Making a great campsite even better

I’m sitting in the BLT looking out the window at the shards of glass glinting in the sun.

I step outside and look around.  The campsite is littered with shards of glass, a large assortment of rusty nails up to five inches long, bottle caps, pull tabs, a “Lunchables” plastic container, spark plugs, a huge bolt with nut, the handle to a plastic push-toy, a plastic bag, a broken fork, a strip of cloth, a  three-inch section of hose, dried-up dog poop, cigarette filters, pieces of rusted metal, and several unidentified objects.  Sheesh.  Why doesn’t somebody clean up this mess?

Hey!  I’m somebody!

I set to work with my plastic rake.  It’s only about eight inches wide because I bought it for cleaning out under bushes in my landscaping back in Georgia.  It’s a cool and breezy morning, and I’m having a great ol’ time raking up the trash.  I pick up the trash by hand from under the bushes so I don’t disturb the natural mulch.   In an hour the place looks beautiful.  Two chipmunks and a cactus wren appear and they seem to agree it’s a lot better than it was.

The last time I cleaned up some trash in the desert, I was accused of trying to turn it into suburbia.

My efforts today did not upset the Mojave Desert ecosystem.  This was a trashed and trampled campsite.  Why should I live in a mess?  Why should anyone, even if only temporarily?

Now paws won’t step on broken glass, small children won’t play in trash, and everyone can enjoy visually pleasing surroundings.

I like places and people to be better because I passed that way.  Or, at the very least, not pissed off.

Can you stand some more sunrise photos?  They look best if you view them full screen.  Look for the kissing rocks!

The Sun Rises at Sawtooth Canyon 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The photos from the post are included because I haven’t figured out how to exclude them when a slideshow is in the same post.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
This entry was posted in Simple living and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Making a great campsite even better

  1. DiaryQueen says:

    I can’t make the slideshow full screen – how do I do that? There is no “expand” button, merely forward, backward, and pause. Am I missing something? I do want to watch in full screen, Sue! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Simultaneously hold down the Ctrl button and the + button (use shift key for +). Repeat until the slideshow is as large as you want it.

      To make small again, hold down Ctrl and – buttons together.

  2. Pictures are beautiful as always. I think you have done a public service by cleaning up that area. Who wants to camp in the trash. Some people are just bums.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      This campground wasn’t always a campground with a host to oversee behavior. I think a lot of the trash is from that time. At first glance the site looks fine. After you settle in, you notice the ground is a mess. Not any more!

    • Sue says:

      I agree with Pauline. GMTA because this is exactly what I would have done. The pictures are lovely BTW. I especially like the sky.

  3. WJ says:

    Am camping in Laura Walker State Park in Georgia for 3 nights——-finding trash in the NC national forest and SC state park I was camped in—–what are people thinking? Apparently NOT thinking/caring about this great land of ours. Thanks for doing your part ‘out West’. Am finding abandoned cats everywhere I camp. Sad 😦

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Doesn’t it make you sick to see our beautiful national lands trashed? (Not to mention lost or feral cats!) When I walk in an area that looks pristine, I like to pretend I’m the first person there (silly, I know.) Then I look down and see a used lip balm or something. Gee whiz.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    GOOD JOB, SUE!! So many people seem to think THEIR MOTHER should follow them everywhere and clean up after them!! I saw a lot years ago when I worked retail. No better today obviously. Nice photos.

  5. Glenda Cornwill says:

    Don’t you just hate other people’s rubbish…………..makes my blood boil. Great colours in the clouds Sue…………..worth getting up for when you can get some stunning shots like yours……….Keep up the good work !!

  6. PatrickA says:

    Thanks for the slide show. How long are you going to be in Sawtooth can you PM us please.

  7. gingerda says:

    Love the pictures showing the gorgeous sky. The rock formations are pretty neat too.
    I hate to see our land all trashed up too. Nice of you to clean it up. Do they have big trash barrels to put trash in, or do you have to haul it somewhere?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It’s “pack it in, pack it out” at Sawtooth, so there’s no trash bins or pick-up of trash, as there was at Owl Canyon. I’m not complaining — it’s free!

      This trash was so mixed in with gravel, dirt, and stones that I shoveled it into an existing depression in the ground and covered it with small rocks.

  8. We are thinking of taking a trip out there this weekend to check things out. We will stop and say hi if we make it and you are still there. We always pick up trash when we are out too!

  9. Rita says:

    As a long time camper, my family, friends, & I learned long ago to pack it out and do last minute check to see if everything is in order including camp fire mixed & out. Thx for caring and picking up someone’s mess 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Part of my reason for cleaning the campsite was more than just for my own enjoyment. I think mess begets mess and clean begets clean. If people see trash around, they tend to add to it and the inverse is true, IMHO.

