A ranger visit, the mother of all laundries, and stealth garbage disposal

Sunday afternoon, May 13

The white Coconino National Forest pick-up truck pulls up to our campsite.  I jump out of the BLT to greet the ranger, a young woman in her twenties wearing a tan uniform.  We say hello and she holds out a map.  “Do you have one of these?” she asks.

“Yes, I do, thank you.”

She then explains she is going around answering any questions people might have about the new rules for camping within 300 feet from the road in dispersed areas and within 30 on campground roads.  (You tell the difference by reading the symbols on the map.)

The ranger looks at the BLT. 

“You actually are further than 30 feet from the road.  I’m going to let it go because the rules are new.”

I thank her for that and ask her how far 30 feet is.  She walks 12 paces which must be her stride’s equivalent of 30 feet.  She stops at the spare tire mounted at the back of the BLT.  “See, you aren’t very far over.”

The Best Little Trailer NOT in the best position!

What a personable ranger!

I mention I’m going to the north Kaibab Forest (Jacob Lake) and she becomes animated.  “I love it up there!  It’s beautiful!  You won’t believe it!  And when you get to the little town of Jacob Lake, there’s a store right there.  They sell the best chocolate chip cookies.  You have to get some.”

“Oh no!  I just started a diet!” I exclaim, backing up.

Laughing at my response, she’s goes on about how I have to stop in Cameron, too, and eat a Navajo taco.  She explains it in detail, right down to the fluffy taco shell.  Hmmm  . . . This diet really works.  I’m not the least bit tempted.

Monday morning, May 14

I wake up feeling great.  This is an important fact because the first morning after starting my diet, I woke up feeling miserable.  My head was stuffed up and I had a headache.  I wasn’t surprised.  Eating all that Greek yogurt is the reason.  Too much dairy gives me a headache.  A cup of coffee and sitting in the cool morning breeze helped clear my head and I was fine in a short while.

I went easy on the yogurt yesterday and no headache this morning.

Okay.  Let’s stop right here so I can say something about all this diet talk.  If it bores you to no end, hang in there.  I’m not going to turn this into rvsue on a diet and her canine crew. I do think, though, some readers are interested in this.

I don’t feel like I’m on a diet!

I haven’t felt hungry.  I haven’t felt deprived.  I didn’t writhe in agony longing for a bag of potato chips or half a carton of ice cream.  I feel great!  Although Dr. Dukan advises one might experience fatigue in the beginning, I’m full of energy.  I hadn’t realized how sluggish I’d become.

The best part of all?  No yo-yo sugar levels. 

My old way of eating had me worried when I took the crew on hikes.   I’d forget to bring candy with me.  What if I have a low blood sugar attack, out here in the forest?  Since I’m not eating carbs and sweets, I don’t feel those up-and-down energy swings.

Snow-capped mountains seen from the campground road.

The crew and I are going into Flagstaff this morning.

I was going to visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument on Mother’s Day.  It was terribly windy, so I stayed home.  I feel like accomplishing something, so we’re going to the laundromat.

Loaded up with dirty laundry and the crew, I drive the PTV up the lane to Ken’s campsite.

He’s sitting outside with Scooter the Attack Lab. “I’m going to the laundry.  Do you need anything in town?”  I look around for Gail so I can ask her, too, but there’s no sign of her.

“No, I’m good.”  He pauses.  “I’m going to need to go to the laundry soon, too.”

“You can come with me.  I’ll wait.  What do you do . . .  drive your rig (a Class C) in?”

“No, I ride my motorcycle.  I put the laundry in my backpack, and then I don’t dry it.  I bring it back home and dry it here.”

“Oh.  There isn’t a backpack large enough to hold all my wash.”

He laughs and waves me on.

I find the laundry.  Let me restate that.  I find the Super-Duper Laundry.  I leave the crew in the PTV.

Wow!  This is the mother of all laundries!

I see row upon row of brand new washers and driers and even a small arcade for the kiddies (who, of course, do not help with the laundry and therefore need to be provided entertainment.).

I like some wordplay while I do laundry.

