Sunday, August 16, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART SIX OF A SIX PART SERIES By Larry Harmon fresh water / black water handling techniques Use of gravity to transfer fluids under boondocking conditions is not practical in many campsites. A couple of transfer pumps can make moving fresh water and black water simple. However those pumps need power and we solve that issue by using a battery jump start power pack on our twelve volt pumps. We clip the color coded power cables to the pump’s negative and positive wires and turn the pump on and off with the power pack’s front panel switch. Our FRESH WATER PUMP is a salvaged pump that had started leaking in the pressure cut off switch’s diaphragm. Instead of throwing it away we converted it into our transfer pump using twelve dollars of hardware store brass fittings, a bit of Teflon tape and our fresh water pump is ready for action. Using water hose fittings we connect our transfer pump and white hose to our trailer mounted tank to put water into our camping trailer. Our transport barrel, complete with brass hose bib to hook up to, cost $40, At a local farm and supply, making it the least expensive of the two pumps. Our BLACK WATER pump is a MACERATOR that we bought new off of EbAY. It and a “roll up flat” 5/8” hose designated for black water only, cost in the neighborhood of $200. Using the macerator pump we can pump black water up hill for short distances. Once again using the power pack and it’s switch for a power source. We chose a macerator that came in a plastic hard case for weight and storage considerations and the reel up, lay flat hose for the same reasons. Our BATTERY JUMPSTART PACK was purchased at a discount tool supply for about $60. We have hauled it many thousands of miles while constantly charging and discharging it under rigorous conditions. A quick word of advice about the power pack. It can have a small inverter and an air compressor built into it as well as a work/safety light and a 12 volt power outlet. This is a place where we felt it well advised to spend a little extra to get one with all of the features that we thought we might need. We even use this battery pack to power up our twelve volt impact wrench that we use during a flat tire change.

Monday, August 3, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART FIVE of a six part series by Larry Harmon

BOONDOCKING PART FIVE Of a six part series by Larry Harmon Extended stays and support methods When you are in your favorite primitive campsite and the ranger comes around to say that your twenty eight day stay will be up tomorrow, and you immediately think, “so soon ?”, you likely have a good system of extended support figured out. In addition to our camping trailer we pull a boat and a small support trailer to our favorite primitive campsites. That trailer has a black water tank and a fresh water tank on it and we will make a short trip to the nearest dump and fresh water fill station every couple of weeks. For many this just isn’t practical and they carry water in a roof top fresh water bladder or jugs, then tow the trailer to dump black water as needed. If your camper is a larger one that it isn’t practical to pull out to a dump station, black water tanks come in various sizes and brand names such as “sani tote” and weight can be an issue for transporting them, for example, at roughly eight pounds per gallon, a thirty five gallon “blue boy” might be more than one would want to handle. Putting the portable black water tank on a receiver hitch cargo carrier works well for dumping, but, may be too high to gravity fill directly. Macerator pumps can solve the problem of getting the black water from the camper to the portable tank and they may be powered from a Jump start battery pack or a trailer plug. We prefer the jumper pack for power because we use it to power up other things around the campground. Generator size can relate directly to your camping style and I tend to look at it this way. Need a microwave, air conditioning or maybe a hair dryer ? Then you need to bring a big generator and a big gas can for it. Most folks can quite readily camp for extended stays with a small quiet and fuel efficient one thousand watt generator that they run sparingly in the morning and maybe in the evening. Ours uses about half a gallon of gasoline in eight hours or roughly four days. Betty and I just completed an extended stay at a lake and it was ever so fine sleeping with the windows open listening to the loons calling across the lake was so wonderful !

