Ah, Ajo . . . Turning a camp into a home

Rick helps me find a campsite.

We walk together up the lane to the next site.  It’s a pull-through on a knoll, and it’s surrounded by palo verde, ocotillo, saguaro, and brittlebush.  In a word — lovely.  I have my air card with me, and no matter where I walk on the campsite, no signal at all!  This is very disappointing.  I like it here!


No close neighbors!

“You know, Rick.  I’m going to camp here anyway.  If I can’t get signal after 24 hours, I’ll move.  Right now I feel like stopping for the night.”

The crew and I walk down the hill and board the PTV.

I park the BLT where I want it and go about setting up camp.  I put the antenna pole in the bumper mount and attach the wire to my air card.  Bingo!  Three bars!  How can that be?  Well, I’m not going to argue with three, steady bars!  We can stay here!

Neighbor Judy stops by to say hello.

She’s camped with her canine buddy, Cisco, in a travel trailer.   Bridget and Spike are thrilled to make another canine friend.  Judy is from Colorado Springs and has been a reader of this blog from its early days, before she went full-time last June.


Judy says, “I used to get annoyed when you didn’t post.  I’d think ‘Here I am stuck in this house and she’s out there doing what I want to do.  She could at least post!'”  We both laugh.  Judy continues, “Now that I’m out here myself, I don’t know how you do it.  It’s such a commitment.”


Thursday, January 17

I wake before the crew and watch the sunrise through our big back window.  The saguaro make dramatic silhouettes.  Shortly Bridget and Spike wake up.  Due to the close presence of coyotes in the area, I suit up the crew for a short walk on-leash.  I open the door and there’s Lady!

“Look who’s here!  Good morning, Lady!”


This starts our day on a happy note.

One of my favorite things about full-time vagabonding is making a new camp into home.  Our site is covered with small, jagged rocks.  I get out my rake and clear the area on the door side of the BLT.  I plan on us staying here for an extended period and I don’t want those rocks poking holes in the blue mat.

Once the mat is down and the camp chairs and table set up, I set to work on the bird feeders.  I construct a stand-by-itself seed feeder, set it up by the palo verde, and rake a winding path to it.


I pour seed into the feed tray and sprinkle more on the path.  The apple-shaped (or maybe strawberry-shaped?) hummingbird feeder goes up.

Later the urge to cook strikes me.

1-P1020011Remember those onions Carolyn gave me from her garden?  I chop them up and throw them in a fry pan with a little oil.

1-P1020012Next the peppers I bought in Wellton go in the pan.

1-P1020014After the onions are clear and the peppers begin to soften, I add the smoked pork sausage . . . “Hillshire Farm sweet Italian style with peppers and mozarella cheese, fully cooked.”


There are days when only a hearty meal will do.  This would be delicious filling for a tortilla wrap.

At sunset I make a fire in the fire ring.


I bring out a cup of hot tea, sit before the fire, and pull the throw around my shoulders.  I reflect upon our day.   Rick said the BLM rangers don’t bother keeping track how long people camp here.  That’s good because I don’t want to leave here any time soon.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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110 Responses to Ah, Ajo . . . Turning a camp into a home

  1. Pat says:

    Beautiful site!!!!!! I am sure you and the kids will enjoy your new home. I hope we got enough rain for the wild flowers to be spectacular this spring.

    Pat in Ajo

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the desert bloom. I understand it’s a tricky thing, so many variables. On the way from Gila Bend to Ajo I saw some cacti with gold flowers on top but there wasn’t any place to pull over for a closer look.

  2. PamP says:

    How happy to have a new home (again, ha, ha) Even tho I can’t do much traveling anymore, I love going along via your blog. Hope the Rangers are too busy to bother with you. PamP in SW Florida

  3. Renee(from BC) says:

    I can hear a long, delicious Ahhhhhhh! from all 3 of you! Sure looks like “home” to me! Blessed be!

  4. Joe Shryock says:

    How can we follow Judy and her blog. Your dinner looked wonderful.

  5. Michelle says:

    Oh, just Lovely. Thank you so much for making my day.

  6. Rita says:

    I’m like Judy was…kept clicking on to see a new post all day. Then, right after I had my soup & tea I find a new blog posted. My you’ve been busy! Love the bird feeder, path, and new front yard. Also, the camp fire made your little home homier. I often wonder what RVer’s diet consist of cuz at the beginning when you were planning what to take on the road…I remember you talking about a breakfast bar. I’d have to have more than a breakfast bar to start my day. But, later I see you making bacon & eggs and I was elated … yummo! The sausage gumbo look absolutely delish! I might have to cook that up soon & spoon it over wild rice. Can’t wait to see the desert in full bloom soon! Good night Sue, Spike & Bridget….pleasant dreams!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Funny you mention the rice. I put on a pot of rice to go with it. When the onions, peppers, and sausage were done, I was so hungry I ate. I didn’t want to wait for the rice! This girl eats like she means it! Pleasant dreams to you, too, Rita.

  7. Marilu Paulson, Willits, CA says:

    The pictures of your sausage stir fry made me feel like I was having dinner with you. What a lovely campsite and how nice to have friends nearby. Enjoy!

  8. Sherry says:

    Wondering if you have a regular garden rake or a collapsable one. I too love the set up camp duties. It looks very homey. I’m going to be envying you the solitude and eventually the wildflowers. On the way to the Everglades in stages here in Florida.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Sherry!

      I have a “landscape rake” which means a small rake. So you’re on your way to the python roundup, huh.

      • Sherry says:

        I tried googling a “landscape rake” and I get a big rake that looks like what I used to call a garden rake-straight wide teeth. But I also found a collapsible rake that looks like a leaf rake with flexible teeth. Next time you are raking would you post a picture of this rake that will move stones. 🙂

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Okay, maybe it’s not a landscape rake. It’s a rake designed to pull leaves and whatnot out from under and between bushes in the landscape. The “fan” is only about 6 inches wide and the prongs are made of plastic! I’m amazed at the heavy stuff I’ve raked with it. I help it by kicking the stones with the side of my foot.

  9. SandiNature says:

    Hello to you and the crew.

    I love how you make your site your home; especially your bird feeder with a path!!!

    And I also love your red polka dot plate!
    I’m curious if Rick is there all year or he visits at the same time as you every year.
    Happy New Year

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Sandi!

      Making the birdfeeder with a path was fun. It’s pleasant to look at. Now if I can figure out how to woo the birds away from Rick’s feeder. He’s got the Wal-Mart of birdfeeders up at his camp (crushing any competition). One purple finch came by my seed feeder and one hummingbird. It’s a start.

      Rick arrived in October. He stays about five months, give or take.

      • SandiNature says:

        LOL. I’m sure the birds will enjoy the change of scenery and visit you. [Course, you could always buy a plastic bird of prey and post it around Rick’s camp! muahahaha – evil laugh in my best Vincent Price voice.]

        I just realized that part of your blog’s charm is your exchange with your followers’ comments. It gives a more rounded view of your experiences.

        Thanks for taking the time out for us. 🙂

        Pleasant Dreams

  10. katydid says:

    I love the feeling of a cozy home in your last photo. May the three of you find rest and rejuvenation in your own little corner of desert paradise!

    katydid, (south of Chicago)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello Katy!

      The Sonoran Desert… around Ajo and Black Mountain in particular … has a peacefulness that calms the soul. We’ll rest up in preparation for another year of adventure!

      Thanks for writing your location. I feel like I know you better when I can imagine where you are.

  11. Dedra says:

    You make your blog so real. I feel that I’m there with you, sitting and watching the fire.
    Your new home is beautiful. Tell the crew Hi!

  12. Simply awesome. True love comes in many forms.

  13. placestheygo says:

    Sounds like a perfect location! And the crew has lots of friends.

    Enjoy yourself surrounded by the quiet sounds of nature:)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It is very quiet here. The crew didn’t have any friends at Ogilby Road, Yuma. It was a long stretch with no canine pals and a lot of time inside to stay out of the cold and wind. I’m happy to see them out in the sunshine with friends visiting them. They get so excited!

