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Old 04-28-2009, 02:32 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
2007 19' Safari SE
La Center , Washington
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 74
General Western Boondocking Questions

I'm ready to start getting more adventurous with the 2007 19foot Safari SE. I live just outside Portland, OR, and want to start my adventures with some Airstreaming at the more remote sites in the Gifford Pinchot NF around Mt. Saint Helens, since these are close to home and in some beautiful country. There are some National Forest campgrounds with less than a dozen spaces and no hookups. Most of these aren't even on Google (found through the topographical map and talking to the rangers).

Before I end up doing something predictably stupid, I have a few questions:

1) Gravel Roads?
Do you boondockers tow your beautiful silver babies over gravel roads without any concerns? Do you take special steps to protect the aluminum? Do you do anything special to upgrade or maintain the frame, suspension, or carriage?

2) Road Hazards?
The sites I have in mind are along some National Forest roads and based on some limited exploration with just my SUV, the roads can be pot-holed beyond all recognition, or have trees or other things in the way. Do you guys carry anything beyond shovels, jacks, and saws? A winch maybe?

3) Dead Ends?
Before boondocking, do you guys leave the trailer at the nearest improved road and drive the rest of your way to your expected destination to scout out the road conditions? I figure that if the sites that I am heading for aren't on Google, they are also not talked about here.

4) Protection?
Do boondockers carry guns for protection from bears or even human predators? Seriously.

5) Communication?
I am guessing that cell phones won't work out in these places. Does this ever present a concern. Do you carry some kind of CB radio, beacon, or satellite phone?

Please excuse these stupid questions, but I'd like to know what experience has taught others.

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Old 04-28-2009, 03:59 PM   #2
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1968 24' Tradewind
Louisville , earth
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1) Gravel Roads?
All the time, and worse: that is where the good camping is.

2) Road Hazards?
Go slow, I have a couple 2"x12"x4' boards that I use for leveling side to side that can also be used in a pinch to help cross ditches or "cuts" in the road but have never needed them.

3) Dead Ends?
I try to have an idea where I am going, but sometimes I get in a small bind see post 201 here: but it usually works out. Just keep an eye on the usable turn around spots and don't go further than you want to back up. That whole thread has a bunch of good boondocking related information in it.

4) Protection?
I doubt you need it, but if it makes you more comfortable, and you are competent with the firearm, why not.

5) Communication?
I have to be reachable for family reasons. When I am out of cell coverage, I make sure my family will know where I and how to find me and give them the local sheriffs office number. On occasion I make contact with the District Forest Service office or the sheriffs office. So far they have always taken down the information- I think their attitude is that if something should happen, it will save them a whole bunch of back road driving and searching.
Having said that, I am going to satellite internet so I can be reachable by email regardless of where I am.

If you have more questions, be sure and ask. For my money the best way to see the west is by boondocking.


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Old 05-11-2009, 06:47 PM   #3
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Get a satellite phone (Globalstar). They are right now "between good satellites, but over any 24 hour period I can always get connected. They have reduced their monthly fee to compensate and there is no longer a per minute charge. I've subscribed for 12 years and considering we camp where no one has gone B4 I wouldn't leave home without one. If you are really gopinmg to boondock $get the Sat TV, do yourself - & your family a favor - get a SAT PHONE! Consider the cost as just something you must do and then don’t worry about it. I've seen our phone save three lives in ten years - not ours but others we ran across. That is no kidding!!! Another story for another day.

Bears & guns - forget the guns, carry bear pepper spray! I've boondock and horse camped in Yellowstone country for 25 years. Just don't leave anything outside that they can eat or smell. If you use common sense you are much safer in bear country than in any Walmart Parking lot! I couldn’t sleep in one of them darn places. Bears don’t want any more to do with you than you with them. Just in the last 3 weeks we’ve had three bears one cougar and three w9olves within 200 yards of our house. If there is no food or anything that smells like food they just move on! I don’t worry about them – but I am always aware, prepared and keep a clean camp!

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Old 05-11-2009, 08:22 PM   #4
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Cedaredge , Colorado
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1) Gravel Roads?
rock guards work well and going slow. we go up a lot of gravel roads in colorado, (the good spots) Good mud flaps on your TV helps keep the gravel down.

2) Road Hazards?
Just like Gen Disarray Go slow and carry some boards that can double as levelers.

3) Dead Ends?
I always park in a good spot and explore before heading up those narrow forrest roads, or talk to some people who are already there. But it can suck having to back up. I haven't had to do it yet.

4) Protection?

We have kids so I leave the guns at home, but the pepper spray is a good idea, get the bear kind. It shoots further and will lay down a bad guy. then you can use one of those boards to really let him have it.

5) Communication?
You might be surprised at where a cell phone will work. I have climbed 20 of colorado's 14 er's and my cell phone worked on top of all of them. Now in the valleys maybe not so well. but you never now. Personally I like not having my phone ring. It's like being in the 80's again. I do have a portable CB but then it doesn't always work in the deep valleys either. It up to you.. I don't feel the need to communicate as long as people now where you are... and when your coming back...

May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

2008 5.7 L V8 Sequoia
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:29 PM   #5
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2007 25' Safari FB SE
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I tow off road all the time. Go slow and you'll be fine.

Remember Wally crossed Africa.
I'd rather be boon docking in the desert.

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