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Old 10-12-2015, 10:50 AM   #15
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Preparing for a Western Adventure

We are currently packing to move to a "Winter- south home" and have a "Summer- north home" to return. Our Airstream will move with the seasons with us. With luck, we will be out of the Colorado high plains before getting out and over Raton Pass into New Mexico. Just a couple more weeks to "winterize" our home and onto a new adventure.
******
The test of our endurance for the Desert Southwest during the hottest months of the year of June, July and August was a success. When 105F is just hot... wearing a Bermuda hat, shorts, teeshirt and sandals... with 80F+ evenings inside the Airstream, we can handle it. Your body does adapt to heat easier than cold. I run an average higher temperature year round than my wife, who is chilled with just the thought of snow in the forecast.

Much of this is to prepare those for camping adventures to areas they are not familiar. The number of Canadians in the Mohave Desert, as well as Europeans in their rental RV's was a surprise. They eagerly sat out under their awnings enjoying the desert heat and dry air. Most going to or from Utah and amazed at the lack of... people. When the rental RV tourists left, the dumpster area was brimming with chairs, BBQ's, water jugs and other items that could be taken home. Each morning one could open up a Flea Market at the end of the month gathering up neat stuff. I kept a five gallon buck with a heavy duty seat that fitted into the opening for permanent camping. Even... tents for those who spotted them early cast aside. (For those of you who are early risers at an RV Park in the Southwest.)

I resist leaving the Rocky Mountains. The climate suits me perfectly. The elevation has winter and summer advantages that only someone living above 5,000' can appreciate. Those who ski the high country taking a break in the sunshine, snow everywhere and need to strip off clothing to keep... COOL. Imagine that, it is true.

The below 3,000' elevation trailer owners need to post their experiences. I find the Spring and Fall months pleasant in the Midwest, but the other 7 months not to my liking.

Colorado is a wonderful compromise in climate of moderate Summer heat and temporary cold spells in Winter months that vary from year to year in length. Mild winters bring the big snows. Cold winters are very low humidity and you can dress warm and remain comfortable because of the climate.

Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico for Full Timing with short moves in elevation can be perfectly adapted by most Airstream owners. For anyone who is retired, enjoys the outdoors, the Rocky Mountains have to be the Number One option. Thin air cools and heats up quickly at sunrise and sunset. Once you have been exposed to this climate, it is difficult to leave. At least from my perspective of experiencing time in other parts of the USA.

When coming to the Rockies, you will have to relearn some of the previous posts techniques to keep comfortable. You have to be prepared with the necessary supplies of propane, food and water. Tools to fix and repair anything possible while Off the Grid. A vehicle capable of getting you into... and more importantly, out of the wide open spaces. They are beautiful. These areas are also dangerous if you are not prepared. This is not a controlled Disneyland Park with hired staff to watch out for your well being. It is assumed that you are prepared and understand the caveats of wide open country and can go to places that a European could never imagine in their world.

Much of the information I have given will become common sense when tested by experience. Rarely do I find an Airstream Off the Grid. They, the Airstream, is the least likely trailer brand to even consider getting some brush marks on the sides and coverings of dust from unpaved roads. It can easily be done by "Base Camping" and that would end up as another Thread. Knowing when to "turn around or back out" of a road that has become impassable can be challenging to a newbie, and experienced backcountry camper like myself.

Planning ahead is necessary in the Western USA. Open country roads with little traffic, mountain roads with only Friday to Sunday campers, few people and towns with no spare tires, parts for repairs or cell phone service once out of town. Be prepared and it does not hurt to go with someone else for safety. You WILL, or decide it is not worth trying, get that independent spirit that is needed to slowly push your limits and into the back country. It is worth every effort and taking one step at a time will insure you will be competent to attempt any challenge with success.

The Western Boondocker is eager to help and assist the CityDockers in this transformation. Not all find peace and solitude... pleasant. Those who do will return like hummingbirds on their seasonal visits. If a hummingbird can do it... you can. Try it sometime. You might even come back for a second trip...
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:06 PM   #16
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Ray, your posts are so helpful...and very true! I live in Centennial, Colorado and remember much harder winters in years past. One nice thing on Colorado winters, in this area...we get heavy snow, but it does not stay all winter as it did in Montana. We were stationed there in the 70's, USAF. Snows came early...were deep...and stayed till late spring. And the temps could be brutal! Colorado is a treat in comparison...weather wise. I love both states for their natural beauty, but Colorado is home. Thanks for your very helpful information. Evelyn.
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:16 PM   #17
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Rocky Mountains- A National Treasure for you to visit

ColoradoLady... you know how beautiful the Big Sky Country of northwest Montana is... during the Spring to Fall... but also know that when the snow begins to drop down elevation on the low mountains, Winter has arrived. The Flathead Lake gets the first big taste of Canadian COLD and moisture at the their low elevation, leaving what is left for North Dakota and the Midwest to endure next.

Our favorite part of Montana is the Southwestern "high country" that borders Yellowstone Park. The trees are tall and with thickly populated forests. Fresh air, multitudes of fishing creeks and rivers flowing out of the area, like the Yellowstone River. A Colorado and Wyoming environment.

The Northwestern part of Montana has much lower elevations. More precipitation, more brush, more bear, more creeks and rivers and green summers. You can dig a hole in a valley and probably find water with not much effort. Finding a "Boondocking" site Off the Grid is very difficult. Finding a RV Park that has a view is difficult, unless you are at a Montana State Park who have several wonderful sites along the Flathead Lake.

Valley elevations below 3,000 feet. Lots of moisture. Lots of humidity. Tall trees that the Swedes in the 20th century could not pass up with the lumbering businesses, like Anaconda, that seemed to have no end in sight. But, for anyone with a trailer... the brush can be so thick, so dense... your Off the Grid camping might be on a mine tailing. Maybe someone camping in western Montana might help out some interested, but the low ground is private property and the National Forests are exactly that. Dense forest. Dense Brush. Dark among tall pine. You can actually hear your voice echo in the forest. Try it. No kidding.

The Summers in SW Montana are wonderful and hunter camps everywhere and cleared of any excess trees decades ago. Bring "Bear Spray". If you think Yellowstone Park gets Bear... well, SW Montana might claim that the overflow go to Yellowstone. Same with the Grizzly Bear in the forests of NW Montana. A whole different kind of Off the Grid camping with the understanding that YOU are NOT the top of the Food Chain, but part of it.

We had tent camped along the Yellowstone River and nobody seemed to care. There were also no cabins or homes, so it may have been National Forest. Trailers would fit nicely with sand and gravel beaches and crystal clear river water. Cold... water. Fish jumping, but what kind of fly, it is for you to figure that out.

The Missouri River originates in Montana and in the Three Forks and Helena areas you can climb a tall hill and see large fish, trout most likely, swimming along the shallow water. We go there to pan Sapphires in the gravels. The Summer can get into the low 100's and no wind.

So on I go. Daylight hours are getting short and I took a break from packing and will be off the internet grid for a time. The snow is being patient and all we need are ten more days and we will be loaded and taking the "south route" to the desert country. If western Montana is Big Sky Country... the Mohave Desert or Southern Nevada is "Big Tortoise Country".

