Jon and I have been doing a lot of exploring around Mojave National Preserve since we arrived in mid-October. We started out in Kelso Depot, then finally got to our permanent (for now of course) site at Hole in the Wall Campground. Mojave National Preserve is unlike any other park I’ve experienced – in fact, by rights it’s not a “park”, it’s a preserve, which is a difference designation all together. In a preserve, you are allowed to hunt certain species, either during a defined season, like deer or quail, or open year round, like jackrabbits and coyotes. You can dispersed camp for free anywhere you find an existing fire ring and evidence of prior human use. We run the Hole in the Wall Visitor Center during our work week, which sees an average of 15-25 people daily. It’s far different than Glacier, but we have been enjoying exploring such an open, uninhabited, rugged environment. So far, we’ve backpacked on Cima Dome, which is home to the largest Joshua Tree forest in the world. We have hiked up to the top of Wild Horse Mesa to see the view, and found small caves with ancient pictographs. We’ve driven some gnarly 4WD roads and taken turns “just to see where it goes.”
Life in Wild Thing has been quite comfortable. We have discovered we can go nearly a month without refilling our propane tanks, at least until the cold weather settles in and we need to run our heater more often to keep ourselves and our pipes warm. Many people often ask us how we can stand to live in such a small space – and don’t get me wrong, a 22ft trailer with NO slides is a small space, but we manage quite comfortably really. We play a ton of “bored” and card games, hike and camp on our weekends, and generally try to keep busy with projects around the camper. Of which we’ve had a few. Jon has a post in the works on the mods we’ve made, but our internet access has been non-existent so far at HITW, so I’ll share one of the simplest modifications we’ve made, and one that’s made a huge difference in our comfort level – removing the dining room table. It opened the room up in a huge way, and we now eat on TV trays, which is worth the extra space.
We are getting about 5 hours out of our current battery and solar panel set up. This would be just fine in the summer, but with the sun setting around 4pm behind the Providence Mountains, we usually end up lighting candles and switching on our battery powered lights and lanterns by 9pm. We need new batteries soon, not only because the ones we have are pretty old, but also because they aren’t even meant for an RV, they’re basically car batteries.
As I type these words, Jon is in mid-air, flying back to Wisconsin for the annual pre-Thanksgiving hunt with his father and brother. Spending so much time together, as we do, I admit it feels strange to be without him, but I know he will have a wonderful trip back to the homeland, and I will hold down the fort in Mojave without him.