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BACKING UP, PARK RANGERS AND BAJA

March 19, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Leave a Comment 

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

“Hi Barry, is it you who writes the RV blog?” arrived today in my inbox.  That was how Keith, with whom I worked in the ‘70s, contacted me [Believe it or not, there are other Barry Zanders in the world, including one who may have skipped out without paying at a restaurant I frequented with potential clients].

“It is I … with my wife Monique, we are the Never-Bored RVers.”

“Fantastic! Yes I’ve read your blogs, and they are very informative. We started RVing two years ago. We bought a Forest River Wildcat and have taken it out the past two summers and plan to do more this year. [My wife and I] usually go out West since my son lives in Lander, WY, and we both love the West.  I [now work part time] for my association and can basically do the work anywhere I can get a WiFi hookup so we should be traveling more. On our bucket list is to visit all the primary National Parks and have been to almost 40 of them. So maybe we’ll meet on the trail somewhere.

“We’re headed out in July for a trip up through Wyoming and then down to Lake City, Colorado and Angel Fire, NM.  Are you going to be out that way in July /August?  Do you still have your “bumper-pull”?  I saw the photos of your rig in deep sand in Mexico.”

Keith brought up two points that got me thinking.  First, there are 58 U.S. Park Service National Parks.  He mentioned his dissatisfaction with the rangers at one of them.  I reminded him that when we worked together, it was in the forest products industry, and almost everyone we associated with or met in our travels put conservation of natural lands and reforestation as primary reasons to be involved with forestry.  That’s especially true of Park Service and Forest Service personnel, but it’s been Monique’s and my experience that they can get cranky when dealing with hordes of people who don’t share their love for and stewardship of our woodlands.

The other topic Keith mentioned was difficulty backing up his travel trailer when parking.  My take on that is that it takes practice, lots of practice, which you don’t get by always looking for drive-thrus.  The other point:  I’m pretty good at backing up the rig, but I never want to do it without Monique to guide me in.  Having a helper out there to indicate the space to shoot for and when to stop is a major help.

Before jumping to a comment from my Green Angels post, I want to direct you to my website for two (so far) blogs about being with grey whales and with a myriad of other sea life and birdlife while in Baja California in Mexico.  Click on http://ontopoftheworld.bz/more-whales-and-so-much-more-part-1/ to get to the first article and follow up with Part II.

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 more plus a growing number of travel photos at http://ontopoftheworld.bz.

COMMENT FROM A READER:

FROM JULIE IN WASHINGTON STATE — I, too, had assistance from the Green Angels while traveling in Mexico. The “caravan” consisted of my motorhome and my aunt & uncle with their 5th wheel. And none of us spoke Spanish. My serpentine belt broke, and of course narrow road out of Sonoyta. The Angels showed up within 5 minutes, got the belt removed, my uncle had all my manuals; they took him back to the town, to two stores and found the belt that would work. I had a gasser at the time; one Angel took off the doghouse cover inside, and had to lie on his belly (and I could see holes in the soles of his shoes), while the other worked from the outside. They got it on and we were once again ready to drive within an hour. They did not charge me, but I have them each $50, and Hershey chocolate bars. They seemed more excited over the candy!!

They were so nice and polite.  We have travelled as far south as Puerto Vallarta many times and always have had very pleasant and friendly encounters with locals. When driving thru small villages, the people wave and smile.  I have really enjoyed the posts you do and followed your Alaskan adventures with envy.

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Get Together with RVillage

March 16, 2014 by Chris Guld · 1 Comment 

by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.com

We are here at the Fairgrounds in Perry, GA (in the rain) getting ready for a week of seminars and fun at the FMCA Convention.  We will have an informal get together this evening at 5 in the Multi-Purpose building by the Geeks on Tour table and the computer help desk area.  How did we arrange this get together?  With a new website meant specifically for just this purpose.  It’s called RVillage.  It’s for RVers, but we pronounce it like Our Village, a social network just for RVers.

Now, before you immediately say, “I don’t need another social network” check out the special features RVillage.com offers.  Each one who joins RVillage can easily ‘check in’ whenever you pull into a new RV park, and when you do, you get an icon on the map so friends can easily see where you are.  You can also join all sorts of special groups within RVillage.  Here is a map of just the RVillagers who have added themselves to the Geeks on Tour group.  And, notice that clicking on one icon shows you the details of who that is:

rvillage.com

Whenever you check into a park, you can immediately see if any other RVillagers are there and if any get-togethers are planned.  So, for example, here at the Georgia Nat’l Fairgrounds, there are currently 9 people checked in, and there are two get-togethers planned.

rvillage-park

RVillage.com is a brand new website.  It’s been in private development for 6 months or so.  It just opened to the public a few days ago, it’s still in Beta and already has 2,023 members signed up.  There’s something special going on here.  Check it out.  We hope to use RVillage to set up Geeks on Tour classes at various locations as we travel across the country.

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Boondockers have one rule: There are no rules

March 15, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

Boondockers unwritten rules
If you don’t boondock, you might think that when you are truly boondocking–camping out away from any hook-ups or other amenities, not in a campground, and on free public lands–you also don’t have any rules to follow.
Not so–though there are those who do not follow the rules and that hurts the rest of us. The rules are loosely defined, aren’t hard to follow or unusually restrictive, and generally don’t infringe on or detract from the boondocking experience.
Pick a campsite away from others. Most boondockers, until otherwise determined, value their solitude and privacy, and prefer not to have neighbors close by.
Upon arrival, walk the site with a bag and pick up any man-made trash left behind by previous campers. Just do it and don’t fret about it. It won’t take you long
If you build a campfire, anything that will not burn to ashes, carry it out.
Find ways to hang things other than driving nails into trees.
Keep your campsite neat. Put things away when not in use. Nobody wants to see all your stuff scattered about like a yard sale in progress.
Pick up only downed and dead wood for a campfire. Chopping limbs off trees or uprooting bushes to burn is something only clueless teenagers would do.
Think safety when building a campfire. Scrape all debris several feet away from your fire and keep your fire small. Build a rock ring or dig a depression to contain the fire.
If you dump the gray water from dishwashing and rinsing, wipe all food bits off everything with a paper towel first. Always use biodegradable soaps. Dump gray water on thirsty plants or bury in a hole away from your campsite.
When you leave, your campsite should appear as if no one had been there, just the way you would like to find your next boondocking site.
Remember that the way others–hikers, off-road wanderers, officials–see your site is the way all RVers are seen. Set a good example, that of a responsible, environmentally-aware, and conservation-minded steward of the land. It’s good for all of us. And thank you for doing so.

boondocking_mitry_lakeIf you don’t boondock, you might think that when you are truly boondocking – camping out away from the rest of the horde – without any hook-ups or other amenities on free public lands, that you also don’t have any rules to follow, like quiet hour starting at 10 PM, no blasting Metallica at full volume, or picking up after your dog.

Not so – though there are those who do not follow the rules (you know who you are) and that hurts the rest of us. The rules are loosely defined, aren’t hard to follow, or unusually restrictive, and generally don’t infringe on or detract from the boondocking experience of bonding with Mother Nature.

So here are my  unwritten (until now) rules for boondockers

  • Pick a campsite away from others. Most boondockers, until otherwise determined, value their solitude and privacy, and prefer not to have neighbors close by.
  • Upon arrival, walk the site with a bag and pick up any man-made trash left behind by previous campers. Just do it and don’t grumble about it. It won’t take you long. And if other boondockers see you they may also take the hint.
  • If you build a campfire, anything that will not burn to ashes, carry it out. And disperse the fire site and bury all ash when you leave.
  • Find ways to hang things other than driving nails into trees or saguaro cacti.
  • Keep your campsite neat. Put things away when not in use. Nobody wants to see all your stuff scattered about like a yard sale in progress.
  • Pick up only downed and dead wood for a campfire. Chopping limbs off trees or uprooting bushes to burn is something only clueless teenagers would do.
  • Think safety when building a campfire. Scrape all debris several feet away from your fire and keep your fire small. Build a rock ring or dig a depression to contain the fire.
  • If you dump your gray water from dishwashing and rinsing, wipe all food bits off everything before washing with a paper towel. Always use biodegradable soaps. Dump gray water on thirsty plants or bury in a hole away from your campsite.
  • When you leave, your campsite should appear as if no one had been there, just the way you would like to find your next boondocking site.

Remember that the way others – hikers, off-road wanderers, officials – see your site is the way all RVers are seen. Set a good example, that of a responsible, environmentally-aware, and conservation-minded steward of the land. It’s good for all of us. And thank you for doing so.

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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ANGELS IN MEXICO

March 12, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Leave a Comment 

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

Our drive down Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula took us along Hwy. 1, a very narrow and winding passage with no room to move off the blacktop.  Through desert and rocky hills, it passes scarce outposts of civilization where few people, if any, speak English.

POW! We heard the blowout on a trailer tire.  I looked to the right and realized we were 10 feet from a Pemex gas station, the Mexican-owned system of fueling stops with mini-markets.  I pulled in just

POW!

POW!

enough to get us out of the road.  Ten minutes later the “Green Angels” arrived to change my tire.

The Green Angels is a posse of government-sponsored multi-talented people, ready to help and protect tourists plying the remote spaces of Mexico.  Fantasy RV Tours, with whom we were traveling, had hired them to escort our RV caravan for the entire trip, and, I assure you, no members of our troupe were as thankful to

Our heroes -- Tony & Isaiah

Our heroes -- Tony & Isaiah

have them along as Monique and I.

I have often written and spoken about how RV caravans are not journeys where rigs all travel in a queue.  That’s obviously not always true, because on our 1,200-mile round-trip, our 14 rigs mostly stayed together, almost always in sight of the rig in front of us.  It’s not a command, but it seemed like the best way to travel these precarious roads.

When one travel trailer in our band tried to leave room for a motorhome to exit first from a resort RV park, the truck and then the trailer sunk down into

A tough spot to be in when the caravan is ready to move on.

A tough spot to be in when the caravan is ready to move on.

sand about a-foot-and-a-half.  It was the Green Angels that dug that rig out.   [Since we were the only travel trailer in the 14-unit caravan, I’m forced to admit it was I who got into that mess.]

Driving back toward the U.S. through the mountains in an isolated area, we saw a Green Angel on patrol providing water to a car that had obviously overheated in the 88-degree temps.  That wasn’t us.

But, going through the congested Town of Tecate near the border, a local motorcycle policia stopped me for going through one of the dozens of stop signs (which neither of us saw).  He didn’t speak English; we don’t speak Spanish, so we couldn’t explain our side of the story to let him know that we had to stay with our group going through the border crossing.  He demanded that we follow him to the police office, something we did not want to do, knowing that it could be two days before being allowed to leave.

It was the Green Angels who talked it over with him and retrieved my driver’s license.  He waved us onward to U.S. Customs.

The tail or "fluke" of a Finwhale thrills our crew in Bahia de los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez

The tail or "fluke" of a Finwhale thrills our crew in Bahia de los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez

I’ll have impressions of our wonderful trip on my website — http://ontopoftheworld.bz — and possibly in RV magazines, with details about petting baby grey whales and lots of other great memories, but I wanted to share with you a very powerful reason for entering Baja Mexico as part of a caravan. Having gone with Fantasy RV Tours & Creative World Travel, which may be the only company currently scheduled to go onto the peninsula, we certainly can recommend the tour. But, mainly, I want to say that thanks to the “Angeles Verdes,” the Green Angels, there was never a time when we were concerned for our safety.  Tony and Isaiah kept their professional distance, but melded well with the entire group, joining us for a few of the Fantasy-prepared casual dinners.

I now invite you to check out http://ontopoftheworld.bz to see some dazzling photos and articles about our visits with the gigantic grey whales and with graceful finbacks.

Traveling down the road, through desert and rocky hills, the Baja Whale-Watching RV Caravan Tour was a positive memory.

Traveling down the road, through desert and rocky hills, the Baja Whale-Watching RV Caravan Tour was a positive memory.

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.

COMMENTS FROM OUR READERS:

FROM SHARON — Hi, We are planning our trip to Alaska and are wondering about the safety of our “stuff;” i.e., portable generator. Do we need to take extra precautions with expensive things like 50-amp extension cords, surge protectors?  I have read of a rare experience of a generator stolen but it is really hard to get any information about crime rate against RVers. ANY insight would be appreciated. Thanks a bazillion!!  Sharon

MY REPONSE – You don’t NEED a chain for your generator; however, I have the heaviest chain available that will fit through the handle of my Honda 3000i and use it with a formidable lock whenever I take the generator out.  I haven’t heard of anyone losing a generator for years, but it has happened.  Also, I have a smaller chain to put around a ladder and around my extra gas supply when I leave them out.  I’ve lost one ladder in an upscale county park [someone probably needed it and forgot where he got it when he tried to return it].

We have melted two 30-amp surge protectors in our travels.  A 30-amp surge protector costs much less than 50-amp protection, but the price of a 50 amp is a lot less than a fried electrical system.

Western Canada is not the untamed wilderness that you might expect, but, thankfully, there are hundreds of miles of uninhabited land.  It’s not much different than the U.S., only sparser population and more miles of beauty.  Alaska is no different than the rest of the U.S. in many ways.  That said, it’s still the trip of a lifetime.  You may have unexpected situations, but going into the trip, I recommend going without fear and with high expectations.

FROM ALAN IN WASHINGTON — We are going to upgrade our RV to a 23-foot Born Free.  If you were able to list the types of things you and Monique would look for in an RV, what would those items be?  I plan on towing our Toyota 4Runner behind it, just so you know.

BARRY’S RESPONSE – Since the Born Free company has been around 67 years, I’m sure they have thought of the basic needs, so there’s not much to add.  However …

  • If you’re thinking about going on the road for several months in different climates, you need room for a variety of clothing.
  • How much eating-out do you do?  Refrigerator space is helpful — we supplement our fridge with a Coleman ice chest that plugs into A/C and 12-volt outlets including the truck cigarette lighter.
  • I set up an office in the back corner of our rig.  I built a shelf unit and had cabinet space assigned to me by Monique.  We move the computer printer every time we travel, but it’s not a big deal.
  • As full-timers, we used the back of the truck for garage (generator, tools, compressor, extra hose and 30-amp electrical cord, folding chairs and other stuff) and the back seat of the truck for our extra closet.  For shorter runs, we don’t have as much onboard.

If a slide-out is an option, take it.  We lived in a 22-foot trailer for a year.  One of the best features of our upgrade was the slide, which almost doubled the daytime living space.

AGAIN, FROM ALAN IN WASHINGTON — Barry, what size solar panel do you have?  Born Free is offering a 300-watt setup from Zamp Solar.  I figure I’ll modify under the RV so that I can have 3 batteries (vs. 2) with the option to increase to 5 if wanted.  It has a residential microwave/convection oven, which will probably be the largest draw of power.  The fridge is dual powered and will be the main consumer of propane.

BARRY’S RESPONSE — We bought our solar panel 8 years ago.  As I recall, it’s 450 watts.  There are very few rigs that rely totally on solar.  Of the three we’ve come across, they had about a dozen panels, some on top that rotated with the sun and others portable.  We’re talking big money, but they were full-time boondockers.  We have never had a real power problem by allowing our panel to help recharge the batteries.  Oh, and don’t forget, batteries are heavy.  You’re better off with a 3000-watt generator, ours weighs 84 pounds when fueled up and powers the A/C and microwave as needed.

What I think I’m saying is “go with the flow.”  Too much technology can bite you in the back.  I’m not suggesting that you don’t upgrade, but 1) be careful, and 2) get road experience before you invest in miracle improvements.  Oh, and 3) I appreciate your exuberance for the latest technology, but the reason to RV, at least for us, is to enjoy the journey.  Getting around the unexpected, of which we’ve had more than our share in Baja, is the memorable part of the adventure.

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Did you make it to Quartzsite this winter?

March 6, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

If you haven’t been to Quartzsite yet, you’ve missed it for the season. It’s starting to get hot – it’s already passing 80 degrees everyday and will move progressively warmer – and snowbirds are leaving in droves. But never fear, it will still be there next year, and if you’ve thought about going but just haven’t made the move yet, read the article below by Melanie Cullen of Blue Sky Energy and you’ll get a better idea of what the Quartzsite experience, especially the RV Show, is all about.

Quartzsite RV image

Looking Back and Ahead at the Quartzsite RV Show

By Melanie Cullen, Blue Sky Energy, Inc.

While dry camping last January at the 31st annual Quartzsite RV Show, Rick and I reminisced about how Quartzsite (or Q) has changed over the last 15 years that we’ve been going and what we think the next 15 years might bring. Dry camping or “boondocking” is camping without any hookups or connections to water, power or a sewer. We bring everything we need including water and use solar to charge our RV battery for electricity. Over the years, Q has grown significantly in size from around 60,000 in 1999 to over 150,000 this year, and become more focused on making RV living cozy, which will have a big impact on how RVs are powered in the future.

When we first went to the Quartzsite RV Show in ’99, the RV Pavilion was packed with big-ticket items like RV satellites, tow hitches, and companies offering to install a solar array on your vehicle. It was an amazing place to be if you were looking to seriously overhaul or upgrade your RV. While the crowds at Q were smaller, the attendees were extremely passionate and technical RV lovers. They could have told you the specs about every aspect of their RV from the flash stall of their transmission to the max output current of their charge controller. It was a beautiful gathering of a tight group of dedicated RV enthusiasts.

Since then, the Quartzsite RV Show has boomed and this year alone it drew over 150,000 attendees. It’s not just for tech nuts like us anymore; it’s now the “Woodstock” of the RV world! It draws the snowbirds coming down from Harrisburg on their first month-long dry camping trip, the recent retiree making a quick trip from Bakersfield, and of course the full timers who stop in on their second lap around America.

As the show has grown, the number and type of vendors have exploded. At the flea markets and swap meets, you can find everything from geodes to GPS devices, and frying pans to dream catchers. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist! One shop that’s a Quartzsite legend is the Reader’s Oasis Bookstore. This unique bookstore has a great collection of vintage and new books, CDs, and other knick-knacks. The selection of goods is almost as eccentric as the owner, Paul Winer, who is a naturalist and wears very little while working. After the initial shock of seeing a mostly naked man working in his store, you quickly forget about his lack of clothing due to the friendly nature of everyone working there, including Paul.

While the show can be high-spirited and a little whacky, it can also be a place for contemplation and reverence. Every year, we visit a little-known secret garden, Celias Rainbow Gardens, which was created by the community in memory of a little 8-year old girl who passed away. Celia loved Q and the Gardens are a beautiful way the Quartzsite community has honored her. It’s always a powerful experience and a good reminder that even as Q grows, the community is still tightknit.

Another amazing aspect is that despite the larger crowds, you can still go to Quartzsite to get away from it all. There are petroglyphs and great isolated hiking spots nearby. One of our favorite spots is Palm Canyon on the Kofa Wildlife Refuge, about 15 miles south of Q.

Despite the crowds, at Quartzsite there is also plenty of space to camp, sit by a campfire at night, look at the stars, and enjoy the peace and quiet. Part of the peaceful environment is due to the number of RVs with solar arrays which has skyrocketed. Now it feels like one out of every two RVs silently powers up all their gadgets with sun. It’s great, not only for the environment and the RV owner’s wallet, but also because it helps keep the campgrounds quiet. Can you imagine how loud It would be if every one of the tens of thousands of RVs at Q ran a generator? I’m getting a headache just thinking about it!

Looking ahead at the next 15 years, the Quartzsite RV Show will keep getting bigger and attracting a more general crowd. Thanks to items like cheaper flat screen TVs, smart phones, and affordable solar arrays with charge controllers to power all your gizmos, it is easy to have all the comforts of home while you’re dry camping. As RVing gets easier and more comfortable (and more boomers start retiring), even more people will dip their toes into the RV world, and what better place to do it than at Quartzsite?

As the crowds get bigger, there probably will be some growing pains in accommodating newbies. The few restaurants in the area will need more room to hold more customers exhausted after a good day of shopping! Visitors might even have to spend more time shopping around as there will be tons of specialized vendors there to satisfy the diverse needs of a huge crowd, but they’re sure to find exactly what they want. It is truly is one of the largest (if not the largest) gatherings of RVers in the world and certainly needs to be experienced at least once.

In the end, as Quartzsite continues to grow and evolve, it will still be a wonderful place for RVers of all types to gather and relax by the Dome Rock Mountains with near perfect temperatures during the day and clear starlit skies at night.

Visiting Q is one of our favorite camping trips and we think you’ll like it too. See you next year!

About Blue Sky Energy, Inc.

Blue Sky Energy is the trusted, off-grid solar solutions provider with manufacturing operations in the U.S. They offer the largest collection of small, Military Standard-certified MPPT charge controllers, pairing dynamic solutions with unsurpassed quality and reliability. Fifteen years after introducing the first MPPT product to the clean energy community, Blue Sky Energy maintains its commitment to excellence in personalized customer service, philanthropy, and international relations with distribution to over 33 countries worldwide. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Visit us online at http://www.blueskyenergyinc.com.

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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Boondockers alert: New primitive campsites in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin

February 18, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

To boondockers it seems that every year that passes we lose legal places to boondock (and where motor vehicles can legally drive).

Evidence of this is in the Forest Service’s newly initiated Travel Management Plans that designates exactly where you can boondock on land administered by the National Forest Service.

These areas of legal boondocking are designated as “dispersed camping” areas and shown on new Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) specific to each forest. These free maps can be obtained at forest service offices and online in each individual forest service website.

Now the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources is possibly starting to reverse this trend by initiating a program to encourage campers and RVers to become more familiar with the Atchafalaya Basin. To prove it, they’ve opened up a project that provides free primitive camping sites (http://rvthesouth.blogspot.com/2014/02/respect-baby-alligators-when-using-one.html) on state-owned property along the Basin.

This seems to be a smart move by the LDNR to initiate new visitors to the Basin, bringing revenue to the area. RVers do spend money – even if they boondock – visiting area attractions, shopping at area stores, buying groceries, using RV repair services, and taking tours. And it is likely they will become returning visitors as well. The cost to the LDNR after site preparation, which could be minimal to extensive, would be negligible but the benefits great.

