Our 1st Boondocking Experience | 360 deg Photos | Dr Shayla

For the past year, I’ve been prepping myself with information on what it takes to sustain camping in an unplugged, self sufficient location.  Everyplace we’ve camped to this point has been at paid campgrounds with full facilities and hookups.   With Arizona’s plethora of free BLM land,  we knew we wanted to at least try boondocking somewhere in AZ if only once.

Boondocking or Dispersed Camping is the official terminology for camping without hookups (No Power, Water, or Sewer)

Some of the most incredible locations in the country are in or around places that allow you to camp for free or next to nothing; so long as you can be self sufficient and leave the area in the same condition you found it. 2016-04-18_0001As we drive into and through Arizona, it becomes quite obvious the landscape is completely different than everything we’ve seen so far.   2016-04-18_0002These pics were taken by the girls as they too were impressed with some of the unique mountain shapes2016-04-18_0003

We researched locations that might be suitable for our size RV by using the website https://freecampsites.net/ .  This is a crowd sourced directory of locations and information each potential campsite might offer.  The first location we were interested in checking out was Buckeye Hills Regional Park.  2016-04-18_0038As we pulled in the road was hard packed and partially paved so that was a good sign that we would be able to drive the RV through it.    We drove into the park about a mile and to our right was this site that looked like it could potentially fit us although it was clearly a site configured for a trailer about half our size.

2016-04-18_0004The location itself was at the end of it’s own driveway area and quite breathtaking to say the least.   2016-04-18_0005Quickly after setup the girls took to the area and began playing.  We arrived at Buckeye Hills Regional Park a little on the later side so we didn’t have a ton of time left to do anything except enjoy the sunset and have dinner.   2016-04-18_0006Despite the numerous warnings of rattlesnakes that will be found in the area, we knew that their likelihood of being out was nominal due to the colder temperatures that we were having during our stay.    2016-04-18_0007 2016-04-18_0008As evening turned to night, we had a crystal clear sky full of stars and the brightest moon I’ve ever seen.  So for the first time we took out our telescope and explored the skies a little.   2016-04-18_0009Honestly, though; I hadn’t done enough research as to which types of animals inhabited the area we were staying in, so out of fear of the unknown, we retired into the RV early and regrouped for an early morning start and day of exploring.  2016-04-18_0010Morning came and we got to officially utilize our Honda generator.  A full tank of gas can see this baby running for 8 hours and that was plenty of time to get some schooling done, and some office work on the computers.   2016-04-18_0011Leighton had a little trip and fall incident, but Dr Shayla quickly sprung into action and treated her patient with premium healthcare.   Surprisingly Leighton actually allowed her to take care of the life threatening wound.   With a fresh Doc McStuffins bandaid, they were back in action only minutes later.  2016-04-18_0012Setting up in a dust filled park (it is the desert after all), daily vacuuming was necessary to keep the RV safe of too many allergens etc.   Shayla enjoys this chore the most I think.  Having central vac in the rv has proven to be a huge benefit to keeping it clean and the air quality inside at it’s best. 2016-04-18_0013 2016-04-18_0014Jen schooled the girls while I worked on the computer inside.   Cole took in as much sun as possible, as usual.  2016-04-18_0015 2016-04-18_0016Leighton finally got to break out her new Christmas gift of a compound bow.  We swapped out the real arrows for suction cup ones and she made short work of the side of the RV as a target.  2016-04-18_0017 2016-04-18_0018Shayla on the other hand decided that since we were in Arizona, she would just tan.   2016-04-18_0019 2016-04-18_0020Our family hike took us to the top of the mountain situated behind the RV.  2016-04-18_0021 2016-04-18_0022 2016-04-18_0023As the afternoon was coming to a close, the girls wanted to head back to the top of the mountain and catch some scenic photos with their cameras.   It was a relatively short hike but we were still very cautious of small cactuses and the ever present danger of rattlesnakes.  2016-04-18_0024 2016-04-18_0025 2016-04-18_0026 2016-04-18_0027Somebody tossed this tube tv out halfway up the mountain.  #litter and #art  2016-04-18_0028 2016-04-18_0029 2016-04-18_0030His super wide shot shows the whole park and our RV is smack in the center about a 1/2 mile away.  2016-04-18_0031 2016-04-18_0032 2016-04-18_0033 2016-04-18_0034The sunsets impressed the girls for the first time during our trip.  They both tried to capture them on their cameras but became frustrated with their results.   I took a few minutes out and sat with Leighton and tried to help her capture what she was intending to get.  The photo below on the left is hers.   2016-04-18_0035 2016-04-18_0036As night fell again, I took this chance to capture some stars and also capture a 30 minute exposure.   Although our scene would have been amazing for some milky way photos; the moon was almost full during our stay.  That near full moon was so bright here that we actually had full blown shadows under ourselves at night, and I knew that was going to be too much light for really amazing night shots. 2016-04-18_0037This was my best compromise of a long exposure sky shot.   Camera settings for this shot are Nikon D4 14mm f20 ISO100 for 30minutes.

These last two photos are 360 Degree Panoramas that we experimented with.  I had purchased a Google Cardboard viewer and with my Nexus 6P and Google camera I can capture 360 photos and view them in virtual reality through the Cardboard.  If you want to see how they look on your phone, You can download the first one here.   And the second photo here.   They came out pretty cool when using the cardboard viewer.  We are definitely going to have to do this more in the future.

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  • Reply George Hawkins April 18, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Very much enjoyed this series and the story being told!

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