Our Two-Week Boondocking Vacation Cost Us How Much??

Save Money Highway Sign

I started thinking about how much it cost us to go on our two week vacation (which is really a stay-cation I guess seeing as we stay in our H.O.W.) and I must say, I got pretty excited. I mean excited in a good way. Not the Oh My God, we just dropped $5,000 on a seven-day, Disney, Universal, Sea World kind of way … like when the kids were little!

I know it seems obvious, but doing the boondocking thing and getting out into the open spaces isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the wallet too! I knew we were saving money but I was really surprised when I added up our expenses after our 13 day 1,444 mile journey.

As much as I’d love to say we didn’t spend a dime on overnight stays, I can’t. We did end up spending $10 to camp one night. We stayed at Big River Campground, which is part of the USDA Forest Service, located on the Deschutes River near Sunriver, Oregon. We were the only people in the campground so it was peaceful as well as picturesque, well worth the ten bucks.

Big River Campground, Sun River, OR

Big River Campground, Sunriver, OR

Big River Campground, Sunriver, OR

Big River Campground, Sunriver, OR

 

Big River Campground, Sunriver, OR

Big River Campground, Sunriver, OR

Other than the $10 spent for one night at Big River Campground, we didn’t spend anything on overnights for the rest of our adventure. Holy cow! How cool is that?!?  I’m sure I sound like a tight-wad but I’m not. I’m just really jazzed that we were able to travel so far without really spending any  a lot of money.

This past December we boondocked for a 14 day stretch in Quartzsite, AZ but that was different because we stayed in one place the entire time.

We did have other expenses I need to add into the equation. For instance, we used our generator pretty much every day to charge our laptops, phones, etc. while we were boondocking. Going through two small gas cans we spent $16.

We also used coolers for beverages instead of running our small electric refrigerator off the generator. The RV fridge/freezer works great on propane so we use it to keep our food at safe temperatures. Besides, I don’t mind wiping off a dripping soda can (okay, beer bottle) from the cooler, but I can’t stand pulling out sandwich meat, cheese, burgers, etc. dripping wet from a cooler. Yuck.

Our Grizzly 40 QT Heavy Duty Cooler (we have the 40 and 16 QT) work really well, so ice lasts at least four days. We bought ice three times during the trip. At an average of $2.00 a bag, and two bags per purchase, we spent $12 on ice.

The only other expense we had with regard to camper living was to dump and refill our black, gray and fresh water tanks. We only had to do this once during the trip at a cost of $10. (The sign said $6, but that’s another story.)

Other than gas, which I’ll address later, our biggest expense was groceries. I think one of the biggest perks of traveling with your RV is being able to make lunch on the fly as well as having a home-cooked meal when you arrive at your destination. Yes, going out to eat is nice once in a while, but we really like to cook together so when we boondocking we plan on eating in for the most part.

Living in the RV means our pantry is pretty much always stocked with staples, so the only purchases we needed to make were the usual stuff – milk, eggs, bread, sandwich meat, cheese, stuff for grilling/smoking, etc. Other than our shopping trip before we left ($147) we only went into town once to grab things to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we spent $97.

Also, while in Bend, Oregon we just had to take a few hours to check out the Bend Ale Trail to get a couple of stamps in our Beer Traveler Passport. 😉 We were being responsible and only stopped at two breweries in town. Two beers plus tip came to $11 at each place, $22. Even though we didn’t have the time to visit every brewery on the Ale Trail (there are 14!) and get our little Silipint memento cup, we did find the Oregon Store and picked up two grown-up sized silicone cups to remember our all too brief visit to Beer Town USA – $28.

Souvenirs from Oregon

Souvenirs from Oregon

So all together we spent $342 for two weeks of R&R … that’s $26.31 a day! I think that’s flipping awesome!! 🙂

The breakdown –

  • Camping Fees   $10
  • Ice                      $12
  • Gas for Gen       $16
  • Ale Trail              $22
  • Souvenirs           $28
  • RV Dump           $10
  • Groceries           $244
  • TOTAL               $342

Right about now I’m sure you’re asking, “What about those fuel costs Gypsy?”