Now let’s hope that other public agencies, and maybe even some municipalities and other local government agencies, recognize the benefits to be gained by such a program and establish their own “primitive” camping areas to attract even more visitors.

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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ANSWERING QUESTIONS & COMMENTS FROM YOU

January 12, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Leave a Comment 

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

Yesterday I was macerating.  What’s that, you may ask.  Check out my website at http://ontopoftheworld.bz/category/barrys-travel-blog-3/ for a full explanation with photos.  I first learned about it six years ago in Key West but didn’t try it until this week.  Monique are I are in the throes of preparing for 10 days in the high desert of Arizona, where we will witness an expanse of nothingness blossom, beginning with the huge white canvas tent already up and awaiting us and up to a million folks with interests common to yours.  That cavernous tent will contain endless RV-related booths [look for us behind booth No. 401 next to one of the western entrances].  Outside on the perimeter of the tent will be more service and product vendors including gem and mineral sellers, plus a long RV repair garage.  Beyond that is free parking flanked by hundreds of flea-market-type booths.

Me leaving the show a couple of years ago -- OVERLOADED!

Me leaving the show a couple of years ago -- OVERLOADED!

Across Interstate-10 is the desert town of Quartzsite, which, in addition to rock and “collectibles” shops now has fast-food restaurants and cafes, groceries, gas stations and other essential services.  On down the road … or really roads … are private RV parks (we’ve heard differing stories about whether there are spaces available or not) and radiating outward even further are miles of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) scrub lands, where RVers park for free, boondocking in remote areas or in conclaves with others.

In answer to Ron West’s question, yes, there are dogs on leashes in the aisles, but I recommend a very short leash because of the erratic tidal movement of shoppers.

We’re excited about returning to the chaos.  Our shopping list this year is short … but I think that’s what we said on our other visits and ended up shelling out hundreds of dollars – all well spent to make our lifestyle more comfortable.

Everyone at the show has bags of goodies

Everyone at the show has bags of goodies

AND NOW FOR YOUR COMMENTS

FROM JANIE THORNTON – I have enjoyed your blog for a year or 2 now and can’t wait to take our Alaska trip this spring. We live in Georgia and will travel thru Alabama and then north to Glacier NP before Alaska, probably hooking up with a caravan in Canada.  My question is what to see between Ala. and Mont.?  We love the outdoors, not cities. Do you have an older blog I can read about the middle states?  We love the west but I fear April/May will be to snowy for the mtns.  Is there another blog that would be helpful?

MY RESPONSE – Janie, I’ve written many blogs about the states going upwards from Alabama and Florida’s “Redneck Riviera,” but my first suggestion is for you to skip the Great Plains states on this trip and drive due north.  Some highlights:

The American Institute of Architects boat tour of the Chicago River (I know it’s a big city) is something we will always fondly remember.  That’ll put you near the access to the western shoreline of Michigan which leads into the Upper Peninsula (UP).  From the unique UP you’ll want to head west on U.S. 2 for some of the best scenery in America that eventually takes you directly into Glacier National Park.  (Check state maps for their scenic routes)

If you choose to skip the UP, head for the hills — the Black Hills of South Dakota — which are beautiful in their own right, but we were surprisingly amazed at the grandeur of Mt. Rushmore.  We didn’t expect to be that inspired.  The Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho are worth detouring to see, and as time allows, try not to miss the Cascades and the Columbia River Gorge.

On your way home, the difficult choice would be whether to drive through the many national parks of California or the parks of Wyoming and Utah.  We hope to spend a month in Arizona and another in New Mexico in the near future, because, although we’ve toured both several times, there’s a lot more to experience than we’ve been able to work into our flexible schedules.  There’s that much to see!

I don’t mean to be derogatory about the Great Plains — those rolling hills with their amber waves of grain, the prairies and farmland are a wonderful part of America.  But, honestly, it’s not so good for diverse scenery.  Just a different experience.

I hope this helps in your trip planning.  And as for Alaska — I’m envious.  It’s been over three years since we went there “just to check it off on our list of states,” but after two weeks, we were saying, “When we come back, we want to …”

Sorry, I don’t remember ever writing a blog about avoiding snowy travel, and while we have been caught in unexpected flurries, the white stuff didn’t stick.  Thankfully Monique always routes us away from the potential hazard. Thanks for the note:  Barry

From Daniel Oren — I was following and enjoying your blog for a while.  We live in Israel and are ‘Full-time summer RVers” — meaning we RV since 2002 every summer for 4-5 months in North America.  At the end of each trip we store the rig for the winter, fly home to spend time with family and friends, then return to collect the rig in May to discover States/Provinces new for us.

Hope one day our paths will cross.  Best wishes to the New Year and may you do all the things you want to do but had no time till now.  Danny&Shula

BARRY’S REPONSE – I love that last “wish” for us.  Our bucket list of things we wanted to do has been filled and continues to overflow with adventure and discovery.  Every excursion taken by “the Never-Bored RVers” has resulted in memorable times:  it’s doubtful that our passion for seeing North America through our windshield and the back window of our travel trailer will ever be quenched.  Thank you for your note.

As in this instance, we have been directed to the writer’s blog site or website.  I appreciate the offer but am reluctant to publish those sites, over which I have no control; in other words, I feel obligated to omit this information.

One more statement, not relevant to Danny’s comment but to another one published below.  I know what RV equipment works for us, but I don’t have an interest or the capacity to test one product against others.  For instance, we have a very reliable Honda 3000i generator.  Is it the best on the market?  I have no idea, because it’s the only one I’ve used since selling our 2000i.  When other bloggers talk about and recommend amazing products, I’m in no position to trust their judgment nor do I have a sense of where they’re coming from, so I don’t ever take it upon myself to recommend a product.

From Marian MacDonald — I have really enjoyed your blog.  We travel in our 5th wheel every year.  This year we went from Oregon to Vermont then to the Rio Grande Valley where we will stay the winter.

From Pat Donaghy — Over the years I have tried out just about every type of RV from pop-up tent trailers to my present 32-foot Class “C” SunSeeker.  Did a trip of 7,951 miles from my home in Norland, Ontario, to Pensacola, San Diego, LA and points in between in May, June and July 2013.  Along the way I’ve read most if not all of your posts since last February.  Keep ‘em coming!

BARRY’S RESPONSE – You guys are wonderful.  I’ll keep the blogs coming and hope you’ll keep the comments coming.

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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Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts

January 4, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

Many RV snowbirds are just now arriving in the Southwestern Deserts, with quite a few heading for Quartzsite, Arizona to “boondock” on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land.
The BLM has established what they call Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs) to provide RVers with open space for camping without hookups. The LTVAs are an easy and effective introduction to desert boondocking and snowbirding. Support services and supplies are available, and the great gathering of veteran boondockers, akin to the mountain man rendezvous of 200 years ago, stand ready to help out if needed.
However, plenty more snowbird/boondocking possibilities exist outside the LTVAs of Quartzsite in the Mojave Desert of Southeastern California (including some LTVAs in California just west of Yuma) and the Sonora Desert of Southwestern Arizona. After you have tested your desert mettle in an LTVA you might want to try one of these lesser known snowbirding opportunities.
You will find the main mid-winter snowbirding locations at the lowest elevations: around Yuma on both sides of the Colorado River, in California west along the Mexican border, up the Colorado River including the Parker Strip and around Lake Havasu, east toward Phoenix and down to Tucson. Low elevation desert camping is also available around Deming in New Mexico. The rest of Mexico is higher elevation, over 2,000 feet, and therefore colder, as are the northern and southeastern parts of Arizona, though many snowbirds gather around Benson and Willcox.
To make your job of finding dispersed boondocking campsites easier, visit one of the regional offices of the BLM where they can provide you with both designated and undesignated camping areas. You may find the designated camping areas buzzing with ATVs, especially on weekends, and decide to try elsewhere. You can camp anywhere on BLM land where you have access to an appropriate campsite. The access roads, mostly of mixed hard sand and rock, vary in their condition and are not regularly repaired or graded. But wherever you are not blocking a road, and where you are not expressly prohibited from camping by signs or fences, go ahead and stake your claim.
I suggest that you at first pick one of the boondocking areas where other boondockers are present, as this will tell you that conditions like access roads and a hard and level parking surface are available. Though these locations tend to be more crowded, you may find a nice quiet spot and you may feel more secure with others around.
When your confidence—or the noise level from ATVs and generators–rises, then go seeking your own back road and explore for your secret boondocking spot. You will find dirt roads heading off into the desert almost anywhere you are driving. And if you look close enough you may spot an RV or two sitting out there in the distance under a mesquite tree. Also, ask your neighbors and other RVers where they have found good quiet and uncrowded spots. They may even tell you.

By Bob Difley

quartzsite_ltva2Many RV snowbirds are just now arriving in the Southwestern Deserts, with quite a few heading for Quartzsite, Arizona to “boondock” on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land.

The BLM has established what they call Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs) to provide RVers with open space for camping without the hookups you find in established campgrounds. The LTVAs are an easy and effective introduction to desert boondocking and snowbirding. Support services (such a a dump station, a communal water supply source, and dumpsters for trash) and supplies and services are available nearby. The great gathering of veteran RV boondockers, akin to the mountain man rendezvous of 200 years ago, stands ready to help out if needed.

However, plenty more snowbird/boondocking possibilities exist outside the LTVAs of Quartzsite in the Mojave Desert of Southeastern California (including some LTVAs in California just west of Yuma) and the Sonora Desert of Southwestern Arizona. After you have tested your desert mettle in an LTVA you might want to try one of these lesser known snowbirding opportunities.

You will find the main mid-winter snowbirding locations at the lowest elevations: around Yuma on both sides of the Colorado River, in California west along the Mexican border, up the Colorado River including the Parker Strip and around Lake Havasu, east toward Phoenix and down to Tucson. Low elevation desert camping is also available around Deming in New Mexico. The rest of Mexico is higher elevation, over 2,000 feet, and therefore colder, as are the northern and southeastern parts of Arizona, though many snowbirds gather around Benson and Willcox.

quartzsite2To make your job of finding dispersed boondocking campsites easier, visit one of the regional offices of the BLM where they can provide you with both designated and undesignated camping areas. You may find the designated camping areas buzzing with ATVs, especially on weekends, and decide to try elsewhere.

You can camp anywhere on BLM land where you have access to an appropriate campsite. The access roads, mostly of mixed hard sand and rock, vary in their condition and are not regularly repaired or graded.

But wherever you are not blocking a road, and where you are not expressly prohibited from camping by signs or fences, go ahead and stake your claim. (You can find more information on desert boondocking in my ebook, Snowbird Guide to Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts, available in either PDF or Kindle.)

I suggest that you at first pick one of the boondocking areas where other boondockers are present, as this will tell you that conditions like access roads and a hard and level parking surface are available. Though these locations tend to be more crowded, you may find a nice quiet spot and you may feel more secure with others around.

