Practice, practice, practice

The big adventure (I’d say TBA, but it appears that acronym is already taken by something that has nothing to do with Alaska) begins in 36 days. Parts of it will involve occasions where we will be camping without any outside support.

So, what kind of support does an RV need? I’m so glad you asked!

The normal support available to an RV is water, electrical and sewage hookups. Campsites may have any combination of those services, or none at all. If you park your RV in a location with no hookups, it’s called ‘boondocking’.

Certain family members, who will remain anonymous, say that the correct terminology for that situation is ‘camping’.  That is, of course, completely incorrect. We’re traveling in an RV, not crossing the plains in a covered wagon. Not having full hookups is a hardship I prefer to avoid whenever possible.

Electrical – Most RVs are equipped with one or more batteries for the sole use of the living space. Our RV also has a built-in generator to provide electricity and recharge the battery. (It runs off the same gas tank the engine uses.) In addition, it has a propane system to provide heat and run the fridge. All of this means that we can go for some time without an electrical hookup.

However, fresh water and all of the places that water goes is a serious concern when you don’t have hookups. There are three tanks in the RV to handle all of our plumbing needs. They are known as the fresh, grey and black water tanks. The fresh water tank holds 33 gallons. This is the source of all water in the boondocked RV. The grey water tank holds 41 gallons. Any water that drains from the shower or the kitchen/bathroom sinks is sent to the grey water tank. Finally, the black water tank receives the output from the toilet, and it holds 32 gallons.  There are sensors that report, in very general terms, the levels in the various tanks. The grey and black water tanks are emptied into the sewage hookup when you are parked in a nice civilized RV park with full hookups.

RV tanks

Why am I telling you all of this? Because we need to know how long we can stay in one place with no fresh water or sewage hookups. In order to determine this, we were forced to spend a week at the Assateague State Park at the Maryland shore to practice our water management skills. It’s right next door to the Assateague Island National Park and both have wild ponies wandering freely. Neither have water or sewage hookups for the campsites.

I cannot begin to tell you the sacrifice it was to spend a week on the beach with wild ponies wandering around! The key thing to remember is that we did it strictly for practice. Important practice. Waking up to wild ponies sniffing around the kitchen window, drinking your morning coffee with them, and falling asleep with the sound of the ocean in your ears – all necessary evils to determining how long we can go in the RV without finding a sewage hookup (also known as a dump station).

Assateague 2017 horse

We practiced all of our water saving tricks – using bottled water for all drinking purposes, using cast iron to cook (no washing), using disposable plates and flatware, sponge baths and ‘Navy showers’.  The levels in the black water tank were the big concern as it was the hardest to conserve. We made it 5 days, and there was still a little room. This is a day longer than our longest expected boondocking experience, so we think it’s all good.

Now that is taken care of, I think I’ll take a walk! Gotta practice hiking you know!

Assateague 2017 beach