Top

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

July 12, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

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 Admin

8. VOLUNTEERING
There are many other volunteer positions available to RVers in addition to camp hosting
How does volunteering fit into the RV Lifestyle? Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteer position open to RVers. Though there are volunteer positions available to students, retirees, and for seasonal needs, RVers who bring their houses with them are top tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room for RVers to park their rigs.
Why do businesses and others use volunteers?
Many parks use volunteers for jobs such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, wildlife census, habitat rejuvenation, leading hikes and nature walks, collecting camping fees, and many more. These are activities/chores that don’t always get funds included in budgets that have been pared to the bone.
When a park or other agency or business, such as a wildlife refuge, state park, national forest, or wilderness area can get the job done by offering a free campsite as trade without having to pay a fulltime employee or account for it in their expenses, everybody benefits.
Some seasonal positions may even pay a wage, though you won’t get rich on it. The famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, uses seasonal RVers to work in their store and even provides an RV park where all the seasonal RVers stay. They have found that RVers are reliable, trustworthy, happy to work short hours or in short temporary jobs, and will often come back year after year.
The huge online retailer, Amazon, also hires seasonal workers in their warehouses for shipping support, though if you aren’t used to working long hours on your feet, you might want to try an easier job.
Where do you find volunteer positions?
Often you can find a volunteer position just by enquiring at the location where you would like to volunteer, making it clear why you want to volunteer at that particular place.
Volunteers that are eager for certain locations will win out over those just wanting a free campsite anywhere they can get one. You never know what might turn up if you just ask—or suggest how you might volunteer. Park managers are often eager to trade out an empty campsite for work that needs to be done.

volunteeringHow does volunteering fit into the RV Lifestyle?

Camp hosting is not the only form of volunteering for RVers. Though volunteer positions are available to students, retirees, and for seasonal needs, RVers who bring their houses with them are top tier candidates for volunteer positions where local housing may not be available and where there is room for RVers to park their rigs.

Why do businesses and others use volunteers?

Many parks use volunteers for jobs such as trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, wildlife census, habitat rejuvenation, leading hikes and nature walks, collecting camping fees, and many more. These are activities/chores that don’t always get funds included in budgets that have been pared to the bone.

When a park or other agency or business, such as a wildlife refuge, state park, national forest, or wilderness area can get the job done by offering a free campsite as trade without having to pay a fulltime employee or account for it in their expenses, everybody benefits.

Some seasonal positions may even pay a wage, though you won’t get rich on it. The famous Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, uses seasonal RVers to work in their store and even provides an RV park where all the seasonal RVers stay. They have found that RVers are reliable, trustworthy, happy to work short hours or in short temporary jobs, and will often come back year after year.

The huge online retailer, Amazon, also hires seasonal workers in their warehouses for shipping support, though if you aren’t used to working long hours on your feet, you might want to try an easier job.

Where do you find volunteer positions?

Often you can find a volunteer position just by inquiring at the location where you would like to volunteer, making it clear why you want to volunteer at that particular place. Volunteers that are eager for certain locations will win out over those just wanting a free campsite anywhere they can get one. You never know what might turn up if you just ask—or suggest how you might volunteer. Park managers are often eager to trade out an empty campsite for work that needs to be done.

Here are some links to help you get a jump on obtaining a volunteer position.

http://www.volunteermatch.org/ Here you can enter the area you want to volunteer in, your interests, and the site will try to match you to a position.

http://www.serve.gov/ This government asks you what interests you and where you would like to volunteer then offers a list of matches.

http://www.volunteer.gov/gov/Another government site that matches volunteers with positions.

http://www.disneyparks.com Volunteer a day of service and get one day admission to Disney parks.

http://www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/volunteers.htm Forest Service volunteer positions.

http://www.fws.gov/volunteers/volOpps.html Lists opportunities at more than 500 wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, along with how to go about finding positions.

The above article is #8 from my ebook, 111 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck.

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

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking

July 4, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

boondocking_anderson_mesa

By Bob Difley

When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?] to your RV that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the lifestyle.

