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

March 28, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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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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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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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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Fun in the sun awaits at Lake Havasu City, Arizona

January 18, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

The Lower Colorado: Lake Havasu City And Parker
By Bob Difley
Whether just visiting Lake Havasu City on the way south to Parker, Yuma, or Quartzsite, or planning to spend the winter, visit the Lake Havasu Visitors and Convention Bureau’s website
http://www.golakehavasu.com/
or their physical location at 314 London Bridge Road (enter from the parking lot behind the building) to find the myriad activities available during the temperate winter months.
Because of its fine restaurants and cultural agenda, Lake Havasu City has attracted upscale visitors, year round retirees, and winter snowbirds resulting in a long list of exemplary events and activities, quite unlike the summer’s line up of boat races, Jet Ski races, and fishing tournaments.
Besides locally produced little theater plays and musicals, the Lake Havasu Museum of History, next door to the Tourism Bureau, has on display historic artifacts and archives dating from the earliest Colorado Indians through the reconstruction of Robert McCulloch’s London Bridge.
This is not to say that you have only cultural events from which to choose.
For instance, the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Assn. & Little Delbert Days, January 25 – 26 attractrs prpo rodeo association cowboys and cowgirls from around the southwest, as well as a lot of action on-stage, from Kids Karaoke, balloon animals, hula-hoop contests, to the “Cutest Cowboy and Cowgirl Contest (ages 2 – 12)”. Little Delbert Days is an “old time country fair” experience that’s fun for everyone!
In February you will find activities such as the 29th Annual Winterfest (Go for the day or the entire weekend and enjoy open-air shopping, dining, music, activities and a grand time for all ages!), the 25th Annual Wesstern Winter Blast Pyrotechnic Show (Feb. 12 – 16) the always spectacular fireworks show, a bluegrass festival (Feb. 28 – Mar. 1) on the beach, and more.
Semester and holiday breaks on the river mix equal parts of testosterone, hormones, and youth with warm sun, sandy beaches, and string bikinis for the form of entertainment that is only a distant memory for most of us. You can, of course, enjoy the festivities as an observant bystander.
If you are more adventurous, try jumping from a tower over 100 feet above the beach with a rubber bungee cord tied to your ankle, wet your whistle with a Ramos fizz or margarita concocted right on the beach from a portable, battery-powered blender, or test your balance in one of the gyrating balloon thing-a-ma-gigs at the water’s edge.
And don’t forget the state parks either. At Windsor Beach, two miles north of the bridge on London Bridge Road and Buckskin Mountain State Park south of the city, rangers and naturalists lead several nature, geology, and bird and wildlife hikes, and present educational nature and historical programs throughout the winter.
These informative and interesting looks at the history of the river and its native populations and its geology, birds, and plants are open to all, even if you are not staying at the campground, and are worth attending.
Downstream, the Parker area offers a choice of activities beyond the new Blue Water Casino, like bicycle racing, which is popular along this part of the river. The Dam to Dam race spreads along route 95 between Davis and Parker dams, while Another Dam Bicycle Race follows a circuitous route within La Paz County Park. You can sit by your rig fishing in the river while simultaneously watching the blur of speeding bicycles past your campsite.
Then there’s the river, a natural and popular magnet for water recreation, with everything from unlimited hydroplanes to ski boats pulling water skiers around a long oval course at speeds that I wouldn’t want to travel behind a boat on two thin boards.
Whatever your interests, the lower Colorado River has enough to keep your interest level above falling asleep in a chair in the sun, which, now that I think about it, also sounds like a pretty good way to spend the cold hard winter.

lake_havasu_sp_4944Whether just visiting Lake Havasu City on the way south to Parker, Yuma, or Quartzsite, or planning to spend the winter, visit the Lake Havasu Visitors and Convention Bureau’s website or their physical location at 314 London Bridge Road (enter from the parking lot behind the building) to find the myriad activities available during the temperate winter months.

Because of its fine restaurants and cultural agenda, Lake Havasu City has attracted upscale visitors, year round retirees, and winter snowbirds resulting in a long list of exemplary events and activities, quite unlike the summer’s line up of boat races, Jet Ski races, and fishing tournaments.

Besides locally produced little theater plays and musicals, the Lake Havasu Museum of History, next door to the Tourism Bureau, has on display historic artifacts and archives dating from the earliest Colorado Indians through the reconstruction of Robert McCulloch’s London Bridge.

lake_havasu_rodeo1This is not to say that you have only cultural events from which to choose. For instance, the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Assn. & Little Delbert Days (photo: left), January 25 – 26 attractrs prpo rodeo association cowboys and cowgirls from around the southwest, as well as a lot of action on-stage, from Kids Karaoke, balloon animals, hula-hoop contests, to the “Cutest Cowboy and Cowgirl Contest (ages 2 – 12)”. Little Delbert Days is an “old time country fair” experience that’s fun for everyone!

