Mountains to Mesas

When I got settled in Provo for the night I knew I couldn’t go over those mountains. They are big boys, big daddies – not the play kind. I looked at the satellite image of I-70 on google maps and got terrified. Earlier in the evening I had stopped to talk to people at another Airstream – I call them “The International Airstream couple.” They were going to Moab in the morning too and were planning on taking the local road through Soldier Summit. I told her I was afraid. She told me to just go easy on the downhills. Have you google imaged the sheer drops? I looked around and realized her Airstream is immaculate. It glistened. Of course it is a 2017 International and it’s made to be that way. Mine is the middle class special 2010 Flying Cloud. I panicked. I bid her goodbye and thought two things – 1. my trailer looks like a hobo lives in it and no one will ever be invited in and 2. there is no way I’m going to Moab.

I was feeling pretty low – scared, sad, and I knew my vulnerabilities were getting the best of me. I opened an overhead cabinet and felt something slipping out – contents DO shift while traveling. I caught the item, but let the cabinet door go. It sprang up (spring loaded for easy opening and secure closing) and it smacked me in the forehead. I had ice and put it on my bruise. And then I sat down and had myself a good little cry. Luckily a friend texted me just at that moment and gave me a pep talk. As we texted I decided to go straight south in the morning and go to Zion National Park instead of Moab. The road was easier by far. Then I did laundry and took a great shower. And then it rained, a lot.

I got up in the morning, got out in the cold and damp and got my rig ready to roll. I had filled all my water jugs with filtered water. I filled my 6 gallon carrier with campground water. I was going boondocking, damn-it!  Onward to Zion!

Utah is a beautiful state. The mountains are breathtaking. The valleys are stunning. And there are big temples in cities large and small. The mormon presence is noted. I went by an essential oils farm – Young Living. At first glance at the signs I kept seeing I thought it was a Mormon jamboree. Turns out it is a popular oils company. About 30 miles from Zion National Park the scenery shifts. The snowy peaks on craggy mountains are in the rearview. I topped out at 6500 ft. and it was a breeze. The road was all up and over; no switchbacks is a good thing. Suddenly the red rock starts to appear and finally, the mesas come into view. It’s like I entered another country. Breathtaking.

I was looking for a BLM site that I had found on my camping apps. I found it and it was a little dicey. I was prepared for the graded gravel but then it turned into a dirt road and narrow. I didn’t know if the BLM land was that far or what. I had a large open spot on my right, so I swung my rig around (backing up and 10 point turning) and turned back. Yes, I can pull a U-ey in my Airstream. I went back towards the main road and there was a wide open space at the junction – flat, clear and large enough to hold at least 5 rvs, easy. I pulled in and figured I would try it. I opened my door and a window. I did not unhitch or sit outside. A couple of other rvs came and then went. One came back and I talked to the guys in the rig. They had spotted the signs I had not – private property, no camping. They were tiny signs and placed in a corner and at the very back on the area beyond the open space. I stayed, they left.

About 6pm, just when I was feeling like this would work, a car pulls up. I knew who it was – I thought. Guy gets out and comes to my door. I greet him and we exchange that I can’t be there, there are signs, I didn’t see them, I’m sorry. He starts engaging in conversation – about Florida and the hurricane. Do I like my Airstream? Then he says, there is a nice Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site down the road, pointing in the direction I had tried. I said, I didn’t feel comfortable attempting that dirt road. He says, ah. Well there is another BLM site right down the road here (the main drag) and it’s close to the highway, but legal. Gives me detailed directions. He says, I’m not the property owner, but I know him. He’s a dick. He would come out here at 10 pm, knowing you got yourself tucked in and demand you leave. I profusely thank him for the tip to leave, the BLM directions and he says – oh you’ll like it better, it’s quieter and no one will bother you. The kindness of strangers is really about my willingness to be open with him, and then he does a good turn for me.

I hightail it out of there and proceed to the route. I make the turn off the road and see a cluster of RVs. I’m on a  road that is “paved.” I figure they got there, so can I. I get there, see the little tiny BLM sign with 14 day limit proclaimed, and find my spot amongst 5 or 6 rvs, truck campers, and vans. It’s a sweet spot. I decide not to unhitch only because there is rain in the forecast and I may need to adjust in the morning. I wave to my neighbors. Two guys in a pop up van. One has a guitar and they set up their chairs. A couple in a camper truck and they are setting up chairs. I go inside and get organized, feed Inky, and then look out the window. I didn’t know this spot came with a floor show. I go grab my chair and set up too. We are facing east. We are watching the sunset light from behind us bounce off the walls of the mesas in front of us. It is a spectacular show as the colors deepen and shift. A green strata becomes evident. I couldn’t take my eyes off it except to snap photos and send them to people. BE JEALOUS OF ME. I’m dry camping in Zion for free and have an amazing evening show.


So all the drama of 24 hours ago has passed and I am here in Zion doing what I said I wanted to do. I can stay here on BLM land as long as I like (up to 14 days) and if I have to empty the tanks, there are numerous places nearby. Then I can come back and pick up where I left off. I’m here and it’s free. FREE. That’s what buying a solar system will get you. The dream. I’m livin’ it. 


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