How to avoid wasting energy while RV boondocking
When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?]) to your RV that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the lifestyle.
But in the meantime, you can follow the tips below to reduce your electrical usage – and the amount of time you need to run your noisy generator to recharge your batteries.
Turn off all appliances, lights, radio, TV, and anything else that requires electricity when not in use.
Don’t leave your porch light on (a particular annoyance to me when I am not so fortunate to be able to camp away from neighbors, and he/she leaves the light on, ruining my night vision for seeing night critters and star gazing).
Coordinate your generator running time with the use of power-hungry appliances. For instance, schedule your showers, water heater, use of microwave, coffee grinder, and dishwashing all within a short period of time when you can run your generator to power them, rather than pull juice out of your batteries. This also charges you batteries at the same time.
Time your day to match the sun, rising when it does and going to bed with it also. This cuts your light usage down considerably.
If you read in bed, try using small rechargeable battery powered reading lights. You can recharge the batteries when you hook up next time and you won’t run down your house batteries with your RV’s lights. And you will probably disturb your mate less.
Monitor your house batteries charge with a voltage meter so you don’t run them down too low, which can damage the batteries. Deep cycle batteries are considered fully charged at about  12.6 volts and completely discharged at 10.6 volts. Recharge before they get below 60%, or about 12.0 volts.
In addition to these ways to cut your electric usage, there will be times when you are in an LTVA or other boondocking or dry-camping situation (like a rally or week-end event) where you have close neighbors. Remember that there are all kinds of RVers, some—maybe yourself included—who do not mind the noise of a generator running and don’t even consider that the noise or exhaust fumes may annoy others.
I remedy this, as I’m sure others do, by taking a walk during the time my neighbor will be running his generator. But it would annoy me if I had just settled down in my camp chair with a glass of the bubbly when my neighbor fires up his generator. Be courteous to your neighbor and he will return the courtesy.
Explain to your neighbor that you have to run your generator, and for however long you expect to, and ask when would be a good time when it wouldn’t bother him/her. Maybe you can all coordinate times.
Avoid running your generator past a reasonable hour in the evening when others may be relaxing, sitting outside enjoying the stars and the quiet, or trying to sleep. The same rule holds for the morning before the late risers greet the day.
Learn more about boondocking with my new eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands.When you take the ultimate step and decide to become a serious boondocker, you make  modifications to the way you camp and add certain features like installing a sustainable energy source like solar panels, a wind generator, or a fusion nuclear generator [have they invented those yet?] to your RV, features  that you might be hesitant to invest in until you know you like the freedom of the boondocking lifestyle.

But in the meantime, you can follow the tips below to reduce your electrical usage – and the amount of time you need to run your noisy generator to recharge your batteries.

  • Turn off all appliances, lights, radio, TV, and anything else that requires electricity when not in use.
  • Don’t leave your porch light on (a particular annoyance to me when I am not so fortunate to be able to camp away from neighbors, and their porch light ruins my night vision for spotting critters and star gazing).
  • Coordinate your generator running time with the use of power-hungry appliances. For instance, schedule your showers, water heater, microwave, coffee grinder, and dishwashing all within the same period of time when you can run your generator to power them, rather than pull juice out of your batteries, also charging your batteries at the same time.
  • In the summer when days are longer time your day to match the sun, rising when it does and going to bed with it also. This cuts your usage of lights down considerably.
  • If you read in bed, try using small rechargeable battery powered reading lights. You can recharge the batteries when you hook up next time and you won’t run down your house batteries with your RV’s lights. And you will probably disturb your mate less.
  • Monitor your house batteries’ charge with a voltage meter so you don’t run them down too low, which can damage the batteries. Deep cycle batteries are considered fully charged at about  12.6 volts and completely discharged at 10.6 volts. For best results, recharge before they get below 60%, or about 12.0 volts.

In addition to these ways to cut your electric usage, there will be times when you are in an LTVA or other boondocking or dry-camping situation (like a rally or week-end event) where you have close neighbors. Remember that there are all kinds of RVers, some—maybe yourself included—who do not mind the noise of a generator running and don’t even consider that the noise or exhaust fumes may annoy others.

I remedy this by taking a walk during the time my neighbor runs his generator. But it would annoy me if I had just settled down in my camp chair with a glass of the bubbly when my neighbor fires up his generator. Be courteous to your neighbor and he will return the courtesy. For instance, explain to your neighbor that you have to run your generator, and for how long you expect to run it, and ask when would be a good time when it wouldn’t bother him/her. Maybe you can coordinate times with all your neighbors.