Montana. Idaho. Western South Dakota and Western Nebraska. Wyoming. Utah. Arizona. New Mexico. Wide open spaces and climates that vary like those reading these threads. Something for everyone. From peace & quiet to ATV and bicycling, hiking, fishing and just plain exploring the rocks for crystals and anything that shines. A true National Treasure and true Wilderness Areas that is still not prohibited for you to visit and stay awhile. Enjoy. Come visit. Try it... you will like it.
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Old 10-13-2015, 12:16 AM   #18
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Ray, I really liked Montana, despite the long snowy winters. We first arrived to Great falls August of 1970...on the 8th...awoke the next morning to find snow...largest snow flakes I ever saw! Thus, winter had begun.
During those days I was quite adventurous. I ventured out,on my own to find good fishing streams...headed into the mountains...wandered about, found roads, took them, found likely streams, looked for ranch houses, was never refused permission to fish.
So, with my side arm on one hip, a hunter's knife on the other....I fished and caught some of the best tasting coho salmon I ever tasted. Darn, it was good. I always came home with a heavy string full. I'm sure that now I would probably get lost, doubt the fish would be so easy to catch! It was great fun. That was a long time ago. Now, at almost 77, I don't know that I would venture out so far and to such isolation as I did then. In youth, I felt invincible...not so much so now! I hope to get back up there in the next year or so...in my Bambi!
Good luck and safe travels to your summer destination. Evelyn.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:52 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
Chrisy is one brave soul with a Post under Boondocking- Midwest Real Winter with a 2016 27' Eddie Bauer Airstream. This is the Boondocker Attitude we like to see on the Forum.

Even my wife and I were fooled into believing that our 2006 23' Safari was capable of traveling anywhere we could take a trailer and at anytime of the year.

Wrong. The first year and actually the first TRIP to Wyoming April 2006 was the education we needed to be more cautious when seasonal cold or heat force the Snowbirds south in the Winter months and the... well, Snowbirds back north during the Summer months. We caught a Wyoming Prairie rain, freezing rain turning overnight to sleet and snow sticking to the trailer. Sixty pounds of mud on our Safari's rock guards froze on the way out of the Dinosaur Graveyard near Medicine Bow, Wyoming.

After six weeks in the Mohave Desert with our 2014 International, as a test of endurance on our part, the desert was the only winner still standing upright. Daytime temperatures from 105F to 121F were the range. Nighttime temperatures were 85F to 90F in general. These are "outside" temperatures. Those temperatures within the Airstream were higher and for a longer period of time with both ceiling vents running and windows opened. Dry camping, $5 per day at Lake Mead Recreation Area or $28 a day for the weekly rate at a RV Park with full hookups were used and became better options than dry camping in a canyon waiting for AM and PM shade.

We did get use to the temperature range of 105F and 85F for lows. This is after the 121F day at Lake Mead with no wind and no relief at all. But you can survive if you remain hydrated... probably by filling up a five gallon bucket of fresh water with a long straw. This is a "dry heat". That means you will sweat, profusely... while everywhere you look is... dry. Your body does not understand "dry" to keep your body temperature below 100F. So, do not confuse Dry Heat as YOU being dry. You will be very wet. Try it if you are not believing.

This experience pegs 90F as the maximum daily high I would want to comfortably park my Airstream Off the Grid with no hookups or power for Air Conditioning. With Air Conditioning... you will not leave your trailer until sunset. But PAY whatever it costs at a RV Park in 90F+ conditions that are consistent.

Winter Seasonal camping below 40F overnight and warming up during the day... great experience. Once you are below 32F at night... there is not enough propane or battery power to keep warm within the trailer. If you have Solar... your Propane will run out. Either way, it is unsafe to camp with standing snow and below freezing temperatures for more than... one day.

Many tent campers believe a trailer is heaven sent comfort. It is not. The tent and your sleeping bags are more comfortable. Trust me. I know now. We still have one of our "igloo domed tents with top cover" just in case at home. You still need to vent the tent like a trailer to keep the inside humidity down. A coating of snow on a tent insulates better than on your aluminum trailer... which becomes an ice box.

To make this as short as possible... 40F to 90F is the Airstream Comfort Range ACR for us. Lower or Higher evening or day temperatures we are heading UP elevation to cool, or DOWN elevation to warmer comfort zones. This is Off the Grid with what ever Jackson Center blessed your model of Airstream.

