Boondocking Rally-2016-Tallahassee, FL

cropped-boondockingpicture.jpgThis is the initial posting on our new WordPress blog site.

We recently decided to attend a “boondocking” rally given by Howard and Linda Payne.  Howard and Linda publish a blog called RV-Dreams.com.  They have been full time RVing since 2005.  I have followed their blog for the past several years.

“Boondocking” means camping without any hookups – water, electric, or sewer.  While we don’t anticipate doing this very much, we decided it would be a good idea to learn what we could about it.

The rally was going to be from Sunday, March 12th thru Sunday, March 20th, at the Florida State Fair Grounds in Tallahassee.

We departed the storage facility, where we store our 5th wheel trailer, on the morning of Wednesday March 9th.  There was a hint of rain as we started, but we drove into steady rain as we headed into east Texas.

The campground for our first night’s stay was just east of Shreveport, LA.  As we approached Shreveport, we noticed a large highway sign stating that I-20 was closed east of Shreveport due to flooding.  We called the campground and they said we probably wouldn’t be able to reach them and suggested a KOA campground close to where we were.

We contacted the KOA and they had a spot for us.  We arrived at their site and setup in the pouring rain.  It rained all night long.  With all the weather issues, we checked an internet site for interstate highway conditions in Louisiana. The site showed that not only was I-20 still closed, but I-49, heading south, was closed too due to flooding about 8 miles from Shreveport.  We hooked up in the rain and proceeded to a state highway that would get us around that flooding.  We ended up taking a 3 hour detour around all the flooding issues. We were beginning to understand why the news was calling this the “Thousand Year flood”.

Our next stop was in Mississippi.  We drove in rain most of the day getting there.  We again setup in the rain.  It again rained all night.  We hooked up, again in the rain, and headed off for our next stop in Alabama.

By the time we got to Montgomery, AL, it had stopped raining for a change.  We celebrated by ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut, which was very close to the campground.

The next day we started our final leg to Tallahassee.  We arrived at the Tallahassee RV Park in the early afternoon and checked in.  This campground wasn’t much different from the others we stayed in so far, but had a much nicer feeling.  It had big trees and we would not mind returning to stay for a longer term to investigate the Tallahassee area.

After setting up, I drove to a Tractor Supply to get our propane tank filled.  Then we decided to drive to the fair grounds to see how the route was for taking the trailer the next day.  After this test drive, I didn’t anticipate any problem.  When we got there, it turned out there were several attendees already there.  Howard and Linda were there too.  They were all parked in some full hookup sites that are available at the fair grounds.  We parked and walked over to introduce ourselves.  We spent the next few hours visiting and starting to get to know the other attendees.

The next morning I filled our fresh water tank and emptied our black and grey water tanks (you can figure those out).  So with full propane and fresh water tanks, and empty holding tanks, we headed for the fair grounds.

Upon arrival, Howard directed us to a spot. He decided it would be best to group the people that would need to run their generators a lot.  We started forming a large circle of trailers and motorhomes.  Here are some pictures of the RVs in the circle.  Our trailer is in the middle of the picture directly below.  It has “Alpine” on the back.  Then the following pictures are of the 25 units around the circle.  There are 5th wheels, Class Cs, Class Bs, Class A Motorhomes, travel trailers, including Air Streams.

 

Boondocking-1

Boondocking-4

Boondocking-2

Boondocking-5

Boondocking-6

Boondocking-3

Boondocking-7

There’s a tradition in RVing, when someone you know arrives after a long travel day, you prepare them dinner.  So, we were treated to hot dogs and baked beans that Sunday evening.  We sat around a campfire that night.  The campfire was a common gathering place when the weather was good the rest of the week.  We got some assistance in solving an issue with our RV refrigerator when it was supposed to be working on propane.  I also got some guidance on getting our fresh water to work.  It turns out you have to have one of of the valves set to the proper position.  This is what happens when you haven’t “boondocked” before.

MONDAY – Howard conducted a session on holding tank management, fresh water conservation, how to keep our batteries charged, and an electrical overview.  He also helped us determine that we had a three stage converter.  This comes into play when our trailer battery is being recharged.  It protects the battery from being overcharged.  That prolongs the battery life.

TUESDAY – Howard conducted a session on battery maintenance, monitoring battery fluid levels, deep cycle batteries, and how to find boondocking sites.  In the afternoon, a few of us did an exploratory kayak trip up the Wakulla River about 3 miles and back, preparing for a larger group trip on Wednesday.  I used sun screen, but not enough.  I got sun burned on my legs and the back of my hands and wrists.  I passed on the trip on Wednesday.  I’m still peeling.

WEDNESDAY – Howard conducted a session on the use of a large water bladder to refill you fresh water tank without moving the rig.  After filling his trailer as full as he could, he put the remainder in our fresh water tank.  We had been using more than I anticipated.

THURSDAY – The day was open to do as we pleased.  We had a pot luck dinner under a large tent that was erected adjacent to the field where we were gathered.  We had lots of great food and companionship.

FRIDAY – It rained most of the day.  We made a trip to the store for supplies.

SATURDAY – Since the rain held off, we gathered for a group potluck breakfast.  We had lots of eggs, pancakes, enough bacon for anybody’s wishes, and french toast made from leftover hot dog buns.  RVers can be very creative.

During most of the week, Mary had been suffering from shoulder pain.  We tried all types of things to get relief, but nothing worked.  We decided to depart a day early and go back to the Tallahassee campground we had stayed at previously.  With full hookups, we would have heat or air conditioning when needed, and TV any time she needed to distract herself.

Since we had reservations for Sunday night, we spent Saturday and Sunday in Tallahassee. Then we departed for Montgomery, Alabama.  We were planning to return on the same schedule we were on coming out, but decided to accelerate the return trip and just spent one more night on the road.  We returned home on Wednesday.  Except for health and weather issues, it was a good and educational trip.

 

 

 

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