Shiny New Friends, Shiny New Boondocking Spot – Lake Mead, NV

How's about them apples??
How’s about them apples??

It was a stunning sight. After an hour’s drive across a landscape so arid it almost seemed alien, the shimmering blue waters of Lake Mead erupted like an oasis in the desert….exactly like an oasis in the desert. It was a contrast so unexpected it made me gasp. Here in the midst of land so dry and rocks so brutally bare the sight of them made me ache, the blue sweetness was a soothing balm for the eyes. There is no way this should be here, and without the three and one-quarter million cubic yards of concrete that is Hoover Dam it sure as stone wouldn’t be. This was the first body of water we’d seen in 4 months and it was love at first sight. The aqua shores pulled us to their grasp and beckoned us in….”Put your a** in the sand and stay a while, it said (or something equally poetic…)

But this was not the only shiny excitement we’d be having that day.

Leigh & Brian's rock-star wellcome cocktail
Leigh & Brian’s rock-star wellcome margarita cocktail

Just down the road RV blog buddies Aluminarium had invited us to join their boondocking site. In fact they’d not only scoped out a stunning water-view site big enough for both of us, they’d moved their Airstream there to block it off and had gone into town to buy smoked salmon and margaritas to welcome us in true Vegas style. How’s about them apples??

It wouldn’t be far off to say we felt like frikkin’ rock stars. As we moseyed into our huge, pre-reserved RV site and pointed our big ‘ol front window to the wide-open blue, I once again thanked our lucky RV stars to be living this lifestyle. Who else but RVers would invite you to share their home-space for a week if they didn’t really know you? And how many folks pay millions for a view like this?  Neither of these things happened to us before we hit the road. We barely knew our neighbors back home and we sure as $$ couldn’t afford water-front property. Yet here we were making brand new friends and paying $10 (for a week) to bask in an experience that others wait lifetimes for. It felt pretty darn special…

That's a million dollar view allright
That’s a million dollar view allright

Over the next 7 days we settled into a sweet daily rhythm and got to know our new boondocking buddies. This lovely young couple work fulltime on the road in their snazzy 27-foot Airstream with their gorgeous old doggie Curtis. Like all the RV folks we’ve met on the road we immediately felt a strong connection, all the more so because we’re both avid boondockers and foodies.

During the day we each worked in our respective solar-powered rigs, followed by afternoon walk/swim with doggie down by the lake, joint happy hour in our massive “sitting area”, the occasional dinner and long evening chats. The days were so very quiet and relaxed we managed to finish off our taxes (whooooo hoooooo!). This immediately set the tone for extra-special happy hours exchanging new cocktail recipes with our buddies (can you say Cosmopolitans and Outriggers?), doing drunken happy hour interviews (did they really catch us drooling over Airstreams?) and even making it into town for yummies at I Love Sushi. Ahh, the life of an RVer…

Our week here also taught us that old dogs can learn new tricks (that would be us dogs, not the dog dogs, if you see what I mean…). Despite being hardened boondockers we realized our life was missing some key improvements. I can’t honestly say Leigh and Brian invented ALL these ideas, but they’re the first ones I’ve met to put them all together and that, my friends, makes it geeeenius….

Doggie nightlight bling....GENIUS!!
Doggie nightlight bling….GENIUS!!

Doggie Nightlight-Bling – Do you know how hard it is to find a black dog on a black night in the boonies? About as hard as a darn black dog on a darn black night! Well, why not take your handy-dandy headlamp, hang it around doggie’s neck and you have automatic doggie nightlight bling? Doggie becomes a self-moving light and you can actually see where you’re going. Totally GENIUS!!

Dump-Station Showers – Many of you might be horrified by this, but it’s actually quite a brilliant idea. While hooked-up to the dump station (and as long as no-one is waiting) why not have a nice, long shower without using up your tanks? For fulltime boondockers where every drop is precious this is like having full hookups for free. You use all the water you want, dump it right away and arrive squeaky clean and fully tank-loaded to your new boondocking site. Totally GENIUS!!!

Netflix General Delivery – Did you know Netflix will send DVDs to General Delivery (at the post office)? Neither did I! Leigh and Brian carry a Netflix account and just change the General Delivery address each week. For $8/month they get all the movies they want in any boondocking location they want without ever using up any of their previous bandwidth to stream. No hassle, no rush and most importantly no bandwidth lost. Totally GENIUS!!

And yes, I’m totally stealing all these…..

