Sunday, October 10, 2010


KODGER KING ANSWERS THE QUESTION: I SLEEP IN THE SAME PLACE EVERY NIGHT----BUT NOT THE SAME SPACE---- changing that-- very often as you will see. Here's a months' worth of my sleeping places from 9/1/10 to 10/3/10. I hope to illustrate the relative ease of finding free boondocking sites in cities and in the countryside. The big secret to city boondocking is to slip into a spot later at night--get a full nights sleep and move the next morning. --- Only the hours 11pm to 7pm are problematic--the rest of the time RVers may be anywhere they can park. AS I HAVE POETIZED-------"BOONDOCKING IN THE CITY"

Let us travel more boldly,
Range into urban locals,
Dare to camp in the city
Outside campground corrals.

Enjoy the city splendors
And when comes time for dreams,
Slip away from No, No land
Into city seams.

Seams are iffy zones
where oversight is rare.
Sleep a full eight hours,
then move away from there.

Doing the boondocker shuffle.
Moving twice a day.
Living free and easy
In Phoenix or San Jose!

The nights of 9/1-3/10 I slept in the Eugene /Springfield Industrial district. This spot is is a classic "seam" because it borders a string of rent-it garages. I Considered staying at the Nearby Moose Lodge but they raised their rates to $10----too much for boondocking!

The night of 9/4/10 I slept here in a park and ride zone of Springfield, Or.
Posted this note. The trick of deflector notes is to give a plausible explanation why you are parked there---if anyone should object.
For the next two nights 9/5-6/10 I'm cloaked with permission. This is the wonderful Valley River Mall in Eugene, Or. where RVers are generously given 2 nights to enjoy the amenities nearby. The photo does not do justice to this terrific spot---Americas' finest free parking spot.
I always have my mail sent to a small town (getting general delivery at big city post offices is a pain) This time it was Creswell, Oregon. Settled here beside this closed up business for the night. No one disturbed me. Enjoyed a rain in the night.
Spent the day and night of 9/8/10 in the lovely little town of Winchester. A quarter nile away is an RV park asking $20 to boondock. Wouldn't think of paying that.
The night of 9/9 slept at Walmart in Grants Pass, Or. 9/10 at Walmart in Medford, Or. The next two nights I stayed here--A nice quiet spot on the edge of Yreka, Ca. Stayed 2 days (9/11-12/10)exploring the old mining town. Truckers love little niches like this--several came and went during my visit.
Got sleepy and pulled off the Interstate to rest---enjoyed the area and my view so well that I stayed the night of 9/13--will show you--
View from my back window---recognize it---New Agers think it's the most spiritual spot in America----Mt Shasta---once drove nearly to the top--found a cluster of believers camped at road's end. I joined them---heard lots of wonder tales.
Night of 9/14 beside these old railroad coaches in the interesting old sawmill town of McCloud.
9/15 and 16 I stayed right here---near a brake check area for trucks. Was hesitant to go down the hill---too hot down there in Susanville. Got lots of work done just sitting there. Are you persuaded yet that millions of nice free camping places are available---if you're self contained.
My first night in Reno, Nv--- jangled by city clatter---Got off the Interstate and settled in this strip mall---9/17. I have things to do here so I did the Boondocker Shuffle for 3 nights---then was given a spot at the VFW by my friends Jim and Mary--who just happened to be passing through. Stayed through 9/22
Bridgeport, Ca---An interesting and historic town---parked here for the night of 9/23.
Then here--in Bishop, Ca. in the parking lot of K-mart the night of 9/24. Great spot--great view. Bicycled the town.
Then on to the lovely town of Lone Pine, Ca---scenic setting of 500 Western Movies---this is a favorite spot on a quiet street. Engaged the family behind those gates---the heirs of the guy who invented the EKG and other medical devices. Note the view of the mountains. (Night of 9/25.10
And then---and then--I took a disasterous route down into death valley and got trapped in the same way as the unfortunate pioneers who named it. I simply could not climb out the other side--so had to turn south on an obscure back road, barely managing to reach Ridgecrest, Ca for the night of 9/26 and this very hot night in the desert near Ludlow, Ca 9/27---Have learned my lesson--don't come south till late oct. At this point I decided to go get cool---the nearest high ground is Flagstaff, Az---So I went there!
AAAAAhhhhhh-----this is where the cool is----A-1 Mountain Rd outside town---elevation 7,500 ft. That's Humphrey's peak back there--12, 633 ft---highest point in Az. Stayed here a week--9/27--10/3. Hurried south just ahead of that terrible storm you may have read about. Now I'm on the fringe of Buckeye, Az and the weather is fine.
Randy Comments: Where I sleep is of little interest to me and mostly accidental. My business is engaging my environment, whatever and whoever it may be---asking ever better questions of it and reporting any insights to you. This simple list of my nocturnal roosting sites is not the story I wish to tell. I share it because many of you ask--and I hope to persuade the hesitant-- that houseless is not homeless. That it is indeed possible to do as Thoreau instructed: "let the night overtake you everywhere at home." I will back-track and reveal the real story later.