Monday, July 20, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART FOUR Of a six part series by Larry Harmon

USFS / BLM / USCOE AND SOME DIFFERENCES THEREIN. Boondocking in these areas is a very cool thing that allows us to enjoy Mother nature’s splendor in a up close and personal way. However each of those agencies have a set of specific requirements that cover the whole spectrum of activities during your stay. Many of the core values for those agency’s are the same, but, and now, that is a big BUT, each of the various Ranger districts can be ran as a small kingdom all unto it’s self, with the ability to adjust the regulations to suit the needs of that particular area. LENGTH OF STAY has a direct impact upon the area and may be regulated individually, but the general rule of thumb is fourteen days then you must move on out. How many additional days that you may stay for the remainder of the year can and often times does vary widely. ELEVATION will often dictate your style of camping because of wide temperature changes from season to season coupled with whether the area is arid, moist or maybe even in monsoon season. Each agency is good to post the individual area’s rules and regulations, so it is a good idea to spend a few minutes to pause and read how that may affect your visit. A quick check in with other campers in your chosen area will get you up to speed on particular’s about distances for dispersed camping and surface discharge of grey water and it’s various acceptable or non-acceptable, local methods. Each district office is a great source for maps, brochures and information about cool features in that area. Sometimes the USFS and BLM share offices in a given area.
USCOE lakes are almost all power generating and flood control lakes that have built up campsites, some with full hookups and some with partial hookups. In the heartland the USCOE many times, has primitive campgrounds with bare bones amenities such as picnic table fire ring and lantern pole, that are in remote locations and there is no charge to stay there. They are usually not advertised and campers depend upon word of mouth to learn of them. USCOE LAKE LEVELS CAN VARY WIDELY, chose your campsite wisely, after observing the high water marks left behind by previous high lake water levels. USFS and BLM lease land for livestock grazing in many western states and livestock can come to visit on occasion. Sheep in these areas are normally accompanied by a sheep herder and his camp wagon. Cattle normally free range and are checked upon by a stockman that is in a pickup with a horse trailer. Both of these stockmen are great sources of local information and because of the solitary nature of their job, will usually chat freely, giving you a perfect source of cool local stuff to see and visit. COYOTE’S, all of the various agency’s campgrounds seem to have a chronic Coyote problem. They are seldom seen and only occasionally heard, but they are there. An unattended pet is at jeopardy and coyotes are serious predators. Though we have covered a lot of ground, we have barely scratched the surface so far as USFS, BLM & USCOE bondocking is concerned. Our time spent boondocking with them is our most fun, memorable and continuous learning adventure that we enjoy. Safe travels and happy bondocking !

Monday, July 6, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART THREE of a six part series by Larry Harmon

Stretching your resources Just suppose that it is a holiday weekend, one of those cool three day holiday’s. You are used to boondocking for Friday night, Saturday and leaving back to civilization on Sunday. But now, you have an extra day to unwind and commune with nature. Most of us only have a limited amount of storage space in our camper and that means packing extra stuff can be a challenge. Boondocker’s have so many clever ways of stretching their resources that we could never cover them all in our limited space, so we will touch base with some of the more common ways and let your imagination be your creative guide.
WATER is heavy, takes up a lot of space and in some places it is not readily available. Under those challenging conditions, bringing it with you is necessary. Since your fresh water tank can only hold so much, many boondocker’s look for a way to make that weight count twice. Freezing gallon jugs of store bought water gives you long lasting blocks of ice for your ice chest that can be used for drinking or cooking after it has melted. a. Bathing, shaving and other chores can be done with a small amount of water in the sink using a wash cloth. Most commonly refer to this as a “spit bath”. As molded fiberglass enthusiast, Betty and I usually do a very quick wet down, soap down and rinse off that goes like this. Put plug in sink b. Adjust shower water temperature catching that water in the sink c. Put shaving lather in the sink water to warm up d. Wet down then turn the water off at the showerhead to keep the temperature unchanged e. Lather down f. Rinse off, turn water off This method can be stretched even one step further and is popular in the arid desert southwest. Catch the gallon or so of shower water in the shower floor pan with a stopper and add Epsom salts for soaking the tired hiker’s feet. GREY WATER storage can be extended in some arid areas operated by the U S Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management if your campsite is well away from streams or reservoirs and you carefully surface discharge your grey water. In these situations it is advisable to check with the local Ranger to insure whether or not it is a local custom. BLACK WATER by it’s very nature must be handled very carefully. Most camper’s have enough black water storage for a week or more, so an extended weekend will not create a issue there. If handling black water is necessary many deem the “blue boy”, “EZ TOTE” or similar container as the safest way to handle the black water. PROPANE is a bit more difficult to stretch, but the main ways that most boondocker’s use is reduced hours of use, cooking over a, open fire, or using a small generator for heat or cooking power source. For most camping trailer’s an extended weekend is not a propane issue. GASOLINE for a small generator as well as PROPANE give some cause for safety concerns and those folks seek other methods that can sometimes be difficult and or expensive. FOOD is space consuming and it’s weight has been addressed by the back packing community quite handily. The easy and convenient solution is to go the dehydrated route which makes many meals fit into a small light weight space. CLOTHING is also handled by back packers quite readily. The secret is light weight layered high tech fabrics. Here’s hoping that these few simple hint’s help you on your journey to a enjoyable extended boondocking experience.

