rvsue meets camo man!

I don’t like a camp that is easily seen from the main highway.

When I left the BLT yesterday to go to the post office, I couldn’t help but worry about it sitting in plain view.  So this morning I hitch up, throw the crew in the PTV, and move further up the National Forest lane.  The weather forecast is on my mind, too.  Cold temperatures, gusty wind, rain, and even snow are likely to move into the Ash Fork, Arizona, area sometime tonight and stay through next Monday.

Finding a new camp around here takes careful consideration.

Nowhere does it seem level.  The earth is a mixture of clay and volcanic material.  The recent rain turns this kind of soil into a slick mess.  I need to be very careful.

I drive over a slight crest and there’s camo man!

He’s outside sawing a piece of wood.  His dog is tied to a tree nearby.  This guy probably knows a lot about where to camp.  I pull over into an old, worn campsite that is totally unsuitable due to its slope.  The crew needs to get some exercise, so I’ll walk us up toward his camp.

“Helloooo!”  I holler just before Spike starts barking at his dog.  Camo man turns and hollers a hello in return.

“It looks like we’re in for some nasty weather,” I say as I walk toward his camp.

He puts down his saw and walks toward us.  I extend my hand.

“Hi, my name is Sue.  I’m your neighbor.”

“Well, hello, Sue.  I’m Rusty.”

I compliment Rusty on his camper. 

“Did you make it yourself?”

I admire people who are resourceful and live within their means.

“Yeah, I built it.  I used to travel with two donkeys and lived in a tent.  Then the government finally gave me some money – I was in the service – It was enough so I could buy the truck – that’s a 1975 Ford — a wood stove, and a solar panel . . .   45 watts.”

Rusty is proud of his solar arrangement.

“That panel sits on a Lazy Susan.  I can tilt it and rotate it.  I get about two and a half amp hours out of it.  I don’t’ have a tv so it’s enough. ”

Rusty seems to enjoy having someone to talk to.  He tells me about his radios, his days walking around the western states with two donkeys and living in a tent, his brief marriage, his Christian faith, and some helpful tidbits he’s learned along the way.  For instance, his rat control strategy.

“I put a light under the hood every night to keep out the rats.”

“Huh?  A light?”

"Did I hear somebody say . .. rats?"

“Yeah, rats don’t like the light.  Come over here and look.”

He lifts up the hood and shows me a small flashlight he’s fastened to the underside of the hood.

“I figure the cost of flashlight batteries is less than replacing these bundles of wires at $25 a pop.”

I tell him I want to find a new campsite where I won’t get stuck when the rain comes.

As I expected, Rusty knows the lay of the land. “You don’t want to be where water runs off.  And you don’t want to be on bare ground.  There’s a lot of clay in this soil.  See that line of trees down there?  That’s a creek bed.  Water will be rushing through it any day now. Everything drains to the creek. You want to be up on this side of the road and make sure you’re not in the path of water draining down to the road.”

“What about the camp you had before?” I ask.

“No, that’ll get too muddy.  And if you get stuck, it’ll cost you to get somebody up there to pull you out. I’d pull you out but I don’t have a tow chain.”

Rusty suggests a few spots which I look over.

Finally together we find a site that I’m happy with.  I walk the crew back to the PTV and BLT.  I pull us up to the campsite and Rusty helps me level it out, using rocks he hauls over.

It's a cloudy, dark, and windy day.

We talk some more.  The wind is picking up.  Before he leaves, he wishes me God’s blessings.  “The same to you, Rusty.  Thanks for all your help.”

Now it’s afternoon and I’m starving.

Not exactly a stealth home in this environment!

I want comfort food! 

I make a dinner of mashed potatoes, green peas, and yesterday’s grilled chicken, cut into chunks and heated up in barbeque sauce.

As we’re eating (I set aside some chicken for Bridget and Spike), I decide against driving to the post office today.

