I am hoping this blog gives the reader a realistic glimpse into nomadic life. That being said, it stands to reason that not every day smells like roses. Today was one of those days.
RVs are equipped with holding tanks. Our particular RV has one fresh water tank, which holds 90 gallons. It also has three waste tanks – a 50 gallon grey water tank for the kitchen, a 50 gallon grey water tank for the shower and bathroom sink, and a 50 gallon black water tank for the toilet.
As we are “dry camping” or “boondocking” here outside of Yuma, AZ, this particular area of BLM land has a dump station and a water supply for the campers to use. It is part of the $180 fee that we pay for use of the land from April 15 – November 15. One could conversely pay a 2 week use fee of $40. Last year, we ended up parking here for 6 weeks, for a total of $120. This year, we anticipate staying longer, so the season pass made more financial sense. Of course, we are not bound to stay here, but it suits us, has lovely weather (now that it has warmed up a bit), has room for our friends to park, and we don’t really have any set plans to go anywhere else. So, here we are.
Dry camping offers us the opportunity to live using minimal resources. That’s a nice way of saying that one has to pay attention to how one uses water when not hooked up to a continuous water supply. One way we conserve is to have a wash bin in the kitchen sink to collect the water that we use when we wash dishes. This water is then put into a bucket and placed in the toilet room to be used to flush the toilet. Another conservation method is to have a water collector in the shower to reuse that water to flush the toilet as well.
I will admit that this seems like a really rough way to live. But can you see the adventure in it? Can you see that by changing some simple daily practices, we can all conserve a precious commodity?
Even using this conservative approach, one does eventually have to empty the waste tanks and refill the fresh water tank, to start the cycle all over again. Last year, David and I were able to go 17 days before we had to “dump”. With three of us in the rig right now, we have to empty more frequently.
To move the rig to the dump station, we prepare it for travel. This is no different than how we prepare to drive to our next location – secure the inside contents, bring in the glides, hook up to the truck, and roll. The process doesn’t take long, but one does need to be aware and focused.
Hannah went off on a bike ride while we took care of the tanks. Here is a picture she sent me from her adventure:
Now, let’s compare that to my view:
It wasn’t so bad:
We were the only ones using the station at 2 pm today. See, David didn’t even need to bring the solar panels flat. He would absolutely do that if we were going on the road.
The process to dump the tanks is pretty simple. One attaches a flexible sewer hose to the RV at one end, and places it into the hole in the ground at the dump station. Then, one opens the black tank by pulling on a lever. This releases the contents. Smells good, let me tell you! But, like all things unpleasant, it is only temporary. Once the tank is empty, we dump a couple of 10 gallon buckets of non-potable water into the toilet to give it a little flush. The black tank lever is closed, and it is on to the grey tanks. This allows the grey tank water to flush out any of the black tank deposits that may be in the line and the sewer hose. Once those tanks are emptied, the levers are closed, the sewer hose is rinsed and stored, the cap is put back on the RV, and we move on to the fresh water supply. Actually, at this point, David washes his hands, and uses hand sanitizer before getting into the drivers seat to go to the water supply.
Now, I describe all of this as if I have actually performed this tank emptying task. I have not. Just like cleaning the bathroom, as long as David is willing to do it, I will leave it to him. But I could do it if I had to.
This is the water filter that David created. We use it every time we add water to our fresh water tank. It is also used when we are hooked up to a water supply directly. It includes a pressure regulator, so that we do not blow our lines with extreme water pressure. That is not a problem out here, as the water really flows quite slowly. We were only down to 60% in our fresh water tank, but it still took 20 minutes to add that 40%.
Even with all of this filtering, the water here is not the greatest, so we choose to not use it as drinking water. For that. we head on over to the Salt Free water kiosk that is pictured at the top of this post. For $1, I fill up five 1 gallon containers of really tasty drinking water. We have been blowing through this 5 gallons every 2-3 days, but that is a good thing. It is important to stay hydrated in this environment.
This process of dumping the tanks and filling up with fresh water took us about an hour. That really isn’t that much time, and as I said, it is not a daily chore. But it is a necessary task, and we will do it again when we leave to relocate to Quartzsite, AZ on Sunday.
Now, the fun stuff – FOOD! We had our usual oatmeal breakfast, and everyone was on their own for lunch. I made myself a wrap, as did David. He used the last of the Pinto Burgers, and I used the last of the Trader Joe’s Eggplant Hummus (the only oil-free hummus I have been able to find). Grocery shopping will be on the agenda tomorrow, as we are starting to run low again. I have no idea what Hannah had for lunch, but I made the Happy Herbivore Cheater Pad Thai for dinner. Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.thechinastudy.com/endorsed-by-t-colin-campbell/happy-herbivore-series/recipes/ I double the sauce, and use buckwheat soba noodles. For the veggies, I pretty much use whatever I have – tonight it was a bag of frozen cauliflower/brocolli/carrot/squash mix.
But that wasn’t enough. At about 7 pm, I was hankering for some cookies. I had a molasses cookie recipe that I wanted to try, so I went with that. The recipe was focusing on being gluten free, but I used whole wheat flour. I also added some vegan chocolate chips.
Soft Molasses Cookies
1 cup oat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ cup white beans (any), smashed
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
¼ cup molasses
⅛ tsp allspice
To make oat flour, whiz instant or rolled oats in your blender until it reaches a flour-consistency. Mix oat flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Set batter aside to rest while oven heats to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop 14 spoonfuls of batter on to the cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch.
These puffed up nicely, and were cakey – not flat or hard.
One last thought for the night –
Please, let me know if there is anything that you would like me to write about. There are likely aspects of this lifestyle that I just take for granted that you want to know more about. Post a comment and I will address it!
I’m glad we could have this chat,