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Review of the Prescott Camp

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We interrupt this post with an emergency announcement  I was just contacted by my good friend Brain who tells me the company I used to work for is hiring right now (May 30, 2013) to work in the Sierra National Forest.They are looking for Campground Hosts (couples mostly, but probably a few singles as well), an office/store person, a boat ramp person, a maintenance worker and a shuttle driver (driving the back-country campgrounds to deliver supplies, plus collecting money and checking restrooms). Starting pay is $8.50 an hour for every hour you work and you get a free campsite. I worked for them for 3 years and loved working there. Contact me at Now, on to our regularly scheduled post. 

Prescott_My Camp_1

I climbed up on my ladder to take this picture looking North.

I want to give you as much value as I can in my blog and so I’m writing reviews of all my boondocking spots and as soon as I get enough I will compile them all onto a single page. This time we are looking at my Prescott, AZ camp. We have been here for nearly 7 weeks and we all agree it has been a great camp. Remember, most of this is my subjective opinion. I may think the scenery is just average here but you may think it is the prettiest place you have ever been. Neither one of us is right or wrong. I’ll begin with my general conclusions so you get a quick overview and then list details below it.
Prescott-Camp West

From the ladder looking West at Gloria’s and Judy’s van. Gloria is close because she doesn’t have her solar yet, so she is plugged into mine.

Conclusions: *** (3 Star) Like every camp it has pluses and minuses, but they all balance out to make it an above average campsite. Its best points are its near total solitude, beautiful wildflower bloom in early May, and very good weather in April and May. It has bordered on too hot, but never quite crossed over. The worst thing has been the insects. Starting mid-May something has bitten me up really bad and we have lots of honey bees. They don’t sting but if you leave water out it will be swarmed by a hug number of bees. Another negative is being 15 miles away from shopping. I like to be closer if at all possible,
The bottom line: I would be glad to make it a regular stopover in my annual circuit. April and May are hard months to find the right temperature (not to hot, not to cold) and Prescott does that.
Date Visited: Early April, 2013 to late May 2013.

From the ladder looking East. We are camped on a slight rise that does give us a Big View over the valley.

Insects: * (1 Star) They weren’t an issue until Mid-May, but have been very bad since. In the future I will plan to leave as soon as they show up. I have been waiting for my new bike or I would have left 2 weeks ago.
Elevation/Season: Prescott is at around 5000 feet which makes it the perfect stop-over in late spring and early fall. Temperatures have been in in the high 60’s to the mid-80s during the day and 40-50’s at night. Not perfect, but very pleasant! We have been able to stay comfortable and it cools off very nicely at night. I have been surprised by how windy it is. It is nothing compared to the wind storms we get in the desert, but still more than I expected.

This particular wildflower was everywhere!  Such a joy to share camp with it!

Scenery: **** (4 Stars) We are in the Prescott National Forest, so technically this is Forest, but it isn’t the big conifers (pines, firs, cedars) that you think of when you think of a western forest. It is mostly Junipers and Pinyon Pines which are a short, round tree, and in-between them is dried grass and dirt. It has its own beauty, but it doesn’t have a lot of appeal to me. However, when the wildflowers bloom that is a different story. I just loved the abundance of colors everywhere in early May. So I give it 3 Stars for scenery and 5 Stars for the wildflowers which works out to a 4 Stars average.

This flower is a late bloomer. It is just now at peak bloom when most of the others are gone.

Internet: **** (4 stars) (As you read this, remember Steve, Gloria and I have a Wilson Sleek Cell Phone Amplifier and it dramatically improves our reception. If you don’t have one, your reception will be much worse; you would probably need to find a different camp.) The first camp we looked at had poor reception, so we looked around and found one a little further up the hill that had great reception. As incredible as it seems, we are getting a weak 4g signal. But a weak 4g signal is better than a strong 3g signal so we are delighted with it. It isn’t perfect, there are times during the day when it drops and becomes difficult to use. It just makes me very happy again that I chose Verizon for my carrier. They blanket the back-country many times better than anyone else does.
Wilson Electronics – Sleek 4G-V – Verizon 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster for Single User

This flower has added four more blooms since I took this picture.

Shopping: *** (3 Stars) Prescott has a fairly large population, around 40,000, but because the larger area is close to 100,000 it has outstanding shopping. Of course it has a Walmart, Safeway and Home Depot, but it even has a Sam’s Club and Costco, which is very unusual. But it is 35 miles away which is too far to drive to very often. Only 6 miles away is Paulden which is just a wide spot on the road. But it has trash, water, propane and a convenience store, so it is a plus. About 15 miles away is the town of Chino Valley which is a pretty good sized little town. The big thing is it has a Safeway grocery store. Their prices are higher than Walmarts but still not bad and they often run very good sales so I am always content to have a Safeway nearby. Since it is a full-size grocery store, it will have whatever I want. The town is large enough to have several dollar stores which also really helps with the budget. There is a good number of fast food chains including a McDonalds and Little Caesars Pizza place. That doesn’t help with the budget but I am still very glad they are here! There is a shipping store In Chino Valley so I can get mail and packages from USPS, UPS and Fed Ex for $2 each. All in all the shopping is very good. I wish it were closer but 15 miles away isn’t bad.

