On Saturday, June 19th I drove my rig to Mt. Vernon, Illinois for the installation of 400 watts of solar panels. The photograph above illustrates the interior components now positioned below the platform for my bed and the masterful work of the engineer at Boundless Power Systems. While this installation was occurring, I spent the week at Cape Cod with friends. The environment at the Cape is glorious. Yesterday I retrieved my rig from Ohio, restarting my journey with more battery capacity and less reliance on fossil fuels to run the devices that require electricity in my motorhome.
I’ll be better equipped to “boondock,” camping without a need for an electrical hookup. The noise, smell, and expense of running my propane generator will be significantly diminished. Sunlight creates an electric current when it strikes solar panels. The electric current will feed into a charge converter that will control the delivery of energy to the batteries that power my “house.” My batteries use the current to produce DC power. Then the power passes through an inverter that converts it to AC for turning on lights, charging phones and tablets, and turning on my air conditioning.
Boondocking is camping off the grid, away from the conventional RV park where rigs are sometimes lined up side by side on concrete slabs. Boondocking is quieter, and can afford opportunities to camp at beautiful destinations that aren’t otherwise available. When boondocking, there are no water, electricity, or sewer connections like you’d find in a conventional campground. Boondocking is often free. The National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife have lands that are managed for this purpose. There is often a site with durable surface for rig or tent parking.
Boondockers are implored to adhere to the guiding principle that Mother Nature is not our maid. I hope this principle seeps into the consciousness of those who litter or leave trash behind, whether in the wilderness or in our cities. Litter wounds the environment. Willy nilly disposal of trash begets more litter. One empty water bottle left on the ground spoils an otherwise bucolic setting.
I spent my first night in the woods when I was ten years old. I was taught to “Leave my campsite cleaner than I found it.” I’m guided by this adage today as much if not more than I was when I was ten. I’ll pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter whether it’s mine or not. I’ll leave natural objects as I find them and minimize the impact of campfires. I’ll respect wildlife; I’ll be mindful that I’m a visitor in their home. I’ll camp apart from other visitors whenever possible. I’ll enjoy our public lands while protecting them.
Henry David Theoreau said, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” I’m urged by this message to respect what’s under my feet because it is the closest that I’ll ever get to heaven while I’m on the planet. I also take Thoreau’s quote as message to make practical use the power of the sun.
Philosopher George Santayana said, “The earth has music for those who will listen.” I’m writing now on my sister’s back porch in Nashville where the birds are showering me with their songs. I open my ears to the wind and the birds and commit to environmental stewardship.