We are blessed to have so many magical experiences in our lives on the road. It seems it’s one right after another sometimes. Amazing people, glorious views, wondrous experiences and great connectivity.
It’s why we’re quickly sneaking up on 10 years on the road soon (10 Years?!?!) and still see no end in sight for us.
One of our challenges is not growing complacent that awesome is a constant in our life. To be ready to soak in every new experience and not take it for granted.
Even with that mindset of trying to keep fresh open eyes – our last stop at Saddle Mountain probably will rank as one of our all time favorites.
Maybe it’s because it took us by surprise. We weren’t expecting much, as when I saw the little pin on the Ultimate Public Campgrounds map and went to search for other reports – I found very few reviews or blog posts.
It just sounded like a decent potential desert stop within a reasonable drive from Quartzite heading east. If it didn’t seem like our cup of tea, we had a back-up plan to try Buckeye Mountain Regional Park a few more miles closer to Phoenix.
Our major goal was just finding a place to work on re-writing The Mobile Internet Handbook for 2016. Some place with just the right balance of distractions to keep us productive.
Our stay in the Saddle Mountain BLM area was a perfect confluence of so much we love about life on the road.
For one, it’s just drop dead completely gorgeous.
- Next, it’s fairly under-used – so we had big wide open spaces around us with few neighbors within sight. Our entire two weeks there, we maybe saw under a dozen other campers pass through over hundreds of acres. (Of course, by posting this – that could change.)
- There was pretty fabulous connectivity for Verizon, and even the AT&T wasn’t too bad. A cellular booster definitely helped to keep us from jumping frequency bands.
- There’s endless hiking opportunities, and over a 100 geocaches in the area – a perfect distraction to keep our bodies from cramping up after long writing sessions.
- Amazing sunsets every single night (there’s unconfirmed rumors sunrises were pretty good too).
- Bright amazing stars at night with just a faint glow from Phoenix to the east.
- And we had a most fabulous temporary neighbor.
So… let’s start there. The fabulous neighbor.
We’ve met up with Becky a couple times in our travels. She hit the road solo in a 17′ fiberglass egg a few years ago (much like the one we full timed in prior to the bus).
She’s such a delightful and courageous young lady, and has always inspired us.
This season, she’s trying out boondocking for the first time – and accepted our invitation to join us in scouting out a next location together.
She’s also a fellow nerd, non-morning person and an introvert, and happens to be working on writing her next book (she has one out already on Solo Full-time RVing on a Budget). She is a bit of curiousity to us in that she thrives on just 3GB of cellular data a month, but that meant she wouldn’t be sucking up our bandwidth either.
While social distractions were the last thing we wanted, this just felt like the perfect combination.
And right we were.
We each spent our days working on our own projects. Joined up in the late afternoon for geocaching hikes. Sometimes it morphed into shared in meals, movie nights and just getting to know each other.
The magic of Saddle Mountain for us will likely always be intertwined with getting to connect with Becky deeper. The bigger group convergences are awesome, but extended time in smaller groups really suits us introverts well.
I guess she also enjoyed our company and Saddle Mountain, as she ended up rejoining us after her fridge replacement. It was a bittersweet ‘until next time’ when it came time to part ways, as it often is with our nomadic friends.
While at Saddle Mountain, we also had a quick visit from our dear pals Peter & John of the RV Geeks, a few nights with buddies Kelly and Anna, dinner with Marshall, and meetup with some folks from RVillage. Apparently RV Sue was in the area a couple nights, and few blog readers mentioned they spotted us too.
Trying to avoid being social in the winter while everyone is trying to escape cold weather in the few warm spots of the country is a challenge. But, we did a pretty good job of embracing opportunities while still having plenty of time for our project.
Ahh.. balance. It’s a good thing.
Boondocking Tips for Saddle Mountain BLM
Ok. So even if you don’t get the pleasure of connecting with someone awesome, the Saddle Mountain BLM (our review) is amazing on its own if you’re looking for a place to just… be.
It’s not near anything. Tonopah, AZ is the last ‘town’ as you’re heading west on I-10 for many many miles. And the BLM area is a good 8 miles from there. Following GPS coordinates (we stayed at approximately 33.453153, -113.055169), you’ll be routed to Courthouse Road, and then you’ll find a few dirt roads leading towards the mountains.
On our scouting expedition, we found the eastern most roads where many campground apps have their coordinates at, to be pretty rocky with fewer level camping spots. We almost gave up on this location after going down a couple we probably shouldn’t have attempted in the Mini Cooper.
Then, just west of mile marker 13, we turned down a well packed and relatively un-rocky dirt road. It goes a mile up, and there are seemingly endless level camping spots all along it. There’s another road or two to the west that looked like good options too.
Tonopah has a truck stop convenience store for fuel & propane, a cafe & bar (with 99 cent Taco Tuesday nights), a chicken farm that stinks up the town (but not even within sniff of the BLM area) and a hot springs (which we never got to, but probably should have).
Oh, and there’s a RV Park. A pretty nice one actually. Saddle Mountain RV Park (our review) offers Passport America members a $16/night rate for a full hook-up spot, access to their immaculate laundry center and swimming pool. A perfect spot to refresh before or after extended boondocking.
The nearest real shopping for supplies is in Buckeye to the east, a good 30-40 minute drive away, with all the conveniences of surburbia. Well except, no Trader Joe’s – but the Walmart was nicely stocked with fresher produce than normal, organics & gluten free favorites.
If you’re looking for something with lots to do, you might not be happy here for more than a couple nights.
But if you’re like us and always seeking the gems of a place where you can be on your own in a gorgeous place with great connectivity, awesome hiking and only neighbors you invite. You might just enjoy Saddle Mountain BLM.
It was absolute boondocking nirvana for us. We stayed there our full 14-night limit.
Related Article: Guide to Finding RV Parks, Campgrounds and Boondocking
The Book Re-Writing Progress
What on earth ever possessed us to write a book that becomes out-dated the moment we publish it? And at that, a highly technical book that needs to explain complex topics to a wide range of folks?
What made us think we could simply update a few details each year, and have a new edition?
Yeah, that’s where we are at.
The mobile internet landscape has changed so much in just one short year since our last edition came out. Updating for 2016 is proving to be a challenge.
Add to that, in the last year RVMobileInternet.com has taken on a life of its own (it was just a newborn when last year’s edition came out).
It just makes sense to take the time to make the 2016 Edition much better.
We’re diligently working on making it more about the theory with references to the ‘living guides’ we keep online to the stuff that is more likely to change (products, plans, pricing).
So, we’re taking extra time to do it right. The Mobile Internet Handbook for 2016 may release a few days later than anticipated this year.
But it WILL be awesome.
And we will do so while keeping our intentions of a work/life balance.
What’s Up Next?
We’re currently in Tonopah refreshing our tanks. I have a post in the works going over how our summer renovation projects have amplified our boondocking ability.
We’ll be heading to Tucson next to take care of some errands (tweaks to our new folding electric bikes and there WILL be a Trader Joe’s re-supply). And then back to Benson to meet up with some friends.
After that, March will find us heading across country at a fairly rapid pace in comparison to the 220 miles we’ve traveled in the past few months.
We want to cross paths with Chris’ parents before they end their Florida snow birding season in mid-April and we just booked a non-RVing adventure with my mom starting late April. (Anyone in Central Florida perhaps up for cat-sitting for about 3 weeks?? Be in touch if so.).
So… Florida.. here we come!