Why drive over there today?  With the wind advisory and weather forecast, we’re not moving out of here until after the weekend.  Might as well wait until Monday to see if the breakaway cable arrived.

Our new campsite has a wide-range view of the grassy fields.

The windswept field out our window, leading down to the creek bed.

I’m going to lift the blind at sunrise and see if any animals move across those fields.  Rusty said he’s seen deer, elk, coyote, and fox.  If we do get snow, the view out this window will be a pretty sight. 

Next week it’s supposed to warm up considerably. 

Upcoming sunny, dry days will be perfect for setting up a new camp in the Kaibab National Forest near Tusayan.  From there we can visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon!



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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61 Responses to rvsue meets camo man!

  1. bearwise2010 says:

    An amazing adventure, haven’t written in awhile but haven’t missed a post.. Some of the people where i work talk about this type of retirment and you can’t believe the people here that want to do this, so of course I share your web site with them so they can live this amazing life through you until its our turn. Its nice having other people in the same state of mind, why bother with a house / mortgage / grass etc. when you can be free as long as your health holds out. Thanks Sue, for the inspiration and for sharing your adventures with us. Please stay safe and dry, I seen some whicked storms here all of a sudden come out of no where.. looking forward to hearing about your next adventure. Rusty seems like a great person to know, and I can imagine the stories he could write about especially if he was in the service. Take care keep in the sun shine. your northern ontario reader.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, bearwise!

      Good to hear from you! Isn’t it amazing, once you start talking about giving up the house and yard, how many people say, “Yeah, I want to do that, too!” And you’re right about it being “nice having other people in the same state of mind.” That’s whyI enjoy my blog so much.

      Yes, Rusty is a good person, so helpful and kind. I’m sure we’ll talk again.

      I’ve got my eye on the weather … part of the job of being a fulltime boondocker! You take care and be happy . ..

  2. Nice campsite. I am so glad you met Rusty and he helped you out! Teaches me a lesson not to be scared of people when your alone. I loved his camper. He did a awsome job! I guess he did his solar himself. I would love to get one myself someday, but I guess the rv comes first. lol
    I chuckled when I read your post, its almost like I am there. Its so exciting! I was thinking about you last night. I saw on the weather station you were getting some nasty weather. I hope you
    weathered it out ok. Bet the crew slept with you last night.!! My car is slow to sell, which disappoints me. I might have to drive to New England in my car for the summer. Hope not!
    I guess people don’t have this kind of money to spend right now. Hay, maybe I can sell it in New England this summer and drive back in my rv. Gotta keep a positive attitude. lol. My back is healing. Went to the doctors today, Just need to be careful and heal for a few more months, not to pick up anything.
    All in all I am in good condition except my cholesterol, so I am taking meds now to get it down.
    Can’t wait til you see some deer, or anything else! Excited to see pictures!! Take care, enjoy your peace and quiet, stay safe and say hello to the crew…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m happy to hear your back is healing, although it probably seems like it’s taking an awfully long time. It’s frustrating when things don’t move along the way we’d like . .. things like looking for a car buyer. When the time is right, things that are right will happen! Hang in there and keep your positive attitude, which comes through your writing . . .

      Thank you for being a loyal reader of my blog. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you, Sharon.

  3. Donna K says:

    Beautiful view. Rusty was very gracious to provide so much help…must be a nice person.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I had a feeling “camo man” would turn out to be a good person. It’s the pretentious people that scare me!

      • Elizabeth in NC says:

        A good sign he allowed you to take a photo of his rig. Hope he will be good in future too. Income does not define what a person is, tis true. Very interesting things he shared with you…who could know that a flashlight would keep rats away…smart idea!! We had them in the 2 remote areas we lived in…used other methods to keep them away, but one has to be careful out in the areas you are…something benign is a good idea!! I saw today online that it is expected that ticks, carried mostly in our area by mice and deer, are expected to be much worse this year. Inspections needed daily when you are outdoors much. One grandson can no longer eat anything from a mammal…and it is thought tick bites caused that allergy. His mother has Lyme disease, which seems to reappear every so often…the perils out here of living out in the country.

