Guide to Successful Boondocking

This is our top 10 boondocking tip for the inexpirenced boondocker. This guide helped us have a safe and enjoyable stay where ever we parked.

Advertisements

10 Boondocking Tips for the Inexperienced Boondocker

This is our top 10 boondocking tips we recommend for the inexperienced boondocker,  We used these tips on our 2600 mile journey this past Spring, on our road-trip to Georgia and back to Michigan.  Not once were we asked to leave our parking spot.

Here is our list:

1:     Ask permission – Just don’t assume it is legal for you t to park in any public parking lot.  Ask the management of the anchor store if they would allow you to park overnight.  Many times they will agree and direct you to the best area in the parking lot to park.

2:     Don’t lie about why you are there – Be honest about your need to park.  We were never told no, even when it was posted “no overnight camping”.  We were just honest about it.

3:     Never set up camp in the parking lot – We have seen campers take advantage of the kindness of store manager and their parking rules.  Don’t pull out your grills and chairs as you would if you were at a campsite.  It’s rude and just plain tacky.

Rude

4:     Never overstay your welcome – One or two days stay at best.  You don’t want to attract attention to yourself and ruin other traveler’s chances to boondock at the same location.  Share the love.

5:      Spend a little money  – Even if it just a gallon of water or a bag of ice.  Patron the store will make the manager more willing to let you stay longer.  It’s also being considerate of the situation.

pitch in trash image

6:     Keep it clean – Pick up your trash and clean up your surrounding.  It’s very sad to see full trash bag and tons of litter surrounding the parking lots.  Be a good guest and pick up after yourself.  It will make management happy too.

7:     Be quiet – This is not a time to have a party.  Keep your noise level down, again don’t attract attention, it’s rude and you may get a visit from the police.

8:     Vehicle Presentation – You don’t have to have a new camper to be overlooked while boondocking.  Keep your rig clean and in good working order.  It draws less suspicion.

Traveler, Motor Home, Travel Journal, Bonndocking

9:     Consideration parking habits – Plan your parking on the outskirts of the parking lot.  Don’t park up front and take up multiple spaces.  You’ll only make management and customers angry.  Be considerate of the space your rig will use.

10:    No major repairs while parking – Many stores have a policy that states no repairing of vehicles in parking lot. If you have major repairs in the future, plan accordingly and drive your rig where you can repair it or have it repaired without harassment.

Live by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have done to you” (Luke 6:31) and you should have no problems boondocking on your travels.  You can also save money on the way too.

Challenges of Boondocking

These are real concerns that will put a crimp in your travels…

Travel Obstacles While on the Road

When you read about boondocking you’ll frequently hear how wonderful life is living free on the road.  Well, I am here to tell you not every day is peaches-n-cream.  There are plenty of obstacles you’ll face and many changes you will make.  This post is about a few of those challenges we have faced along our 2600 mile journey.

Over the course of two months on the road, I’ve watched many YouTube videos, read many posts and blogs concerning the RV lifestyle.  The majority of information that I have found leads me to believe that the RV life is an all carefree style with limited stress.  I’m here to tell you life, in general, is stressful.  It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or on the road, problems will arise and have to be dealt with.

The first big issue we faced while being on the road was high-speed internet access.

4G-internet-phone-serviceNow if you are working from your laptop as your main source of income you will be hard-pressed to find a steady fast connection.  Yes, you can give it your best shot at the local McDonald’s or Starbucks, but driving your rig to find these locations will get tiresome.  Depending on how big your rig is you may not be able to find parking close enough to connect for long.  There also will be days when you won’t be able to connect at all. We use Verizon with a Jetpack and still have trouble with a steady signal.  Verizon has dead spots too.  This is just food for thought for those planning on an online income.  You may want to rethink your plan.

energy-139366_960_720

Power usage is another biggie to think about.  Are you the kind of person who can’t live without your t.v. shows or video games?  I can tell you even if you have batteries and solar panels the power generated will be limited.  The power that’s  been stored during your travels would be better used to power a refrigerator, an air conditioner, fans or keeping your cell phone charged.  There will be a lot of quiet time.  Can you handle the quite? “Silence is golden” as the saying goes only to those who enjoy it.

Storm+warning

Weather conditions are a must to keep track of during your travels, rainstorms, high winds and hot temperatures.  These conditions can all be a day breaker for the boondocker.  Keep a daily check on your local weather channel to make sure you are not in harm’s way.  Hot temperatures are the most of my worries living in an RV.  See this post on how we deal with the heat. Spending for a full hookup campsite for power can take a toll on your finances if you are on a limited income.

bathing with a bucket (500x629)

Lastly, get used to limiting your bathing time.  There will be days when you will not bathe.  I know you have probably heard of full-timers that purchase time at a gym to use their shower facilities.  Once again, driving around in a big RV in a heavily populated area to find your shower access will get old.  It’s also expensive, remember you have to pay per person.  You would be better off locating a truck stop and share the shower stall if you’re traveling as a couple.  We’ve used a bucket with water or baby wipes to wash down if a shower wasn’t available.  Change your clothes regularly and don’t forget the deodorant. This will stretch the bathing considerably.

These four issues are not often discussed or are sugar-coated in the camping, boondocking world.  They are real concerns that will put a crimp in your travels if you’re not prepared to deal with them.  Think it through, be realistic, prepare and enjoy the ride.

My Friend, Anxiety

You see, I have anxiety issues, I’ve had them since I was in my early 20’s…I’m always searching for tranquility.

Leaving the greater Savannah, Ga. area was a relief. Something about the city makes me uneasy, traffic, people, and the noise.  I couldn’t wait to leave and find some peace and quiet.  No motors, no electrical buzzing, no loud people.  I got on the “Googles”   looking for such a quiet place.  I searched for a free camping site and found Barrington County Park.  The description sounded good and it was less than 45 miles south.  The hubby made a quick phone call making sure the park was still open to the public and off we went.

The closer we drove the better I felt.  You see, I have anxiety issues.  I’ve had them since I was in my early 20’s.  It seems the symptoms have gotten worse with age.  I’m always searching for tranquility.

I guess that’s why traveling in a camper sounded so good to me.  It’s a self-medicating thing.  Similar to the drug user looking for their next fix, I’m looking for a secluded site to reduce my anxiety.

Well,  back to the camping thing…the butterflies in my stomach are gone and my heart has stopped racing.  I look forward to enjoying this site for the evening.  I took a refreshing shower with well water this evening, today was hot.  It felt great to wash my hair.  While we were at the showers, we met a camper/dweller (he was a nice enough fellow, full of information) who informed us this site is typically busy on the weekend with local young’uns who like to party.  I believe we will be leaving before then.

Have you ever noticed that your biological clock kicks in when there is no power for lights?  The sun is setting and I am getting sleepy. By the time the sun set, the crickets and frogs were in full party mode.  The park was quiet and the temperature was dropping.  I was drifting off to ‘La la’ land.

I woke to a cool morning with hot coffee made from our french press.  After looking at the day’s temperature, my hubby and I decided we needed to find somewhere to buy ice.  The worse thing in the heat is to be dehydrated.  So off we drove to the next town over, Jesup, Ga

I just hope my dear friend, anxiety, won’t follow me but it seems she always does.

Down in the Boondocks

Forty five miles from Savannah, Ga. we traveled to a Barrington County Park, a secluded free camp ground…

Forty-Five miles from Savannah, Ga. we headed south to a quaint, hidden, free campground called, Barrington County Park.  On the outskirts of Townsend, Ga. off Hwy 57, there is a sizable camping area off of Harper Lake.  Harper Lake is fed from the Altamaha River system.  Traveling into the park was a little hairy.  You will travel approximately three miles on a wide, maintained dirt road.  Here’s the catch, there are three miles of small ruts on this road, as all dirt roads seem to have, just beware of your speed and drive carefully.

Being our first experience at boon-docking, Barrington County Park was a pleasant surprise.  At first sight, the grounds were very well shaded with oaks and their companions, Spanish moss.  The ground is covered in clean sand, (if that matter to anyone). The advertisement was true and correct as to their description of dry camping, trash pick up, running water (well water), showers and flushing toilets.  Now mind you, the water pressure wasn’t great, but it got the job done. It was very refreshing after a hot day.

Barrington Cnty Park (3)

There were only two tent setups and two other campers on the grounds.  We could park anywhere we wished. Parking close to the Lakeside (it looked like a small river) we had a clear view of the jumping fish, birds, and squirrels.  Not far from the fishing and boat dock (built by the Department of Natural Resource) we had the perfect spot.

Now for the bad news, internet access was spotty, very spotty.  Our service provider is Verizon, and we were receiving incoming calls but no internet.  As I mentioned before, there is plenty of shade.  So, if you plan on using solar panels you need to be choosy where you park.  I needed to mention these issues so you may plan your activities accordingly.  I also spoke with a local who gave us some very vital information, If you are planning to use this site to boon-dock, it’s best to come and enjoy the peace and quiet during the weekdays.  The locals use this spot for a party hangout on the weekends.  We didn’t stay to confirm this activity.

All in all, it was a very nice, clean park.  A little bit difficult to get to, but if you want a little R and R away from everything and everybody, give it a go.

Maiden Voyage to the Deep South

Our first maiden voyage to the deep south in out 1975 Cruise Air motor home. We found the weather very unforgiving…

Dotty’s maiden voyage into the deep south started two Fridays ago.  We found the weather very unforgiving, at  45 to 50 mph, the winds were atrocious.  A major storm front was developing to the west.  The camper felt like a sailboat being tossed on the high seas.  After only about four hours of driving, we were exhausted.  The drive left us racked and on edge.  Making it only to Findlay, Ohio (Flag City) we parked Dotty and batten down the hatches, boondocking at the first Wal-Mart we could find.

Saturday morning came early, the winds died down to 20 mph making it a little better for driving. We sailed our way to Richmond, Ky taking it slowwww.  Dotty was running great but the steering was a little squirrely.  Noticing a rain front was coming in, Bill tested the windshield wipers.  Oops, they don’t work!  Great… not going any farther, we’ll just be boondocking at Meijers tonight.

Bill woke early Sunday morning as he always does.  Something was telling him to look at the weather radar.    We had two hours to get motivated and beat the nasty storm that was quickly building to the West.  No windshield wipers, I need to wake up fast, Ugh. With fifteen minutes to spare we headed South out running the storm front covered in red.

We didn’t talk much as we approached Southern Ky and Jellico Mountain.  The tension was building and we were both very nervous.  Would Dotty make it up the mountainside? We were gonna find out.  Well, she did.  A big 50 mph all the way up the hill.  Not fast but she made it.  It was a big sigh of relief when we got to the top.  We took a small break at the Tn. Welcome Center, which was very crowded.  Dotty was starting to draw attention from travelers.  People are eager to ask all sorts of questions about her.  She is one of a kind.

Down the mountain, she came with her sails a flying.  She had Bill a little panicked, I tried not to pay attention.  I was thinking to myself, “He’s one hell of a driver”.  I don’t know why we were so nervous, he’s driven in some of the most God awful weather conditions while expediting.   We swallowed hard and drove down the mountain.

Off to another cheap night of camping at the Flying J, south side of Knoxville, Tn.  The temperature was high, in the low 90’s.  It was not comfortable. All the windows open, we were sweat’n puddles.  Bill takes a look at our cat, Mel, and decides it’s too hot for her.  He plugs the fan into the inverter and places it on the floor facing the cat.  Well hell…It’s gonna be a great night.

It was a hot, sticky, crappy night.  Along with the heat, we had to listen to young’ns racing their hot rods up and down the street.  We won’t be staying at that Flying J again, travelers beware!

With less than a fulfilling night sleep,  we woke on Monday morning ready to get to Warner Robins, Ga.  and see the family.  Traveling was uneventful until we caught up to a major traffic jam in a Resaca, Ga.  Miles, upon miles of traffic, creeping ever so slowly down the interstate.  An hour and a half later and six miles down the road, we made it to the closest exit in Resaca.  Now how are we going to get around this mess, Google it!!  Looking at the routes, we chose Hwy 41 to get us through Atlanta.  Now, this is not a quick route, but it’s better than sitt’n in traffic.  We burned a couple of hours going through small town after small town.  Finally picking up I-75 South, we managed to pick up speed and making it to Warner Robins around 8pm that night.

What a ride, what a trip.  We’re we crazy to take a 1975 Motor Home on a 1000 mile trip South?  Part of me says “yes” but part of me says, “I would do it again.”  The stress was worth seeing the family and grandkids.  You can’t put a price on that.

A Weekend of Visits, Boondocking and Repairs.

Time to play catch up in the world of blogging.  We’ve been busy the past couple of day, bust’n butt getting Dotty ready for our first boondocking experience.  We also made a mad dash to say goodbye to friends and family over the weekend.  Friday was laundry and shower day while we still had water access.  Writing our list and checking it twice making sure we didn’t leave anything behind and thanking Bob for putting up with us over the past couple of weeks.

So heading out early Saturday morning, traveling north, to Madison Heights, Mi. for a goodbye breakfast with dear long-term friends, the Wagner’s, and their brood.  Jeff is another good friend who has always helped in times of need.  He was the first person to offer help when this journey started.  We appreciate all you’ve done and offered to us over the years.  Keep that steel polished and well oiled, Jeff, and hugs to you and yours.

Heading back to home base it was dinner with, Mom.  It’s been years since Bill and I have had contact with his Mother.  It sure was nice to spend a couple of hours catching up on life and having a wonderful steak dinner.  We love you and promise to be in contact more often even if we are miles away.

First night boondocking wasn’t as restful as we would have hoped it to be.  We pick a less traveled parking lot with a Dollar Tree store (we needed more plastic containers).  I spent an hour playing, stakeout, looking out the windows watching the police patrol the strip mall.  I thought to myself, “How long will it be before we get a knock on the door?”  Not interested, we never got that knock.  The next morning we woke up to McDonald’s coffee, not a McDonald’s fan, but  I never knew I could appreciate McDonald’s, however,  I will say they have damn good coffee.

Next day, Sunday, more family visits, my son Ray, who I will miss dearly and Bill’s brother, Dougie.  Dougie’s visit was exceptionally nice and entertaining.  Bill’s sister, Marge, and niece, Kristin also dropped by.  We enjoyed all their company and were glad we were able to see them before we left for the road.

The evening was spent with Pops and his wife, Wanda.  We went to dinner at a local diner and had a very pleasant visit while giving the waitress a hard time.  Don’t worry, she got a fat tip for putting up with us, cha-ching.

Another night of boondocking, this time at the ol’trusty Wal-Mart parking lot.  Low and behold, there’s a Tim Horton’s next store.  Gotta look out for those coffee spots since we’re without shore power.  I don’t think Wal-Mart would appreciate us building a campfire to heat water in their parking lot.  It would draw a lot of attention.

Well, in between all the visiting, we managed to get someone to look at Dotty’s suspension. She is ass end heavy and needs new shocks and a rear seal replacement. We went to a local RV repair shop under the recommendations of a national RV chain store.  Now here is some cool advice for those looking for repairs on your campers/vans.  Make connections with a good honest mechanic, ask around, get advice, this relationship is priceless.  We received the estimate for repairs at $1600.00.  Ummm…not gonna happen.  So, what to do, what to do?  Our first thought was to call our long-time diesel mechanic to ask for advice.  Happens… that they are willing to do the work and can get us in tomorrow.  Whoohoo!!

One more night boondocking in amongst the semi-trucks, buses and dump trucks, lol.  Don’t think anyone will find us after being locked in the yard at the repair shop.  Parts already delivered, repairs start yearly in the morning.  Should have a good night sleep tonight.  Keeping our fingers crossed.  Eight o’clock comes early, looking for freshly brewed coffee with the staff at DRS.

The Big Truck has Sold…Thank You DRS.

Our big truck finally sold two days ago.  It was one of those things that caught us off guard.  It was up for sale for about a month.  We weren’t expecting to sell it anytime soon.  We were at a stand-still.  Everything depended on her selling, ‘Ling Ling’, our 2006 Sterling, 40-foot box truck.  She gave us a lot of memories.  I explained in previous posts that my husband, Bill, and I were expediters.  We lived in that truck, equipped with an 8×8 foot sleeper, for five years.  We traveled the whole country delivering on-demand freight for all kinds of businesses and in all kinds of weather.  It was now time for a change.  Sell her off and change our lifestyle.  It was a hard decision but we were ready.  The expediters lifestyle is tough and we were burned out.

This post isn’t all about the memories or sad feeling having to sell ‘Ling Ling’.  I really wanted to thank the great people of Diesel Repair Specialists, Beki, Tim and the crew, for always being there when the truck needed repairs and we needed advice.  Their team always did a top job and got us back on the road as quickly as possible.

It was Beki’s efforts that sold our 2006 Sterling.  She is one hell of a person and has always cared about her customers, that being us.  So this is our “Thank You” DRS for all you have done to make our expediting adventures over that past seven years memorable.  We will not forget you.

 

P.S.  I got your message about the postcards, I will be sending only the cool ones.  🙂