  14. Oh Sue, I’m so ready just be wherever we want and not where we have made a commitment to be. Just a few more weeks and we’re on our own schedule. First to Florida to visit with Rob’s family. Every time I see your new campsites I envy your ability to go wherever YOU want. That’s when the real fun will begin. Until then, I’ll be living vicariously through your blog.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I know what you mean, Juley, about having to be somewhere… When I retired I promised myself I would go where I want when I want, after a lifetime of being told where I should be and when!

      Only a few more weeks? Good for you! Enjoy . . .

  15. Mick says:

    Beautiful piece of desert to call home for a while. Thanks to Wilson. Seems that rake got you in hot water once? Missed my dinner invite. LOL

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Can you believe this antenna? Incredible. Boy, you have quite a memory, Mick. It took me a while before I remembered the significance of the rake. I’m turning the desert into suburbia, you know.

  16. cozygirl says:

    Wow home sweet home! Nice pan of onions and peppers…that should keep the flu at bay 🙂 Lv the path to the birdseed. WHAT a dream spot…Ill sleep good tonight 🙂 dreaming of your view and perfect surroundings.

  17. Mary says:

    Sue: You make the day sound so inviting. Sounds like something I would love to do.
    I think I’m too old now to consider it (75) but am having a wonderful time, through you and the crew. Thanks for letting me join in.
    Dreamer Mary

  18. cinandjules (NY) says:

    Love the winding path to the bird feeder. Very creative. Do you have any of that gourmet seed left or did the chippies eat you out of house and trailer?

    Oh my…now it’s a cooking show. Great pics and description. Yum…I can see why you didn’t wait for the rice. What time is dinner? Whaddya mean….I already missed it?

    Bridget looks comfy near the bonfire. I might add you’re quite the pyro! 🙂 Wait…..where is Spike?

    From no signal whatsoever to three bars……….is a sign……it’s meant to be….your home.

    I detect an uplifting cheerful mood since your arrival in Ajo! Enjoy your evening.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Gourmet seed is gone. We’re back to thistle seed with a bit of sunflower seed.

      Spike is in the photo, sort of. He’s lying on the blue mat directly behind the camp chair, out of view. I knew if I moved him into the picture, Bridget would move out of it.

  19. Emjay says:

    I am not criticizing..just suggesting. If you want hot coals to, say, bury foil wrapped taters in (for 25 minutes) or to cook meal packets on..etc, dig about a two-foot long, 12 inch or so deep hole in which to build your fire. The fire is pretty much wind-proof, and the deep coals stay hot, , still put out a lot of heat and contain all that ash that could blow away. When you leave, douse the coals and bury the fire trench. Much better for the environment, too. My family and I camp just a few miles south of you on a rancher’s pasture every November, and we’ve found the hole-method better than a fire ring.

    Just a suggestion (as I said)


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Emjay!

      Thanks for the helpful tip. I don’t cook over campfire coals. However, when we were camped at Ogilby Road there was a narrow wash by our campsite. It was only about two feet wide and two feet deep (a trench similar to your suggestion!). I used it as a fire pit. The bottom was deep sand which I could push over the coals. Perfect!!

      Digging a trench here would spoil the campsite.

      The fire in the photo looks huge but that’s the initial flare-up. I don’t burn big logs. I like only a brief time by the campfire as the sun sets.

  20. Chinle says:

    What a great camp and awesomely yummy looking dish – I can sit around a campfire for hours, so inviting. Looks like you’re in paradise to me.

  21. I luv, luv, luv your polka dot plates!

  22. Val. Lakefield Ontario says:

    Your new campsite is so cosy looking. I would be quite content in front of that fire. I like the idea of no neighbours too close.., but that they are in the vicinity. looking forward to visiting the area in the not too distant future. Hope I’m not told old by the time we are able to be ” footloose & fancy free”
    Love your blog 🙂

    • Rattlesnake Joe says:

      You may not have any Coyote problems with those two big dogs near by, but be careful anyway. I can sence the atmosphere there and it makes me smile. There’s no place like home. We have some friends in a green motor home heading to Ajo soon, their two K-9 kids will enjoy meeting Spike & Bridget. They are followers of your blog too. Look for their Washington state plates. They know enough not to croud you but it would be fun to meet them. You’ll like ’em.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        I do like the idea of two big dogs on either side of us. Lady knows how to run them off, and Rick gives them a warning shot (establishes HIS territory). I heard coyotes yipping this morning while outside drinking my coffee.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I’m glad you enjoy my blog, Val. I hope you get out here in person soon!

