No, we don’t cheat on our income taxes or in a card game. Like thousands of other RV owners, we cheat on what is perceived as conventional camping.
For the past week, we have been camping at Big Meadows off of the Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park. We have a beautiful pull thru site about 100’ long – more than enough space to accommodate our “big rig”. There is only one problem with our site – we have no hook-ups for electricity, water, or sewage. This, of course, translates to using our own on-board resources of water, battery power, and wastewater holding. It is easy to get by with no hook-up for a night or two, but if you have a conventional RV with a refrigerator, water pump, and lights, you will quickly learn that the small battery packs that come with your RV will not sustain your needs. The amount of water you can store and the capacity of your waste holding tanks will determine just how often you flush the potty, bathe, or wash dishes.
If you are in a towable RV it is a real hassle to hook-up and pull the camper off of your site to a dump station to dispose of waste water and fill up with potable water.
Some long-term dry campers simply avoid using the RV’s resources and prefer to use bathhouses where water and waste are involved and candles, battery powered LED lights, or lanterns for lighting. This may also include forgoing any TV usage. The RV is simply a place to sleep and a shelter from rain or other inclement weather.
Then there are the cheaters – people like us. We expand our battery storage capacity, convert every possible lighting unit to LED, carry auxiliary water containers and some sort of wastewater device that we can easily move to a dump station and thus enjoy the amenities our RV provides without the inconvenience of trekking to a bathhouse or constantly buying ice to keep our food refrigerated.
Actually, cheating isn’t difficult and anyone that owns a RV can expand his or her self-sufficiency for relatively little extra cost. We accomplish our cheating with a 50-gallon drinking water safe auxiliary tank we fill at a potable water station and then pump it into the RV using a 12-volt Shurflo pump . We transfer our gray water via a macerator pump into a surplus 55-gallon plastic drum, which has been adapted for a standard 3” dump cap. Recharging our batteries is accomplished by either sunlight on our 300 watt roof mounted solar panels or a small 2000 watt “quite” inverter generator powering a 75 amp battery charger.
It can get pretty cool at night in the mountains and some heat in the RV is welcome. Only problem is the fan in a RV furnace is a battery power hog, so we use an indoor safe portable propane heater that requires no electricity.
Our morning coffee is made in a Coleman Camp Coffee Maker that works on a camp stove or the RV gas burner stove – again, no need for electricity to make perfect tasting coffee.
If you would like to become a cheater and are not sure about what or how to accomplish independence from a full hook-up camping site, make a comment or ask a question. I will do my best to give an answer and hope other experienced cheaters will join in with their tricks.
HAPPY CAMPING TRAILS TO ALL!