Towing Your Home on the Busiest Travel Day

The Monday before Thanksgiving may not be the busiest travel day ever, but as we moved camp that day, each figurative bump along the road made it feel like a doomed day. (Spoiler: in the end Tracy found us the best possible boondocking site right outside the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, so we’re safe and sound.)

I won’t go into the gory details of how we got there because, frankly, I’d rather not relive it. Here’s the outline.

We left Borrego Springs Monday around 10:00 am with a 1.5-hour drive to where we wanted to park outside of Joshua Tree. Finally, we parked at 2:00 pm, without much water in the trailer and none in the extra tanks, and with very little diesel in the truck. For you who are arithmetic-disabled like I am, a 1.5 hour trip took us 4 hours, without supplies to show for it.

What Happened?

Too many cars and trucks on the road, all stopping where we needed to stop! What were they thinking?!? Seriously:

  • The dump station at one truck stop was so filthy that we didn’t trust the water labeled as potable and skipped filling up our fresh tanks.
  • The diesel prices listed on Tracy’s app hadn’t been updated, so every gas station we stopped at was engaging in highway robbery, as my dad used to say. So we skipped on diesel.
  • The strip of BLM land south of the Joshua Tree border where everyone boondocks was just 100% unsatisfactory. We drove west, then back east, then down the road farther east, passing on some spots, trying others but then pulling out, leaving the trailer in one spot and walking to scout out the next ones, only to get back on the road to drive farther. Their problems:
    • The sand was too soft and deep (dangerous for us to try to get in and out of).
    • The slope was too severe (even for Tracy and my skills with the leveling blocks).
    • Too big (risk of someone pulling in to stay just feet from us).
    • Too close to a big site (risk of a huge group setting up their compound to party right next to us).
    • Too close to dude with big dogs blatantly off leash.
    • Directly facing the south sun all day with no shade, and too much wind for us to open the awning or set up the tent.

And on and on.

Frankly, I have no vision in these situations, and all I can think of is the fact that we’re running out of fuel and need to just pick a place. But Tracy is the one who would have to dig us out if we got stuck or deal with the off-leash dogs or whatever problem would ensue.

Plus, his attitude about this kind of thing is the opposite of mine. When we’re hiking or driving or kayaking or looking for a spot to camp in, he wants to keep going, to see what’s around that last corner, to see what’s at the last spot, before we settle on some sub-par area.

And it was his attitude that took us all the way down to the very end of the BLM access road, where we found this perfect spot: relatively flat, enough room that we can position the trailer so the sun isn’t on the “front porch” area all day, and with a tree! Banjo approved.

The Day of 8 Errands

But there’s no rest for the weary when you show up in the desert without water or fuel. That very night Tracy ran out to the expensive gas station near us to get a couple of gallons of diesel in the truck in case we had an emergency.

The next day was Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and we had to get more fuel, a lot of water in our spare tanks, groceries, propane, prescriptions, and we had to pick up our mail (that had been delivered from our mailing service to a local post office via General Delivery; better grab that sooner rather than later).

So eight errands it was. And because we have no idea where we are, we mapped a route to all locations via Google Maps, then proceeded to screw up our plans as fuel prices were again not as promised and certain groceries not at certain stores, etc.

And no where was there water to be found. Above, we’re at a local park, like the kind with a playground and baseball field, and Tracy is painstakingly filling our two 8-gallon jugs from the spigot designed for your water bottle. The children at the playground were fascinated.

At least Banjo got a good walk in, and we stopped at a brewery for lunch where she was able to be beside us at the outdoor table (and the beer was good).

We got back to the trailer in the dark, but with all supplies resupplied! (With the exception of water, which we’ll need to refill each day as we go into Joshua Nat. Park (there’s water at one of the visitors centers).

But then we’re in a desert, so it’s no surprise water would be scarce. You just wouldn’t know it from the town of La Quinta (close to Palm Springs) where the grass is green in the park, and, in the shopping area where our brewery was, water was being misted out over the sidewalks to keep shoppers there longer. Amazing.

So, bring on Thanksgiving in the desert!

2 thoughts to “Towing Your Home on the Busiest Travel Day”