The Prescott Courthouse built in 1916 sits on a large park-like Plaza. On the weekend it is a wonderful place just to go and hang out.

Feel/Size of the town: ***** (5 stars) Downtown Prescott is right in the National Forest and is beautiful! I think it is one of the prettiest towns of its size I have ever been in. It’s an old town and so it has a lot of old West feel to it. The original courthouse and buildings are still there in a wonderful little park. Chino Valley is a great little town that we all love going to. There are lots of working ranches in the area so this is cowboy country. Steve said he saw some cowboys ride their horse’s right up to the Safeway, tie them off outside and go in shopping. That is my kind of town!! Steve and I both have fallen deeply in love with Arizona. It is incredibly beautiful, has a huge variety of climates, and the people are friendlier and more open than almost anywhere I have been.

We almost walked right past this Horned Toad sunning himself on the road. I pushed the color saturation so you could see him, but to the eye he blended in extremely well.

Wildlife: ** (2 Stars) I have not seen any big game but Steve did see one black bear. Like nearly all of Arizona, there is an abundance of rabbits. I have seen two garden snakes but no rattlesnakes. Over all I would say it is below average.
Solitude/ATVs: ***** (5 Stars) I believe we have had more solitude here than in any camp I have ever been in. We just never see or hear anyone else. We are on a little spur road off the main road and in the 7 weeks we have been here maybe 5 cars have driven down it. And even on the main road I rarely see anyone except on weekends, and then I may see 2-5 cars or ATVs all weekend. There may have been 4 other campers the whole time we were here. Oddly enough, there were none over the Memorial Day Weekend.
Ranger Enforcement: ***** (5 Stars) I hate feeling like I am being watched by Rangers, so this is important to me. I have not seen one Ranger the whole time we have been here! Steve saw one on the main road, but he just drove through and didn’t seem interested in anything around him. It doesn’t get better than that!

LIFE AND DEATH IN THE FOREST: This is some kind of omnivorous wasp that tracks down Tarantulas, wrestles with them and finally kills them. Steve got to watch the whole thing happen once right in camp. I took this shot when we found one dragging the Tarantula all the way across the road and out into the forest. Pretty amazing thing to watch.

Walking-Hiking: *** (3 Stars) This is rattlesnake country and they are active now, so I only walk on the main roads. In open desert I will go cross-country, but this is so thick I could easily miss them so I don’t take the chance. That only leaves me two choices for walking once I walk out to the main road—right or left. It’s pretty enough but that isn’t much choice so I am just calling it average.
this is a Beaver-tail cactus of some kind. I have never seen a cactus bloom this color before.

This is a Beaver-tail cactus of some kind. I have never seen a cactus bloom this color before.



  1. rick

    Bob, I love reading your posts like this. It gives me something to enjoy through you sharing your experiences. I hope to one day see AZ for myself.
    Is the bike you are waiting your electric bike you spoke of? What did you end up buying? thanks again for sharing this experience.

    • Bob

      Rick, Arizona is worth the wait when you finally get her! Yes, I picked up my new electric bike today in Prescott. It is a Currie TrailZ. It is one of the cheapest electric bikes on the market. Every review I read said it was an amazingly good bike for the money. I didn’t want to jump in and spend a bunch of money and then find out it was just another pipedream I started out great and then pooped out. I figure after a few months I will know if I am serious and then sell this and get a better one.
      Stay tuned for more information!!

      • greenminimalism

        Beautiful post Bob – as usual I love the photography. Sounds like a great bike, returning to your 20s? I’m tempted to grab an old Harley Davidson too but I’m too minimalist that I will never allow myself!

        • Bob

          greenMinimalism, no way am I returning to my 20s!! other than a few wonderful adventures, they were a living hell. No, I am shooting or my tween years, 9-12. I remember riding my bike everywhere! I lived on that thing! I don’t think that will happen again but I am hopeful the electric motor will take off a 30-40 years of lost physical ability!
          I’m not sure I agree with the philosophy of your blog that you want to apply rationality to all your actions. Been there, done that, HATED IT!! No, my goal is to apply NO RATIONALITY to any of my decisions!! Yep, being 10 years old is my goal. Sorry, gotta run, gotta go outside and play!

  2. Martin Hamilton

    I wonder how many outlaws have been tried in that courthouse. Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Doc Holiday. Oh that’s too far away from Tombstone AZ. Well they caused trouble all over so who knows.

    • Bob

      Martin, actually those guys all traveled around a lot I’m pretty sure I read somewhere they were there, but I can’t remember where I saw that. It’s funny to think I might be standing exactly where those guys were. That’s one of the reasons I love the west so much!

