Social Distancing

Recently, we headed to northeastern Arizona in our new truck camper and spent a couple nights to escape the Phoenix oven and engage in a little “social distancing.” More than seeking cooler temperatures and reveling in nature, this was a shakedown cruise to test our recollection of living off the grid with solar energy and propane. For washing dishes and our bodies, we even brought along two solar bags that heated water to scorching temperatures merely by laying in a sunny area.

The remote campsite we pulled into on National Forest land showed evidence of previous occupants. A fire ring constructed of large rocks that could almost be called boulders marked  the entrance to the site. An elk humerus lay across the two-track road, not far from the elk’s scapula, both bones bleached white from the sun. Hunters had obviously had success here and perhaps even cooked some of the elk meat over the fire.

Fire Ring at Campsite

Clean Campsite

Surprisingly, with this evidence of use, the campsite and surrounding areas appeared free of trash. Not even a bottle cap or zip tie or dental flosser lay in the dirt. Since this is not always the case, we suspected that a previous occupant had cleaned up their trash and any other trash they found before leaving. And they had done a spectacular job, it seemed.

Except…………..

Another View

A short walk from the campsite produced trash that few campers could have removed. For here we discovered an old water heater shot full of shotgun blasts, a rusted oil drum squashed nearby, and the ubiquitous beer can. What a lot of effort someone went to in order to have a target to shoot at! And, in contrast to the hunter/camper who had cleaned up around the area, these campers/hunters (there had to be more than one) soiled the earth and disrespected future campers.

Water Heater
Oil Drum

Beer Can

Talking with Hunters

We have talked with numerous hunters over the years as we volunteered at National Wildlife Refuges throughout the country. The vast majority seemed responsible and appreciative with comments such as, “I never shoot a trophy animal” and “If I wound an animal, I always track it down so it doesn’t suffer” and “I hunt just for food so that I know where my meat comes from.” A few hunters have even said that they take a moment to thank the animal that gave its life so the hunter would have food in the freezer and on the table.

The sole hunter that I recall who did not fit into this mold had a different take. “Do you hunt?” I asked him since he appeared to have knowledge of animals. “I don’t hunt,” he snarled. “I kill!”

Wildlife Conservation

As with anything else, a few detract from those who are honorable and conscientious. Chuck and I own guns, but we have never hunted. We’re too lazy and it takes a lot of work, not to mention money! But we realize that hunters give more dollars toward wildlife conservation than any other group through their fees and taxes from hunting tags they are required to obtain and equipment they need to buy. Without hunting (not poaching!), fewer funds would be available to maintain habitats and provide education.

Regardless, we enjoyed our stay in the forest that night.  In the morning, we awoke to elk grazing in the nearby meadow behind our camper. Sitting outside with our morning coffee and watching the herd, we silently gave thanks to those who care for and protect public lands and their inhabitants.

Elk Meadow

12 thoughts on “Social Distancing”

    • Cliff,
      Many thanks for another great comment! It’s always rewarding to know that we’re reaching our readers and comments like yours keep us going!

      Thanks again! Stay safe.
      Betty and Chuck

      Reply
    • Hello Carol,

      Thanks for those comments! Hearing from you is always a shot in the arm when we think there’s nothing writable out “there”. We hope the smoke has cleared outside your windows. We were thinking about you and Pat, watching the fire activity just to your east. Hope it’s the last!
      Take care and stay safe!!

      Reply
    • Thanks for the comments, Janice! Every time we think there’s nothing “out there” to write about, something pops up. WE value your comments and appreciate your keeping in touch!

      Reply
  1. Brings back so many wonderful memories for me, Betty and Chuck! John and I loved boon docking. The solitude was wonderful. We enjoyed volunteering at NWRs and the White Mt. Nat. Forest in NH. But, our preference was to find a scenic place where we could just relax and enjoy each other’s company. It looks like you now are experiencing this aspect of your life also! Enjoy!

    Reply
    • Hello Joyce,
      We have been away from boondocking for too long and it was good to reenter that phase. We were in an area that, if we’d been able to get our old 5th wheel into…it would still be there in the next ice age! Everything’s a compromise and for now the smaller camper is the best solution. We’ll head to Wyoming in a month to visit our daughter while she is performing with the much shortened Teton Music Featival. I know we don’t have to explain to you the pleasure of getting away from it all. Early on, we gathered so much good info on RVing from you and John. You both were such a great example to us! Thanks for reading, and more importantly, keeping in touch!

      Reply
  2. Betty, I never get tired of reading your stories. Some I’ve read many times and some I’ve shared. Without knowing it specifically, you and Chuck have been my mentors for many years. Jim Crabb

    Reply
    • Jim & Karen,
      Wow! Thanks for your comments! Betty has a knack for taking just a suggestion on an issue and turning it into a statement of importance and interest. Every time we think there’s nothing out there to bring to light…something like our latest effort pops up.
      We value and appreciate your comments! Thanks again!

      Reply
  3. As always I love reading about your travels. I felt I woke with the elk too. We humans are really so in need of the healing nature brings. I always have wondered about people who defile such wondrous spaces. Can’t they feel the grace of nature? I try to take the long view—while we destroy a lot of the natural world, I am assured that nature will win in the end. I wish I was more outdoorsy. We had planned to take an RV (rental) trip this summer all the way up to glacier national park, but we cancelled as covid emerged. Reading this made me wish we hadn’t.
    We’d have been fine. Amazing about the solar bags. Wishing you both all the best.

    Reply
    • Hello Charmaine!
      We’re glad that you enjoyed our latest article. We were in a special place which made the discovery of “targets” all the more disappointing. Most of the area was well cared for and in a natural state. And that illustrates the impact of happening upon the other side of the coin where disregard for our planet is so saddening. That behavior has always puzzled us.
      Sorry to hear about your RV adventure to Glacier was cancelled. The virus has changed our current lifestyle in so many ways. We were to have been in Jackson (Hole) for one more year volunteering with U.S. Fish and Wildlife on the National Elk Refuge, but those plans were also put on the back burner. Consequently, we, by default, are now year-round residents of AZ. We anticipate much exploring of our new home state in all seasons depending on weather. We hope you and your family continue to stay healthy and safe! With proper behavior, we can ride out the Covid storm.
      It was great hearing from you again! Stay safe and give our very best to your family! And thanks again for your comments!

      Chuck & Betty

      Reply

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