By Bob Difley

buenos_aires_nwr_campsite2Before my wife, Lynn, and I became homeless and unemployed (the definition of a fulltimer) we stoically endured the interminable winter rains, piercing cold, dark nights that lasted too long and the hours of daylight far too brief. Toneless gray skies and leafless trees had us longing for spring even before the last of the autumn leaves had fluttered away.

We joined the growing ranks of fulltimers on a gray November day, now almost eighteen years ago. Before you could say “continuing rain and high winds” we had flapped our proverbial wings and joined the migrating flock of snowbirds heading south for the dry, warm, sunny desert.

Though we escaped most of the rain and cold, the colorless grays and browns of the desert floor took their place. Sunlit days were still too short. The sun never seemed to rise overhead and started to set before I really got going. Even though the blue-skied days more often than not reached into the 60s, we still looked forward to Mother Nature’s reawakening from her winter slumber.

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When spring eventually grabs a foothold the desert transforms itself into multiple shades of green as lifeless, woody plants sprout tiny leaves. Miniature yellow blossoms erupt on the creosote bushes. Chuparosa, brittlebush, and indigo bush burst with red, yellow, and purple blooms.

My winter eyes were rewarded when delicate wildflowers, like the showy, white Ajo lillies, appearing frail and defenseless, awakened and tentatively poked their heads out into the sunlight. Soon the brilliant orange California and Mexican poppies, bright yellow desert marigolds, soft blue lupine, and red Indian paintbrush turned the desert into a kaleidoscope of living color.

Fortunately for us dedicated boondockers, backroads and public open lands enable us to venture out and enjoy the solitude of the desert and to pursue the visual treats of its spring rejuvenation.

This is when we shake winter’s cobwebs from our heads, flush and fill and charge and stock and take off to the boonies where we can camp out on the vast expanse of the desert floor. New life explodes all around us, carpets of sand verbena, birdcage evening primrose, and prickly poppy carpet the rolling dunes and creep up bajadas on the slopes of craggy gray mountains.

Beds of blue phacelia hide in the shade of palo verde trees, and cacti proudly display their colorful, neon-vivid flowers. The red-tipped spines of the barrel cactus are easily spotted, but it takes a keen eye to find the little fish hook cactus that often hides close to rocks or in crevices.

After a day of exploring my limitless surroundings what better way to end the day than to watch the setting sun paint the evening sky’s whispy clouds with hues of yellow deepening to orange, and burgundy. No intruding lights dim the galaxy’s star show, and until the moon sets, it hangs like a universal night light illuminating the floor around me in its soft natural glow, with only the yipping of coyotes to break the sound of the desert silence.

Check out my website for more RVing tips and destinations and for my ebooks, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public LandsSnowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, and 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang out of your RV Lifestyle Dollar.

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14 comments

  1. Avatar

    As a former fulltimer, it makes me cringe to hear you say you are “homeless”!
    “Houseless”, maybe, but not homeless. I loved my home on wheels.

    You painted a beautiful picture, with words. Thank you.

  2. Avatar

    Jim G

    Here in New England, as a new winter storm is unleasing another blanket of snow, wind and cold Bob provides a nicely timed opportunity for my imagination to generate some warmth before I venture outside and crank up the snowblower, again.

  3. Avatar

    catchesthewind

    What is snow and why do you need a machine to throw it?

  4. Avatar

    butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Guru Bob Difley-Swami,
    How do you do that?? I can’t with a paint box !! Whenever I read about an “RVr”,
    like on Prof 95 or Nick Russell’s Gypsy Journal blog, I think about what you could SHOW THEM about RVing… THE WORLD IS OUT THERE in the unspoiled parts of the land, not in sprawling cities, RV parks and RESORTS.. In the mountains, hills
    and deserts, along the creeks and rivers… The way the land was before ‘civilization’
    came and ‘improved’ everything.. BOONDOCKING IS REALLY LIVING…

  5. Avatar

    Jim G

    Re: What is snow?
    White stuff that floats from the sky and causes a pain in my butt!

  6. Avatar

    Dave S

    Ahhhhh what a poet…..With a swish of a pen and a poke of the keyboard you make life beautiful again for us that are bound to throw the snow and skid our land bound vehicles into the forever ditches of the North.

    How I yearn for the days when I can join the birds and SnoBirds heading South to enjoy the season rather than curse our beloved SNOW of the North.

  7. Avatar

    Alice Wildermuth

    Snow in the north is cold, white fluffy stuff. Today, we learned that in northern Texas, snow is cold, wet, heavy stuff. We have 3 inches at Denison, TX, as I type. Oh, well, it’s 30-32 degrees, will probably melt away tomorrow and we’ll be able to continue our flight south. Back “home” in Illinois, it’s 23 degrees. Much better here and 66 degrees where we’re headed. Love snowbirding.

  8. Avatar

    Wow, Bob, what a picture you painted with words! I really enjoy your posts.
    We are retiring soon and as soon as we sell our house in Amarillo we will be spending more time at our cabin in New Mexico as well as travelling more in the American Southwest. We hope to cross paths with you guys somewhere down the road.

  9. Avatar

    William Fincher

    What an experience to be in the home on wheels and see the Anza Borrago desert.The views the smell, and being moble is such a thrill.

  10. Avatar

    Spring really is quite a hopeful symbol and a beauty to behold. Here’s to the oncoming spring, and may you always have a joyful and safe journey.

  11. Avatar

    After reading this great post my wife and I looked at each other and said, “Cancel everything, we are going to the desert until spring. Like Red Rock Canyon in Mojave, Calfornia. The 2005 Chinook Glacier is getting packed now. Did I mention that we live in the foothills of the Rockies in Alberta. And, its -32 celcius (-26F). Happy trails!

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