I imagine that what I have to share here is "old hat" for most members on this forum. However, maybe I will share at least one gem that the "old timers" can appreciate. If nothing else, maybe give you a chuckle or two at the expense of a newbie.
While I have been out several times camping with my Casita
, circumstances and other factors lead to this being the first "real" camping trip for me. Needless to say, I learned a lot!
My recent "dispersed" camping trip in the Boise National Forest, was extremely enjoyable with a few exceptions. One was nature and the other was caused by unthinking humans. I will only address the nature one here as I already posted the human point. In the afternoons, the temperature outside was usually about 100 degrees or more. Fortunately, the humidity was extremely low, ergo the Condition 1 fire restrictions and the very dry conditions. I say fortunately, because I have been to southern Texas where BOTH the temperature AND the humidity are the same.
The heat lasted from about 1:30 PM until dusk which was usually after 6:30 PM. The temperature in my trailer would reach 96 at times. I would have the exhaust fan on high during that time and it was still, to put it mildly, HOT!
So to the point of this post. Lessons Learned.
1. Carefully scope out the terrain before parking and setting up camp.
Two things happened here. I parked so that the Casita
had both a somewhat severe fore and aft and port and starboard cant. I used leveling blocks for the port and starboard list. I however failed to put enough blocks under the wheel to fully eliminate the list. Lesson learned: check and address leveling BEFORE disconnecting the tow vehicle.
Secondly, I put the rear stabilizers down BEFORE adjusting fore and aft leveling. I was on a considerable slope and needed to raise the tongue of the trailer up a lot. The rear stabilizers worked against my attempt to raise the tongue of the trailer! When I realized my mistake, all of sudden, things were much easier. Put the stabilizers down last, not first!
There were areas at the campsite where I would not have endured such extreme leveling issues.
While I had my awning
out, the angle of the sun made the awning
useless in the late afternoons. Better position of the trailer would have eliminated that problem and I could have spent the afternoons outside the trailer instead of inside.
2. Regularly monitor battery
Because of the afternoon "warmish" temperatures, I was running the MaxxAir fan on high all afternoon and evening.
Normally, this would not have been a problem, but again because of my position in the camp site, my solar
panels were probably only 50 percent efficient.
The problem did not show itself until the third day. I have 2 lithium 105 amp batteries, so I have a lot of power available ASSUMING that the solar
is working at almost optimum efficiency.
In the middle of the afternoon, all of a sudden my power shut off. I had completely discharged the batteries to their minimum charge state and the BMS turned everything off.
Out came my Honda EU2200i. It experienced its "maiden" run.
I had purchased a 2-1/2 gallon "child proof" gas container which initially proved to also be "adult proof". After a vocabulary building struggle, I finally figured it all out and I was able to easily fill the Honda's tank.
Normally, I am one of those people who only read the manual if all else fails. However, I broke that rule and read Honda's complete owner's manual earlier in my camping adventure. So put the choke to "on", open the air vent on the gas tank, and . . . Well I pulled the start cord. No go. Tried again. No go. Finally after about 3 or 4 pulls, I decided something was wrong. Oh . . . you have to turn the fuel on also! After that, I had a pleasantly humming Honda providing the needed power to my Casita
At this point, I plugged in the voltage monitor that came with the Casita. If I had plugged it in to begin with, I would have saved myself some grief.
I opted for the Coleman Air Conditioner and so many may wonder why I did not make use of it. I did use it for about 20 minutes at the end of the charging cycle for the batteries. It was heaven. The the Honda ran out of gas. I had gas and I could have headed into a nearby town for more, but I wanted to avoid as much as possible, the use of the Honda. I consider it a backup/emergency power source only.
3. Water conservation
Another upgrade to my Casita was the 25 gallon fresh water tank. My camping trip was 8 days long. During that time, I only used about 3/4's of my fresh water. I had collapsible 5 gallon water containers with me, but I felt they were a last resort. In my opinion, it is not camping if you are constantly running into town to resupply yourself.
I would say that the major use of my water, was drinking water. With the heat, I was drinking a lot of water. My Berkey water filter did an excellent job. A lesson learned here, do not allow the Berkey filters to dry out. So it was a couple of days before the filters were finally functioning at full capacity. After the fact, I discovered I had the attachment necessary to hydrate the filters in the trailer. So the filters were hydrated very slowly through gravity over a period of a couple of days. Still, I had plenty of drinking water.
Because of my menu, I needed very little water for cooking. I bathed and shaved daily using less than a gallon of water. I did not use the shower in the wet bath, because I am 6'8". Taking a shower in the 6' wet bath is not, in my opinion, an option. It is possible, I suppose to sit on the toilet, but showers, even if you are taking a "Navy shower", use a lot of water. So, I would heat up a sauce pan of water to boiling. In a small collapsible bucket I would add cold water enough to cool the boiling water down to the point, I could just manage it. First, I shaved with the fresh water. I have one of those plastic collapsing stools I sit on as I thoroughly bath myself with the cooling hot water. I did not throw the bath water out . . . yet. I used it during the day when my hands would get dirty. Followed by the use of a Clorox sanitizing wipe.
To the point of dirty dishes. I was only drinking water, so no need to clean up after coffee or other beverages.
I covered my plate with Glad wrap. The kind that is sticky on one side. The sticky side went to the plate. My food was on the Glad wrap and not the plate itself. When the meal was over, I simply removed the Glad wrap film from the plate and that went in the trash. The plate was still clean and did not need to be washed for next time. Spatulas, forks, knives and spoons were cleaned off with a paper towel. Then a damp Clorox sanitation wipe was used to fully clean and sanitize the utensil. So little or no water was required to wash dishes.
I would put a small amount of water in a sauce pan and heat canned vegetables in the open can. So the sauce pan remained clean. The water would later be used to wash up and clean.
Through conservation of water and other resources, my waste for the entire trip, including my "policing" the camp area was one 13-gallon trash bag.
I took a container of Costco muffins with me, which served as breakfast on several days. To heat them up, I would put about 3 or 4 tablespoons of water in my sauce pan. The bottom of the pan had crumpled aluminum foil which acted at a trivet/grate. I would then put the muffin in the sauce pan and covered the pan. The sauce pan was placed on the stove on very low heat for about 4 or 5 minutes. Voila, I would have a nice hot muffin for breakfast. My plan is to have a larger "pot" in the future with a real trivet on the bottom with a lid. I see this as a home made "oven" for camping. I see no reason why I could not bake corn bread or any other item that needed baking.
I just covered the highlights of what I learned. I assure you that I learned a great deal more. Much of it had me thinking outside of the box to solve other problems. I very much enjoyed my camping trip. I have more trips planned for the future. This trip was to break out of a shell where I was very concerned about solo camping. My concern had to do with my age, health, and strength. This trip put all of that to rest.
I know I am long winded. I just wanted to share my experiences, good and bad. Hopefully, it gave you something to laugh about and to cheer you up. Maybe you even were given a few ideas to explore yourself.