RVing Is The Freedom Lifestyle

Home is where you park it.

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System and continues to captivate people around the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Freedom is a wonderful thing. The kind of freedom offered by the RVing lifestyle is the ultimate.

The country overflows with awesomeness at every turn, places we find completely captivating.

What a life. Today, it’s Arizona, last month it was California, and before that we were in Oregon. Soon it will be New Mexico.

Whether it’s dry camping in the wilderness or enjoying the comforts of a full-hookup RV park, RV enthusiasts agree—it’s all about the joys of camping.

For some hardy souls, camping means pitching a tent, snuggling in sleeping bags, and cooking on a Coleman stove or a grill balanced on a fire ring. Yes, I’ve been there, done that!

For the rest of us—and some us have left those days behind—we freely admit to enjoying a soft queen-sized bed, a plug-in coffeemaker, home-cooked meal, and hot shower.

The best part of RV camping with all the comforts of home: your own bed, your own shower, and being able to cook whatever you want to eat. Even after six months on the road I’m not ready to come home.

Live it well! Enjoy today! Do something fun! Do your dream! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Live it well!
Enjoy today!
Do something fun!
Do your dream! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No matter what you see when you look outside your window, you’re at home in your RV.

Yes, home is where you park it in this beautiful country of ours.

Many of us cringe when we see fuel prices climb, but the pleasure of RV camping can be had without driving for days. The “here” can be just as enjoyable as “there.”

So, let me remind you…whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, do it now! Don’t put things off too long! Life goes by all too quickly.

So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure about tomorrow!

Life is a gift to you. Make it a fantastic one!

Live it well!

Sunrise with mist rising at our campground near Unadilla, Georgia.
Sunrise with mist rising at our campground near Unadilla, Georgia. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Enjoy today!

Do something fun!

Be happy!

Have a great day!

Life is too short to let even one day be frenzied or frazzled or frittered away.

Life is too short not to take time to do the things that will hold the most meaning for you.

So let yourself float like a leaf on a stream, relax with your memories and let yourself dream.

Throw out your list that’s impossibly long, and dance a few steps to a favorite song.

Turn off the news and go find someone real who’ll listen and talk and affirm what you feel.
Life is too short and flies by if you let it, so choose what you want every day—and go and get it.

The distance doesn’t matter. It’s what you see out your window in the morning that counts.

ferry boat returns from Cumberland Island to the dock in St. Marys
It’s the end of a wonderful day as our ferry boat returns from Cumberland Island to the dock in St. Marys. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

What a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They’re really saying I love you.

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

—lyrics by George David Weiss, George Douglas, Bob Thield; recorded by Louis Armstrong

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Escapees Partners With Boondockers Welcome

RVers looking for an overnight place to park other than a Walmart, truck stop, or casino, now have another option, thanks to a new partnership between the Escapees club and Boondockers Welcome.

Boondockers-Welcome-logo-216x145Boondockers Welcome is providing Escapees members with a special discount to join their program and a resource to help RVers connect with other RVers who have a location for people to dry-camp for the night.

It might be in their driveway or a field on their farm. The view may be of amber waves of grain or of the McDonald’s parking lot, but it will be a free place to park where RVers don’t have to worry about idling truck engines, security, or that dreaded knock on the window at 2 a.m., according to an Escapees news release.

Boondockers Welcome offers an online community to make new friends and save money while RVers see the world from a local’s perspective.

RVers will have access to fellow members, be able to correspond with them securely, and accept their invitation to spend a night (or two) parked on their property.

Ideally, RVers will return the favor, extending a similar invitation to other travelers. But even if RVers don’t have a place to offer in return, they’ll be able to take advantage of the hospitality of others, saving hundreds of dollars in campground fees.

Escapees LogoA host membership costs $19.95 per year or $44.95 for three years.

A guest-only membership is $24.95 per year or $59.95 for three years.

Use coupon code 5OFF4SKP to save $5 off any Boondockers Welcome membership.

Use coupon code GIVE52CARE and Boondockers Welcome will donate $5 to the Escapees CARE Center.

Details

Escapees RV Club

Address: 100 Rainbow Drive, Livingston, TX 77351

Phone: (936) 327-8873 or (888) 757-2582 (toll free)

Website: www.escapees.com

Boondockers Welcome

Website: www.boondockerswelcome.com

Worth Pondering…

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.

