Problems While Truck Camping

This jumping is a problem for me … I can’t seem to remember the proper order to jump start a car. So I keep this printout in the glove compartment. (Why can’t I just get the truck on a hill and pop the clutch like I used to?)

I always need the repair history of Lilith. I keep all receipts. That proved to be too hard to access quickly, so I started making an index card with the info in the driver’s side visor pocket.

I have had no AAA for the last few years because I have been traveling on roads that a) have no cell service and/or b)are on dirt roads, which AAA doesn’t like. With a long (3,000 miles) trip on paved roads coming up I decided it was time to put on my big girl pants and get an extra cushion of implied safety. There were 3 level AAA memberships that I could choose from. I picked the medium “Plus” level that offered a 100 miles tow.

So I feel ready. Mileage is now 79,200. New tires at 72,000. Tires rotated at 79,000. New oil, new filters at 79,000. I have spent 3 days planning out a route with free camping spots (thanks to and Walmart Super Centers. I am so nervous about big city driving that the intended route is a bit wonky, but I will breathe easier and have fun along the way. I have accumulated funky history facts and noticeable attractions about the towns I’ll pass through. I am looking forward to the trip and the destination.

The cell connections may be spotty along the way. I will post when I can.

Problems? Nah. Got it covered.

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Finding a Spot to Camp

I do not like paying for a camping place (except for New Mexico State Park Pass and the LTVA). I like to be remote. This is how I find a yummy place to stay for free. (This is lots easier out west.) The rules say stay for two weeks or less. (Do it. Don’t overstay. Pack it in, pack it out. Take only pictures. Leave nothing.)

How did I find this magical spot? Passion. I was hunting for meteorites. I made a map of the known meteorites found in the state. Then I overlaid that map with the state’s federal land (where camping for 14 days is allowed). That led me to a tiny dot on the map that said “Spring”. What? A spring out in the far away desert? And nearby there was a fabulous place to search for trilobites. Perfect. Getting there I was lost several times. Very nervous driving on sandy roads far from cell service, far from anything but desert. No buildings. No street signs. Almost turned around twice. Then I found the spring. I learned much about trilobites, about quartz crystals, about fears, about the transformative power of boredom. The physical maps, with Google Earth and the historical data of meteorite finds, led me to the above place. I stayed 2 weeks. Want to go back.

Apache Creek, best campsite

How did I find this magical spot? It was on the way. With the DeLorme New New Mexico map I picked out a 2 lane route heading south. This camp spot appeared on They listed 4 free campsites along this part of the route. It was on the physical map, also. Delicious free spot that even had a pit toilet, birds, huge trees, tables, and great hikes. Needing a place to spend the night along a specific route I found that camping spot above. I spent 2 weeks here 3 times. Hope to go back.

Dispersed Camping

How did I find this magical spot? I was confused, tired and lost when I stopped in the Forest Ranger Office. I was new to being on the road. The folks in the Office were exceptionally kind. They taught me about the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM). Each district in each Forest Service has these maps. The rangers taught me how to read the maps, which show where in the National Forest its OK to camp. For 14 days. For free. I have stayed in the area above 3 different times for 2 weeks each. Each time thanks to the MVUM map.

Toes truck camping at Mesa Verde

How did I find this magical spot? This was a wandering moment. I looked at the paper map of the area I was in, circled the BML land, and drove onto the first road I got to. Then drove further. Then turned left. Then left again. Then stopped for 14 days. Almost got stuck leaving. Thank goodness for 4wd. Haven’t been back, but the map has it circled.

Thank you Stayed here only a week. All of a sudden there were hordes of atvs. Drones. Campers. But a great week.

A collection of maps for truck camping out west

Still love the paper maps. With Google maps I can mark a good place to camp or have camped. That does work, if there is cell service or WiFi. (I seem to forget to download them.) Thanks to the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (these are free and great in paper, but awkward to handle) and the DeLorme maps and the Benchmark maps I can find my way around. Thanks to I can always find a place. Another helpful site is campendium (some dispersed camping, mostly for RV’s). The rangers, the librarians and gas station employees have given me the best spots. Some too precious to mention.

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New Stove for Lilith

Why get another stove?

2 stoves seemed extravagant, but I am leaning toward comfort in cold/wet/ windy weather. I needed tiny, all temperature, all elevations. Need to boil water for coffee or hot chocolate or ramen. I liked the light weight and the solid fuel of the Esbit.


I can experiment, thanks to government check. As soon as the snow and rain stop I will try it out and report.

I was going to camp out and try it out. There are many beautiful spots nearby. Snow, rain and nights in the 20’s dampened my enthusiasm. Am staying in friends’ house. Warm with internet and a hot shower whenever. Delicious. Great fun.

Wonderful Star Wars hoodie for the cold and wind. Thanks Cindy!

Waiting for second vaccine. Then onto a few roads I have never ridden. Flat land. Hope to find funky, strange, interesting places on the way. A friend of 45 years is waiting.

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For the last few days I seem to be in move-mode, cleaning dusty bottles, packing one box, then another. Throwing away darn-near-finished jars of mayo and catsup. Giving away away books and the extra chair. Dismantling the fire pit. Emptying out the clean 5 gallon water tank. Taking out my go-to-town shoes to shine. Making list for the Walmart stop.

I headed to Colorado for vaccinations. Found that I am no longer casual about driving through cities. Almost panicked driving through Las Vegas. NEVER want to do that again. So do I avoid cities or go through lots to get myself used to them?

Beautiful camping spot on friends’ property in Colorado. Am very proud of finally installing the new fire extinguisher. Commercial strength Velcro does the trick. So far.

After the second vaccination I will be driving to visit an old friend in a nursing home. Going through Nebraska, Idaho and Illinois. That will be fun to investigate.

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Truck Camping Beauty

I still love the SC low-country. And the Appalachian mountains. And still am having a giddy affair with the giant Colorado mountains.

Now the desert. I love sunshine. I love snakes and weird bugs. I love the prickly defenses of the cacti and trees and bushes. I am intoxicated by the smell of rain in the desert.

I am in love with the subtle colors, the tough cacti, the strong trees, the quartz and the possibility of gold. Then there are the spectacular/comforting/ sunsets and sunrises.

Cropped Dawn

Groceries in Quartzsite

One plus of camping near Quartzsite is grocery shopping at Ken’s and the food tent. Very inexpensive food goodies.

The coconut rice was $1, as was the bone broth, as were the beans.

I added a small can of corn, some Old Bay, shallots, and garlic. Of course some Siracha at the end. Thick soup.

Not repeatable, but the rice was a tasty find.


The other afternoon a very big, very new Ford truck pulled up near by. My closest neighbor. He put up a pointy topped tent. To avoid staring I pulled my reading chair out of sight. Quiet evening until 2:13am. Loud angry swearing coming from the new arrival. It went on for 5 minutes. Long pauses, then a series of heartfelt expletives. Not shouted kindly. I went back to bed wondering what the heck that was all about. The next morning he was doing it again as he stumbled around packing everything up. Very, very neatly. An old shaggy dog was with him. He drove away leaving a pile of wood and a brand new 2.5 lb axe.

Psychotic break? Tourette’s? An undercover border patrol agent really pissed at his awful assignment? An ex military guy with PTSD and a service dog?An actor seeing the reaction of authentic nomad

All of them and none.

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