Free Camping and Boondocking Websites and Apps

In our new Forest River R-pod 180 we hope to be able to camp on solar power out under the stars away from RV parks.


Honestly, the amount of food we can store may be the only limiting factor. We already have a dual battery system, solar hook ups, a small generator, and an inverter…  we just need to modify our plans for boondocking up to three days at a time.

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2018 R-pod 180 Floorplan

Almost all small travel trailers can boondock, some for a night, others a couple days.


But how do you find out where? The writer at Roadtreking (http://roadtreking.com/apps-websites-help-find-perfect-boondocking-spot/) has a few good suggestions, that I’ve listed along with links below in this post.

There are several Internet sites and apps to help you find places to boondock:

rpod boondocking

AllStays (www.allstays.com) has apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. They list more than 22,000 commercial campgrounds, state/national parks and boondocking spots (think KOAs and Walmarts, state and federal forests, military and BLM land). This is a great app and website that offers a lot of detailed information.

Other resources?

Free Campgrounds for RVs (http://www.freecampgrounds.com) has a big database, sorted by state, of state, federal and county land open to camping, most without hookups or services.

For boondocking and camping information about National Forests, check out the very useful U.S. National Forest Campground Guide (http://www.forestcamping.com).

Free Campsites website (http://freecampsites.net). There’s an interactive map as well as comments and reviews of boondocking spots.

You can also check the site http://boondocking.org. It’s a database of free boondocking spots based on GPS coordinates. Enter in your location’s latitude and longitude and it will tell you whether the closest boondocking spot may be.

I also found a site where you pay just a $44 annual fee to stay overnight at over 500 scenic wineries and farms. You must arrive early, before dark, to meet your contact and find out where to park. That day or the next day you can tour the farm/winery, pick your own fruits/veggies, or do a wine tasting. Visit harvesthosts.com to sign up. If you sign up please let them know that countryboycitygirl username “CBCGblog” referred you 🙂

What are you favorite boondocking resources? Comment below!

boondocking

Las Cruces, NM to Phoenix, AZ

We left Las Cruces, NM pretty early so we could get into town, check in, change, and go to the Mid-Week Meeting in Phoenix this evening (Hebrews 10:23, 24). 

On this portion of I-10 we drove through dust storm warning areas. 


We passed the Mae West Peaks and saw some awesome rock formations. 


We also drove through Tucson and admired the surrounding peaks 

When we passed the Saguaro National Park I made a literal note to go back and explore there soon. 

It was so serene. 

During this drive we found out where truck stop coffee comes from… a tanker. That would explain the bitterness. 

We beat rush hour and checked in to the Ramada in Glendale, on the north side of Phoenix (see review warning/notes below). 

Meeting with the Bellair Congregation was lovely. Their Hall is beautiful and the people were very warm. We met a family who just came back from the North Rim and they gave us tips on what to see at the Grand Canyon. 

I would NOT recommend the Ramada in Glendale, Arizona:

  • Very sketchy people in the parking lots at all hours of the day and night. 
  • Non smoking rooms reeking of smoke. 
  • Huge stains in the carpet. 

Tomorrow we head to the Grand Canyon!!

Las Cruces, New Mexico

The drive from Fort Stockton, Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico was lovely. Driving west on I-10 gave us nice views of the Sierra Blancas to the south and the Organ Mountains to the north. 


I want to go back and hike there. 

Driving through El Paso was crazy. Lots of people in a hurry. Saw two almost accidents. Waved at Mexico from the interstate (it was so close!). Also, we are now in Mountain Time. 


Right past El Paso I saw a Camping World RV lot so we stopped. Wouldn’t it be great to do this road trip with a travel trailer? Then we wouldn’t have to chance iffy budget hotels. Hmmmm. I liked this Launch Mini Extreme 18QB model by Starcraft. Only 3,100 pounds!

Anywho, on to Las Cruces!


