Does volunteering fit your RV lifestyle?

volunteering2

 

Volunteering for RVers is not just camp hosting. 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 affordable 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.

volunteering3When 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 (works best in the off seasons) for work that needs to be done.

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.passportintime.com  Forest Service program matches volunteers with professional Forest Service archaeologists and historians on national forests throughout the country.

http://www.jobmonkey.com/parks/html/national_program.html Find summer jobs, seasonal jobs or year-round employment in national and state parks, forest service, concessionaires, and other outdoor jobs.

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. 

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Make these few simple changes and you can reduce your electrical use while boondocking

DCF 1.0When you take the ultimate step and decide to be a serious boondocker, you make a few modifications to your camping regimen and install some new features like a sustainable energy source consisting of 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 and plan to continue 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 likely return the courtesy.

When you need to recharge your batteries, explain to your neighbor/s that you have to run your generator, and the length of time you expect to run it, 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.

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.

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Boondocking for the curious, yet uninitiated

boondocking_lizard_headIf you reject campgrounds and boondocking camping areas because of their lack of hookups, you may be missing some of the pleasures of camping and the RV lifestyle experience, such as; 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 suggesting that you abandon 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 iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Free camping and boondocking: Is the end near?

walmart_overnightingI’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.

nat_for_boondockingThese 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 (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

 

 

http://roadtreking.com/finding-free-places-overnight-in-rv/

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Help Smokey the bear prevent wildfires by following these campfire tips

The hot dry days of summer are just around the corner, and if you plan on RVing in one of the areas affected by drought this year, such as California, expect to see campfire restrictions.

In most of the National Forests that have been affected, you are required to obtain a fire permit (which is free), have a shovel and bucket (for water) near your campfire, and observe common sense practices on the use of your campfire.

Common sense, of course, is often interpreted in different ways by different RVers. But these tips bear mentioning:

  • Build your fire in a prescribed fire pit or container if available.
  • When boondocking or camping where there are no containers, bring your own portable fire pit or build a fire containment circle out of rocks.
  • Rake or scrape all combustible debris, like leaves, twigs, etc. at least 10 feet away from your fire.
  • Do not build a fire if the wind is blowing as embers could blow off into combustible areas
  • Never leave a campfire unattended
  • When you leave your campsite, douse the fire with water and hold your hand above the fire to determine that it is cold, and that no hot spots remain that could flare up

When you head into a national forest for camping or boondocking, check in with the Ranger Station or Regional Office for any fire restrictions, closed areas, or existing fires that may be burning in the forest and follow the advise of rangers before choosing a campsite or campground.

If a wildfire does flare up near you, don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate. Wildfires are unpredictable and can quickly change direction or speed – and the smoke from existing fires will make you campsite very unpleasant even if the fire is quite distant. And listen each day for fire alerts or go on to the Forest service website for fire updates.

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 (PDF or Kindle reader version). NOTE: Use the Kindle version to read on iPad and iPhone or any device that has the free Kindle reader app.

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Water: The diminishing and vital resource for life and boondocking

ImageCalifornia is in the midst of one of the worst droughts since records have been taken. In fact, the rain fall in the beginning of this year is half what the previous worst year total was.

This loss of available water stores (snow pack, reservoirs, aquifers, etc.) will be disastrous for farmers, spawning salmon, and homeowners (who water lawns, wash cars, plant gardens, and follow several water wasting habits in their everyday lives.

States other than California are being affected also with water shortages, unlike those in the Midwest, South, and East Coast that are receiving too much of the wet stuff.

Normally dry areas, like the deserts of the Southwest, of which much of California qualifies as well as parts of Eastern Oregon, Southern Arizona and New Mexico, could suffer the most.

You can expect water conservation guidelines to ramp up as the situation continues to worsen. Some areas are already prohibiting watering lawns, cars, washing down driveways, operating sprinklers, and flushing toilets less (phew!)