Friday, June 26, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART TWO

IN IT’S STRICTEST FORM, WITHOUT SUPPORT. Many RVer’s perceive that this means staying camped in their chosen location as long as the stuff that they bring with them lasts. And often times this can come down to how much water you brought with you. Limited space for stuff seems to be the main controlling factor. Black and grey water holding tanks are usually fixed size containers that are installed by the camper manufacturer. Filling black and grey tanks to capacity usually depends upon their size and your stay time, but even one trip a day to a primitive campground’s vault toilet can really extend your stay.
Some of the campgrounds that we have stayed in out West on the USFS ( United States Forest Service ) and BLM ( Bureau of Land Management ) , don’t mind the careful discharge of grey water when it is at considerable distance from a stream. These less strict campgrounds are nearly always up high and way back in the more arid mountainous places. Their current position on grey water under these conditions is that it can be beneficial to tree life. Now under those conditions an outside shower with solar heated water can be a really fine thing and stretch out your stay. Also being able to put a small dish pan of dish washing grey water under a needy tree can do likewise. Probably the most common grey water storage saving under those conditions can be attained by hooking a hose to the grey water tank and placing it a strategic and appropriate location. With the hose hooked up many molded fiberglass camping friends follow this shower sequence. 1.Put plug in sink 2.Adjust shower water temperature catching that water in the sink 3.Put shaving lather in the sink water to warm up 4.Wet down then turn the water off at the showerhead to keep the temperature unchanged 5.Lather down 6.Rinse off, turn water off 7.Shave, rinse, turn water off Some even plug the shower pan drain to catch that soapy shower water, add Epsom salts to it and soak their feet. Under this strict water rationing protocol many campers report using a gallon to a gallon and a half to complete the process. Your method can vary considerably but you get the idea ! Ice Chest use is somewhat similar in frugality. Some will fill drinking water containers and freeze them at home before the camping trip. Put the frozen containers in an ice chest to keep perishable’s fresh then they can use the remaining water as needed around camp. There are way too many such clever ideas to be able to cover them in such a short writing, but your imagination will doubtless come up with many more ! DISPERSED CAMPING, a term used by USFS & BLM for when there are no facilities at all. Some of the coolest camping of all and often times in some of the most pristine wilderness. One popular camping site in the Southwest is near Quartzsite Arizona where in January and February there will be tens of thousands of RV’s scattered across the desert. BLM sells a Long Term Visitor’s pass that will allow winter visitors to stay for several months. In town there are RV service sites that specialize in providing tank dump sites and fresh water fills. Many RVer’s there move every two weeks and go through town to dump, fill with water and move to another camping place. There are even mobile water delivery and pump out services along with mobile RV repair technicians.

