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Boondocking? ... Can we agree on WHAT is Boondocking?

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Ray, thank you for initiating this thread.  I can see where a team consisting of Airstream and Ollie owners would be a very capable group of explorers.

 

In my water world of ocean kayaking we are guided by a concept which goes, “If you go to sea, go as three.”  The idea was to form a team of at least three paddlers for each journey.  Maybe we will see a team of at least three Airstream and Ollie owners.

 

Maybe our preparations will embrace the concept of core competences.  Key among those is the need to know where you are in relationship to your map at any time.  Getting lost is not an option.  Prior to joining a team, the expectation might be that you could complete the journey solo.  You understood all aspects of navigation, communication in the wilderness, first aid, etc.

 

Maybe this fall/winter members of this forum will fine tune our focus on an area to explore as we share ideas in preparation.  Sometimes the preparations and anticipation is as joyful as the journey.

 

As I inventory my own skills, I see opportunities for improvement.  For example, in the past, my buddies and I immersed ourselves in wilderness first aid.  As we obtained our certification as wilderness first responders, we prioritized our learning on what is termed, “WFR-H2O”.  The focus was on water based risks.  As a case in point, we would need to know how to identify and treat, shell fish poisoning.  Out on the islands, we did not need to treat for snake bites.  Over time, I will need to identify my land based risks and retool my skills.  That will be an enjoyable effort.

 

Buzzy

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John:  excellent and informative post regarding mapping etc.   I just ordered several of the Benchmark atlases for an upcoming trip to the Southwest, just in the truck, no Oliver yet.

 

I have this app on my phone and ipad and its quite good:  https://www.gaiagps.com/

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Sorry guys and gals but I'm not able to supply more info at the moment, but, take a look at an app called back country navigator.  For a one time fee of $10 you get several different types of topo maps for basically the world that can be downloaded to your computer, tablet, phone and then using the GPS hardware in that device, etc., etc.

 

TG


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Sorry guys and gals but I’m not able to supply more info at the moment, but, take a look at an app called back country navigator. For a one time fee of $10 you get several different types of topo maps for basically the world that can be downloaded to your computer, tablet, phone and then using the GPS hardware in that device, etc., etc. TG

This is a remarkable app for Android devices. I wish there were more like this for Mac users, but MotionX GPS is the only capable choice (and a great one) for those units.

 

I want to emphasize my main point from a previous comment. Like any safety device for exploring  remote areas, duplication of equipment is essential. Using a regular auto-routing gps for getting around, backed up by a second iPad or Android tablet or Windows laptop running a more specialized map program, gives redundancy, additional safety and way, WAY more capabilities than using just one device. A large display especially helps, by showing a wider area of terrain in detail. It is really hard to drive and navigate using a phone or tiny gps display.

 

The problem with navigating with only a Garmin or other brand of "regular" gps is that as soon as you zoom out past say 0.5 miles scale, all the minor roads you are interested in simply vanish! So you must scroll around looking for that elusive crossroad or lake or saddle or campground (which may be completely missing from its primitive database) while zoomed into the "high detail" scale. Scrolling is stupid and very frustrating when you can see all that stuff in a glance on the other device which is set on a 1 or 2 mile scale.

 

And just like bear spray, you need a second one along in case the first one is no longer working.

 

The paper atlas or NFS map is for when both devices get confused or you need even more detail. Normally you don't need to drive along with your finger on the paper..... One thing about NFS roads - the road numbers often do NOT match what is on your gps or regular maps, so here is where an official Forest Service map comes in handy. But it is not 100% essential.

 

We could start another thread about overlanding preparation, safety and equipment if folks are interested. It is probably not a good idea to get too sidetracked from the main idea of this one - Olivers and boon docking. But you will get much more action by just participating in the Expedition Portal forum.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Top Gun and John Davies are providing map data that would be for those hard core Off Grid trailer travelers.

 

John did bring up the fact that many of the road numbers may not agree with one, two or all of your maps.  At times your vehicle GPS has a name for a road that you have just a number.  There is a system to National Forest and Bureau of Land Management roads.  As the road becomes less traveled and becomes a two rut hunter's camp trail... the numbers indicate that.  At times if the County maintains part of the road, there is also a County Road number!  At some point it stops and another name or number... appears!

 

Of Airstream owners... maybe 15% depart the asphalt and RV established for pay sites.  Of that 15% those that would Base Camp or Off the Grid camp would eliminate the marginal 5%.  I put together four group 'Adventures' in the last two years.  The latest was called the 2016 Wyoming Boondocking Adventure that was offered May 15, 2015.

