Vanlife: Boondocking in the 21st Century (part two)
Alright, so where did we leave off? Oh yes, after that nice early rise, now it's time to seize the day. Sure, this could mean pounding some pavement, tackling the next Fourteener, or shredding those tasty waves. However, it might also mean taking care of some menial things like, say, filling up the potable water or emptying the black water. If you're a nomad, you're always on the lookout for that elusive spigot. My suggestions for places to get a free water hook-up in an urban setting are as follows:
1. Make a friend that has a stationary home. This could even be an apartment complex. A lot of complexes in California have a designated area for people to wash their vehicles. This is a great spot to pull the camper-van up to for a fill.
2. Rest stops. Rest stops often have a spigot for a water hook-up. Another tip is to make sure your hose is long enough. I know, you've heard that one before, but size really DOES matter.
3. Local parks. This gets a little tricky sometimes, because the hook-ups aren't always in the most convenient spot, but again, a long hose can make or break this option. Also, this is best to do in the early morning hours or right after the sun goes down. You want to avoid times where there is a lot of foot traffic.
4. Look up "FREE" dump stations in your area, or even some pay stations will let you get water for $5. Pretty solid deal if you have a 15-20 gallon holding tank. A lot of RV campsites are a great option.
5. No matter where you get your water, make sure you always top off your tank if you happen to come across an available source. Especially if you are traveling day-to-day. You might not know when you'll score another waterhole, so it is better to get it while the gettin's good. The same principle can be applied to topping off your propane if you have any kind of propane system. All it takes is that one time you go to fire up the burner for a nice pour-over, just to find that your morning is going to be significantly less productive because you have no hot water.
Alright, let's talk about showers. A few options here. You could find your nearest creek, pond or lake (using eco-friendly products) to take a nice crisp and relaxing soak. However, this isn't going to work in most urban areas; especially in LA. Not going to take a dip in the LA riverbed anytime soon. Also, aside from a few areas in the states, weather might not permit this option year-round. Alright, option two applies to those warm states that offer showers at the beach. Great option if you are in a pinch, but be prepared to have some warm clothes on hand ASAP. Summers aren't so bad, but even at 65 degrees, a cold shower is not super fun. You could always wear a wet suit, but that kind of defeats the purpose. Option three is installing a small shower system in your van. This can be anything from a shower bag installed on your rooftop, which warms up in the sunlight, to installing an actual shower in the camper-van. Obviously the latter is a bit more of an investment, but the privacy and discreteness is worth it if you have the space. I'll also install sinks in some of my vans with a pull-out spray handle which works great! Installing the pull-out handle close to the window allows for more hose to work with while you're rinsing off.
Hey, we've knocked out two more boondocking tips! That's... 4 down. Yikes, this is shaping up to be a long series. Until next time!
-Epoch Restorations and Adventures
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