There’s always some luck involved involved – whether good or bad – but when I venture out into the great unknown, I do do the research. Following my 3-day RV park stay in Eden, Idaho (far from ‘Eden’ but just fine for my purpose), my hope was to land 3.5 to 4.5 hours north and/or west at a reasonably OK dispersed camping spot in a national forest. I’d identified four potential locations, maybe a quarter-mile or so apart – alongside the Payette River in the Boise National Forest. None looked like they’d accommodate more than one set-up.
It’s always a crapshoot whether or not the spot you’re looking for will be deserted and available, so I actually had a solid Plan B in this case. For the first time, I’d actually identified an RV park (two or three actually) about an hour and half farther on from my desired spot and called ahead to ensure that, if I showed up last minute, they could accommodate me. I also made sure that I pulled out of the RV park sooner than later in order to give myself plenty of time to get wherever I was going.
It’s amazing to have Google’s satellite mode for research like this, but it only gives you a general idea of what the topography is really like. How low the tree branches are, for instance, or whether the access road to the spot you’ve found is really an access road or just some dirt between the trees, one that an RV wouldn’t have a chance accessing. Occasionally it’s obvious that you’re gonna be fine, but it’s almost always a gamble. And often pretty nerve-wracking.
I’d done the best I could to decide which of the four showed the most promise and plugged that one into Google Maps on departure. Since there’s often no cell service in and around these places, I’d also emailed myself directions to the RV park in case I couldn’t connect to GPS. What I hadn’t done was line up all four possible spots, including mileage between them, in case I had no cell service and the first spot was occupied. This is a lesson I’ve now really, really learned. Really. Sometimes you only have to tell me three or four times.
(Scotty – Maybe I need to invest in an actual Garmin? Will that keep me on track without cell service?)
I’m happy to report that, not only had I chosen the best spot correctly, it was all mine and it looks like this: (it’s right off the road, but the relatively light traffic isn’t annoying and there was little to nothing overnight)
No cell service. The first and last time that happened – in the evil Wyoming (don’t forget, you can’t say Wyoming without saying ‘why’) – it was so unnerving being full-on, Ted Kaczynski-isolated, that I’d swore to myself it would never happen again. (I thought I’d love being totally disconnected for a while. I so fucking wasn’t and I’m not the least bit ashamed.) In this case, however, it’s NOT Wyoming, it’s intensely beautiful and calming and I’ve got a bunch of video downloaded to keep me company. I’ve also learned a couple of new songs(!) that I need to burn into muscle memory, I have my half-written TV pilot to complete and I’m doing some copywriting for my buddy Jason.
As I write this post I’m about 40 minutes down the road, which is the nearest chance for cell service. (To be fair, service pops on about 10 minutes sooner, but this is an actual town where the signal should be stronger plus there’s gas, propane, Pop Tarts and an actual bar.)
The next time I know I’ll be back online is Monday. My plan is to remain in my little Eden (this one really is Eden) for as long as my grey and black tanks hold out, so about 10 days. Unless that Unabomber feeling starts creeping in again 🙁