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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Transitions and Reverse Migrations: Confessions Of A Half-Time Rv'er

It would take too long and too much of your precious time to button up all our boondocking/biking/hiking/exploring experiences in Southwest Utah over the past month. Thus I've dealt the preponderance of drivel and photographic minutiae the same fate as poor Anne Boleyn's head. You're welcome. 

With a Johnson family Thanksgiving reunion in Toledo fast approaching, it was time to pull the stakes on Camp Virgin. After a last minute/last day hike with John and Charmaine, "payback" came before dawn the next morning as rushed around in the cold and dark cleaning and winterizing Goldie for storage. She's now impounded among "trailer trash "peers" in Hurricane, Utah, awaiting bail come January.

It takes 4WD and chains on all four wheels to plow our ridiculously steep driveway

We arrived home to Lovely Ouray just in time to deal 6 inches of White Plague. Fortunately the storm cleared out the following day, so we took outdoor advantage blue skies, full sun and mid 40 temps...which, at 8000 feet, feels more like 60 degrees. And yes, I'm wearing shorts and a t-shirt... breaking a good sweat as you can see the ring of proof around my Geezer neck below...  

Me and Twin Peaks
Proof of shorts duly noted...

Snow on the south facing ridge to Bridge of Heaven and lower Blowout rapidly disappear on such nice days
Fear not Faithful Lovelies, for I granted a last minute "Guillotine" pardon to the best photos and a story or two for future publishing. 

Here is a highlights compilation of miscellaneous outings, kicked off by another Tour De JEM with new, fellow-boondocking friends John and Charmaine...

Bobbie and John, on the Upper BLM portion of JEM Trail

John, biking a developmentally threatened section of lower JEM 

Most of the JEM Trail, as well as a surrounding network of MTB trails, are on public BLM land. This year, however, a sign posted at the lower end of JEM revealed that the portion of trail alongside and above Virgin River Canyon is on private property and that there is a plan in the works subdivide it into lots for homes. Below are a few photos of what's at stake should that kind of development take place along the Virgin River gorge...   

Charmaine, on "edge" at the edge :)

If you have more money than "things" to do with it, consider going to this website and lending a handout to a grassroots effort to purchase this prime acreage for preservation and posterity. Thank you!
Entering Springdale, gateway to Zion

Early in November, Zion hosts their annual Art Week, something we've enjoyed attending for years. We especially love to attend the painting demonstrations by professional artist, be they in watercolor, acrylic, oil, or pastel. 

Pastel artist Bruce Gomez renders a portion of Zion's Towers of the Virgins...while doing a comedy skit that kept the audience laughing and entertained. If you can only attend one Demo, make it Bruce Gomez.

A few of many of the finished paintings of Zion during Art Week...

I was suddenly "hamstrung" by an injury to my left hamstring only a couple weeks into our month at Camp Virgin. It happened while hiking with Chris, Gayle and Bobbie up Owl Canyon in search of the elusive Mexican Owl.

It had rained a fair amount so there was still considerable water in normally dry creek beds and slot canyon pools. Trying to circumvent one of those pools (with a heavy pack) I attempted to step across a rather wide pool, thinking I could straddle-walk it and keep my boots dry. It proved wider than I thought, however, and I landed a boot rather awkwardly on the other side, at which time I felt and heard a loud "POP." 

When I tried to throw body back across the ill-fated maneuver, my leg didn't cooperate and gave out. I more or less fell to the other side, laying in a crumpled mass of helplessness in severe, burning pain. It felt as if a tendon/ligament had detached from it's anchor point, somewhere deep within my left buttock. 

Thus the second half of this year's trip was spent in considerable discomfort and frustration. Being Male and Stupid, I was not about to miss participation in the next day's JEM Trail bike ride with Gayle and Chris... or the day-after's hike...or the day-after-that's hike... and so on. 

About a week later I was forced to take a day off, after which the pain was even worse. Painful as it might be, I decided to resume activities and pay the price, which I don't regret a bit. If it was serious it didn't heal, I'd break down (pun intended) and go to the doctor when we arrive home. I couldn't bear the thought of laying around camp (I couldn't sit) while everyone else was out having fun. (Reflecting back, I made the right decision as I'm slowly healing. Happy I was able to avoid the Doc, a barrage of tests, MRI's, X-rays, Physical Therapists and, perhaps worst of all, REST.) 

Before one of the Demos, Bobbie and I did a leg-stretch hike up to the Watchman Trail overlook...

Once back down we took the Par'us Pathway to the Zion Museum and attended two Demos on an outdoor patio with a sprawling view of Towers of the Virgins. 