—John Burroughs

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Walmart Parking Lot Abuse Leaves 1 Dead & Officer Shot

The Cottonwood, Arizona, Walmart parking lot was the scene of a weekend fight that left one suspect dead and an officer shot, according to information provided by Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials and several witnesses.

(Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Public Safety)
(Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Public Safety)

Cottonwood Police Department received a call about a Walmart employee who had been assaulted by one of the suspects just before midnight.

Eight officers were also assaulted in the Walmart parking lot Saturday night (March 21, 2015) in a fight that left one suspect dead, another wounded, and seven in custody, according to officials.

The fight happened after the Cottonwood Police Department received a call at 11:52 p.m. from the Cottonwood Walmart reporting that a suspect shoved a female employee in a store bathroom.

When officers arrived, the suspects were in the parking lot and attacked the officers.

Several years ago SmartCentres, which owns the Kamloops, British Columbia shopping centre, installed large new signs on the lot reminding customers there is no overnight parking for RVs or trucks. (Credit: bcnews.ca)
Several years ago SmartCentres, which owns the Kamloops, British Columbia shopping centre, installed large new signs on the lot reminding customers there is no overnight parking for RVs or trucks. (Credit: bcnews.ca)

One suspect was shot and killed during the fight, another was shot in the abdomen, and a total of seven others were taken into custody, DPS said.

The suspects are from the same family, according to DPS spokesman Bart Graves. The seven in custody, five adult males, a woman, and a female juvenile, refused to provide their names, Graves said.

The suspects were booked as John and Jane Does on suspicion of aggravated assault, attempted homicide, obstruction of justice, and a separate assault charge related to the Walmart loss-prevention officer, who suffered a broken arm, Graves said.

All suspects involved were members of the same family who were driving a Suburban SUV with Idaho license plates and had been camping for at least four days in the parking lot according to one report.

The man who was shot and killed in the incident had spent the last few days of his life playing a guitar at a side exit to the store, asking for money, a witness said.

One officer was shot in the leg and the other seven were left with cuts and bruises.

“We do believe that there was a struggle for an officer’s weapon, there is an ongoing investigation on that,” Graves said.

The officer that was shot in the leg is 31 years old and has been with Cottonwood police for 10 years, the release said. He was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center for surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

DPS and local police cleared the scene just after noon Sunday. Dozens of cars circled around the area where the shooting occurred near the back end of the parking lot.

Store management met with Cottonwood Police yesterday (March 24, 2015), to figure out how to keep people from camping overnight at the store.

Details of the meeting are unavailable.

Unfortunately, some campers take advantage of Walmart’s generosity and call the parking lot home for days.

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit: mybirdie.ca)
Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit: mybirdie.ca)

Overnight Parking Etiquette

Some of the most respected RV consumer clubs have joined together to support your right to park on private businesses’ parking lots overnight under the following code of conduct. The code pertains to establishments that permit “dry camping” on their lots. Dry camping means camping without the use of external hookups for electricity, water supply, or waste disposal.

Industry-Sanctioned Code of Conduct (RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy)

Stay one night only!

Obtain permission from a qualified individual.

Obey posted regulations.

No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills outside your RV.

Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).

Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.

Purchase gas, food, or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.

Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.

If your plans include touring the area, staying for more than one night, or necessitate conduct not within the code, please relocate to a local campground. It’s the right thing to do!

Worth Pondering…

GOD IS GREAT, BEER IS GOOD, and PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!

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Top 10 Safety & Security Tips for RV Casino Parking

Numerous RVs are attracted to casino parking lots for their free overnight parking.

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVers looking for a place to boondock soon discover there aren’t places that allow free overnight parking. Most states discourage overnight parking at interstate rest areas, shopping malls ask RVs to leave at the end of the business day, and some 24-hour supercenters have posted “No Overnight Parking” signs. You can usually stay overnight at a truck stop, but their parking areas tend to be crowded and noisy with diesel engines running throughout the day and night.

Casino parking lots, on the other hand, are hospitable. Casinos welcome adult campers since they know they will likely receive additional business. RVers, in return, will enjoy a quiet, safe parking spot to rest for the night without being hassled. Since most casinos are open 24/7, security personnel are on duty throughout the night.

Following are the top 10 safety and security tips for free RV casino parking:

1. After you pull into the parking lot, check with security to verify that you can stay overnight in the parking lot and ask where they want you to park.

2. Limit your free overnight parking to a single 24-hour period. Some casinos will allow longer stays, upon request.

3. If there is no designated area for large vehicles, park on the perimeter of the lot. Do not take up spaces intended for cars. Casinos in crowded urban areas may not have space to accommodate RVs. Be sure to obtain permission before you park.

RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
RV Park at Rolling Hills Casino, Corning, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Do not abuse the property owner’s hospitality. During our travels we have observed RVers who act as if they own the place and put out their awning, barbecue grill, table, and chairs. A parking lot is not a campground. Do not look like your are establishing residence! If there is adequate space, it’s OK to extend a slideout, but restrict your activities to the inside of your RV.

5. Do not leave your RV unattended overnight or for any extended period of time. This may seem like simple, common sense advice, but you’d be surprised at how many folks park their expensive units in a parking lot and then go off to visit friends for a few days. If you are inconsiderate enough to do this don’t be surprised upon your return to find your unattended vehicle has been towed away.

6. Be a good neighbor. Be considerate of others with your TV, music, and generator.

7. Keep your area clean. Pick up any trash you see whether it is yours or not. Leave the area cleaner than the way you found it.

8. Use common sense and common courtesy with your pets.

9. If the casino has a fee-pay campground as part of the facility, it is essential to check with security to inquire about your options for staying overnight. Some casinos will allow you to stay in the parking lot anyway. But there are a number of casinos that require you to pull into their campground if you want to stay for the night.

10. Give the casino your business. If you don’t gamble a lot, that’s OK. Casinos usually provide quality food in their restaurants, cafes, and buffets. Some have live entertainment, movie theater, retail shops, and spa facilities.

Boondocking at a casino is comfortable. You have your home with you so you can either walk or take the shuttle bus to and from the casino. If you participate in the gaming, you can play shorter and more relaxing gaming sessions with breaks in between. If you are averse to crowds, you can play at odd hours and avoid peak play times. And for couples, when one wants to play cards or slots and the other doesn’t, there’s no problem.

Boondocking at a casino is convenient. Casinos are located all over the country; many within a mile or two of an interstate exit.

Casino Camping by Jane Kenny
Casino Camping by Jane Kenny

RV-friendly casinos are listed in the popular guide, Casino Camping A Guide to RV-Friendly Casinos from Roundabout Publications. The new revised 2015 edition is now available from Camping World stores across the US, CampingWorld.com, and Amazon.com.

Written by Jane Kenny, Casino Camping A Guide to RV-Friendly Casinos features detailed information, locator maps, and directions to hundreds of casinos in 32 states. Learn which casinos have an RV park and which ones allow free overnight parking.

RV parks at casinos are popular among RVers because they offer modern, upscale facilities at reasonable rates. Boondockers seek casinos for a quiet, safe place to park.

And, of course, there’s the obvious benefit, boondocking at RV-Friendly casinos is free!

Worth Pondering…

I like to think of the world as a sort of a casino, except the house doesn’t have the advantage. If you’re smart, you have an advantage. It behooves you to place a lot of bets.

—Evan Williams

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RV Boondocking Capital of the World

Quartzsite, Arizona, a Sonora Desert community 18 miles east of the Colorado River, on I-10, is the RV Boondocking Capital of the World.

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.
Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The term boondocking, also known to RV enthusiasts as dispersed campingdry camping, or coyote camping, is used to describe camping in the midst of nature without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups.

As you approach Quartzsite from any point on the compass, you begin seeing them approximately 20 miles away from town: clumps, groups, and temporary communities of RVs circled around common campfire rings like wagon trains of old. Many solo units also are scattered among the sagebrush. In early morning and late afternoon you will see tall, straight fingers of campfire smoke pointing upward from these campsites.

Hundreds of thousands of RV owners, enthusiasts, and dreamers descend on the flat, rocky desert fields surrounding the town. Folks come from all over the US and Canada to behold the wonder that happens in Quartzsite every January and February. They come for the warm sunny weather, and great deals—what more can you ask for?

As you enjoy your time at Q, you can also prepare for your next boondocking trip by getting tips on techniques and hotspots from all the new friends you’ll make. Plus with so many RV experts around if something does go wrong, help is just a short walk away.

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can find everything from geodes to GPS devices, and frying pans to dream catchers.  If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!

The desert landscape is transformed into make-shift RV parks, little cities within a city. The streets have no name, but the purpose is the same—to boondock in the desert, rendezvous with old and new friends, visit the rock and gem shows and flea market vendors, participate in the Sell-A-Rama, wander the RV show under the Big Tent, and soak in the wonder of it all.