Quickly I get twenty dollars’ worth of change out of the machine. 

When you find one that works, you go for broke!  So many quarters clang down that I feel like I’m playing the slots.  I load up the machines and return to the crew.  We take a little walk around to the grassy spot alongside the strip mall.  I give them a drink and back in the PTV they go.

It’s a sunny day, yet there’s a good breeze, so they’re comfortable in the PTV with windows down a bit.   Spike settles down for a nap.  He knows the drill.  I go back inside.  I see Bridget out in the PTV looking at me with The Pathetic Stare That Pierces Plate Glass.

The laundry done, Bridget squeals with delight and we take off for Safeway.

I’m on a stealth mission.  I’ve been carrying around stinking garbage for several weeks now.  Thank God for Febreeze.  Everywhere I go there is a big sign on the dumpsters, “Not for public use.  $500 fine. Go away, you transient.”  However, Safeway, like Wal-Mart, has conveniently placed waste barrels throughout its parking lot.

These barrels say, “Feed me, you wonderful customer!” 

On the way into the store to pick up a few more diet items, I dump a bag of garbage.  When I come out, I grab another bag out of the PTVand stuff it into another barrel.

Then I drive over to the water dispensers.

When I carry the empty jugs to the machine, I drop another bag of garbage in another trash can.  See how this works?  Hey, ya do whatcha gotta do.  On the way out of the parking lot, I stop and – you guessed it! – I stuff another bag into another trash barrel.  Thank you, Safeway!  May your lettuce never go limp and your bananas forever be yellow!

I think part of what makes living like this fun is the day-to-day challenge of taking care of me and my crew. 

New pines for the forest of tomorrow!

I go to a new location.  Where do we camp?  Do we have enough propane? Who will change the oil in the PTV?  Where do I get water?  How do I get rid of garbage?  Where’s the nearest laundromat?

This stuff would be a bore if I were living in a regular house.  I’d be following the same roads and the same routines.

My vagabond life is one of constant change.  I love that.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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43 Responses to A ranger visit, the mother of all laundries, and stealth garbage disposal

  1. Pat says:

    Sue, thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  2. kellyceallaigh says:

    Oh, Sue, you crack me up! “May your lettuce never go limp and your bananas forever be yellow!” Sounds almost like an old Irish blessing 🙂

    Reading about how your lifestyle is more interesting because it’s different all the time is exactly why it’s so appealing to me. I think that’s what’s getting to me these days is the mundane, day-after-day sameness of life. Right now I’m trying to find a little used travel trailer, maybe even a pop-up, that I can pull behind a little truck and just head out for a few days, maybe even a week at a time – with or without other family members!

    You are an inspiration!

  3. cathieok says:

    Does this make you a bag lady? :))))

  4. Emily says:

    Am getting ready to start the diet. Have been cleaning out cabinets and refrigerator. Leaving food stuff I can use later or will use for housemates meals. Been researching recipes using oat bran – crepes, breads, tortillas, various meals using what I can eat – even enchiladas with my green chile and cilantro seasonings. I have a link to lots of recipes (warning they are from the U.K. & measurements need converting): go to http://www.mydukandiet.com/recipes/ and you will find recipes for all the phases. Some of the ingredients we don’t find in the US either, so substitute.

    Love the sock clothesline. Cute idea.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Emily, you are so creative! I’m not making anything. I grab an egg or some yogurt or some meat already cooked and i’m good to go! You’re going places with this! I’m excited for you.

      I looked at the website … I like how it tells you what diet phase the recipe is suited for. The recipes look tantalizing, too.

  5. Rick says:

    I hope you get a chance to visit Sunset Crater. I am looking forward to your report from the North Rim. Thanks for writing for us.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rick,

      I’m definitely going to visit Sunset Crater before leaving the area. And I don’t want to miss the North Rim.