 

Twentyone signed up and the Adventure was 'closed' to any new members for a ten day Off the Grid and Base Camp trip in NW Wyoming.  This trip was to begin August 14 and end August 24th, 2016.  By July 14, 2016, ten had dropped out for various reasons.  On August 14, 2016 eleven met at Laramie, Wyoming.  By August 22nd, five finished the entire route.  This is an example of what some trailer owners consider RV Park amenities and Boondocking are the one, and same.

 

The first day Off the Grid the wind was at a steady 25mph.  The next morning a vote was made to leave this site and into the mountains.  One member dropped out immediately, that morning.

 

Several days later in the mountains, it rained.  It was cold.  A vote was made to leave this area and chance the mud and slop out to asphalt.

 

On our way to Jackson, Wyoming the sun was out, the sky was dark blue.  We Base Camped along a river and those who fished, caught fish near Alpine, Wyoming. When leaving for the next Off the Grid site along the Oregon Trail between Farson and Atlantic City, Wyoming (nearest towns) there were only five of us remaining from an original 21, to 11, to 5 members of the original group.

 

THIS is why those who have not trailer camped Off the Grid or Base Camped... need to understand that there are no showers, flushing toilets, facilities of any kind other than what you bring, yourself.  There is only the sky above, the ground below and whatever is in between.

 

The 85% to 90% of trailer campers prefer to stay at established National Parks and established Pay to Camp established sites in these areas.  I prefer to camp in between National Parks and Boondock.  Crowds are not why we travel to camp near.  It is a lifestyle choice.  Usually for those Middle Age and younger.  The majority of Airstream owners are... well, lets say older and professionals wanting catered campsites.

 

The Oliver 1 & 2 are perfect for camping anywhere, anyplace.  It is not the trailer that is incapable of traveling roads of various widths and surfaces.  It would be new owner's limitations.  As said earlier... two or three together can share knowledge and feel secure pushing their experience and limitations.  Others, as myself and a couple already posting on this Thread... are more comfortable by themselves for obvious reasons.  We are NOT TOUR GUIDES or hired help once camped.  You must make your own plans in some of these situations.  Some hike.  Some bike.  Some like to wander around and collect rocks. Some just want to photograph the wilderness area just across the shallow meandering streams.

 

Many Oliver owners are located in the SE USA.  Obvious that they would be.  I have seen none in the Western USA.  See a lot of Casitas and Airstreams and the huge fifth wheels and other brands parked by the hundreds at RV camps.

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The previous four photographs are with our narrower 8 foot wide and 23 foot long Airstream.  If you put an Oliver logo over the Airstream logo... people would believe it was an Oliver.  As... no one takes an Airstream off the highways and Olivers are as rare as a mountain lynx.

 

Any Oliver can do these sites in the photographs.  You are narrower and have better clearance.  It just takes some experience and possible traveling with someone who has already learned what is possible and when just to... find a way to turn around and depart the area.

 

It all depends on why you have your Oliver.  No one blames you for not having an interest in Off the Grid or Base Camping.  This is a big investment and you want to avoid doing any harm to your trailer. My point is that if my low clearance Airstream can do this... you have not seen the other sites we have been camped.

 

Now with a longer 25 foot trailer and six inches wider... we mostly Base Camp.  We get to an area that is convenient and use the tow vehicle to get further back into the wilderness.  Sometimes, finding some great camp sites we can easily get to.

 

Ask questions.  I can already tell that there are a good number of true Boondockers following this thread.  As a rule, most true Boondockers do not like crowds... but make exceptions when asked.  Two to four trailers 'in training' is more than enough.  Once you have liberated yourself from PAY campsites with crowds, noise and just plain obnoxious campers... you will be ready to put your Oliver to work.

 

When you do discover Base Camping... post those photographs.  Seeing is believing.  Sometimes... there is no place like Home on the Range.

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Ray,

 

When you look at the “See an Ollie” map of the USA, it does appear there are no owners available to show their Ollie to prospective buyers in the states of Colorado or Wyoming.  Near me, the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island appear in the same boat.  Matt, our webmaster, is planning to update the map soon.   You might recheck the map in another week.

 

I suspect you are correct that the typical population of owners for Airstreams and Ollies are older and the group who focus on off the grid camping maybe less that 10 percent of the total.  Within that subset I would guess the owners who camp off the grid in subfreezing weather is even smaller.

 

As you know, each Ollie has a hull number.  My hull number is 147 with a delivery date of 6/9/16.  I would guess we have less than 170 Ollie trailers across the entire USA.  It does not surprise me you have had a difficult time finding one.

