Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
After reading your post about the birder woman wanting to go into remote areas all the time, I knew I had to write. My husband is very similar. He does not want to take the RV on poorly graded roads or even the car. He does, however, enjoy camping in wild places. I too do not care for crowds or commercial RV parks. We both enjoy hiking, paddling and photography. Natural areas suit both of us. What I am not comfortable with are border areas in the Southwest. We recently spent some time at Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. I protested a bit, but he convinced me that it was almost an armed camp with border patrol thicker than flies on the ground and in the air. The argument made sense, but we were parked alone in this vast grassland. When we stopped at the Visitor Center we met the volunteer hosts. I asked them where they camped. They where camped in a razor wire trimmed, chain linked fence compound near the headquarters. That should have been my first clue. We didn't have any problem, but I'm anxious all the time when we are in these areas. Is this just my hangup? Should I be more open-minded to exploring border areas?
--Anxious Annie in Arivaca
I wouldn't suggest you do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Everyone has their own threshold when it comes to feeling secure while traveling. Many RVer's find special, remote sites that appeal to them for the very reasons you fear. Not to suggest there are no dangers in the area you are describing, but a few things should be considered. The first thing that comes to mind is the native population. Although sparse, many people live and work in that part of Arizona. You probably do not want to know everything that goes on in the area, but in most cases it would not involve visitors to the refuge. You can't spend ten minutes along refuge roads without seeing Border Patrol and state and local police presence.
Using common sense in where you travel and camp along the border will help ensure a safe experience. Traveling in numbers will also alleviate some of your apprehension. Remember that most of the pioneers traveled as a group and circled the wagons at night.
The upside of the experience in this remote section of Arizona will be the wildlife and dark skies. It is a very unique grasslands area and you can expect to see pronghorn, burrowing owls, and masked bobwhite.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink