A secluded desert boondock in southern California

The crew and I are at Tuttle Creek Campground.

Before leaving the Lone Pine area, I want to take advantage of the dump station ($5).  As I’m pulling away, a guy comes walking down the campground road.  His eyes are fixed on me and he’s smiling.

“Hello, Sue,” he says, approaching the window of the PTV.

“Well, hello!” I respond.  “You must be a reader of my blog.”

“Yeah, I’m Kent.”

“Are you the Kent who left a card in my door . . . way back in 2011 in New Mexico?”

“That’s me.”

“And you also comment sometimes . . . . ”

We talk and laugh for several minutes. 

Kent and his wife Carmen are full-timers now.  He mentions that Mick, my cyber-friend and the technical advisor for this blog, and he were in touch regarding a Wilson antenna like mine.  Kent went ahead and bought one, and he and Carmen are happy with it.  Theirs is mounted on a telescoping flag pole.

We say goodbye and Kent adds, “We’ll probably meet again sometime.”  I wouldn’t be surprised that we do!

My next stop is Casey’s Auto.

Coincidentally another Casita is parked next to the garage.

1-DSC01246 - CopyOnce again the connector on the cord that goes from the PTV to the BLT, transferring power from the batteries inside the PTV to the house battery, has been damaged.  It came loose while we were on the road and bounced on the ground.

Yesterday, when here for the PTV’s oil change, I showed the mechanic the connector and asked him to put it on the cord for me when I come through town with my trailer.  So that’s why we’re here.

1-DSC01245It only takes a couple minutes and we’re on our way!

Well, a quick stop to top off the gas tank and then we’re on our way, heading south on Route 395.  Since I have a short journey planned, I’m relaxed and feel free to stop for photos.

1-DSC01250I pull over at the little town of Olancha and grab a shot of Olancha Peak (12,123 ft) while Bridget howls in protest.

1-DSC01249I dash across the road and snap a photo of some sheep.  Sheep are not like horses and mules which make for interesting photo subjects with their varied colors, graceful forms, and interesting personalities.  Sheep are . . . well, sheep.  They stand.  They look.  They graze in almost identical poses wearing similar coats.

1-DSC01247 - CopyBack on the road, it’s an easy, enjoyable ride on this clear, sunny, autumn day . . . the last day of October.

A slice of blue appears in the distance, to the east of the highway.

That’s North Haiwee Reservoir (page 87 in the Benchmark California atlas).  Somewhere around here there’s a road going over that way.  Last year I was timid about exploring down that unknown dirt lane with the BLT in tow, but this year I’m giving it a try. 

South Haiwee Reservoir appears and soon afterward I see a break in the divided highway.  I make a left turn across the highway onto a dirt road, immediately rumbling over a cattle guard.  A brown BLM post alongside the road confirms what I saw on the map.

This is public land.

The road takes us toward the mountains.  A sliver of blue beckons (left side of photo below).

1-DSC01252The more I see of the reservoir, the more my anticipation grows.

1-DSC01253Oh, this will be a fantastic boondock!  No one is here.  It looks like you can walk down to the water.  I love this!  And there are trees!

1-DSC01254Up ahead is a fork in the road.

Two white signs are posted there. 

Uh-oh.  I strain to read them as we approach.  “OH DARN! . . .  Darn, darn DARN!”

One sign says, NO PUBLIC ACCESS.


I turn our sorry selves around and we bumpety-bump on out of there.  Gee, how disappointing.

Last year we camped at Fossil Falls.

You may remember my post about all the lava.  Lots of lava.  Big, black, ugly mounds of lava.  Enough lava to satisfy any urge to see lava for the rest of my life.

I pull off Route 395 onto Cinder Road, and drive right on by Fossil Falls Campground.

Cinder Road takes us to a desert basin.

1-DSC01263We cross a small, dry lake bed and pass Red Hill (3,952 ft) with lava piles at its base.  Long spur roads head off to the north and to the south.  Looking across the treeless desert, I can see that the north road eventually turns to the east toward more dadburn transmission lines.