In February you will find activities such as the 29th Annual Winterfest (Go for the day or the entire weekend and enjoy open-air shopping, dining, music, activities and a grand time for all ages!), the 25th Annual Wesstern Winter Blast Pyrotechnic Show (Feb. 12 – 16) the always spectacular fireworks show, a bluegrass festival (Feb. 28 – Mar. 1) on the beach, and more.

Semester and holiday breaks on the river mix equal parts of testosterone, hormones, and youth with warm sun, sandy beaches, and string bikinis for the form of entertainment that is only a distant memory for most of us. You can, of course, enjoy the festivities as an observant bystander.

If you are more adventurous, try jumping from a tower over 100 feet above the beach with a rubber bungee cord tied to your ankle, wet your whistle with a Ramos fizz or margarita concocted right on the beach from a portable, battery-powered blender, or test your balance in one of the gyrating balloon thing-a-ma-gigs at the water’s edge.

And don’t forget the state parks either. At Windsor Beach (photo: top), two miles north of the bridge on London Bridge Road, and Cattail Cove  and Buckskin Mountain State Park south of the city, rangers and naturalists lead several nature, geology, and bird and wildlife hikes, and present educational nature and historical programs throughout the winter.

These informative and interesting looks at the history of the river and its native populations and its geology, birds, and plants are open to all, even if you are not staying at the campground.

Downstream, the Parker area offers a choice of activities beyond the new Blue Water Casino, like bicycle racing, which is popular along this part of the river.  Another Dam Race follows a circuitous route within La Paz County Park for bicyclists. You can sit by your rig fishing in the river while simultaneously watching the blur of speeding bicycles past your campsite.

lake_havasu_1804Then there’s the river (photo: left), a natural and popular magnet for water recreation, with everything from unlimited hydroplanes to ski boats pulling water skiers around a long oval course at speeds that I wouldn’t want to travel behind a boat on two thin boards.

Whatever your interests, the lower Colorado River has enough to keep your interest level above falling asleep in a chair in the sun, which, now that I think about it, also sounds like a pretty good way to spend the cold hard winter.

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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Isn’t it time to work less and RV more?

January 11, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

Productivity. Connectivity. Accumulating Wealth. These are considered positive attributes and goals for working Americans to strive for. Yet “Ecologists warn that economic growth is strangling the natural systems on which life depends,” writes Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle.
You read everyday that we are running out of – or eventually will run out of – many of our natural resources, for example lithium that powers most of our devices, or we will hve to ration some resources, like water that comes from diminishing aquifers and – at least in California – decreased rainfall threatening devastating droughts and wildfires.
“As the world economy grows relentlessly,” Lochhead continues, “ecologists warn that nature’s ability to absorb wastes and regenerate natural resources is being exhausted.”
And if that isn’t enough to be concerned about, psychologists and health professionals warn that our drive for wealth, continuous connectivity, and relentless need to work more hours, produce more, improve efficiency, and all the other pressures on today’s workforce to be ever more competitive, could have deleterious results on both our mental and physical health.
Whether you are a believer or non-believer in global warming, worried about diminishing resources or believing that nature or science will provide, or are a political liberal or conservative, there may be a solution that would be acceptable to all sides. And that is . . .
Go RVing. Think about it. If you are currently a fulltimer, did you say to yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Did you discover that you worked at a stressful job a bit too long, thinking that you needed to build up more wealth than you are now finding that you actually needed. Or are you finding that a simpler lifestyle fits you just fine and you could have started serious RVing – even if you are not a fulltimer – years sooner?
RVing, by its very nature, teaches us to preserve our natural resources, be less wasteful, act more responsibly toward the environment – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle is the mantra. And is there anyone that doesn’t admit that when they are RVing they are happier, more relaxed, more satisfied with life. Some countries even now are trying to gauge their citizens’ happiness index as part of future planning.
No other developed countries drive their workers to work more hours, take fewer vacations or time off – and for shorter periods – and to always stay connected in case the boss needs to reach you, as life is in America. In fact, in most countries, the government requires a certain number of paid vacation days – 30 in France, 25 in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 24 in Germany. Do you know how many paid vacation days our government requires? 0.
Not only that, but America has the lowest number of paid vacation days of twelve developed nations – 13. Compare that to Brazil, Austria, Germany, France, and Italy, all with 34 or more paid vacation days (see chart).
By the time we get around to retiring (or are forced to retire due to downsizing) we are pretty much useless to the workforce, have health problems that prohibit activities that we would like to pursue, and too old to enjoy all those activities that provided enjoyment when we were younger. We don’t possess the drive any more to stay in top physical shape, or pursue hobbies or art or music or mentoring or any other form of creativity.
Give it some thought. Is there any reason you shouldn’t start backing off, go RVing more, downsize, hit the road, consider retiring early, fulltiming in your RV and exploring this great country, pursuing your dreams?

boondocking_lizard_headProductivity. Connectivity. Accumulating Wealth. These are considered positive attributes and goals for working Americans to strive for. Yet “Ecologists warn that economic growth is strangling the natural systems on which life depends,” writes Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle.

