More little ideas to extend your boondocking capacity: although a percolator makes good coffee, it has to be rinsed out, and the grounds are tough to dispose of (and you don't want to put them in your gray water tank). So we started making "pour-over" coffee, long before it became a fad at Starbuck's. It's just a plastic Mr. Coffee basket with a filter, sitting on top of a thermos. Pour in the hot water from a teakettle.
When it is done, dump the paper filter and the grounds into the trash -- easy cleanup, with no wasted water.
The funniest part of this pour-over thing is that I now make coffee at home this way -- I prefer it to the coffee made by the Mr. Coffee type machines.
You can buy Melitta cone filters and baskets -- they work quite well, I am told. If you are frugal (as we are), you can just use a basket from an old Mr. Coffee machine, since the machines do not last forever. They take the ordinary pleated "cupcake" style flat bottom filters, which are cheaper and easier to find than the Melitta filters. But there are folks who say that the Melitta cones make better coffee than a flat bottom basket. I have never tried the cones, so I don't know.
Phil, do you have an accumulator for your pump? It seems to cut down on the power use.
And rvfilddleddd, some folks use either the furnace or a catalytic heater on cold nights. A few others (very few) don't use any heat at night, only when showering -- the furnace makes noise and draws power, and I am leery of catalytic heaters and carbon monoxide, even though I know they are safe with proper ventilation.
So we pile on the blankets and comforters, just like the pioneers did. Many times, we have happily camped in weather down to 9 degrees above zero, with the interior of the RV in the mid-20s. Very hard to get out of bed in the middle of the night, but very nice under the covers.
I never sleep as well at home as I do in the trailer, and the best sleep of all is in very cold weather.
If you are going to Crater Lake, there is some great boondocking just north of the lake in the national forest. Depending on the season, you may need mosquito juice, though. Please don't ask me how I know that.
Have you measured the draw of your fridge? You can do that with an ordinary multimeter -- there are instructions online about how to do that. If I can do it (and I have), anyone can.
Once you determine the draw, you can calculate your battery capacity and see how long you can handle the load. Remember that a 110 amp/hour battery (for example) can only take about 65 amp hours before it gets down to 50 percent state of charge -- I think that is when the voltage reads 12.1. Any lower, and you risk damaging the battery, or so I am told.
One more thought on extending your boondocking capacity -- if gray water is the limiting factor (as it is for us), you can dump some gray water into a bucket and then dump it into the toilet. Our black water tank, at 25 gallons, is way bigger than we really need.
(And please don't get us all started on dumping gray water on the ground -- it is illegal in most places, and that settles it for me, personally. The law is the law. I know that other reasonable people may not agree, but we have hashed this out many times. Everyone has to live within his or her own sense of right and wrong.)
We often boondock for five or six nights in a row. The limiting factor for us is gray water storage -- we have a 25 gallon gray tank. We both shower every night - that is the main reason why we have a trailer, instead of tent camping and sponge baths. Obviously, these are Navy showers, but we get just as clean as when we are at home!
Fresh water is not a limiting factor -- we can always add extra from our portable jerry cans. Batteries are not a problem -- two 110 ah group 31s, LED lights.
Here is a hint on saving water while shaving, by the way -- instead of filling the sink, fill a small plastic container for rinsing the razor.
Well, Len, all I can say is that whenever I take a city person to truly black skies for the first time, there is almost always an audible gasp -- "I had no idea that there were so many stars -- it's like diamond chips on black velvet -- it's unbelievable" -- and so forth.
Just getting to a dark place is one of the biggest attractions of boondocking!
Lexicon, you probably already know this, but you can sign up with NASA for International Space Station alerts, and I think you can sign up with multiple locations. So, for example, if you plan to be at a specific point on the River on a certain day, you might be able to get a heads up as to when it will be overhead. The alerts give you the compass headings for the flyover, too.
Don't miss Kelley's Crabs in Brighton -- one of the best meals I ever had in my life. Not fancy -- you eat outside on a picnic table. Bring a sweater and an appetite. Make sure they recommend one of the local beers.
JohnES, there are some folks who still take their RVs to Baja, and they say I am worried about nothing. But I also know some very experienced Baja travelers who have stopped going due to the problem of crime. Check out the Mexico forum for more info. Beware -- there are a lot of people on that forum who are way too alarmist, and others who ignore all danger.
By the way, the problems are confined to Northern Baja -- the south is fine. Unfortunately, I have to drive through the north to get to the south. and that is why I am hesitant.
My wife and I drove down there (without the trailer) in 2006, just before the drug wars started. It was wonderful -- we went whale watching in San Ignacio, and the baby whales came swimming up to the boat to be petted.
As soon as it is safe to go, we are returning. The people were wonderful, the food was great, the beaches were great. The roads were not, but that was part of the adventure.
We are on our second Fun Finder. The first was used, and we then used it a lot more. We were happy with it and bought a new one, with extensive modifications -- see link below. We use it about 60 to 80 nights a year, towing thousands of miles a year. We like it a lot -- light, reasonably well built, not expensive.
But like all manufacturers, Cruiser has occasional quality control issues. They just got bought out by Thor. I would definitely buy another Fun Finder, when the time comes.
I don't know if this is a true story -- but an astronomer told me that he was showing M13, M51, and M31 to a young lady -- she said, "They sure are fuzzy. I can see why they are called messier objects!"
Every time we boondock, I try to get my poor wife to look at the Andromeda Galaxy, which is hard to find even in a very dark sky if you don't know where to look. By the time I get through explaining how to use Cassiopeia as a pointing device, she invariably falls asleep.
When we lived in Texas in the early 1960s, my dad had a foolproof method for finding good bbq on the road -- look for smoke drifting across the highway! These were two lane blacktop country roads, not interstates.
Then, when you find the source of the smoke, check out the parking lot -- if there were beat up old pickups crowding the lot, the food was good. If there were shiny new pickups or hardly anyone in the lot, keep driving.
Tiger, if you ever get a chance to visit that area during wildflower season in a really rainy year, do it! There is a place east of SLO, Shell Road, with acres of densely packed flowers -- the air smells like honey. We did a bike tour there, ten years ago:
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If you are interested, there are more pictures on our blog -- see the link below -- but this was posted in the early days of my blog, when I did not really know what I was doing. The photos were taken with a point and shoot, before we got a digital SLR:
Wildflower bike tour in the Central Coast area, April of 2005
For folks who are not bicyclists or hikers, you are in luck -- the Shell Road area has paved access, and the only problem is finding a place to park because so many people flock to this area to see the flowers in a really good year!
I had a blowout on my old trailer -- it tore up the wheel well. So when I got my new trailer, I used gorilla glue to fasten thick slabs of truck mud flaps, cut to shape, inside the wheel well, as a sort of armor. I don't know if it will stand up to a blowout -- I hope I never find out -- but if you are interested in armoring your wheel wells, here is how I did it:
In my dreams, we are on a deserted beach on the Pacific in Baja. In the real world, that is not going to happen -- it is now too dangerous. Maybe someday things will calm down.
This summer?? Maybe a remote part of the Wind River Range of Wyoming, or some obscure provincial park in British Columbia.