Happy 2015, glampers!
We thought it might be silly to kick off the year with our tale of…. The Accidental Boondock (queue campy horror music).
Last fall we just needed to get out. Get out of the house, get out of town, get out of our daily routine. It was a lovely weekend, cool weather after weeks of heat that messed with our sense of seasonal changes. And apparently everyone in the region also set out to go camping at Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge (more on the actual park in the next blog post).
As I’m sure you have gathered, we are not the spontaneous camping types. We did that once before kids and ended up eating hot dogs for three days straight, then being disgusted by hotdogs for three years. And you know I love on-line registrations. Wichita Mountains does not offer on-line reservations. In fact, you can’t reserve a spot at all, its first come, first serve. We’ve camped here before and were able to snag an electric and water site but they are limited (there are lots of primitive sites), and on another occasion had to listen to a neighbor’s generator all night while tent camping in the spring. In fact, being able to camp in the 9 hot months of the year in Oklahoma without sleeping in a pool of our own sweat was a major motivator for getting Honeysuckle Manor in the first place. Worried about all of these things, we shoved off as early on a Friday as we could and made it to the park by 4:00PM.
When we pulled up to the gate, this lovely park employee smiled, said, “Welcome, y’all”, and then told us there were no more water and electric sites. I went into a tailspin of panic. What?!?! No!!!!! Who were these sneaky devils who got here before 4:00 on a Friday?! Did they take their kids out of school just to snag a spot?! Have they been sharking the gate all day waiting until check in time at 2:00?!?! Are they scalpers (wonder what they are charging…)? Dammit, I am not going home, so this lady better get used to HM parked right here. TJ, always the rational and optimistic knight in shining armor, turned to me and said, “Well, who’s up for boondocking?” I sputtered, “But but but.” But what? All the meals could still be cooked using the propane tanks or on the camp stove. We can sleep with the windows open, it’s not so hot at night. If we fill up the water tank we will certainly have enough for washing up, using the bathroom, and drinking. The batteries will power lights once it gets dark, and we could even just enjoy a night fire and then an early bedtime. And then I remembered we used to do this all the time. Oh, yeah. I know how to do this. I haven’t gone all squishy, just sort of squishy. So I sat up straight, looked TJ in the eye, and said “Hell yes!” Then I remember the kids were listening in the back seat.
So there we were. And it was so liberating: just back in, and begin glamping! The set up took like half the time. Open the windows. Watch the girls purge the site of invisible bad guys. Notice the increasing number of fellow RVers driving by looking a bit incredulous and give them that “I know! What can ya do? Hope you brought beer!” nod/shrug/face. I think we got a little giddy. We kept saying we should just do this more often. Look, it’s not bad at all and we didn’t even prepare! And then, about an hour later I went in to start dinner. The lights seemed a little less bright. The water pump seemed to be making its sound in longer gluging noises. TJ looked at the control panel and we realized we were down to 1/8 battery power. What?!
So this is how we learned that you have to give these deep cycle batteries some attention. Right. They are not just car batteries. I guess there is something about distilled water, and checking that, like, more than never. But there was no way we could replace or resolve this problem now. So TJ just hooked the power cable from HM into his truck and let it run and charge the battery for about 15 minutes. Well that worked, until the next morning, again with the consequences of not maintaining that darn battery. So we just hooked up again. And then again. We made it through the weekend with four recharges, not so bad.
Saturday morning we woke up and made breakfast and wondered how much propane we were going through running the refrigerator. So TJ had a look. Yeah, we were down to about a fourth of a tank. Whoops. After messing around and going for a hike we drove out of the park and into Lawton, OK, and exchanged out our empty tanks. OK, note to self, have propane.
But other than that, it was a great trip, sure we were a little smelly at the end, but that’s the scent of spontaneity, right? Who cares anyway. And I do think we will spontaneously boondock again (now that we know about those batteries and realized we should be a bit more proactive on the propane). So….. anyone know of any lovely fields out there? 😉
If you have any boondocking bits of knowledge to share, please do! Anyone else have a silly boondocking story?