        Take care dear…prayers too for your safety!! Lots of weather problems this year, aren’t there? California might even get a tornado in the southern parts the weather report said today!! Incredible…my Mom used to say that was one of the benefits of living in California…NO TORNADOS!! Maybe…

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Hmmm…. Did you happen to watch Dr. Phil tonight? He did a segment on Lyme disease.

          I’m sorry about your grandson’s allergy and his mother’s infection with Lyme. I haven’t seen one tick since coming to NM and AZ. I hope it stays that way!

  4. It’s Friday evening and we are getting a good rain here in the high desert of So Cal. So it’s on its way! Sometimes they exagerate these storms, but this one is real. Probably hit you tommorrow.

    Sue, you are an inspiriation! Bob

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hey, Bob! This is a real storm, for sure. When the weatherman shows a map with big white circles over the Pacific, I tend to believe him when he says bad weather’s coming.

      A few minutes ago I took the crew out for their last walk of the day … to do their business. The wind is blowing so hard it makes you cry. I’m glad I’ve got the BLT pretty stable, thanks to Rusty’s help.

      Don’t blow off the high desert!

  5. Lisa says:

    I’m so impressed that you ignored the fear of Rusty and reached out for the friendship instead – very cool!

    Lisa and Trotters (gotta send you a pic of Trotters – close cousin of Spikey’s)

  6. rvwayoflife by Lindadeeza says:

    I can picture Rusty walking around with 2 donkeys. I guess if Rusty does not have a TV, he would never have the Internet. So glad you do. Last year, my husband and I rode our Motorcycle from PA to the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed the South Rim of the Grand Canyon but liked the North Rim better. As always, we had to limit our stay at each of our stops because we only had 2 weeks. I of course had to get back to work. I dream of the day when we can spend months at each place we visit. We can hike and take pictures. Or, we can sit and just do nothing. Until then, I wait for you to write and enjoy your life.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow, that’s quite a trip to accomplish in two weeks! It reminds me of a trip I took several years ago from Georgia to Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico and back again . . . racing the last two days to get back to work.

      Being able to take your time is so much better. I really love the slow pace.

    • Ed says:

      “I guess if Rusty does not have a TV, he would never have the Internet.”
      Not having a TV does not preclude one from having an Internet connection. I speak from experience, have not had a TV since 1991 but have had an Internet connection since about that time.

    • hobopals says:

      I think Rich and I may have run across him in the early 00s up near Angel Fire in NM. Hmmm…I wonder. I felt like we back in the 1800s in the west. I wanted to take a picture at the time, but I didn’t feel as though it would be polite.

  7. Sherry says:

    You are so inspiring the way you manage to get things taken care of one way or the other. I always love to find someone with more experience than I to give me help with things when I’m not sure. Your site sounds safe and sound for the coming weather. Now you can sit back and enjoy it.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The secret to success is knowing when you don’t know. That’s when it’s good to ask someone who does know ….

      Yeah, it’s really windy now. I’m watching television and Bridget and Spike are under the covers sleeping. I’ll be turning on the heater shortly, make it nice and toasty in here!

  8. Rod Ivers says:


    Sue, why don’t you get a pack of these leveling blocks so you can put them under BLT’s wheels and level your self out in camps sites that are a bit tilty…. Might increase the number of spots that are available to you, but not perfectly level. I think Wal Mart handles a pack of these too, but they are a bit smaller and are harder to stop dead center on. These can be stacked together and go two or even three high. They are also nice under the stabilizer jacks.

  9. Chinle says:

    Hey Sue, I’m all set to weather the storm out also, here in SE Utah. Supposed to hit tonight and tomorrow and Sunday. I can see the snow up on the mtns above me right now, though it’s getting dark. I weathered out 65 mph winds in the Burro day before yesterday, so anything else seems tame. May get some snow and it’s getting cold. Hunker down and I’ll think of you as I do the same. Kind of envy Al right now in his nice home in Bayfield. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Chinle, You and your Burro got off to a challenging start!

