Kitty Benzar and I have been corresponding for several years. What a thrill it was to finally meet face to face. As president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition , Kitty is a modern day hero to all who enjoy hiking and boonodocking on America's public lands. For twenty years, she has led that coalition, traveling to Washington to fight legislative and judicial battles, relentlessly advocating for continued free public access to federal public lands.
Last week, we met Kitty, her husband, Brian, and Cheyenne, their dog, in the southeast corner of Utah. We spent three days touring around with them as they showed us a couple of their favorite spots in the area. As former hiking guides, and avid boondockers, Kitty and Brian certainly know this part of the country like the back of their hands!
We were in this part of Utah two years ago and had tried, unsuccessfully, to find some of the many cliff dwelling ruins we had heard about. We had not, however, driven the Butler Wash Road, thinking it might too difficult (sandy) without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. There's no signage to indicate trails or ruins so, even if we had attempted it, we know now that, without a guide, we wouldn't have known where to stop to find the ruins. With Brian and Kitty leading, we were in expert hands.
The Benzars refer to their Sportsmobile (custom built small motorhome) as their retirement home. It really is impressive! Hey, I guess this was our first "RV caravan" experience - traveling with a guide vehicle. It was kind of nice, letting them lead the way, knowing they would take us to great spots but not on roads we couldn't handle.
On the second day they led us to one of their all-time favorite (secret) campsites. I'm sorry but I promised not to publish the location or directions. It was absolutely spectaular! What a view!
After a great visit, we said our goodbyes. Randy and I lingered on to enjoy the campsite one more night. But New Mexico was calling. We drove east to camp and hike in the lovely badlands formations we remembered from a previous trip.
We'll spend the next six weeks, touring all through New Mexico before we start our long drive back to Ontario.
If you boondock on public lands, please go to the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition web site. Read all that they have done and what they continue to do to allow us to enjoy traveling the way we do. You might even want to get involved or, at least, send Kitty a note of appreciation!
Days on the road on current trip: 86
Total camping costs to date: $112.00
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