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?


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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For RVers on-the-road these 3 Signs say “It’s Time to Call 9-1-1″

heart-attackThe average age of a typical RVer in 2011 was 48 years old, and RV owners in the 35 to 54 demographic posted the largest gains in ownership. Retirees continue to move from stick houses into RVs full time, traveling around the country and frequently following the seasons.

The combination of two factors, RVers age getting older and they are often beyond the range of their medical support team, increase the risk of a medical problem occurring on -the-road where they may need to assess the risk and actions to be taken on their own.

In the following article, software developer and paramedic Dale Hemstalk, reviews biological warnings many sadly ignore, but could make the difference between life and death when professional medical help is far away.

Each year, about 600,000 Americans – one in four — in the United States die from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Of the 715,000 Americans who have a heart attack each year, about 525,000 are first-timers, says the CDC, and those individuals may not know what’s happening. Sadly, many people do not get to the hospital on time, says paramedic Dale Hemstalk.

“If someone is having a heart attack, for example, they should get to the hospital without delay upon the initial onset of symptoms,” says Hemstalk, who is also a software developer with Forté Holdings, Inc., a provider of health-care software that works closely with paramedics, emergency medical technicians and firefighters to speed delivery of medical services. The company’s newest software, iPCR, (www.ipcrems.com), takes electronic patient-care reporting in the field to new levels of portability and affordability.

“We live in an age in which we should be taking greater advantage of our technology for health purposes – but you have to call for help first!” Hemstalk says.

He shares warning signs that it’s time dial 9-1-1.

• Symptoms for a heart attack: Men and women frequently report different symptoms. Men tend to have the “classic” signs, such as pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that goes away and comes back; pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms; chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

For women, symptoms tend to be back or jaw pain; difficulty breathing; nausea or dizziness; unexplainable anxiety or fatigue; mild flu-like symptoms; palpitations, cold sweats or dizziness. Triggers tend to be different between the sexes, too. In women, it’s often stress; in men, it’s physical exertion.

• Symptoms for a stroke: There are clear, telltale characteristics of a stroke, including sagging on one side of the face, an arm that’s drifting down and garbled speech. But there are also more subtle signs from the onset, such as sudden numbness of one side of the body, including an arm, leg and part of the face; sudden confusion, trouble speaking and understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden loss of balance; sudden headache for no apparent reason. Risk factors include diabetes, tobacco use, hypertension, heart disease, a previous stroke, irregular heartbeat, obesity, high cholesterol and heavy alcohol use.

• Symptoms for heart failure: This is not the same as a heart attack, which occurs when a vessel supplying the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients becomes completely blocked. Heart failure is a chronic condition where the heart can’t pump properly, which may be due to fluid in the lungs. Warning signs include shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen ankles, chest congestion and an overall limitation on activities. Just one of these symptoms may not be cause for alarm; but more than one certainly is. Risk factors include various heart problems, serious viral infections, drug or alcohol abuse, severe lung disease and chemotherapy.

“At no point should anyone be discouraged from calling 911; the bottom line is, if you feel it’s an emergency and you need to call 911, call 911!” Hemstalk says. “There are many reasons to seek assistance from emergency responders, and they are not limited to those that I’ve mentioned.”

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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Oil & Honey: One man’s efforts to combat climate change

ImageI’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that more of us RVers would describe ourselves as concerned with protecting wildlife and the environment, agreeing with sustainability practices, reducing, reusing, and recycling, and trying to conserve our natural resources than those who do not have these concerns.

Those who do may not even consider themselves environmentalists, a term which is often used in derision by those who are not. And bring up “global warming” or the lesser button-pushing term, “climate change” and you will likely find yourself in a lively and often heated debate on the merit (or hoax) of this hot topic.

Whichever side you are on–or tending to lean to–it never hurts to listen to the other side with an open mind, process the information, and make a rational level-headed decision on whether there is something you think you should be doing or whether the whole idea is political deception or the naive and gullible rantings of do-gooder leftists.

Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, and activist and a founding partner of 350.org, the website devoted to demonstrations and education on the effects of climate change, has written a new book, Oil and Honey, which is a memoir of two different, yet related, facets of his life.

The oil side is about his personal realization that climate change is dangerously real and that he needed to inform others of the facts that influenced his decision to transition from author/educator to a more activist position. It is a personal, self-revealing, memoir of this transition and an historical look at the climate change movement.

The second part of the book, which is not really a second part but interwoven with the oil part, is with his neighbor, a beekeeper, and the day-to-day activities to keep the hive colonies healthy and productive.

Oil and Honey(which you can find on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and as an ebook) is a fascinating look into the personal and public life of McKibben and–no matter which side you are on–a look at the climate issue that you may not have seen or read before. I recommend the book also for Bill’s relaxed and personal style, and how he often makes you feel that you are sitting in the seat next to him on the bio-diesel fueled bus traveling between speaking engagement and demonstrations.

And it might prompt you to take a second look at your personal RV lifestyle, and whether there might be something you could do or change to make the world a better–and safer–place to life, not only for you but for your children, grandchildren, and those that follow. Happy Travels.

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: Taking the first steps

ImageHave you tried what RVers call boondocking, or dry-camping, which means camping without the normal hookups provided by full service campgrounds and RV resorts? If you haven’t you are missing out on one of the great adventures of owning an RV.

I urge those who have not yet tried boondocking to get off the grid and give it a shot.So let’s look at exactly what boondocking entails, clear up a few misconceptions, and how to ease into it with a minimal of drama and trauma.

To make boondocking enjoyable and fun requires a combination of learned (and practiced) skills, adjusting to new habits, a desire to stay out in the wilderness as comfortably as possible, and a curiosity about out-of-the-way places, nature, wildlife, and what you might find around the next bend.

Not all boondockers match this profile. Some of the differences can be attributed to the semantics of the words “boondocking” and “dry-camping.” They are the same in that both refer to camping without any hook-ups–water, electricity, or sewage. With even one of these appendages, we would have partial hook-ups and therefor not technically boondocking. Let’s call it almost-boondocking. The key–or difference–is in where we do it.Dry-camping is what you do at an RV rally, in a Wal-mart parking lot, highway rest stop, or a primitive campground where there are no hook-ups but could have a fresh water supply, trash cans, or dump station on site.True boondocking is camping away from civilization, out in the boonies, where no camping amenities exist. The word “boondock” comes from the Tagalog “bundok” meaning “mountain.” Answers.com gives the definition “rural country; the backwoods”. A reader suggests that the word boondocking has become synonymous with dry-camping and there should be a new term “wilderness camping” for camping in the boonies. Good idea but it hasn’t caught on yet.

Whatever you want to call camping without hookups, where you do it and why is the driving force for practicing boondocking skills. For instance if your style is “blacktop boondocking” in Walmart and Cracker Barrel parking lots, you will have little need to perfect skills and change old habits in order to stretch your stay for an extra two or three days. Every modern RV has enough house battery power, fresh water storage, and waste storage tanks to camp without hook-ups for a night or two.

Fortunately, you can break the bond to hookups by starting with trying a night or two blacktop boondocking and graduate through myriad steps to as far as you want to take it.

Somewhere in the middle you will find the perfect fit for your style of boondocking. And that will be determined by your likes and dislikes–whether you like to be on the go and only spend one or two nights at a time in any location (then refill, dump, etc. before arriving at your next boondocking campsite), or you like to venture beyond the interstates, maybe even beyond even paved two-lane roads, staying in one location long enough to explore the area.

Each step you move beyond blacktop boondocking requires new or improved skills and tips to make it enjoyable. 

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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ImageThe concept of an area where owners of housecars, what we now call recreation vehicles (RVs), would gather to hook up to electricity, drinking water, and waste water disposal, what we now call a campground, would have seemed like a bizarre notion when the first self-contained RVs appeared on American highways.

In fact, the whole idea behind the creation of these new-fangled RVs was to become independent of those hookups–to be self sustainable while seeing the wondrous scenic landscapes of this great and diverse country. The independence was the beauty and the attraction of RV camping.

Then campgrounds and hook-ups came along and the RVer evolved from wanting to be free of tethers to the RVer demanding campgrounds with these tethers wherever he wanted to camp. Campgrounds turned into resorts with amenities to match the luxurious vacation hotels and spas–with price tags to match. And many RVers, as if re-proving Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, lost their ability to camp without life-supporting appendages, just like early humanoids lost their tails when they stopped swinging from trees.

But unlike the humanoids that lost their tails, RVs themselves did not lose their ability to camp without the life-supporting tethers. In fact, they became even more adaptable, efficient, and practical for camping independent of support systems well beyond the dreams of the early adapters.

Giant water supply tanks and waste tanks, generators, solar panels, high efficiency electricity-storing batteries, full size refrigerators, massive amounts of storage and pantries, efficient heating and cooling systems–and many other improvements–now make camping without hook-ups–what we call boondocking–almost as easy as staying in a full hook-up resort or campground.

But many owners, though they know that their rig has these systems built in, stay wary of camping away from the grid, assuming that the mishaps of Robin Williams in the movie RV are typical of what will happen to them if they become too adventurous.

In reality, if you don’t venture out away from established overnight (I won’t call them camping) options, you are missing out on the most important feature of the RV lifestyle–the option to camp just about anywhere you can get to on America’s public lands–in its forests and deserts, by streams, rivers, lakes, on Indian Reservations and Fish and Wildlife properties, on state wildlife and forest preserves and water properties managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  And . . . you will save a ton of money when you don’t have to pay for RV resorts and campgrounds (check out my ebook below 111Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck, highly rated–thank you reviewers–and one of the best-selling ebooks in its category on Amazon’s Kindle).

But first you have to learn how to use your RV’s built-in systems that enable you to break free from hookups. That comes next week. But if you are in a rush or want to read in more detail than blog space allows, check out my ebooks on the subject by following the links below.

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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Interpreting size restrictions at National Park, Monument, and Forest campgrounds

ImageWhen you were scouring the campground directories for campsites–especially those in National Parks, Monuments, and Forests–to spend a few days or for one-nighters when traveling and you see restrictions on maximum size allowed, such as “Maximum size 27 feet” did you cross it off your list of potential camping locations? If so, you may have missed an opportunity to visit what might be a wonderful national treasure or a nesty, forest campsite beside a tumbling stream.

The maximum length referred to means that all–or most–of the campsites in the campground will accommodate that length. But . . . SOME will also accommodate longer lengths, sometimes much longer. Those who write the rules do not want to officially include longer lengths when maybe only three or four campsites will fit longer lengths, and if those are taken but smaller ones remain open, they may get in a tangle with RVers with a longer rig urging them to move someone with a shorter rig out of the larger site and into a smaller site. Or, when those with larger rigs show up and find there are only a few that fit the maximum size stated and they are taken.

Whatever the reasons–not that I blame them at wanting to avoid such hassles–knowing this does open up some options. If you can fit into the campsite they won’t tell you to leave. And often, the measurement is made from the wheel barrier at the rear of the campsite to the front, the length of the pad itself . So, when you back in, your overhang extends over the barrier adding quite a few feet to the length that will fit. But watch out for those wood posts that some campgrounds use. Your overhang may not clear them. And there might be several sites that are long enough even without the overhang factor.

When you arrive at a campground that has a stated maximum length, drive around the campground and if you find one you fit into–no extending into the road, into foliage in the rear, or onto other obstructions–take it. It’s unlikely that you will find a host or ranger that will ask your length–unless they know exactly which sites are open and whether you will fit in any of them.

In national parks, it’s a bit more difficult, especially on busy holidays and weekends. If the park is filled everyday those that assign campsites may hold to the size maximum to reduce chaos, so plan to arrive early mid-week, before they start to fill up, when you can scout for larger sites on your own.

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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