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Showing posts with the label RVtravel

The Ultimate Triumph for a Consumer

Dare I hope? Or will that just jinx me? After years of pining and yearning, I may have finally found the ultimate flashlight for my camper. But why waste words:

Glorious isn't it?! For years the industry plagued me with those damn cylindrical flashlights that would roll around on the floor when you tried to use them for anything.

Even worse, they used those cursed little AA and AAA batteries. If that wasn't enough, the switches were always flimsy, or the battery holder door would pop off.

And so I dreamed the impossible dream, and found it. At Walmart of all places. It was a sensible price: that is, not as high as the 'jewelry/boutique' flashlights, but not as low as low end consumer junk.

The label calls it "Hyper Tough", made by Intertek. It is USB rechargeable. The battery is lithium.

I just love those little elastomeric bumpers at the four corners. So touuuuuuugh! This must be a Guy Thing. 

Perhaps this post seems facetious to the reader, but it is not meant th…

The RV Boondocking Blabbermouth Syndrome

No doubt, over the years, many ex-readers noticed that this blog just wasn't what they hoped for. It wasn't helpful to beginners. It wouldn't wallow in practical details. It didn't even give google map screenshots or GPS coordinates of boondocking sites.

The disappointed reader probably thought, "What a selfish fellow! He wants to suppress information that would benefit his fellow RVers. To hell with him then, I'll just read a nicer person's blog.  They have more pretty pictures anyway, and I won't have to keep looking up words..."

The disappointed reader is certainly right about one thing: there are other blogs to go to that will give them want they are asking for. But what if they eventually decide that the easy and popular approach is destructive in a subtle way?

Wouldn't it be more constructive to look at the philosophical significance of the Boondocking Blabbermouth Syndrome?Romanticism and escapism motivate most people to travel. There is n…

How Do You Tow a Van and Trailer BACKWARDS?

I was headed up the mountain for a favorite dispersed campsite of mine, in my van and small cargo trailer. Naturally I was nervous about a certain muddy rutted area, an area that has been touch-and-go in the past. But it was unusually dry there last night, so I plunged in confidently. Over-confidently as it turned out. And you think hubris is an ancient superstition?

1. Don't make it any worse. When you start spinning, you might as well stop. If ground clearance is a problem, you don't want to let air out of your tires.
2. Be patient, be calm; which was more difficult here because there was no cellphone service. Wait for a local person to show up. In fact, they did. But I had to spend a night camping in muddy holes. Actually it was pretty flat, and absolutely quiet. I slept well. Try to see a disaster as an adventure.
3. I was essentially on a one-lane deadend road. No tow truck could get in front of me to pull me forward, the usual way of being pulled out.
4. Can you be pulled ba…

The Flag Controversy and the Meaning of Travel

Somehow I have gotten sucked into the thankless and unpopular task of shaming reforming the travel blogosphere. After a thousand-and-one microscopic how-to details, somebody needs to ask What is the Point of travel? What does it mean? What are the fundamental benefits?

In fact it has long been recognized that 'travel broadens your perspective.' That's an interesting word, perspective.

So let's light one candle rather than curse the darkness when it comes to the Confederate flag controversy that has been raging the last couple weeks. As a young man I spent some time in the South. My background was that of a typical, smug, brainwashed yankee -- from the Land of Lincoln, no less.

I had a part-time job at a Holiday Inn as a bus boy. Many of the cooks and waitresses were negroes, the first negroes that I had ever been around. One night, a pretty young negro waitress pulled me over with "...kaBLOOnie, I have a friend who would be just perfect for you..."  Actually she…

So What Happens When You Miss Your Turn?

I was getting that sinking feeling that I had missed my turn. Sure enough, I ended up 60 miles away from where I was "supposed" to be. It happens every now and then. So what?

You can't be lost near the edges of the Plains of San Agustin in central New Mexico. It is unique, or at least rare. It's a chance to escape the sameness of mountains.

