|Imperial Dam LTVA in Summer; not an RV in site.|
____ Born and brought-up in England, the freedom of wide-open spaces was not part of my life in an over-crowded island where my roaming was always thwarted by the bellowing of “Oi you. Get off of my land.” Rambling on unfenced land and wild-camping, apart from during a couple of Summers in the South of France, eluded me until I retired. Then it became “Boondocking.” Living free, self-contained and un-troubled in an easy-going climate where economy meets relaxation meets contentment. In Arizona, in the United States; a place with such strict immigration and border controls that you would think the place had such a bulging population that it could not possibly take one more person. During my years as a long-haul truck driver, I never ceased to be amazed by the vast emptiness that is much of North America. The States of Wyoming and Montana with no houses for miles on grassland that stretched over the horizon in all directions. Arizona and New Mexico with arid scrubland and rocky out-crops on land that could profit no-one. Then there is Canada; where flying across country shows so much forest, lake, mountain and plain without road, house and human being.
____ Any area of un-usable land in the UK is fenced and probably owned by an aristocrat who has been handed-down the estate for centuries. The enjoyment of the people is denied on the pretext that a threatened species rare butterfly is breeding near-by. Although that doesn’t stop the annual pheasant shoot for the Lord of the Manor and his cronies. Imagine how surprised and delighted I was to find that this selfishness does not apply in Arizona. Apart from a few square miles that are set aside for military use, the State of Arizona positively encourages the population to go out and enjoy the wilderness that will not sustain agriculture. Living off the grid in a recreational vehicle in the desert is totally possible and under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management it has become simple. The usual back-country rules apply; pack-out what you pack-in and leave no trace. You can be as far away from civilization as you can get or you can opt for a place such as the Imperial Dam Long Term Visitor Area.
____ The LTVA is not free but at $180 for seven months, it is very good value. Access to potable water, a place to dump waste water and garbage and a community of fellow like-minded people. How much you have to do with your neighbours is entirely up to you; moving you vehicle to another camping area is always an option as is yoga, going to church and visiting the library. Safety in numbers is reassuring in the potentially hostile desert environment and a friendly daily wave to everyone you meet means you can be pretty sure that they will keep an eye-out for you. Some neighbours are chatty some are very reclusive, some interesting life-stories with many returning year after year to Imperial Dam and Arizona. Some expensive rigs on show with all the toys in attendance; some people on very tight budgets with even a few tents but an economic lifestyle at the fore front of most people’s way of life.