I turn to the south.

1-DSC01259A few Joshua Trees grow on the vast plain of dry sand and tan scrub.  After bouncing along on the dirt road for a mile or two, I park the PTV at a turn-around area by a crossroads. Bridget and Spike are restless.  They know bumpy roads may mean we’re close to our new home.

“C’mon, you two.  Let’s walk up there and see what the road is like.”

Spike leads the way.

1-DSC01257Turns out the road leads to more of the same.  As we walk back, I look at the PTV and the BLT in a new light.

1-DSC01261I don’t normally camp with the PTV and BLT totally exposed.  However, here I can turn 360 degrees and not see any sign of another human being.  Are we exposed if there’s no one around to look?

1-DSC01262I think we’ll make camp right in the middle of this huge, empty basin!

1-DSC01258I find a patch of hard ground that’s clear of any shrubs.  I don’t even have to level.  It’s perfect.

1-DSC01265I want seclusion and that’s what I’ve got!

1-DSC01264Not to mention, five steady bars for internet!



Here are a few samples of recent purchases by readers of this blog:

Cuisinart 2-Speed 200-watt Immersion Hand Blender with Attachments
Duragold 14k Yellow Gold Half-Round Hoop Earrings
Perplexus Maze Game by PlaSmart, Inc.
Compact Laser Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex
Rubbermaid FastTrack 48-by-16-Inch Wire Shelf
Midwest Black E-Coat Exercise Pen, 24 Inches by 30 Inches


November 30, 2011, the solar panel with tilting mechanism is attached to the roof of the Perfect Tow Vehicle.  When the crew and I return to the Best Little Trailer at our campsite at Percha Dam State Park, NM, we find a card left by Kent.

“Solar panel is on the roof!”

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56 Responses to A secluded desert boondock in southern California

  1. Ron says:

    hehehe no 1

  2. Ron says:

    Still reading every day and enjoying as usual.

  3. EmilyO of NM says:

    You are my break in all this “organization” going on. I have so much bubble wrap that I could wrap it twice around my trailer. You don’t need any bubble wrap do you? Love your picures with the new camera. I have been doing a lot of ohhhhhing, ahhhhhing. Gives my vocal cords exercise. Keep it up.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Emily,

      It’s good when you take a break you check on rvsue and her canine crew. 🙂 You must admit it’s kind of fun setting up a new house. Thanks for the compliment on the pictures.

  4. Berkeley Drew says:

    I can imagine Spike had some choice words when you told him the water was off-limits. It must seem like ages (time flows differently for canines) since his last soak.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Berkeley,

      Spike is always open to new adventures. He’s loving the desert and I think soaks are forgotten for now. I’ve never known a dog with such curiosity. That’s why he runs off whenever he finds an opportunity. He’s the ultimate vagabond… has to see what’s over the next hill.

      Nice to hear from you… Stop in again!

  5. Ruth(Tennessee) says:

    Wow, so out in the open! I live in a world of trees here, (most of them dropped the remainder of their leaves in last night’s storm) so your camp is a different view. Looking forward to camping out there. Love the tales ( and tails) of Bridget and Spike. Stay safe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Tennessee . . . at least the part I’m familiar with (eastern) is a beautiful land of trees and mountains.

      The solitude and expanse of our present camp gives an atmosphere of calm. How could anyone have jittery nerves in a place such as this? The only movement is that of the sun . . . and us, of course.

      I hope you do camp “out there,” Ruth. Have a great day!

  6. Rita from Phoenix says:

    With all the wide open spaces, I wonder why they put the transmission line right near the reservoir so no one can get near it. Would have been a nice camp area 🙁 Not much water in S.CA and AZ….hope you find water to camp by before you really hit desert in S. AZ for the winter. Enjoy your seclusion out in the middle of nowhere.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rita,

      Well, my guess is this . . . They put the transmission line right near the reservoir because they own the reservoir, too! What a waste. . . an oasis in the desert that you can’t even drive around. I wished they put a sign at the entrance of the road… “Don’t bother driving to the reservoir because you aren’t allowed near it.” Would’ve saved me the trouble.

