I’m not sure I would have believed it if, when I first went out on the road, someone had told me I would find luxury in the middle of the wilderness in a travel trailer with none of the amenities commonly found in most campgrounds. As I write this I am on BLM land just south of Quartzsite, AZ. We have no electrical hookup, no water hookup and no sewer hookup. We have access to water and to a dump station for when our septic tank gets close to full, in addition to a large solar panel which pours electrical current into our on board batteries during daylight hours. We can also go into town for showers so we don’t fill up our on board tanks.
If you are sitting at home reading this asking yourself why anyone would place themselves into such a situation on purpose then boondocking is probably not for you. Unfortunately this means you may also miss out on a great deal of opportunities to enrich your life and experience wonder in droves. Beauty and magnificence happen on a daily basis out here in the desert, especially if you know and where to look, where to live and who to live among.
We spent the first part of 2014 living among the NüRVers in the desert outside of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. We enjoyed sunsets, communal meals, fellowship, work on our own and amongst ourselves, caring for one another as we weathered the nasty cold virus that was going around (which took a liking to some of us) and generally behaving … well, tribally. Doors never needed locking and belongings could stay out on our long community tables or by the fire ring. Someone was always out and about in the camp keeping an eye on things. Someone always had the condiment or ingredient that would make the meals being prepared on massive iron grills over our fire just that much more tasty. Someone always had the gadget, technology or information needed to provide the fix, solution or connection being sought.
A person can get used to living this way, even when electric power and flowing water are hard to come by. A person can get used to actually being cared about by their neighbors and caring for them in return. A person can get used to meeting new members of their community as they roll into town, park and connect with you in, of all places, the Laundromat, before deepening that connection at the fire later in the evening over a shared meal.
In the midst of a new portion of desert now, with Lexi and Brundlefly, we are on our own for the next little while, but have already had a connection in town with other NüRVers who were recently our neighbors in CA. I anticipate more meetups as the group from Anza Borrego slowly moves east to Quartzsite for a variety of different events and opportunities. For now, being solitary gives me a sense of how wonderful it is to be a part of a larger community and a lovely anticipation of coming together once more. It also teaches me how much I love the simplicity of being out here, able to focus on what is truly important: Lexi and Brundlefly, good food, good weather, fresh water, fuel and the ability to do the work that I love, that sustains me.
This is the gift that the willingness to take on boondocking gives. When you make room in your life by removing what seems necessary, you open up a world of potential connections and creative interactions. Unplugging from electric means unplugging from TV and computers and our oft times excessive use of them. We haven’t had TV in our Airstream at all, but we do use computers, tablets and the DVD technology that comes with them. When boondocking, the campfire becomes our entertainment, our time with community our time connected. This is not to say that all tech goes by the wayside, rather that it is easier to remember tech as a means rather than an end. Even those of us who depend on tech to make our livings still spend their evenings about the fire and amongst tribe, and we find ourselves longing for those times again after we part ways.
Campgrounds provide comforts enough that it is easy to say in and around the trailer all day. Boondocking really encourages me to get out and about in my environment to explore and enjoy my surroundings. It forces me to be Present, and this is where I find the only space where I have any real control. I can let go of everything else. I am looking forward to seeing how my art reflects this in the coming year.