Lately I've been doing better than usual at having good camping experiences in places that I tend to neglect. Why the neglect? Is it just internet addiction? There is usually wi-fi somewhere, although it is expensive to use it unless you have a will of iron to resist eating there.

But I have it easy. What if I was a real city-slicker with some extreme, ideological diet? How would you survive with the tiny grocery stores? Western Family, and Shur-Fine brands are the only things that aren't priced at a confiscatory level. There are a few staples available, and with a tub of dry goods and canned goods in the rig, you should be a…

Travel Envy

For whatever reason I continue to glance at bicycle touring blogs frequently. Usually it only takes a glance to gong them, and for reasons you can easily guess. Nevertheless it is almost worth the daily discouragement in order to experience occasional bliss. And I'm doing that now, with a blog by a cycling couple from the San Juan Islands, who are touring a park northwest of Seville, Spain.

Why do I enjoy the Griffins' blog so much? In part it may be that their lack of tent camping spares the reader a lot of repetitive details. But I even enjoy their photographs, which I usually dismiss in travel blogs.

Perhaps the route itself gets some of the credit. They are riding medium-fat-tire bikes on dirt trails in what is almost a national park. The trails are usually mild -- an under-rated pleasure in bicycling, if there ever was one.  Remember that there is no mountain biking allowed in national parks in "freedom-loving" America. The scenery is much like New Mexico, except…

"Boonie" Era is Over; Introducing kaBLOOnie

There is too much personal chit-chat on the internet. It is trivial, banal, and unintelligent. What I have tried to do with this blog is focus on ideas, principles, and issues. Leave the personality trivia to TV talk shows and Facebook.

Thus I didn't even use a name at the beginning of blogging. 

Why should I? The blog wasn't about me, per se. But commenters needed to begin with something other than, "Hey you," or maybe, "You jerk..."

So dear old Granny J started calling me "Boonie." I sort of liked it, and took it up, despite it not being a perfect name for me. Most of what people call RV boondocking does not even appeal to me. What does appeal is dispersed area camping on public lands. Technically, the Quartzsite mob-fest and Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) camping are examples of dispersed camping, but these two don't appeal to me either. I simply do not want to hear a camping neighbor. 

Also, newbies probably come to this blog expecting how-to a…

Altar of the Atlases

Yes, I'm turning into a rhapsode of "profound satisfactions" about converting a cargo trailer into a livable travel trailer. I built a symmetric rack for my cherished (and half-worn-out) Benchmark and DeLorme atlases. There was something altar-like in their position at the new "command-and-control" center.

This was hardly a great engineering feat. It was a trivial project compared to the kitchen or the solar equipment. And yet I just loved it. Now how could such a small project offer such satisfaction?

It must be the maps.  There is, in any endeavor, a delightful sophomoric phase when you realize you are no longer a mere member of the general public, but are becoming one of the cognoscenti.

With an RV traveler that phase might happen when you stop thinking in terms of Rand-McNally interstate highway maps, which gas stations and restaurants are at which exits, or which over-crowded, over-priced RV park you are going to spend the night. And this corresponds to you l…

Vertical Freedom for Travelers

Motorists are not completely oblivious to gaining or losing altitude, but generally they think in terms of miles traveled.  Horizontal miles. The same is true for most RVers, since they are just motorists. Of course the limiting case of "horizontalists" are boaters.

Bicyclists and hikers can go both directions. One way to quickly assess a new hiking or cycling buddy is to see where they line up on horizontal/vertical divide.

The limiting case of a "verticalist" would be an ice or rock climber.

Leaning heavily towards the verticalist end of the spectrum is the back-country, RV-ing dispersed camper. (I frown on the term, boondocking.) In particular, it has always been my dream to get higher ground clearance in my rigs, especially the travel trailer. Of course, the low spot on most RVs is the holding tank drain valve. A commenter once encouraged going to a welding shop and having a serious steel-skid-plate installed, to protect that vulnerable drain plumbing.

Actually 3 …

How to Start RV Boondocking Camping Easily, Cheaply, and Quickly

I have a bumper-pull travel trailer for sale: 1997 AeroLite, 7 X 21 foot (nominal), weighing 4000 pounds loaded. (I am the original owner.) It would work best for a single person. The inside standing height is 6' 3.5". 

At its weight you can pull it with any half-ton pickup truck (e.g., Ford F150), Tacoma or Frontier, or truck-based SUV, Chevy Astro, or full size van (e.g., Econoline). You wouldn't want to use a crossover utility vehicle (CUV) or a 4 cylinder truck.

This travel trailer would be a clever way to slip into boondocking if you are uncertain whether you will really like the lifestyle, and you don't want to spend a lot to give it a try. It would be a fair test; otherwise you might use a rig that just isn't meant for dry camping, with the result proving nothing. 

This travel trailer would also be ideal for someone who doubts their skill or interest in volts, amps, sabre saws, and electric drills. All of that has been done a long time ago. You can start …

Some Wise Men Versus the False Prophets of the RV Blogosphere

On one of the tabs at the top of the screen I take issue with the False Prophets of the RV blogosphere. (Must I take the time to point out that many bloggers, including myself, have flirted with asceticism; and it is the Idea, not somebody in particular, that I'm planning on having some tongue-in-cheek fun with.)

The world is divided into three camps on the issue of  'How much crap does a person need to own?' But most people close their minds to the topic. When they hear any criticism of Insatiable Consumption, as promoted in TV commercials, they probably take it as criticism aimed at them

But that makes no sense; they, as individuals, did not invent the consumer culture that we have. They, as individuals, were merely swept along in the rising trends, brought on by advertising and tax policies. So there's nothing personal in merely going along with the prevailing consumer culture.

But there could be something that dignifies the Individual when they rebel against this co…

A Serious Traveler in His Own Country

I used to believe it just wasn't practical or possible for me to be a real traveler (as opposed to a sightseeing tourist). By that I mean somebody who visits different cultures, notices everything, asks fundamental questions, learns a language, takes on a part-time job, and shops locally. Expense was the first limitation, but there are others such as personal safety, health, and having to leave my dog at home. Many of the most enriching experiences would require the traveler to have a gregarious personality that could instantly charm a stranger's socks off.

Therefore it was a pleasant surprise to accidentally stumble onto the practice of performing at least some of that in my own country. The USA is not just one country. There is a rural/metropolitan split that is huge. When a camper goes out and disperse-camps, he even becomes more separated from the mainstream metropolitan-suburban culture of the USA.

And that sets up quite an opportunity for the camper when he comes in to th…

(Revised) The Armchair Traveler's "Someday..."

Well, it's about time. I finally shared a good conversation with a traveler under proper conditions: sun, no wind, cool temperatures, and elevation. There is something about elevation that makes man rise above the messy minutiae of daily life and look at the big picture.

Perspicuity. In general it comes from traveling through time rather than through geography. But this was an exception because location made quite a difference. Glenn M. of and I stopped on a ridge and discussed the various syndromes that armchair travelers and the blogs that pander to them are prone to. 

We concurred that much of what is on travel blogs is not helpful to getting armchair travelers out of their armchairs. Endless discussions of details about a blogger's rig are intended to be helpful, but are they, really? Or do they reinforce the mistaken notion that vast, virtually insurmountable practical difficulties keep the armchair traveler in his armchair? How convenient! An excuse for post…

Finally, "Emergency" Becomes Problem Solving, III

Now that I had overcome the urge to panic and make things worse, it was time for the positive agenda to start: what action should I take to get my RV unstuck off that mountain?

But not quite. There was still one more useless act to perform, but at least it did no harm. I started walking toward the half dozen ranchettes at the top of the mountain, known to me from a recent mountain bike ride. 

It turned out to be too far on foot. So why wasn't I riding the mountain bike? Probably because, in a panicky mood, I thought it would take "too long" to put on my bicycle shorts, and I had to "do something" immediately! Then I walked off to the ranchettes without bothering to put an explanatory note on the van's windshield. (That would have taken "too long", you know.) This act of stupidity just made me more ashamed of blocking the road to any motorist coming up the mountain, behind me.

Once again this other person, personifying Experience, said, "This wal…

Turning an "Emergency" into a Problem to be Solved, II

It was unchivalrous of the reader to leave poor Ol' Boonie on that mountain, in dire need of succor and rescue. Let's see if we can improve on the situation. It's easy to look back on any emergency with a humorous perspective, and even to imagine yourself heroic; nevertheless, at the time, the situation seemed serious and scary, and you probably acted in a bumbling manner.

Spinning out on a dirt/gravel road near the top of a mountain isn't a true emergency in the sense of rolling backwards, jack-knifing, and demolishing your rig. But at first it felt like it. I had never experienced this before. It's so easy for the mind to run away with fearful possibilities and scenarios. To make matters worse, my van and trailer were blocking anybody else from going by. Oh how hateful these fat-ass rigs are! I decided right there and then that my next trailer will be a 6 foot wide cargo trailer, and the next tow vehicle will have the width of a Nissan Frontier or Xterra.

It was ac…

Sometimes an "Emergency" Can Just Be a Problem to Solve

Most of us have had an automobile accident or two. I'll bet you've launched into a retelling of the accident, only to notice that your audience has started fidgeting, has lost eye contact with you, and then changed the subject.

Why is that? Lack of empathy on their part? Poor listening skills, short attention spans? Or was the story teller too animated and self-absorbed?

In either case, I haven't had an accident; but I did manage to spin out and lose traction near the top of a mountain in the Gunnison CO area; it was the first time in 16 years, and with two wheel drive, that's not a bad record. Now the question is, can I write about it with more efficacy than is typical in "horror stories."

This wasn't a reckless stunt. I had probed the slope the day before on my mountain bike, and had let out half the air in the rear (drive) tires of the tow vehicle. And there was good motivation: the most scenic dispersed…

Famous "Go Anywhere" Traveler Caught in Boondocking Scandal

I think I had honored my guest, Glenn of, a week before he showed up in Gunnison, CO. The bolts that hold the travel trailer to its frame were loosening -- and credit that vital discovery to my friend Mark (Box Canyon Blog). Since one of those bolts was under the shower stall, it was necessary to remove the shower stall. But hell, why not just get rid of it! You can see I was already under the influence of Glenn's philosophical penumbra, despite him still being a couple hundred miles away.

What horrors would be revealed by removing the shower stall? Tools, money, or cellphones, that were lost years ago? A rodent nest and one pissed-off mama rodent baring her teeth at me? How about ghastly water damage and mildew?

Oddly enough I found nothing except the bolt that needed to be replaced. It was no small miracle that a plastic tub of just the right size was found at a well-known big box retail store. Then I rigged up a cloth shower curtain that hangs into the plastic tub.…

There Must Be Something of Value in Mud

Well, I certainly failed to "meet spec" on the recent cold mudhole debacle in Colorado. Yes, it was disgusting and uncomfortable -- but so what?  Let's see if I can redeem myself today.

But first, consider how absurd the situation was. It was cloudy and rainy and only got into the 50s (F), even in mid-day. I was wearing thermal underwear and a skull cap, but just couldn't get warm. In August!  I refused to go out to the tow vehicle and retrieve my winter parka; I also refused to turn on my propane heater. Finally I crawled into bed in mid-day and watched "Lawrence of Arabia", so that the mere sight of hot sand and deserts and camels would cheer me up.

What is valuable or meaningful about mud? Perhaps mud is the best example we have of true progress, in the form of gravel roads. It is easy to look up the date that certain gadgets or machines were "invented." (This is usually a bit misleading, since a working thing is a combination of technologies, an…