We have had quite a few firsts lately. We just finished 7 days “off the grid” otherwise known as Boondocking in the RV Community.
Ogden, Utah – Family and More maintenance
But before I get to that Mike and the RV (Mac) spent 3 weeks in Ogden, Utah (not boondocking). I say Mike because during that time I spent a week in Brazil and 4 days in Los Angeles, so once again my time in this location was limited. But Mike enjoyed the time visiting with two of his sons (Meeting Jed’s girlfriend for the first time and seeing his new house for the first time). He visited his parents and sisters, and went to a nephew’s university graduation party.
Mike finished up some maintenance items on the RV. In Albuquerque we had the shop install solar panels, but they could only buy one, and we wanted 3. So Mike (enjoying having his parents address to field Amazon orders to) order two more solar panel and got them installed. We are writing a separate RV tips post about that.
Mike’s son, Josh, the electrician, spent one whole morning helping Mike chase down why the lights in the bedroom had mysteriously stopped working. They tore out lights, outlets, checked the panels and both fuse boxes, read up in the manual. Nothing worked. Eventually they got online and it suggested they check all three fuse boxes… THREE? Searching around in the bedroom, behind the ironing board was a little missed fuse box. 4 hours of labor and they finally found the $3, 5-amp fuse blown that was causing all the trouble. Humm, should have been videoing that!
Meanwhile, while the boys were playing with the electricity, Carla, the grandkids, and I went to Lehi to the tulip festival. Much more fun for us!
In my spare time, Drone Practice and sewing of course
I did spend a fair amount of time in Ogden practicing my drone flying, watching youtubes on techniques and studying video editing. Still planning on getting our vlogging going in 2017. We also started to get excited about a new SLR Camera to help with the videos,, we’ll see and talk about that later. (Visit the YouTube channel to watch my progress.)
I finished the dress I was sewing in Las Vegas, after marking the hem in LA on Jackie, whom the dress is for. I also made a cover for our filebox, safe, and pad on my dash/desk. AND thirdly sewed a piece of fencing fabric Mike bought on Amazon, that he is modifying to act as a rock guard for the car, since he inadvertently left the other, brand new, rock guard in Pahrump. Anyhow, obviously the sewing machines came in handy, and I finished up the projects before storing the sewing machines at Mike’s parents house for the summer.
Mike Hearing aids
While at Front sight Firearms institute this last time, Mike participated in the free hearing test.. only to discover that indeed he ought to consider hearing aids. His hearing is not horrible, but these hearing aids from Sport Ear (Axil is the parent company) will provide hearing protection for shooting, block out the RV noise while driving, as well as potentially make is easier to hear me! ;-)… So we decided to go for it. After squirting a mold into his ear, the technician sent the them off to be made. The manufacturing plant was just down the road from Ogden. So when they called, Mike was thrilled to go pick them up in person, although in the end there wasn’t much to see. So now he is trying to get used to them. He went to the shooting range and they do seem to perform well there. AND they work great on the RV setting! Bonus! Otherwise, he is still in the adjustment period.
Jefferson County Lake, Rigby, ID
Between Ogden and Calgary we had a week of time to “meander”. Of the places we visited last year, Mike felt that Teton Valley (just NE of Idaho Falls, Idaho) was most likely to be a place he might consider settling. Of course after this adventure is done… So we decided to spend a few days in the area. All the places in Victor or Driggs, in the heart of the valley were still closed so we ended up with reservations in Rigby at Jefferson County Lake, a tiny puddle lake, 1 mile circumference just off the highway. It was pretty, and very pleasant. He knew when we made the reservation that there was electricity and water but no sewer, so I guess technically it was not boondocking, especially as it was not free. But it was cheap, and we assumed (wrongly) that there were showers at the campground that we could use.
But what about showers?
Mike likes his bedtime routine. He likes a daily shower. We were not going to be where at full hook-ups again for 7 days… this did not fill him with delight! But I have been pushing pretty hard that I wanted to try to get in more boondocking, and incorporate more free nights into our budget. No way to get started but to just DO it. As mentioned previously, our grey water tank sensors are not working correctly, which is the issue with not having sewer.. you just never know when you are full and going to be standing in a shower fill of greasy dish water.
