When we left Joshua Tree, we aimed our home-on-wheels back east along I-10, fueled up at Blyth and caught 95 south to Cibola National Wildlife Refugee.
Cibola NWR sits in Arizona and is a small yet valuable resource for native wildlife and plants. We were hoping to spend a few days there, photographing the birds that frequent the ponds, marshes and washes but unfortunately the cell service was not conducive for Barbara’s work. We took the self-guided auto tour the afternoon that we arrived and I managed to capture a few photos of cranes and even a burrowing owl, albeit a tad out of focus.
The next morning, we arose and fired up the vehicles and set off for Picacho BLM area just off of Olgilby Road, heading south from Cibola. There is a huge area of free camping on the east side of Olgilby and that’s where we turned left onto American Girl Mine Road. You pretty much have the run of the desert, just find an opening in the road that your vehicle can get across and drive on until you find the spot that seems to suit you best. Or until you come upon a huge wash that prevents you from driving on.
We were amazed at the number of campers spread out across the landscape! There was everything from van and truck campers to huge Class A Motor Coaches. This area is used heavily for ATV activities so a number of the rigs were toy haulers. That being said, there wasn’t an issue of space encroachment or even excessive noise. We always had more than enough space from other RVers. That’s important when you boon dock, and boon docking was exactly what we were there for. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, boon docking (or disperse camping) is simply staying in a place that does not offer any amenities; no water hookups, no electrical hookups and no bathroom or dumping facilities. It’s kind of like remote backpacking for vehicle dwellers. So as you can see, having lots of room between other campers is a must if you want to either; A) run your generator now and then without fear of disturbing others or B), not wanting to be disturbed by others who are running their generators. We had been dispersed camping at Joshua Tree as well and after our two week stay at American Girl have realized that we enjoy it quite a bit.
Our RV is fitted with two 80 watt solar panels, so during the day they kept our batteries charged very nicely, enabling us to use the computers, charge the cell phones and listen to music. At night, we’d crank up the generator to watch some TV, use the microwave, have abundant lights and perhaps run the air conditioning to cool things off before bedtime. The generator also brings our batteries back up to full charge.
There’s really not a lot to see when parked out in the middle of nowhere and yet, it seems like every day we’d discover something new to enjoy. The only wildlife I noticed were the occasional bird and a small lizard. I enjoyed walking down in the deep washes that cut through the desert floor revealing sections of uncluttered sand, rocks and stones of all colors and sizes, and remnants (junk) of previous campers. A huge bonus for me was coming across an area that held a handful of small meteorites…. I think. If they are, from what I’ve read they are actually called “scattorites”, small pieces that are either remnants from a larger one or just small ones that fell into the atmosphere and didn’t burn completely up. Of course, what I’ve found could also be small pieces of hematite or even slag ore but for right now, I’m happy convincing myself that they are meteorites. At least until I check in with a friend who should know. Jury is still out.
We spent some time exploring the area as well. We came across this really cool bridge that was built prior to World War II. It was decorated with what most call a “swastika”. Native Americans used this “rolling log” design element (typically the legs went to the left, not the right) as a symbol for good luck and prosperity. It can be found in all kinds of Americana; postcards, tokens, pottery, blankets, signage and of course, architecture. Once Hitler, with his racist and hateful ideology, perverted this symbol Native Americans as well as most other Americans ceased using the design element. Barbara and I also managed to take in a Rodeo which we enjoyed and went to a Date Orchard where we bought some Medjool Dates to send back to her parents. We also tried a few ourselves and even a Date Milkshake. Weren’t to our liking. LOL And of course, we found a local spot for some great Mexican food; Los Manjares De Pepe. Muy Bein!
While in the Yuma area, we took advantage of being close to civilization to get some maintenance done on both vehicles (car and rv) and also managed to give our home a much needed bath and wax. We also crossed over into Mexico for another look around. I was really wanting to purchase some new eyewear from over there, but because of a few oddities in my prescription I wasn’t comfortable in doing so. We ended up buying some more booze-filled chocolates to send to my daughter for her birthday.
Other than a little more sightseeing, that was pretty much the extent of our stay in the Yuma, AZ area. We’ll probably go back again next winter as it was a nice place to stay and visit. But here’s the kicker… the real deal… For the MONTH of February, we didn’t spend one red cent on camping fees. We used a dump service at a Shell station in Yuma to empty our tanks and take on fresh water at a cost of $10.00 and we purchased propane while there as well (probably under $25). Other than gasoline for the RV, that was it. Friends, that’s pretty cheap living and that’s why Barbara and I are always looking for those out-of-the-way boon docking camping sites. They’re FREE!
I must admit, that this has been a rough post for me to write. For some reason I just wasn’t feeling motivated. That being said, I’m glad I finally wrote and promise that the next blog entry won’t be so long in coming. Thanks for being here for us and we look forward to your comments. May your Spring be an enjoyable and healthy one!
Bud & Barbara