Quartzsite has become a mecca to visitors and exhibitors for rocks, gems, mineral specimens, and fossils during the town’s famous two-month-long gem and mineral show and flea market meet every January and February. From its humble beginnings the now-massive Quartzsite show has grown to epic proportions with vendors offering everything under the Quartzsite sun.

While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert.
While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be warned, though. Don’t come in the summer when nothing much happens. The gypsy-like encampment will have long disappeared. Vendors start packing up in mid-February and are long gone before the snowbirds migrate north and the intense desert heat becomes unbearable.

But come winter, everything changes as the small desert community bustles with activity. RVs by the tens of thousands camp helter-skelter on the BLM land.

Originally built by Charles Tyson, Quartzsite began in 1856 as Fort Tyson, then became a stagecoach stopover called Tyson Wells and this name still echoes in the annual Tyson Wells Rock and Gem show. A mini mining boom led to its renaming as Quartzsite.

What started as a small-town mineral show in the late 1960s in western Arizona has developed into a phenomenon that peaks in January by bringing more than 1 million people to the town of Quartzsite, where a huge RV show greets them.

The 2015 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show will run January 17-25. In 32 years, the event has evolved into the largest consumer RV show in the US.

The show is heaven on earth for RVers. It’s a ton of fun with hundreds of exhibits, live shows, bargain products, and fellow RV enthusiasts. The fact that the desert is gorgeous and the temperature is in the low-to-mid 70s in mid-January doesn’t hurt either!

Quartzsite is a popular destination for snowbirds on its own but many come for a week or two during the RV Show. When the gates open on the first day, people are lined up for a quarter-mile at each of the two main entrances to get in. It fills the tent and creates gridlock.

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!
This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Add to that the Pow Wow rock and mineral show and the Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama and Quartzsite becomes the third-largest city in Arizona for a brief time.

If you’re an RVer, Quartzsite in January is on your bucket list.

Quartzsite is a phenomenon, a gathering place.

Let the shows begin!

I’ll see you at the Q!

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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Briggs & Stratton Introduces P3000 Inverter Generator For Tailgating

For many sports fans, it’s “that” time of the year.

Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000
Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000

College and professional football season equate to prime time tailgating season. Fans seem to be tailgating more than ever as Tailgater Magazine estimates that 50 million people tailgate annually in North America.

Each year, tailgaters compete for the biggest and best tailgates. Besides radios, blenders, and hot plates, it’s not uncommon to find big screen TVs, gaming systems, stereos, and of course, cell phone chargers at a typical tailgate this fall. All of this electronic equipment requires portable power to keep it running.

Briggs & Stratton’s PowerSmart Series P3000 inverter generator takes tailgating to a whole new level for sports fans that require a quiet, lightweight, and fuel efficient portable generator to power all of their big game tailgating essentials, according to a company news release.

“This fall sports fans can transform their part of the parking lot into a tailgating haven with the quiet, affordable power provided by the new Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000 inverter,” said Eric Loferski, director of marketing for Briggs & Stratton Portable Power & Cleaning Systems.

“Along with its ability to provide super quiet power, the P3000 inverter is also lightweight, easy to transport and maneuver, has great run time and offers more power than the common 2,000-watt generator.”

The PowerSmart Series P3000 inverter generator delivers consistent power to run everything from the most basic tailgate essentials to higher-wattage items including:

  • Crock-pots (240 watts) and hot plates (1,200 watts)
  • Food processors (500 watts), small refrigerators (550 watts), and microwaves (1000 watts)
  • Blenders (1200 watts) and coffee makers (1,300 watts)
  • Big-screen and projector televisions (200-1,000 watts), CD/DVD players (100 watts), and radios (10 watts)
  • Electric griddles (1,500 watts) or an 8-inch electric stove (2100 watts)
  • Light bulbs (60-75 watts/each) and outdoor light strings (250 watts)
  • X-Box, Game-Cube, or Playstation (40 watts)
  • Cell phone, iPhone, iPod and iPhone battery chargers (5-25 watts)
Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000
Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000

For tailgaters who need even more power, the P3000 is the first and only inverter unit from Briggs & Stratton to offer parallel capabilities, enabling tailgaters to connect two P3000 units together for nearly double the power, yet still operating at very quiet levels, Loferski explained.

“With the P3000, RV enthusiasts can also power most RV’s HVAC units, while simultaneously keeping the lights on, charging cell phones, or using some smaller portable appliances,” he explained.

The P3000 is also the first in its class to offer the combination of a USB charging port, perfect for charging cell phones, which frees up an outlet to power additional items, he noted.

The StatStation LCD display provides information on how many watts are currently being used and provides maintenance reminders. The unit’s luggage-style, lift-assist transportation system allows for easy maneuverability by one person with its telescoping handle and a twin-handle for two-person lifting.

The P3000 is the newest addition to the PowerSmart Series, joining the P2000, a 2 kW inverter generator, which launched in 2010. The Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart P3000 Inverter is the next generation of quiet, affordable power, said Loferski.

Details

P3000 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator

Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000
Briggs & Stratton PowerSmart Series P3000

Model Number: 030545-00

Featuring computer-controlled inverter technology, the P3000 continuously adjusts engine speed to deliver more efficient, clean and quiet power for your campsite, tailgate, or other power needs. With convenience in mind, this portable generator is loaded with features such as:

  • 2600 running watts/3000 starting watts
  • 2-person carry and luggage-style telescoping handle for easy mobility
  • Parallel connector port to connect two units together for more power
  • Smarter, quieter power safe for sensitive electronics
  • Ideal for powering lights, radio, TV, small appliances, laptop/tablets, cell phones

Briggs & Stratton Corporation

In 1908, an informal partnership was formed between inventor Stephen F. Briggs and investor Harold M. Stratton. This partnership eventually developed into Briggs & Stratton as it is known today.

Briggs & Stratton Corporation, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment.

Its wholly owned subsidiary Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group LLC is North America’s number one manufacturer of portable generators and pressure washers, and is a leading designer, manufacturer, and marketer of standby generators, along with lawn and garden and turf care through its Simplicity, Snapper, Ferris, and Murray brands.

Briggs & Stratton products are designed, manufactured, marketed and serviced in over 100 countries on six continents.

Website: www.briggsandstratton.com

Worth Pondering…

The important thing is not to stop questioning.

—Albert Einstein

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Camp Without Reservations This Holiday Weekend

TripTrist Travel Planners has encouraging news if you want to go on a camping adventure for the long 4th of July weekend.

Enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. Somewhere in southeastern Arizona between Coronado National Monument and Parker Lake, a BLM-administered camping site with limited services. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers. Somewhere in southeastern Arizona between Coronado National Monument and Parker Lake, a BLM-administered camping site with limited services. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It is possible to camp without reservations even though most sites in RV parks and campgrounds were reserved months ago.

There are three ways go camping without reservations.

Start by checking ReserveAmerica.com to see if any campsites are available due to cancellations. Users may set up an alert to be notified if a specific park has availability.

Next, look for campsites that don’t take reservations and get there early, preferable a day or two before the weekend.

If there is nothing available, do not disrepair. There are millions of acres of publicly owned land across the United States that allow dispersed camping.

What is Dispersed Camping?

Many people enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of camping away from developed campgrounds and other campers.

Dispersed camping is the term used for camping OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere in the National Forest or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. These are public lands that the federal government oversees.

Dispersed camping is permitted in designated areas within Anza-Borrego State Park in southeastern California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dispersed camping is permitted in designated areas within Anza-Borrego State Park in southeastern California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As long as the general rules are followed, camp can be set up as close or as far from civilization as desired.

Dispersed camping means no services such as trash removal, and little or no facilities such as tables and fire pits, are provided. Some popular dispersed camping areas may have toilets.

There are extra responsibilities and skills that are necessary for dispersed camping. It is your responsibility to know these before you try this new experience.

Camping rules and regulations apply to make your experience safe, and to keep the natural resources scenic and unspoiled for other campers.

The following rules apply when camping in the wilderness:

Dispersed camping is allowed in a one-mile perimeter away from campgrounds and 100 feet from any stream. To prevent resource damage please keep your campsite within 150 feet from a roadway.

Bring your own water.

Be Bear Aware. There are bears on the National Forest, so camp accordingly.

Leave the area as you found it. Back out all trash and waste. Follow Leave No Trace guidelines.

When on camping on BLM land, don’t stay longer than 14 days

When camping in the National Forest, Don’t stay longer than 16 days.

Do not leave campfires unattended. Put fires dead out before leaving the campsite or don’t have a fire at, to eliminate the risk of starting a forest fire.

Dispersed camping is available in the national forest with access to Fish Lake in Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dispersed camping is available in the national forest with access to Fish Lake in Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a detailed description of the rules visit the Forest Service website or the Bureau of Land Management website.

When deciding where to go, start by looking at a map of the destination. For example, Californians might want to drive up to the Sierra Mountains to enjoy the cool air, a clear view of the stars, and refreshing mountain streams and lakes.

