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

April 17, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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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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Bend, Oregon based Host RV introduces off-road expedition vehicle

March 28, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

Bend, Oregon based Host RV introduces off-road expedition vehicle
I admit, I’m starry-eyed whenever I come across an expedition or off-road RV, one that will let me explore rough terrain like a super-sized Jeep. And Host’s Outback Explorer has my boondocker’s pulse racing.
But Randall Pozzi, national sales manager for the Bend, Ore.-based manufacturer of campers, expedition vehicles and Class C motorhomes, said the products will stand out in the marketplace – especially when it comes to the Aspen.
The Outback is all about going places off the beaten path, coming with either three slide-outs and a side entry or two slide-outs with a rear entry. It is built on a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter 4X4 chassis and features a six-speed duonic automatic transmission.
“It’s for the people who want to go places you can’t go with your normal RV,” says Randall Pozzi, national sales manager of Host. “It has the ability to cross creeks and go out in the sand. When you’re driving down the highway and you see that dirt road that goes off to the side and you always say, ‘I wonder where that goes,’ with this vehicle you’d go find out.”
Pozzi said the Outback has not been regularly stocked yet due to its cost and the untested nature of the market for expedition vehicles. “Dealers are a little bit leery of it yet,” he said. “That whole field of expedition vehicles is kind of a new thing in RVs.” I guess that means there aren’t as many off-road campers out there as I thought.
For more information visit the Host Outback web page http://www.hostcampers.com/subs/Expedition/outback_explorer.html or for more exterior photos go here http://www.hostcampers.com/graphics/Outback/outback_exterior_mp.html and interior photos go here http://www.hostcampers.com/graphics/Outback/outback_Interior_mp.html

host_expedition_vehicleI admit, I’m starry-eyed whenever I come across an expedition or off-road RV, one that will let me explore rough terrain like a super-sized Jeep. And Host’s Outback Explorer has my boondocker’s pulse racing.

The Outback is all about going places off the beaten path, coming with either three slide-outs and a side entry or two slide-outs with a rear entry. It is built on a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter 4X4 chassis and features a six-speed duonic automatic transmission.

“It’s for the people who want to go places you can’t go with your normal RV,” says Randall Pozzi, national sales manager of Host. “It has the ability to cross creeks and go out in the sand. When you’re driving down the highway and you see that dirt road that goes off to the side and you always say, ‘I wonder where that goes,’ with this vehicle you’d go find out.”

Pozzi said the Outback has not been regularly stocked yet due to its cost and the untested nature of the market for expedition vehicles. “Dealers are a little bit leery of it yet,” he said. “That whole field of expedition vehicles is kind of a new thing in RVs.” I guess that means there aren’t as many off-road campers out there as I thought.

For more information visit the Host Outback web page or for more exterior photos go here and interior photos go here.

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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REVIEW (Pt. 2): Worx 16-inch Electric Chainsaw

March 27, 2014 by Loloho.com · Leave a Comment 

The Worx 16-inch electric chainsaw (http://goo.gl/0O4RKB) comes preassembled in the box. Unboxing it is thus a simple affair, as the box merely contains the saw (with a protective plastic chain and bar cover in place), some chain oil (barely enough to get started), and a product manual. We’re moments away from defending our RV from the steady onslaught of aggressive trees…

But first, let’s RTFM — read the friendly manual. The manual contains some helpful advice, like “use common sense.” (Page 11.)

Buck that log! (Click the pic for more info on this Worx chainsaw.)

Buck that log! (Click the pic for more info on this Worx chainsaw.)

Actually, the manual does contain useful information and I recommend you spend some time with it. The upshot is that using a chainsaw is a serious business, and quite dangerous.

There’s a reason that most horror movies include at least one chainsaw-wielding maniac. Every year there are some 28,000 chainsaw-related injuries in the United States, and that’s yet another statistics club you don’t want to join.

Let’s consider safety. The primary danger to a chainsaw operator is called kickback. No, I’m not talking about illegal under-the-table payments being made to our esteemed local government officials, for which our own (former) mayor is now serving prison time.

Kickback - it's not just for politicians anymore. (Click the pic for more info.)

Kickback - it's not just for politicians anymore. (Click the pic for more info - on the chainsaw, not the corrupt politician.)