Avoid running your generator past a reasonable hour in the evening when others may be relaxing, sitting outside enjoying the stars and the quiet, or trying to sleep. The same rule holds for the morning before the late risers greet the day.

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

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Getting away from it all: Boondocking tips

June 13, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

boondocking-in-Tahoe-National-Forest

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 larger the capacities and the more conservative your use of them, the longer you will last. When fresh water and a dump station are available, it simply means driving to the water fill and dump station and taking care of business, then returning to your campsite. In remote camping areas you will have to drive further. With some clever deduction, you can conclude that the less water you use taking showers and washing dishes, the longer you will be able to extend your stay before having to dump or fill your water tank. This does not mean that you should avoid showering for a week and have to use all throwaway plates and utensils. Therefore, when available:

  • Use campground showers and restroom facilities.
  • Wash dishes in a dish tub and discard the dishwater into the campground gray water receptacle.
  • Fill dishwashing tub from outside water supply.
  • Drain gray water into a Tote Tank (from Camping World and other RV supply stores) which can be rolled away and dumped into dump station or toilet.
  • Carry an extra hose(s). Maybe you can run them long enough to reach the campground water supply without having to move your rig.
  • Carry a five-gallon Jerry jug of water that you can dump into your water tank if you inadvertently run low.
  • When using RV supplied water for washing or showering, turn the water on to wet down, then turn off. Soap up, then turn water on to rinse off. You will save a lot of water—and pump running time–by not letting the water run.

The need to move temporarily from your campsite to dump and fill holds to “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” axiom. If you still have half a tank of fresh water but your holding tanks are full, that puts a definite crimp in how long you can extend your stay, and the further away you camp from facilities, the more practical it becomes to practice conservation. You should NEVER stretch out your stay, however, by dumping your holding tanks—net even your gray water tank—on the ground. Always use an approved dump station. You’ll know that you have reached the epitome in the art of planning and conservation when your battery needs charging, your freshwater tank needs filling, and your holding tanks need to be emptied, all at precisely the same time. And if you are really good, it will be on the last day of your camping trip. Electricity Your 12-volt electrical system is sufficient for satisfying your power needs as long as you can get along without 120-volt current. If you have an inverter which converts 12-volt into 120-volt, you will still have to do without your air conditioner and microwave oven, which draw considerable amperes from your batteries. Leave your electric blanket and Mr. Coffee at home for the same reason. An extra blanket and a drip coffee maker work just as well. If you and your party observe a few basic electricity conservation rules, you will be able to get the most out of your trip.

  • Use lights only when necessary and turn off lights that are not being used.
  • Do not leave the porch light on.
  • Use battery operated reading lights and flashlights.
  • Do not leave a radio or TV operating if no one is listening or watching.
  • Avoid using appliances that require high wattage to operate.

The amount of 12-volt electricity available to operate your systems limits your length of stay, or the time between recharging sessions. A single deep cycle 12-volt house battery will produce about 105 ampere-hours of electricity. By calculating the number of amps each of your electrical appliances draws multiplied by the hours in use you can make an educated guess at when you need to recharge by subtracting the ampere-hours used each day from the total available. Only about half of these amps (about 50) are available to run your electrical equipment. Take voltage readings at the battery terminals with a hand-held multi-meter and when the voltage drops to 11.5 volts, start your engine or run your charger/converter off your generator to recharge the battery. Installing a second house battery or switching to a pair of 6-volt golf cart batteries will increase the total number of available amps. Practice. Take notes. Keep a log. Soon you’ll be able to accurately judge how long you can go before your systems need attending. Try camping in new and more remote locations. Track the wildlife. Listen to the quiet. There’s a big world out there for boondocking and backroads exploring. 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 your laptop, iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Is the end near for free camping and boondocking?

June 5, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

I’ve been RVing for over 45 years. My first RV, if you could call it that, was a panel van with a side sliding door. Nothing was built in and a mattress occupied most of the floor of the van. Camping in California state parks back then – none with hookups – cost $6 and you could camp in the national forests (NF) and on BLM land for free. In fact, you could sleep overnight almost anywhere, as long as you didn’t become a squatter and behaved yourself.
Times have changed. Now you can’t find even the most primitive of campsites for $6, and free camping, though still an option, is available only at selected NF and BLM locations – a recent change. The Travel Management Rules (TMR) are being implemented that restrict not only on which roads you are permitted to drive your RV but also where you can camp.
These camping areas are call Dispersed Camping Areas and are shown on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for each forest. There is a fine if you are caught camping in a non-approved area. Free use of our public lands (which are owned by all of us as part of our national heritage for recreational purposes among other uses) will now, unfortunately, be restricted.
But before you raise your muskets and storm the barricades to “take our country back” I can understand the feeling among many forest service and BLM personnel when you look at the situation from their point of view. Though we might not like to admit it, there are many among us RVers who take no responsibility for the care of the land or its resources, discarding trash around the forest campsites, dumping their tanks onto the ground, and destroying trees to use for firewood, and driving over plants, flowers, and the forest floor with no regard to its fragility (it’s not just RVers, but off-road vehicle users as well).
It is these unthinking people that are, unfortunately, making it worse for the rest of us, indicating to forest management people that they had to step in and enforce regulations to protect the land.
But I do have a hard time seeing the viewpoint of the Campground Owners of America and several vocal private campground owners who have been working diligently – and relentlessly – to get local and regional legislation passed that would make camping anywhere other than in a designated campground illegal. That would mean no more overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J, Cabela’s, highway rest stop, or  by a tree-shaded public park in the many small towns dotted across America.
In his June 3rd blog, Roadtreking (A journalist and friends discovering the small motorhome lifestyle), Mike Wendland writes an excellent piece titled Finding free places to overnight in your RV.
“There’s a real battle going on out there in the RV world,” writes Mike, “and it pits some powerful interests against those who resent paying for services they don’t need and only want to take advantage of the generous offers of places like Walmart, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses that not only allow but welcome brief overnight stays by traveling RVers.”
I suggest that all of you who travel from one campground (yes, ones that you pay to camp in) to another, and that prefer to stop somewhere just for a meal and a night’s sleep, read his blog. It may be time for all of us who feel strongly about this issue to do more to remind residents in the places we pass through that we spend money with local merchants for food ,fuel, and supplies, and that supporting such measures might have adverse effects on their businesses. And maybe we might even want to follow some of Mikes’ suggestions, like not spending a dime in RV unfriendly towns. (Continued next week).
http://roadtreking.com/finding-free-places-overnight-in-rv/

walmart-rv-overnight-parking-

By Bob Difley

I’ve been RVing for over 45 years. My first RV, if you could call it that, was a panel van with a side sliding door. Nothing was built in and a mattress occupied most of the floor of the van. Camping in California state parks back then – none with hookups – cost $6 and you could camp in the national forests (NF) and on BLM land for free. In fact, you could sleep overnight almost anywhere, as long as you didn’t become a squatter and behaved yourself.

Times have changed. Now you can’t find even the most primitive of campsites for $6, and free camping, though still an option, is available only at selected NF and BLM locations – a recent change. The Travel Management Rules (TMR) are being implemented that restrict not only on which roads you are permitted to drive your RV but also where you can camp.

boondocking_allegheny_nf-300x199These camping areas are call Dispersed Camping Areas and are shown on Motor Vehicle Use Maps for each forest. There is a fine if you are caught camping in a non-approved area. Free use of our public lands (which are owned by all of us as part of our national heritage for recreational purposes among other uses) will now, unfortunately, be restricted.

But before you raise your muskets and storm the barricades to “take our country back” I can understand the feeling among many forest service and BLM personnel when you look at the situation from their point of view. Though we might not like to admit it, there are many among us RVers who take no responsibility for the care of the land or its resources, discarding trash around the forest campsites, dumping their tanks onto the ground, and destroying trees to use for firewood, and driving over plants, flowers, and the forest floor with no regard to its fragility (it’s not just RVers, but off-road vehicle users as well).

It is these unthinking people that are, unfortunately, making it worse for the rest of us, indicating to forest management people that they had to step in and enforce regulations to protect the land.

But I do have a hard time seeing the viewpoint of the Campground Owners of America and several vocal private campground owners who have been working diligently – and relentlessly – to get local and regional legislation passed that would make camping anywhere other than in a designated campground illegal. That would mean no more overnighting at a Walmart, Flying J, Cabela’s, highway rest stop, or  by a tree-shaded public park in the many small towns dotted across America.