Friday, June 19, 2015

BOONDOCKING PART ONE Of a six part series by Larry Harmon WHAT IT IS AND SOME OF IT’S FORMS Boondocking comes in many forms, so it’s not likely that we will be able to cover them all in this brief writing. So, let’s talk about the most common types of boondocking that comes to mind.
So, just what is boondocking ? It is camping without hooking up to water, sewer or electricity, and there are many ways that folks like to do it. ASPHALT/CONCRETE BOONDOCKING is just as the name implies but the location can be widely varied. This is usually in an urban type of environment. There are many names for this type of boondocking. Some that come to mind are WALLYDOCKING or overnighting at Wal-Mart. A hint for here, park out of the way, near the security cameras and away from the receiving dock area where noisy deliveries are often times made in the wee hours. Many retailers do not discourage this type of camping and some encourage it. One of our favorites is Cracker Barrel because of their roaring fireplace and great breakfast. This type of boondocking can have some hidden Dangers so reading the local vibe can be important. For example if you see gang graffiti, vandalism, street people with all of their worldly goods in a shopping cart, it might be better to move on. Broken safety glass scattered around a parking lot can well indicate that smash and grab thefts are happening there, and leaving someone in your camper, even when shopping could be a wise move. Again, parking in full view of security cameras is always a good idea. STEALTH camping is somewhat the art of blending in or hiding in plain sight. Being anonymous by virtue of, “out of sight, out of mind”, can provide not only security, but also a good night’s rest. One of our old standby’s is a RV sales lot or dealership, they always have easy in and easy out access and we look like we belong there. DRIVEWAY Boondocking can be great, either at kinfolks or someone that you know along the way. Great visit’s and wonderful local flavor from this type of boondocking, and there is no check in or out time ! REST AREA’S, TRUCK STOPS and other high traffic, noisy type, of area’s can be convenient but hard to get some rest in, because of the noise. Even with the stereo on, if a truck sets it’s air brakes next to you, it will likely wake you up. Should you find a lower traffic part of it, there will always be the bull hauler Cowboy with a Jake brake racking off. We tend to use them, but sparingly when pushing hard to get somewhere. REMOTE BONDOCKING, commonly referred to by the USFS ( United States Forest Service ) and BLM ( Bureau of Land Management ) as DISPERSED CAMPING, can vary widely depending on which part of the USA you are in. For example, in the West, sunshine and solar panels can really keep you out there in pristine wilderness for long periods of time. In Heavily timbered areas the sunshine can’t get to solar panels and other alternatives such as small generators can be used. Water is the usual limitation to remote boondocking, fresh water, grey water and black water capacities will be critical in determining on site stay time. BOONDOCKING WITH SUPPORT can be as simple as using vault toilets and carrying water in containers to extend your stay, or, to having a utility trailer to haul fresh water and waste water. This is one of our favorite ways to boondock and as I write this we are in our third week of boondocking with more to come, in a primitive campground that has a lake on three sides and a magnificent view in all directions. Later in this BOONDOCKING SERIES, we will talk about supported boondocking in depth.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

RISING

A slightly rising lake during a fishing trip is generally a good thing ! The fish bite better and in a springtime fishing trip the air is washed clear from time to time by those wonderful and mild showers that are causing the lake rise.
Most of our springtime fishing trips kind of follow a pattern in general, that goes like this. Fish during a mild lake rise for a couple of days. Then as the lake drops back to a more nearly normal level and the fishing slows down, we have held our daily catch in the live box. During this lake dropping and slower fishing time we catch up on our fish cleaning and filleting, putting one gallon freezer bags of fillets up for future use. This slow down period is when we catch up on fish fry’s and Dutch oven cooking.
This spring’s fishing trip however, was different. Once the lake quit raising, we, . . . . No, wait ! The lake just never did quit raising ! Between rains we were able to have fish fry’s and some great Dutch oven cooking, but that lake just kept on rising.
Fishing was pretty good, but, then, that lake just kept on raising. Daily it seemed, we would have to move our boat tie up lines further up the bank. Soon our neighbors were leaving out and, soon, there was just us ol’ die hard’s left there with the rising lake. Then we realized that it was time for us to go. After all, we had a trans Canadian trip to get ready for ! Yep, we’re back at the docking port, rounding up our plunder, getting ready to tour again !