      Yes, we’re enjoying the seclusion and the warm temperatures, which, I believe, are going to drop for the next few days.

  7. Gaelyn says:

    I love camping in the endless desert if there’s no RVs in sight.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Gaelyn,

      Not only are there no RVs in sight, there aren’t any signs of people. Gee, we’re all alone. 🙂

  8. Sierra Foothill Mama says:

    Every spring, whole growing up in China Lake near Ridgecrest, a favorite picnic was to the Olancha Sand dunes. We would bring cardboard and slide down the dunes like sleds. One year we actually had saucers from a winter trip and we really flew down the sand. Somewhere we still have family movies with a bunch of kids 2 to 10 years old playing on the dunes in their underwear. Oh, the things we did then, that we would never do now.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      What a great childhood memory! And you have movies of it. That sounds like such fun!

      It reminds me of tobogganning in northern NY with my sisters and girl cousins. I’d love to have a movie of that! (We didn’t toboggan in our underwear though.)

  9. Kent says:

    Wonderful to see you yesterday Sue. Glad you got the cable repaired. We will not be far behind but are going to head over towards Death Valley so might see you later in So. Arizona!

    • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

      Death Valley Days are coming up November 6th. I have never seen Death Valley so filled with people as during this annual event. One thing most folks do not know is you can boondock in Death Valley, so you can get away from the event attendees. It is the only national park I know you can do this. To boondock you need to be on an existing dirt road, at least one mile from pavement. There are a few places that are signed no camping but it is a very BIG place.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kent,

      It was a kick to finally meet you, Kent. I meant to say, “Give my regards to Carmen,” but then we started gabbing some more . . . So I’m saying it here.

      I never did get the water. My hose isn’t long enough. I’ll find a spigot somewhere along the way.

      Have a great time in Death Valley . . . Stay safe . . . until we meet again.

  10. Cheryl Ann says:

    Yeah, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is very protective of their land, which they STOLE from the landowners in the Owens Valley. You can read up on the water wars there…if you want. It is indeed a sad story. I am living vicariously through your photos of the Owens Valley and Sierras. Where are you heading to next?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cheryl Ann,

      Let’s just say I’m heading south. I like to keep my destinations to myself… because I change my mind a lot at the last minute and, also, I like to leave people wondering where we will go next. I want you to come back to find out!

  11. susanne says:

    Sue….do you mind if I use part of your photo of the sheep as reference for a painting?

  12. Nan says:

    With your being artistic, I am surprised that you do not like lava rock. Each piece has a different texture and pattern. I’m afraid that I take a bounty of photos of the rock! lol…different strokes, right? Enjoy

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Have you ever taken a photo of lava rock? You get a big black nothing.

      To each his own, but I can’t seem to find much beauty in a big mass of black rock. Maybe the lava you’ve seen is different. This lava is one shade of black and there isn’t any texture or pattern to make interest. I’ve seen more artistry in a bag of charcoal briquets.

  13. Mindy Reed says:

    There’s something to be said about remote empty open spaces. Enjoy!

  14. Wayne Scott says:

    Hi Sue,
    You do find some of the best spots. Being out in a wide open camp like that could be quite an advantage in that you could be loaded and ready long before they get to you!! (kidding)
    I bet the stars are quite a sight when the sun goes down.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Wayne,

      And dontcha think I thought of that, too. LOL! Nobody can sneak up on us.

      The sky has been clear the last few nights and the stars have not disappointed.

  15. 🙂 So happy you are happy! We are happy too, sitting in a campground 🙁 but with a great view of the Gulf of Mexico and our tummies are full of seafood from the Seafood Festival! I am all walked out and ready for a nap! You are really in some wide open spaces out there! Enjoy!

