We’ve scored some pretty amazing free camping spots over the last few weeks and we’re starting to get the hang of this “boondocking” stuff – baby steps though.
What the heck is “boondocking” you ask? Also known as dry camping, off the grid, off the cord or wild camping, boondocking is quite simply free camping with no hook-ups for fresh water, electricity or sewer.
You simply fill up your fresh water tank, stock your fridge, pantry and bar, empty your gray and black tanks and go out in search of some primo camping spot with the greatest views that you have pretty much to yourself.
I use the term “simply” and “in search of” loosely because it takes a lot of planning and researching to ensure you are camping legally and safely.
Without electricity the key is to keep the 8 house batteries fully charged to be able to operate the appliances, lights, etc. and that’s where the generator comes in. We can either manually turn on the generator or we can program the Automatic Generator Start (AGS) to automatically start when the batteries fall below a certain threshold and then let it run to charge the batteries to full capacity.
I get the impression generator is a bad word! They are somewhat loud, they run off the diesel tanks so they are somewhat smelly, they exhaust out the side of the coach (close to the ground) and somewhat char the grass and in a lot of places there is a “quiet” time rule when no generators can be run (typically 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.) which is somewhat limiting.
Those that LOVE to boondock often install solar panels on their RV’s which, very efficiently and quietly, keep the batteries fully charged – so long as there’s ample sunshine. We don’t have solar panels – yet!
There are also black tank tips and tricks such as – if its yellow – let it mellow and if its brown – flush it down! Peeing outside is also an acceptable option.
There are some RV’ers Wheeling It, Technomadia and Gone With The Wynns who LOVE boon docking or wild camping and they are VERY good at it. They have their favourite spots that they may return to each year or they find new ones. They are also very generous in sharing their locations and their tips and tricks so that others can enjoy the lifestyle. I’m actually enthralled by the whole concept BUT –
- it looks too dusty – the coach is going to get dirty
- the road looks way too bumpy and rough
- what if we can’t turn around?
- what if we get stuck?
- is it safe?
- what if the coyotes (or whatever) get Gracie or Fred?
- what if we run out of water?
I guess if you really don’t want to do something one excuse is as good as another…
Our spot here at the Wye Heritage Marina in Midland, ON is a boondocking score. This is the largest fresh water marina in Canada and we are the only RV parked here – surrounded by hundreds of boats and yachts of every size and shape. We have our own private parking area – near the water – and we’re far enough from others to run our generator without feeling badly. We have no hook-ups for water, sewer or electricity and we’re managing quite nicely!
How? – you ask
Well, we have the all access card that lets us use the bathrooms and showers, the laundry, the swimming pool, the on-site store and restaurant!
Really? Boondocking? – you ask
Yup – we call it “boondocking with benefits”!