 

Over time our numbers may grow.  I do feel lack of a dealer network or owners willing to show their Ollie will limit our growth.  Today I had the very great pleasure to show a couple from New Hampshire my Ollie.  You really do need to see an Ollie in person to understand the dimensions and quality.  Those aspects are difficult to convey via a picture or video.   I sense you also need to live with your Ollie to fully understand the off the grid capabilities.

 

Not only is there good clearance and great tires, but the underside of an Ollie is protected by the outer hull of fiberglass.  The sewer hose connection is safely enclosed within the rear bumper.  It is as if the trailer has the equivalent of skid plates found on my tow vehicle.  Since an Ollie tows so well, you quickly realize it will follow the tow vehicle wherever you decide to venture.  Unfortunately, with cutbacks in money to maintain state and federal parks I find some roads are poorly maintained.  Not a problem for Ollie.

 

For me, the best part of owning an Ollie is how it feels “fit and trim”.  I now prefer to camp with the tent campers who are restricted to smaller sites.  Ollie fits right in.  Best of all, they and I do not use generators!

 

Ray, I do have a question regarding your trips to Wyoming.  I would guess the number of campers would be significant in July or August even in your off the grid locations.  Why not camp in April or May?  I understand there is snow during those months.  For an Ollie, that would not be a problem.  Is subfreezing weather less inviting to an Airstream owner?

 

Buzzy

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Buzzy... I have followed the Hull numbers and some literature concerning Oliver Trailers.  Reintroducing the 23 foot is a perfect size for a family to go anywhere and not need a tow vehicle designed to haul tons of trailer.

 

The Rocky Mountains can experience snow in July, although at higher elevations.

 

June, July and August are popular months for out of state travelers.  Locals avoid many places at the times around holidays.

 

The heat and humidity of lower elevations give many an incentive to enjoy the low humidity and the temperature drop is large in some cases from a High and a Low at elevation.  October to March in the High Country can have bad results as far as a blizzard.  I am sure there is a chart somewhere for all months in various locations.  We had frost north of Gunnison, Colorado in late June!  Hard frost and snow still on Cottonwood Pass.

 

Off the Grid camping offers unlimited options in most of the Rockies.  Wyoming and New Mexico provide millions of acres.  Keeping above 3500 feet elevation is the number I always prefer for perfect temperatures.

 

We have camped in snow and blizzards.  It is the fan to operate the furnace that has limitations, unless you idle your tow vehicle.  We will be getting a propane portable heater for next year.  And solar as we begin to spend more free time Off the Grid.

 

There are many things a Boondocker needs to have available for the large variety of weather conditions at elevation.  The best part is in the Spring... the snow is going to melt.  Get snowed in November... you had better have a snowmobile to commute into town.

 

 

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We were in Rocky Mtn National Park last year in mid September, and it was the perfect time. The elk were in full rut, the weather was nice and the aspens were in full color. Perfect time for hiking. Love the fall season.

 

 

 

Stan


Stan and Carol


Blacksburg, VA


2014 Dodge Durango 5.7 Hemi


2014 Legacy Elite II Standard  Hull 63

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Why not camp in April or May? I understand there is snow during those months. For an Ollie, that would not be a problem.  

Buzzy, the _remote_ camping season in the Western Interior is dictated primarily by altitude, but secondarily by sun exposure. Keep in mind that snow depth can often be many tens of feet, and even deeper in drifts on the lee side of windy ridges. A southern facing slope with few trees will dry out completely early in the season, but north facing slopes, or ones in very heavy tree cover, can remain impassible to vehicles well into summer.

 

Around Spokane I have to deal with snow berms blocking small secondary forest roads as late as early June, on the northern faces; this is with maximum elevation of about 6000 feet in the Idaho Panhandle. OTH, on the Colorado Plateau the areas way up high (10K and above) open much later. The Alpine Loop 4wd route near Durango is a good example - it gets plowed in June to allow the Jeeps to get through the 12,000+ ft passes. Often the walls of snow in the cuts are two or three times your height.

 

So, early in the season to get into the real back country you must stay low or stay south. Or camp at low altitude and drive a snowmobile into the mountains ;) ... If you want beautiful camping in April (or even earlier), go to the Moab area. At around 4000 feet it is warm and dry, and there are no snow worries. The Grand Canyon is a little bit further south. The North Rim at near 9000 feet is completely impassible that time of year, until the road gets plowed in mid or late May.

 

On one hand it is a little frustrating, having to wait for the snow to clear. On the other, you can pick your altitude for comfortable camping conditions. Low down in the early and late season, up high in mid summer when the deserts are blisteringly hot.

