Search for attractions that do not have big advertising budgets:
"Many RVers focus on the destination and forget the trip. Think of all the great attractions you pass when you have the blinders on barreling down the interstate.
Many of these attractions, whether scenic, historic, or of unique interest, are free, and since they would therefore not have big advertising budgets, like large commercial attractions, you can easily miss them.
It would be very easy, for instance, to miss the Luna Mimbres Museum in Deming, New Mexico, which you could sail right by on Interstate 10 on your way to Las Cruces. Run by volunteers with no advertising budget, the museum lives in the old 1916 National Guard Armory and has just about filled its 25,000 square feet documenting life in New Mexico from the early 1800s.
So, since you aren't going to see lots of advertising, you have to find out about these attractions in another way. One good way is to ask at visitor centers, state welcome centers, chambers of commerce offices, federal agency offices (BLM, NFS, etc.), park entry stations, etc. You could otherwise miss a stunning scenic view or other site worth seeing—as well as missing out on free entertainment.
And often, when you are visiting smaller attractions or local museums that are in small towns or rural areas, they will let you stay overnight in their parking lot--especially when they know you are going to visit their attraction. Not a bad deal, both free camping and a cheap or free attraction."
If I click on TX, and then on I-45, 2 miles from me, I get:
I am near Exit 94, it doesn't show many of the campgrounds, but it will tell you some of the places at each exit.
It isn't as comprehensive as it could be, but as far as I know, it is the only online guide to each freeway and highway.
Exploring national parks on water trails
"If you've never paddled a kayak or canoe you have likely missed many scenic and pristine areas of our national parks that are accessible only by water.
And by paddling, instead of using a motor, you will be less apt to frighten away birds and wildlife, often enabling intimate close up views from their eye level.
Water trails, or blueways, are networks of points along the water that paddlers can access using human-powered boats. Water trails also provide pleasant physical exercise and recreation, and promote environmental awareness.
The National Park Service has helped communities create water trails nationwide for over a decade. This year, the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program is partnering with state and local governments and other organizations to work on improving and creating water trails in roughly thirty states. You can find out more about these efforts at the watertrails page of the NPS website.
Even if you don't yet have a kayak or canoe, often local providers will have boat rentals available for use on the park's waterways, and will a few simple instructions, you are good to go.
Boondocking 101: Why would anyone want to boondock?
"Though you’ve heard about boondocking from other RVers and on blogs but never tried it, you might wonder why anyone would want to camp where there were no water, sewage, or electrical hookups. After all, camping in an RV in an RV resort or upscale campground is pretty comfortable, and living without those hookups would seem to make it less enjoyable.
But in reality, all modern RVs have been manufactured to be not only mobile, but also to be independent of appendages that hook them up to land-based resources. All RVs have a holding tank for fresh water, and most of the time two holding tanks for waste, one from the toilet and one from the shower and sinks. They also have a house battery or batteries to supply 12-volt electricity to the RV in lieu of plug-in 120-volt power, and a generator to produce 120-volt electricity directly to both the 12-volt and the 120-volt systems, and to recharge the battery/ies.
So when using your RV’s systems rather than a campground’s, it opens up many more camping possibilities. There are vast natural areas on public lands for enjoying your RV lifestyle, such as in our national forests (photo Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest) and on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The National Forest Service (FS) manages the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands–193 million acres.
The BLM manages approximately 253 million acres–one-eighth of the landmass of the country—most of it in the West. These massive areas, and more managed by other agencies of the Federal Government such as the National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, plus National Wildlife Refuges are known collectively as federal public lands. In addition there are state forests, state game and fish land, fishing accesses, and Indian Reservations.
RVers are permitted to camp–boondock–on these public lands, sometimes in primitive campgrounds (those without hookups) and sometimes on open land (called “dispersed camping” by the FS and BLM).
If you only go to campgrounds, think how much of this country’s wonderful natural and scenic land you are missing, not to mention the joy of solitude when you find a boondocking campsite by a tumbling mountain stream or on a broad desert plain under the shade of a mesquite tree–and there is no one else in sight.