Wayne (Wirs) said...

Excellent post Randy, and very useful! You make a very good point (and one I realized a couple months ago with my ex-stealth camper) that boondockers only have to be concerned about where they park at night... No slides, no awnings, no chairs.
Do you "black out" your windows at night, or do you just retire when you set up camp?

Jim said...

I know you used a dorm refer with an inverter for your stealth rig; what do you find yourself using most NOW for refrigeration?
Older RVs had three-way refers (110, 12-volt, or propane) but I'm seeing newer RVs which are only two-way (110 or propane). Which do you have & which do you use most?
I have some PV panels but they're not back on my rig (yet) so I find leaving the refer on propane to be most convenient (works going down the road AND when I'm parked). My fifth wheel even alerts with a flashing light (visible with the refer doors kept closed) if the refer flame goes out (due to wind OR because I'm out of propane!).
How many watts of panels (and how many batteries) were required when you ran your stealth refer (mostly, I presume) via the inverter? Thanks!

Randy said...

Thanks Wayne: and yes I usually close my blinds when I retire--especially in the cities. Interestingly, if there are streetlights nearby then my own internal lights are hardly noticible. In deep darkness, even a crack of light shows. All in all it's rarely a problem. And by the way---I'm sure all your fans are wishing you well in your latest adventure and look forward to your blogs.

Randy said...

Jim: I have the standard 3 way fridge running exclusively as yet on Propane. Re: the old system--I used 3 130 watt panels coupled with 3 100 amp hour AGM batteries. I transferred all this stuff from the old rig. I think that compressor driven 12 volt fridges are the wave of the future. It cost a dollar a day to run this propane fridge----nothing to run the other.

Rude Jude said...

Enjoyed this entry immensely. Good telling of lessons learned.

When I first started van camping, I'd agonize over where to spend the night, take an hour or more deciding, then sleep rather fitfully, hearing every noise.

Now when I decide to sleep, a suitable option always presents itself without effort--and I sleep soundly.

You show the ease of living--and sleeping--on the road, and I appreciate your example.

Rob said...

On the VW camper lists the 12v compressor refrigerators have been getting great reviews by those that have switched from the three-way fridges.

Jim said...

RANDY: "I think that compressor driven 12 volt fridges are the wave of the future. It cost a dollar a day to run this propane fridge----nothing to run the other."
What about running your 3-way in 12 volt mode with the panels/batteries . . . any idea how that compares? The savings would need to be fairly significant to offset the net cost of a new refer with 12-volt compressor. I imagine they're still on the spendy side -- and not likely to be a 'clean' fit where your refer is now, eh?

Nomad said...

Jim, The three way reefers are absorbtion fridges, not compressor driven. They require more energy to run than a compressor driven fridge.

Anonymous said...

I don't know... seems like a lonely life boondocking in such places. Do you ever tire of the "stealth" life?

Anonymous said...

My van has a 3 way refer. Works great when I'm on the move every day and stops when parking regardless of the power source. 12v takes 17-18 amps but sips the propane. Need to find level which is often a problem. I have 2 - 200 amp agm batteries & they are over half used by morning if I use 12v for the refer. From what I've seen the 12v compressor refers use a lot less power.

When I was out, I sometimes skipped spots for fear of harrassment come morning. Something I want to avoid as I'm female. Might have missed some nice spots. I have a dog now so I will feel safer. I'm with you - $10 to $30 is ridiculous to pay for a parking spot & no services.

Steve said...

I can't express enough Thanks for posts like these Randy. I've learned (and am still learning) so much about how to make this life possible.

That and you've made it possible for me to live vicariously through you until I'm out there myself.


Jim said...

NOMAD: "Jim, The three way reefers are absorbtion fridges, not compressor driven. They require more energy to run than a compressor driven fridge."
ANONYMOUS: "I have 2 - 200 amp agm batteries & they are over half used by morning if I use 12v for the refer. From what I've seen the 12v compressor refers use a lot less power."
That's what I'm wondering: if the 12 volt mode takes 17 to 18 amps, that's a heavy hit. I'm just curious how much LESS power the compressor refers use. Assuming one owns their PV panels and batteries already, power production costs beyond all other requirements aside from the refer are minimal. If the panels/batteries are paid for AND sufficient to sustain the standard three-way refer in 12 volt mode, it would be hard to find enough "savings" to justify purchasing a 12 volt compressor refer -- especially when one considers materials & labor to modify their refer opening as needed.

Randy said...

I can't imagine a situation where it makes any sense to run an absorption fridge on 12 volt power. Even BIG batteries are soon drained. It's just wickidly inefficient. Now compressor driven 12 volt fridges use only 3.2 amps when running and they generally cycle off two thirds of the time. A buddy has one and is delighted with it. Another friend has the chest type of compressor driven fridge which also works well--has the advantage of top opening which doesn't let the cold air fall out when open. I begrudge paying a dollar a day for refrigeration--but not enough to buy another till this one dies. The 4 cu ft models cost about $900.

Rob said...

Here is some information on the compressor refrigerator a number of people are swapping to in their VW campers.