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ON TO THE LA FAIRPLEX — RECALLING THE PAST

October 8, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Comments Off 

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By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

It’s wonderful being retired!  BUT it’s too early in life to stop being productive.  That’s my excuse for not publishing more often on RV.net.  I’ve gotten myself too involved in our newly adopted community in the mountains and my entry into photographic art to sit down and write.  I apologize to the thousands of readers who followed our adventures in Alaska and throughout North America in recent years.

I’m writing now to invite you to come visit us for the big RVIA Show this Friday through next Sunday, October 9-19 [http://www.thebestrvshow.com].  Monique and I will be manning Booth No. F-12 (on the left aisle as you come in the main tent entrance).  If you happen to be there this Friday, the 9th, we’ll be away from the booth for an hour beginning at 4:30 giving a seminar on Tips for RVers.  In our years on the road full-time, we learned a lot that we are ready to pass on to new and veteran RVers.

This is the 62nd edition of the show held annually at the Los Angeles County Fair & Exposition “Fairplex” in Pomona, California.

“The Never-Bored RVers” claim to fame (among readers of rv.net) is my waxing prosaically on what makes RVing such a great way to enhance our lives. Proving to us that getting on the road with an RV is such a wonderful opportunity is our excitement as we pack up the rig and the GMC tow vehicle for this excursion.  That indicates to us that RV travel is something important in our lives.

Let’s take it a step further. Yesterday Monique and I sat in our yard swing, where we gave in to spontaneity instead of hustling to do the dozens of tasks necessaryIn the Stream - 1103 for our week ahead.  Monique asked me, “What was your favorite military campground?”  Of our 484 stops of one or more nights, we spent about 50 in “FamCamps,” the military version of RV parks.  I finally answered, “Whidbey Island, Washington,” which brought on an hour-long reminiscing about our favorite places around North America (plus some places that still make us shudder).

HOW LUCKY WE ARE to have all these memories.  A majority of people spend their lives bouncing between home, the office, restaurants, and the other local places they frequent, but not RVers.  We (you and us) see new things every time we take the rig on the road, even if it’s the routine route from the Northern Tier down to the Sunbelt.  The memories pile up.  For many, practically every place has an adventure associated with it.

And I’m sure AARP would agree that it’s a healthy mind game to sit back and remember those occasions … the goose that laid an egg next to us at Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi; the authentic tribal feast along the Washington State coast; having my golf game delayed because the president had honors on the course; touching the gray whales’ babies in Baja California … What are your memories?

Before signing off so I can take my computer into the trailer, I leave you with my two favorite sayings, which you are welcome to adopt as your own:

To be happy, you must be free.  To be free, you must be brave.”

And the other:  “I’ll be old in 10 years.”

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

Because of the numerous Spam comments on this site, the comments section has been deactivated.  Please email us at neverboredrvers@gmail.com and I will pass along your comments.    Learn about Alaska, the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and much much plus a growing number of travel photos at http://ontopoftheworld.bz.

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Everyone should take an RV trip at least once in their lifetime

September 23, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

motorhome_red_rock_countryLong ago, back when I had a real job, I had a favorite saying when interacting with potential customers. At some point in the beginning of our conversation, I would say, “Everyone should take an RV trip at least once in their lifetime.” You might expect a statement like that coming from the Regional General Manager of a recreational vehicle (RV) rental and sales company. But I fully and completely believed it.

And now – 21 years after retiring and 17 years of traveling and living fulltime in my motorhome – I believe it more than ever.

I’ve been RVing for more than 45 years, beginning with renting a Class C motorhome for a one-week vacation to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with my wife and parents. While operating the RV rental company in Northern California I also managed to slip away for several weekends a year in one of my rentals (one of the best perks of a job I can think of), trying different models and sizes of RVs in the guise of “research.”

My wife and I would take off on a Friday afternoon for the redwood country, or up the coast, or into the national forests, or to the Mojave and Sonora deserts. We stayed in a variety campgrounds ranging from fancy RV resorts – with swimming pools, spas, and organized recreational activities – to primitive no-frills forested campsites surrounded by towering evergreens. My agenda: to evaluate how the RV and all its systems worked, comparing livability of small to large-sized RVs, and how a particular size or floor plan fit my wife’s and my specific needs. It was a tough job but somebody had to do it.

On the RV rental side of the business, I got to meet customers from around the world, discovering their particular reasons for wanting to rent an RV, their preconceptions, and the response from them when they returned their RV after use.

One of the more memorable responses was from a middle-aged English couple that set off to explore the Wild West. Three weeks later they returned all decked out in cowboy hats and boots. When I asked where they had gone, they replied that they hadn’t actually gotten much further than the old west gold mining town of Murphys. They had stopped in a cowboy bar for a drink, made new  friends, and were having such a good time that they stayed there for half their vacation.

In fact, the two most mentioned features of the returning renters were the spectacular scenery of the Western States and the people they met – both in and out of campgrounds. Some new to the RV Lifestyle, however, might be concerned that RVing is too much “roughing it,” foregoing hotel room amenities like room service and on site restaurants, to “sleep in the woods.” To those I respond, you might be surprised – and pleasantly so – after just one RV trip.

And, of course, the easy and smartest way to find out is by renting an RV before considering a purchase. You can see whether you enjoy the life, traveling, sleeping “in the woods,” and what size and type of RV you are comfortable with and that fits your particular needs. One way to take the plunge is by logging in to an online rental company, such as RVShare.com, and search for RVs to rent in your area. Their format is easy to use and you can look at pictures of the various RVs available for rent. Pick one out that fits your needs, and call the owner for further information.

So after 45-plus years of RVing – both in the business and as a fulltime RVer – I have learned a lot about RV travel and I would like to share short list of tips (the long list would be too long to print) of why “everyone should take an RV trip at least once in their lifetime.”

  • Your family can travel the scenic backroads of America together and in comfort
  • See parts of the country you would never see from an airplane
  • Choose your camping style, from amenity-rich RV resorts to primitive woodsy campsites
  • With the RV’s onboard systems you have everything you need for livability: restroom with shower, cooking facilities, refrigerator, generator for electricity (if not connected to campground power sources), a comfortable bed, and holding tanks for sewage, waste water, and drinking water.
  • Spend the night on a desert plateau and watch the sun set in a blaze of glorious colors over a distant mountain range
  • Wake in the morning to the songs of forest birds surrounded by towering Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs
  • Camp next to a mountain stream where you can fish fright from your camp chair
  • Visit RV hotspots like the massive winter gathering of friendly RVers (called snowbirds) in the small desert community of Quartzsite, Arizona
  • Watch NASCAR races in designated RV campsites right along the race course
  • Visit dispersed relatives across the country
  • Meander along the country’s beautiful National Scenic Byways, camping in picturesque campgrounds along the way
  • Bring your bicycle and ride some of the thousands of miles of former railroad lines now maintained as recreation trails by the Rails to Trails organization.
  • Discover the best hiking, paddling, birdwatching, and wine trails, follow the fall turning-of-the-leaves, find music festivals, mountain lakes, large mammal viewing spots, and more
  • Follow your favorite venues or interests, such as touring historic sites, old mines, ghost towns, chili cookoffs, RV rallies, square dance competitions, and our national and state parks

And there is much, much more. Happy Travels. For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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RVers and bears: Tips on staying safe – for both RVers and bears

September 6, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

“When you are naked, it’s amazing how little courage you have,” writes Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle relating to his recent camping trip into the mountains of California. Remembering in the middle of the night that he had left his on-the-road dinner leftovers on the passenger seat in the truck when he set up camp in a remote section of a national forest, he rose about 2:00 AM to remove the leftovers before a bear discovered them and decided to break in for the goodies.
With only a penlight to approached his truck and came face to face with a 250-pound black bear. Before he had time to decide on the correct defence, the bear, appearing more shocked than he was, scampered off crashing through the bushes and brush to disappear in the woods, leaving behind a trail of urine (conceivably more frightened than Stienstra who did not).
The lesson to be learned for campers (that includes RVers) is not only the obvious one of not leaving food out – on the picnic table, littering the campsite, or on the pasenger seat of your truck – but also that the reaction of the bear – frightened and running away – is the natural and normal reaction expected from wild animals.
But that expectation has changed, and for the worst. Except for bears that live in the deeper reaches of forests and mostly out of contact with civilization, most have lost their fear of humans because of the unfortunate way humans view their responsibilities toward wildlife, especially bears, the results off which often end with injury and property damage to humans and death to the bears that have to be euthanized.
The bears of Lake Tahoe, Stienstra points out, have completely lost their fear of humans because of careless handling of food scraps and food wrappers (which carry the scent of food and attract bears as much as the food itself) by tourists, overflowing trash cans, and by local residents feeding them (one case he relates is a woman who places feeding bowls for bears in her back yard – eight bears were seen at one time feeding – and was attacked in August and put in the hospital).
To keep yourself and your campsite intact, ALWAYS contain and dispose properly of all food scraps in designated bear proof containers. A cooler is not bear proof as innumerable acouonts show bears breaking into vehicles to ravage coolers (and the vehicle broken into).
You can learn more about how to safely act and react in bear country and when encountering bears at the Bear Smart website.
http://www.bearsmart.com/becoming-bear-smart/play/bear-encounters
1
Read Stienstra’s article, “The problem with bears is the humans” in its entirerty.

bear_on_beach

By Bob Difley

“When you are naked, it’s amazing how little courage you have,” writes Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle relating to his recent camping trip into the mountains of California.

Remembering in the middle of the night that he had left his on-the-road dinner leftovers on the passenger seat in the truck when he set up camp in a remote section of a national forest, he rose about 2:00 AM to remove the leftovers before a bear discovered them and decided to break in for the goodies.

With only a penlight to approached his truck and came face to face with a 250-pound black bear. Before he had time to decide on the correct defence, the bear, appearing more shocked than he was, scampered off crashing through the bushes and brush to disappear in the woods, leaving behind a trail of urine (conceivably more frightened than Stienstra who did not).

The lesson to be learned for campers (that includes RVers) is not only the obvious one of not leaving food out – on the picnic table, littering the campsite, or on the pasenger seat of your truck – but also that the reaction of the bear – frightened and running away – is the natural and normal reaction expected from wild animals.

But that expectation has changed, and for the worst. Except for bears that live in the deeper reaches of forests and mostly out of contact with civilization, most have lost their fear of humans because of the unfortunate way humans view their responsibilities toward wildlife, especially bears, the results off which often end with injury and property damage to humans and death to the bears that have to be euthanized.

The bears of Lake Tahoe, Stienstra points out, have completely lost their fear of humans because of careless handling of food scraps and food wrappers (which carry the scent of food and attract bears as much as the food itself) by tourists, overflowing trash cans, and by local residents feeding them (one case he relates is a woman who places feeding bowls for bears in her back yard – eight bears were seen at one time feeding – and was attacked in August and put in the hospital).

To keep yourself and your campsite intact, ALWAYS contain and dispose properly of all food scraps in designated bear proof containers. A cooler is not bear proof as innumerable acouonts show bears breaking into vehicles to ravage coolers (and the vehicle broken into).

You can learn more about how to safely act and react in bear country and when encountering bears at the Bear Smart website.

Read Tom Stienstra’s entire article, “The problem with bears is the humans.”

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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OUTSIDE OUR RV AFTER DARK

July 30, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Comments Off 

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

It’s dark, very dark.  We’re in a park with very few lights to distract us from appreciating our nighttime surroundings.  We are cradled in silence.  This is what nature camping is all about.

But wait!  As we lay back in our outdoor recliners, letting go of all the cares of the day just passed, we see lights.  We hear sounds.

Tiny lights are overhead, thousands of them, maybe millions, maybe billions, but who’s counting?  We pick out a series of stars that we recognized from National Park ranger talks as being constellations.  We never could envision all the mythical arrangements seen by Romans and Greeks thousands of years ago, but we know the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia.

Like an exercise in finding familiar figures in the clouds or focusing on the spaces between clusters of leaves, we don’t concentrate for very long on the arrangements we know but rather on the twinkling and steady shining specks across the panoply of sky.  Thankfully, our moon is nowhere in sight.

And speaking of clouds, there’s that wispy area – not clouds, but the billions of stars visible in the Milky Way.  That bright unsteady glow in the east is Venus; the faint orange dot is Mars.

Red flashing dots blink far away.  An airplane taking businessmen to tomorrow morning’s meetings.  Grandma en route to her annual visit with the kids.  College students off to see friends or to lounge on blistering sand beaches.  We’re 32,000 feet below them and unconditionally content not to be up there.  (A few seconds of RVing-appreciation time.)

“Do you see it?” I ask.  “Do you mean the satellite?”  “Yes, it’s moving fast” into a misty veil.  “Did you see that one?” Monique asks, “a shooting star over there.”  I missed that one, but when you sit outside in a dark environment long enough, you’re bound to see a few.  I remember when someoneNighttime Skyasked a ranger why there are so many more shooting stars during the summer.  “That’s when you spend more time outside,” he wisely replied.

No lightning flashes tonight.  No lighting bugs west of the Rocky Mountains.  Mostly stars.  Dim glimmers reflect off the backs of erratically flying bats.  That’s an indication that there are insects around, so we’re thankful for their presence.

The hum from the airplane that passed a minute ago finally reaches us.   When we hear that, it makes us aware of other sounds.   Loudest sound tonight is a cricket, which reminds us of the awful blaring chorus of cicadas that surrounded us in Prescott, Arizona, years ago.  Not one of our finest evenings but quite memorable.

From somewhere behind us comes an angry momma bird, perhaps alarmed that a foreigner is approaching her nest.  She can’t stand for that and lets the whole neighborhood know it.

Listening is one of the greatest joys of being outside our rig at night.  We may hear water flowing from a cascading creek in the woods or rippling waves in a lake or the sea.  Rustling sounds in the underbrush is always interesting.  A motorcycle in the distance is acceptable because we know the disturbance will be gone in a few seconds.

It’s getting chilly. Time to fold up the recliners and go in.  We did our thing.  Maybe tomorrow night the next woody campground will be dark and quiet.  Here’s hoping.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All graphics by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

To the Never-Bored RVers

I always think of this scripture in the moments quite and solitude in nature. Be Still And Know That I Am God, you discovered it after a little while you hear the wind rustling the leaves and grass, a cricket, distant howl or hoot. Things you didn’t hear when you first sat down.

Then I don’t know if you remember the old Kung Fu show, the Master asked his student close your eyes and tell me what you hear. The student replies the wind, the sound of dripping water….the master replies do you not hear the grasshopper at your feet. The student opens his eyes to see.  Old man, the student says, why is it that you can hear these things, the master says, young man why is it you do not.

God Bless
Steve and Linda Gregory

Reminded me of a business trip I took 8 years ago using my camper.  Stopped at Mt. Ascutney state park in Vermont for the night (cheapest stay my company ever saw).  The stars were brilliant, and I could walk the park without my flashlight on.
Another campout with my wife up a little further north, we stayed near a lake and heard owls, herons, and other birds calling that night.  My wife was spooked (city gal), but I was intriqued by the multitude of wild life making their presence known.

Allen Schott

Because of the numerous Spam comments on this site, the comments section has been deactivated.  Please email us at neverboredrvers@gmail.com and I will pass along your comments.    Learn about Alaska, the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and much much plus a growing number of travel photos athttp://ontopoftheworld.bz.

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There are many other volunteer positions available to RVers in addition to camp hosting.

July 12, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

8. VOLUNTEERING
There are many other volunteer positions available to RVers in addition to camp hosting
How does volunteering fit into the RV Lifestyle? Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteer position open to RVers. Though there are volunteer positions available to students, retirees, and for seasonal needs, RVers who bring their houses with them are top tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room for RVers to park their rigs.
Why do businesses and others use volunteers?
Many parks use volunteers for jobs such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, wildlife census, habitat rejuvenation, leading hikes and nature walks, collecting camping fees, and many more. These are activities/chores that don’t always get funds included in budgets that have been pared to the bone.
When a park or other agency or business, such as a wildlife refuge, state park, national forest, or wilderness area can get the job done by offering a free campsite as trade without having to pay a fulltime employee or account for it in their expenses, everybody benefits.
Some seasonal positions may even pay a wage, though you won’t get rich on it. The famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, uses seasonal RVers to work in their store and even provides an RV park where all the seasonal RVers stay. They have found that RVers are reliable, trustworthy, happy to work short hours or in short temporary jobs, and will often come back year after year.
The huge online retailer, Amazon, also hires seasonal workers in their warehouses for shipping support, though if you aren’t used to working long hours on your feet, you might want to try an easier job.
Where do you find volunteer positions?
Often you can find a volunteer position just by enquiring at the location where you would like to volunteer, making it clear why you want to volunteer at that particular place.
Volunteers that are eager for certain locations will win out over those just wanting a free campsite anywhere they can get one. You never know what might turn up if you just ask—or suggest how you might volunteer. Park managers are often eager to trade out an empty campsite for work that needs to be done.

volunteeringHow does volunteering fit into the RV Lifestyle?

Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteering for RVers. Though volunteer positions are available to students, retirees, and for seasonal needs, RVers who bring their houses with them are top tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room for RVers to park their rigs.

Why do businesses and others use volunteers?

Many parks use volunteers for jobs such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, wildlife census, habitat rejuvenation, leading hikes and nature walks, collecting camping fees, and many more. These are activities/chores that don’t always get funds included in budgets that have been pared to the bone.

When a park or other agency or business, such as a wildlife refuge, state park, national forest, or wilderness area can get the job done by offering a free campsite as trade without having to pay a fulltime employee or account for it in their expenses, everybody benefits.

Some seasonal positions may even pay a wage, though you won’t get rich on it. The famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, uses seasonal RVers to work in their store and even provides an RV park where all the seasonal RVers stay. They have found that RVers are reliable, trustworthy, happy to work short hours or in short temporary jobs, and will often come back year after year.

The huge online retailer, Amazon, also hires seasonal workers in their warehouses for shipping support, though if you aren’t used to working long hours on your feet, you might want to try an easier job.

Where do you find volunteer positions?

Often you can find a volunteer position just by inquiring at the location where you would like to volunteer, making it clear why you want to volunteer at that particular place. Volunteers that are eager for certain locations will win out over those just wanting a free campsite anywhere they can get one. You never know what might turn up if you just ask—or suggest how you might volunteer. Park managers are often eager to trade out an empty campsite for work that needs to be done.

Here are some links to help you get a jump on obtaining a volunteer position.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/ Here you can enter the area you want to volunteer in, your interests, and the site will try to match you to a position.

http://www.serve.gov/ This government asks you what interests you and where you would like to volunteer then offers a list of matches.

http://www.volunteer.gov/gov/Another government site that matches volunteers with positions.

http://www.disneyparks.com Volunteer a day of service and get one day admission to Disney parks.

http://www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/volunteers.htm Forest Service volunteer positions.

http://www.fws.gov/volunteers/volOpps.html Lists opportunities at more than 500 wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, along with how to go about finding positions.

The above article is #8 from my ebook, 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking

July 4, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

boondocking_anderson_mesa

By Bob Difley

When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?] to your RV that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the lifestyle.

How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking
When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?]) to your RV that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the lifestyle.
But in the meantime, you can follow the tips below to reduce your electrical usage – and the amount of time you need to run your noisy generator to recharge your batteries.
Turn off all appliances, lights, radio, TV, and anything else that requires electricity when not in use.
Don’t leave your porch light on (a particular annoyance to me when I am not so fortunate to be able to camp away from neighbors, and he/she leaves the light on, ruining my night vision for seeing night critters and star gazing).
Coordinate your generator running time with the use of power-hungry appliances. For instance, schedule your showers, water heater, use of microwave, coffee grinder, and dishwashing all within a short period of time when you can run your generator to power them, rather than pull juice out of your batteries. This also charges you batteries at the same time.
Time your day to match the sun, rising when it does and going to bed with it also. This cuts your light usage down considerably.
If you read in bed, try using small rechargeable battery powered reading lights. You can recharge the batteries when you hook up next time and you won’t run down your house batteries with your RV’s lights. And you will probably disturb your mate less.
Monitor your house batteries charge with a voltage meter so you don’t run them down too low, which can damage the batteries. Deep cycle batteries are considered fully charged at about  12.6 volts and completely discharged at 10.6 volts. Recharge before they get below 60%, or about 12.0 volts.
In addition to these ways to cut your electric usage, there will be times when you are in an LTVA or other boondocking or dry-camping situation (like a rally or week-end event) where you have close neighbors. Remember that there are all kinds of RVers, some—maybe yourself included—who do not mind the noise of a generator running and don’t even consider that the noise or exhaust fumes may annoy others.
I remedy this, as I’m sure others do, by taking a walk during the time my neighbor will be running his generator. But it would annoy me if I had just settled down in my camp chair with a glass of the bubbly when my neighbor fires up his generator. Be courteous to your neighbor and he will return the courtesy.
Explain to your neighbor that you have to run your generator, and for however long you expect to, and ask when would be a good time when it wouldn’t bother him/her. Maybe you can all coordinate times.
Avoid running your generator past a reasonable hour in the evening when others may be relaxing, sitting outside enjoying the stars and the quiet, or trying to sleep. The same rule holds for the morning before the late risers greet the day.
Learn more about boondocking with my new eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands.When you take the ultimate step and decide to become a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?] to your RV, features  that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the freedom of the boondocking lifestyle.

But in the meantime, you can follow the tips below to reduce your electrical usage – and the amount of time you need to run your noisy generator to recharge your batteries.

  • Turn off all appliances, lights, radio, TV, and anything else that requires electricity when not in use.
  • Don’t leave your porch light on (a particular annoyance to me when I am not so fortunate to be able to camp away from neighbors, and their porch light ruins my night vision for spotting critters and star gazing).
  • Coordinate your generator running time with the use of power-hungry appliances. For instance, schedule your showers, water heater, microwave, coffee grinder, and dishwashing all within the same period of time when you can run your generator to power them, rather than pull juice out of your batteries, also charging your batteries at the same time.
  • In the summer when days are longer time your day to match the sun, rising when it does and going to bed with it also. This cuts your usage of lights down considerably.
  • If you read in bed, try using small rechargeable battery powered reading lights. You can recharge the batteries when you hook up next time and you won’t run down your house batteries with your RV’s lights. And you will probably disturb your mate less.
  • Monitor your house batteries’ charge with a voltage meter so you don’t run them down too low, which can damage the batteries. Deep cycle batteries are considered fully charged at about  12.6 volts and completely discharged at 10.6 volts. For best results, recharge before they get below 60%, or about 12.0 volts.

In addition to these ways to cut your electric usage, there will be times when you are in an LTVA or other boondocking or dry-camping situation (like a rally or week-end event) where you have close neighbors. Remember that there are all kinds of RVers, some—maybe yourself included—who do not mind the noise of a generator running and don’t even consider that the noise or exhaust fumes may annoy others.

I remedy this by taking a walk during the time my neighbor runs his generator. But it would annoy me if I had just settled down in my camp chair with a glass of the bubbly when my neighbor fires up his generator. Be courteous to your neighbor and he will return the courtesy. For instance, explain to your neighbor that you have to run your generator, and for how long you expect to run it, and ask when would be a good time when it wouldn’t bother him/her. Maybe you can coordinate times with all your neighbors.

Avoid running your generator past a reasonable hour in the evening when others may be relaxing, sitting outside enjoying the stars and the quiet, or trying to sleep. The same rule holds for the morning before the late risers greet the day.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Is the end near for free camping and boondocking?

June 5, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

I’ve been RVing for over 45 years. My first RV, if you could call it that, was a panel van with a side sliding door. Nothing was built in and a mattress occupied most of the floor of the van. Camping in California state parks back then – none with hookups – cost $6 and you could camp in the national forests (NF) and on BLM land for free. In fact, you could sleep overnight almost anywhere, as long as you didn’t become a squatter and behaved yourself.
Times have changed. Now you can’t find even the most primitive of campsites for $6, and free camping, though still an option, is available only at selected NF and BLM locations – a recent change. The Travel Management Rules (TMR) are being implemented that restrict not only on which roads you are permitted to drive your RV but also where you can camp.
These camping areas are call Dispersed Camping Areas and are shown on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for each forest. There is a fine if you are caught camping in a non-approved area. Free use of our public lands (which are owned by all of us as part of our national heritage for recreational purposes among other uses) will now, unfortunately, be restricted.
But before you raise your muskets and storm the barricades to “take our country back” I can understand the feeling among many forest service and BLM personnel when you look at the situation from their point of view. Though we might not like to admit it, there are many among us RVers who take no responsibility for the care of the land or its resources, discarding trash around the forest campsites, dumping their tanks onto the ground, and destroying trees to use for firewood, and driving over plants, flowers, and the forest floor with no regard to its fragility (it’s not just RVers, but off-road vehicle users as well).
It is these unthinking people that are, unfortunately, making it worse for the rest of us, indicating to forest management people that they had to step in and enforce regulations to protect the land.
But I do have a hard time seeing the viewpoint of the Campground Owners of America and several vocal private campground owners who have been working diligently – and relentlessly – to get local and regional legislation passed that would make camping anywhere other than in a designated campground illegal. That would mean no more overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J, Cabela’s, highway rest stop, or  by a tree-shaded public park in the many small towns dotted across America.
In his June 3rd blog, Roadtreking (A journalist and friends discovering the small motorhome lifestyle), Mike Wendland writes an excellent piece titled Finding free places to overnight in your RV.
“There’s a real battle going on out there in the RV world,” writes Mike, “and it pits some powerful interests against those who resent paying for services they don’t need and only want to take advantage of the generous offers of places like Walmart, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses that not only allow but welcome brief overnight stays by traveling RVers.”
I suggest that all of you who travel from one campground (yes, ones that you pay to camp in) to another, and that prefer to stop somewhere just for a meal and a night’s sleep, read his blog. It may be time for all of us who feel strongly about this issue to do more to remind residents in the places we pass through that we spend money with local merchants for food ,fuel, and supplies, and that supporting such measures might have adverse effects on their businesses. And maybe we might even want to follow some of Mikes’ suggestions, like not spending a dime in RV unfriendly towns. (Continued next week).
http://roadtreking.com/finding-free-places-overnight-in-rv/

walmart-rv-overnight-parking-

By Bob Difley

I’ve been RVing for over 45 years. My first RV, if you could call it that, was a panel van with a side sliding door. Nothing was built in and a mattress occupied most of the floor of the van. Camping in California state parks back then – none with hookups – cost $6 and you could camp in the national forests (NF) and on BLM land for free. In fact, you could sleep overnight almost anywhere, as long as you didn’t become a squatter and behaved yourself.

Times have changed. Now you can’t find even the most primitive of campsites for $6, and free camping, though still an option, is available only at selected NF and BLM locations – a recent change. The Travel Management Rules (TMR) are being implemented that restrict not only on which roads you are permitted to drive your RV but also where you can camp.

boondocking_allegheny_nf-300x199These camping areas are call Dispersed Camping Areas and are shown on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for each forest. There is a fine if you are caught camping in a non-approved area. Free use of our public lands (which are owned by all of us as part of our national heritage for recreational purposes among other uses) will now, unfortunately, be restricted.

But before you raise your muskets and storm the barricades to “take our country back” I can understand the feeling among many forest service and BLM personnel when you look at the situation from their point of view. Though we might not like to admit it, there are many among us RVers who take no responsibility for the care of the land or its resources, discarding trash around the forest campsites, dumping their tanks onto the ground, and destroying trees to use for firewood, and driving over plants, flowers, and the forest floor with no regard to its fragility (it’s not just RVers, but off-road vehicle users as well).

It is these unthinking people that are, unfortunately, making it worse for the rest of us, indicating to forest management people that they had to step in and enforce regulations to protect the land.

But I do have a hard time seeing the viewpoint of the Campground Owners of America and several vocal private campground owners who have been working diligently – and relentlessly – to get local and regional legislation passed that would make camping anywhere other than in a designated campground illegal. That would mean no more overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J, Cabela’s, highway rest stop, or  by a tree-shaded public park in the many small towns dotted across America.

In his June 3rd blog, Roadtreking (A journalist and friends discovering the small motorhome lifestyle), Mike Wendland writes an excellent piece titled Finding free places to overnight in your RV.

