Boondocking Tips?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-27-2013, 11:51 PM   #1
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Boondocking Tips??

Hello! We have been out on three trips so far with our new 19' Escape and have figured out where to put most everything in the trailer and and how to get setup and leveled for camping, etc. All of our camping so far has been great with full-hookups. Now we want to learn remote camping.

In two weeks we are going out to the Anza-Borrego desert and are going to claim "our spot" for a few days and have already scouted where we want to go. Our trailer is setup for this type of camping with solar, inverter, dual batteries, dual propane tanks, etc. My TV is a Honda Pilot 4WD with towing package so we can comfortably go off-road (carefully). What I could use are tips from you on how to preserve water and make the holding tanks last as long as possible before they top out, etc. and make the experience as enjoyable as possible. My goal is to become really good at camping off the grid when we want to go exploring. Of course we are on a steep learning curve. Any tips are appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 01-28-2013, 12:21 AM   #2
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Steve, to conserve water, we have found a water saving device attached to the faucet (smart faucet, found at a marine store) that helped to cut our consumption by a third. All that is required is to unscrew the tip of your faucet's screen aerator and screw the smart faucet or similar device on in its' place. You leave your faucet hot or cold or both blended in the on position. Whenever you want water you just touch the lever and water is dispensed until the lever is released. It doesn't sound like much, but the scant amount of time used to twist on & off a faucet wastes more water than you would be aware of.
I have a picture of it in my profile under pictures of mods. DSC01249.JPG
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:56 AM   #3
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Where in Anza Borrego are you going, Steve? We have a new-to-us Casita in which we've been out 4 times so far, always with hook ups,, but we're headed to Quartzsite next week and will see how the boon docking goes. If it's a hit, w're thinking a trip out to Anza Borrego to admire and photograph the wildflowers would be a good one, so I'll be interested to hear more about your trip.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:53 AM   #4
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Oh man I loved the Anza Borrego - wish it was me! It was the high light of my last winters trip. S2 is an interesting drive - stop in at Agua Caliente County Park for a swim in their hot springs pools. From there the little town of Julian is a cute place to check out as well. There is a GREAT bakery there. I dont recommend taking a trailer up to it though from the S2.

Some of the things I have done and bring along for off grid camping that have helped me stay in one spot for longer times are:

LED bulbs in all my lights

Small head lamps for reading at night

Carry a 10 gal portable tote for draining off the grey or black water tank as needed. Take it with you when sight seeing and you can usually find someplace to dump it - even if its only a gas station bathroom.

Carry a couple of small sized collapsible water containers for refilling the fresh water tank - you can pick up water for refilling water tanks while out sight seeing.

Carry a separate drink water container - which again can be refilled while out sight seeing.

Showering options - either sponge bath or if you use the trailers shower make sure you have a shut off right on the shower head handle and use it! :-) & carry a portable Solar Shower bag to use on a nice day and some eco friendly soap. The solar shower will heat up faster if you stick it in the tug behind a window or heat up some water on the stove and add it to the water in the bag works as well.

Use paper towels to wipe off dishes and pots before washing.

Using a plastic basin inside your kitchen sink helps a lot in making you be very aware of how much water you are actually using when doing dishes. There is also no harm in watering the local plants with the water you used for the final rinsing of the dishes, as it shouldn't have any food particulars of soap etc in it.

Have a great trip!!
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:53 AM   #5
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To save on water we use paper plates and those little kits at fast food restaurants with knife/fork/napkins. This cuts down on washing dishes and the grey water. It is easier to bring home paper trash than 20 g. spare waste water tank that is full. I would also take some water in a 5 g water container for drinking/coffee. This leaves your fresh water tank capacity for discretionary uses.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:14 AM   #6
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I use one of those 1 qt generic spray bottles, fill it with water and use it to rinse off utensils, cups, whatever. Depending on circumstance I may be storing grey water which this keeps down as well.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nancyrwolfing View Post
Where in Anza Borrego are you going, Steve? We have a new-to-us Casita in which we've been out 4 times so far, always with hook ups,, but we're headed to Quartzsite next week and will see how the boon docking goes. If it's a hit, w're thinking a trip out to Anza Borrego to admire and photograph the wildflowers would be a good one, so I'll be interested to hear more about your trip.
Nancy I wished it had been spring rather than winter when I went to Anza! Would have loved to have been able to have photographed the wild flowers!
As mentioned previously I stayed at Agua Caliente and it would be a great spot to do some wild flower photos from & they offer electrical sites at a reasonable cost there if it turns out the dry camping doesnt fit your style. there are also spots just north of it just off the S2 where you can boon dock if you want. Box Car Canyon in that area also looked to me as if it has good spring flower potential.

At Borrego Springs the hike up the Borrego Palm Canyon behind the State park dry camping area into the Palm tree grove was an interesting area to photograph and I suspect would be even better in the spring. The dry camping in that state park was pricey - I think it was $25 a night - the hook up sites way pricier. But just outside of town a few miles there is a spot you will see from the highway where the boon dockers hang out. Some stay out for 4 or 5 days then go into the state park to dump their tanks and get a long hot shower before heading back out to the dry camp. If you havent already seen it, around the town of Borrego Springs runs a road with really amazing large metal sculptors by Richard Breceda also worth getting a shot of in the right light.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
To save on water we use paper plates and those little kits at fast food restaurants with knife/fork/napkins. .
Jim I am guessing you didnt grow up in a tree hugging community!

Most of the state parks as well as the private campgrounds you pass on your travels will let you for a small fee use their dumping facilities. Some highway rest stops also have free dumping facilities - at least here on the West coast I5 they do. Have found there is normally someplace to dump the tanks not to far away so have never had to pull to far with full tanks and have never had to bring waste water home to dump. A good website to bookmark on your smart phone is called sanidumps.com to find the closest dump station to you.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Steve L. View Post
I use one of those 1 qt generic spray bottles, fill it with water and use it to rinse off utensils, cups, whatever. Depending on circumstance I may be storing grey water which this keeps down as well.
GREAT idea Steve! I do that on kayaking camping trips and hadnt thought to do it in the trailer.
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Old 01-28-2013, 10:35 AM   #10
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Steve, you say a few days. Just curious as to how many, as this makes a big difference in how we do things.

As well, will there be any outhouse, or similar facility. We are fortunate where we primarily boondock to have an outhouse set up.

Water conservation and use:
-We usually just sponge bath if out less than 5 days, with the rare exception of a quick shower using the shut-off at the shower head a lot. Using the outside shower does not accumulate water in the storage tank either.
-Dishes we almost always wash in a dishpan, and toss into the bushes. I have an affinity against using paper, not just to save a tree, but just that real plates are so much easier to use. We prewipe everything too, plus we don't rinse, but always dry immediately to remove any residue. Plus, we pack along a ton of dish towels.
-If no outhouse, the menfolk usually just water a tree.
-We take drinking water separate, used just for drinking and making coffee.
-On rare occasion we do take along an extra container of water, but really haven't needed that as there is usually a river or stream nearby.
-We have never had need in 5 days to empty the tanks either, using conservative measures.

Electrical
-With solar you really have no issues there
-We don't have solar, but with dual 6V batteries have never come near running low on capacity yet, even after 5 days using the furnace a bit.
-LED lighting will help a lot, especially if you have minimal daylight hours.
-We are conscious though of how much we use our lighting, as well as the furnace fan, keeping the heat down at night and snuggling under warm and cozy bedding.

Probably 80%+ of our camping is off the grid, something we have always done, and something I am used to from many years of traveling in the backcountry where a headlamp and backpacking stoves are the only electrical and gas products you have.

You will love this form of camping, the freedom and space it gives you is wonderful. When we can sit around the fire with our friends and family (usually 20 or more), play guitars and sing loud and proud, and have nobody to complain, it is great.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:17 AM   #11
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Take fire wood with you and take alot of it, it gets dark early.
Get a fire permit you can get one here before you go.
Sequoia National Forest - Recreation Passes & Permits

Permit is good on all California public lands except during fire restrictions. Beware if you have a fire the authorities will be looking for your permit. it isnt worth the fine.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:51 AM   #12
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In your original post you said preserve water but the replies you got are talking about conserving water. Is that what you meant or were you referring to keeping it good? If you meant good, you have nothing to worry about. It won't spoil. The tank, however if left damp for an extended period of time might or might not get moldy inside.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:55 AM   #13
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If you are heading out for an extended periods and not wanting to pack a lot of fire wood due to weight issues a small propane fire pit works well. I have a Fire Dancer that I use. Very Light and packs up small. Often allowed to use it in areas that are under fire restrictions as well due to it being considered a propane appliance.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:01 PM   #14
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Watch out with the wood. Here in Minnesota we have a lot if Nasty Beasties that hitchhike on the bark. Emerald ash borer is killing off a lot of forests and its primary transmission mode is through firewood.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:27 PM   #15
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Watch out with the wood. Here in Minnesota we have a lot if Nasty Beasties that hitchhike on the bark.
Same issues in BC. Real bad idea to bring wood from the pine beetle infested area into a none infested area.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:08 PM   #16
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Of course, there's the old stand-by, shower together!

Travelling single you can be a little more flexible with personal hygene. When the skunks give ME a wide berth it's time for a sponge bath.

Running naked in the rain is frowned upon in most campgrounds. Although a soapy streaker has a certain appeal although I'm sure I don't know to who.

Ok, I guess I only had one good idea and it's rapidly devolving from there.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:09 PM   #17
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Of course, there's the old stand-by, shower together!

Travelling single you can be a little more flexible with personal hygene. When the skunks give ME a wide berth it's time for a sponge bath.

Running naked in the rain is frowned upon in most campgrounds. Although a soapy streaker has a certain appeal although I'm sure I don't know to who.

Ok, I guess I only had one good idea and it's rapidly devolving from there.
Who are you calling a Skunk?
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:54 PM   #18
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Forego showers altogether- much of the world stays clean by way of several cups of water, a rag, and a bar of soap.

As for campfires (if allowed- I don't know where exactly you're going, but there are restrictions in the backcountry: Anza-Borrega fire rules)

Pres-to logs beat all other kinds of wood for long, clean burning and are perfectly sanitary, bugs-wise. Pound for pound, you'll get a lot more fire from them than from any other hard-fuel source. Not recommended for cooking-on-a-stick, though, so bring along a bag of charcoal, too.

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Old 01-28-2013, 06:38 PM   #19
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Lightbulb

I enjoyed reading all 17 posts in reply to your OP. Informative and comforting to know i'm among several kindred souls.

On Showering... Cari & I take'em every other day whether we need them or not. It just feels good to climb into bed squeaky clean : ) We are rebels though in that we use one of those 1 gallon garden sprayers with the stock mister head. We fill up a 2 quart kettle with water and dump in sprayer, then boil 2 quarts in same kettle, pour, shake, and then take a luxurious 5 or so minute shower. I actually find myself lollygagging around to finish the water up. Yup you can shower with a 1/2 gallon of water with this set up.

On the non-shower days we just use organic baby wipes from the health food department of our local supermarket. They are unscented and have no chemicals like regular baby wipes.

Washing hair...Well i'm lucky cuz i just shave my head every other day! Cari has a cute short hairdo and will use baking soda now and again to dry-clean her hair. Her hair feels amazingly soft afterward and sort of squeaks. gotta be clean IMO.

On tank fill/empty thingy...Yes on what the others said. Filling the black tank is the weak link in the system. I'll just use our 5'ver as an example (realizing your 19ft has a 19 gallon black tank, but similar water-flush toilet). . . We have a 40 gallon black tank. My wife and i get seven days use out of the tank before i need to dump. I'm guessing you will get a max of four(?) days use before having to either move and dump, OR dump into one of the portable tanks-on-wheels and maybe make a trip somewhere to dump it?? Another way, (and the way we do things in our off-grid rigs) is to use a porta-loo setup. Put some pine-pellets in a bio-bag and do your solids-thingy, then sprinkle some pine-shavings over and seal bag. Then put that into the smallest brown paper lunch bags you can find. Dump as needed. Many of my off-road/grid jeeper/jamborie type acquaintances use kitty litter. Since society is ok with that mode of taking care of the kitty business it is a politically correct solution to an age old issue. The biggest issue will be psychological. THEN simply utilize the built in Thetford for liquids only and your tank should last upwards of a couple weeks, maybe more. AND depending on local regulations you can dump the liquids in the black tank at the same time you dump the liquids in the grey tank because it is a well know fact in agriculture that a ~10:1 ration of Water+Urine makes for a great fertilizer. . . so while the mixture might be a bit more full of minerals (cuz the ratio is off), the desert ground or plant life will still thrive for the most part.

Yes on all the LED lighting gizmos!

Yes on paper plates.

On kitchen ware...You might pick up a skillet with ceramic surface. Pots too! They are great and we use them in all our rigs each day at home or on the trail. All they take is maybe a tablespoon or so of water and wipe with a single paper towel and they are clean. We've never burned anything. They cost a bit more, but are totally natural/organic in nature and a healthy choice over synthetic non-stick cookware.

Happy Trails,
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:44 PM   #20
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AND depending on local regulations you can dump the liquids in the black tank at the same time you dump the liquids in the grey tank because it is a well know fact in agriculture that a ~10:1 ration of Water+Urine makes for a great fertilizer. . . so while the mixture might be a bit more full of minerals (cuz the ratio is off), the desert ground or plant life will still thrive for the most part.

Happy Trails,
Thom
What???

I presume you're not suggesting that local regulations anywhere permit the dumping of black tanks on the ground...right?

Francesca
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