Friday, May 15, 2015

Boondock Boondoggle: OH THE CALAMITY!

Good day to you.  In this post I will document our first attempt to boondock.  There are no pictures.  It's hard to remember to take pictures...


But I digress...

Thursday, March 14th, 14:00 hours (2pm) -

We didn't have to leave the Palm Springs Thousand Trails until Friday morning, but the rangers were so gungho about us leaving that we decided to go early.  Then we wouldn't have to race to pack up in the morning.  It would mean an extra night at our boondock, but that was fine, right?


So we head off toward our boondock which was this Helendale BLM.  It looked suitable for our large rig and was near enough to our next campground.  Easy right?

But I'm stupid, and I see some Angel Lake recreation park with a trailer symbol on the sign.  I'm like, "Hey!  Let's go here instead!"

It should have occurred to me that there was a reason this wasn't on the Free Campsites website.  First I went up winding hills where the butt of the RV kept hovering over ravines, and then I make it to the entrance of the recreation area.  They say it's $45/night.

x_x  Yeah.  Obviously.

As you know, dear readers, I am pennywise but putting on the pounds foolish (I waste most of my money on food).  $45/night is too rich for this chicka's blood.  That's almost what I pay for 2 weeks of camping.

So I did a wide u-turn and headed back to the horror hill road, but first I took a wrong turn down a deadend.  At the end of this deadend is another vehicle towing a trailer as large as mine which is hopelessly stuck and trying to make a 900 point turn to get out of there.  I managed...somehow... to make a wide u-turn on that single lane road and get out in one amazing go.  I didn't even hear a crunch!!!  Also I got to make some manly men look quite foolish by how easily I escaped.

I met said manly men in the restaurant we went to on the way back to horror hill.  They had to unhitch and rehitch to finally get out of there.  I told them I carried around an emergency tow dolly for such situations (but didn't have to use it this time, ha ha).

I was stuffed with sushi because that was randomly the only restaurant in the recreation area.  I also managed to get gas at the only gas station in the recreation area.  It was obviously not set up for hugetastic rvs like mine, but I made it by God.  I didn't even have to back up 5 times to avoid hitting a post to get out.

Then as I'm going down the horror hill road, where the RV seems like it's going to fly off the edge every few hundred feet, I notice that the food I have just eaten is starting to climb back up my throat.  I start gagging and trying to swallow it back down.  I know it's gross but I'm belching, my face is green, and I'm trying with everything inside of me not to throw up.  Apparently when I'm in stress driving mode I squeeze my stomach muscles so tight that I can't hold down a recently eaten meal.  I kept picturing myself just vomiting onto my shirt with my eyes wide open and my fists white-knuckle on the wheel.  I told myself:  If you have to puke, puke, but for God's Sake don't take your eyes off the road!  The curves were so sharp and steep that half a second of distraction could send you off the edge.

Finally...FINALLY we get back onto the highway.  I continue following the instructions for our original boondock.  I made a stupid mistake thinking I could veer from carefully thought out plans.


I programmed Garminsita (our GPS) to get us to the intersection of National Trails Highway and Bryman Road.  Then I had written down instructions for the rest of the way since Garminsita was being obnoxious and refused to accept GPS coordinates.

I thought I just had to turn on Bryman, then turn on Helendale road, and then I'd find the boondock.  Easy.

I drove our 32' RV down the scratchy Bryman road, passing abandoned buildings with graffiti and caved in walls, then a full on shanty town made from strewn together tarps, sheds, and sheet metal.  This was a creepy area.  We hoped we'd be out far enough to be away from any scuzzy people.

But then Bryman road ended.  -_-   To the right was a road leading to a train underpass that a car would have a hard time squeezing under, much less an RV.  To the left was a stretch of dirt road leading back to the National Trails Highway.

UGH.  I'd gotten some mixed up directions from Google and Garminsita was no help.  There was a car waiting behind me so I got back on to the National Trails Highway.  And drove.  And drove.  Probably 20 miles.

As I'm driving I do the unsafe thing of trying to find an RV park with Garmin.  The nearest one is 45 miles away.   It's starting to get dark.