  23. cathieok says:

    Definitely a cozy camp for your comfy Casita.
    We leave Oklahoma on Sunday for Apache Junction, then will wander to Desert Hot Springs. We will only be gone from home for about a month and a half. Not full timers.

  24. geogypsy2u says:

    Ah….. Home Sweet Home.

  25. I likewise love the polka dot dishes and suspect they are a reflection of their owner’ s personality . . . fun!

    I am typing this reply to your blog as I’ m lying in bed in our rig listening to the wind blow outside. Perfection. 🙂

  26. tinycamper says:

    It’s beautiful, Sue. Also loved seeing your cooking and polka dotted plate…. but the campfire was the magic finishing touch! Do enjoy with all your heart! 🙂

  27. Angie2B says:

    Love that you showed us your dinner and camp set up! Sounds like a great place to be. Take care.

  28. Barb says:

    YUM!!! Both your dinner and the fire speak volumes!!! Glad you made it safe to the new resting spot!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I haven’t been much for making campfires. Right now there’s a little chill in the air, but not too much, and the sunsets are magnificent… so a campfire is perfect.

  29. Krystina McMorrow says:

    What a great home! Good that Spike and Bridget have company. I am sure their company makes their adorable faces smile 🙂 Absolutely over the moon ~ RED polka dot plates! My kitchen color has always been red….my favorite color is red. I have been searching for light weight dinnerware – hopefully something with red in it for when I can finally hit the road. LOVE the “cooking show” idea. Cooking and I do not get along that well. I never cook anything that needs more then 3 ingredients. Nothing like a campfire for relaxing before bed. Reading your blog continues to make my day as I wait for life to begin 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Krystina!

      I’ve never been much for cooking myself. I keep it simple and quick. The polka dot plates are Wal-Mart picnic ware from two summers ago. Red is fun but I don’t buy drinking “glasses” that are red any more because when drinking outside the color will have bees trying to crawl on the glass.

      Waiting for life to begin… I know exactly what you mean.

  30. Gary says:

    Sue, I’m sure that you are a good steward of the land, especially in the desert, and will remove all evidence of your stay as you leave but I have to ask; am I correct? I ask because that exposed sand will wash away and leave a permanent scar. And then the rangers may start taking notice of the length of stays. Which leads to more restrictions in the future.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Gary….

      It’s not exposed sand. It’s exposed hard-packed soil. But that doesn’t matter because I always try to leave no trace at a camp anyway. The path will be gone (you can see no plants were disturbed) and the rocks will be strewn back over where the patio mat lies. I even go around with a shovel, collect the crew’s poops, and bury them, for the sake of campers who come after us.

      • Gary says:

        That’s what I thought but hadn’t seen mention of anything about it so I had to ask. I’m proud of ya. lol Been reading your blog since long before you left GA.

        I don’t know about the hard packed ‘soil’ though. Starting with the winter of 2007 we spent our winters boondocking in SW AZ from mid Oct/Nov to mid April/May with the exception of this year. We are in FL on the Suwanee River just 20 miles off the Gulf. After 5 winters out west we got tired of the naked mountains, sand, wind, scraggly brush and no water so we came back east. Never saw ‘soil’ in the desert, just hard packed sand under rocks. And where water flows, sand that has buried rocks. Noticed the brush/trees only grows along the edge of the washes/dry creek beds or along the CO River.

        • stan watkins says:

          I to was a little concerned about disturbing of the environment. We always use a portable campfire with us and haul away our ashes and dog poop as well when desert camping. I fear that the ability to camp on OUR public lands will be taken away or greatly curtailed with any excuse ,so I try not to give them one.