First, though, you have to get comfortable with camping without hookups. You can start off with boondocking for just one or two nights which won’t burden your onboard systems(photo – an enroute boondocking campsite in Klamath NF off Highway 97 northeast of Weed, CA–and only about 200 yards off the road).
Boondocking tips with Bob Difley Practice makes perfect.
"The best way to become comfortable with boondocking and become an expert at it is to do it often. Keep a log on how many days you can boondock without having to dump or replenish your onboard systems, and what measures such as carrying extra water, watching less TV, or using the shower warm-up water to flush the toilet - -have contributed to extending your boondocking days. Soon you will be practicing these conservation habits automatically. These skills open up thousands of square miles of forest land and open desert for boondocking and exploring."
In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks. —John Muir
Why don't some RV parks offer $10 a night "no-frills"?
Editor's corner with Chuck Woodbury.
"The idea was this: Why don't some RV parks offer $10 a night "no-frills" camping for self-contained RVers (only) who just want a place to sleep -- no hookups, no use of the restrooms, pool or WiFi, and no use of their generators. They can stay for one night only, after 6 p.m., and they must be gone by 8:30 a.m. As is, thousands of these RVers stay for free every night in a Wal-Mart parking lot, a rest area, truck stop or other place.
Any RV park that sets up a $10 self-service, no-frills area in his or her park can expect that I, for one, will publicize the heck out of it. The other parks can go ahead and ignore this great opportunity and continue to fume about all those freeloaders down at Wal-Mart.
The RV park owners dub the Wal-Mart RVers cheapskates. I call them smart: they just saved $30. And if they put that money in the bank, collect interest, one day it turns into a whole lot more."
A park that "gets" it
A comment to last week's essay by Teri at Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio, Texas: "I have a field, fairly level but not paved. When it's dry I allow people to park there for $2 per night. In our RV park we also have a dry area for $10, or $15 if you want a water fill up and dump.
"Hasn't anyone heard of Passport America or the other 50% off campground memberships. We've been using it for over 10 years and it works great. We are also Elk's members and most of the Elk's lodge RV parks are inexpensive. Also Corps of Engineer parks with the Golden Age Passport discount are a pretty good deal. We dry camp a lot, in fact we will be dry camping all of July and Aug. but rarely pay over $15 for full hook up's. The deals are there if you look."
There are already $10 a night Campgrounds: Recreation USA Members pay $10.00 a night:
Tech Tips from Mark Polk
Emergency radio should be in every RV
"NOAA weather radios (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service Office. They broadcast National Weather Service (NWS) warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.
All RVers should purchase a battery operated weather radio. Many of these radios come with an alert feature that is triggered when the NWS issues severe weather announcements or emergency information. They are available at most retail stores that sell electronic equipment. The prices can range anywhere from $25 to $200 depending on the quality of the receiver and the features. It is well worth the cost to know what type of weather to expect when traveling or camping in your RV."
FOGGY WINDSHIELD SOLUTION… Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the car glove box When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!
REOPENING ENVELOPES… If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, place your sealed envelope in the freezer for 1-2 hrs. Viola! It unseals easily.
CONDITIONER… Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs instead of shaving cream. It's cheaper & leaves your legs really smooth. Great way to use up conditioner you didn't like in your hair.
Jay caught an orange tomcat in his trap. How do we know it was a tom, because they usually are. It wasn't the one he was trying for though.
Ray checked to make sure it wasn't "Buddy", an orange tomcat in our area, who we think is my little "Pal's" sire. Though we didn't think it would be, as Jay lives over a mile from us.
Pal sure has grown:
Ray did some touch-up painting in the cargo trailer and sanding on the table.
Jay and I installed the medicine cabinet, and one more shelf in the trailer.
We 'buttered' the edge of the table with contact cement, and applied the Formica around the rim.
We pipe-clamped it and left it in the workshop, as it was too hot to continue. We sure are missing the shade of those 5 felled trees. Sorry, the trailer was locked up before I could take pictures.
Pal goes to his new home today.