“There’s a real battle going on out there in the RV world,” writes Mike, “and it pits some powerful interests against those who resent paying for services they don’t need and only want to take advantage of the generous offers of places like Walmart, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses that not only allow but welcome brief overnight stays by traveling RVers.”

I suggest that all of you who travel from one campground (yes, ones that you pay to camp in) to another, and that prefer to stop somewhere just for a meal and a night’s sleep, read his blog. It may be time for all of us who feel strongly about this issue to do more to remind residents in the places we pass through that we spend money with local merchants for food ,fuel, and supplies, and that supporting such measures might have adverse effects on their businesses. And maybe we might even want to follow some of Mikes’ suggestions, like not spending a dime in RV unfriendly towns. (Continued next week).

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.


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Follow these safe campfire tips for this hot, dry summer

May 11, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

campfire_toolsThe hot dry days of summer are just around the corner, and if you plan on RVing in one of the areas affected by drought this year, such as California, expect to see campfire restrictions.

In most of the National Forests that have been affected, you are required to obtain a fire permit (which is free), have a shovel and bucket (for water) near your campfire, and observe common sense practices on the use of your campfire.

Common sense, of course, is often interpreted in different ways by different RVers. But these tips bear mentioning:

  • Build your fire in a prescribed fire pit or container if available.
  • When boondocking or camping where there are no containers, bring your own portable fire pit or build a fire containment circle out of rocks.
  • Rake or scrape all combustible debris, like leaves, twigs, etc. at least 10 feet away from your fire.
  • Do not build a fire if the wind is blowing as embers could blow off into combustible areas
  • Never leave a campfire unattended
  • When you leave your campsite, douse the fire with water and hold your hand above the fire to determine that it is cold, and that no hot spots remain that could flare up

When you head into a national forest for camping or boondocking, check in with the Ranger Station or Regional Office for any fire restrictions, closed areas, or existing fires that may be burning in the forest and follow the advise of rangers before choosing a campsite or campground.

If a wildfire does flare up near you, don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate. Wildfires are unpredictable and can quickly change direction or speed – and the smoke from existing fires will make you campsite very unpleasant even if the fire is quite distant. And listen each day for fire alerts or go on to the Forest service website for fire updates.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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International Terrorism the focus of Sting of the Drone

April 27, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

sting_of_the_droneREVIEW: Most RVers are readers. Many of us have, or soon will, make the transition from the stresses of a job and raising a family, to the more laid-back live of the wandering RVer. And as such, we find that we now have more time to pursue an entertainment option for the pure enjoyment of it. Reading novels is one of those pursuits, so if all you want to read about is RV stuff, you can skip this post. But if you are interested in a page-turning thriller to enjoy in your camp chair, Give Richard A. Clarke’s, Sting of the Drone, a try. Here is my review of the book.

The contentious world of fighting – or deterring – future wars by radio-controlled drones with the ability to fly anywhere in the world, make their strikes, and return to home bases is brought to jarring reality in Richard A. Clarke’s newest thriller, Sting of the Drone. In a nondescript building in Las Vegas manned by top security officials and CIA operatives, a team of Air Force pilots, used to flying F-16 fighter jets into combat zones, now sit behind computer monitors using their joy sticks to fly unmanned drones on kill
missions into the world’s most dangerous places from the comfort – and safety – of their stateside offices. But all is not as safe as it once was, as the targets of these drone attacks fight back, both at the drones themselves and the pilots on American soil that fly them. This page-turning thriller, the third novel by Clarke, former Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group of the National Security Council from 1992–2003 and who appears regularly on TV as an expert in national security, and commentator for ABC and other media (including the John Stewart Show), takes the reader deep into the arcane world of national security, the secretive drone program, and the politics of it all in a way unimagined by most Americans. Who determines the targets? What terrorists are picked to be killed by the uncanny accuracy of the drone hellfire missiles? What is done to avoid making mistakes – like killing innocent civilians? Clarke’s insider knowledge will keep you glued to this book until the final page is turned.

The contentious world of fighting – or deterring – future wars by radio-controlled drones with the ability to fly anywhere in the world, make their strikes, and return to home bases is brought to jarring reality in Richard A. Clarke’s newest thriller, Sting of the Drone.

In a nondescript building in Las Vegas manned by top security officials and CIA operatives, a team of Air Force pilots, used to flying F-16 fighter jets into combat zones, now sit behind computer monitors using their joy sticks to fly unmanned drones on kill missions into the world’s most dangerous places from the comfort – and safety – of their stateside offices.

But all is not as safe as it once was, as the targets of these drone attacks fight back, both at the drones themselves and the pilots on American soil that fly them. This page-turning thriller, the third novel by Clarke, former Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group of the National Security Council from 1992–2003, and who appears regularly on TV as an expert in national security, and commentator for ABC and other media (including the John Stewart Show), takes the reader deep into the arcane world of national security, the secretive drone program, and the politics of it all in a way unimagined by most Americans.

