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The American Deserts: Gems of the West

December 19, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to our E-mail Digest or RSS Feed. We will then send you the stories that are posted each day in an e-mail digest. We use a service called Feedburner for delivery of these emails. You will receive an e-mail from Feedburner after you subscribe and you must click on that email to activate your subscription. Thanks for visiting and enjoy all the information! RV.Net Blog AdminThe American Deserts: Gems of the West By Bob Difley As if frozen in time, the coyote stood motionless, muscles taut, eyes focused straight ahead. I followed his gaze, but could not see what had captured his attention. Suddenly he shot forward. Two wide-eyed jack rabbits exploded out of the brush, scattering in different directions. A cottontail sprinted for his burrow and disappeared into the darkness. Foiled from capturing his prey, the coyote stopped, gave me a once over, and slowly loped away to try his hunting techniques on another potential meal. Ever since my first desert camping trip the abundance of life in the desert has amazed me. I can still vividly see my first desert coyote, standing out on the bajada, a few hundred yards from Death Valley’s Stovepipe Wells campground, delivering a lengthy tirade of yips, barks, and howls. And the roadrunner, that watched secretly from the dense foliage of the tamarisk tree that shaded my picnic table, until I moved the right distance away and he would jump down onto the table, snatch a goodie, and run off into... Read more



How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking

July 4, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

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... Read more



Getting away from it all: Boondocking tips

June 13, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley Do you always choose a campground because of the availability of hook-ups? If so, you may be missing some of the pleasures of camping and the RV lifestyle experience; enjoyment of nature in the wild, wide open spaces, primitive areas, leaving the crowds behind, quiet, solitude, and no neighbors that are so close that you can hear them sneeze. In dispersed camping areas with undesignated campsites or on open BLM or Forest Service land, you can get as close to or as far away from the action as you like. In Quartzite, for example, you will find clusters of campers around a single group fire pit as well as loners stretched out across the isolated reaches of the desert floor. I am not denigrating hook-up campgrounds. I frequently use destination campgrounds because of the amenities that are not available in government or primitive campgrounds, such as swimming pools, hot tubs, organized activities, laundry rooms, and a Wifi connection. But if you choose a campground because you feel that you cannot exist without hook-ups, the following tips and suggestions may help in encouraging you to try an occasional boondocking trip on some wide-open land or deep into a national forest. The easiest way to start dry camping is in an organized campground with water (though not available as a hook up at your site) and a dump station. Your continuous length of stay before the necessary battery recharging, dumping, and water tank filling is dependent on your RV’s capacities. The... Read more



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... Read more



Follow these safe campfire tips for this hot, dry summer

May 11, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley The 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... Read more



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

April 17, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By 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. 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... Read more



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

March 28, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

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... Read more



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... Read more



In a camping rut? Try wildlife refuges

March 1, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

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... Read more



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

February 18, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

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... Read more



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