Along the way we reserved at the EconoLodge using the Hotels.com app and the hotel definitely exceeded my expectations. The rooms have just been updated so that was a nice touch. Their staff is friendly and the breakfast area looks promising. The price, though, is amazing! I’d definitely recommend if you’re on a low budget road trip. 

We noticed Titan limping when he got out of the SUV and worried it was because he is recovering from surgery and perhaps reinjured his knee. The husband quickly realized that during his walk outside of Camping World he stepped on a prickly seed pod and removed it. Titan walked a little better. Then in the room we saw him limp again. Upon closer inspection there were a couple of the prickles in his paw pad. We used tweezers to extract them. We have to add tweezers to Titans bag especially when he is well enough to go hiking with us!


I’ve wanted Vibram five-finger shoes for hiking for a while now and we found a retailer at Ride On Sports here in Las Cruces just a couple miles from the hotel. I found my size but they only had orange ones. So I’ll order on Amazon and have them sent to the hotel at the Grand Canyon South Rim Village. 

We ate dinner at Pho A Dong (which the blurb in the menu says means “Asian Soup” but I’m skeptical). 

It’s owned by a Vietnamese immigrant family that moved here in the 60s. Downer was that they didn’t serve wine. The food was flavorful, though. The husband got beef Pho and I got Hu Tien Xao Mein (Soft Fresh Rice Noodle).


 It was so good that I forgave the low tech menu insert update. 

All in all I would recommend Las Cruces as an overnight stopping point. It’s the perfect size, has a lot of amenities close to the interstate, and even some outdoor opportunities if you want to go hiking. 

In the morning we head to Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Cotulla and Fort Stockton, Texas

We chose the Microtel Inn in Cotulla, TX and were pleasantly surprised that an inexpensive Hotels.com choice turned out to be perfect for us and our service dog while in town. Their complimentary breakfast included eggs and bacon. 

Early morning started out rocky… or didn’t start as it actually happened. We have a dual battery set up that runs through an inverter. During our trip down to Laredo one of the cables came loose and wasn’t allowing the main battery to charge. My husband fixed the cable and a nice guy in a semi truck gave us a jump. 

The real drive to Fort Stockton started out flat and turned into a bypass of plateaus, draws, and ridges. We saw a good amount of wind energy being collected along the way, too. We also passed a pretty river that I had to stop and get a photo of. 

In Fort Stockton, Texas we stayed at the Super 8 on West Dickenson Boulevard. 


The front desk clerk was super nice and helpful. She suggested a place for dinner and we ate right down the road at K-Bob’s Steakhouse. I loved their “salad wagon”. 


I had the fajitas. 


Yes, they are shrimp. Yes, as a South Louisiana girl I knew they wouldn’t be as good as our fresh ones. I enjoyed them anyway 🙂

The Super 8 is under renovation and should be a lot better looking in a month or so. But, for the price and the fact that it’s a Super 8 it is good for travel in a pinch. Titan didn’t seem to have any complaints. 

Tomorrow we drive to Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Our TransAmerican Road Trip

So there we were, all prepared for a 3-month Mexican road trip…

Then we tried to cross the border and import our vehicle and get our tourist and resident visas stamped. No go. We were told to go back and get additional paperwork. Back to Louisiana? It’s not so far… but what if this difficulty is simply a reminder that when life hands you lemons that you should make a lemonade spritzer?

So we went back to the hotel in Cotulla and got over our feelings. We looked for the silver lining and guess what? It was right there all along.

It started with the realization that neither of us has been to the Grand Canyon. You know what else? We think it *would* be amazing to visit.


We’ve got friends and family spread out all over the US in some pretty amazing natural settings that we haven’t ever really gotten to enjoy. For instance, places like NorCal, the Oregon Coast, Glacier National Park, the Rocky Mountains, Arkansas Hot Springs, and the AppalachianTrail are all places that we would love to see.

We’ve got time, a beast of a vehicle, and all of the great wide unknown. So we decided to reframe the situation and see the huge window opening just as one door was temporarily closed. We’ve made a two-week tentative plans to head west to CA then north to the PNW.

