Boondocking Off the Grid

I’m writing this on Sunday, March 11 from Ryan Campground in Joshua Tree National Park.  I won’t be able to post this to the web until we return to civilization because we have no cell phone or internet access. We’re essentially “off the grid” from a communication standpoint.

We’re also boondocking, also called dry docking.  This means we’re in a campground that has no electricity or water hook up and no sewer.  We have only the electricity our RV can generate, the water it can carry and its dump tank capacity.

Timm cooking out in Joshua Tree National Park

For electricity, our RV has two 12 volt batteries which powers our lights, furnace fan and water pump.  We also have a 4,000 watt generator that runs off the gas in the gas tank and can be used to charge the two 12 volt batteries, as well as run the microwave and electrical outlets.  Most campgrounds have specific hours when you can run the generator and this one allows generator use from 7-9 a.m., 12-2 p.m. and 5-7 p.m.  We also have an 68 pound LPG (liquid propane gas) tank which is used to generate furnace heat and our stove top burners.

For water, our RV holds 50 gallons of fresh water. This water is used for everything, washing dishes, flushing the toilet, showers.  The waste water goes into 2 holding tanks. The toilet water goes into the black water holding tank and the shower and sink water goes into the grey water holding tank.   The black water tank holds 25 gallons and the grey water tank holds 28 gallons.

RV resource control panel

We have a control panel that tells us the level of each resource: fresh water, grey water, black water, battery and LPG.  My smart, analytical husband is tracking the level of each resource at 4 times each day to see how much we’re using. When any one of these resources runs out or fills up, we have to break down camp.  We have never tried boondocking before so we’re not sure how many days we can stay.  We’re being very thrifty with our resources because we like it here and want to stay as long as possible. It will be fun to see how long we can make our resources last!

Update on Wednesday, March 14
We’re back in civilization, connected to the internet, electricity and water. We were able to boondock for 4 days, which is pretty good! See the below table for Timm’s final accounting of our resource use.  Maybe you wonder which resource we ran out of first? It was the grey water tank. It filled up first, likely due to showering, which even the most thrifty of use still uses a lot of water.

Key: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner, S=Sleep

  LPG Battery Fresh Water Black Water Grey Water
Day 1 L Full Full Full Empty Empty
Day 1 D Full Full 2/3 Empty Empty
Day 1 S Full Full 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 2 B Full Full 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 2 L Full Full 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 2 D Full 2/3 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 2 S Full 2/3 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 3 B Full 2/3 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 3 L Full 2/3 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 3 D Full 2/3 2/3 Empty 1/3
Day 3 S 2/3 2/3 1/3 Empty 2/3
Day 4 B 2/3 2/3 1/3 1/3 2/3
Day 4 L 2/3 2/3 1/3 1/3 2/3
Day 4 D 2/3 2/3 1/3 1/3 2/3
Day 4 S 2/3 2/3 1/3 1/3 Full!
Day 5 B 2/3 2/3 1/3 1/3 Full!

We really got to enjoy Joshua Tree and experience the quiet of a little campground, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and relaxing.  It was fun trying our hand at boondocking! We’ll do it again in a few days as we go a bit north to Mohave National Preserve.

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