But we boondockers have a leg up on everybody else (not to be smug, or anything) because as we pursued our love of boondock camping, we also learned how to conserve water to avoid filling our waste water tank or draining our fresh water tank, causing us to vacate our campsite discovery and drive off to find somewhere to dump and fill.

But these same skills we learned on how to conserve water while camping are also valuable skills to practice at home now that water conservation is looming over all of us by severely dwindling supplies. The following water saving tips will serve you both as a boondocker as well as a stick house dweller.

  • Wash dishes in a dish tub and discard the dishwater onto a thirsty bush or to water your plants or garden.
  • When washing or showering, turn the water on to wet down, then turn off. Soap up, then turn water on to rinse.
  • Turn the water off when brushing teeth. Turn on only to rinse.
  • When running water while letting it heat up for showers or washing, save the running water in a plastic tub to use for watering plants, cooking spaghetti, or other high water uses.
  • If you must wash your car or truck, consider one of the waterless car wash products.
  • Install drip waterers for the plants at your house.
  • Maintain the right mindset: Always be conscious of wasting water, and what you can do about it.
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Isn’t it time to work less and RV more?

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Productivity. Connectivity. Accumulating Wealth. These are considered positive attributes and goals for working Americans to strive for. Yet “Ecologists warn that economic growth is strangling the natural systems on which life depends,” writes Carolyn Lochhead in the San Francisco Chronicle.

You read nearly everyday that we are running out of – or eventually will run out of – many of our natural resources, for example lithium that powers most of our devices, or we will hve to ration some resources, like water that comes from diminishing aquifers and – at least in California – decreased rainfall threatening devastating droughts and wildfires.

“As the world economy grows relentlessly,” Lochhead continues, “ecologists warn that nature’s ability to absorb wastes and regenerate natural resources is being exhausted.”

And if that isn’t enough to be concerned about, psychologists and health professionals warn that our drive for wealth, continuous connectivity, and relentless need to work more hours, produce more, improve efficiency, and all the other pressures on today’s workforce to be ever more competitive, could have deleterious results on both our mental and physical health.

Whether you are a believer or non-believer in global warming, worried about diminishing resources or believing that nature or science will provide, or are a political liberal or conservative, there may be a solution that would be acceptable to all sides. And that is . . .

Go RVing. Think about it. If you are currently a fulltimer, did you say to yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Did you discover that you worked at a stressful job a bit too long, thinking that you needed to build up more wealth than you are now finding that you actually needed. Or are you finding that a simpler lifestyle fits you just fine and you could have started serious RVing – even if you are not a fulltimer – years sooner?

RVing, by its very nature, teaches us to preserve our natural resources, be less wasteful, act more responsibly toward the environment – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle is the mantra. And is there anyone that doesn’t admit that when they are RVing they are happier, more relaxed, more satisfied with life. Some countries even now are trying to gauge their citizens’ happiness index as part of future planning.

No other developed countries drive their workers to work more hours, take fewer vacations or time off – and for shorter periods – and to always stay connected in case the boss needs to reach you, as life is in America. In fact, in most countries, the government requires a certain number of paid vacation days – 30 in France, 25 in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 24 in Germany. Do you know how many paid vacation days our government requires? 0.

Not only that, but America has the lowest number of paid vacation days of twelve developed nations – 13. Compare that to Brazil, Austria, Germany, France, and Italy, all with 34 or more paid vacation days (see chart).

By the time we get around to retiring (or are forced to retire due to downsizing) we are pretty much useless to the workforce, have health problems that prohibit activities that we would like to pursue, and too old to enjoy all those activities that provided enjoyment when we were younger. We don’t possess the drive any more to stay in top physical shape, or pursue hobbies or art or music or mentoring or any other form of creativity.

Give it some thought. Is there any reason you shouldn’t start backing off, go RVing more, downsize, hit the road, consider retiring early, fulltiming in your RV and exploring this great country, pursuing your dreams?

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