East Temple
Above and below: Temple of the Virgins from Zion Museum 

On another Post-It Note... Bloggers Hans and Lisa of Metamorphosis Road fame recently transitioned from full-time Rving to a lovely house on 1.6 acres in/near Prescott, Arizona. It appears to be a beautiful place in a "what's not to love" 4 season climate and location. We wish them well and look forward future blog posts from the "other side" of an Rv life. Meanwhile, full timers Jim and Allison (Allison's Post Work Thinking now that I have time to think) recently stowed the motorhome and moved into a nice house near Saguaro National Park on the western outskirts of Tucson. A series of mountains stand between them and the big city and offer endless miles of trails right out their back door. While not exactly a 4 season locale (summer temps can range from 105 to 112 or more degrees), winters are near perfect. In fact, Tucson is the area where we boondock most of the time January through March.   

Over the years (decades?) I've observed with interest the transition (stampede?) from "sticks and bricks" to full time Rv living...which, nowadays means "mobile homes" that range from Prius's to vans to utility trailers to mega motorhomes with 6 slide-outs, in floor heat, granite countertops, marble floors, his and her Harley's on the back and a Hummer in tow...all custom painted to match.

Without belaboring this Post Script Post-it Note, I'll try to get to the point in as few words as possible...

Any full time Rv'er is probably already aware of the building tsunami of people selling their houses and hitting the road. Campgrounds, be they Forest Service, State Park, National Park, National Monument, County Park or private Rv park, more and more require reservations months to a year in advance in order to nail down a campsite. The past couple years Bobbie and I have found most of our formerly "secret" boondocks have been discovered. We arrive now and find dozens of rigs instead of one or two. Let's face it, the Rv industry is red hot and it doesn't look like a cool down is coming anytime soon. "Seeing the USA" seems to be on everyone's Bucket List. 

Where the primary age demographic was once senior retirees, now it seems like every age group is jumping on the mobil lifestyle bandwagon. It's not unusual to find entire families with two or three kids and a couple of pets living on the road, and most seem to be "boondockers" like us. 

Camping is now a competitive sport. More and more campgrounds are going to a reservations only format. And boondockers, well guess what? You better face the new reality that neighbors will squeeze in alongside your rig, run loud generators, play loud music or Tvs, turn kids and pets loose to run amok, and there's no place to hide anymore. They've all been discovered. 

Given this new reality, I'm thinking (hoping) there might be another tsunami in the works: the reverse migration of full-time Rv'ers back to sticks and bricks...at least for the ones who haven't blown the "nest egg" and have enough money or income to have that option. 

I don't want to be a killjoy for those awaiting their turn to "hit the road." It's just that good things don't last forever, and I think we're on the downhill slide when it comes to quantity and quality of Rv life. I can see a time coming when Bobbie and I just stay home during wintertime...maybe take a couple trips to Arizona and stay in a hotel. 
What say You?           

The view from our living room...

The "Blowout"

Stay tuned for more "eye-candy" adventures from Southwest Utah.
Peace out from the Johnson Family Reunion in Toledo, O-hi-O.
mark and bobbie


  1. You forgot to mention that along with the Harley and a Hummer, every RVer hitting the road also seems to have a blog or Facebook account to showoff their enviable new vagabond lifestyle. With such advertising, it's no surprise the campsites are filling up.

    Well, what ya gonna do? At least yours is entertaining and your photos are lovely.

    1. I agree, we bloggers are largely at fault for the "problem." Purdy pictures in Purdy places: who wouldn't want to hit the road? Just trying to lower expectations out there...the golden age always passes.
      Thanks Mark

  2. Agreed, the number of folks on the road full time seems to have more-than-doubled since we hit the road in 2012. I personally am happy to take a few years off from RVing, and we'll think long and hard before we buy another RV. Regardless, I hope you and Bobbie visit us in Prescott at some point!

  3. Getting harder and harder to find space in RV parks every year. One must make reservations way in advance now. We are enjoying the transition to part-time RVing. Although I must say it felt pretty strange to winterize and put the bus in storage. Will be interesting to see what we do in the spring......Enjoy your family reunion in O hi O. :)

    1. Thanks Jim. We never made reservations in the past...just cruised in and almost always found a site, even in National Parks. Ha. Not any more. Being spontaneous types, we still don't make reservations and seldom get to stay in any park or campground. That's ok...we still have a few boon docks everywhere we go. Just have to get used to the "neighbors."

    2. Mark, glad to hear you have a few good boondocks left, fingers crossed that that continues. Please do let us know when you are in Tucson, we would love to see you. Safe travels.



