January 10, 2012—In RV jargon, dry camping, also known as boondocking, occurs when you decide to camp without the benefit of hooking up to water and electricity. (The best camping facilities also have sewer hookups, but it they are not available, the campground will have a dumping station.) Last night, we defined dry camping in another way—camping without water.
The night before, we had boondocked in a rest area in the panhandle of Florida. We rested well; at least I did. Jim said he had been aware of trucks coming and going throughout the night, but he got some sleep, too. Before heading out, he made a tour around the bus and “toad.” To our astonishment, he discovered that the water tank had sprung a leak, probably around a fitting around the expansion chamber (whatever that is). The result was that we had very little water. Not a nice thing, since we are fond of using the toilet, washing dishes, quenching our thirst, and showering.
There was nothing Jim could do at that point. Fixing the problem will be a priority once we are encamped in Texas. So we kept on driving.
And driving. And driving. Yesterday, we drove for 646 miles.
We would have stopped earlier, but we couldn’t find anywhere to “pitch our tent.” We called an RV park somewhere in Louisiana (I think), but the camp manager said we had to arrive before nightfall, which we couldn’t do. So, we kept on driving.
We decided that rather than stay in an RV park, we would dry camp at a rest stop, where there would be drinking water and bathrooms. Rest stops, however, are only available on the Interstate. “Garmina” (our GPS) decided that the more direct and fastest route would be overland, using two-lane highways. These highways aren’t exactly driver-friendly in the dark of night, under a misting rain. But, we continued under Garmina’s direction, as she took us miles and miles through Louisiana and then Texas countryside. Finally, we discovered that she was leading us to I30, where surely there would be a rest stop.
There was. The only trouble? About a hundred truckers (OK, I’m exaggerating) took up all parking spaces and lined the access road on both sides. Jim didn’t think he could get through the opening that was left in the aisle of trucks, so he pulled up at the end of the line behind a truck.
A few minutes after he parked (with parking lights on so that we wouldn’t get hit from behind), truck after truck decided to inch forward down the aisle. It was scary watching the truckers maneuver their rigs, just missing the other trucks by mere inches. If they could get down the aisle, so could we—except that we now had to wait until one of the trucks left, because there wasn’t enough room to swing around without running off the road.
I decided to go to bed. Jim decided he would stay up, perhaps dozing a while, but he wanted to be able to pull Baby up and remove her from exposure to being hit, if some of the trucks left.
I had just put my book down and had started to fall asleep when suddenly I heard the roar of the engine. Jim put Baby in drive, and slowly maneuvered her down the row. Looking out the front window from my bed 38 feet back was and “interesting” experience. Just as the truckers had done, Jim made it through without a scratch. Unfortunately, there were no open parking spaces anywhere, so he took to the highway.
I got on my robe and got into my co-pilot’s seat, armed with my main navigational took, my smartphone.
That phone has been worth every penny I paid for it. I have an app that tells the location of Walmart supercenters as well as the rest stops. The nearest Walmart was only a couple miles down the road.
We found it, and I decided to take advantage of what it offered: a restroom and a grocery store where I could buy baby wipes and a gallon of water. Thank you, Walmart, for being open 24/7!
What we learned: Keep some bottled water on hand. Have a box of baby wipes under the sink. And keep a good sense of humor.
Until next time,
Your Reluctant RoVer,