Open up Google Maps, look at map of the eastern California. All of the light green areas indicate National Forest or BLM land. Zoom in further and pick a target area. Keep in mind that vehicles must stay on existing roads and it is best to camp in previously used areas to reduce damage to the environment.

If you follow these tips you can save a safe, low impact, dispersed camping experience.

Details

TripTrist Travel Planners

TripTrist is a website that provides a search engine for adventure travel and tours around the world. Choose from over 2,000 tours by locally owned and run tour operators. Travelers simply enter the location they would like to go and/or the activity they are looking for and browse from a list of exciting tour choices.

No need to visit dozens of websites to plan an adventure travel vacation, just use the TripTrist search engine.

Website: www.triptrist.com

Reserve America

Website: www.reserveamerica.com

US Forest Service

Website: www.fs.usda.gov

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Website: www.blm.gov

Worth Pondering…

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

—John Burroughs

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Boondocking & Quartzsite

The open road and the big sky inspire a lot of people to make their first RV trip.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

They ease into RVing by visiting a nearby (and beautiful) campground where they can hook up to water, waste, and electrical systems. Having this umbilical cord certainly makes RVing easier, but you may feel tied down.

As you become more comfortable with your RV adventures, the desire to go further off the beaten path and fully off-grid may inspire you to think about boondocking, according to Melanie Cullen, vice president of Operations and Marketing at Blue Sky Energy, Inc.

Boondocking or dry camping in a remote location without connections to water, power, or a sewer, can be a little intimidating when you are first venturing out.  It is just you and your RV alone in the world. It is so peaceful, beautiful, and refreshing to be out there away from it all. There is almost nothing better when things go smoothly and there is almost nothing worse when things go wrong.

The best first step to ease into boondocking is to head for Quartzsite for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show which takes place January 18 to 26, 2014. Quartzsite (or Q) is the biggest show in the country for boondockers, dry campers, and RVers, and attracts over 150,000 attendees.

The show is heaven on earth for RVers. It’s a ton of fun with hundreds of exhibits, live shows, bargain products, and fellow RV enthusiasts. The fact that the desert is gorgeous and the temperature is in the low-to-mid 70s in mid-January doesn’t hurt either!

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boondocking at Quartzsite is as easy as boondocking gets because you’ll be surrounded by thousands of boondocking experts, vendors, and RV tinkerers. There is even an installation and service area on the show grounds.

As you enjoy your time at Q, you can also prepare for your next boondocking trip by getting tips on techniques and hotspots from all the new friends you’ll make. Plus with so many RV experts around if something does go wrong, help is just a short walk away.

When you boondock, all you have is what you bring, and you have to bring all of that back with you. In preparing for your first boondocking adventure, focus on three things: water, waste, and power. These three elements comprise the main difference between boondocking and using traditional campgrounds.

When planning what to bring, keep in mind any trade-offs you might make between these three pillars of boondocking. While boondocking is a little more rigorous than staying at a campground, if you plan ahead you will be fine!

Having enough water is essential to everything.  FEMA recommends storing at least a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation, and more if the temperature is hot. But you should bring a lot more than that since you aren’t preparing for a disaster—you are there for a fun experience!

The key to keeping your waste under control on your trip is to plan ahead. When you’re shopping, consider the packing materials that contain what you are buying. Food and bathroom supplies are big sources of packing material waste so either shop wisely or unwrap whatever you can at home and then repackage everything in bulk containers.

Installing a solar array to charge your RV house battery gets you power wherever you are and it’s easier than ever due to technology improvements and a huge drop in solar panel prices.

The tricky thing about a solar and battery storage system is that batteries can’t capture all the electricity an array produces because the battery and array operate at different voltages. This voltage difference can cause up to 30 percent of the electricity to be lost in translation. Savvy RV technicians like those at Quartzsite who are experienced in putting solar arrays on RVs know the key to fixing this: an MPPT charge controller.

An MPPT charge controller helps you get up to 30 percent more power from your solar system by regulating that voltage between the batteries and the solar panels. That way your batteries will receive all the power being harvested from the solar panels. And like any purchase you make for your RV, make sure you pick an MPPT charge controller that is as rugged as the places you go boondocking.

Bring plenty of water, keep an eye on your trash, and solarize your RV with an MPPT charge controller, and you will have a blast when boondocking at Quartzsite and other BLM sites.

Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you leave Quartzsite, you will of course take everything you brought with you. But you’ll also leave with new friends and boondocking expertise so you can finally go as far off-grid as you’ve been dreaming.

Details

Blue Sky Energy, Inc.

Blue Sky Energy is an off-grid solar solutions provider. It offers the largest collection of small, military standard-certified MPPT charge controllers, pairing dynamic solutions with unsurpassed quality and reliability.

Fifteen years after introducing the first MPPT product to the clean energy community, Blue Sky Energy maintains its commitment to excellence in personalized customer service, philanthropy, and international relations with distribution to over 33 countries worldwide.

Address: 2598 Fortune Way, Suite K, Vista, CA 92081

Phone: (760) 597-1642 or (800) 493-7877 (toll free)

Website: blueskyenergyinc.com

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RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

Sherwood, Oregon’s elected officials sent a message to recreational vehicle owners to stay out of the city’s private streets and parking lots, including a local Walmart store.

RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban
RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

And now they’re hearing back.

Numerous RVers from across the U.S. have emailed Sherwood’s council criticizing the city’s newly-adopted camping ban, reports OregonLive.com.

Many said they will avoid Sherwood on their trips through Oregon. The news has spread through RV online groups, including a Walmart RVing Yahoo group with more than 9,000 members.

After Walmart announced it was coming to Sherwood, angry residents suggested a flurry of new ordinances, including a ban on overnight parking. Councilors considered it, then punted to a special committee on business regulation.

That committee produced an ordinance banning camping in areas open to the public, including by recreational vehicles and transients. The police chief supported the ordinance, concerned that campers risk becoming victims of crime. The ordinance almost went before Sherwood voters, but councilors made tweaks and unanimously approved it themselves.

Wal-Mart says RV shoppers are among its best customers, but leaves overnight parking to store manager discretion.

Walmart permits RV parking on their store parking lots as they are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. RVers should contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.

RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban
RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

Police Chief Jeff Groth said his officers would ask RV drivers to move along, but allow them to sleep if they need shut-eye.

Councilor Matt Langer, whose company sold land to Walmart, says the RVer outcry made him regret his vote to support the ban.

“It sounds like we have discriminated or excluded a respectable piece of our population, and it’s unwarranted,” Langer said.

He said he voted for the ban as a police tool for transients than to target RV owners.

“I think, quite honestly, the ordinance only got pushed through and passed to appease all the negative sentiment and negative push from some of the folks that purely want to make an attempt to stop Walmart.”

Sherwood Mayor Bill Middleton stands by his vote. He says there are plenty of RV campgrounds near Sherwood that the people who emailed him can stay overnight.

“I worry about citizens of Sherwood, not people emailing us from Delaware and all over the country,” he said.

Sherwood is located on SR- 18, 17 miles southwest of Portland.

A Good Sam RV Park and Campground search indicate no camping facilities in Sherwood but 12 parks within a 25-mile radius.

The Sherwood location isn’t alone in banning overnight stays, as a number of Walmarts turn away RVs.

For a list of Walmarts where overnight parking is prohibited, click here.

Overnight Parking Etiquette

Some of the most respected RV consumer clubs have joined together to support your right to park on private businesses’ parking lots overnight under the following code of conduct. The code pertains to establishments that permit “dry camping” on their lots. Dry camping means camping without the use of external hookups for electricity, water supply, or waste disposal.

Industry-Sanctioned Code of Conduct (RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy)

RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban
RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

Stay one night only!

Obtain permission from a qualified individual.

Obey posted regulations.

No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills outside your RV.

Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).

Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.

Purchase gas, food, or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.

Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.

If your plans include touring the area, staying for more than one night, or necessitate conduct not within the code, please relocate to a local campground. It’s the right thing to do!

RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban
RVers Upset With Walmart Parking Ban

Most of the complaints lodged regarding RV parking on business parking lots have to do with aesthetics and perceived abuse of the privilege. There are a variety of competing interests that were balanced to arrive at this industry-sanctioned code of conduct. As you can see, this Code of Conduct is nothing more than an RVers’ “Good Neighbor” policy.

Not following the code has serious consequences and is detrimental to the rights of all RVers. Already, some municipalities have passed ordinances to prohibit parking on private business property overnight.

The above Code of Conduct is also available in PDF format from the Walmart Atlas website.

You’re encouraged to print this letter and share it with others to promote these etiquette standards.

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U.S. Battery Offers High-Performance Deep-Cycle Series

U.S. Battery Manufacturing’ deep-cycle RV batteries are designed to withstand the extreme charge and discharge cycles when used in RVs, as well as provide higher initial capacity, performance, and longer service life, according to a company news release.

usb_xc_2007With many electronic appliances, stereo systems, and other accessories that maintain a high parasitic load on RV batteries, discharge, and charging cycles can quickly cut the service life of an ordinary battery.

U.S. Battery says its deep-cycle batteries are more efficient and last longer, because of the company’s exclusive XC2 formulation and Diamond Plate Technology. This combination of extremely efficient synthetic tetrabasic lead sulfate crystal structures (TTBLS), allow U.S. Battery’s products to reach peak capacity in fewer cycles, provide higher total energy delivery, and extend battery life.

“RV owners can save money by utilizing a high-performance deep-cycle battery that is more efficient and lasts longer,” says Don Wallace, U.S. Battery CMO/executive vice president.

“Our exclusive XC2 formulation enhances battery performance by improving charging efficiency with increased initial and overall capacity.

Wallace said that the batteries are more compatible with a wider range of chargers used in various make and model RVs.

U.S. Battery’s RV deep-cycle batteries are available in 12-volt and 6-volt configurations while the RE Series deep cycle batteries also feature extra heavy-duty connector lugs and a tough polypropylene exterior case.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADeep cycle lead-acid batteries have historically been manufactured with a relatively high percentage of tetrabasic lead sulfate (TTBLS) in the unformed plate material crystal structure.  This TTBLS crystal structure produces a strong active material structure in the formed plates required to achieve the long cycle life needed in deep cycle battery applications (similar to the strength added to concrete by the addition of rebar).

Prior to the introduction of synthetic TTBLS additives, the plate production process utilized a high temperature, high humidity curing process designed to achieve a relatively high percentage of TTBLS in the unformed plates. Even though this curing process was well controlled and produced consistently high levels of TTBLS, it was not well suited for controlling the size of the individual crystals that were ‘grown’ in the crystal development process. The resultant crystals varied widely in size and if the crystals grew too large, the plates were difficult to form and recharge and had lower capacity than those with smaller crystal sizes.

Through the addition of synthetic TTBLS with a uniformly fine crystal structure to the paste during mixing a smaller, more uniform TTBLS crystal structure is produced throughout the plate structure (SEE image below). This uniformly controlled TTBLS crystal structure results in the enhanced performance, charging and life characteristics of the US Battery Xtreme Capacity.

Xtreme Capacity Features & Benefits

Increased initial capacity: Synthetic TTBLS (tetrabasic lead sulfate) additive in the paste mix provides uniformly controlled crystal size of the resulting TTBLS in the cured plate and higher conversion efficiency of TTBLS to lead dioxide in the formed positive plate giving higher capacity.

Higher peak capacity: The same controlled TTBLS crystal size results in a higher conversion of TTBLS to lead dioxide in the cycled positive plate with greater and more uniform porosity and surface area for higher peak capacity.

Improved energy density and specific energy: Since there is no increase in the size or weight of the battery, higher capacity translates to improved energy density (watt-hours/liter) and specific energy (watt-hours/kilogram).

Through the addition of synthetic TTBLS with a uniformly fine crystal structure to the paste during mixing a smaller, more uniform TTBLS crystal structure is produced throughout the plate structure. (Source: usbattery.com)
Through the addition of synthetic TTBLS with a uniformly fine crystal structure to the paste during mixing a smaller, more uniform TTBLS crystal structure is produced throughout the plate structure. (Source: usbattery.com)

Enhanced recharge-ability: The more uniform crystal structure of the formed positive plate results in enhanced recharge-ability particularly at low temperature and from varying states of discharge.

Fortified plate construction—improved vibration and shock resistance: The more uniformly controlled TTBLS crystal size results in a stronger crystal network within the formed positive plate active material resulting in decreased shedding from vibration and shock.

Improved cycle life: The stronger crystal network within the formed positive plate active material also results in decreased shedding from deep cycling – the primary failure mode in deep cycle batteries.

Details

U.S Battery Manufacturing Co.

U.S. Battery has been building flooded lead acid deep cycle batteries since 1928.

U.S. Battery manufactures and distributes batteries for: Solar Renewable Energy Storage, Golf, Marine, Sweeper, Scrubber, Lift Access, Auto, Military, Conversion, 6 volt, 8 volt, 12 volt, and many other applications. They are also a supplier of many AGM type batteries.

Website: usbattery.com

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