When I say “kickback,” I’m talking about the rapid push backwards of a chainsaw that can occur when the wood pinches the saw chain. Kickback occurs when the rotating chain is stopped suddenly by contact with a more solid area. This can throw the saw rapidly backward toward the operator.

Kickback is bad news, since no one enjoys a chainsaw to the face. In fact, there have been cases when kickback has led to severe head and neck injuries which proved to be fatal. Got your attention now? Good. Respect the saw.

If you have any common sense (as recommended on Page 11 of the manual), the prospect of kickback injuries should be fairly terrifying. Don’t believe me? Let’s just say that these gruesome injuries are well documented on the internet.

A saw that rips through a pine tree like a hot knife through butter will have no problem tearing up your fingers, hand, abdomen, or your face and neck. Safety measures are not to be taken lightly.

Thankfully, modern chainsaws like this Worx are equipped with numerous safety features. For example, the Worx chainsaw is equipped with a “chain stop lever” that serves as kickback protection. The saw will not operate until the lever is rotated to the appropriate position towards the operator. The design idea is that kickback will engage the lever and stop the chain.

The Worx chainsaw is also equipped with a low-kickback chain and a reduced kickback Guide Bar. Both items reduce (but do not eliminate) the odds of kickback.

Since the saw arrived assembled, with the chain properly tensioned, start up was a straightforward affair. It’s a simple matter of plugging up to power, rotating the aforementioned kickback guard to its proper position, depressing the safety lock-off button, and pulling the trigger. But first we need to add oil.

Since the supplied oil is a meager 3.38 ounce (100 ml) bottle, I supplemented it with some oil of my own. The capacity of the oil reservoir is 200 ml, so Worx includes exactly half of the oil you really need. I can’t think of any reason they choose this miserly approach. I suppose the company saves a little money; but wouldn’t it make more sense to supply a proper amount of oil and charge customers a few pennies more?

With the saw properly oiled, I started by bucking logs. We have a few trees that have fallen on our property (far away from our Airstream) and they needed to be cross cut into manageable lengths for disposal. The Worx unit did a fine job. As expected, the saw can reasonably tackle trees with a circumference in the 12-16 inch range.

The Worx saw handles modest trees with ease. (Click the pic for more info.)

The Worx saw handles modest trees with ease. (Click the pic for more info.)

Initial cuts went quickly and smoothly. Make no mistake: bucking logs is a lot of work (much more strenuous than it looks). Nevertheless, I was pleased with the saw’s performance when tackling this task.

I also used the saw to fell a couple of small pine trees. The Worx WG303.1 chainsaw will make short work of smaller trees (say, 3-8 inches in circumference). It easily and quickly felled the pines.

Of course, I’m confident it will handle most tree branches with similar ease.

After bucking a couple of substantial logs, I checked the oil reservoir and discovered that much of it was depleted. The saw uses oil. If you buy it, be prepared to fill the reservoir with each use.

Overall, I am pleased with the performance of the Worx WG303.1 electric chainsaw and feel it was a worthwhile purchase. For my (ordinary home and RV owner) purposes, it should perform necessary tasks just fine.

In fact, I can’t think of too many downsides to this unit. Its price and maintenance requirements are low, and its performance seems in line with gas saws of similar size and power output. If you are in the market for an electric chainsaw, the Worx WG303.1 seems a solid choice.

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BACKING UP, PARK RANGERS AND BAJA

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

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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GUMMI PFLEGE: Save Your Rubber Seals

March 19, 2014 by Loloho.com · Leave a Comment 

Another fantastic “secret” garage product is Gummi Pflege (http://goo.gl/zULDO0). This is a wonderful German rubber care product that is especially popular amongst “in the know” BMW owners. But the protective properties of Gummi Pflege are good for rubber seals on all-American RVs, too.

This is "the good stuff" for all things RUBBER. (Click the pic for more info.)

This is "the good stuff" for all things RUBBER - especially door seals. (Click the pic for more info.)

Gummi Pflege works wonders on rubber trim and seals. BMW guys love to use it on weather seals that line the doors, hood, and truck of their cars. It helps to reduce squeaks, rattles, and potential water leaks. Any rubber surface benefits from an occasional dose of Gummi Pflege, but it’s especially good with seals.

I doubt you’ll ever see this product in a typical retail store. Perhaps one reason that not many people know about Gummi Pflege is the weird name. In truth, the name “Gummi Pflege Stift” sounds quite exotic – until you realize it’s simply German for “Rubber Maintenance Stick!”

