Tucson Boondocking

January 27, 2014  |  Arizona

We’ve stayed at Catalina State Park, a private RV park and courtesy camped in Tucson, but we’ve never boondocked.

So for this visit, we figured we’d keep our free in 2014 streak going and stay at Snyder Hill on San Joaquin Road at Ajo Hwy 86.

We arrived in the early evening while the sun was setting and though there was some street noise, we thought our new spot seemed pretty great considering the proximity to Tucson.

The next day we got a clearer picture of our surroundings. There are your typical snowbirds in big expensive RV’s, but there are also a few homeless people.

We always find it pretty cool that people from opposite ends of the financial spectrum come together as neighbors when you’re camping, but here, I think because we’re so close to the city it feels a little bit different.


Our closest neighbor is a lady in her truck. Yesterday she told Brian her starter wasn’t working and could he come over and stick a metal rod into her truck and knock on something while she turned the ignition. While he was trying to help her he learned that she needed to get the truck started so she could go visit her boyfriend in jail. Unfortunately, it didn’t start.

A few hours later, she asked him for a jump, that too didn’t work. She’s still there, sitting in the drivers seat. She has celery and bananas on her dashboard. I’m not sure what she’s going to do.

We talked about leaving after a week, but have decided to stay. She and the one other homeless couple we’ve noticed are harmless, though we are deadbolting the door at night.

Dinner Last Night:
We still had some extra potatoes in the pantry so I made a repeat recipe: Warm Lemony Olive Potato Salad.

2014 Cost of Camping:
0 nights paid camping
26 nights free camping
26 days this year
Total spent on camping this year: $0
Daily average cost of camping: $0


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  1. It occurs to me that if I went back to Snyder Hill, I would be one of those homeless-looking folks with celery on my dash! I prefer to think of Spud as my micro-rig, and my dash as my multi-use storage facility.

    I found it satisfactory, but not very interesting, there. Although, there are some cool morteros up on the hill! And, it’s close to the Tucson Mountain Park, and the very cool Desert Museum. Oh heck, it’s plenty interesting!

    • Hey GLD! Do you consider yourself homeless? You’re in a prius, you blog, you have adventure in your heart…

      We passed another guy who was sleeping in his suburban, and while he may live in it, for some reason he didn’t seem homeless, but he also looked fresh faced and ready for the day.

      The lady next to us seems to be at the end of the line, though I maybe not considering her food choices!

      • No, I’m really not homeless at all, although Spud suggests it might spruce up our image if I gave her a bath now and then.

        Maybe it was the whole “visiting her boyfriend in jail” schtick that gave her that aura. He got nabbed for stealing bananas and celery. :o)

        • It was totally the boyfriend in jail thing!

          Oh, by the way – have you ever read Walden on Wheels? Brian just finished it and I’m in the middle of it. About halfway through the book, the guy moves into a van.

  2. We are actually jealous!

    We’ve been in Tucson for several weeks now and it appears that we’ve been paying way too much to camp next to far less interesting folks! You guys rock!

    If your up for a visit, we’d like to stop by to say hello. We’ve actually been following your blog for some time now and, as a result were inspired to try this full-timing lifestyle ourselves.

    How long do you guys plan on being there?

  3. Hey! Welcome to the Old Pueblo. I had to look up morteros. After ruling out a mortar and pestle, I’m guessing they’re corn grinding depressions. The Duck has taught me a new word today.

  4. Leigh – Do you know your blog is on this recent list of RV blogs to follow? It appears you might be trying to scare off new followers with stories like this one and the dump fiasco. Quite a bit of drama for one week!

    Congrats on the recognition…one of these days I hope to meet in person. We’re heading to southern California for most of February, then through AZ and NM at the end of Feb on our way to CO for the month of March. What direction will you be traveling for the next couple months?


    • Hi Jeanne! Yes, they contacted us to let us know. We’re happy to be included on the list.

      I’m not trying to scare off people with our dump fiasco! Though I do love reading everyone else’s stories.

      I’ll email you our schedule, it sounds like our paths will cross at the end of February.

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