After signing up for the RV Dreams Boondocking Rally almost a year ago, the day has finally arrived and we are here in Arcadia Florida. This is an educational rally and gathering of likeminded RV’ers who have a passion or interest in boondocking (camping without any water, electric or sewer hookups). There are FT’ers, PT’ers and dreamers here for a total of 30+ rigs.
|Looking down the line of rigs|
|Us in line with a few others|
The first afternoon consisted of people arriving, getting set up and meeting each other. This was followed by a gathering of everyone in front of our hosts rig, Howard and Linda, for a dinner and an overview of the week. Afterwards we hung around the fire and met some of the attendees before turning in for the night.
|Linda making some announcements|
|Barb cooking some pancakes!|
Our first session was on water conservation. Howard and Linda thought this was a topic best addressed early in the week rather than later before everyone burned through their water for the week. They went over various ways to conserve water while boondocking, One of the things was to get to know your rigs capacities. Our rig has just over 70 gallons of fresh water capacity, 70 gallons for gray water (shower and sinks) and 30 gallon black tank (toilet). Next up is to learn exactly how much water you use in a given day. Our best estimate is that we use approximately 7 gallons a day without trying to conserve too hard. That means we should be able to go 10 days pretty easily without running out.Our next session was on battery and solar systems. The batteries are really the heart and soul of the rig when boondocking. Without battery power, you are literally dead as it is the batteries, not the solar, that give life to your rig. The role of the solar is to charge the batteries, the battery charge then runs through an inverter converting the 12 volt DC power to 120 AC power which in turn allows us to run our electrical items in the rig. We are wired up to run almost everything when running on our battery bank; TV’s, microwave, all the outlets. The only things it will not run are they AC units, central vac and fire place. They just draw too much power. We had our solar/battery system installed at AM Solar last year. They had designed our system based on the size of our rig and how we planned to us it. After listening to this session Barb and I were glad we did what we did. We had plenty of batteries and solar panels to do what we needed to do. Good news!
The next day was weighing day. It is very important that you understand your total weights as well as the weights of both your truck and trailer wheel by wheel. Being overweight puts strain on your tires and axles. Being out of balance with too much weight on one side of the rig can affect the wear and ride as well. Here, we did not receive as good of news. Our truck was fine, the weights and tires we installed were well within the capacities of the truck. The trailer was another story. We were significantly out of balance and pushing our limits on the overall weight. The driver’s side of the trailer carried much of the weight; refrigerator, microwave, stove, TV, fireplace. In addition, this side of the trailer is where the majority of the storage is leading to additional weight on that side. To top it off, we have over 400#’s of batteries on the driver’s side as well! As a result, Barb and I spent the afternoon rearranging. We moved as much of the heavy stuff from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side to balance it a little better.
|Jami and Shane weighing the truck|
As far as the overall weight goes, we were told that we have great tires (Goodyear G114) but we are going to look into upgrade our axles from 6,000 # axles to 8,000 axles. This will give us some wiggle room so we won’t have to worry about it in the future.Thursday was kayaking day, we had a blast kayaking 9 miles of the Peace River with about 17 other couples. It was in the 70’s and the 3 hour trip was more of a float as the current did all the work. The only thing we had to do was steer and enjoy the scenery.
|As we started we were pretty bunched up|
|Soon we started to spread out|
|New friends, Lisa and Dino|
With all the informational sessions done all we had to do the remainder of the week was relax, sit around the campfire and enjoy the company of the other attendees. We met some unbelievable nice people; full-timers, part-timers, there were a surprising high number of “2014 graduates”, those who started their full-time lifestyle in 2014. There were quite a few fellow bloggers here, some we had read before while others were new to us. The bloggers included: Bill and Kelly, Trace and Lee, Jami and Shane, Jo and Craig as well as Jim and Peggy.
|More new friends!|
(l-r) Gator, Trace, Cori and Greg
|(l-r) Craig, Jo, Bill and Kelly|
|Jo, Ben and Lee|
It was a great week and we learned a lot. We were able to make the week without a problem without turning on our generators, emptying our tanks or taking on fresh water. Sunday morning we packed up and said our goodbyes making plans to meet up with several people throughout our travels out west this spring and into next fall. Now it was time to travel south another hour to my sister’s house in Fort Myers. We have not seen her and Mike in several months and we are really looking forward to seeing them!