  3. Charlene Swankie

    I lived in Prescott (pronounced Pres-kit by locals) over the 2004-2005. It is a college town. The college has a swimming pool. The town also has a large YMCA next to a very high class hospital. The Y has a great swimming pool. I had a small web design business at the time, a start-up, and while I was there recently, I tried to find my old clients… and they were gone, save one, Jay’s Bird Barn. The Courthouse Square that Bob mentioned had a wonderful “artsy” festival with dozens of vendors last time I was in town… with a number of very unique artists. It truly is a great town.

    • Bob

      Right you are Charlene, it’s a very artsy place.Everyone should visit it!

  4. Charlene Swankie

    … I meant to type… “over the 2004-2005 winter”

  5. Nemo

    would like to make one correction Bob feel free to ignore me though.. the wasp is known as a Tarantula Hawk, it actually uses it’s poison to put the Tarantula to sleep, then lays it’s eggs on it.. when the eggs hatch, the kids have a meal waiting 🙂
    I take it your moving out of there now?

    • Bob

      Nemo, you need to come over here and teach me all this stuff! I love showing off all the stuff you teach me!
      Yes, my bike just got in so we are leaving tomorrow (6-1-2013) for Williams. Hope to see you there.

  6. Wandrin Lloyd

    Saw the tarantula hawk in operation a couple of years ago. Amazing adaptation to reproduce.
    It is a prickly pear. However, it doesn’t look like a beavertail prickly pear. Usually, they have red blossoms. There about a dozen species of prickly pear and sub species. Blossom colors in red, yellow, pink and variations.

    • Bob

      Thanks for all the corrections Lloyd. I am not much of a scientist. I just think it is cool and pretty!!

      • Bob

        Al, thanks for that video. I don’t know much about the rules of gathering cactus on public land. I do know that in the most of it, it is allowed, but they want you to get a free and easily obtained permit. That way they can be aware if too much is being harvested. of course jut to cut off one lobe would be so trivial as to be unimportant, but if you were going to gather much more, you would want to get a permit or at least look into it.


    hey now bob,thank’s for the information and pix’ i want to see that new bike.tell steve i said hi.trying to make the summer rtr,lot’s of gas,but i have neve been to the grand canyon.fellow traveler gary p.s. try not to crash on that new motorbike!!

    • Bob

      Gary, I’ll be telling you all about the bike soon! You really owe it to yourself to see the Grand Canyon, it really is one of the wonders of the world.

  8. Linda

    Bob, I love your photo’s, especially the first purple flowers one. My mother, who is in heaven now, watching over me, loved purple. You make me want to jump in the van and come see you! By the way, I got a good chuckle out of your friend “Brain”…lol…I’m sure you must have meant Brian… hope you don’t mind me teasing you! My goal is to meet you some day and spend a little time boondocking with you. Linda

    • Bob

      Linda, there is no time like the present! How soon can you get here! Obviously I need help with editing, interested?

  9. ILDan

    Bob-Thanks for the pics of your rig from up on the ladder. It’s like the parade reviewing stand shot. I’ve seen your other pics, but they were a bit more specific and up close. Backing up and giving me that added perspective really aided me in conceptualizing your overall solar setup; especially the trailer. I also followed the painting of Gloria’s roof, but I’d love to see the same perspective on her overall van. As always, thanks for all the pics. I’m no engineer, so picture is worth a thousand schematics. Or maybe it’s that I’m 5’3” and I just appreciate a taller perspective.

    • Bob

      I’m glad you liked it ILDan, I’ll make it a point to do it at all my camps from now on. It does give you a better perspective. It helps that we were on a ridge the trees are so short and I shot over them. I’m now in Williams and the trees are 50-100 feet tall so it won’t work as well.
      I’ll ask Gloria if she is willing for me to do a post on her layout. I think she will says it’s okay. She took a bunch of photos of insulating the van, so I know we will do a story on that.
      I think we are alike, I am a very visual person. People try to give me directions with words and I just can’t get it. But draw me even a simple map and I have no problem. So I work hard to make sure that I have pictures to go with the explanation.

  10. JohnNTx

    Bob, are you connecting to the internet by Verizon Mifi? The amplifier looks like it is for a cell phone.

    • Bob

      John, yes, I use a Verizon Mifi. But the Wilson sleek also boosts 3g signal, but not 4g. They have a new model of the Sleek out out that amplifies both 3g and 4g on the Verizon network. it’s $100 on Amazon and I will buy it as soon as I have the extra money. I also use a Wilson Trucker Cell phone antenna, but when I get the money I am going to upgrade it as well. I’ll report on it when I get them.

    • Bob

      John, it just occurred to me that you may have been concerned if it is big enough for the larger devices like the Jet Pack. Yes, it comes with several sizes and I think it will hold just about any cell device. A friend tried her Jet Pack in it and it fir in it and it showed a jump of 4 bars. But you would want to verify that if yours is really big like the Note cell phone.

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