When your confidence—or the noise level from ATVs and generators–rises, then go seeking your own back road and explore for your secret boondocking spot. You will find dirt roads heading off into the desert almost anywhere you are driving. And if you look close enough you may spot an RV or two sitting out there in the distance under a mesquite tree. Also, ask your neighbors and other RVers where they have found good quiet and uncrowded spots. They may even tell you.

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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OUR PERSONAL MESSAGE TO YOU

December 30, 2013 by Barry & Monique Zander · Leave a Comment 

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

This is our 57th posting to RV.net this year – a voluntary, unpaid effort for which our reward has been getting to know you through your comments and crossing paths along the highways and byways of North America.  In the past year, we stopped in 30 states and 4 provinces, each of which has made us richer by allowing us to get to know more people and being able to share our experiences with you.

Memories of our Travels in British Columbia

Memories of our Travels in British Columbia

It’s tiring to realize that we stopped in 93 different places for at least one night in 2013.  And it’s amazing that since not knowing anything about RVs just eight years ago, we have now rested our rig 476 times in every type of camping spot imaginable.  Ah, the adventures we have had, meaning there are still lots of stories to tell!

Getting to know the people of North America: that’s what I always consider the best part of RV traveling.  We appreciate the variety of scenery on our journeys and take great interest in the history of places, both of which continue to earn us the “Never-Bored” label, but it’s mingling with people that really sticks with us.

In line with that, I want to add a message of condolence.  We, the readers of RV.net and other blog sites, have lost a friend with

James "Butterbean" Carpenter

James "Butterbean" Carpenter

the passing of James “Butterbean” Carpenter, who was a frequent contributor to the comments section.  I have more to say about Butterbean and our visit to his ranch and meeting his wife Joyce on http://ontopoftheworld.bz, my personal website.

Now another plug for traveling with RV caravans, as it relates to the people we have met.  Acquaintances we made on our trips to Alaska in 2010 and to the Canadian Maritime Provinces this year will be friends forever, even if we never meet in person again.  Each time we receive emails and cards from them it’s a heartfelt experience.

In addition to the dozens of postings on this website, I’ve written several stories for RV magazines and posted numerous blogs and articles on other RV-associated sites.  It’s all in the spirit of sharing what I consider the greatness of this nation and our neighbor to the north.  Along the way, I’ve taken about 1.3 billion See Rock City - 1031photos (yes, that’s a gross exaggeration) of everything from the most spectacular to the most mundane places we’ve seen, which I love to include in postings.

What’s ahead? We are excited about manning a booth at the January 18-26 RV show in Quartzsite [Come by for a visit at Booth #401]. Then, at the end of February we’re off to Baja with Fantasy RV and Creative Tours to enjoy the Baja Peninsula of Mexico and make new friends, including RVers, locals and whales.  After that, a few unplanned outings in the West and then possibly we’re off to Key West for the winter. And looking even further forward, I hope we can put the final sticker on our U.S. map, Hawaii, in 2015, renting a van conversion to tour some of the islands.

Enjoying the experiences -- Bar Harbor, Maine

Enjoying the experiences -- Bar Harbor, Maine

We hope the year ahead holds many pleasant memories for you.  There’s a wonderful world all around you waiting for you to experience it.   Please stay in touch, and if you happen upon our 28-foot Bigfoot travel trailer, come by to share experiences.

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.

COMMENTS ABOUT THE RECREATION.GOV BLOG:

FROM D_HANDLER – I never fail to understand why people do not pay attention to the instructions on the reservations site. The only problem would be length of your rig, regardless of what you call it. If it fits, reserve it. I never seem to have trouble, but I have only bee RV-ing since the 50’s.

FROM MARY HANSEN – Isn’t it just like all governments everywhere? It seems that they need to make all descriptions more wordy than necessary. Describing a campground should be easy: sites are this long, this wide, pull-thru or back-in, with these services. Thanks for being curious enough to go the extra mile to try to clarify something that we have all wondered about – but it still sounds like a governmental botch-up!     Mary

PS: Thanks for sending blogs that are still free of sales pitches. I hope you will not find it necessary to become annoying!

FROM THOMAS WILSON – Of course it’s convoluted — it’s a GOVERNMENT site! Everything the government creates is unintelligible, convoluted, and generally incomprehensible. If it isn’t, some bureaucrat won’t get paid.

FROM BUTCHPHI – Seems clear to me, ha.

FROM BEN CLARK — What dif does it make, you call and ask for a space to fit the length of your vehicle (s) . All they care about is having the money in their hot little hands. OK ?

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The gray water dumping question answered

December 28, 2013 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

This is a previously published post on RV.net, but I thought that it was informative and appropriate enough to publish again at the beginning of  snowbird season when many of you will be boondocking in Southern California and Arizona.

