I’ve been in Presidio for just over two weeks now, and I’ve decided to extend my stay for the rest of the month. This is by far the longest I’ve stayed in one spot since I first hit the road back in April.
According to my spreadsheet, before coming to Presidio I had spent 240 nights in the rig at 51 different campsites. That averages out to moving every 4.7 days. Realistically, it doesn’t exactly work that way, as I typically stay in one spot for about a week, but then I have some weeks where I’ll move three or four times trying to get to my next destination. Regardless, this just shows that I’ve moved a lot over the last 9 months. As people with RV’s know, moving can be exhausting. You have to pack up your rig, tear down camp, drive all day, then set it all back up again. Then throw working full-time on top of all that. I’ve gotten much faster at setup and teardown, since I’ve done it so much, but when I got to Presidio all the travel was finally starting to catch up to me. I was getting tired.
It took me 9 hours to get down here from Austin. I drove through the tiny, dusty, border town of Presidio, and pulled into a big dirt lot with a couple of rigs parked out in the middle of the desert. I was feeling very unsure of the place, as I could see Mexico from the campground and there were literally tumbleweeds blowing around. As I was driving around the park I didn’t see a single person, so I decided to just pick a random spot and try to find the manager the next day. I had to try three campsites before I finally found one that had all working hookups. At this point it was starting to get dark and I was feeling really frustrated, thinking I had made a huge mistake coming here. I decided I’d stay a couple days, long enough to see Big Bend, then get out.
I’ve extended my stay three times now. I first told the manager I’d only be here a few nights. Then I extended it to a week, to which she replied, “How about you just let me know when you want to leave and we’ll settle up then?” She had definitely been through this routine before. Then I told her “actually let’s make it two weeks.” She smiled and nodded. Finally, after two weeks I told her, “Okay, just put me down for the month.”
A lot of the people I’ve met here laugh when they see I’m still here, even though I’ve talked about leaving three times now. “The place grows on you!” they say. Apparently many of the people down here did the exact same thing, and now they’ve been coming back every winter for years.
There are a number of reasons that I find it hard to leave, but essentially this place is just exactly what I need right now. I was getting worn out from so much travel, and tired of spending so much money on gas and on eating and drinking out (the primary activities in the South, I found). I was also struggling to keep up with work on top of everything else I was doing. I needed a place to just park it for a month and recharge, and that’s exactly what I’ve done here.
The monthly rate to stay here is $250/month (for full hookups). I’ve been plenty of places that charge more than that to stay for a week. There isn’t much temptation to go out to eat or drink, because there basically aren’t any restaurants or bars here, aside from a couple tiny mom and pop type places. I get about one bar of LTE signal, so any kind of video streaming is out of the question. The primary thing to do here is hike (or ATV if you have one). I have access to miles of trails through the desert right from my campsite. If I want better trails, I can drive about 30 miles into Big Bend Ranch State Park, or about 75 miles to Big Bend National Park. This means that I’m not only saving a ton of money, but now my days are spent working, reading, writing, and hiking. This place has stripped away all the distractions and allowed me to get back to doing the things that are actually important.
The other thing that has kept me here is the people. There are some interesting characters that give this place a lot of charm. Every day at 4:00 they do happy hour under a pavilion they call “The Lizard Lounge.” I try to go every day that I can. I’ve met guys that were veterans and told some pretty wild war stories. One of the regulars is an 80 year old man named Paul that still rides his enduro dirt bike every day, and is highly respected in that community (if you get a chance you should watch his documentary on YouTube, which has almost 700k views). Paul’s wife is a tiny, petite woman, who I just found out was a long haul trucker. Another guy fabricated his trailer to fit his hot tub, so that he could bring it down here with his RZR side-by-side. Everyone here has traveled the country extensively and has endless stories and advice for things to do and see. They told me that next week they would take me across the border so I could check out Mexico without having to go alone. It doesn’t feel like I’m on my own out here, because the group is so tightly knit and welcomed me in.
I know that by the end of the month I’m going to be itching to hit the road again. However, this stop has helped me to realize that sometimes I need to just take it easy, and if I find a place I like there is nothing wrong with staying for a while and really getting to know it. That freedom to stay as long or as short as I want is one of the biggest benefits of this lifestyle, and I’m going to start taking advantage of it.