Dr. RV Shrink:
This is our first year living in our RV. We are not looking for the next RV resort with a pickleball team; we prefer the wide-open spaces. The problem is one you have talked about before: border safety. We have never camped down near the border on boondock BLM land because of all the stories we've heard about problems with illegals. We keep talking about going but then back out. Are we overreacting? Should we just try it? --Gun-shy in Glendale
First, stop reading the paper and cancel your satellite contract. Life comes with no guarantees, so I suggest you ease into situations you find uncomfortable. If boondocking and hiking in the desert is something that sounds appealing but makes you nervous, here's a plan that should work for you.
Spend a week basking in the sun in Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona. It is only a mile from the border. It has hikes and scenic drives that come so close to the border you can wave at our neighbors to the south.
Go on a few ranger-led hikes and drives. You will learn a lot about the desert and most likely start to feel comfortable about your new surroundings. Don't let the fact that the visitor center is named after a young ranger that was killed by drug cartel members scare you from enjoying the park and its surroundings.
Once you immerse yourself in the park doing ranger activities, then drive north to Why, Arizona. There you will find three commercial campgrounds and 1,100 acres of free BLM camping. This area will let you ease into the boondocking lifestyle. It's kind of like breaking in a new pair of boots. It won't take long and you will feel comfortable with your surroundings. You will enjoy some of Arizona's warmest weather and view fantastic desert sunsets and sunrises. You will wake up every morning to a chorus of coyotes with often a bass section of burros.
Drive down to the BLM and look around. You may feel comfortable once you notice there are dozens of others scattered around the property. Talk to them or hike with them. You might even have to drink with them. The woman that acts as the host has her own band and will assure you there are few problems you need to be concerned with. There is more border patrol personnel stationed there than cactus in the desert.
Try it, you'll like it. --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink