Tracy’s Parking Skills for the Win Again

We made it into a great boondocking spot in the desert just south of Ajo, Arizona, thanks to a wee bit of luck and a lot of work. Here’s kind of a technical post about finding a boondocking site and actually getting into it.

Finding a Site in Hilly, Cactus-covered Desert

Here’s the rundown on simply securing this kick-ass site.

  1. Tracy researched nearby BLM areas so we could hang out in this beautiful desert and enjoy the warm weather as February progresses; he picked the area of Darby Wells Road, not really a road but more of a sandy car-shaped path through the desert.
  2. Our friends Doug and Melanie happened to be here a few weeks ahead of us, and they kindly drove the road and noted possible spots for us by milage and even a bit of video. Thanks, guys!
  3. We took a day away from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to drive the road ourselves, stopping and looking and dropping pins on GoogleMaps of possible sites, until we found a pretty damned good one and looked no more.
  4. We walked the path from the road to the potential spot, deciding we could probably get the trailer in there. But seeing as how all other good spots had trailers already on them, we ”claimed” this one by putting the tent up (we happened to have it in the back of the truck) and staking it down for the night. Then we drove back to the campsite at Organ Pipe.
  5. On next day, all the work and luck paid off: after hitching up at Organ Pipe and dumping tanks and filling with water, we carefully made our way down the BLM ”road” and found our claimed site, unoccupied and with the tent still standing (someone could easily have stolen the tent, and either they or someone else could have taken the spot. But neither happened.) Yay!

Although, now comes the hard park: getting the trailer into that spot.

Parking Skilz

Tracy has pulled a rabbit from this hat many times since we started boondocking in earnest last summer. Like the time he backed up into the middle of a bunch of trees on a mountaintop in Montana:

Or the time he backed down a twisting gravel road to park by Lake Koocanusa.

(Okay, this picture is not of that parking job, obvs, but I like it and it’s of us crossing the lake, so I get a pass. The link above is about camping there.)

Here are the deets on how we pulled off this parking job. As with the others, photos just can’t show how tricky it is to back the trailer around curves, so I’ll do my best with weirdo illustrations.

Here’s a satellite view of the BLM road, (notice how it’s barely distinguishable from the desert sand it goes through). So, we drove in from the east, then passed the site and did a back-up-turn-around (red circle) so we could approach it from a better angle. Then we drove back east, made the turn onto the path toward the site (blue), again passed the site for a better approach, and finally backed the trailer into the spot (little circle). Lame photos are below (although they do include Banjo).

Here we couldn’t make the left turn into the path to the site (red line) because it’s too darn sharp. So we drove past it, backed up and turned around, then entered with a right turn. And once we got closer, again we passed the site (green line), and backed around into it (a several-point event).

Tracy’s gotten very good at remembering to watch several danger zones at once: where the front of the truck is (it can swing wide into trees and ditches), where the hitch is (it can bottom out), and, approximately, where the trailer is going behind him (he can’t see much so relies on me to tell him through the walkie talkie).

I, however, seem to be able to watch only two things at once. That’s my limit right now; clearly I need to stretch ye ole brain. This time I watched as the 1) tires backed very near a small creosote bush someone with the BLM decided was important enough to surround with a bunch of large rocks, and as the 2) bumper got really near a bunch of other bushes. I totally forgot to watch where the 3) trailer’s top edge hit some pointed branches of a Palo Verde tree. Amazingly, we stopped before the branches poked a hole in the aluminum. Man, I gotta work on that #3. And #4 that will happen next time.

This story ends well, as the campsite is gorgeous.

We haven’t explored the many mountain biking trails all around it yet, but someone created a very detailed map of them (with a Lord of the Rings theme) so you know we’re going to at least walk them.

In the meantime, we’re enjoying total isolation out here, with all the blinds open at night so we can see the moon and stars from bed. This is what boondocking is all about.

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