The question nearly always comes up among boondockers on whether it is legal to dump gray water (from the RV shower and sinks) onto the ground, into a freshly dug hole, or onto a thirsty bush while boondocking in the desert.
I contacted the BLM with a request to point out the applicable regulations and to clarify some gray (no pun intended) areas. I received the following reply:
“Dear Mr. Difley, we have received your request and in order to properly answer your questions are consulting with our field offices to determine if there are any areas that have special restrictions/conditions in place. We will respond to your request once we can compile the responses. Thank you for your interest in BLM public lands.
Carrie Templin
Public Affairs Specialist
Bureau of Land Management”
A couple weeks later I received the following reply. I have hightlighted certain sections that I thought interesting or pertinent in bold type.
“Dear Mr. Difley,
Thank you for your recent questions regarding recreational vehicles (RV) and dispersed camping on BLM lands in Arizona. The answers to your questions are more complicated than originally thought. Although the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) found at 8365.1-1 (3) generally excludes “wash water” from BLM’s prohibition against draining or dumping, it can be specifically prohibited by Supplemental Rules issued for a specific area. This applies equally to RVers and tent campers.
TITLE 43–PUBLIC LANDS: INTERIOR
CHAPTER II–BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE
INTERIOR
PART 8360_VISITOR SERVICES
Subpart 8365_Rules of Conduct
Sec. 8365.1-1 Sanitation.
(3) Drain sewage or petroleum products or dump refuse or waste other than wash water from any trailer or other vehicle except in places or receptacles provided for that purpose;
There are two locations in Arizona where draining wash water is specifically prohibited by Supplemental Rules that have been established and were published in the Federal Register. They are the Long Term Visitor Areas outside of Yuma, Arizona, and Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area east of Safford, Arizona.
A note of caution to your audience: Under State laws and regulations in Arizona, “wash water” or “gray water” from a kitchen sink or dishwasher is classified as sewage. If discharging it onto the ground from a RV or camper might cause it to enter an aquifer, the visitor could be subject to violation of State of Arizona regulations unrelated to BLM regulations. Even if the gray water is from a clotheswasher, bathroom sink, shower, or bathtub, it can only be discharged if done so according to the “General Permit” practices that would apply. The practices are explained at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
In addition, if the gray water creates a hazard or a nuisance a Law Enforcement Officer can cite (or in extreme circumstances arrest) an individual. This would go beyond simple gray water dumping, and the citation would likely be for some other offence related to degradation of resources or public health and safety issues. Law Enforcement Officers in the field have discretion in applying the laws and regulations as necessary and appropriate to protect the natural resources on the ground.
Thank you for your patience, while BLM researched the issue in order to provide accurate answers for your audience,
Carrie Templin
Public Affairs Specialist
Bureau of Land Management
Arizona State Office
(602) 417-9448
The link above to the ADEQ deals mostly with home use of gray water recycling, and offers the following definition: “Gray water is defined as wastewater, collected separately from sewage, that originates from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower or sink, but not from a kitchen sink, dishwasher or toilet. Gray water is distinguished from ‘black water,’ which is wastewater from toilets, kitchen sinks and dishwashers.”
Of particular note is that a citation could occur in a situation that went “beyond simple gray water dumping, and the citation would likely be for some other offense related to degradation of resources or public health and safety issues.”
That is about as clear as we’re going to get as an interpretation of the rules.

boondocking_desert2The question nearly always comes up among boondockers on whether it is legal to dump gray water (from the RV shower and sinks) onto the ground, into a freshly dug hole, or onto a thirsty bush while boondocking in the desert.

I contacted the BLM with a request to point out the applicable regulations and to clarify some gray (no pun intended) areas. I received the following reply:

“Dear Mr. Difley, we have received your request and in order to properly answer your questions are consulting with our field offices to determine if there are any areas that have special restrictions/conditions in place. We will respond to your request once we can compile the responses. Thank you for your interest in BLM public lands.

Carrie Templin

Public Affairs Specialist

Bureau of Land Management”

A couple weeks later I received the following reply. I have highlighted certain sections that I thought interesting or pertinent in bold type.

“Dear Mr. Difley,

Thank you for your recent questions regarding recreational vehicles (RV) and dispersed camping on BLM lands in Arizona. The answers to your questions are more complicated than originally thought. Although the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) found at 8365.1-1 (3) generally excludes “wash water” from BLM’s prohibition against draining or dumping, it can be specifically prohibited by Supplemental Rules issued for a specific area. This applies equally to RVers and tent campers.

TITLE 43–PUBLIC LANDS: INTERIOR

CHAPTER II–BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE

INTERIOR

PART 8360_VISITOR SERVICES

Subpart 8365_Rules of Conduct

Sec. 8365.1-1 Sanitation.

(3) Drain sewage or petroleum products or dump refuse or waste other than wash water from any trailer or other vehicle except in places or receptacles provided for that purpose;

There are two locations in Arizona where draining wash water is specifically prohibited by Supplemental Rules that have been established and were published in the Federal Register. They are the Long Term Visitor Areas outside of Yuma, Arizona, and Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area east of Safford, Arizona.

A note of caution to your audience: Under State laws and regulations in  Arizona, “wash water” or “gray water” from a kitchen sink or dishwasher is classified as sewage. If discharging it onto the ground from a RV or camper might cause it to enter an aquifer, the visitor could be subject to violation of State of Arizona regulations unrelated to BLM regulations. Even if the gray water is from a clotheswasher, bathroom sink, shower, or bathtub, it can only be discharged if done so according to the “General Permit” practices that would apply. The practices are explained at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

In addition, if the gray water creates a hazard or a nuisance a Law Enforcement Officer can cite (or in extreme circumstances arrest) an individual. This would go beyond simple gray water dumping, and the citation would likely be for some other offence related to degradation of resources or public health and safety issues. Law Enforcement Officers in the field have discretion in applying the laws and regulations as necessary and appropriate to protect the natural resources on the ground.

Thank you for your patience, while BLM researched the issue in order to provide accurate answers for your audience,

Carrie Templin

Public Affairs Specialist

Bureau of Land Management

Arizona State Office

(602) 417-9448

The link above to the ADEQ deals mostly with home use of gray water recycling, and offers the following definition: “Gray water is defined as wastewater, collected separately from sewage, that originates from a clothes washer, bathtub, shower or sink, but not from a kitchen sink, dishwasher or toilet. Gray water is distinguished from ‘black water,’ which is wastewater from toilets, kitchen sinks and dishwashers.”

Of particular note is that a citation could occur in a situation that went “beyond simple gray water dumping, and the citation would likely be for some other offense related to degradation of resources or public health and safety issues.”

That is about as clear as we’re going to get as an interpretation of the rules.

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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