In his June 3rd blog, Roadtreking (A journalist and friends discovering the small motorhome lifestyle), Mike Wendland writes an excellent piece titled Finding free places to overnight in your RV.

“There’s a real battle going on out there in the RV world,” writes Mike, “and it pits some powerful interests against those who resent paying for services they don’t need and only want to take advantage of the generous offers of places like Walmart, Cabella’s, Cracker Barrel, and other businesses that not only allow but welcome brief overnight stays by traveling RVers.”

I suggest that all of you who travel from one campground (yes, ones that you pay to camp in) to another, and that prefer to stop somewhere just for a meal and a night’s sleep, read his blog. It may be time for all of us who feel strongly about this issue to do more to remind residents in the places we pass through that we spend money with local merchants for food ,fuel, and supplies, and that supporting such measures might have adverse effects on their businesses. And maybe we might even want to follow some of Mikes’ suggestions, like not spending a dime in RV unfriendly towns. (Continued next week).

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


[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

International Terrorism the focus of Sting of the Drone

April 27, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

sting_of_the_droneREVIEW: Most RVers are readers. Many of us have, or soon will, make the transition from the stresses of a job and raising a family, to the more laid-back live of the wandering RVer. And as such, we find that we now have more time to pursue an entertainment option for the pure enjoyment of it. Reading novels is one of those pursuits, so if all you want to read about is RV stuff, you can skip this post. But if you are interested in a page-turning thriller to enjoy in your camp chair, Give Richard A. Clarke’s, Sting of the Drone, a try. Here is my review of the book.

The contentious world of fighting – or deterring – future wars by radio-controlled drones with the ability to fly anywhere in the world, make their strikes, and return to home bases is brought to jarring reality in Richard A. Clarke’s newest thriller, Sting of the Drone. In a nondescript building in Las Vegas manned by top security officials and CIA operatives, a team of Air Force pilots, used to flying F-16 fighter jets into combat zones, now sit behind computer monitors using their joy sticks to fly unmanned drones on kill
missions into the world’s most dangerous places from the comfort – and safety – of their stateside offices. But all is not as safe as it once was, as the targets of these drone attacks fight back, both at the drones themselves and the pilots on American soil that fly them. This page-turning thriller, the third novel by Clarke, former Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group of the National Security Council from 1992–2003 and who appears regularly on TV as an expert in national security, and commentator for ABC and other media (including the John Stewart Show), takes the reader deep into the arcane world of national security, the secretive drone program, and the politics of it all in a way unimagined by most Americans. Who determines the targets? What terrorists are picked to be killed by the uncanny accuracy of the drone hellfire missiles? What is done to avoid making mistakes – like killing innocent civilians? Clarke’s insider knowledge will keep you glued to this book until the final page is turned.

The contentious world of fighting – or deterring – future wars by radio-controlled drones with the ability to fly anywhere in the world, make their strikes, and return to home bases is brought to jarring reality in Richard A. Clarke’s newest thriller, Sting of the Drone.

In a nondescript building in Las Vegas manned by top security officials and CIA operatives, a team of Air Force pilots, used to flying F-16 fighter jets into combat zones, now sit behind computer monitors using their joy sticks to fly unmanned drones on kill missions into the world’s most dangerous places from the comfort – and safety – of their stateside offices.

But all is not as safe as it once was, as the targets of these drone attacks fight back, both at the drones themselves and the pilots on American soil that fly them. This page-turning thriller, the third novel by Clarke, former Chairman of the Counter-terrorism Security Group of the National Security Council from 1992–2003, and who appears regularly on TV as an expert in national security, and commentator for ABC and other media (including the John Stewart Show), takes the reader deep into the arcane world of national security, the secretive drone program, and the politics of it all in a way unimagined by most Americans.

Who determines the targets? What terrorists are picked to be killed by the uncanny accuracy of the drone hellfire missiles? What is done to avoid making mistakes – like killing innocent civilians? Clarke’s insider knowledge will keep you glued to this book until the final page is turned.

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

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

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

April 17, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

coconino-mapBy Bob Difley

With Snowbird season in its waning moments, RVers are starting to head north to cooler weather, many of which will head for the national forests for a change of scene from the Southwestern Deserts.

