It sounds like it's raining. But it's not. It's the sound of acorns dropping from the oak trees all around us as we boondock in the middle of the woods overlooking the Rifle River in northern Michigan's Ogemaw County.
This is not a particularly pretty time of the year. The beautiful fall leaves have turned brown and now cover the ground. Only the oaks, with their shriveled up leaves and their dropping acorns, still have a covering.
Squirrels are running all over gathering the bounty. Deer, too. The animals seem to know winter is coming and the heavy acorn crop and their early drop across the upper Midwest appears to verify the Farmer's Almanac prediction of another really rough winter.
Jennifer and I came up Thursday night. We'll stay through Sunday. This is one of our favorite boondocking spots. It's on a 200-acre hunk of privately owned land surrounded by thousands of acres of state forest. The property is owned by my brother-in-law and is totally undeveloped. If we were in anything larger than a Class B motorhome, there's no way we'd get to our boondocking spot, accessible only by dirt two-track located a mile off a paved country road.
We need no electrical or water hookups. Our Roadtrek carries its own fresh water supply. The eight house batteries, always supplemented by 250 watt by solar panels, gives us enough power to last four or five days out here before we have to tun the engine and have those eight batteries recharged in about 20 minutes to a half hour.
Our Webasto heater – and we needed it last night as the temperature dropped to the lower thirties Fahrenheit – runs on diesel, off the vehicle's fuel tank. It uses so little that I can't even see a drop in the fuel gauge after a weekend's heater use.
We've been coming here for two decades, long before we got an RV. Now, with our Roadtrek Etrek, we use this land as a place to retreat from the world. Friends have asked if they can join us on one of our boondocking weekends. We politely say no. This is our special hideaway, a place not to be shared.
We truly can get away from it all up here.
I'm sitting in a chair on what the locals call the “High Banks,” a spot abut 150 feet above where the Rifle makes one of its snake-turning bends. I frequently see white tail deer just upstream coming down to drink. I hear no traffic. No noise at all but the dropping acorns.
Jennifer and I and Tai took an hour long hike last night and another one just a few minutes ago.
We'll spend the day reading. I'll build a campfire late afternoon and we'll sit around it tonight, shoulder to shoulder, watching the flames, saying not very much, but very much enjoying each others company. At some point before we turn in, we'll walk away from the fire and look up at the night sky. If there's no cloud cover, the whole Milky Way can be seen like a dust across the black sky.
During the day, we usually take an afternoon nap. I like to sit in my chair overlooking the river and write.
Not very exciting, is it? Not for Jen and I, anyway. Tai finds it very exciting. He's chasing squirrels right now. He's learned not to bark. To hunt like a coyote. Sneaky and quiet. And, yes, he occasionally does get one.
No. It's not exciting at all for Jennifer and me.
What it is, though, is a total change of pace. It's decompressing. Restoring. Refreshing. Total escape from the stress and demands of everyday life.
That's why we boondock.
Because we can get away. Completely.