Exactly right -- drop the trailer and scout around. We often build in an extra day just for that. We drop the trailer at a campground, scout, and then move to our new boondocking site the next day. That does not work if you are pressed for time, of course.
On many roads, you can see (on Google Earth) where there are really wide spots for turning around. Or you could try a three point turn. Even with a very short trailer, though (the box on my trailer is not quite 12 feet long!), a three pointer sometimes turns into a tedious ten pointer.
But with a 13 foot tall unit, there is no substitute for actually scouting -- those branches can ruin your whole day.
I don't know the area, but I know what I would do -- spend some quality time flying around the area on Google Earth! Fly low and slow -- look for spots where others have boondocked -- they are usually easy to see. It also helps to have a good forest map or topo program available, to cross-check the road designations and to see if the terrain is too tough for towing.
The other alternative is to talk to a friendly ranger -- they can be very helpful.
My suitcase panels came with a bag -- the zippers soon broke. So I made my own bag out of thick vinyl sheeting that I bought at a fabric store -- I glued the edges. It looks like a huge black letter envelope.
Then I took some sheets of dense foam and sewed them onto the insides of the envelope. This is the kind of foam that is used for floor mats in a garage. I sewed them on with waxed linen thread and a big sailmaking needle. The folded solar panel slips between the foam sheets.
I store the whole thing on the dinette cushion of the trailer while in transit.
A bag for a boogie board would not be big enough to do the job -- my panel, even when folded, would not fit. I am an avid bodyboarder, and my bodyboard is a custom "huge" size to fit my weight and height. So my board bag is the biggest one made. It did not work for my solar panel -- I tried it. No way.
If your solar panel is smaller, it might work, though. I would still add extra padding inside the bag. The foam panels not only protect the panels -- they also make the bag slightly stiffer, so that it is easier to slip the panel into the bag.
Well, Dave, I must respectfully disagree with your statement that "if there is any sign someone else has ever camped there, it is not boondocking."
The dispersed camping rules in every national forest, as far as I know, strongly recommends (if not requires) that we camp in places that have already been trampled by other campers -- otherwise, if we all chose to camp on untracked fresh ground, the whole forest would soon be trampled.
I don't know if BLM land follows the same rules.
If I am wrong about the national forest rules, let me know! Thanks.
Well, I for one am interested in this. I need more info, to see whether it can be raised for extra clearance, and how big the tanks are, and so forth. But if it has a rugged chassis and a leakproof egg design, I am intrigued. Headroom is also an issue.
Does anyone have a link to the floorplan?
Having said all of that, if it is more than $25,000, it is probably a deal-breaker -- I could buy two of my current trailers for that amount!
The only stupid newbie question is the one that does not get asked!
Seriously, though, it is odd that when my fridge is on auto, there is no indicator light to show that it has switched to propane. If the switchover fails, then a check light comes on. But it can be unnerving to sit there and look at the panel and if nothing is lit, that means it is all ok.
Often, the water in the Far West just tastes bad -- minerals and chlorine. So we often use a Brita filter with a pitcher for drinking water and coffee water. Otherwise, we just use whatever is in the tank for washing and dishes. So far, the dishes have not caught any diseases. ;)
And when boondocking, we often have to fill the 6 gallon jugs at a ranger station (for example) and lug them back to the trailer. That is the price of true isolation, and I am happy to pay it!
If you are ok without hookups, there is almost an infinite number of great campgrounds in the national forests -- the national parks tend to be booked up, though.
If you have a few minutes, browse through our blog entries (see link below) for a lot of photos of campgrounds and boondocking in the Far West.
We do a lot of dirt road towing at low speeds. (See the links in my signature for more info on the trailer and on the kinds of places we have gone.) Our first trailer, which had low ground clearance, lasted us six years, and then we sold it for a pretty good price. It did not deteriorate due to the rough towing.
We have had our current trailer for about five years. It has great ground clearance and has had no trouble with rough roads. Honestly, trailers take a worse beating on the bad freeways in Calif than they do at ten mph on a dirt road.
Although I have had two Fun Finders, I do not think they are any better built than any other brand. I think that a well-equipped Casita or any other fiberglass egg will hold up better than a square trailer like mine, but I needed more headroom.
Also, I am sure that you are aware that the shorter the trailer, the more maneuverable it is (especially when boondocking). But a bigger trailer is (of course) more comfortable, especially in rainy weather. I hear it rains sometimes in Oregon. That sure sounds good to a drought-stricken Southern Californian.
Because we usually boondock in deep shade, we decided to get a 120 watt portable solar panel, so that we can put the panel in the sun and then run the cable to the trailer in the shade.
And if there is just too much shade at the campsite, we can always remove our spare battery and carry the battery and the panel into a nearby patch of sun. Since we are boondocking in the middle of nowhere, theft is not a problem -- although we have a cable to lock the panels to a tree, if needed.
Deploying and de-deploying and storing a portable panel involves a lot more work than a built-in panel, and I think it is probably more prone to damage from the wind.
On balance, we are very happy with our decision, but it is not for everyone. If you camp in the sun most of the time, it probably makes more sense to get a built-in roof panel, the bigger, the better.
We have always had a wet bath because our trailers are so small. In an ideal world, it would be nice not to have to wipe down the shower/toilet afterwards. But that is the price of a really small trailer, which we greatly prefer. The shorter the trailer, the easier it is to get into very tight campsites (especially for boondocking), gas stations, parking lots, U-turns, etc.
But a short trailer does not ensure better mpg, nor is it significantly easier to tow. And we have much less living space (which is not a problem for us, since DW is small and slim, and we get along really well after 42 years together).
Life is a series of compromises. We are happy with our choice, but it is surely not for everyone!