Many retreating snowbirds, though, choose a more leisurely pace to the northern climes than multiple hundred-mile days of driving, heading for higher elevations and cooler weather in some of the southern parts of the country. Northern Arizona’s Coconino National Forest, for example, lies north of Payson to above Flagstaff and up to Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 feet, about 10 miles north of Flagstaff.

There are plentiful areas in the national forest for both boondocking and in forest service campgrounds.

However, Coconino is well on the way to fully implementing its Travel Management Plan that designates which forest roads you can drive on and where you can boondock. These dispersed camping areas are identified on free maps available at ranger stations and online.

coconino_nf_camping2

I received the following  email from Mike Dechter, the Litigation Coordinator of Coconino NF, with updates and other information on camping in the Coconino National Forest that may be of some help if you are heading in that direction.

On April 15, the Coconino National Forest issued a revised, free Motor Vehicle Use Map to show all of the roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on the Forest. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is re-issued each year, is free to the public, and can be downloaded for use on smartphones, tablets and Garmin GPS devices.  Copies of the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be available at all Coconino National Forest Offices, nearby national forest offices, and other local businesses.
In addition to hard copy maps, forest visitors can now get a free Coconino National Forest Travel Map, which is an electronic color map with shaded relief topography, game management units, hiking trails, and all designated motorized routes and areas. When using this map with the Avenza PDF Maps App, this map is GPS-enabled meaning you can see where you are on the map as you drive or hike on the national forest. Instructions for how to get the free map and app on your mobile device can be found at http://go.usa.gov/PEa (case sensitive).
The 2014 Motor Vehicle Use Map includes a number of updates and corrections made as a result of public input received over the past year. More substantive route changes requested by the public will need to be reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The forest expects to propose changes to the system of designated motor vehicle routes and areas in late 2014 to begin the NEPA process.
If you discover errors on the 2014 Motorized Vehicle Use Map, notice problems with road signs on the Coconino National Forest, or have any general comments about motorized use policies or designations, please visit the website and complete the “Feedback” form, at http://go.usa.gov/Qww.
For additional information, please contact the Coconino National Forest at 928-527-3600.
Sincerely,
Mike Dechter
____________________________________
Mike Dechter
Coconino National Forest
NEPA, Appeals, and Litigation Coordinator
928-527-3416

On April 15, the Coconino National Forest issued a revised, free Motor Vehicle Use Map to show all of the roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use on the Forest. The Motor Vehicle Use Map is re-issued each year, is free to the public, and can be downloaded for use on smartphones, tablets and Garmin GPS devices.  Copies of the Motor Vehicle Use Map will be available at all Coconino National Forest Offices, nearby national forest offices, and other local businesses.

In addition to hard copy maps, forest visitors can now get a free Coconino National Forest Travel Map, which is an electronic color map with shaded relief topography, game management units, hiking trails, and all designated motorized routes and areas. When using this map with the Avenza PDF Maps App, this map is GPS-enabled meaning you can see where you are on the map as you drive or hike on the national forest. Instructions for how to get the free map and app on your mobile device can be found at http://go.usa.gov/PEa (case sensitive).

The 2014 Motor Vehicle Use Map includes a number of updates and corrections made as a result of public input received over the past year. More substantive route changes requested by the public will need to be reviewed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The forest expects to propose changes to the system of designated motor vehicle routes and areas in late 2014 to begin the NEPA process.

If you discover errors on the 2014 Motorized Vehicle Use Map, notice problems with road signs on the Coconino National Forest, or have any general comments about motorized use policies or designations, please visit the website and complete the “Feedback” form, at http://go.usa.gov/Qww.

For additional information, please contact the Coconino National Forest at 928-527-3600.

Sincerely,

Mike Dechter

Coconino National Forest

NEPA, Appeals, and Litigation Coordinator

The Coconino National Forest is worthy of a detour as you head north, and you may find it hard to leave. Happy Travels.

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

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

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 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.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Boondockers have one rule: There are no rules

March 15, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

By Bob Difley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

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 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.

 

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Fun in the sun awaits at Lake Havasu City, Arizona

January 18, 2014 by Bob Difley · Comments Off 

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.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Next Page »

Bottom