ll be watching the Army/Navy game with my son. Tonight, his two daughters are safely sleeping with my wife in our spare bedroom. On Tuesday, we’ll be visiting my good friend, who is also my wife’s cousin, in Swedish Hospital in Seattle where he is being treated for cancer. We are both retired, but we aren’t yet ready to look for you down there among the saguaro. But I don’t think there is anything that I would like better…. What a beautiful place you’ve found!

  21. Lorogirl says:

    Congratulations on your dreams coming true. I’ve never met you but I check in on you everyday, seem like a sister to me….. You are certainly are a blessing to us who read your words and can dream of “some day” for us too.
    Live life fiercely!!

  22. janine says:

    Congratulations!! Arizona is a great place to boondock! Enjoy,enjoy,enjoy!! SOO very happy for you Sue……..:)

  23. Page says:

    Future full-timer here with a question – are there any permits that are required in order to boondock? Just curious – I wouldn’t want to be run-off in the middle of the night by some good ole’ boy with a shotgun.

    I want to see the Sonoran desert someday. I have heard it is absolutely beautiful. Turning slightly green with envy, here.

  24. Pauline says:

    First boondocking adventure…..I am so proud of you. I love reading your posts AND the many replies you get. Keep writing Susan!!! A big hug to you and the crew

  25. Sherry says:

    Boy that’s a great price on propane. And what a neat picture of the Casita and one crew with the huge catcti – that is plural for catus right? I just love reading about your adventures and am very interested in how the boondocking goes. I have 2 small panels but nothing like the great set up you have on the PTV. I’m hoping I can boondock for as much as 24 days. How long will you be there? And having friends right there for your first time out. You definitely are living the life!


  26. Jay says:

    OK Sue,
    now you did it they are talking about you over on the Casita club site! and soon you will be number 1 taking out Toiga & George for that spot. YOU GO GIRL

  27. Judy says:

    I am so encourage by your experiences.
    I’ve spent the past few days reading your blog from the beginning. The basic nuts & bolts of how your day goes is exactly the info I want to see. For instance it’s very helpful to know that you place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel when backing up w/ the Casita.

    I’ve recently been bummed because my trys at camping in my ’07 Chevy Cargo Express have not been exactly joyful. This is due to excessive stooping involved & rainy camp dates..I’ve been wishing I’d gone with a hi-top instead of falling in love w/ the Awesome Express.

    A friend on cheaprvliving suggested I simply buy a trailer to tow and make use of the added cargo space in the Express. My instant response was a fear of towing/backing…getting in a tight spot and being embarrassed, the van is really long all by itself.

    And here you are… towing a Casita behind an Express & doing just fine! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      Welcome to my blog! I am absolutely thrilled that my experiences with the PTV and my Casita have helped you see your Awesome Express for what it really is … awesome!

      Have no fear about the length you’ll have on the road. When I started out, I reminded myself of all the big rigs being maneuvered by truckers and rvers every day all over the country. If they can do it, I can do it . . . and if I can do it, Judy can do it! Best wishes to you . . .

  28. Shar Pei Mom says:

    Welcome to Arizona Sue…enjoy the desert and the many adventures in your new life style!
    Thanks for sharing your journey with us all!!!

  29. Mike Leonard says:

    Sue, just checked The Bayfield Bunch to find out what is happening with you! So glad all is okay. I’m sure the reason you aren’t posting anything is due to your current battery problems. Just relieved to see that you and your crew are all safe and well. And Since the Bayfield Bunch left, it is good to know that you have Rick close by and that he is helping you to resolve your current troubles. (Yes, that was supposed to be funny!) I was checking frequently to see your new post and was beginning to worry a little because you are pretty reliable with regular postings. I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one, you seem to have a pretty good following. Anyway, I’ll be watching because I know you’ll get those battery problems resolved soon.

  30. Shar Pei Mom says:

    Sorry to hear of your power problems…hope Rick is able to help you figure it out. Hate to say it but ya might want to invest in a lil Honda 1000 generator, for days like this…we are in Q and it’s cloudy and raining…no charging batteries from the solar twins,so out comes lil honda…he will fix us right up! Good luck with the trouble shooting!

  31. Page says:

    A small generator might be the solution. They’re somewhat noisy, but in a pinch and all when all else fails….Be safe, Sue!

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