Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I need your help. We bought a 34 ft. motorhome and my wife thinks we are on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. She is an avid bird watcher and is building her life list as we travel. We are now in the desert southwest and she has me driving down roads that I don’t think are designed for a big motorhome. We don’t know where half of them will lead. Often I have to unhook the tow car just so we can turn around. How can I convince her this is not a smart thing to do? I don’t like conflict and it always turns into an argument, especially if there is a Mangrove Penguin to be found.
--Tow Truck Bound in Buckeye
Sounds like a great adventure to me. However, I agree, you could get into trouble if you are not careful where you drive. I have several suggestions that might help and arguing is not one of them.
First, download a free Google Earth App. The pictures are often a few years old, but unless you are studying a new road, it should be represented. Do a fly-over with Google Earth and see where the road leads. It will show you terrain, turn-arounds, road conditions and much more.
Another suggestion is to detach from the “Mothership” and go scout it out with your tow vehicle. It sounds like you should invest in a jeep, if you haven’t already. In the region of the country you are now exploring, there are multitudes of semi-backcountry camping sites that will accommodate a large RV. They happen to be in some of the best birding areas.
Let me give you a suggestion. I am going to assume you are in Buckeye, Arizona. Go northwest a bit to Alamo Lake State Park. It has great birding with desert and riparian areas. Camp at the park for a night and explore all the BLM camping options around the park and the lake.
Using both techniques I suggested above, you should be able to find a perfect site to bird, explore and hike, all inclusive with your free camping. The park offers sites with hookups or no hookups starting at fifteen bucks and they come with world-class sunrises and sunsets.
You can also buy detailed maps of the areas you are exploring, but there is so much free information online, I would suggest you put it to use.
Hiking across Arizona last spring I downloaded free topo maps of the whole state onto my GPS. These resources will not only tell you where you are, but also tell you where to go -- before your wife does.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink