Sunday, February 28, 2010
Boondocking: a wisp of a dream that emerged in Bishop, CA
Boondocking. It's one of our main goals once we get used to the whole RV/campground lifestyle. Boondocking means staying in an area with no water, electric and sewer hookups. I guess in spy novels or radical groups it's called being off the grid. For some, it just means a night or two at a Walmart or Costco while on the way to another campground. Technically speaking, that's called dry-camping since it's not out in the "boonies", but that's being picky. We've done that a couple of times when we didn't want to pay for a campground for just one short night. But for many, it's a way of life, and they rarely stay at a campground or RV resort.
A true boondocking area might be a spot by a secluded lake or river that you've discovered or something like Quartzite, Arizona , a town of less than 4,000 people, that sees an influx of more than 75,000 RV's each year. A huge support service industry has developed in the Quartzite area to help the boondockers who flock to the desert area from December to March each year.
There is so much land in this country that allows the opportunity to boondock. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) and Forest Service land all offer space to camp with an RV of any size. The BLM alone manages more than 253 million acres of land. And it's all either free or at minimal cost ($180 for a 7 month pass).
This whole idea came to us long before we ever heard of "boondocking". Val, Emily and I were out in Bishop, California visiting Matt who was working and climbing there. We didn't have our RV yet, but as we spent some time in the Buttermilks bouldering area, it made us think about how wonderful it would be to just park an RV out there in an isolated open space between the Sierra (Val's picture) and White Mountain ranges (bottom pic) . It's an amazingly beautiful area and one that we plan to visit once we're outfitted for boondocking.
But there is one main project that we need to accomplish before we head out off the grid. We need a solar power system (many use a combination of solar and wind turbine power). It will be the most involved project to date for me; far harder then installing the inverter in the truck or the central vac or Sani-con system in the RV. We will be installing 3 or 4 solar panels on the roof, a solar controller, an inverter and then a bank of batteries which will power everything we need (yes, TV's and computers and microwave ovens included) except the air conditioners. For that, if needed, we will run our generator. The solar system will give us the freedom to go anywhere we want for at least a week at a time (before we need more water). (And for those who care about being "green", our energy footprint will be a tiny fraction of what it would be if we still lived in our Woodlake house.) I'll keep you updated on the project when we begin. I'm hoping it will be this summer which will allow us to boondock in the desert next winter!