Who determines the targets? What terrorists are picked to be killed by the uncanny accuracy of the drone hellfire missiles? What is done to avoid making mistakes – like killing innocent civilians? Clarke’s insider knowledge will keep you glued to this book until the final page is turned.

But now back to RVing specifically, you  can find lots of RV tips, trips, and information on my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Arizona’s Coconino National Forest: Where Snowbirds head to escape the heat

April 17, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

coconino-mapBy Bob Difley

With Snowbird season in its waning moments, RVers are starting to head north to cooler weather, many of which will head for the national forests for a change of scene from the Southwestern Deserts.

Many retreating snowbirds, though, choose a more leisurely pace to the northern climes than multiple hundred-mile days of driving, heading for higher elevations and cooler weather in some of the southern parts of the country. Northern Arizona’s Coconino National Forest, for example, lies north of Payson to above Flagstaff and up to Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet, about 10 miles north of Flagstaff.

There are plentiful areas in the national forest for both boondocking and in forest service campgrounds.

However, Coconino is well on the way to fully implementing its Travel Management Plan that designates which forest roads you can drive on and where you can boondock. These dispersed camping areas are identified on free maps available at ranger stations and online.

coconino_nf_camping2

I received the following  email from Mike Dechter, the Litigation Coordinator of Coconino NF, with updates and other information on camping in the Coconino National Forest that may be of some help if you are heading in that direction.

On April 15, the Coconino National Forest issued a revised, free Motor Vehicle Use Map to show all of the roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on the Forest. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is re-issued each year, is free to the public, and can be downloaded for use on smartphones, tablets and Garmin GPS devices.  Copies of the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be available at all Coconino National Forest Offices, nearby national forest offices, and other local businesses.
In addition to hard copy maps, forest visitors can now get a free Coconino National Forest Travel Map, which is an electronic color map with shaded relief topography, game management units, hiking trails, and all designated motorized routes and areas. When using this map with the Avenza PDF Maps App, this map is GPS-enabled meaning you can see where you are on the map as you drive or hike on the national forest. Instructions for how to get the free map and app on your mobile device can be found at http://go.usa.gov/PEa (case sensitive).
The 2014 Motor Vehicle Use Map includes a number of updates and corrections made as a result of public input received over the past year. More substantive route changes requested by the public will need to be reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The forest expects to propose changes to the system of designated motor vehicle routes and areas in late 2014 to begin the NEPA process.
If you discover errors on the 2014 Motorized Vehicle Use Map, notice problems with road signs on the Coconino National Forest, or have any general comments about motorized use policies or designations, please visit the website and complete the “Feedback” form, at http://go.usa.gov/Qww.
For additional information, please contact the Coconino National Forest at 928-527-3600.
Sincerely,
Mike Dechter
____________________________________
Mike Dechter
Coconino National Forest
NEPA, Appeals, and Litigation Coordinator
928-527-3416

On April 15, the Coconino National Forest issued a revised, free Motor Vehicle Use Map to show all of the roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on the Forest. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is re-issued each year, is free to the public, and can be downloaded for use on smartphones, tablets and Garmin GPS devices.  Copies of the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be available at all Coconino National Forest Offices, nearby national forest offices, and other local businesses.

In addition to hard copy maps, forest visitors can now get a free Coconino National Forest Travel Map, which is an electronic color map with shaded relief topography, game management units, hiking trails, and all designated motorized routes and areas. When using this map with the Avenza PDF Maps App, this map is GPS-enabled meaning you can see where you are on the map as you drive or hike on the national forest. Instructions for how to get the free map and app on your mobile device can be found at http://go.usa.gov/PEa (case sensitive).

The 2014 Motor Vehicle Use Map includes a number of updates and corrections made as a result of public input received over the past year. More substantive route changes requested by the public will need to be reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The forest expects to propose changes to the system of designated motor vehicle routes and areas in late 2014 to begin the NEPA process.

If you discover errors on the 2014 Motorized Vehicle Use Map, notice problems with road signs on the Coconino National Forest, or have any general comments about motorized use policies or designations, please visit the website and complete the “Feedback” form, at http://go.usa.gov/Qww.

For additional information, please contact the Coconino National Forest at 928-527-3600.

Sincerely,

Mike Dechter

Coconino National Forest

NEPA, Appeals, and Litigation Coordinator

The Coconino National Forest is worthy of a detour as you head north, and you may find it hard to leave. Happy Travels.

For more RVing articles and tips take a look at my Healthy RV Lifestyle website, where you will also find my ebooks: BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands (PDF or Kindle), 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck (PDF or Kindle), and Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts (PDF or Kindle), and my newest, The RV Lifestyle: Reflections of Life on the Road (Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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