By Bob Difley
Snowbird season is on us. If you are planning to spend a few months boondocking in the deserts, you may find the following tips helpful as well as a partial check list before you set out, or to make adjustments if you’re already doin’.
• Consider installing solar panels. Most of the desert is wide open to the sky and you get a full day’s worth of charging — even though the days are shorter. Even a single panel will provide enough electricity to run some of your systems, decreasing the amount of generator run time.
• Also consider a catalytic heater, which runs on propane — and since it has no fan, it draws no electricity. Your built-in forced air heater will quickly drain your batteries on those crispy desert nights.
• Make up a desert day pack for hiking, biking or just sightseeing, consisting of sunscreen, a floppy brimmed sun hat, sunglasses, refillable water bottle, energy bars, a stuff bag nylon windbreaker, and a small first aid kit.
• Stock your bookshelf with a selection of field guide books: deserts (such as Audubon’s Deserts), southwestern wildflowers, western or local regional bird book, desert wildlife (though the Audubon book has a wildlife, bird and wildflower section), desert plants, and a regional or state tour book like Lonely Planet or Moon Travel guides. Mike and Terri Church’s“Southwest Camping Destinations” lists all the campgrounds and related information for the Southwest. Edward Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire” is a good read also.
• Jerry jugs or inflatable water bladder for extra drinking water.
• If you plan on staying into April or beyond, when it heats up again, buy windshield and side window sun screens to keep the inside of your RV cooler.
• Sturdy-sided walking shoes or hiking boots to protect your ankles from cactus thorns and rattlesnake strikes. (I’m kidding about the snakes — they hibernate all winter, as do scorpions and Gila monsters.)
• Leave your ear plugs at home or you won’t hear the quiet — or the coyote serenade. And turn off your porch light if you want to see the spectacular Milky Way, as clear and sparkling as you ever imagined when seen through the clear, humidity-free desert air.
photo: R&T De Maris