      You’re welcome.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Just wondering if you have one of those large metal measuring tapes? Or I suppose one could get a piece of some kind of string to use so as to be sure to be no further away than those 30 ft!! HOW PICKY!! But if exactness is needed…hey does the law say you are not ok, when at least SOME part of your rig is on the mark?? Oh well…

    This is somewhat discouraging to us in thinking of being full time RVers however…we understand not destroying a place…the goal should be to leave it so as no one could tell you were ever there. From our perspective at least.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      No part of the rig should be hanging over 30 feet because the rule is “within 30 feet.” I have tape measures. I need to refresh my stride-measuring skills. It will be frustrating at times to see a glorious campsite that’s off-limits. This is going to happen because many of the roads branching off the forest roads are the really secluded campsites and are no longer approved camping areas. We campers might have to eat some dust living alongside the dirt roads of the forest.

  7. Jeff says:

    Hi Sue,
    When they say 30 feet to they mean no part of your rig can be more than 30 feet from the road? If so what if someone has a tow vehicle and trailer that is more than 30 feet? Is 30 feet the maximum sized rig you can have?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You have to have all of your rig within 30 feet. That means you park parallel to the road. If you can’t fit within the 30 feet, you don’t camp there. The ranger said they will be lenient the first year if people make an effort to follow the guidelines. Next year,, watch out! The rules may be different for various forests, but it’s a national directive to control forest impact.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I didn’t answer you last question: Your rig can be longer than 30 ft. That’s why you park parallel to fit. Now if the campsite is behind some trees or bushes so when you drive into it, you’re not within 30 ft. of the road, that campsite is unusable for anyone.

  8. Kim says:

    I admire the way that you embrace the where, when, and how.

    Also love the pic of the single socks and the snow-capped mountain!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kim, I had to click on your name to see if you are Kimbopolo….. That sock poster and display reminds me of my days decorating my classroom and bulletin boards.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Wouldn’t you think that a store who wants your business in buying their food, would be willing to accept the trash from all the packaging of that food?? One would think. Good you found one obviously trying to help!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You make a good point. I guess they figure we’ll stop paying for trash removal and stop by their store instead. I’d pay for trash removal but it’s not possible living the way I do.

  10. Lisa says:

    Thanks so much for your blog, Sue. I’m supposed to be buying my class C in July, but it’s so close and I just can’t wait! I actually went for a few test drives over the weekend (had promised myself I would not do that yet) and have been chatting online with a man who is trading up to something bigger and so is selling pretty much exactly what I think I want – is that my new home he and I are talking about? When I read your blogs, the fear goes down a little and the excitement goes up!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m very happy for you, Lisa. Before you buy, make sure you are comfortable with the idea of driving your home into traffic whenever you need to go to the store, do laundry, or any other errand. I wasn’t. That’s why I went with what I have. Will you be towing a car behind it? This is a very personal decision. What works for one might not work for another.

      I’m glad my blog helps make your plan seem more doable and less something to fear. You should be excited! A great adventure lies ahead! Good luck!

  11. Renette says:

    Dear RVSue,
    I have been following your posts for some time and have enjoyed them all. Thank-you for sharing your life with all of us. I am sorry that you are currently having a bit of a hard time with the camping situation, but must admit that I am rather on the side of the rules. As a long time Girl Scout and conservation worker, I know that somethimes you just got to give the earth a rest. repeated camping on the same spot is very difficult to recover from. I hope I still feel this way this summer as I make my way west in my Casita. Sometimes it is very hard to do the right thing when it is so much harder than the easy thing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. I do predict campers simply making more campsites along the roads. I would estimate a good 80 percent of the established campsites (flat and bare with fire rings) are eliminated under the new rules. So what will people do? They’ll pull over on the grass next to the road making super-wide dirt roads. Maybe that will be better for the forest, I don’t know. If people wouldn’t drive so fast on these dirt forest roads…. you wouldn’t believe the dust! This volcanic soil is like talcum powder!

  12. earthdancerimages says:

    The young ranger lady was right about the Navajo Taco’s at the Cameron Trading Post! Absolutely the best ever! However the parking situation when you are towing a rig can be really tricky! Yet Chuck managed to get us in and out of there last year without a bump or dent! (With the MotherShip!)
    I also loved the sock sign photo, what a great creative idea! Maybe you should pick up a spare sock or two for Bridgets tender feet! We are checking out a campground for you near Kolob Canyon tomorrow!!! Pete and Oscar will be here over Memorial Weekend! YAY!