I'm driving through what kind of seems like BLM land, except there's lots of houses here and there among the sage desert and occasional land for sale signs.  The sun is going down and I need to figure something out.  I start noticing dirt pull-offs.  Some lead to steep desert trails that I wouldn't dare pull the RV on.  A few looked like possible boondocks for me, but I drove by too fast.  I slow down and my mom indicates a big area of open dirt next to a paved road turning off the highway.  I pull into it.

Now, I was prepared to park right there, by the busy highway, and just try to spend the night.  It was really a dodgey prospect though.  First off, there was a huge 'Land for Sale' sign so if a cop harassed me I couldn't claim I thought it was a legal boondock on BLM land.  Second--this was still scuzzball central and we would be sitting ducks if someone wanted to start trouble with us.

I noticed a dirt path leading off from the area.  I park and walk to investigate.  After 100 feet or so there was an open level clearing with ATV tire tracks.  It was more or less hidden from the highway by some raised ground and big desert vegetation.  The best thing was that it was a huge circle that I could maneuver the RV into and park it facing out.

SOLD.  We snuck into this illegal boondock and found a nice level place.  I put out the slide and put stuff away just enough to spend the night.  We would be visible from a side road until nightfall, but hopefully no one would bug us.  When night came I made sure the exterior lights were out.  We were invisible.

My mom went to bed and I could hear her snoring minutes later.  It boggled my mind how she could fall asleep so easily under these circumstances.  I was up and wide eyed.  I felt like I had screwed up so bad.  I was waiting for a cop to come banging at our door or creeps on motorcycles to start circling us.  I tore a lot of skin from my cuticles.  Every time I heard a car go by I tensed up.  I listened hard to hear if any gravel was crunching under the wheels, because then I'd know they were coming down the dirt road.

Hours passed...I fell asleep.  I woke at 2am panicked again, but the traffic had stopped now.  Just one or two trucks passing on the highway.  I realized that it was FRICKING COLD.  Like 50 degrees.  Sultan had bundled up between my ankles.  I had gotten my mom's extra blanket out for her expecting as much.

7am...morning...we made it!  A night had come and gone without anyone hassling us.  My mom was up feeding the cats.  I went back to sleep because...well...this is too early for me to function.  But daylight made me feel more secure.

When I did get up I made my mom a meal and we decided what to do.  Staying here was too risky.  We were just asking for trouble.  I looked up the directions for the Helendale boondock online again.  I kind of had an idea where I went wrong.  I could keep trying.


Or we could pay $164 to buy our 'out' days from Thousand Trails and just spend the next three weeks at the Acton Soledad Canyon campground.  The first week we pay for, the next two were under our membership.  That's what we did.  We used our ReadyCampGo membership to buy the out days.

I didn't want to stay in this area.  Not even in a legal boondock.  It was creepy.  It might have been in our heads or due to our lack of experience.  I don't know.  But I sat that morning and asked myself, 'Was this the life I wanted?'  Being scared to fall asleep?  Looking out the windows in fear?  Is this what I signed up for?  The 'improvement' to my old life?  Worst of all I'm dragging my mom through all this when she never wanted it in the first place.  If something ever happened to us it would be my fault 100%.

The fricking Ready Camp Go program is obviously defunct.  The website doesn't let you put in a credit card number with a year past 2016.  They're not maintaining the site.  It's not something they're selling memberships to.  Lame.  I had to call a rep to buy the out days.  He said it was fine to do this since I'm not in the Thousand Trails system, I'm in the Ready Camp Go system.  (He better be right).  Then he charged me a $4 resort fee on top of the $20/night.  WTF!!  The site didn't try to charge me this.  No mention of any 'resort fee' came up anywhere before!  I was annoyed.  Whatever.

So the next seven days I'm paying an exorbitant $24/night.  ROBBERY!!  I paid only $13/night at my monthly in Pahrump.  Grrr.

The campground is incredibly beautiful however.  I will do a whole post devoted to it next time...this time with pictures!!


  1. Please tell us you have mace to take care of the creeps (or possibly holy water depending on HOW creepy).

    1. YES!!! It's so funny you said that!! We had the mace on the kitchen counter for me or my mom to grab if anyone tried to bust through the door. :D I didn't have to worry about ghosts or goblins because of all the sage brush out there. ;p