      Al’s in Canada enjoying spring and we’re in Arizona and Utah and it’s acting like winter! What’s wrong with this picture!

      I’m hunkering … you hunker, too!

  10. Llanos says:

    If you are having trouble with packrats, leave the hood of the vehicle up. Save on flashlight batteries.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      How does leaving the hood up keep the packrats away? Okay, I did some research. The open hood makes the engine area a less secure place to hide from predators.

      Now I’m worried I’ll get a pack rat inside the PTV. That would be terrible! I know I can’t ask Spike to spend the night on packrat duty! He may be a rat terrier, but he’s retired.

  11. Isnt it fun, the people you meet with this lifestyle. I remember when I lived in my RV . The old thing had lots of problems but it seems like I allways met someone along the way who was more then willing to help me out with the small stuff that I didnt have a clue about. What a life. Sue, I am feeling jealous right now. But, I am planning to also go fulltime again soon. I was just telling a friend tonight about how much I enjoyed the 2 years that I did fulltime rv.
    Looks like a nice spot you are in and yes the weather is supposed to break this weekend.
    Batten down the hatches for tonight may still bring something ….

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It must be difficult to fulltime for two years and then stop … when you really enjoyed fulltiming. I’m happy to hear you’re planning on picking up your former lifestyle. Good luck!

      Yes, I’ve met some wonderful, interesting people since I started doing this last August.

      • yes, it was difficult. I found myself facing the old cancer bug. So, had to make some changes for awhile. But, I am thinking I am about ready to hit the road again !!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through, Susan. And I’m happy to read you’re “about ready to hit the road again.” Sounds like you deserve some fun!

  12. cathieok says:

    Gesh! I never thought about having to worry about rats!
    Would love to see how Rusty has that wood stove in his camper.

  13. Margie says:

    So glad you and Rusty didn’t end up with the four feet of hail Amarillo got, Sue. Hard to even imagine that much hail…

  14. geogypsy2u says:

    That was good call talking to Rusty and he seems like a nice guy. And it is good to get help sometimes. Stay warm and dry. I imagine it will snow at the canyon this weekend.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I hope you won’t be driving in bad weather. You have some treacherous road to cover on your way to the North Rim . . . at least that’s the impression I got from Geri.

      • geogypsy2u says:

        I’ll be taking my time. 3-4 hours to Flagstaff and then stay two nights at KOA. The next night at Lee’s Ferry visiting a friend. Then 2-3 hours to my North Rim camp on Thurs. Of course they’re getting another 3-5″ of the white stuff this weekend.

  15. Geri says:

    Hey, don’t let my road fears bother you Sue! I drove it and I was afraid but at the same time I loved it because it was so beautiful! Guess what?? Fears and all, I’m still alive and still looking forward to new horizons. The road to North Rim is worth it, just drive carefully !

  16. Chuck says:

    Rusty sounds like a nice fella’, real good advise on light under the hood. When you leavr your hood up, your ‘underhood’ comes on. Substituting an LED bulb would keep your van battery from dying though I’m not sure I would go that route. A small LED flashlite with a wide glow would work though…
    Cold and rain here in Virgin. Woof from the herd to the crew.

