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

July 12, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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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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BACKING UP, PARK RANGERS AND BAJA

March 19, 2014 by Barry & Monique Zander · Comments Off 

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 · Comments Off 

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 · Comments Off 

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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