You read everyday that we are running out of – or eventually will run out of – many of our natural resources, for example lithium that powers most of our devices, or we will hve to ration some resources, like water that comes from diminishing aquifers and – at least in California – decreased rainfall threatening devastating droughts and wildfires.

“As the world economy grows relentlessly,” Lochhead continues, “ecologists warn that nature’s ability to absorb wastes and regenerate natural resources is being exhausted.”

And if that isn’t enough to be concerned about, psychologists and health professionals warn that our drive for wealth, continuous connectivity, and relentless need to work more hours, produce more, improve efficiency, and all the other pressures on today’s workforce to be ever more competitive, could have deleterious results on both our mental and physical health.

Whether you are a believer or non-believer in global warming, worried about diminishing resources or believing that nature or science will provide, or are a political liberal or conservative, there may be a solution that would be acceptable to all sides. And that is . . .

Go RVing. Think about it. If you are currently a fulltimer, did you say to yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Did you discover that you worked at a stressful job a bit too long, thinking that you needed to build up more wealth than you are now finding that you actually needed. Or are you finding that a simpler lifestyle fits you just fine and you could have started serious RVing – even if you are not a fulltimer – years sooner?

RVing, by its very nature, teaches us to preserve our natural resources, be less wasteful, act more responsibly toward the environment – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle is the mantra. And is there anyone that doesn’t admit that when they are RVing they are happier, more relaxed, more satisfied with life. Some countries even now are trying to gauge their citizens’ happiness index as part of future planning.

No other developed countries drive their workers to work more hours, take fewer vacations or time off – and for shorter periods – and to always stay connected in case the boss needs to reach you, as life is in America. In fact, in most countries, the government requires a certain number of paid vacation days – 30 in France, 25 in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 24 in Germany. Do you know how many paid vacation days our government requires? 0.

Not only that, but America has the lowest number of paid vacation days of twelve developed nations – 13. Compare that to Brazil, Austria, Germany, France, and Italy, all with 34 or more paid vacation days (see chart).

By the time we get around to retiring (or are forced to retire due to downsizing) we are pretty much useless to the workforce, have health problems that prohibit activities that we would like to pursue, and too old to enjoy all those activities that provided enjoyment when we were younger. We don’t possess the drive any more to stay in top physical shape, or pursue hobbies or art or music or mentoring or any other form of creativity.

Give it some thought. Is there any reason you shouldn’t start backing off, go RVing more, downsize, hit the road, consider retiring early, fulltiming in your RV and exploring this great country, pursuing your dreams?

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Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts

January 4, 2014 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

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

By Bob Difley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The gray water dumping question answered

December 28, 2013 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

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

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

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

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

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

Carrie Templin

Public Affairs Specialist

Bureau of Land Management”

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

“Dear Mr. Difley,

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

TITLE 43–PUBLIC LANDS: INTERIOR

CHAPTER II–BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF THE

INTERIOR

PART 8360_VISITOR SERVICES

Subpart 8365_Rules of Conduct

Sec. 8365.1-1 Sanitation.

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

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

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

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

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

Carrie Templin

Public Affairs Specialist

Bureau of Land Management

Arizona State Office

(602) 417-9448

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

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

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

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

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Margo Armstrong’s interview Part 2

December 14, 2013 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

Margo Armstrong, who writes the website and blog called Moving On With Margo did a two part interview with me on RVing, specifically boondocking, and photography. The first part was published last Friday here and the second part, which is the photography part, went live Friday.

You can read the photography part of the interview on Margo’s blog.

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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Boondocking with Bob Difley and Margo Armstrong

December 7, 2013 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

Writer and RVer, Margo Armstrong, operates a website and blog called Moving On With Margo where she posts articles on RV adventures and how to prepare for them. She has written many books, among several on RVing, of course, including:

For Women Only – Traveling Solo In Your RV, The Adventure of a Lifetime

– How To Save Money While Enjoying The RV Lifestyle

– The RV Lifestyle – A Dream Come True

– Selling Online – Supporting the Traveling Lifestyle

– Staying In Touch, A Traveler’s Guide

– Working On The Road – For Professionals and Just Fun-Loving Folks

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Margo on boondocking and the interview (The Grand Boondocker Tells All)

is now posted on her website.