  17. Shar Pei Mom says:

    Sue…I’m sure Rusty was talking ’bout Pack Rats and the light does help. We live 20ish miles south of where your at and have had problems with them in the garage and my car if left here over the winter.
    Hope you n the crew are hunkered in, feels like were gonna have a good storm. If ya have any problems…give a holler…will do what we can ta give ya a hand!
    Vicki aka Shar Pei Mom

  18. Mark Watson says:

    Last year, had the check engine light come on, trip to the dealer and 300 dollars later, had couple of new fuel injector cables. Month later, another check eng light… another trip for repairs and 2 more cables. Another 300 dollars. I saw the chewed through wires before taking it in for service both times. So then I got serious and put poison under the hood. Two days later I threw the dead rodent in the dumpter. Then put a drop light under the hood for a couple of weeks at night. You can buy a lot of batteries and flashlights for 600 dollors.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Boy, that was one expensive packrat! I’m assuming you weren’t stranded on the road somewhere. Still, that is a terrible story. Good idea about the drop light. I read that packrats leave a scent that brings replacements to the nest, so your vehicle might have been reinfested if not for the light.

      Sounds like Rusty knows what he’s talking about.

  19. Mark Watson says:

    Rumor has it the electrical tape that is wrapped around auto cable harnesses is no longer made from petroleum based products, but is made from corn based products. I have no evidence to support this so take it with a grain of salt.

    • Elizabeth in NC says:

      Hmmmmmmm, interesting Mark. Never heard this before, but was pondering why this is a problem. Growing up, my dad had a big auto repair shop and it was beside a canal, and my brother and I encountered rats as big as small cats at times. I remember my dad being disgusted that sometimes they got into one of the many cars or engine compartments, waiting to be fixed, to make a nest but NEVER heard of them chewing on wires…it does make sense that it might be made from something that is food to them!!

  20. Bill says:

    Hi Sue- We’re weathering wind and dust here in EB NM. Not great for K’s breathing! Thought about going to a car show in ABQ but not worth it! Besides, the next time we head north we want to make the move to CO. The warmspell + winds has us thinking about making the move early (we usually open the cabin early May). But 16″ of snow fell just before Easter. With the warm days, it will be hard to plow our road!

    FYI- we have used a biking headlamp that has a flashing mode on vechicles we store. They last about 4-5 months on 3 AA Lithium batteries.

    A reader mentioned HAIL in Amarillo. A storm hit Socorro NM in Oct 2004. I had just retired from the Labs in ABQ after 30 yrs and was teaching an evening course at NM Tech in pursuit of a teaching certificate. K dropped me off and, instead of sitting on campus in the Ranger and reading waiting for me, she drove to ABQ to see her mother for afternoon tea. What a smart move! If anyone is interested, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxSsiLHoOYg This storm was the largest on record in NM, and record $$ property loss! (to this day, you can drive thru Walmarts parking on a busy day and see cars completely dimpled! 1700 windshields were replaced!) FYI, Socorro NM, like Monument Co north of Colorado Springs, sits in a weather corridor! (on a related subject Sue, do you think you would like a cover for your PV panel…I think I mentioned it some time ago).

    Love your blog and pix! And the pix on Chinle and C&G’s blogs! WOW. Must be something in the water! Take care with new friends. Rusty has an interesting name…wonder what’s short for? Bye BR, K and kids-Cheers

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Bill!

      Sixteen inches of snow? What am I complaining for! I’m interested in that flashing headlamp idea. I wonder where would be the best place to put it.

      I don’t remember you mentioning a cover for the panel (not surprising). What kind of a cover? At this point, I’m going with my shag throw rug, if expecting hail. Someone suggested a rug, which would get wet and keep it in place.

      Interesting comment, as always . . . . Warm wishes to all . . . Thanks for complimenting my blog.

      • Geri says:

        Or an old blanket works well to protect your solar panel and windahield… hint compliments of Larry aka Mountainborn! The wetness holds it down to panel and windshield!

  21. Emjay says:

    Ashfork is in a corridor so the weather just whistles a lot of the time. Windy. It looks pretty, and the reservation encloses both sides of the highway at times, but the wind….ugh.


  22. The Good Luck Duck says:

    Rusty’s set-up looks pretty sweet. He’s not squandering electricity if he’s only pulling in 2.5A; is that about 20AH a day this time of year? Does he live out there most of the summer?

    The Good Luck Duck

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