Aside from quick overnights on our way to somewhere, Eric and I have only ever dry camped at Xscapees’ Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta convergence, surrounded by friends who have inexhaustible knowledge when it comes to going off the grid.
So when we had the opportunity to do some real wild camping, all by ourselves like big kids, we were really excited. Our excitement increased as we researched BLM land near Sedona, AZ. We spent an afternoon scouting locations, and loved the look of Campendium’s Loy Butte Road spot.
The day came. We packed up this past Saturday in central Sedona (Rancho Sedona RV Park), and made the short drive down 89A to 525 in Coconino National Forest. I went ahead in our Jeep, Smaug, to make sure our spot was available. Eric followed very slowly in Meriwether.
We reveled in everything about our wild camping spot. The sun set with elegance over the hills to the west, reflecting off the red rocks in the east. The stars were nearly singing, they were so magnificent. Our fire pit was cozy. It was quiet.
8 p.m. on Saturday night. Our batteries were low, so we went to turn on our generator to recharge before bed. It fired up and ran for about three minutes…before dying. We pressed the button again, and the generator motor turned over like a complaining car. It was pitch black outside and getting late, so we had no choice but to power everything down, go to bed and wait for sunlight.
First thing Sunday morning, our generator was still giving us nothing. Eric took a drive to the other side of Cottonwood, where our friends from RV Happy Hour were dry camping. Eddie is a solar whiz, but he told us he doesn’t mess with Onan diesel generators. He recommended we go to a certified tech, who would really know what to do.
Reviewing our options, we had no choice but to find power at a campground. We handed our spot over to John and Becky Brusen, our sweet friends who were really hoping to hang out with this week! Disappointment palpable, we packed everything up and took off for Flagstaff.
The good news is that we found a beautiful military campground at Fort Tuthill Recreation Area. It opened for the season yesterday, just for us. We’re the only ones here, aside from the cat-sized ravens.
We don’t know what’s going on with our generator. It has never troubled us before, and we just had it serviced in November. Our friends at Iron Horse RV think we may have run the batteries too low (we went all the way down to red, and apparently we’re never supposed to go lower than yellow). But we won’t know until we take Meriwether into a shop.
We’re wanting solar more than ever, but we want to make sure we love dry camping before we make the investment. This failed RV wild camping attempt is another reminder that fulltime RV life requires flexibility and a sense of humor.