For more of my 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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With a little practice you can save on campground fees by boondocking

November 16, 2013 by Bob Difley · Leave a Comment 

By Bob Difley

Most RVers who have gotten past the newbie stage have camped overnight at least once or twice without hookups, for instance in a Walmart parking lot, at a rest stop along an interstate highway, at an RV rally, or in a forest service campground. Discovering how to camp where there are no hookups is not difficult, since all modern rigs were designed to be self-contained and self-reliant and most RVers once they get a little familiar with their rig have tried it.
But the real trick to successful camping without the restrictions imposed by hook-ups–what RVers call  boondocking–is knowing how to get that third, fourth, or fifth day – or even a week or more – out of a boondocking campsite. And not just surviving, but becoming completely comfortable and confident doing it. The trick is in managing your resources–water, electricity, and waste.
If you familiarize yourself with these resources you will be able to judge how many days you can camp without running out (or filling up) and needing to take care of your onboard systems. For instance, monitor your electrical usage with a multi-meter and how fast you deplete it from your batteries. Watch your drinking water tank level and how much you waste (and the resultant waste water filling up your gray water tank). Also check your black, or sewer, tan and how fast you fill it. Then practice ways to conserve.
Getting as many days in the boonies as you can squeeze in between having to pack up camp and drive off to replenish electricity (charging your batteries), fill your water tank, and dump your waste tanks, is what makes boondocking successful, and staying out longer – and doing it comfortably – is what makes a boondocker happy.
It also takes experience. Every time you boondock, you learn a new trick or two to extend your stay. These simple, common sense acts, that with experience become second nature – like not letting your faucets run, taking Navy showers, re-using the water you run when waiting for hot water to come, reducing the amount of waste water you let flow into your gray tank, turning off lights and TV when not being used – will eventually become habits that you will practice automatically without a second thought. You might even find out you are becoming a bit more conservative and less wasteful when at home.
Look at it this way. If you were just as comfortable without hookups as you were with them, where would you rather camp? With neighbors within 15 or so feet on either side of you, or would you choose campsites where your nearest neighbors were 50 or 100 feet or further away? Or you had no neighbors at all.
That’s the beauty of boondocking. Once you learn the tips and tricks, your options are endless – from a crowded LTVA at Quartzsite to a solitary campsite with sweeping vistas and no sign of civilization in sight.

boondocking_bayfield_bunchMost RVers who have gotten past the newbie stage have camped overnight at least once or twice without hookups, for instance in a Walmart parking lot, at a rest stop along an interstate highway, at an RV rally, or in a forest service campground.

Discovering how to camp where there are no hookups is not difficult, since all modern rigs were designed to be self-contained and self-reliant and most RVers once they get a little familiar with their rig have tried it.

But the real trick to successful camping without the restrictions imposed by hook-ups–what RVers call  boondocking–is knowing how to get that third, fourth, or fifth day – or even a week or more – out of a boondocking campsite. And not just surviving, but becoming completely comfortable and confident doing it. The trick is in managing your resources–water, electricity, and waste.

If you familiarize yourself with these resources you will be able to judge how many days you can camp without running out (or filling up) and needing to take care of your onboard systems. For instance, monitor your electrical usage with a multi-meter and how fast you deplete it from your batteries. Watch your drinking water tank level and how much you waste (and the resultant waste water filling up your gray water tank). Also check your black, or sewer, tan and how fast you fill it. Then practice ways to conserve.

Getting as many days in the boonies as you can squeeze in between having to pack up camp and drive off to replenish electricity (charging your batteries), fill your water tank, and dump your waste tanks, is what makes boondocking successful, and staying out longer – and doing it comfortably – is what makes a boondocker happy.

It also takes experience. Every time you boondock, you learn a new trick or two to extend your stay. These simple, common sense acts, that with experience become second nature – like not letting your faucets run, taking Navy showers, re-using the water you run when waiting for hot water to come, reducing the amount of waste water you let flow into your gray tank, turning off lights and TV when not being used – will eventually become habits that you will practice automatically without a second thought. You might even find out you are becoming a bit more conservative and less wasteful when at home.

Look at it this way. If you were just as comfortable without hookups as you were with them, where would you rather camp? With neighbors within 15 or so feet on either side of you, or would you choose campsites where your nearest neighbors were 50 or 100 feet or further away? Or you had no neighbors at all.

That’s the beauty of boondocking. Once you learn the tips and tricks, your options are endless – from a crowded LTVA at Quartzsite to a solitary campsite with sweeping vistas and no sign of civilization in sight.

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 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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