Welcome Back….

September 24th, 2009

That’s what the uniformed US customs agent told us after giving us the 3rd degree.

After our first three nights in the lower 48, we were greeted by another uniform. He proceeded to tell us that he really didn’t care about it, but he had to come and check up on us because one of the locals called the station and complained. We had stayed the night. The officer was as cool as he could be about it (well, other than telling the caller that it wasn’t against the law or their business). He didn’t say that we couldn’t stay or that there were any laws against it. But, it was obvious that it was time to move, and he chatted with us until we said that we were.

This is the first time in one and a half years of boondocking that we have ever had anyone knock on the door.  We hadn’t even been in the spot for 24hrs. There weren’t any signs stating that you couldn’t park or camp overnight. Heck, it was expected that you were going to park overnight as it was a large parking area, tucked in the woods, for a trailhead to two campgrounds. Are people in truck campers not allowed to park and hike in with their tents? I wonder what he would have done if we weren’t in the camper.

I know it sounds like I am ranting. I am not really. I don’t want to be where I am not wanted, nor does there have to be a law to keep me from those places (which there obviously wasn’t in this case). We knew we were only going to stay one night regardless as the area was quite residential. Its just that its the first time and I felt like writing about it.

And, after what we saw at the Bellingham Walmart……. well, you have to see it for yourself.

Lay back and groove…

May 11th, 2009

…on a rainy day.

I guess we’re starting to see the ‘real’ Washington weather. Our first week in the state was pretty dry, but the past week has been rather damp or perhaps moist. In fact, you could say it has been downright soggy.

Last Sunday, we headed towards Mt. Rainier National Park from the north side. The park is still closed, but there is a lot of forestry land around the park which allows dispersed camping. We spotted at least one exceptionally nice boondocking spot on the main road into the park, but as it was a fairly well traveled road, any and all turnouts were occupied. Near the park entrance, we crossed a rather long one lane bridge across the Carbon River.

Immediately, the road turned to gravel and around the first bend, the road was constricted by a fallen tree and a couple of large boulders on the opposite side. This particular section of road was more mud, boulders and tree roots than gravel. We had around 18 inches of clearance between the jacks and the obstacles. Not too bad, but the angle of attack required getting rather close to the edge of the road. Normally, this wouldn’t be a large concern, but we’d already seen the edge of a couple roads washed away that morning.

With Jenn’s help in the form of ambiguous hand signals (does anyone know what two crooked fingers forming a ‘U’ means?), we managed to get through the constriction without any new dings or scratches. Not too far up the road, we found a somewhat obscured pullout that would be our home for the next week.

I think we had one sunny day, on Monday, followed by four rainy ones. We then figured we might as well stick around through the weekend since Washingtonians seem to enjoy camping and grabbed all the good spots on the weekends. Anyway, it seemed like a good idea to let that hairy bit of road dry out some as there was a drainage culvert right above it.

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Life in the back of a truck (part 4)

April 9th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

Gordon recently posed a question over at the Truck Camper Magazine blog that seemed like a great idea for the next part of our Life in the back of a truck series. He’s curious just how long his readers can boondock and what tricks they use to manage it. I got a bit long winded, but here’s my response.

The resources we have to work with are:

  • 46 gallons of fresh water
  • ~300 amp hours of battery in 2 Trojan T-1275 12V batteries
  • 60 pounds of propane in 2 30# tanks
  • A Honda eu2000i generator
  • ~4.5 gallons of gasoline plus whatever is in the scooter and generator (up to around 2 gallons if both are full)

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Still, we manage to do fairly well when we find a place we want to stay for a while. It takes a little effort to conserve resources, but we manage to live quite comfortably for up to a two week stretch without running out of anything or breaking out a military desert survival handbook. Just how do we make these resources last and what sacrifices does it take, you ask? Well, read on to get a taste of the Hitek Homeless lifestyle!

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