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Nomads & Pirates in Sedona, AZ

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

Perhaps you've been to Sedona? Or have heard tell? It's renowned for its beauty. And rightly so. It's a bit too pretty. Sedona is that atomically hot girl in high school. Form an orderly queue gents! It’s a bit too close to Phoenix and LA for its own good. Most campgrounds have sold to developers who put up homes with gates to keep RV types further away. The few that are left are perpetually full. We gave up trying to get one and opted for dispersed camping on National Forest land west of town. Pull Stanley up into the hills on deeply rutted forest service roads and pick a spot. Nomad lad.

Off-roading is more popular in these parts than pickleball is at a Florida retirement village. The hills are dotted with makeshift RV camps and most of their occupants are tearing around in Jeeps, motorcycles, Razor, Slingshots, etc. all day long. It all has real lawless, Road Warrior type of vibe.

We eventually found a decent campsite. It was reasonably private and sported 50-mile views. But dispersed camping means bringing your own water, power, food and bathroom. We’re reasonably equipped for this sort of thing, but as we had already been boondocking the previous 5 nights, it was stretching us a bit, particularly on the water front. So, like Mad Max, we had to make a raid on town. I had a BB gun in the trailer, but no CO2, or BBs for it. And in AZ a man feels nearly naked without a sidearm. So, we were armed with only our wits and our 7-gallon jerry can. We drove out of the hills and into Gucci Gulch. Sedona has been colonized by the other half. The main drag is a couple of miles of 4-star hotels, pretentious art galleries, chef-owned restaurants and Starbucks. Finding a place to fill up your jerry can is actually considerably harder than finding a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2018 or some really over-priced artwork.

Where I hale from, the great Pacific Northwest, water is still reasonably plentiful. It actually still falls from the sky there. So people aren't super put out if you want to nick a bit of theirs. Most buildings even have a few spigots right on the side of them in case you want to wash a car or whatever. A seasoned water bandit can fill from one of those and be gone in 2-minutes flat. Not here. Not in the desert. If they do have a spigot, they are under lock and key. We furtively prowling the back alleys of Sedona for around 30 minutes hoping to find an unattended hose or spigot.

Nothing. Finally we drove to a local park and found a little league baseball field that may have been the most scenic baseball diamond I've ever seen. And it had bathrooms that were actually open. Almost giddy with nervous excitement, I filled up our jerry can, one careful gallon at a time using our spent milk jug, from the tiny mineral-stained sink while a little kid pooped in the stall behind me.

The glamour really never stops out here.


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