 

Here's a typical scene at altitude on a south facing slope in northwest NV, at around 7000 feet in mid May: (Open in new tab - I cannot get the formatting right).

 

And a quarter mile around the bend in the shady north side:

 

This illustrates why you need caution when towing a larger trailer. You must plan for sudden blockages or dead ends. The LAST thing you want is to have to back your trailer down a mile of narrow twisty forest roads looking for a turn-around! (Here is a great scenario where a front receiver and a backup camera on the trailer would be helpful!! ... Assuming you had room to uncouple and turn the truck around.) When in doubt, scout ahead on foot or better yet, on a mountain bike. Don't even contemplate driving through the berm. It will swallow your full sized rig no matter how capable. A dirt bike can get over it, sometimes. Maybe.

 

Finally, in the northern latitudes many NFS and other campgrounds _may_ not open until about Memorial Day and they close in early fall when the snow starts.  It is a short season indeed if you have to rely on official campgrounds and especially dump stations. This is why primitive boondocking is so appealing to me. No crowds, few worries.

 

Sorry, no Oliver in the pictures. Maybe next summer.

 

Primitive camping in the west is fun and can be extremely rewarding, but you need to understand the terrain and weather and be extra prepared for unexpected situations and breakdowns.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA

 

 


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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I will admit I have zero experience camping in elevation.  I camp on island beaches and rock ledges overlooking the ocean.

 

Here in New England we have densely populated urban areas.  If you look at the population numbers for Colorado and Wyoming then compare the combined total to the total for Massachusetts and Rhodes Island, the New England states have more than 1.2 million additional people in a much smaller land mass.  Add in the fact that we do not have many state or federal camp grounds and you can see where June, July and August is like a zoo with campers needing space.   Luckily, most campers with travel trailers seek services and amenities.  Our best option here is to camp in the early and late seasons and/or dry camp.   You can see why an Ollie is perfect for New England campers who might seek a quieter camping experience.

 

Regarding camping out West, I now realize you have more space and even if you have out-of-state campers, you do not fill-up in June, July and August.  (Except maybe in the "tourist traps"!)  Real nice!

 

Buzzy

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Regarding camping out West, I now realize you have more space and even if you have out-of-state campers, you do not fill-up in June, July and August. (Except maybe in the “tourist traps”!) Real nice! Buzzy

Except for the big population centers like Seattle, Portland or Salt Lake City. The urban areas are full of RVers and they indeed do FILL up the parks in summer. A reservation at any state park is a good idea, especially a popular one near a big city.

 

You are more or less correct about the other parts, except the weekends can sometimes be really busy. Finding a spot in a popular lakeside campground mid-week is usually a non-issue. Friday evening, not so much.

 

The more popular National Parks are by far the worst. Do not expect to visit Glacier, Yellowstone or Zion in mid-season without encountering VAST crowds of tourists. The stunning Great Basin or similar "unknown" Parks are seldom a problem and just as enjoyable without so many darned people. I tend to avoid National Parks anyway due to their restrictive pet policy. There are plenty of great alternatives where your dog can come on the trail with you.

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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Having just spent two months in Wyoming, both on and off the grid, I can confirm John's analysis of campsite availability.  Where possible, I made reservations in advance and in those places with established campgrounds that didn't take reservations I always tried to arrive prior to 3pm (these are camps that usually had no hook-ups but did have a pit toilet and a central water location.  In places like Yellowstone you MUST plan on arriving MUCH earlier.  I arrived at Pebble Creek Camp in Yellowstone at 5:45am and was second in line.  All non-reserved sites in Yellowstone were taken no later than 9:30am for the two weeks that I was there (mid-August).  If one plans to stay in a place like Cody or West Yellowstone in order to do laundry, restock, take a bit of R & R (read that as being able to have a meal cooked by someone other than myself), etc. then you should allow at least three months prior to arriving to make reservations and/or get to the national forest campground very early in order to get a site.  Even places that one might expect to be empty for boondocking that are as much as 20 miles up a dirt road will likely have others in the area and the nicer sites will probably be taken even though no people will be there (during the week).  Having said this I must also say that I never had trouble finding a site for the night - all it takes is a little planning and getting on the road a bit early in the morning.

 

Bill

P1010012.thumb.jpg.937f9761a9abb9960a20149d14c0831d.jpg


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Buzzy, don't in any way get discouraged by these last comments. National Parks are certainly cool, but there are millions of acres of virtually unoccupied land available for exploring. Even in Utah, with all it's big parks (and hoards of tourists) you can easily get off the grid in stunning scenery. Especially if you make your trip at one end of the busy season, or in late Spring or early Fall.