First, we are off to the Grand Canyon by way of Fort Stockton, TX, Las Cruces, NM, and Phoenix, AZ!

Trip Gear 2017

I went a little crazy ordering gear and clothing for our 3-month trip through Mexico and Belize this summer. I read a lot on how to combat going through multiple climate zones with minimal luggage and decided to try a couple of base layer ultra lightweight wool t-shirts for some of our trip through the highlands and UPF clothing for the sunny coast. I will video reviews of the clothing and luggage once we return.

LUGGAGE/GEAR

  • Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Large Duffel
  • Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Extra-Large Duffel
  • Timbuk2 Wingman Carry-On
  • Eagle Creek Pack-It Large Garment Folder
  • Eagle Creek Spectre Folder 18
  • Running Buddy XL Pouch

CLOTHING

  • Woolly Clothing Men’s Merino Wool V-Neck
  • Woolx Men’s Daily Boxers
  • Speedo Men’s UPF 50 Swim Tee
  • Woolx Women’s Sophie Merino Wool Tee
  • Kanu Surf Women’s Rash Guard Tee
  • Holysnow Women’s Yoga Board Shorts
  • Woolx Women’s Mia Tee
  • Woolx Women’s Perfect Capris

SHOES

  • Men’s Five Fingers Men’s
  • Naot Business
  • Women’s Birkenstock Gizeh
  • Women’s Naot Prophecy

VITAMINS/SUPPLMENTS

  • Megafood Women’s One Daily Vitamin
  • Megafood Multi for Men
  • Reset 360 Vanilla All-In-One Shake

ELECTRONICS

  • iKlip Selfie Stick/Tripod
  • Otterbox Waterproof Phone Case
  • Garmin Nuvi 2757LM GPS
  • Viper Car Alarm

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Smokey the Beast – 1999 Ford Expedition  

For our trek across the country we outfitted our first generation Ford Expedition.  It’s a 1999 “Expi” 4×4. We are building it for long and harsh road trips, off-roading, and overlanding. Its has just about everything replaced from the engine to all the suspension. Lots of accessories have been added including a dual battery system, winch, roof basket, LED light bars and much more.

Mexidonia 2017 Updated

Starting this Spring we will be driving through Mexico in order to determine where we would like to live. And… we changed our route (still driving from New Orleans to the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize)!

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In the book of Luke, Jesus advised

“For example, who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense to see if he has enough to complete it?” – Luke 14:28

In order to really get to know where we want to live we will take three months to live in a few different places and gather information on “the expense”.  We plan to make this decision before we head home and we may want to go ahead and secure a rental before we leave the country. We will also be visiting Belize (so that country is still on the table, but doesn’t have as many pros as Mexico). Our route is now as follows:

  • Saltillo, Coa, MX
  • Guanajuato, Gto, MX
  • Puebla, Pue, MX
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chi, MX
  • Valladolid, Yuc, MX
  • Cancun, Qro, MX
  • Chetumal, Qro, MX
  • Belize City, BZE

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On our return trip we would like to see the Rio Bec archeological sites near Xpujil, Palenque, Oaxaca, and maybe go to Guadalajara for the July convention. We also plan to stop in Villa de Santiago (Nuevo Leon) to hike El Laberinto, El Salto,  Cola de Caballo waterfall, and stay at Apple Tree Cabanas.

This is a very aggressive itinerary and will likely change as we drive depending on where we decide to rent and how much time we have before our own regional convention in July.