    • Ed says:

      Gary, You missed this part of what Sue said “Rick said the BLM rangers don’t bother keeping track how long people camp here.” Therefore, the rangers will NOT notice the length of stay and impose more restrictions.
      Now you do have a point IF Sue does a poor job of putting “Humpty Humpty” back together again ie restoring the land back to its original condition. The rangers may come around and see that the unimproved (disbursed) campsite has been improved by landscaping and because of that they may impose restrictions or perhaps block access to the site.
      But as you said, and as Sue has responded, she is a good steward of the land, especially in the desert, and will remove all evidence of her stay (even removing evidence of the crew’s stay, what more can you ask). It will be ONLY after
      she is gone that we will know IF any harm has been done.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        I forgot to mention… I won’t leave the bird-feeder post!

      • Gary says:

        Ed, I think they do pay attention but don’t enforce the limits. They can’t help seeing all those white dots on the desert out there a mile or however far away they are from them.

        The USFS has been taking note of people over staying the limits and now a number of forests do not allow dispersed camping but in limited areas and very close to a ‘road’.

        It used to be that you could camp anywhere you could drive/drag your RV to. And although I think that is due to politics but they use the excuse that people are ‘residing’ in the forests. Anyway, Sue seems to be doing a fine job.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          There’s another cause for the tightening up of rules about where you can camp. In an effort to control the indiscriminate driving of OHVs, rules regarding how far you can drive off a lane are put in place and enforced. Of course, this automatically includes camper vehicles.

          Last winter, after camping here for several days, a ranger came to my campsite. He didn’t mention anything about camping limits. He was going around enlisting the aid of campers in reporting any sightings of illegals/smugglers. Rick has spoken with the rangers and verifies that they aren’t tracking campers closely. They’ve got other fish to fry.

          • Gary says:

            ‘The Rules’ are new rules. I’ve read them. That is different than tightening up existing rules. And most RVers using forests to camp in do not camp with an OHV.

            If the government wanted to stop damage done by OHVs, all that had to be done was to outlaw them in certain areas; not ban dispersed camping everywhere but the quite limited spots as has been done by some forests. I suspect there will be more forests following suit as time goes by.

            The new ‘rules’ are designed to curtail much of the previously allowed camping plus emphasize very strict compliance with the 14 day or other time limits. And in some forests, people have been arrested for overstaying and then accused of residing in the forest which brings heavy fines, and IIRC banning from the forest or forests.

            • rvsueandcrew says:

              Yes, they are new rules. New maps have been printed. And on those maps are the restrictions for OHVers and for campers. You’re right… most RVers use forests to camp and do not camp with an OHV. However, both OHVers and campers use the same forests. That’s where it becomes difficult for rangers to control one group without affecting the other. When a concern arises, more attention is put on all the rules, including time limits. I detected a growing hostility in some areas between the two groups, as well as between weekend campers and fulltimers, which adds fire to the “residing in the forest” concern.

              • SandiNature says:

                Sorry to butt in but I couldn’t resist. Doesn’t it seem the BOL or USFS or whatever governmental organization that makes the ‘rules’ have forgotten one key assumption: The American people own the land, not the government. It seems they are overstepping their authority. Just an observation.

                Ok I’ll get off my soap box. 🙂

              • Gary says:

                Many campers do not like the noise etc. the OHVs make and they complained; as if the forest should be for their use only, with no thought as to where that may lead ‘authorities’. Kinda like nonsmokers complaining about smokers and smoking and now we are controlled to point of not being allowed to buy a soft drink in any size we desire. Same for guns.

                The problem is the new rules affect all campers, including the ones with the OHVs. There are many ways to affect changes other than severely limiting the places in a public forest that can be used by the majority of campers, that are those that don’t have OHVs. And if there are not enough rangers to police the forests, they could ‘hire’ volunteers instead of removing 70-95% of the forest from camping or any activity other than hiking which is what has been done. It’s wrong and IMO was done because of a political agenda. And the pubic has lost another freedom that was allowed for the last hundred years.

            • SandiNature says:

              Your comments are so true.

