|Practicing off the grid at Bellevue State Park, Iowa|
I see the practice of "boondocking" as having several levels of engagement with being off the grid. The lightest engagement is camping at a campground site that has all the hook-ups . . . but just not using them. From there increasing levels of camping off the grid would be to camp at a campground with full amenities but choosing a primitive site (sometimes called "tent sites"). Next would be camping at a campground that has all primitive sites with perhaps a water faucet and vault toilets. A further progression would be a campsite that has a fire ring and nothing else. These are pretty much the sites for boondocking available in Iowa. A few are even for free, but I've found those to be few and far between.
I am excited, though, to experience more primitive camping while using my 16-foot Airstream Basecamp trailer. It's built to travel over terrain that's less flat because of its height above the ground and its rear angle, good enough to find a spot in many primitive sites at designated campgrounds. Being able to set up camp with more elbow room than the more developed campground sites is a real motivator for trying boondocking here in Iowa. This is especially true if I use my solar panels to provide power for evening lights and for the 12-volt refrigerator; then I can stay for longer times than a couple of days. Let me provide some examples of campgrounds I've found that I'm eager to "boondock" at.
|Lake Sugema, main campground, with my first travel trailer, the Green Goddess|
Lake Sugema is mostly a fishing lake, but it is one of the more modern county campgrounds around. Beyond the modern campground loops, though, is a primitive camping section that is more secluded than the rest of the campground. It has a faucet in a central area and a selection of campsites with sun and shade.
|Rock Creek State Park, primitive camping area, an overnight camper|
This state park was hit pretty hard by the derecho winds that swept the state a couple of years ago. I found this out when I mentioned during my state at Rock Creek at how few shade trees the campground had and was told that many broken trees had to be removed. A big surprise was how large the primitive portion of the campground was, with sites having lots of space and with even sites close to the lake. Camping at these primitive sites would provide a whole new experience of the lake and park.
Geode State Park primitive camping area
As with the two above campgrounds, Geode also has a primitive camping section that has a separate area. The campsites run along a ridge, away from the rest of the modern campground, providing more quiet and less traffic. Campsites offer either shade or more of a meadow experience, which provide different opportunities for both warm and cold camping seasons.
- The price for the primitive sites is less than for modern sites.
- If you don't mind a walk, modern toilet and shower facilities are available.
- These three primitive campgrounds have fairly level and accessible campsites for trailers. It's not uncommon for "tent sites" to be on sloping and sub-optimal ground. Not so with these campgrounds.
- Dump stations are available.
- In an emergency, I could most likely move to an electric site to charge trailer batteries.
|Wildcat Den State Park, off the grid|
Tom, I also have a Basecamp X 16 and I'm planning on some winter camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan this winter. Next couple of weeks I hope. I've been testing it here in the Cincinnati area learning the possible failures I might encounter. It is fully winterized with the water lines filled with RV anti-freeze, Tanks empty except with a bit of anti-freeze. I'll be taking a couple of 7gal. water containers with me.ReplyDelete
First failure was low voltage, Can't run furnace low voltage warning, Second failure I encountered was a frozen propane regulator... Oh boy no heat, now what do I do to solve that. Googled it and found a couple of things that can be done. One was to use the hand / foot warmers to wrap around the regulator to thaw it out. I found that did not work for me, maybe I didn't wait long enough but after 3 hours I tried another solution. Wrapped a towel around the regulator, poured hot water over it that I boiled with a Jetboil canister stove. Did that a couple of times and had Success! Propane started flowing and furnace worked.
While researching that I also found that using propane tanks in sub freezing temps can cause a condition where you can't get the full use of all the contents of the tank due to them freezing up as they get lower. Suggestion was to make sure to keep them full when heading out or using an AC electric heating wrap for the tank. Another suggestion was to not close the tank valves so that you don't have that rush of gas causing a freeze in the regulator when you turn them on.
My plan is to camp at a state park that is open in the winter. The sites are cleared and there is electric, but no water available, so that allows the use of the propane tank heater. I've got 200AH of heated Battle Born Lithium batteries, 180 Watts of rooftop solar and extra 200 Watts of portable solar as well, if I want to be totally off grid I have a Honda generator.
I've found that the roof top solar in the Winter is not enough to keep the batteries charged with the internal battery heater activated. After over a week of really cloudy skies the voltage of the batteries went down too low to power the furnace, got a low voltage error on the display. So I had to break out the generator to charge up the batteries in order to get the furnace going, but first I had to get the propane working!!!!
Glad I did all the testing before my trip North! Remembering the Boy Scout motto "Always Be Prepared"
Best of luck to you on your winter excursion, hope my experience helps you.
Great comment, Mike, and you certainly did persevere and were prepared! If you go to my website, there is a respond by email gadget on the sidebar. If you'd like, we could correspond, and I could write an article about your learning lessons. Thanks!Delete