Vagabond in America 2016 travel blog

My home in Poverty Flats

Another Momentum Toy Hauler along the shore of Lake Mead

More RVs in the desert

How long could you feel calm in an emergency? Lots of people will panic after only a few hours without basic necessities, like electricity and water. Both FEMA and the Red Cross recommend that everyone have supplies on hand to survive for three days after a disaster. Do you?

They recommend having a “bug-out” bag prepared in advance in case you need to escape. I keep mine fully stocked with everything I might need, such as a personal hygiene (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, Kleenex tissues, etc.), copies of my IDs and prescriptions, a first aid kit, compact multi-purpose tools, hand-powered flashlight, rain poncho, etc. For all those electronic necessities, my bug-out bag includes a selection of USB charging cords and plugs. If I ever have to abandon my RV, all that I have to do is add food and water, grab my cell phone, and go! Because these items are all duplicates, the bug-out bag also makes a quick source of supplies for trips or cruises.

I also maintain what I call my “hurry-up-and-wait” backpack. This contains items that I might want for unexpected long delays, such as trips to the emergency room. It includes bottled water, protein bars, snacks, a headset, iPod player, magazines, etc. It has a portable USB power pack that I keep charged at all times. I’ve used this backpack far more times than I would like. If I’m going to the doctor’s office, the DMV, or anyplace that I might have a long boring wait in a noisy room, I add my tablet computer and throw my backpack over my shoulder.

Maybe it’s just my Boy Scout instincts but following the “Be Prepared” motto makes me truly feel better. It’s a level of self-confidence that has frequently also rescued me in bad situations.

My RV lifestyle has taken the Be Prepared concept to a whole new level. When I’m sitting far out in the desert, I’m overcome with an indescribable inner peace. To me, it’s relaxing in a way that few others will ever know. There’s no one around who could keep you company or who could rob you. It’s just me, Pooka, and the wilderness.

Now that my rig is fully configured for boondocking, I can go three days at any time with no advance preparation. Moreover, I wouldn’t have to sacrifice any of life’s luxuries.

I can even satisfy any sudden urge to watch TV despite being far from any TV stations. Whenever I’m near any city, I setup my TiVo for the correct ZIP code. It downloads the schedules for any stations that might be within receiving range. Then, I scan the program listings looking for movies, specials, documentaries, or anything that might be interesting. The TiVo records these selections and they’re all ready for me when I’m no longer near a city. It now holds hundreds of shows to choose from.

After three days of boondocking, I would start running low on battery power. I would need to angle my roof solar panel toward the sun, or deploy my portable solar panel, or run my generator for a few hours per day. Lots of options for electric power for an extended stay.

To boondock for a week, I need to prepare in advance: stock up on food, empty the holding tanks, fill the fresh water tanks, and fill the fuel tanks (gasoline for the generator and liquid propane for the furnace, refrigerator and hot water tank).

My holding tanks won’t last more than a week without some outside facilities for shower, laundry, and toilet. I’ve never gone boondocking for more than two weeks. If I did, I would need even more outside support: grocery store, fresh water, and dump station. These facilities exist even out in the wilderness. I’ve met over a dozen individuals who boondock all winter out in the desert. And, they do this year after year. Most importantly, they seem very happy with their chosen lifestyle.

When I abandoned life in a sticks-and-bricks home, I gained an incredible flexibility. I now routinely move my home north or south to avoid the worst hot or cold weather. I can move close to friends and family. Or, I can move far from hurricane or flood warnings. If there was a huge natural or terrorist catastrophe, it might take quite a while before I was even aware of it. When there have been power outages where I was staying, I didn’t notice. Everything in my RV continues running unaffected by the outside world.

In a country where half of its citizens are in violent disagreement with the other half, it’s nice to be far removed from the turmoil. My nomad life is not for everyone. But, I’m loving it!

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