30 Day Off-Grid Challenge! Hacks and Results! Could You Do It?
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Have you ever spent a month living off-grid? Letting the sun be your energy source, nature be your entertainment and time be your guide?
While Brian and I have boondocked many times before, we challenged ourselves and our rig to go off-grid, in the AZ desert for 30 days. In our latest 4-part Boondocking series, we had five goals: Test our rig's systems, see how efficiently we could use our resources, save money, complete some projects and SLOW DOWN!
In our Week One video, https://youtu.be/8yhbNpuqFzQ, we covered our time in Quartzsite, AZ and the Big Tent event. It was also our first LU Crew Meet Up location and time to be spent with friends and family. We were off and running and four weeks of boondocking sounded like a breeze! Waking up each morning to a crisp morning with a beautiful sunset was absolute heaven! We were conserving water but burning through propane kind of quickly. The night time temps were getting down there and storm clouds were hanging around. All in all a great first week though!
Colorado River Boondocking
RV Show Big Tent
In our Week Two video, https://youtu.be/KlmTdqFkwfU, we shared some of our tips and tricks for boondocking. To do this successfully, we feel you need to plan for it! That means purchasing and utilizing paper products to include plates, cups, utensils and LOTS of paper towels. Additionally, we were all about conservation! That meant no more than one shower every fourth day and using baby wipes to wash our hands instead of water. We also refrained from washing dishes as much as possible. For bathing, we used adult size body wipes. They can be found at Costco, Amazon, grocery stores and drug stores. Using these, instead of showering as often, will help you stay "fresh and spiffy"! With our use of paper products, we were able to reduce dishwashing to 3 times a week or less. This helped us save on water usage AND the need to dump our gray water.
Additionally, Brian took the opportunity to work on outside projects around the rig. Boondocking and slowing down gave him the time and space to accomplish a lot. He got a lot of work done, but there's always more to do! Aaron Jones from @JonesN2Travel and MobileRVTech.com helped us install a new inverter and that gave our boondocking a nice extra boost!
For some fun, we took a drive to the Nellie E Saloon, aka "The Desert Bar"in Parker, AZ and hung out for a bit to eat and have an ice cold beer. What a place! It's uniquely powered off-grid, built into a mountain and requires a 5 mile, very bumpy, ride to reach. The ladies bathroom was the highlight for me. If you haven't been - put it on your list! On our way to the Desert Bar, we caught a glimpse of the Parker "425" off road races. Wow, what an experience! These guys (and gals) race through the desert, kicking up dirt and going airborne! Thousands come out to see the races every year.
The Desert Bar
Desert Bar Ladies Restroom
Parker 425 Offroad Races
In our Week Three video, https://youtu.be/PW_Ttf8y6Xk, we moved from our beautiful location in Quartzsite to our new "home" along the Colorado River in Parker, A. We found a beautiful site with the water only 10 feet from our doorstep. How beautiful! The campsite was located on the Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation and they do charge a $15 fee per night and there are no amenities included. What we didn't know was that it was the Arizona Drag Boat Association racing weekend right out front of our site. That was OK and very cool! We had a front row seat to these awesome drag boats by day and gorgeous sunsets over the water at night. While in Parker, we visited the Roadrunner Floating bar and grill. The restaurant sits atop the Colorado River with gorgeous views.
The food was great and the beer was only $2!!
Colorado River Boondocking
When we left Quartzsite, we took the opportunity to dump our gray water and refill all essentials such as water and propane.
In our Week Four video, https://youtu.be/lUwWmsT0lNQ, we moved from our beautiful spot in Parker to an equally beautiful spot close to Lake Havasu City. The location is called "The Steps" for the many terraces that are built into the side of this little canyon cut-out area. We searched high and low for information on the terraces, but came up dry. If you know, let us know! There were many spots to choose from and the higher you climb, the better your view of the Colorado River. Unfortunately we chose not to climb in order to be gentle on our newly, rebuilt engine. Even in the lowest area, we still had a small view of the river. The area was great and very quiet at night. You can find the coordinates and location for this site on Campendium.