We have friends in a couple of the places we will be visiting and we have brothers and sisters in each place who we will meet at the local Kingdom Hall 🙂 when we attend meetings. I really fell in love with Valladolid on my last visit to Mexico, so that place is one I wanted to concentrate on. We’ve also heard great things about Guanajuato, San Cristobal de Las Casas, and Chetumal. Cancun is where we have the most contacts, but I don’t know if that city is a good fit for us. It might be a good first place to be until we become better with Spanish. Some of our deal-breakers are:

  • Availability of good medical care
  • Proximity to airport
  • Too many expats
  • No English congregation of JWs

I found this pre-1965 map of the Yucatan and my favorite places are on it, as they existed before Cancun was invented.

map-of-yucatan-pre-cancun

I’m a big history buff, so I’ve been researching what I want to see and do in each place besides meetings and ministry. This is what I’ve found so far:

  • Saltillo, Coa
    • Churrigueresque facade of their cathedral on the Plaza de Armas
  • Guanajuato, Gto
    • Museo del Pueblo and La Valenciana
  • Puebla, Pue
    • Museo Bello and Museo Amparo
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chi
    • Na Bolom museum, Chinkultic, Plaza 31 de Marzo
  • Valladolid, Yucatan
    • Zocalo, Dzitnup cenote, Grutas de Balankanche, Palacio de Municipal
  • Cancun, QRoo
    • El Rey
  • Punta Allen, QRoo
  • Chetumal, QRoo
    • Museo de la Cultura Maya, Cenote Azul

Spying Out Venice, Italy

We will be in Italy this fall attending an English congregation about an hour from Venice. Here is some info about La Serenissima.

 

map-italy
Venice (Venezia) is in Northeast Italy

 

 

This post is from Gracia’s Travels blog. See link at bottom of post.

 

We had an overnight in Venice before we boarded our ship.  We had no agenda for this visit…just wander the streets and alleys.  Since we had been to Venice before, we tried to visit some of the more far off corners of the island.  Every turn brought a photo opp.  The weather was overcast and threatened to sprinkle but, having no heavy shadows, was good for pictures.

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DSC02563 C    I have another 130 pictures of Venice.

But I don’t want to wear you out.  Next, we board the ship and set sail for Dubrovnik.

 

Read more from Gracia’s Travels at https://graciamc.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/venice-hard-to-take-a-bad-picture-here/

 

 

italy-northern
Venice is in the Veneto Region

 

Never Give Way To Doubt

When I read the text this morning I was struck by how close to home the message was. When facing issues of depression, anxiety, stress, or other illness symptoms I have been guilty of giving way to doubt. Cancelled service plans, avoiding text messages from friends who want to get together for an interchange of encouragement, lingering in the bed for hours after my chosen “wake-up” time of 8:30 AM… these are all things I have done because I felt like “I can’t”. But, I didn’t feel that way when I made the plans. This text brought the reason to light.

I made the plans for service because I felt like I could; I could face strangers in metropolitan witnessing or knock on a door not knowing who might be on the other side. Why? Becuase Jehovah expects me to. Because I dedicated my life to doing his will. Because it’s part of acting in concert with my prayers to ‘let Your kingdom come’.

But then… I give way to doubt (Matthew 14:31).

i-just-cant

Laying in bed at 11 PM the night before my 8 AM service plans I start to doubt that I can. I start to think that I can’t. I start to believe that I just can’t. Anxiety sets in. Panic begins. Fear takes over. So I send a text to cancel. I tell myself this is ok. That I have a medical reason. That my PTSD isn’t going to allow me to meet my commitment. That I am a failure. That I will try again tomorrow.

Honestly, there may be times when I just have to try again tomorrow.  However, if you read the paragraph beneath the scripture below and pay attention to the full transcript of the passage to the right, you might hone in on the same sentences I did when I read it:

“Peter… trusted that God’s power would support him…”

Perhaps, in addition to deep breathing, anxiety medication, and staying hidden when I have a panic attack, I can also remind myself (even repeat to myself) that Jesus and Jehovah will support me in all the ways I need support especially when I am giving my time in support of the Kingdom. I’ve spent time today in personal study of this span of scripture using the SOAP-JW method I modified and, let me tell you, it is just what I needed. I hope it encourages you as well.

If you’d like to get the daily text on your smart phone or tablet just go to your app store and download the free JW Library app. The screenshot below is of mine on an iPad mini.

 

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