Friday, March 30, 2018

Getting Ready to Boondock

motorhome in a lakeside campsite with several ducks
 One of the things we looked forward to doing once we started our full-time RV adventure was to get off the beaten path a little and go boondocking.

But one doesn’t just buy a rig and find a spot in the desert for a week.

Well, at least we don’t.

We need to be sure Miss Emmy is ready for that adventure. And while we’re at a long-term site here in Texas, we’re doing just that.

Oh, and if you don’t know what boondocking (or dry camping) is, it means camping without full hookups, relying solely on your batteries, propane, and holding tanks for as long as you want to, or can. It can be anything from Wally docking or Blacktop surfing (overnighting in a commercial parking lot), to days, or even weeks, on public lands somewhere (such as National Forest or Bureau of Land Management lands) Those sites are often referred to as dispersed camping. There's even Mooch Docking, which is staying at with friends or family who have enough driveway space to host you for a bit.

By the way, a great resource for finding spots are the Frugal Shunpiker Guides!
(Yes, this is an affiliate link with Frugal Shunpiker. We receive a small commission if you purchase through our link)

Now, some folks want to stay out as long as they possibly can when boondocking, but we wouldn’t be one of them, at least not yet.

But I digress.

fluorescent light fixture for RVsWe are getting Miss Emmy ready. And it’s a step at a time. We just updated all of her 12-volt interior lighting (and porch lights) to LED fixtures. That will greatly reduce our electrical consumption. As an example, one of the old fluorescent fixtures draws 30 watts. The new LED fixtures draw 6.2 watts, IF we use both tubes. And we are finding that one tube is usually more than enough light! (On the new fixture, we can select one or both of the tubes. With the old fixture we had to use both.)

And as a bonus, even though we are using “standard” RV fixtures in the celling, the nice white updates the interior very nicely over the old tired (and discolored) almond-colored ones. (It also got me to paint the ceiling air return white to finish the update look)

Man looking at a renogy solar suitcase panel
Chris takes an early look at our new Renogy 100-watt
portable panel
Our next update: adding solar. We ordered a Renogy 100-watt suitcase portable solar panel kit. We think that will keep our house batteries topped off nicely. We also got the Renogy Rugged Power Pack 400-watt hour generator to give us some additional storage capacity, plus the ability to use Chris’s keyboard anywhere without drawing down house batteries (or buying AA batteries by the case). We can also operate his Cpap machine on it and recharge electronics like cell phones, etc.

Now that we have all of that in place, we can comfortably boondock a night or two without hookups.

We do need to get our onboard propane generator repaired. It runs but doesn’t produce. That will probably happen when we’re back in SD for work camping.
And we do have to goal of eventually getting a permanent solar install with roof panels, larger, newer inverter and battery bank (go from 2 to 4 batteries), etc...

And we’re testing our holding tank capacities. As in, how long can we go before we have to dump (empty) the grey and black water tanks? So far, for the two of us, at least 7 full days without really changing any of our habits for water usage. That’s plenty…I don’t see us doing more than that at a time…well, at least not yet.

instant pot
Won't be using this or other cooking aids on solar...
It also means thinking a little differently on meal prep. We don’t have a massive battery bank. Just a pair of standard 6-volt deep cycle golf cart batteries. Using the Instant Pot or induction cooktop is out.  They draw far too much power.

And don't even think about using the microwave/convection oven or air conditioning.  (Well, at least not until the generator is fixed-good thing we basically follow the weather.)

So, menu planning/cooking will make some minor shifts to using the propane stove and grill. And when I make my tea…. the hot water will go into a thermal carafe for use throughout the morning. If I want more tea later in the day….cold brew to the rescue!

We’re looking forward to getting off grid for short periods of time and enjoying the “free” camping that comes with. And we can start soon, when we begin our trek northward later in the spring.

Do you have any "must haves" or ideas for boondocking? Share them in the comments below.

(By the way, we're a family-friendly blog, so please keep it nice. Inappropriate content of any kind will be deleted)

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