 

I love exploring in rural Montana, ghost town hunting. In some places where you are wandering around on bumpy dirt ranch roads you might not see another vehicle or human for half a day.

 

OTH, if you head by highway toward Glacier or Yellowstone, you suddenly will see yuppified boom towns, crowded  campgrounds and tour buses full of Old Age Pensioners headed to the Big Attractions.

 

Pick your poison. I hate crowds. ;)

 

visitation.png

 

In contrast Great Basin NP, which is pretty much unknown and on the road to nowhere in NV, gets about 80,000 visitors ...... annually.

 

BTW, when driving around out here be prepared for long hauls and keep the tank above half full. Sometimes it can be 100 miles to the next services. What fun!

 

Southeast Montana along the primitive Big Sheep Creek Backcountry Byway:

 

http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/montana/beautiful-byways-in-montana/

 

John Davies

 

Spokane WA


"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

 

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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John,

 

It certainly was not my intent to discourage anyone from either making reservations, traveling nor boondocking in Wyoming during the summer months.  However, I am a firm believer in both knowledge and planning and that is all I was trying to convey.  Those traveling to areas such as this for the first time are more than likely to want to visit those areas that are well known.  And, frankly, I think they should - once.

 

Bill


2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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John, Bill and Buzzy... you have to stir the pot to get the ingredients for Boondocking right.  What team work!

 

Southwestern Montana, Idaho and western Wyoming are Boondockers 'Gone to Heaven' camping areas!  But, try it during the months of May to September.  July can be HOT along the lakes at 1,000 feet elevation and COOL at 5,000 feet elevation.  So when you choose an area look at he elevations.  Southwest Montana is High, Dry and comfortable during the Summer months.

 

So many campsites in the National Forest... why even consider paying at a RV Park.

 

Swimming at the State Parks on the west side of Flathead Lake (South of Lakeside, Montana) and parked on pieces of real estate that home builders will pay a million dollars to build upon.  Phillipsburg and the Wisdom River... pan sapphires and camp in the forest.  The Missouri River and the head waters.  The Yellowstone River is wide and we have camped on the beaches on the north side of the river... Boondocking.  No reservations needed... just a map and a little curiosity.

 

Finding the first couple Base Camp sin the forest is the toughest.  Once you catch on that you can do it on your own... 'who needs a stinking badge?'  Treasure of the Sierra Madre quote.  All of the photographs are from some early Montana campsites.

 

Both Oliver 1 and Oliver 2 Elites can camp at these sites as my 23 foot Airstream.  No plans.  No reservations.  No crowds.  Pick a National Forest and... look.  Northeast Montana is a bit brushy as it is lower elevation, so Forest Service designated sites are best.  Real... brushy.

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To an Off the Grid trailer camper... Boondocking could be parked at a WalMart or Costco parking lot over night.  Or an established campsite without hookups is Boondocking to most, but not all.  The term is very evasive for a firm definition.  It is the experience of YOUR travels that will eventually define What is Boondocking.

 

Some, as ourselves, use 'Off the Grid Boondocking' to indicate being camped where there are no facilities and only what your check list provided for this trip... put into your Oliver!  Period and... someone else may even dispute this!  You need a bandaid and did not pack one... next time.  No pen or pencil... next time.  Flashlight... next time.  By your first year of camping in your Oliver... your list will be completed... tweezers?  Get it on the computerized check list... you will need tweezers sooner than later!

 

My wife has a FOOD LIST, a CLOTHES LIST and how much dog food will be needed for two weeks on the road.  Each of us will have different needs and different lists.  Tools for minor repairs.  Batteries.  A good book or... dozen.

 

You get it.  Enjoy your individual Adventures... and be sure to post your Oliver in locations that only the gopher or humming birds may know where you camped.

 

Caveat: WEIGHT is not your friend when towing.  Do not overload your Oliver or your tow vehicle.  Your two vehicle will have its limitations posted on the doors side wall.  Tire pressure is important.  Avoid too much JUNK.  Paper plates can be disposed and light.  Plastic cups, versus glass that can break.  Just... THINK Boondocking and you will do, just... fine.

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The west has loads of boondocking opportunities. But those of us who love the eastern half of the us can find plenty. With research.

Many coe ( army corps of engineers) parks have minimal facilities, corresponding low or no fees, and amazing views. Ditto Forest service campgrounds. And state Forest sites. A few county and town sites are also off the beaten track.

Do we have the rugged Western scrub/ Mesa landscape? No. But many beautiful river, dammed lake, pond , flood plain sites.

It can take some research time, but even in the east, it's possible. If you get off the main roads.

Sherry


2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4


2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

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