  10. cinandjules says:

    Forgot to mention, I like the portraits of you and the crew. They are total “hams”. Spike’s got the “I didn’t do it…really” look….and Bridget has the brown “melting” eyes.

    Your slide shows are always great…………whatever the topic is.

    In regards to the garbage….I sometimes don’t get people who think everything is biodegradable and will somehow disappear. It’s called lack of respect. Ever notice how much garbage is on the side of the highway? Caleefornia is bad that the DUI folks have to pickup the litter as part of their sentence..almost like a chain gang…..I don’t remember seeing alot in AZ…and here it’s minimal. How much energy does it take to take the trash home with you to dispose?

    At least your site is now free of debris for your enjoyment and the crew’s safety. The people who arrive after you….will unknowingly appreciate it.

    Have an enjoyable evening.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      About the portraits in the sidebar . . . Notice how grubby I look compared to the crew. Bridget and Spike look so shiny and fresh, and I look, well, like The Desert Woman. 🙂

      I appreciate the positive feedback on my slideshows.

  11. EmilyO says:

    Those are gorgeous photos. So restful and relaxing. My brother, and friends, were out northeast of Joshua Tree, this past week, on some BLM land and he sent some beautiful sunset pictures.

    PS: Your pictures are prettier then his.

  12. Wayne Scott says:

    Had friends involved in a STREAM TEAM many years ago. Have been thinking… Would it be possible to organize/mobilize FT and any other camper families, one – two weekends per year, clean up trash in your favorite campground day? Just thinking, it may work. Shame there are slobs that create the need.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Instead of a campground day… I’d like to see everyone who camps clean up the site before they leave, even if it’s trash they didn’t litter. I’m not optimistic about the young generation. When I was a middle school teacher and asked a student to pick something up, the standard response was an indignant, “It’s not mine!” or “I didn’t drop it!”

      • Wayne Scott says:

        yep, it is not the world (attitude) I grew up with or expected around my house.
        maybe it will come back into style, like wide ties did.???

  13. Shawna says:

    Bless your heart for cleaning it up. Why oh why can’t people clean up their own messes so others do not have to…………………I am not fond of litterers. Can’t you tell? Is litterers a word? 🙂

  14. Allison says:

    Thank you for doing that. Litter removal lightens the universe. Tucson is covered in broken glass and plastic garbage bags. I wish the legislature would put deposits on containers so people would take them back. Oregon does that, and they are much cleaner than Arizona. Great sunrise slideshow.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The deposits must work. They’ve been in place in Oregon and Maine for a while now. Funny how people have to be paid to do what should be second nature. . . although I believe a lot of the containers are picked up by people who need the cash and didn’t do the littering in the first place.

  15. Marcia GB says:

    I feel grateful to live in MA where we have a bottle deposit law and LOTS of recycling. There is very little litter in most areas (some cities the exception). We always clean up when camping if someone has left trash around. I do believe in the “mess begets mess” rule. Just don’t understand why some folks go to Mother nature’s beautiful places and leave a mess behind.
    Sue. your sunrise slide show and crew pics are super!

  16. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    Back in the 1970’s I think it was Chief Iron Eyes who had a tear running down his cheek as he sat on his pony looking at all the junk that littered the land. That TV commercial said it all with no words spoken. I bought me a dandy pick up tool in Quartzsite AZ a few years back. It is the professional model with two black rubber suction cups that can pick up a toothpick first try. First thing I do when I camp is jump out with my supertool and a plastic five gallon bucket and start picking up all the junk. Everyonce in awhile I am rewarded with finding something valuable so I make a treasure hunt out of it. One time I found a modern day wrist watch with so many knobs and do-dads I still don’t know how to use all the gadgets that are built into it. Love the people who care and feel so sorry for the ones who don’t.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! That’s a great habit to have, Joe. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone did what you do? Hmm . . .you’ve given me an idea of what to shop for the next time I go to Quartzsite.

      I remember that TV ad . . .which shows how effective it was.

      • MI Marsha says:

        I met Iron Eyes Cody as a child and it’s only recently that I discovered he’s not even Native American! But yes, the commercial was very effective.

