Girls Road Trip 2018 - Arizona - Day 3 - fire evacuations, plan b and camping in the desert


We left on Friday, stopping by Missouri to see our oldest daughter.  We left Saturday morning and drove to Tucumcari, New Mexico where we had booked a night at campground so we could access a shower and bathroom for one last time before heading down to the Chiricahua National Monument and the primitive campground nearby.

We had reservations for 3 days at the Bonita Campground there.  No electricity, no showers, no flush toilets, etc.  No problem.

It was now day 3 into our Girls Road trip and another all-day drive.  We had basically been driving non-stop since Friday morning.

It was incredibly hot and oh-so-dusty.  Fire alerts were high and as we hit Arizona and headed towards the national monument we saw cloud after cloud of white dust blowing in the distance.

The winds were so strong we actually were down a large percentage ratio of our usual gas mileage; between the high rate of speed on the interstate and the wind factored in.  A full tank of gas fell from an average 400 miles to 289.

As we headed to the border of Arizona and Mexico, there is one tiny town you have to stop at to get any gas, food, etc. you need.  It's about 45 minutes from the Chiricahua National Monument. There is no chance for gas, water, food, etc. after that.

We stopped and filled up and I sent a final text to Mr. Coffee and the rest of our family before getting on the little highway that leads to the national monument and primitive campgrounds we would be staying at for 3 days.

And then we saw it... a sign on the little highway letting us know the park and campgrounds were closed due to fire.

All that white blowing 'dust' was actually partly smoke... from a huge fire burning... right where we needed to go.

We pulled off the road.  No one answered the phones for the monument or the campground; and the only number that did answer was the recreation .gov website that takes reservations and payment.

They didn't know anything about the fire - as a matter of fact they were still taking reservations at that point; but did have in their notes that another camper had called to say they were evacuated the night before and no one was allowed to go back and get any of their things.

We used our cellphones to look up ANY information and all the official Chiricahua pages had no updates to being closed, fires, etc.  We found out there was a fire by using local news sites and a site committed to publishing the latest fires in the area.  So the campground and national monument had been evacuated on Saturday afternoon and it was now Sunday afternoon around 3:30 pm and still not one word about it on the official websites or even their Facebook page.

The people on the phone taking reservations for the national parks, etc.couldn't offer any help nor tell us the next step to take; but did tell me I couldn't 'cancel' our reservations or she would have to charge us. She suggested we leave the reservations in place and wait for the national park service to officially let them know about the fire, the closure and the evacuation; then we'd get a refund.

I asked if there were any other campgrounds or parks around us? She told us she had no idea but she supposed she could 'google it' for us if we wanted her to.

Um. No?

So... basically we were now stranded in Southern Arizona due to the fire. Our 3 days of reservations and plans were now 'up in smoke' and nope, I didn't even plan that pun.


You can camp in any National Forest in the USA as long as you follow guidelines about how far off the main roads you have to be, etc. Considering we were now 'homeless' and stranded for 3 days we decided to do some camping in the desert.

(We had everything we needed since we do 'primitive' camping anyway. We stay where there is no water, no bathrooms, no campfires, no electricity... so we had everything we needed in any case.)

We picked a spot about 2 miles in, set up camp - including the little portable camp toilet and privacy tent (that ended up being a huge blessing on this trip! I am SO thankful I bought one this time around.) 

We have power to charge our cell phones! Being off the grid for almost 2 weeks, I had bought a deep cell marine battery and a power inverter before this trip. (We also had our own portable little toilet, poo-powder to gel up liquids and a little pop up privacy tent to set the camp toilet in. I'm telling you - we come prepared - so camping in the desert or a national forest wasn't an issue, as long as we could find a 'safe' place to call home for the night for two blondes.)

Freeze dried foods... just add water. Which we had 6 gallons with us of drinking water, a case of bottled water and 2 jugs of 'junk' water which we COULD drink but we had it with to wash dishes and clothes.

Because of the fire and the evacuation we now had 3 days with no plans so we packed up on Monday, and headed North.

To be continued.........


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Busy getting the camping foods organized and packed this week....

Boshen Pop Up Privacy Tent (for dressing and toilet needs while camping)