Our buddies moved off this past week-end, and we’re feeling the itch to go too. This has been a gorgeous spot, but also a tad busy so we’re headed to another (hopefully equally gorgeous, but rather more quiet) boondocking spot on northern Lake Mead tomorrow. I’ll be reporting again from there…

P.S. Leigh keeps a short and sweet blog at Aluminarium where she often includes excellent vegetarian and vegan recipes. If you’ve ever wondered how boondockers manage to eat good food, her blog has got lots of gems….

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  1. says

    Actually I did know that about Netflix! We’ve been playing the change your address game for almost 4 years now and I’ve only lost about 2 discs…they eventually got back to them, or if they didn’t it was never an issue. I miss it being down here in the Baja though…have been finding people to loan us dvds!

    • libertatemamo says

      Well, just goes to show we are waaaaay behind the times. We are so definitely signing up to this now!!


  2. Smitty says

    Airstreams have always pulled my heart. My Grandparents visited in the early 60’s (yeah, I was minus 8 years od then:)!) on their second Airstream Caravan via the Panamerican Highway… They had a 59 Imperial convertible (with the Highway Patrol Double 4 Barrel Carbs), and a shiney Airstream… That sucker seemed 60′ long to this young lad.. I’ve seen pictures of it behind the car, and it was not quite twice as long. Two axles, so I’d say it was 28-30′ long. As the Imperial was very close to 20′.

    Congrats on your taxes, I have ‘no owe envy’ – and will admit it:)!

    The latest craze thru our social circle as far as cocktails – are Moscow Mules:)! Though I admit, I still like a regular Martini… and of course, just after the Big Bang was finished – the greatest of all beverages was made – Drambuie!

    My wife Deb really liked the Black Dawg Light!!!

    Have fun, be safe,

    • libertatemamo says

      What a cool story about your Grandparents Airstream! That beauty would be a fine vintage now.

      I’m going to lookup Moscow Mules now…never had one!


  3. Bear Tracks Blog says

    What a fun post! I also enjoyed Aluminarium’s post about your meet up. Great interview! We are thinking along the same lines as you with respect to part-time/downsized travel in the future.

    • libertatemamo says

      I’m not surprised to hear you say it. You guys are just about as avid about boondocking as we are. A smaller rig does make planning so much easier.


  4. says

    How very cool that you not only got to meet Leigh and Brian but spend time getting to know each other! We’ve never met them but I feel like I know Leigh a little with recipe talk. She makes the best food. I have Pinned so many of her recipes and several are standard here. Can’t wait to finally meet Leigh and Brian in person.

    Sounds like the cocktail tasting was a huge success and with that view why wouldn’t it be!! Very neat spot!!

    Travel safely to your new location:)

    • libertatemamo says

      They’re a neat couple and you guys would definitely get along. Maybe when you come out west again your paths will cross.


  5. says

    While we have yet to boondock, we are full timers. I started to follow you early in our travel adventures. Our first stay was Portland OR at the Columbia River RV park. I think you once visited. 2010 perhaps? As I believe we pulled in about the time you pulled out. Anyhoo…I have challenges keeping our blog going and wish to compliment you for sharing you experiences through your great skills and gift. It’s fun and wish you the very best.

    • libertatemamo says

      Blogging definitely takes more work than most people expect. It’s a constant battle to take pics and keep up with travel. Good thing I like doing it :) if you keep plugging away at it, it will get somewhat easier…although it still takes up a lot of time. Best of luck to you!


    • libertatemamo says

      We just went to Hoover Dam today. Definitely worth the visit! That’ll be part of my next blog post.


  6. Anna Williamson says

    I can totally understand why you would prefer State and National parks over private ones. How much fun would that be if you got yourself a cute Airstream down the road!
    Thoroughly enjoyed both posts!

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, we’ve been in love with public land ever since we “discovered” it half way through our first year RVing. We stay at least 90% of our time on public land now.


  7. Rowanova says

    Interesting to see some fulltimers talking of downsizing to smaller RVs for the benefit of boondocking. I’m not fulltime yet but have had my eye on a particular model I really like a lot.
    But then I look at how long and heavy it is, relate it to my love of boondocking, and immediately realize how limiting it would be with that particular model. (34′ fifth wheel, built very heavy, plus tow vehicle)
    So I’ve actually been looking at some other models that would improve boondocking abilities. Now you may have helped push my choice in the smaller direction before I get started. Hmm…decisions…

    • libertatemamo says

      Indeed. If I’d known about our love of boondocking before we started RVing we’d definitely have gone smaller. It’s actually the #1 item I listed in my post “10 things I wish I’d known before full time RVing”:

      I think if you know you like public land, a smaller rig will make life (and planning) so much easier. If you don’t mind private parks get any size rig you want.


      • Rowanova says

        Thanks, Nina. After my read and reply here last evening I went surfing info on some smaller units I’ve eyed previously. I keep feeling more strongly about this direction for myself and my future.
        Better extra time nd research now rather then regrets later. :)

        • libertatemamo says

          I honestly also believe that the inside space of a smaller rig is less of a problem for boondockers specifically because you’ve got so much OUTside space. It’s a different thing altogether if you’re squeezed into a private park with people right next to you -> then the big indoor space of a big rig makes all the difference! But in the boonies where you’re often surrounded by miles of open space the indoors is less important.

          There are, of course, compromises to everything. The one thing we love about our “beast” are her huge tanks. These are GREAT for boondocking, and there’s no denying our girl is super-comfortable. But the one thing that bugs me the most about the “beast” is that I have to plan so very carefully to find the kind of remote spots we like to go. We’re very heavy so I have to be (very) careful of road quality, we’ve not got a ton of clearance so I have to be careful of bumps, and we can’t easily turn around. Pluses and minuses.

          Just my 2 cents :)


  8. Gail Docter says

    Showering at the dump station. Brilliant! I could totally take a stealth shower while Joel is doing the dumping work outside, rinsing and re-rinsing my hair! Love this plan.

  9. Pamela says

    Nina, we stayed last year at Lake Pleasant, AZ. Only about $17/day. Nice sites, no power or water, but nice campsites. Short drive to Lake Mead. Never found the ‘infamous’ burros of the area,heard them tho:). Thanks for the updates.

    • libertatemamo says

      We went to Lake Pleasant, AZ a few years ago. Lovely lake just north of Phoenix, but it would be too far from here for us to drive between the two. We rarely do day trips of more than 20-30 miles (one way). We just like to stay “local” :)


  10. says

    Thanks for another great post Nina and congrats on the tax return results. :) Your posts have really made us long for getting back out west, and particularly AZ where I spent so many years. Great to have spent some time with Aluminarium. I too enjoy many of her recipes.

    • libertatemamo says

      I would love to hang in Sedona with you guys and get the local connection. Of course hanging just about anywhere with you would be lovely too :)


    • says

      Stewarts point has an area that is fenced off up by the restrooms with signs that say no motorized vehicles.
      The ranger at Echo Bay said the funds have been cut so there is no longer a camp host or manpower to monitor Stewarts Point. Camping is allowed and the rest rooms are maintained.
      The road isa bit rough now, but easily manageable for anysized rig and there is little chance of getting stuck in soft sand or mud.

      I’m loving my stay here and hope to return.

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks so much Jim & Gayle. We made it down the road OK and found our spot so we’re good to go this time around. It was a tad rough, but not too bad (wonder if they’ve graded it?). I’ll definitely keep your tip on hand for the future!


  11. Susan Buchanan says

    Sounds absolutely enchanting! We can’t wait to get started! Maybe we will run into one another and I’ll share my recipe for my “Texas Sunset” martini!

  12. says

    WOW that looks like a fabulous spot for a rendezvous. Love the black and white and the canine swimmer. What a life for you all. Thanks for the link to their blog and for all the swiped great ideas. Great ideas are just that, GREAT! Love the shower/dumping thing. Brilliant!

  13. says

    Since you are in the area, try heading to Valley of Fire and the lost city museum in Overton (if it is still there). Pretty area away from the glitz and grit that is Las Vegas. We left Vegas a year ago with no plans yet of going back.

    • libertatemamo says

      We drove through Valley of Fire yesterday and plan to go back in for some hikes later this week. Lots of wind today so we are hunkering down with slides in.


    • libertatemamo says

      By the way just went over to read some of your most recent blog posts. Winter on the Oregon coast…I’m impressed!! That’s some crazy weather you’ve had up there and living through it in the rig is even crazier. Wow!


  14. Rattlesnake Joe says

    How is the water level at Lake Mead? I heard it was way down and getting shallower? Is Global Warming causing this I wonder? Or is L.A. just using it all up?

    • libertatemamo says

      The water level is way low. The main boat ramp at Government Wash (where we stayed) has apparently been closed for years because the water level is several hundred feet below where it should be. Not sure what the cause is, but it’s definitely much, much lower than it should be.


    • libertatemamo says

      LOL…you may well be right. By the way sent you (Papa) an e-mail this AM. Lemme know if you got it.


  15. Jil says

    Tom laughed when I read him the dump shower comment…as he said, a new one on him…but one we could try..:)

    the net flick is not new to us….many of our friends do that…we just have never done it…the place sound awesome…will have to add it to my long and getting longer list of boondocking places…

    • libertatemamo says

      We sure are. Most of the folks we’ve met on the road have been like this…instant bond and lots of good connections.



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