I Blacked Out In Arkansas: Boondocking Through the Eclipse

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I Blacked Out in Arkansas

Boondocking Through the Solar Eclipse

Stonehenge, the Great Pyramids of Egypt and our recent rally in Morrilton, Arkansas all have one thing in common. They were all created by folks in awe of the amazing path of our sun and the workings of the solar system. Now we didn't have to drag monolithic rocks a few hundred miles to make this happen, we just had to drag our Airstream a few thousand kilometres to meet up with about 55 other fun-loving families in a field in Arkansas to witness the solar eclipse a couple of weeks ago, and have a ton of fun doing it. The event was called the Moonshadow Eclipse Rally and it was organized by the Arkansas Razorback Chapter of the Airstream Club. We were made very welcome as they organized the arrivals into a historic wagon wheel formation that was the norm for rally layouts in the early years of the Airstream club. At times there have been rallies with 4000 trailers laid out in this pattern! Our hosts provided awesome meals that included catfish, pulled pork, and pancakes at breakfast. We also enjoyed happy hours, games and nightly Karaoke. On eclipse day the weather was beautiful, and we were perfectly aligned in the path of totality. And as predicted, we were treated to quite an otherworldly experience. The sky slowly went dark, we had a 360 degree sunset and it probably dropped 15 degrees in temperature. Arkansas is weeks ahead of us as far as spring is concerned and as soon as it got dark the birds went silent and the stars (and the bugs) came out. So very impressive. We also had access to telescopes with the proper filters and we took turns having a peek up close. I know that eclipse gatherings were happening all over the world, but being together with friends new and old in a beautiful setting far from home certainly gave the whole event a feeling of great adventure. But to prepare for that adventure off-grid for the better part of a week in a travel trailer takes a bit of preparation. Here's what we did to get ready.

Prepping for a week off-grid, also known as "boondocking" is an easy and fun thing to do and most travel trailers are built to make this an option at any time. The things we are most concerned about are preserving resources like water and electrical power. When heading out to be living off-grid you need to have your freshwater tanks full and your waste water tanks empty. For good measure we also travelled with several extra gallons of drinking water in portable containers.

Our propane tanks were also full and we had lots of of food in the fridge and cupboards. Now I have not done anything to our Airstream to improve its off grid capabilities except replacing all the bulbs inside and out with LEDs. No solar on the roof, no lithium upgrade, and not even a gas generator. We are super careful using our lighting and dont leave lights running when not needed. Our 12 Volt power is being conserved to run the refrigerator and in cooler times of the year our furnace.

Even with your best efforts your batteries are eventually going to need recharging. I recommend portable solar panels for that if you don't want to add them permanently to your rig. I really didn't have room to carry these around all winter just to use them for this one event so I brought my trusty Car Generator instead. This trusty gadget, invented by Torontonian Jonathon Schloo and nationally exposed and endorsed on Dragon's Den is the best thing for us when we travel. It connects to the battery of our tow vehicle and while I idle the vehicle I get all the power I need to charge the trailer and run our 110 volt household appliances. Best of all, I dont have to carry containers of gasoline and cross my fingers that the long ignored generator will start. And it is quiet. no one will even realize you are running it (if your car is a civilized vehicle). If you need it in a parking lot overnight or a friend's driveway or backyard it is quick and easy. So everyday at the rally I ran the Car Generator for an hour to make sure we were all charged up for the evening.

For water I was not really very concerned. We have a large freshwater tank that will hold enough water for a week of washing dishes and showering if we are careful. Short showers are also important to keeping the waste water tanks from filling up. This time out I also did a long overdue sterilization of the freshwater tank using the bleach and water method. My previous tank of water smelt a bit like sulfur and I wanted to get rid of that. The usual ratio is one ounce of beach to eight gallons of water. If you know your tank size it is easy. I mixed the bleach in a gallon of water and poured it into my tank then filled it up with water, waited about 12 hours, drained and re-filled. Ready to go! We also had water in jugs to use to drink and make coffee and tea.

So get out there and use your rig off the grid. It can open up many new options about where you will stay. Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, Airstream Courtesy Parking and that family member with property out in the middle of nowhere is just the beginning. And who knows, maybe you will be in the right place at the right time to see a total solar eclipse.


More Information about BOONDOCKING CLICK HERE.

Show to sterilize your freshwater RV tanks, LINK HERE


This article is from the April Newsletter.
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