Hope this new year, new decade finds you all recovered from the holidays and sticking to your resolutions- after all it’s only the 6th of January!
January, 2020, finds me Boondocking (camping without hookups) in southern California under the pine trees with the sun rising over the distant snow-capped mountains. As I sip my morning coffee, the sound of a freight train is carried over the crisp morning air. It is 48 degrees here in Hesperia, California with a light blue sky and wispy clouds criss-crossed with contrails. With my fuzzy bathrobe and a lap blanket, I feel cozy enough to sit outside under the pines and enjoy the morning air.
I’ve spent 2 nights here, arriving on a Friday afternoon, full of anxiety that I wouldn’t make the 30-mile drive to get here before my front end broke completely, and sent me careening off the side of a mountain!
Let me explain….. I’m actually boondocking in a parking lot next to the High Desert Auto and RV shop. The pine trees are part of the landscaping for the light industrial park that houses the repair shop, as well as other businesses, such as the Bimbo Bakery.
The story begins in Los Angeles, where I spent 10 days in the sprawling L.A. suburbs visiting my stepson, Ted, daughter-in- law, Tiffany and 2 grandkids, Trystin, 5 and Teddi, 3. I must say that Christmas with the little ones is joyful, full of wonder, and chaotic, all at the same time. It was really fun getting to know them. Every morning when I went into the house (My RV was parked in their driveway), the kids would come running to give me a hug and say, “Hi, Grandma Dani” – How sweet is that!
We went for daily walks with Gemini; and Trystin, a budding artist would pick up pinecones, leaves, feathers, seed pods, bottle caps, a dental floss stick, strings, straws, etc. and make “sculptures”. I made him leave the nasty stuff on the ground. Teddi sang songs the whole way, dressed in one of her many princess dresses with matching boots and carrying a snack, that Gemini tried desperately to eat.
So, after 10 days, I left the kids and drove 100 miles, over the San Gabriel Mountains with the intention of boondocking on BLM land near the Apple Valley. I was looking forward to getting out of the L.A. sprawl and getting back to the open air of the high desert and the howling coyotes.
Alas, that was not to be. I drove around on some bumpy roads looking for the spot, and by 3 o’clock decided that I better get off the road and find a campground. I found an over-priced campground that was poorly maintained and filled with rundown RV’s that were mostly permanent residents. Aaaah! Life on the road isn’t always pretty!
The next morning, I was awakened at dawn by the sound of a road grader working next to the campground. The growling machine moving forward, followed by the beep, beep, beep of the back up sound got me out of bed early to start my day. The good thing is that I was able to dump my tanks and fill up my water tank in anticipation of my next stop 150 miles away at another BLM boondocking spot. I was sure that I could find the place because I had seen it from the road on my way to L.A.
So, off I go on Interstate 15 toward Barstow, California, happy to be off the freeways in L.A. I made it to the first Barstow exit (about 30 miles), when I felt something unusual in the front end. It was a subtle shift in the steering. The road was smooth and the wind was negligible, so I knew something was wrong.
Thank goodness for the internet. I found a truck repair shop close by, and had them look underneath. The mechanic didn’t speak english, but with the office manager interpreting , and looking at the pictures that the mechanic took with his cell phone, I got the gist that there was something seriously wrong with the suspension system. They couldn’t fix the problem, but gave me the name of a shop that was in San Bernardino. “Oh, No!” I said, ” I am NOT going back over those mountains with a bad suspension!”
I got on the phone and started calling RV repair shops and asking if they could fix the problem. One guy I talked to, John, said that he had moved out of the area and now lived in Arizona. I said, ” John, you’ve been in the business a long time. Who do you recommend?”
He said, ” Call High Desert Auto and RV Repair and ask for Brett. He is the guy you want.”
I said, “Is it safe for me to drive on the interstate? There aren’t any backroads to take.”
He said, ” Drive in the right lane with your emergency flashers on and don’t go more than 50 mph”
AND SO I DID!
When I got to Hesperia, which is close to the same town that I left that morning, Brett took a look at the front end and gave me the bad news- Springs, suspension bar, lots of rust, maybe the airbags, and too late in the day to order the parts. The good news is that he is very, very nice. He asked if I was a full-time RVer. After affirming that I am, he offered to let me park next to the building until he could get the parts and get it fixed.
So, here I am, making the best of a not-so-good situation. I rode my electric bike to the grocery store, found a yoga studio nearby and a nice walking route for Gemini.
I am so grateful that I have everything I need to keep me safe and warm until I get back on the road and GO WITH THE FLO!