As a new RVer, I spend most of my time at RV parks. The plan is to get a feel for the RV and how it works, before taking off into the wilderness to boondock solo. Even so, one cannot boondock on theory alone. On Halloween, I decided to go camping at the Valley of Fire. I planned ahead and hitched up from the night before. As soon as I woke up, I strapped Shadow in the car and we took off.
Unfortunately, too many other people had the same idea and I could find nowhere to camp inside the state park. That search for a camping spot inside the park also lead to my first incident of having to back my RV down travelled roads. Luckily, I am pretty decent at handling my trailer, backed into another dirt road, and got turned around without mishap.
I had a feeling I would struggle to find a camping spot, so I had another option in my back pocket. I headed out of the park and toward the Mormon town of Overton. A few miles outside of town is an overlook known as Poverty Flats, where you can camp for free on public land. I had to tow uphill on gravel and dirt, but it was well worth it.
The Current Boondocking Setup
People often ask me about my power setup in the RV, especially when it comes to going off-grid. If you are a seasoned RVer, you can skip to the next paragraph. For everyone else, my RV is equipped with three sources of power: shore power when I am plugged in, battery power when I am not, and propane when needed. I also have a 100-watt solar panel and a solar generator that I use to power my electronics, such as my laptop and phone.
I had also recently purchased a portable picnic table for boondocking, because I didn’t want to sit on the same bench everyone else did. I have seen RVers put their sewer hoses on top of picnic tables and then saw people sit down to eat there the next day. No, thank you — and especially not during a pandemic. My picnic table has a 400-pound rating, weighs only 20 lbs and folds up so small that I can throw it in the back of the truck. It also has a lifetime warranty.
My Boondocking Companion
Another question I get often is how well Shadow takes to life on the road. When I took Shadow camping that day, it was the first time I had moved the RV in a month. I fully expected him to hide in his favourite cubby holes, once I got it set up, but he came out to take a peek at his surroundings. He is much braver these days, but still hates the sound of people talking outside and diesel trucks starting up.
He was also pretty social at bed time, which wasn’t always the case, at the time. Now, he snuggles up under the comforter or spends the night wreaking havoc in the RV.
The campground itself was much bigger than it looked from the road and where I parked was just one small section of it. The view was also amazing, especially at sunset. People at the campground were mostly conservative and did not seem to socialize outside of their groups. Even so, one solo RVer did chat me up and invite me over for a glass of wine while we watched the full moon. I brought my own glass and my own wine and drove the truck over in my Halloween costume. We sat outside.
We chatted for a while and he was good company. However, he had way too much to drink and I high-tailed it back to my RV in my truck before things got too weird. I know my limit and can hold my wine, so I was fine. That weird little incident aside, it was beautiful out there. Check out the view.
The RV Mishaps
The decision to go boondocking wasn’t a test of my off-grid ability, but rather, a test of the RV. Sadly, it failed the test and I had to leave at the crack of dawn. I mentioned the solar generator earlier to show that I had no real dependence on the RV to power my devices. I also use battery-powered lamps in the RV after dark, because I find the lighting much too bright for my taste. In spite of this, my battery died during the night.
When it died, I learned the hard way that the RV furnace and the fridge cannot work without battery or shore power. It needs electricity to ignite the flame. I had to turn the furnace off in the night to stop it from clicking on and off as it tried to re-light. Then, the fridge started to do the same by about 5AM. The awning that I left out also became a problem in the morning. It took forever and a day to get it in, even after plugging the RV into the truck. Needless to say, I learned a lot about my RV’s capabilities and the things I need to fix.
Right now, I’m a snowbird who spends the majority of my camping time with full hookups. However, if I decide to do this beyond the spring, these are just some of the issues I need to address for safe and comfortable travel.
From Nevada to Arizona
After leaving Poverty Flats, I spent one more night in Nevada before heading to Arizona. Unfortunately, my time in the Grand Canyon State has not been pleasant. I still wake up grateful every morning that I am on the road and living my dreams, but I am twice as grateful that I’ll be in California before next weekend.
In the next post, I’ll share what it’s like to be a Black woman in a small Arizona town, during high racial tensions and a highly contested election. As a preface to that, I would like to say that I spent the majority of my time in Nevada as the only Black woman among Mormons, other Conservatives, and Moderates. I was treated extremely well.
In fact, they begged me not to come to Arizona. After my arrival, they became so concerned that they called up a friend’s RV park in California and had them reserve a spot for me. I’m heading there in a few days and they will meet me there a week later. For now, I’m in the middle of a flag war with the Confederates next door, but I’ll work my way up to that post, because it will be heavy on race relations and redneck politics.
In spite of all this, I’m still glad I came. I met at least two decent people while here that I plan to maintain contact with and my new favourite hiking trail of all time is at Lake Havasu. Can you believe it’s not the Grand Canyon?! The sunsets here were also incredibly beautiful and I enjoyed the labyrinth of dirt roads for riding my mountainbike.
I look forward to sharing the good, bad, and the ugly!
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