We recently got the latest edition of the Airstream newsletter called Outside Interests. One of the articles is called "CONSERVING WATER WHEN BOONDOCKING." Besides containing great tips for showering and washing dishes on limited water, we were thrilled to see a picture of our Airstream and truck featured in the article. Wow...did it bring back memories. It was our very first boondocking experience. We were virgin boondockers before Rich Luhr of Airstream Life invited us to Anza Borrego, CA for some desert camping a couple of winters ago.
We didn't have a clue what we were doing but we felt confident that with Rich's help and the support of Leigh and Brian from Aluminarium who were camping with us, that we would be ok. There were four of us in our Airstream - me, Troy, and our two children ages 3 and 6. We didn't have solar power or a generator, so conservation of energy was paramount as I needed to work on my computer while we were there. This means that in addition to needing power for lights and heat, we needed enough for a cell phone, a computer, and all the wifi/signal boosters that go along with that. Fortunately, Brian came over and hooked us up to his portable solar panel in the afternoons to give a boost to our battery.
As far as water/tank conservation goes, our bunkhouse Airstream model is not known for its black water tank size. With only 18 gallons, we were very cautious with flushing the toilet, and all paper products went into the trash. We managed to get by on very little water usage; however, I did long for a hot, steamy shower in the midst of all the dust at Anza Borrego. It was everywhere!
Honestly, though, the power and water conservation strategies paled in comparison to Troy's flu and my tooth extraction while we were there. Troy was sick with fever and puking in the trailer for 2 days. When he started feeling better, my tooth ache got worse and I had to find a dentist in the nearby tiny little town. I ended up needing an extraction from a dentist that I'm pretty sure had been practicing dentistry long before the dirt in that desert was made. He pulled and pulled on my tooth until it cracked apart and chipped the tooth next to it. I was stressed and in pain by the time I got back to our boondocking haven. What I would have done to be able to climb in bed and watch a feel-good movie while nursing my sore mouth, but when you are conserving power, that isn't an option. To take my mind off of the situation, we all walked over to the community fire and watched some fellow boondockers amaze us with their sword-swallowing and fire-breathing skills. The impromptu entertainment and the friends we met made a bad situation better.
At the time, we discounted our first boondocking experience as a failure because of the unexpected health struggles we had (flu and pulled tooth), but really, that's the thing about boondocking, life still happens. Being prepared for things to not go as planned is part of the experience. It was a hard lesson, but one that we will not forget.