Our first boondock - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-15-2016, 10:16 AM   #1
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Name: Tim
Trailer: '88 Scamp 16, layout 4
North Florida
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Our first boondock

A couple of weekends back, before it got too hot, my daughter our dog and I went on our first true “boondock” (completely off grid, no facilities). Note that I grew up camping without facilities but as an adult enjoy some of the finer things in life, as does my daughter. We had previously camped without electricity but in a campground that had water and bathroom facilities so I knew we could do this. We are not only blessed with (usually) great weather here in North Florida but also a number of State campgrounds and a huge National Forest, the Apalachicola.
I discovered last year that there are apparently several “hunt camps” cut out of the forest in various areas. The story is that hunters can camp here with no time limits during hunting season. I suspected, and our one trip “sample” bore out, that nobody much uses these camps outside hunting season. While I gather it is “legal” to camp anywhere in the forest I am more comfortable getting in and out of dedicated sites with the trailer and feel better using previously compromised areas of the forest.
I picked one out that looked to be not too far (2.3 miles) off the “oiled road” for our first weekend boondock. We were going down after work/school on Friday evening so I wanted to make sure and get somewhere (and set up) I had never been to before dark. We were a little late getting off but had no trouble finding camp and getting all set up in plenty of time Friday night. I had taken two of my three 100W solar panels and hooked them up and placed them flat on top of the camper shell on my truck. I had one six gallon water jug for general use as well as several milk jugs full for drinking and cooking.
To sum, we spent two nights and a day and a half there and it was wonderful. The camp amounted to a 12 acre or so meadow cut out of the forest. It also had a nice horseshoe shaped man made pond up front near the road. We pulled all the way to the back and parked parallel to the tree line and set up camp. Sometime Saturday a couple of cars showed up at the pond and spent a few hours fishing and picnicking. They did not bother us nor we them. My daughter, the dog and I took a hike and then after my nap the cars were gone. On the nap, I nap (and sleep) good while camping.
My daughter and the dog would play in the meadow and hike down and around the pond (several times). The trip turned into quite the science/biology lesson for a 7th grader. In the pond were several clusters of tadpoles. The clusters were in various stages of development from eggs all the way to almost frogs and were very interesting to a little girl (and her Dad). Saturday afternoon our dog came out of the forest with a bleached and bare deer skull. My daughter was delighted as she said they were studying the skeletal system in school right now.
The solar panels worked well but we apparently use more power than we developed. I attribute this to a couple of things, mostly we are in and out of the Truckfridge too much and put room temp stuff in it before leaving. The Truckfridge had to work to cool these things down and the batts got basically got no recharge until Saturday morning. The solar charging is another story but we basically “lost” 10% of capacity a day that we did not get back. I have another panel and in any event could go 4-5 days of camping without worrying about it. 4-5 days should take care of most of our little trips for quite a while.
I was pleasantly surprised that my daughter enjoyed the trip so much and expressed interest in doing more boondocking and coming back to this particular camp. On our way out Sunday afternoon we picked up trash from around the pond. I told my daughter we were paying our camping fee. There are several more of these camps sprinkled throughout the forest and we will be checking them out as weather and time permits.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:21 AM   #2
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Name: Bill
Trailer: Burro 1983 13'
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Boondock

Tim I much prefer boon docking to conventional campgrounds.
It's amazing that a 7th grader would show any interest in
spending time with a parent much less in a boon docking
scenario! These are the times she and you will remember
and treasure forever. I really like how you picked up litter
to pay your camping fee. A lesson well learned.
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Old 05-15-2016, 11:38 AM   #3
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Name: Francois
Trailer: Bigfoot
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pits....

your "out of season hunting camps"... are kind of like my abandoned gravel pits.....

here in the mountains loggers built roads everywhere and to do that they dug small borrow pits here and there....I don't know if my background in heavy construction is a factor but I enjoy staying in these places....there's good visibility, sometimes a nice view, and often firewood even....nice and quiet, just the way I like it....glad to hear your solar is working out well for you...cheers, F
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Old 05-16-2016, 09:36 AM   #4
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This is not facebook but a double like for hunting camps and abandoned gravel pits. Sounds like a fantastic weekend. Many other states have these kind of opportunities.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:31 AM   #5
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Congratulations Timber Wolf,

You have opened up the wonderful world of boon docking to yourself and your family. We have been "most timing" for the last 2 years and we always look forward to the adventures we find off the beaten path. Our fondest memories are of the places we have camped that few others have seen.

I'll never forget our first boon docking experience - you had to go down Ghost Town road to Cemetery road outside of Congress Arizona. We only stayed there one night. It was near a pioneer cemetery and most of the roads were nothing but washes in the desert. That night Cindy told me there was rain in the forecast and it was a "little" spooky anyways so we left the next day. We laugh about it every time we talk about it.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:40 PM   #6
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That sounds amazing, Tim! I too have a 7th grade daughter who enjoys those types of experiences as well as my 20 yo daughter. I'm fortunate in that my girls still love to spend time with me and camp as much as we can. I made the mistake of trading my minivan for a small SUV figuring now that my oldest was driving and in college she would no longer be joining me on my adventures but boy was I wrong, lol! So after 3 yrs of cramming 4 and sometimes 5 in a small SUV I once again have a minivan and everybody is happy and foresee lots more trips in the future even with my college kid (Mom doing the Happy Dance!). So how do you find "hunting camps"? We too are in Florida just farther South on the East Coast so this sounds nice for quick weekend getaways when my oldest is off work a couple of days.
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Old 05-16-2016, 02:37 PM   #7
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Name: Tim
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Originally Posted by melissab View Post
So how do you find "hunting camps"?
I blundered into them through this site: https://freecampsites.net/#!Florida&query=region. You might think (wish) it would be easy to find opportunities to utilize OUR public lands. During our trip I told my daughter "we" (she and I) "owned" this forest. Well a 300 millionth of it or whatever our percentage is.
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Old 05-16-2016, 03:29 PM   #8
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Name: K C
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The solar panels worked well but we apparently use more power than we developed. I attribute this to a couple of things, mostly we are in and out of the Truckfridge too much and put room temp stuff in it before leaving. The Truckfridge had to work to cool these things down and the batts got basically got no recharge until Saturday morning. The solar charging is another story but we basically “lost” 10% of capacity a day that we did not get back. I have another panel and in any event could go 4-5 days of camping without worrying about it. 4-5 days should take care of most of our little trips for quite a while.

300 watts of solar is a lot. If it was mostly the fridge you were running and you lights are LED and you are not running computers and a TV all the time you should be keeping up with the power consumption. You might want to check into how your setup is done and the condition and capacity of your batteries. Also try and see if you can get more insulation around the fridge. You probably know that you should park with the fridge on the shady side otherwise it will have to work too hard.
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