The Big Room

April 15th, 2011

topless_cave

Strange day today. It’s our first day back in the desert after a nice week in the mountains around Prescott. Rain and I went out for a walk this morning and stumbled into a cave.

By stumbled, I mean we were well inside of it before we even realized we were caving. We were just walking along a wash, minding our own business when a room full of formations jumped out and nearly tripped me.

As near as I can tell, we’re camped on top of an ancient cave system, whose roof has eroded and collapsed, leaving the entire cave open to the sky. You can still see many formations and someone has been spending their spare time putting the pieces together… literally.

exposed_stalags

Broken pieces of stalagmites have been stacked together in what might initially look like random rock stacking. Upon closer inspection though, it is easy to see that these ‘stacks’ are in fact a reconstruction.

The entire area seems like a geologist’s playground. I think we’ll do some more exploring tomorrow.

Life in the back of a truck (part 4)

April 9th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Gordon recently posed a question over at the Truck Camper Magazine blog that seemed like a great idea for the next part of our Life in the back of a truck series. He’s curious just how long his readers can boondock and what tricks they use to manage it. I got a bit long winded, but here’s my response.

The resources we have to work with are:

  • 46 gallons of fresh water
  • ~300 amp hours of battery in 2 Trojan T-1275 12V batteries
  • 60 pounds of propane in 2 30# tanks
  • A Honda eu2000i generator
  • ~4.5 gallons of gasoline plus whatever is in the scooter and generator (up to around 2 gallons if both are full)

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Still, we manage to do fairly well when we find a place we want to stay for a while. It takes a little effort to conserve resources, but we manage to live quite comfortably for up to a two week stretch without running out of anything or breaking out a military desert survival handbook. Just how do we make these resources last and what sacrifices does it take, you ask? Well, read on to get a taste of the Hitek Homeless lifestyle!

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Quartzsite – the Ghost Town

April 4th, 2009

crystal hill - south of quartzsite, az

OK, technically, Quartzsite, AZ isn’t a ghost town, but it was rapidly on it’s way to rolling up the sidewalks for the summer when we finally arrived. I’d hoped to make it in time for some of the swap meets, but one thing and another had us well into March before we hit town.

We spent a couple of days out in the BLM land and wandering around town to see what was still there- not much! We were hoping we’d be able to get together with Ryan and Nicole who’d been working at Quartzsite all winter, but they were both working double shifts. After a couple of days, we took their advice and headed over to Crystal Hill, part of the Kofa wildlife refuge about ten miles south of Quartzsite. We clambered around in the hills a bit and came up with a few moderate sized quartz crystals for our trouble.

On the way back from Crystal Hill, we decided to stay in a campground for the night as the easiest way to refill our water and dump our tanks. I’m not sure we’ve done that since about June of last year, but for some reason it seemed the easiest thing to do. Imagine our surprise when we’d finished backing the rig in and find Ryan and Nicole’s trailer is at our back door! Total weirdness. The campground owner had told us there were ‘some kids’ in the spot behind us. Considering the average age of folks at Quartzsite, I guess we should have known it would be those other gypsy kids.

We ended up staying two nights instead of one and not getting many of the ‘internet chores’ done, but I did manage to climb on the roof and reseal the bulk of it before running out of dicor. Ryan and Nicole were a lot of fun and we had a couple of pretty fancy dinners. Ryan claimed to be a chef, so we made him prove it. I’m not entirely convinced yet… it may take a few more fancy meals! hint hint 🙂

Ryan and Nicole were planning to head over to Slab City as well, so we made some tentative plans to meet them in a few days and rolled out, hoping to get some serious shopping done in Brawley, CA. Quartzsite prices were, apparently, still marked up for the snowbirds. The next time we hit Quartzsite, we’ll have the cabinets and fridge stuffed to overflowing so we can avoid as much shopping there as possible.

Makeout Point!

March 25th, 2009

Makeout Point -  View from campsite in Tucson, AZ

You know that place where all the kids go in the movies and either a serial slasher shows up or someone gets pregnant? Ever wonder just where the heck it is? Apparently, it’s just northeast of Tucson, AZ in the Coronado National Forest.

We were passing through the area and decided we just couldn’t pass up checking out all of the giant saguaro growing in the area. We had planned to hit Saguaro National Park, but as we were coming in late in the afternoon, we decided to just make camp in the Coronado National Forest and hit Saguaro later. As it turns out, there wasn’t much need to go to Saguaro just to see the cacti. You couldn’t throw a rock in the national forest area without being convicted of damaging the endangered saguaro cacti. They were literally every twenty feet or so as far as you could see.

View of road to our campsite in Tucson, AZ.

By the time we finally got close to the top of the first mountain, we knew this was going to be a different camping experience. We passed dozens of cars coming down the road in the five miles or so before we found a nice campsite. We’re used to seeing maybe half a dozen cars over the course of a week in the national forests. As you can guess, we had people diving past our site all night long in everything from Cadillacs to dirt bikes. Still, it was worth it just to camp next to this sight!

With such a movie panorama spread out below, how could we resist? I mixed up a pitcher of fruit juice and ethanol and we climbed on top of the camper with a blanket to ward off the chill. It was a wonderful view and funny to watch people slow down to look at the nuts sitting on top of the camper.

We never did make it to the national park, but we put up with all the traffic and the shooting range just over the hilltop to hang onto the view for a few days.

Natchez Trace Parkway

February 10th, 2009

old_natchez_trace

Leaving Tennessee, we hopped on the Natchez Trace Parkway a bit south of Nashville and took it to the end in Natchez, Mississippi. Now, it wasn’t leaf peeper or flower sniffer season, but it was still a beautiful drive. The entire parkway is around four hundred and fifty miles long, two lane blacktop through the countryside. It closely follows the original Natchez Trace, which was a footpath through the forest used by Indians and traders up until the late nineteenth century. The speed limit is fifty miles an hour and only non-commercial use is allowed. In short, you couldn’t hope for a more leisurely drive. I was surprised how light traffic was. We often went fifteen minutes or more without seeing another vehicle.

If you get tired of driving, the park system has you covered. There is some kind of pull off every few miles. These range from historic areas and exhibits to nature areas and hiking trails. In addition, there are three free, primitive campgrounds on the parkway, spaced roughly every hundred and fifty miles. You may also overnight at the visitor center in Natchez. We’ve heard that these campgrounds fill up quickly during the snowbird migration, but in mid-January, the campgrounds were pretty empty.

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