Making Friends At Borrego Springs

A commonly asked question by soon-to-be-travelers and non-travelers is: Do you get lonely on the road? The answer we always saw on other full-timers websites was no, because they had this great community of friends who also lived on the road.

During our eight months on the road we got to see a lot of friends and family as we traveled around. We stayed in the driveway of a friend from Asheville that had moved to Kansas; we met up with Asheville friends who were vacationing at Yellowstone National Park; hung out with our good buddy (who had also spent countless hours helping us rebuild the Toaster) in Jackson, WY; went mountain biking, hiking and shared beers with friends in Seattle; high school and college friends were visited; family members on both sides were seen; and we got to spend time with friends who have been full-timers for several years now. It was fabulous.

Hiking with friends we visited in Seattle, WA. Photo by Brian F.

Hiking with friends we visited in Seattle, WA. Photo by Brian F.

Overall, life on the road wasn’t lonely. But we still had moments of loneliness in between all that activity, got tired of hanging out with one another, and missed our friends from home. The thing was, we hadn’t developed a community of friends who were also living on the road. We hadn’t experienced what other full-timers had – boondocking next to friends, running into other travelers they met elsewhere, and traveling together with road friends. It seemed like we always managed to choose boondocking sites other RVers avoided (lack of cell data) or just missed other travelers by a day or so. While in Seattle we got the opportunity to get drinks with other full-timers: Wherever Bound, Ardent Camper, Small House Big World, and Snowmads. It was all a quick one nighter and then we went in different directions. But we stayed in touch via Instagram. Then in November we met Aluminarium and Backroad Bennetts. Slowly we were meeting more full-timers and it was exciting.

One of the things that I had started to miss was feeling like I was part of a community. I still keep in touch with my friends from Asheville, but it was more infrequently than when we first left. It wasn’t that we cared or thought about each other less, it’s just what happens with time and distance.

We had exchanged emails with Aluminarium back in August and that’s when they invited us to celebrate New Year’s with them and a group of other full-timers at Borrego Springs, CA. Jerud and I kept it in the back of our minds, but didn’t make a final decision since we didn’t know where we’d be in December. By the time we were heading into December we decided that we would join them and see what this get-together was all about. And the thought of meeting other full-timers was exciting.

The get-together at Borrego Springs was really social media at its finest. The gathering started with a group of friends that had already known one another for a while and had celebrated New Year’s at Borrego Springs the year before. But each of them invited friends of their own, someone created a Facebook event page for it, additional people got invited, other people found out about it through Instagram and before anyone knew it – there were around 40 rigs and over 80 people celebrating New Year’s in the middle of the desert!

The group at Borrego Springs. Photo by Leigh of Aluminarium.

The group at Borrego Springs. Photo by Leigh of Aluminarium.

This was a strange, overwhelming at times, but fun experience. I got to meet people that I had been following on Instagram for months. In some way it felt like meeting a celebrity - I knew more about them than I should, seeing that I had never met or talked to them. The common questions asked were what’s your name and what’s your Instagram name? I would’ve never guessed how big of a role Instagram would play in full-timers’ lives. It turned out a lot of travelers connect and stay in touch via Instagram. The gathering at Borrego Springs felt like being at summer camp: rig doors were open for heads to poke in; people were scattered outside having conversations; and kids and dogs were in their separate groups running and playing.

 
Aki, Backroad Bennetts' son, in an outfit he picked out for himself. I referred to him as Scuba Aki.

Aki, Backroad Bennetts' son, in an outfit he picked out for himself. I referred to him as Scuba Aki.

 

Jerud and I arrived a couple of days before Christmas. When we rolled into Rockhouse Trail there were only seven other rigs there - most people were arriving after Christmas. This actually worked out really nicely because we got those days to get to know a small group of people first. Everyone was very welcoming. We had happy hours together, potlucks, one-on-one dinners, shared various conversations and outdoor activities. We also celebrated Christmas day together and had a White Elephant exchange.

After Christmas more people trickled in, slowly filling up the large space we had at Rockhouse. There were a lot more names to remember and rigs to pair up to owners. Surprisingly there were more Airstreams than any other RVs there! With more people came more activities, conversations, beer tastings, potlucks, and bonfires. One evening we had an open house and got to check out everyone’s rig (open doors meant come on in!). It was a lot of fun to see how other people’s homes looked inside, and the modifications and renovations they had made. Visitors to the Toaster told us that our interior colors and the living room slide made our rig feel more like an apartment/condo than an RV.

Drone shot of our boondocking site as more people were showing up. Photo by @gm3sf.

Another shot of where we were staying. Photo by @gm3sf.

The orange unimog that belongs to Brad and Oksana of Perky Mog. The inside is super cool!

The orange unimog that belongs to Brad and Oksana of Perky Mog. The inside is super cool!

The majority of the people there were around our age and had been on the road anywhere from 3 months to 7 years. While there were a few weekenders and part-timers, most lived on the road and worked full-time.

New Year’s was celebrated with a bonfire that started the moment it turned dark, a potluck, strobe lights, karaoke, and a DJ. There was also the burning of the wooden borrego (Spanish for mountain goat) at midnight - made and decorated by Brian of The Roaming Pints and Brandon of Drive Dive Devour.

Over the course of two weeks there, we had met (and re-met) a whole bunch of fellow travelers and now feel like we’re part of a community. Since leaving Borrego Springs we met up with a handful of people who were at Borrego Springs at our next boondocking location. After that we met several really, really wonderful people: Live Work Dream, Places and Playtpie, Girouette Mobile, and Road It Up.

There are so many wonderful things about living on the road. The friends we’ve made is definitely one of them.

 
Celebrating New Year's eve.

Celebrating New Year's eve.

 

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