  4. It's getting crowded out there. We don't boondock (no ground clearance) but the commercial parks are getting very difficult as well. There are places we book a year in advance. How's that for spontaneity. After paying the insurance on the RV, it's causing us to rethink how much it costs to store and insure for a few months of usage. However, after seeing your photos and Suzanne's photos we do want to return to Utah, but probably not Moab

    1. Yeah, we love not having a plan. Boon docking allows us to do that, it's just getting more and more difficult. We still manage to find solitude in a few Utah Places. thanks A.

  5. And there is the internet access that virtually all travelers have.
    Google ‘Virgin,UT,free camping ‘ and you will get multiple hits.
    There are no secret spots anymore.
    They are all gone.

    1. And I completely do not understand why anyone would advertise a nice quiet boondock spot. Do they want to invite the crowds in? I've left some terrible reviews of places I love in hope of scaring off a few potential campers...

  6. If you're lucky enough to find a remote boondock, don't tell anybody. We RV, traveling, blogging, and photo makers are at least partially at fault. When I hit the road 40 years ago the few people I chose to make contact with were shocked I traveled alone. Alone is hard to find now, unless I stay home. Even while my wandering soul wants to travel. I refuse to believe I am old.

    1. You lived through the "Golden Age," in more ways that Rving :(

  7. Timely topic, Mark. After four years of full-timing, I’ve just bought a house and have my beast of a fifth wheel for sale. It just felt like the right time for me to get off the road. I agree with all the comments about crowded parks, reservations way in advance, more children at campgrounds, etc. It’s just not the same for me now. Perhaps in the spring I’ll look at Class B’s for shorter trips. I’ll miss staying at Osage Beach with your kids 😊 Deanna

    1. Caleb and Kelli speak highly of you! I hope you find some kind of compromise; it is good to get away from "home" once in a while, no matter where you live. We wish you well, Deanna.

  8. Nice Thanksgiving entertainment, wasn't expecting this one. Actually been too busy EATING TURKEY and enjoying our CLEAR SMOKE FREE AIR here in Sonoma Co. Our color is probably the best every, except for the vineyards, they all froze, so the tourist are not going to be smiling.
    Great you made it back to family in Ohio, that's the place to be the 4th week of November.
    As far as staying home in Winter time, ye'll if you've got a broken leg, otherwise don't take away this important form of entertainment for us arm chair over the hill nature lovers. :)
    Stay Thirsty my friends & Safe Travels home

    1. Gee, you put a lot of pressure on us to continue risking our lives for your entertainment :).
      I see the day coming, tho, but it's down the road a ways...
      thanks Sonoma Pals, enjoy your smoke free air!!!

  9. I agree - it is really shocking when a loud and obnoxious group/family decides to set up camp 15' away from our previously quiet campsite. We flee as fast as we can... and it is getting more common.

    Beautiful photos from your boondock. We have to get down to the Hurricane area. We haven't been there yet!!!

    1. Big BLM policy changes coming to that area soon. It could be greatly restricted...a few group sites and closed up when they are full...
      We'll see...

  10. Beautiful pictures, great stories as always. Glad your injury took care of itself without the dangerous medical establishment getting involved. You have to stop eves dropping on my thoughts and conversations about full timing. I hate reservations. But it's not only we bloggers who have done this. Some folks have made a lifestyle out of encouraging others to sell it all and hit the road. And now the national media has picked it up, front page stories, magazines, tv shows, sigh. . Isn't the Trump recession/depression on its way to provide some relief? Plus horrible weather from climate change? Optimism is my strength!

    1. Ha...spoken like a true fellow cynic, Sherry :) Travel on...

  11. I have fond memories of a three-month road trip all over the U.S. in 2001. We traveled in my Geo Prism. Our guide was a spiral-bound book, printed on cheap newsprint paper, that listed every free campground in the United States — mostly Forest Service and BLM semi-developed sites. Some were really nice, pit toilets and picnic tables, and we were often the only people in the campground. Seems like such a quaint era.

    I managed a couple of longer vehicle-supported vagabonding in my 20s before deciding that #vanlife isn't really for me. I didn't like the stress of finding legal camping mostly free of irritating neighbors, every night. That alone seemed to take up so much time. If I ever return to full vagabond lifestyle, it will be with a bicycle and the belongings I can fit on that bicycle and nothing more (except a few boxes in storage to swap out gear relevant to the seasons.) Of course, I'll have to see how I still feel about this after 10 or 20 more years of aging. But perhaps, someday.

    1. For me, the 50's and 60's and 70's were the Golden Age for that kind of Vagabonding. Having perfected the art of "boon docking" and upgraded from car and tent to a clunker Rv with a heater, fridge, and stove, I'm still at it...at least part time. It began to get more difficult with the advent of "internet," where "secrets" are leaked to the world. You might cross paths with us someDAY should you take up the Bike Based Vagabond life. But we'll be spending nights in Rv Goldie. :)
      thanks Jill


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