As previously announced in Boondocking with Jira and Confluence, this week, we’re “off the grid” in our travel trailer. We’re boondocking which means camping without hookups to city power, water, and sewer systems. We’ll provide our own resources which includes enough power and internet to connect to Jira and Confluence – vital resources for our long-term RV trip.
We’re also attending a “convergence” which is like a conference with fellow digital nomads. We’ve all parked together in the same place. If we fail at boondocking, we’ll do it surrounded by experienced campers.
The week before our trip, we further tested our preparations. We were at a campground with full hookups, but instead of plugging in, we tested how long we’d last with conservative use of battery power and stored water.
I quickly discovered a problem recharging the computers. My 12 volt inverter charger works perfectly in a (running, and therefore full battery) truck, but not so well on a dwindling trailer battery. Its 75 watt output could handle the Chromebooks and phones but couldn’t recharge my HP laptop. Also, it only has one outlet, which is inconvenient. I immediately upgraded to a 2,000 watt device with 3 AC and 4 USB outlets. Right now I only have a WiFi booster plugged in and its internal fan is running more often than I’d like. We’ll see if it works long-term.
Week Before Test Results:
|Battery||We’ll need to charge our trailer battery every day or every other day, to sustain the 12 volt system and recharge electronics.|
|Electronics||Battery time with heavy use:|
|While boondocking, we can only use the 12 volt system, which powers the lights, water pump, and fire and carbon monoxide detection systems. It also generates the spark for propane appliances, like the fridge, stove, and oven.|
We won’t be able to use luxuries like the microwave, coffee maker, or air conditioner.
When the trailer is briefly connected to the generator, we’ll be able to use the wall outlets to charge electronics.
|Water & Sewer||Tank capacity:|
|Our fresh water lasted 4 days with moderate use and 4 showers. We can easily extend that with conservation, including less dish washing and fewer showers.|
Our grey water tank lasted only 3 days. Storage of used water is an issue. We can extend capabilities by limiting how much water goes down the drain. Next week, we’ll need to use the outside shower and wash dishes outside to avoid storing excess water.
Our black tank is never an issue. We can go a week or two without dumping it.
We woke up, made a quick breakfast, and completed tasks from our Confluence “moving day” checklist. There are 32 things I do the day before any move like: verify our route, fuel the tow vehicle, and check the pressure on all tires. (The correct pressure is CRITICAL for trailer tires!) On moving day, there are another 52 items to complete like: draining all tanks, turning off the electric and propane systems, and properly coupling the tow vehicle to the trailer. My Confluence checklist is vital to the moving process. Missing any item could put us, others, or our property in danger while rolling down the road.
We completed our standard checklist but this time one thing was different. We filled our fresh water tank, otherwise, we’d have no water at our next destination. We’ve never traveled with a full tank before. Water is heavy and the extra 450 pounds means extra risk and even less gas mileage. Luckily our off-grid destination was only 10 miles away.
We arrived and parking was much easier than usual. Usually you have to line up very carefully, so all your connections reach and you fit in the spot. But with boondocking, there are no connections to worry about. We simply parked, drove up on leveling blocks, detached the tow vehicle, and opened our slides and awning. Voila – we’re camping!
This night we met our fellow convergence attendees and cooked dinner together on many grills. There’s a fire ban in this part of Colorado, so only propane grills are allowed.
So far so good! I’m able to launch Jira, Confluence, and other web apps, but only through my phone’s hotspot and only when the cell booster is on. Both are a constant draw on the battery. Our electronics are running low and we’ll need to charge the battery tomorrow.
We spent the morning re-reading the generator manual and filling it with gas, fuel stabilizer, and oil for the first time. We only broke one plastic piece doing this. We turned on the generator and tested it with a cheap appliance. It worked as expected and the generator was quieter than anticipated. Tomorrow we hook it up to our entire rig.
Today we took a group hike to Treasure Falls, saw part of the continental divide, and drove a dirt road up a mountain for a beautiful view of the area. I’m looking forward to charging everything tomorrow and possibly a soak in the natural hot springs!
Read Next: Day 3-4