This is just part of the flood of information learned from experimentation on our part. The Mohave Desert versus a Wisconsin Winter... give me the desert anytime. What is your experience?

Heat, Cold, Humidity. ALL must be considered when you plan a trip. How do you manage it?
Once again your comments are right on. Great to see reports from those who do, rather than those who dont. Keep it up please.
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:13 AM   #20
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Temp extremes in an AS

Well, by chance, I have been in 90+ degree temps "boondocking" in a sense, as in parked in Walmart or truck stop with no generator running. Even when the night temps drop to the 80's, very uncomfortable IMO. Needs lot of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Cold, well, again, short time span, i.e., in 2010, one night in April, parked in Petro near Laramie, Wyoming:
AirstreamREV_2009_Int_27FB_Snow_04.2010-4 by Tommie Lauer, on Flickr

Very comfortable, estimate temps in the teens during the blizzard. But, only one night, meaning no issue with battery life, propane use, etc. which become an issue requiring more energy input, generator, refill propane, etc.if an extended stay in cold is anticipated.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:56 AM   #21
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Ray: slightly off topic maybe, but another type of "extreme" relates to insects, like flies, mosquitoes, and no see 'ems. Like temperature, I guess everyone has their own tolerance.

What is your experience with Summer camping in the Rockies? Are insects much of a problem?
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:08 AM   #22
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Man can be Insect Food, while Insects are Fish Food

[QUOTE=field & stream;1696359]Ray: slightly off topic maybe, but another type of "extreme" relates to insects, like flies, mosquitoes, and no see 'ems. Like temperature, I guess everyone has their own tolerance.

What is your experience with Summer camping in the Rockies? Are insects much of a problem?[/QUOTE
*******
MOSQUITOS:

Water in ponds, marshy areas and slow moving creeks are insect havens in the Spring in the Rocky Mountains. When you read about a "Wet Spring" in the Rockies... it means you are Insect Food. Mostly mosquitos. They vary in size from small to Alaska small (large to us).

High percentage of DEET insect repellant will fend the majority of these aggressive and voracious vampires (the larger ones). Be liberal with the coverage and keep the spray can or hand applied repellant with you at all times when the mosquitos are in force. I am sure someone might know the time schedules of hatches at elevation. Myself... Wet Spring... be prepared.

The small mosquito bites do not welt up and itch like their larger, maybe three four times the size welt up, itch and if you do not scratch they recover faster.

For two years we have avoided the flat prairies of Wyoming's because of the dampness. Even the Snowy Range southwest of Laramie in Spring will have clouds of hungry large mosquitos. Maybe 8 years ago there were so many, we immediately left the area. Ten or more would be working on you at a time.

There is nothing worse than trying to sleep in a tent or trailer with the high pitched whine of ONE evasive mosquito. When the sound quits... you begin to rub your face or bare exposed skin... just in case it is you this time. I will hunt the critter(s) down before one minute of sleep can be done, safely.

Mosquitos seem to like the early sunrise and afternoon as the sun sets to feed upon easy targets. YOU.

FLIES:

Cattle bring flies to a campground. When you begin to notice large flies... cattle are moving into your area. Cattle feces is their buffet and nursery. These flies, adult and young are nuisance flies. Everyone is expected to have an inexpensive fly swatter and keep count of your... fly counts. These I call "licker flies" that sit on you and lick sweat or whatever.

Now, what I call Horse Flies. Maybe with cattle as well are those with the wings of a jet fighter when sitting on you and biting for flesh/blood. Whichever. DEET deters them, but some are very aggressive. Very different wing pattern Very aggressive. They like your head and the backs of your arms where you cannot see them. You will feel them digging into your skin... ouch.

Yellow Jackets around trash cans with soda cans. Wasps. Gnats. Geez... you think that the entire country is under insect attack.

I know as much about insects as my dogs. Just recognize why, when and what to do over time. Wear long sleeve shirts, wear a cap, long pants.