  13. Cherry says:

    Great post and I concur about the day to day challenge of taking care of a crew. I’m living and traveling with 6 cats in a class B. Dumping kitty litter daily is quite an adventure.

  14. geogypsy2u says:

    I like it all except the laundry part. I’d pay someone to do my laundry, and have. Hope you got my email about campfires.

    That young Ranger was being politely over zealous about your distance. Have you paced off 30 and 300 feet?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’ve paced off 30 feet. I didn’t have to pace off 300 feet when I moved to my second camp at Willard Springs because it was obvious I was well within the limit. What messed me up here was I thought this was a dispersed area so I had 300 feet.. I didn’t read the road numbers correctly.

      Funny, I hated doing laundry at my house. Now it’s another outing.

      I got your email about campfires. Thank you. Ken and I (Gail doesn’t make fires) agreed upon arrival that it was too breezy and dry up here for fires so we haven’t made any. That’s one reason my trash was piling up! I did grill on my charcoal grill once.

  15. Bill says:

    It’s hard to comment on issues when they are so absurd! Why 30′? Why not 20 or 40? So time to fire off a letter to my representative, Mr. Pierce. No matter how large the environmental groups, we’ve got them outnumbered! And when did the term ‘altered’ morph into ‘destroy’? I take walks with the kids into NF and find game trails everywhere! How is it that only man can ‘destroy’ while wildlife simply ‘passes through’? Has anyone seen a stand of Aspen during rutting season? And I’m the first person to get upset when someone has carved their ID in a tree in the forest! Commonsense; you can’t find it, buy it or sell it. You either have it or you don’t! You either respect nature (and fellow man) or you don’t! And just a note- AZ is under assaultl by the current admin and justice dept. They are now sueing the sherrif of Maricopa Co. It’s just gonna get worse until there’s a change at the top!!!

    And all I really wanted to say is have a nice day rvsue! cheers, Bill

  16. Fred says:

    Well 29 days and counting! I finally sold my large 5th wheel and got a 24ft Aljo and 3/4 ton truck to pull it. This finally ends the last time I will have lived in traditional housing and I will be on the road for the third time in my life. The first time was for 6 years in a small class c. Second time in a 18ft travel trailer for 3 years. This is the third and last time. No going back to land locked living. I hope. Your blog has kept me focused on the goal the past year Sue. Thanks so much and I hope to meet you on the trail one day and keep up the good work on the diet.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m going to look up to see what an Aljo looks like. Good for you! So you’ve had it with land-locked living. I like that description. I may use it someday.

      I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear that my blog has been a help to you for the past year. Thanks for telling me. It really gives me a lift to know that. I send my best wishes, Fred, for the next 29 days and the wonderful beyond! Maybe our paths will cross someday . . .

  17. John says:

    Hi Sue, Great post, brought back memories of when I was full timer, and like you did the trash run, It seems like yesterday that I entered a costco parking lot,, Oh the feeling I thought I died and went to heaven,,, one parking lot, 32 trash barrels .. love the socks

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You said it perfectly, John! That feeling of “I died and went to heaven” . . . some days I feel it several times and usually when I lie down to sleep at night looking up at the stars. Glad you liked the post.

  18. Sharpei Mom says:

    Sue…just had hubby dig up his 100′ contrators tape to take with us tomorrow…headed for the Blue Ridge Res. This item may come in handy for those of us who camp in the national forest.

  19. Emily says:

    Know those forest fires currently in AZ aren’t near you, but hope your don’t get an “evacuate” notice some day when you are in those forested areas.

  20. LoveMyCasita says:

    Sue — If you’re traveling north between May 18th and the 22nd, you’ll be going right by Lee’s Ferry Campground after you cross the Colorado on your way to Jacob Lake. There’ll be a small group of us Casita People there. Stop by and say hi!

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