              I have my congressional representatives and senators on speed dial. I call their office and ask to speak with him/her, which they have yet to take my call. I then leave my name, phone (in case they’d like to return my call), zip code (they ask), and my position on whatever issue I call about (short and to the point). This is standard protocol. It’s really very easy and if enough of us call. It can make a difference, so I’ve been told by my representatives.

              Call people.

              It seems these issues of personal liberties are becoming such a hot topic, they are finding their way onto every website, including Sues’ blog.

  31. Jack says:

    Organ pipe country will make anyone go “WOW! And with the warm temp whats not to like! Nice Custer pose Bridge, Spike taught you well! Jm

  32. deb from orlando says:

    Love to see your camp and your cooking! I’ve forgotten what you do for very cold nights . do you have an electric heater? It’s been in the forty`s here in Orlando the last few nights and I’ve been using the trailer`s propane heater but I’m afraid to leave it on during the night . I’m thinking about a small electric heater using with extreme care . I welcome any suggestions Delish plate

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello Deb!

      I have a portable electric heater that I use when I have hookups which, as you know, is rare. (Of course, you know that an electric heater is too much draw for my solar charged batteries.)

      When I don’t have hookups, I use my catalytic heater (propane). I’ve only turned it on in the daytime once so far this year. A couple of nights it was going to be in the low 30s so I turned on the heater for about two hours before bed. When I turned the heater off, I closed everything up tight and we were comfortable. Of course, I dress warmly and sleep under a doubled quilt with two canine heaters!

  33. libertatemamo says:

    Ahhh..I feel all homey and cozy just looking at those pics. Lovely!!

  34. Chuck says:

    Hi Sue! Another great post….cooking show feature now????? We go to Drs appt Tues for my flu shot and check up on Geri so hopefully, we’ll be off to AZ in a week or so. Chuck n Geri in NM.

  35. gingerda says:

    I love your new camp site. I think it’s so neat that you run into people you’ve met on the road. The dogs seem to like it too.
    Your dinner looks delicious!!
    Ginger Las Vegas

  36. Your new home site in the desert almost brought tears to my eyes–just so inviting and cute. All I could think was “I want to do that, too.” Waaaa!!! Your dinner looked delish and could have been right out of Bon Appitite–great pictures. Just getting over a really bad cold that lasted three weeks; it’s wonderful to be back among the living : )

  37. Virginia says:

    Could just smell that desert sage. Always loved the smell and feel of the desert and your pictures and prose brought it to my senses.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I don’t see sage in the Sonoran… Don’t be disappointed. You’d love it here! Instead of sage there are brittlebushes everywhere which have cool, light green leaves in a mound shape and bright yellow flowers. I wish they were in bloom now. I took photos of them last winter.

  38. Pauline says:

    Love your new homestead. Great pictures and a wonderful looking supper!

  39. Llanos says:

    Looks like home Sue. There is something good about returning to a place you love. Who says you can’t go home again?

  40. I’m envious. It was one degree this morning here in Boise. Just a bit too cold to take the trailer out. Maybe next month. 🙂

    The pictures remind me a little bit of my childhood home in the Mojave Desert. The childhood itself was worth writing home about, but I do remember I enjoyed spending time alone in the desert. Perhaps a little strange for a nine-year old (at the time), but there you are.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Not at all strange to me, Walt! I use to spend time alone in the forest when I was nine years old. It’s great that my blog brings back good memories.

  41. AZ Jim says:

    Hi Sue! The new camp makes me itch to be able to hit the road again but Alas, it’s not in the cards I fear. Well, I’ll just hang with you and cherish my many memories of when I did get out and travel. I hope you are able to spend a goodly amount of time there at your new “rancho”. Take care for snakes, they love those bushy areas when it’s warm.

  42. Bill and Ann says:

    Beautiful pictures Sue. The Hillsdale Sausage is perfect for pepping up easy dinners. Spaghetti, Minnestrone, etc. I would use it more days in a row but Bill might complain. Love our new camping spot here in the desert. I want to build a house.

    As I recall, some of the rules state that you can only camp in pre-used sites; i.e. ones with campfire rings, rock work, etc. No making a new site out of raw ground. We have found some quite ornate rockwork in a few of the campsites we have used. Quite interesting.

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