The Steps on Campendium
The Steps Outside Lake Havasu City, Arizona
As the week progressed, more and more folks moved in and we found out why. It happened to be the Winter Blast Pyrotechnics show in Lake Havasu City. Again, we got a nice treat without knowing it! The show runs from Thursday to Sunday nights, but we chose only to take in the Saturday night show. It did not disappoint! We found a spot, atop a hill, where we had a perfect view of the area where the fireworks launch! Wow, what a sight to behold. Brian and I called it the longest grand finale we've ever seen. If you're in the area next year, don't miss this show! What was also really cool and unique was the number of four wheel vehicles that took to the top of the hills in the area. Not only did they set up their chairs, but many had campfires and music going. What a sight that must have been for the drivers along 95 N. It was a truly unique experience and one we highly recommend.
On a couple of days, we took in the sites in downtown Lake Havasu City where we spent time exploring the London Bridge. This was the first time for Brian, and mine since high school. There are many shops and restaurants along the bridge area and a nice walking/biking path along the water. If you go, be sure to take the ferry ride across the water to the new Casino. While we aren't really into the casino scene, we did it for the ferry ride and views of the lake and Lake Havasu city proper. At $2.00 for a roundtrip ticket, you can't go wrong! The ferry departs on the hour.
Week four also topped off our 30-day boondocking challenge. We had an awesome four weeks! While we moved around a bit, we didn't go far from Quartzsite to Lake Havasu City. Just under a hundred miles.
When we look back at our four goals, we summarize our success in this way: (1) Testing our rig - we were able to put it through the paces and determined our 400w solar panels were insufficient for our needs. Will we upgrade? Probably not as the cost to run our generator is significantly less than the cost of new panels. All other systems worked well and we were pleased. (2) Using our resources efficiently - when we ran the numbers, we determined we used 170 gallons of water in 30 days. While the average US household uses 101 gallons per DAY, our numbers sound low, but that equates to almost 6 gallons per day. We thought we did a better job of conserving water! Could we have conserved more? I don't know. We used a lot of propane! We expected this as the nights were cold and we had to keep the rig around 68 degrees for our sensitive little Frenchies! Our composting toilet only needed one change in the four weeks and we needed only one dump of our gray water in that same timeframe. Awesome!! (3) Save money - well this one was a bit disappointing! We didn't save all that much and mostly due to spending money on camping fees in Parker and the AZ State trust land permit at The Steps. The biggest cost savings came from the fuel we saved by not moving our motorhome much. Typically we spend about $366 a month for fuel and we spent only $75! There were costs associated with boondocking that we'll list below. All in all, not a huge cost savings for us. (4) Complete Projects - Brian accomplished a lot in these last four weeks. He still has the fuel injectors to replace, but has time to get those done. The time and space were a huge advantage in making sure the projects were dealt with. AND (5) Slowing Down - this where we saw the biggest return and accomplishment! We definitely slowed down, explored and gave our minds a rest from decision and planning fatigue! This was definitely the GAIN in our 30 day boondocking challenge. In our first 6 months of full time RVing, we moved around 17 states and stayed in 59 different locations. That's a LOT of decision and planning fatigue. Especially when a handful of those locations weren't planned and ended up being a "Plan B".
Would we boondock again for this or a longer period of time? ABSOLUTELY! We gained a ton from this experience and would highly recommend it to anyone considering it. We're thinking perhaps sometime this summer we may do it again in the mountains of Arizona. Another one of our favorite places!
Listed below are the boondocking specific usage and fees data for you. Let us know if you've boondocked for 30 days or are planning a 30 day challenge. We're happy to help you with any questions you might have. Check out our links below and visit our Amazon shop for items we prefer to use while boondocking! Safe travels to you and hopefully we'll see you on the road sometime!
Boondocking Related Usage & Fees:
Water - Used 170 gallons, Cost $15.75
Propane - Used 14.6 gallons, Cost $39.73
Generator Fuel - 8 hours (appx.), Cost $16.75
Camping Fees - 2 locations, Cost $80
Motorhome Fuel - Cost $75
Dump Fee - 1 Dump of gray water, Cost $0 (combined with water fill up)
TOTAL with camping fees: $152.23/ $5.07 per day
TOTAL without camping fees: $72.23/ $2.41 per day
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