  16. DeAnne in TN says:

    I love your new site. I’ve visited the desert just a few times, but the thing I always remember the most vividly is stargazing. I don’t know the constellations or anything; it was just the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, DeAnne. It’s the same sky, yet, you’re right, it does seem more magnificent from the desert.

  17. DeAnne and Sue, I used to have the coolest thing for learning the constellations… bought it at the planetarium in Flagstaff! It was round, larger than a dinner plate… you could put it under the light or in the sun all day and then at night take it out and all the stars would glow on it showing you the constellations and the names! I got real familiar with the stars using that thing!

    • DeAnne in TN says:

      That sounds perfect, Geri. I loved the sky and how the horizon seemed to go on forever.

    • Eileen P. says:

      What a great idea…I have never been good with knowing the night sky. I have night sky maps, but get annoyed at having to hold the flashight to look at them. I have a night sky app for my phone, but just find it cumbersome. And if we are out of cell range, it’s not accessible. I just ordered something that looks like what you described….
      Glow-in-the-Dark Star Finder with Zodiac Dial
      (Eileen, I replaced your link with one of mine.)
      Only about $10.00. Will report back on how it works 🙂
      Eileen in Phoenix

      • Eileen P. says:

        Oops, sorry. I must have gone in to Amazon from one of my order confirmation emails. I try to make it a point to use your links for my orders. 🙂

  18. Cinandjules says:

    WOW. That’s a secluded area. As long as you have five bars on the Wilson antenna…it’s all good!

    Isn’t that your second connector in a relatively short time? Is there a way to secure the cord with something like a flex strip?

    It’s very windy here. The Cliff House/Lands end/Pacific Ocean is four blocks away.

    Been here 50 days …..my normal patience level with my dad lasts approx 30 minutes. My mom had three procedures to place a stint in her bile duct. She’s doing much better.
    I have mom-napped her……so he can’t bark orders at her.

    Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Isn’t it weird….when one is working…you look forward to the weekend. When one is retired….the weekdays are our weekend!

    • Mick in TN says:

      Cin, you’re an Angel.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cindy,

      My heart goes out to you. It’s tough to be an adult in the parents’ household under ordinary conditions. You are navigating some rough seas, to say the least. I agree with Mick, you are an angel, but I already knew that.

      I pray for your mother and you.

  19. Edie says:

    There are a lot of angels who regularly comment on this forum. 🙂

  20. Lacy G says:

    Looks like you’re at a crossroads Sue! And you can go any direction you so please 😀 Have yet another relaxing day!! Lacy

  21. DeAnne in TN says:

    This is a very interesting essay about people who live at Walmart.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Very interesting and provocative, DeAnne. Now I’m wondering if those folks camp at WalMart because they don’t want to be hassled on the public land in the area. I’ve heard that happens frequently around Flagstaff.

  22. Dan Bailey says:

    I am wondering why you picked yellow top VS blue top batteries. I thought the blue are stronger, better, and the best?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      As I understand it, the blue tops are no different than the yellow tops except for the posts and the price.

  23. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    Death Valley is one of the best places for star gazing. Snuggled down on the valley floor with high mountains surrounding you the stars are more brilliant. Everyone needs to see Scotty’s Castle too. I met an old desert rat back in 1968 called Seldom Seen Slim. He was the self appointed Sheriff of an old ghost town named Ballerat. He was going to run me out of town for digging holes as I was metal detecting there with a friend of mine. After he found out we didn’t mean no harm and would not leave a trace of where we had dug, he showed us some old Indian stone walls that was used to hide behind when the Indians hunted Big Horn Sheep at a water hole. Because of my being part Indian myself, he showed us some pictographs that were near by. I was happy to interpret a few of the Signs for him and that sealed our friendship. We camped right in Ballerat over night and we told each other stories as we sat around the camp fire. I didn’t know that he was a legend in Death Valley and I was proud of have met him. Later I learned he died that same year of cancer. I have always wanted to go back to see if his grave is there at Ballerat.

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