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A Day in the Life of a Boondocker

First of all, what does it mean to boondock? Basically, boondocking is camping free with no amenities of any kind. No marked sites, no water, no electrical hookup, no restrooms, no playground, no…anything but wide open spaces to use as you please. Well, there are a few rules:

That’s it. Pretty simple with one very simple summary, Love It or Lose It. Pack it in and pack it out. If we all don’t respect and care for these areas, we will all eventually lose the privilege.

A boondocker’s day varies from person to person, as you might expect. I’ll give you an idea of my typical day so you have an inkling of what it’s all about. I’m an early riser, usually around 5:00 a.m. when I’m home. Since I usually boondock in the winter months when daylight is limited, I normally sleep a bit later since daylight in Arizona in January doesn’t begin until 7:30 or so. Besides…what’s the hurry? Jumping out of a warm sleeping bag and into the morning chill—-it can drop into the 30s even in southwest Arizona—-has a way of getting you moving! I either crack a window or two before lighting the Little Buddy heater or cheat a bit and just start the van to get some heat (there are no close neighbors to disturb!).

My first priority, well perhaps second actually 😉, is getting the coffee brewed. I use a “pour over” system which simply means pouring hot water (courtesy of our Coleman 2-burner stove) over coffee grounds in filter atop a carafe. While that’s working, I get Abby’s water and food dishes placed outside our van. Now I can enjoy sips of hot coffee while preparing breakfast of eggs and sausage, or a protein bar, a Mexican breakfast burrito, or an apple.

Ahh, that first cup on a chilly morning!

After cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I might prepare another cup of coffee to help decide what the day will bring. It could be some sightseeing, or simply hanging around camp. Of course, a walk for Abby must be sandwiched in there ASAP!

Speaking of walks, both Abby and I really enjoy walking through the desert landscape. I may take my walking stick, my little metal detector or simply bask in the warming sun as we walk.

It does rain occasionally in the winter months in the Sonoran Desert, so I always have a novel at the ready and Abby is always ready to enjoy a nap. I don’t mind a bit of rain since it helps to hold down the dust always flying around via the desert winds.

Occasional errands in town (Quartzsite is just 6 miles away) include refilling the water jug at 25 cents per gallon, utilizing the free Wi-Fi at McDonalds, grabbing needed groceries, or picking up another 10-lb cube of ice for the cooler. The RV Pit Stop on the north end of town offers water at 25 cents per gallon in your own container, RV dump service, and propane tank refills.

Loading up or dumping down, the Pit Stop will take care of you.

I have a few solar-powered items, including a string of LED lights that surround the back living area of the van, a weather band/AM-FM radio (also battery- and crank-powered), a sidewalk border-style light (placed under the engine compartment at night to, hopefully, discourage mice from chewing on wire insulation), four motion-activated lights, one for each side of the van, and two small lanterns to help light up the oh-so-black desert nights. It’s important to get these items recharged by Ol’ Sol daily or be disappointed and in the dark as night falls.

Usually, rather than lunch and supper, I prepare one or the other then have a simple snack in place of the other. Three full meals is just not necessary, in my opinion. Of course—-true confession here—-I do occasionally treat myself with a run into town to pick up a meal at one of the three available open air “food truck” style eateries. I’m just not comfortable going into one of the many sit-down restaurants with the damn you-know-what still raging here. 😩 That reminds me, tomorrow is “Taco Tuesday” at Barbi’s take-out stand…at least that’s what I’ve heard! 😎🌮😁🌶😜

I do believe there are homemade tacos in my future! 👍🏻

Since it is pitch dark by 7:00, Abby and I are in the van by then, she napping and me reading, playing a game, or writing a portion of my next blog post. By 9:00 or so, I’m ready to crawl into my sleeping bag and let a lonesome coyote howl me to sleep. 😴

Abby loves her cushy bed!

11 comments on “A Day in the Life of a Boondocker

  1. carloshidalgo0409 says:

    Thank you Paul. This is the first post I’ve seen since you left. I was caught on spam and now I’ve flagged so it should be fine from now on. I did binge on all past posts. It looks as if you’re enjoying yourself.
    Be blessed, and keep writing


    1. Thank you for taking the time to catch up, Carlos. Sorry about the spam problems. Yes, we are enjoying our time here immensely. I’m being careful, recalling your advice about driving off-road in the desert…or not! Take good care.


  2. Linda says:

    Keep enjoying your travels. Abby won’t know how to act when you decide to return to Michigan. Chilly here in Fl for a few days, but enjoying every minute of it. Restaurants are open here. At least we are away from that damn lady from Michigan 😎


    1. We really are. Weathers been cool here too. 70s today and I just wolfed down 3 tacos so life is good. Take care of that guy of yours. I hear you’ve been doing a great job! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻


  3. Awesome recap, Boondocker! There is so much enjoyment to be had in simplicity, which you are clearly experiencing out there on a daily basis. After decades of running hard in our hustle & bustle world, you most definitely have earned it. Enjoy!


    1. I am enjoying it to the fullest. 👍🏻

      Liked by 1 person

  4. monypapa says:

    Thanks for taking us on one of your days! Sounds like you and Abby are having a great time!


    1. Even better today after I ate my Tuesday Tacos!!! 👍🏻


  5. Ingrid says:

    Whenever we boondock, I use the pour-over method for our coffee. Enjoy your time in Arizona. I think the worst of our weather is behind us and it should start warming up in Feb.


    1. Thank you Ingrid. I love coffee from the pour over method. Looking forward to the warmer weather!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. zxmacman says:

    Great post, Paul! My wife and I love to boondock and “survive” with what we have on board. Check out my blog/podcast sometime now that I’ve joined the #vanlife crowd. Journey on!


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