        It bugs me when previous campers put trash in the firepits before they leave without burning or put stuff in there that doesn’t burn. Beer bottle caps on the ground, cigarette butts … don’t get me started 🙂

      • Ed says:

        Very effective ad IF the purpose was for you to remember the ad but I think it was intended to get people to NOT litter. If my guess about the intent is correct then the ad was a dismal failure.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I don’t entirely agree with you, Ed. Sure, it obviously didn’t teach everyone. However . . . If my memory serves me right…. going back to my childhood… I think that ad influenced me to be respectful of the environment and that was long (?) before Lady Bird Johnson, before public school lessons like Arbor Day, or before the environmentalist movement was picked up by mainstream media. It’s hard to measure something like that, except anecdotal.

  17. Rod says:

    I just had to look and see if some do gooder had flamed you for disturbing the desert……. But nope they seem to have that out of their system now…. And over here in Arizona we have plenty of trash out in the desert for those that think Cal has it all……


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right about Arizona. It’s a shame that the enchanting Sonoran Desert (area of Darby Well Road, Ajo) is littered with old rusty cans and broken bottles. I could spend the rest of my life picking up the trash and not get the job done.

  18. Barb says:

    Girl Scout Rule! Leave your campsite better than you found it! YOU ROCK!

  19. Jim says:

    Good for you Sue. BTW I am using one of your evening sky shots from the other day on my desktop as wallpaper. Thanks for that….

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Jim. Great compliment. My laptop has the slideshow desktop feature. I rotate my slideshows. So when I’m in the desert I can look at scenes of the Rogue River, the Pacific, floating the Madison, kayaking the Williamson, the horses running at Brooks Lake…. oh, I want to do all that all over again!

  20. mockturtle says:

    Beautiful photos, Sue! 🙂

    I also clean up campsites when I arrive–lots of cigarette butts. Some people apparently don’t see them as litter. :-\ And always beer cans in the fire ring. 😦 I wear disposable gloves or a plastic bag over my hand. If there is no trash disposal in the campground [‘pack it in, pack it out’], I don’t do it, as I don’t want my RV to smell of beer cans and cigarette butts. 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t want the PTV to smell either, especially with someone else’s trash. (I need to find a place to dump our own trash when we next go into town.) The trash I raked up I shoveled into a hole and buried with small rocks. It’s the next best thing. It was too heavy to bag up, mixed in with dirt and gravel. At least no one has to look at it. Oh, and the burnt cans in the fire ring . . . how thoughtful!

  21. Pat says:

    I am in a New Mexico state park and I was sitting outside when I looked up at a pine tree at my camp and there was a bright green plastic hanger that someone had thrown as high as they could in the tree. I am still trying to figure out how to get the dang thing out. I hate when people don’t respect the beauty of our country. Keep up the good work, Sue. Proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Pat… That hanger would drive me nuts! It’s all I would look at until I got the dang thing out of that tree. Aren’t New Mexico’s state parks wonderful! I think their annual pass system is the best.

  22. Timber n' me says:

    Right on Sue, as for buts n’ beer cans, I pic em up n’ wait til th’ trip to town, n’ double th’ bags n’ put em in th’ back, usaly towns only 20 minutes, if not th petrol station gets th’ gift. Nice pic’s Sue

  23. Lana Hutton says:

    It never fails to amaze me that people can’t understand that it is just as easy to toss something into a bag as it is to toss it to the ground. It is especially astonishing when, during extremely dry conditions here in Phoenix, people flick their lighted cigarettes out the car window!!! I am a terrible housekeeper in my own home, but you will never see me litter the great outdoors.

    I am a loner like you and really enjoy your blog. I have two rescue dogs – we became a family two weeks ago and are doing very well. My 17 and 19 year old babies went on ahead of me this spring, within 5 weeks of each other. It made for a really difficult summer. But I’m better now, and the three of us hope to someday follow in your footsteps!


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, Lana,

      Your name is special to me. I have a dear cousin I grew up with named Lana. And you’re a loner, too! Loners rock! 🙂 or maybe I should say “Loners rock alone!”

      I winced to read of the loss of your two “babies” and so close together in time. One waited for the other perhaps so they could make the trip together. What a painful time for you. Of course, I look at my crew and know painful days are ahead for me, too. All loving dog owners face paying that price. It’s not too much to pay for all they give us, right?

      I’m happy that you have your new family in place and it’s working out. Rescue dogs seem to have another dimension to them… gratitude? I wish you all lots of happy times together

      Thank you for reading my blog and for sharing a little about yourself..

  24. Candace Rivero says:

    You are 100% right – again RV Sue. .. Glad to see you are not waiting for “them” to take of someone elses mess. I really think that is much of America’s problem today. Too many aren’t responsibile for their own “stuff”. I never did understand the issue when a blog follower said you were messing up the ecosystem. … Rake your own area and let his collect the neighbor’s trash. … You choose to live on the good side of the street! Yeah! LOVE your blog and pics and the special treats when there is a Canine Corner post too 🙂 BTW, hows Rusty doing – have you heard from him recently?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right about the lack of responsibility. There are several other disturbing traits I see. Many people seem to lack a sense of pride. I mean pride in the good sense. There was a time when people took pride in how they conducted themselves. In short, they acted like adults. Now the only way to tell adults from children is the adults look older. The children have access to things they shouldn’t even know about.

      Okay, enough of that! I’m glad you love my blog, the pics, and the Canine Corner.

      Rusty is here! He comments under the name Timber n’ me (see above) and he and Timber are doing fine.

  25. kristine barr says:

    Beautiful pictures. The rest of the gang has said what I was thinking about litter.

  26. I’ll bet the rocks are kissing because you cleaned up their surroundings!

  27. Renette says:

    don’t give up on the younger generation yet. it all depends on training. My 7 and 9 year old grandsons know the drill when we go camping. first check site, then pick up whatever trash has been left from previous campers. and when we leave, leave site cleaner than when we came. (we are all scouts) renette

  28. LuAnn says:

    I am always surprised by the people who have so little regard for taking care of the gifts that Mother Nature has given us. Thankfully there are folks like you Sue with such a caring heart. I love your slideshow and I too wish I knew how to not incorporate other post photos into my slideshow.

  29. Bill and Ann says:

    Ahhh…..Why can’t people clean up after themselves. Makes no sense. We have full timed as Campground hosts for over six months know picking up after other people. Love it; most of the time. There are those occasions where a ten minute job can turn into an hour. I can get pretty ornery when this happens.

    Last week you spoke of Mt. Whitney. Here is an interesting article requiring the ultimate clean up after a hike in the wilderness.

    Our motto is to always leave a campsite cleaner than when you came.

    The pictures are beautiful. As always.

  30. Sherry says:

    Sue that hat looks terrific on you. Great picture. And Bridget those ears look great on you. All the better to hear things right? Even the snide comments by Spike who looks so innocent in his fine picture. Love all 3.

    I really do like cleaning up a campsite that I am enjoying. It always looks fresher when I do. Wonder why I never felt the same way about cleaning my house? I hated to do that.

    But it is a mystery about the cans and bottles in the fire ring. I find that all the time especially in Naitonal or State Forest campgrounds without camp hosts. What makes people think this is the place for trash? It isn’t going away. Where is “away” anyway??

    I agree that it seems deposits on bottles and cans would decrease litter everywhere and be a win/win situation. It’s an incentive to some and an income to others.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Sherry! I never was a hat person until I had my skin cancer scare and I came to the desert. It feels natural to me to wear a hat. Yes, my crew’s photos are great. I’m pleased with how they look in the sidebar.

      I think the reason I like cleaning the BLT and the campsite is because it’s like playing, whereas cleaning my house and yard was work. Strange.

      I think people drink sitting around the campfire and when they’re done, they’re too lazy to get up out of their chair so they toss the can or bottle into the fire ring. Low lifes.

  31. Dear RV Sue,

    I am reluctant to ask, but have you heard anything at all about Buddy and Scruffy?. Did you ever meet up with Eldad Hagar? I have not stop thinking, wondering and hoping for the best re. them all week. Sorry to bring this up, but their plight triggered a lot of painful emotions in me and it would be helpful to have an update.

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      Your question “Did you ever meet up with Eldad Hagar?” has me wondering if you missed the update at the bottom of the post called Plans re: Buddy and Scruffy. There I tell about Eldad’s visit to Owl Canyon. See cinandjules comment below re: Eldad’s facebook page.

  32. cinandjules says:

    On Tues Eldad went to NYC with FIona to get her Dog of the year award. He is there for five days…which means he is still there. The rangers at owl canyon campground have his number in case they spot either one of them. They are also checking into the chance that one of the numerous campers took him home.

    Eldad has a facebook account eldad75 and has written about his trip to the desert.

  33. carol says:

    I live in Oregon,sinceTom Mccalls bottle bill we have al become conscious of trash various PTA, family groups claimn rural side roads to keep clean,and the county erects a sign announcing who will be keeping that stretch of road clean.Several years ago, someone framed up a stretch of beach front.It has since become ayeatly state-wide movement on specified day in October.Pickup tools and trash bags supplied by countiesE call it SOLVE, acronym for Top Litterand Vandalism.
    were gonna have a helluva job this year when all the debris from the tsunami in Japan reaches our shore.Good Sam club member group also choose campgrounds to clean

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