The product comes in a “shoe polish” style applicator stick. Simply open the cap, tilt the stick, and rub the foam applicator onto the rubber surface. There’s minimal waste; just be careful when opening the container.

Gummi Pflege protects rubber from the damaging effects of excessive cold, heat, and UV rays.

Gummi Pflege is especially good at preserving the elasticity of rubber. It helps prevent the dreaded drying and cracking that often happens to rubber seals over time.

Gummi Pflege is highly prized for its protective qualities. It will help keep rubber looking and performing like new. Yet it’s not greasy and slick like many competing products.

It’s not a restorative product. Although it may improve the appearance and function of worn out rubber, it’s best to apply Gummi Pflege before you experience any drying. In other words, an ounce of Gummi Pflege is worth a pound of restoration.

If you allow your rubber seals to dry rot, you’ll be faced with a costly replacement job. It’s much better to apply some Gummi Pflege and reap the preservative rewards.

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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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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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In a camping rut? Try wildlife refuges

March 1, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

Are you in a rut? If you’ve been RVing for a couple of year or more you likely have found favorite spots that you return to year after year. But you probably also realize that these are not the only campgrounds that will ever like, so why not venture out into new places, take different routes, or camp in places you wonce wouldn’t have considered?

I’ve been guilty of the same complacency at times, but when I changed my habits I found great spots, terrific places to camp, hike, ride my mountain bike, or look for birds and wildlife. It just takes a commitment to once in a while do something, go somewhere different.

OK. Once you make that commitment, may I suggest you check out this country’s wildlife refuges. In addition to all the state wildlife areas around the country, the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service manages the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.

Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the System has grown to more than 150 million acres, 551 national wildlife refuges, as well as other units of the Refuge System, plus 37 wetland management districts. That is a heck of a lot of land that belong to each and every one of us – what is designated as public lands – and open for many kinds of recreational pursuits beyond hunting.

The guide book to the refuges that I have used over the past decade is 714 pages long, though most of the information contained in the book is now available online http://www.fws.gov/refuges/. Not all of the refuges allow camping, but most do. Locate the NWR by state or name to find those that match up with your travel plans and that allow camping.

Don’t forget to check the dates of the hunting seasons, a good time to avoid them. However, in the off season they are great places to see a , as well as enjoy quiet and solitude in a natural environment.

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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Water: The vital resource for life and boondocking

January 31, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

California is in the midst of the worst drought since records have been taken. in fact, the rain fall this year is half what the previous worst year total was.

This loss of available water stores (snow pack, reservoirs, aquifers, etc.) will be disastrous for farmers, spawning salmon, and homeowners (who water lawns, wash cars, plant gardens, and follow several water wasting habits in their everyday lives.

States other than California are being affected also with water shortages, unlike those in the Midwest, South, and East Coast that are receiving too much of the wet stuff.

Normally dry areas, like the deserts of the Southwest, of which much of California qualifies as well as parts of Eastern Oregon, Southern Arizona and New Mexico, could suffer the most.

You can expect water conservation guidelines to ramp up as the situation continues to worsen. Some areas are already prohibiting watering lawns, cars, washing down driveways, operating sprinklers, and flushing toilets less (phew!)

But we boondockers have a leg up on everybody else (not to be smug, or anything) because as we pursued our love of boondock camping, we also learned how to conserve water to avoid filling our waste water tank or draining our fresh water tank, causing us to vacate our campsite discovery and drive off to find somewhere to dump and fill.

But these same skills we learned on how to conserve water while camping are also valuable skills to practice at home now that water conservation is looming over all of us by severely dwindling supplies. The following water saving tips will serve you both as a boondocker as well as a stick house dweller.

  • Wash dishes in a dish tub and discard the dishwater onto a thirsty bush or to water your plants or garden. 
  • When washing or showering, turn the water on to wet down, then turn off. Soap up, then turn water on to rinse.
  • Turn the water off when brushing teeth. Turn on only to rinse.
  • When running water while letting it heat up for showers or washing, save the running water in a plastic tub to use for watering plants, cooking spaghetti, or other high water uses.
  • If you must wash your car or truck, consider one of the waterless car wash products.
  • Install drip waterers for the plants at your house.
  • Maintain the right mindset: Always be conscious of wasting water, and what you can do about it.

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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