Month: June 2013

RTR-Road-to-camp-001

This camp had a good road, beautiful forest, and a fabulous view of Mt. Humphrey

In this post I want to do a review of our current camp near Flagstaff, AZ and give you an update on the Summer RTR.

RTR Update:

I have been pleasantly surprised by the large attendance this year. So far there have been about 44 people total. While the Winter RTR is very large, my expectations for the summer event are very low. There are only a few places warm enough in the winter for Snowbirds to go so we all tend to hang out in the same general area. Quartzsite is pretty central so many people can attend. But in the summer we all scatter to the four-corners of the country sightseeing, and visiting family and friends. Last year at the first Summer RTR, we had about 20, so I thought we would have about the same this year. I think the main reason for the increased attendance is that Flagstaff is centrally located along I40, one of the major East-West arteries so more people can make it.

RTR-Topic-001

One of our “Tea and Topic” gatherings.

The Winter RTR is very busy with seminars and activities but I see the summer as a time for relaxation and social interaction, so we have a minimum of planned events. In fact I had planned nothing but when Randy and Lori of http://mobilecodgers.blogspot.com/ joined us they suggested a 10:00 “Tea and Topic” time where we all gathered and picked a topic and just sat around and talked about it. So far Lori led us in a discussion of fear, the next day we had a “Show and Tell” time where we all brought our favorite “Gadgets” and talked about how and why we liked them. Tomorrow I will lead another “Show and Tell” about cooking for vandwellers. We will talk about, solar ovens, my Roadpro 12 volt Lunchbox Oven, pressure cookers, stove-top baking, thermos cooking, and anything anybody brings!

RTR-Walking4

We walked together every morning and night and made many deep connections with each other.

But the best thing about the RTR is always the friends we make and this one is no exception! Vandwellers/RVers are the best bunch of people you could ever want to meet and whenever you get a bunch of them together you know fun and fellowship will be there! I think it is because most of the pressures and stress of modern living has fallen away and we are relaxed and happy! How could we not be nice people! As always, I’ve watched new bonds and friendships formed and I can see many of them lasting a lifetime.

RTR-Chili

Fellowship is always at its best best sitting around the table. And the best table is in the middle of a National Forest! Here we were having our chili feed. Thanks to Judy and others, it was excellent chili!!

For some reason I can’t explain, I have made more genuine, heartfelt connections since I became a “loner” vandweller than I made in my entire life before then. I’m not talking about casual acquaintances; I mean deep bonds of brotherhood that will last a lifetime and through any time and distance. One of my oldest and best vandwelling friends stopped by briefly and it was so good to see him again! I haven’t seen him since last January, but it was like we had just seen each other and we picked up right where we left off. My only regret was he couldn’t stay longer. I see those connections being established here in many other people!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were lucky enough to share our camping area with a herd of antelope! Davis S. took this great shot.

My suggestion to all of you is to start right now to make plans to attend next winters RTR. The dates are January 7-21, 2014 in Quartzsite, AZ. I know some of you are far away and the cost of gas and risk of bad weather in January makes attending almost impossible. But I have a suggestion that might help; airfare in January is usually very low, so I suggest you fly into Phoenix and take a bus out to Quartzsite, AZ or Blythe, CA. Once there, rent a U-haul van for $20 a day. That is actually quite cheap, the way they make their money is on the mileage charge but because you rent it in town, you will drive very little! If you are new to vandwelling and don’t even have a van yet, this is the perfect way to get started!

Next I’ll review the Flagstaff Campsite.

Bottom Line: **** (4 Stars) Wonderful campsite! It’s close to great shopping, had great weather, very good internet, lots of wildlife and it’s very beautiful. The only drawback is there was a fairly large amount of traffic on the dusty road and the Ranger enforcement was very, very heavy.

Land Ownership: Coconino National Forest

Date Visited: Last two weeks of June 2013

RTR-Brakes

The RTR isn’t all just fun and games; friends helping friends with all kinds of things (like doing a brake job) is the heartbeat of the RTR.

Best Season: Because it is at 7500 feet is a great place to spend the summer. Most of the time we were here the weather was perfect! But then a heat wave came in for the last few days and it got into the mid 90s. But because we were in the forest and could park in the shade, it wasn’t that bad.

Accessibility-Quality of the Road: *** (3 Stars) There is 2 miles of dirt road to get to camp. The first ½ mile is a little washboard so you have to take it slow but any size rig can make it. Once to camp there is plenty of parking both out in the sun for solar or in the shade to stay cool.

Internet: **** (4 Stars) My Verizon Mifi in a Wilson Sleek amplifier had a good strong signal with just a few exceptions. : I had no problem staying connected and getting my work done. Wilson Electronics – Sleek 4G-V – Verizon 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster for Single User

RTR-Pizza

Any town with a Little Ceasars is all right with me! I bought something from my mom and when I offered to pay her she said to take the money and buy a treat for the group. So I bought 7 pizzas and some ice cream !                       Thanks MOM!!!!

Shopping: ***** (5 Stars) Flagstaff is large enough town to have anything you can want including two Walmarts. It even had a Sam’s Club, but not a Costco. Since so few of us have Costco cards I don’t deduct for there not being one.

Ranger Enforcement: * (1 Star) My first day in camp we had a Ranger come in and be very strict. He looked at my ID, lectured us, tried to catch us in a way to kick us out of the Forest and started the clock on our 14 days. Other Rangers drove through and (because there was so much fire danger) the Fire Rangers were through constantly. All-in-all, it felt like we were constantly being watched. The Coconino NF is famous for its strict enforcement and this is just proof of that to me.

RTR-Walking-001

The scenery just took your breathe away! We had to stop often and admire it.

Scenery: **** (4 Stars) This is a beautiful National Forest with a gorgeous mountain as a backdrop. Everyone who comes to camp comments on how beautiful the area is. As an added bonus, Flagstaff has one of the clearest skies for star-gazing in the country and we are very near to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, two of my favorite places.

Feel/Size of the town: ***** (5 Stars) I love Flagstaff! I know I’ve been saying that a lot but the last few towns we have been to in AZ have just been wonderful towns. None of them are huge but they have everything we could want and Arizonans tend to be just amazingly friendly people. They almost all have an Old West feel to them that I really enjoy. Some towns have a high-and-mighty, I’m-better-than-you feel to them, but none of the Arizona towns we’ve been too feel that way at all. They are down-to-earth, blue-collar, homey places. I really love Arizona. Flagstaff has a wonderful downtown and because it is a college town a great vibe to it. I really like that there are so many out-door stores and bike shops.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks David S. for the great photo!

Wildlife: ***** (5 Stars) Since we have been here we have seen deer, antelope, elk and black bear, that is pretty outstanding!! I think it is the best wildlife viewing I have ever seen in any camp.

Solitude/ATVs: * (1 Star) We are on a busy road with fairly constant traffic going by fast and kicking up a lot of dust. The solitude was very poor.

Hiking: **** (4 Stars) We are surrounded by a spider-web of forest service roads leading to unlimited walking. Just ¾ of a mile away is a large pond the dogs love to swim in and that attracts wildlife.

Insects: *** (3 Stars) There are flying bugs here, but they aren’t any big deal. I think it is just average.

Map to the Flagstaff Camp

RTR-Mountain