Don’t let that picture of that beautiful boondocking spot fool you. I am not alone. Yes, it appears at first glance to be near-perfect. Level, plenty of sun on the solar panels, in line to watch the sunset and full moon rise, and a red rocks view to die for. But right behind me are five other rigs. Big, noisy rigs.
I haven’t been to Sedona since the 90’s, then luxuriating in some big resort, a weekend extension of a business trip with my friend Margie. If memory serves me, Sedona was a different place back then. Quiet. Serene. “Good energy.” Downright zen-like. All you would expect from a place that advertises being a spiritual mecca and center for soul-nourishing wellness.
For quite some time now, I’ve been looking forward to returning to Sedona, finding a quiet boondocking spot from where I can further explore the area. My wish list is long with recommended hikes, and I plan to do them all.
Reports from other boondockers recommend Forest Rd 525 as offering ample parking spots with easy egress and decent cell signal. And reportedly the further one drives, the better the views. I have visions of a little forest road with turn outs where I can nestle the Winnie in between a few juniper trees for some privacy.
But as I drive Forest Rd 525, I notice a lot of the single-use turnouts have been ploughed up, and are now lined with large boulders blocking access. It seems the trend now is to corral campers into larger cul-de-sacs. An enforced “circling of the wagons” makes it easier on the Forest Service, particularly in these times of high drought when the fire risk is so high. (I overheard the ranger on patrol actually instruct one of the campers to get back inside his 5’er to finish his cigarette.) 😉
I decide I’ll drive down the washboard forest road until the distant red rock bluffs come into view. As I top the hill, I see a cul de sac with only one other camper. There is also a brand new Fifth Wheel in the circle, but the lone camper tells me it appears to be empty. He’s been here for a week and hasn’t noticed anyone in there. “I even looked in the windows….I thought maybe the guy was dead or something. But it’s empty.” He tells me he’s leaving the next morning, so I figure I’ll slip into his spot with the primo view, and have the cul de sac to myself.
During my first night alone in the FR525 cul de sac, I am awakened at 4:00am to the rumble of a Jeep towing a U-Haul Trailer. It appears to be the owners of the abandoned Fifth Wheel. The Jeep’s overhead spotlights come on to illuminate the path as the back of the U-Haul drops, and something big and bulky is unloaded. It doesn’t take long to figure out the payload as a large industrial-sized generator roars to life. I’m about to hear about one of the most bizarre boondocking stories yet.
As the story unfolds, two young guys were camping with their “tribe” from Joshua Tree in this boondock spot. The tribe moved back to Joshua Tree, but these two decided, “Hey, we’ve always wanted to hit the road! Why not now?” So they go into town and buy a brand new Jayco Eagle Fifth Wheel. The helpful RV dealer offers free delivery…all the way out here in the boonies. Five miles down FR525, the dealership drops off the brand new fiver without so much as showing the new owners (not just new to the rig, but new to RVing in general) how to hitch up. They also bought a used truck, but don’t even know if the hitch is compatible. They can’t get their generator to start, and their battery won’t hold a charge. While away, their propane tank ran dry, so they came back to a refrigerator full of spoiled food. Ergo the industrial-sized generator rental which now must run 24/7. By early morn, one of the guys is walking around the rig wearing nothing but a pair of baggy shorts and Boze headphones, on a call with the dealership asking every question from “How does my stove still run if my propane tank is empty?” to “We are working professionals….How do we get on the internet?”
Each day, a new oddity arrives in the cul de sac. A pair of instagramers/vloggers about to embark on their Alaska to Argentina odyssey arrive. They have pimped out their Winnebago in “full Pintrest,” complete with subway tile backsplash, and web/Instagram logos around the outside. But having only been in their first rig for six months now, they have not yet embraced the single most liberating enhancement a boondocker can make…solar power. “We figure if they are running their generator 24/7, we may as well run ours. We have work to do, so may as well do it in the AC.”
On my last night on Forest Rd 525, a ruckus ensues at 9:00pm, long after dark. More headlights, rumbling diesel engines, and shouts from across the cul de sac. I look out the window to see backing into the cul de sac, the longest travel trailer I have ever seen, complete with two exit doors and an awning framed in neon-blue light. The doors fly open and out pours what could amount to an entire homeschooling classroom, complete with mascots, two scuffling, barking dogs.
I awake on my last Sedona morning at 6:00am to a startling noise. At first, I think it is a swarm of hornets outside my window. No, too loud. For a split second, I have flashbacks to those first few hours after 9/11 in Manhattan when I felt the urge to duck at the sound of fighter jets overhead. No, not that loud. What is it? A bird? A plane? No, it’s SUPER DRONE!! Getting a sunrise view of my bedroom window in the boondock. How much higher do egos have to soar? It’s not enough to have 360degree spinning shots with a selfie stick…now we must photograph our roofs from overhead ? I still haven’t figured out the joy in documenting the sun rising over the top of my fiberglass shell. Youtube is cultivating a strange breed!
Outside my window just in time for breakfast , Vlogger-dude is calling out Homeschool Dad for waking us all up at 6:00am to the drone of his drone. Homeschool-Dad is standing there holding his compound archery bow while defending his actions “Look, dude! I needed a sunrise shot! The sun comes up at 5:00am!” Vlogger-dude is my new hero, in spite of the fact that his defense included “older people” camping here. LOL!
I could write another chapter on seeking solitude on the hiking trails with Polaris 4X4s racing by, leaving me standing there coated in a cloud of red dust, or the “thwhopp, thwhopp, thwhopp” of ten-minute helicopter tours overhead. But this rant is long enough. If there was ever a case for protected status, Sedona should be on the “endangered species” list