FLY FISHERMEN

Insect hatches are their friend to selecting a "fly" to fish with. So, not all insects are a hassle.

Overall during our travels, these hatches and swarms are temporary. A breezy spot above a wet area works best for a campsite. Only twice can I recall the swarms of biting insects a problem in the Rockies. Both in the Spring time in Wyoming. I said SPRING TIME, not Fall which is I why August is a time to really rest in peace.

Someone who actually is an entomologist, please explain Fly and Mosquito life cycles in higher elevations with water sources nearby. If I have to research this, I might be afraid to go outdoors afterwards.

Ticks... we have not even started. You Midwesterners know them better than I. Arkansas... wow... as thick as flies are at a feed lot in Colorado! We have ticks as well, but they are small and you have to be looking for them on your legs or pants.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:17 AM   #23
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Ray -- thanks for the helpful insect report. Looks like we might be buying a screen room!
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Old 10-17-2015, 04:32 PM   #24
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During the winters I relocate from the frozen north (Ontario, Canada) to AZ. Because of the low humidity in AZ, the nights can get quite cool, dropping to and sometime below the freezing mark. 2 or 3 years ago the fountain in the middle of Lake Havasu City, AZ was frozen solid, as was the fountain at Bellagio in Las Vegas. Since running the furnace at night while boondocking is not feasible as the batteries will die, we added a blue-flame heater. The blue-flame is a convection type of heater, and the warm air is circulated throughout the AS with no electricity use. When running the heater I crack open the window over the sink, open the vent over the stove (but not so that the fan comes on) and I open the small vent in the shower (again without switching on the fan).
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Old 10-17-2015, 06:22 PM   #25
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If I am thinking of the correct heater, it should probably be noted that its exhaust (which discharges directly into the coach, not up through a flue) contains high levels of Carbon Monoxide (which is why you open the various ventilation openings you mentioned). Just for those who may not know this . . .
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Old 10-17-2015, 10:51 PM   #26
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OTRA15 - they also have oxygen depletion sensors, but I don't rely on them.

For those who may not know the differences, there are also radiant-type of heaters, such as the catalytic heater and the radiant brick heater. They (the radiant ones) only project their heat straight out. The blue flame heater actually heats the air (cool air enters through a bottom grill) and passes the air between two sheets of tempered glass. The heated air exits through a grill at the top. The motion of the air carries the heated air throughout the RV. Because there is no exhaust exit, the heater is 100% efficient (i.e., no heat is lost as in the case of the typical RV furnace). Safety mandates that you must have a source of fresh air, hence the slightly opened window.
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Old 10-17-2015, 11:12 PM   #27
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Airstream Comfort Extreme Limits 40F to 90F?

Not just a source of air to burn (and breathe), but also a way for carbon monoxide to leave.
http://home.earthlink.net/~derekgore...ike/id110.html
https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/103972/CO03.pdf
http://sierranevadaairstreams.org/ow...icheaters.html
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:17 AM   #28
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Quote:
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Not just a source of air to burn (and breathe), but also a way for carbon monoxide to leave.
Vent Free Heater Cautions
https://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/103972/CO03.pdf
Using catalytic heaters to keep warm
Which is why it is imperative that there is replenishment of oxygen by having a source of fresh air, such as an open window.

I do have a CO detector above the heater. Interestingly enough, when I first acquired the '87 Excella, it came with a catalytic heater. It was an older one and it was more cost effective to change it for a new one. So I bought a new catalytic heater and, from the moment I ran it, it tripped the CO alarm. Since I bought it from Amazon, I returned it as it was clearly defective and got my money back. Then I bought the blue flame one. I had had that same heater in my '94 LY M/H and it had performed flawlessly. I had acquired that heater in Quartzsite, where night temps drop close to freezing, and when boondocking without hookups it is critical not to deplete the batteries.

I do agree that this type of heater requires a certain degree of intelligence on the part of the user (defined as an "informed user") - make absolutely sure that there is a source of fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
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