So what did I do? Posed the question to the RV groups on Facebook, of course! I got back lots of suggestions. In the end we stayed at this campground 4 nights. We took sponge baths, and discovered our outdoor shower one time, and most importantly figured out how to find dump stations on the road. When we left Rigby, we stopped at a dump station about an hour away and dumped… That seemed to work! Mike also did a lot of research on treatments for the tanks, and/or getting new sensors for the tanks to help out that cause… More on that in the future.
Island Park & Big Springs, Idaho
On our drive north from Rigby I chose the slightly longer, but much prettier route through Island Park, Idaho. The Henry’s Fork river (which goes through this valley) is one of the worlds best fishing spots. So while Mike was familiar with every turn in the road, we were surprised that I had never been there, at least that I recall. We decided to take a side trip (4 miles off the path) to Big Springs, an area just outside of Island Park where there is…… wait for it…… a big spring! It’s kind of strange actually. It’s as if the river just starts!, not a trickle, not a stream, but a river… just starts.
Mike had been here lots before. And has fond memories of camping here with his kids. He recalls the fish being very plentiful and very large, yet strangely this day there was no fish to be found.
The stop worked out perfect. I took a break from work to look at the spring, and then I went back to the RV (Mac) for a work meeting. So Mike could enjoy some fresh air while I enjoyed a steady internet/phone signal during my meeting with the Brazilian folks.
Boondocking at Galena Gulch, Montana
Again, having pushed Mike to “experience” a little boondocking, the next stop was exactly what I was looking for. I found it on Campendium.com, a site that lists free camping spots all over the US. I had wanted to spend a little time in Helena, and 30 minutes south of Helena, right on highway 15, I found this beautiful little free campground, close to the highway (perhaps too close), with outhouse bathrooms, ad picnic table and fire rings, and right on the river. We backed up the RV into a little opening in the aspen grove and I thought it was PERFECT. I had worked all day and the new cell booster antenna performed beautifully! Mike drove, I worked. We set up and I worked some more.
Is it safe?
Our neighbors, the other other folks at the campground, started having a loud argument about dinnertime. Shortly after that the police arrived, two cop cars, and still a lot of loud angry voices. Later, the woman from that camp came over to apologize for the disruption. Turns out the people they were cohorting with were ex-felon (murderers she said) on Parole (now violating their parole) from Oregon.
As the details unfolded I asked if they had a gun in case these folks came back. The man replied that since he had spent 15 of his 30 years on this earth incarcerated, that he wasn’t allowed to have a gun. The woman kept talking about how she “stood quietly while the police were there with her hands behind her back”, lest they want to handcuff her. She didn’t want to give them any trouble. After all, she knows how it goes to be arrested and all that routine. Hmm, this is me starting to rethink the “free” (boondocking) camping idea!
Boondocking in Great Falls – Walmart Parking lot
We left that spot in Galena Gulch in the morning. I really wasn’t feeling too great about leaving the RV alone while we went in to explore Helena. So we packed up and headed into town. We spent a couple of hours walking around Helena, then we headed on down the road to Great Falls. Kind of a rainy drizzly day. I worked the whole way anyway. In the morning we went to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and looked at some of the falls before we had to head on.
Boondockers Welcome – a website to connect Boondockers
Another website I’ve wanted to try is Boondocker’s Welcome. With all the Facebook discussion, I was reminded of the existence of the site so I went over to browse the properties. I found a boondocking place, just off our route, in Canada, that would be perfect. So we joined up and requested a visit, and were approved for the next night! Yay. Guess I’ll talk about that next time. This post is long enough.
Boondocker’s Welcome is a site where you can find people that have a little extra room on their property and offer to let you boondock there for free. Fantastic… Like AirBnB (or maybe more like couchsurfing) for RVers. If you have land and are social, or just nice, you might consider being a host. I would… if I HAD land!
I named the RV MAC
So yes, I named the RV Mac. I’ve been trying to name it since we got it. I’ve read with interest all the posts where people discuss the names of their RV.. but somehow this week I heard a Fleetwood Mac marathon, and it just jumped out at me. Our Fleetwood Bounder, really ought to be named Mac. Ok, so we’ll see if it actually sticks, but for now I like having a name for it, and just need to practice using it.
Watch the Vlog for the next 10 days at least
This paragraph is likely out of sync, because I have yet to Blog about Calgary… But tomorrow we leave on our epic driving trip to Alaska. I have decided to practice my Vlogging, by doing a video update each day. Pop on over to the YouTube channel and subscribe to get the updates. The videos are guaranteed not to be professional, maybe even painfully amateur. But hopefully they will be fun and will give you details of the drive.