Friday, February 8, 2008


Back into the boondocks again! This looks like a rather bleak spot, doesn't it? Look at those arid mountains! It might turn out to be one of my favorite boondoocking spots, though.

We are a couple of miles from Borrego Springs, a little middle-of-nowhere southern California desert town. One of Odel's co-workers from the "old days" of gainful employment has recently moved here from the Palm Springs area (too crowded), and another from the same work group is building a straw bale house here.

We have thought about visiting for the past couple of years, but Borrego Springs isn't "on the way" to anywhere - in fact, it is quite out of the way for big RV's, surrounded on three sides by arid mountains. What finally attracted us was that our RV'ing friends, the Dopps and the Howes, are here boondocking. A free space (the RV park in town costs $40/night, outside our comfort zone) with great friends nearby proved to be the irrestible key.

When we arrived yesterday afternoon, we found Richard hard at work on his second clay oven. He had brought the oven door from the one he built at Quartzsite, and they had acquired enough fire bricks to begin an oven here. A bonus: there was already a rock structure on site that Richard modified to be used as a base for the oven.

We were immediately drawn into the oven building effort, happy to get experience since we are hoping to help build a clay oven at Rosanna's house when we visit in March. The "clay" is essentially mud - dirt that Richard gathered here in the desert and mixed with water.

Although there is dirt aplenty here, water is at a premium when boondocking, since all we have is what we bring. Finally, the perfect use for gray water (the dish water, shower water, and hand sink water that we capture in a holding tank)!

Since we had just arrived, our gray water tank was empty, but the Dopps' and Howes' tanks had just enough to make the "clay". The technique requires a tarp, a hoe, water, dirt and rubber boots; here I am stomping mud, holding on to Odel's hand for balance in the thick, sucking ooze.

As we drove through town in Scoopy yesterday, Borrego Springs seemed unimpressive... but we quickly learned otherwise from our camping companions. This morning, when Richard and Odel went off to play golf, Marlene and I headed into Borrego Springs to the weekly farmer's market. It is a small affair, maybe a dozen vendors, a mix of produce, citrus, eggs, flowers, plants, and crafts.

As you can see, we had a beautiful morning for strolling, and I stocked up on fresh vegies. I was happy that Marlene needed to make a stop at the bank, as I got a chance to see a bit more of Borrego Springs: the Mall. Now, usually a mall is not of interest to me, but since I hadn't seen anything remotely mall-like as we drove through yesterday, I was curious.

"The Mall" is a single story, southwestern style plaza occupied by small, independent businesses: a bank, a realtor, a dry cleaners, an outdoor store, and a clothing/gift/book store... mostly interesting, so we browsed there for a bit - and left our garbage, brought from home, in their dumpster (thank you).

This afternoon we will see another side of Borrego Springs, when we visit Odel's co-workers and go out to dinner. So far, I'm liking it.


  1. YIPEEEE!!! I see that you two are getting GREAT EXPERIENCE making the oven!!!!! We've got the spot, a tarp, a hoe, water, dirt, rocks. I may have to get firebricks and build the door. Can't wait!

  2. It doesn't look bleak. It looks totally normal. Dry mountains, and I even see a shrub!

    Bisbee, AZ

  3. Beautiful! Actually, after getting another 15+ inches of snow on Wednesday, another 3-6 forcasted for Sunday, having gotten about 75 inches since December, anything that isn't white looks positively miraculous. Keep those sunshining pictures coming....