We did it! We spent our 1st month out on the road, in the RV and we survived. Of course, there were speed bumps and I had my moments of OMG WHAT HAVE WE DONE but all in all, it has been exciting and great!
We have been staying at a mixture of free boondocking/wild camping spots, state parks and forest campgrounds. I feel this is going to be our norm. They seem to be a little more spacious spots, more scenic and cheaper than if we stayed in an RV resort type park. Of course, the free spots are our favorite but they come without hookups. That means we have to find water beforehand and then gauge our water use for the duration of our stay. We’re still learning how much we use. The RV gauges are inaccurate, which from what I’ve heard from others, this is the norm.
Our fresh tank always reads empty, the black tank often always reads empty and the grey fluctuates between 1/3 and 2/3 when it’s reading anything at all. Who knows if it has ever been accurate. So, we’re doing this blindly. We know when our tank is full and it’s all guessing from there on out. Twice we ran out of water. Both times someone was in the shower. Our hot water heater wasn’t working for a good week & a half. Can you say brrrrr. The city water inlet valve broke and we started dumping water on the ground anytime the pump was turned on. The inlet valve for flushing the black tank broke and water sprayed all over when we dumped one time and flooded into the underbelly. Clean water, but still not fun. We ran out of propane twice. In the middle of the night. We were without cell reception twice, each for a week at a time. (we NEED to get this figured out).
Even though I did lots of research, one of our boondocking experiences turned into a nightmare and we ended up wasting many hours driving around, back & forth on this highway, searching, wasting gas,stressing out, only to end up spending the night in parking lot near a Cracker Barrel.
Both kids got sick and puked all day. On a travel day. A few days later, the bug got me and I spent the day on the toilet. A few more days later, Jeff was struck with it and the same fate was his. Jeff is becoming better and better at backing up the beast. We’ve gotten into some predicaments that have required some multi-point turns to get out and he’s starting to handle it like a champ. I’ll stick with being the driver when we are NOT towing, the planner and the navigator.
Though we had to learn a few things and had some hiccups, this first month was more of a positive experience than anything. We had quite the change of scenery and instead of being surrounded by mesquite trees and cacti, we were surrounded by pine trees. SNIFF, can you smell that? We got to meet new people, make new friends, see parts of Arizona we’ve never seen, live off the grid for the 1st time ever. Most importantly, we got to hear the Ooohs and Aaaaahs from our children’s mouths as they saw some of the grandiose displays of beauty set forth by nature. “This is soooo amazing!” said by a five year old as she gazes over the vast abyss that is the Grand Canyon, her eyes as wide as saucers. She just stood there and looked. Not just glanced, but really let all the nooks and crannies and purples, reds, and browns enter into her eyes. Her brain. Her soul. THIS makes any obstacle on our journey worth it.
Here are some of the highlights of our first month, all in Arizona:
- A pronghorn antelope pranced through our camp site.
- We cooked many meals over an open fire, with cast iron.
- We hiked.
- We rode bikes.
- We played in the dirt.
- The kids drew “petroglyphs” on rocks in our campground, using charcoal from the fire.
- We ate smores.
- We watched quail and rabbits run around through our campground.
- We watched 30 some hummingbirds hover around a couple feeders that a fellow camper had set up.
- We frolicked in the cool, bright green grass in historic downtown Prescott after lunch at a brewery and homemade ice cream.
- We made friends with a family that was camped near us for a few days; the kids rode bikes, shared snacks, explored, laughed and our families chatted over an open fire under a starry sky.
- We had a tea party under a clear, blue sky with a perfect view of the Superstition Mountains.
- We wandered the streets of historic Williams, along Rte 66 and had a local brew, ate ice cream at an old 50s soda fountain and watched trains drive by.
- We were invited to camp on a couple’s land where we wandered in the National Forest daily, relaxed on their swings overlooking the forest, and made new friends.
- We ogled over the street art on buildings in historic downtown Flagstaff on Rte 66.
- We danced to a live band, girls rode ponies and Jeff did live glassblowing at Show Low Days.
- We saw elk roaming calmly amongst people: along the road, in parking lots, on sidewalks.
- We visited Grand Canyon NP, Sunset Crater NM, Wupatki NM and Walnut Canyon NM. The girls earned a Junior Ranger badge at each.
- We gazed over the giant hole left at Meteor Crater (the visitor center was great too!).
- We built fairy houses in a couple forests.
- We camped near a lake, on an open prairie, in the forest, in a yard, in the desert
Where we stayed: