Conservation: An RV dry camping key

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By Bob Difley

When you stop for a night or two of dry-camping while on the road or spend a weekend in a non-hookup campsite like in a state park or forest service campground, you probably won’t top out your waste tanks, empty your water tank, or flatten your batteries.

Camp longer than that, and you may need to think “conservation” and “frugal.” The secret to effective and enjoyable extended boondocking is the wise use and conservation of natural resources — electricity and water — and reduction of black and gray water into your waste tanks.

Use your water supply sparingly to keep from getting caught in the shower all soaped up and having your water tank gurgle dry. Carry extra water in Jerry jugs or collapsible water containers. Don’t let the faucet run when showering — just for wetting down and rinsing off, and the same for washing dishes.

The same conservation attitude applies to electricity. You don’t want the TV to go black in the final scene of Night of the Living Dead when your house battery dies. Turn off all unnecessary lights, including your porch light. Read in bed with battery-operated reading lights. Turn the TV off when not being watched.

You can also include supplies and repairs on the list, since if you run out of peanut butter or coffee that could spell the end of your trip. A simple part failure, a water heater that won’t light, or a leak in your plumbing (the RV’s, not yours) could also spell an abrupt end to your boondocking.

Include an RV repair manual on your bookshelf, and download some RV repair pages to your laptop for when you don’t have an internet connection, so you can at least muddle through a duct tape and paper clip fix without having to abandon your campsite and end up spending the day instead at Spike’s Guns, Tattoos and RV Repairs.

Once you’ve found your perfect boondocking spot, oriented your rig so that you are broadside to the cooling afternoon breezes, set your chairs up under the shade of a towering Ponderosa pine tree, or so close to a babbling brook that you can dangle your feet in the cool water (is that polluting the stream?), kick back and enjoy a frosty cold Anchor Steam or Chardonnay.

By then you will already be trying to figure out how long you will be able to stay in your secret 5-star campsite.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.

##FT12-17 ##RVDT1303

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Irv

We’ve found that “Dawn Platinum Powerwash Dish Spray” is a huge help in minimizing water usage while dishwashing.

1. We use our napkin after dinner to wipe off silverware and plates. If the napkin still has capacity, we use it to wipe off cooking utensils and pans. If needed, we use a clean paper towel to wipe out pans.

This keeps grease and food particles out of our gray water tank. We did this before Powerwash

If we boiled pasta, we’d use that water to rinse the tomato sauce out of that pan.

2. We use the Powerwash Dish Spray on everything. Then use a damp dishrag to wipe off/scrub everything in order from the least to most dirty.

3. Use a different damp dishrag to get rid of most of the soap and allow inspection of item cleanliness.

4. Put a ½ inch of hot water in a dish tub, rinsing small items first. Then pouring the water into pans to rinse them. If the water gets soapy, use more clean hot water.

This has worked very well for the two of us. If one of us was sick, or before/after guests, we’d use more and hotter rinse water. We could also add a little bleach to the rinse water.

It can be hard to find Dawn Powerwash. Amazon seems to have refills but not the sprayer. I found it at Sam’s Club.

Once the coronavirus is over, I’ll try making my own liquid. The main ingredient is denatured alcohol. Followed by various chemical, fragrances and lastly water. I’ll need to avoid alcohol that’s been denatured with something poisonous–which is typical. If I can’t find anything, I’ll have to use vodka.

K. R. V.

I have added spare fresh water tanks and a spare battery bank to the front of the bed in my Colorado tow vehicle, plus use deep cycle six volt batteries in both the travel trailer and bed of the truck. If wired correctly, last longer, but do weigh more! But that is the advantage of having a small reasonably sized trailer! My 2016 Colorado has a 7,000 tow capacity, a 12, 000 gcvwr, but with my wife and I with a full tank of gas it weighs 4,600! My trailer fully loaded is 4,000, so I still have 3,400 of reserve weight capacity in reserve. So with the 4,5 gal water bottles (230 lbs. w/storage container)in a nice locked storage container in the bed, then a four six volt battery back in container that all together with cables and recepticals is another 400 lbs., I still have plenty of legal weight reserves! With an ext can Z71,4×4, V6 I still get 14 mpg avg. on the flats at 65 mph and 12 in the mountains at the speed limits. So I have about five days of dry camping without any worries.