In the western part of the United States, there are vast expanses of government land. Most is accessible to the public, and much is open to dispersed camping, which means that you can pull over and camp anywhere you want for up to fourteen days at a time. BLM land (BLM refers to Bureau of Land Management) has a few common-sense rules to keep it clean and safe for everyone’s enjoyment. Campers who are drawn to these remote areas come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from big RV rigs to tents. They bring their own resources and take their waste out with them. Some people boondock full-time, moving from place to place. Others are weekend campers, heading out from nearby communities to party and relax. Some, like us, are snowbirds who have come for the winter. We have enough water, propane, and catch tanks that we can spend a few months without refilling or dumping. Our solar panels and batteries can handle all of our electric needs.
As we were driving to one of our favorite boondocking spots in the southern California desert, I noticed a lot more people camping in cars than I have ever seen before. I assume this is because of the pandemic, and that some who lost jobs and even their homes have chosen to spend time in this solitude. The desert is one of those things that people either love or hate. Some feel exposed in wide open expanses of nothingness, and feel an unsettling lack of human presence. Others are moved by the intense light reflected from vast skies, and by tenacious life that has adapted to extreme conditions in beautiful, subtle ways.
I come to the desert to leave the distractions of a chaotic world and spend my days in the presence of the sun. Granted, I bring some distractions with me. My computer, phone, books, and other mindless activities. But I also bring things that force me to become fully present, such as art supplies, a journal, my mandolin, and a chair to sit in beneath the sharp night sky. If you spend enough time here, you will eventually exhaust the distractions and end up encountering yourself. There’s infinite space to struggle and wrestle demons and scream into the void. Reflection, contemplation, and meditation ultimately lead to growth. I love the desert.
I've always had a restless heart and have been traveling since I was nineteen years old. Do you yearn to get on an open road and see where it will take you? What is stopping you?
Priscilla Queen of the Desert
I drive separately from my partner because I take side trips by myself and spend time with family in Colorado on my was to and from the southwest. All of the art supplies that can fit are packed into the pop-up camper. My partner wanted the biggest, most powerful pickup that he could find so that we can use it for towing, so we got Priscilla. I would have opted for something smaller, but I can’t complain. She is big, powerful…. and those hips. I love those hips. She’s a cushy comfortable travel companion who always gets me where I’m going, and she can make the boys cry. She takes care of me.
Artist, homesteader, teacher and adventurer. Turning over every literal and figurative rock that I can find, living curiously and creatively outside of the conventions of the common world.
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