Of course we do have a substantial fuel bill when traveling. For the most part everywhere we go we have the camper in tow which means our gas mileage is pretty bad (10 mpg). Because Mr. G usually gets paid mileage for travel to and from projects (It’s always from Connecticut to wherever the next job is, not where we happen to be, which is the biggest reason we haven’t changed our residency to S.D. yet.) we don’t usually add the fuel costs into our “vacation/travel” expenditures, like we do in our monthly expenses when we’re parked for work.

However, in the quest for full disclosure, I added up the gas receipts for the two weeks. $439.

Even with the fuel added to the other expenses the total cost was still only $781. I think that’s amazing!

I’ll say it again, doing the boondocking thing isn’t just about saving money. It’s about getting off the beaten path, seeing as much of this beautiful country as we can, and simply enjoying each other’s company in a stress-free back to basics way. Being able to do all that so inexpensively is certainly delicious icing on the cake!

~Cheers~

Take Time to Remember Our American Heroes

I hope everyone enjoys their time with family and friends today. Please take a moment to thank a veteran today – and keep all of those who never made it home in your thoughts and prayers every day.

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From our H.O.W. to yours …

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(KOA – Rawlins, Wyoming)

Stay safe and happy trails.

~Cheers~

Enjoying Our Public Lands … and gettin’ a little mud on the tires

Wilderness Is Not A Luxury

During our last road trip we were on a mission to stay out of private RV parks. Seeing as we are full-timers and stay in parks with full hook-ups and amenities when Mr. G. is working, when he’s off we try and get off the beaten path as much as possible.

I’ve already written reviews about the Army Corps of Engineers areas where we stayed -> Rufus Landing and ->Giles French Park. So, today I’d like to tell you about a couple of great US Public Lands spots we found along the way.

Before I go too far though, I have to tell you, we found these spots using the “US Public Lands” app Chris & Cherie over at Technomadia released last month. If you haven’t checked it out yet I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s hands down the BEST app we’ve found for getting off-grid. (No affiliation, I just really love this app and wanted to share. 🙂 )

Okay, the first BLM spot we camped on was off Highway 20 in Brothers, OR. It’s located about 4 miles down Camp Creek Road on the right-hand side of the road.

Boondocking off Camp Creek Road, Brothers, OR

Boondocking off Camp Creek Road, Brothers, OR

As you can see, there was some nasty weather settling in so it was a relief to get off the road. The wet and windy weather didn’t dampen our spirits at all. We enjoyed great smoked burgers with Havarti cheese, vidalia onion, lettuce and tomato on toasted brioche rolls and potato salad … with a wonderful view. Yes, that’s a plastic cup and ice in my Pinot Grigio. I guess I’ll always be just a little bit redneck. 😉

Dinner with a view of the wide open spaces.

Dinner with a view of the wide open spaces.

After a great night’s sleep, that I attribute directly to not wondering if we were on private property or true BLM land thanks to the US Public Lands app, we woke up to clearing skies and a rainbow. We took it as a good sign of a great day ahead!

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Feeling confident about finding great public land options, we decided to try another road after a couple of hours on Highway 20.

This area was clearly marked …

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But turned out to be way too muddy for us … yikes!

This is as far as we went.

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After going just a few yards we backed up and headed farther east on Highway 20.

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All that caked on mud sure made a racket flying off the wheels! (Turn it up and listen to the mud fly! LoL)

By the time we made it through Boise, Idaho we were ready to stop for the night. Using the app, we found another great spot located at the  Simco Road Exit off I-84 between Boise and Mountain Home. As luck would have it, we were treated to another beautiful rainbow as we got set up.

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Look, we landed at the other end of this morning’s rainbow! ;-)

This was our spot for the night …

Boondocking spot off I-80 at the Simco Road Exit

Boondocking spot off I-84 at the Simco Road Exit

The area is open range so we did have a few four-legged visitors roaming about.

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But they didn’t get too close or bother us. Okay, I’ll admit it. I ran inside until they meandered on by. Once they were out of sight we watched a spectacular sunset.

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We were hoping to take advantage of one more night of boondocking but a weather alert for our final destination cut our adventures short.

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Even though the sky was brilliant blue with fluffy white clouds where we were …

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We decided to make tracks to Rawlins, Wyoming before the snow started to fly. We pulled into the RV park a little after midnight, just as the storm hit.

Perfect timing seeing as we woke up to this ….

Happy Mother's Day 2014 - Rawlins, WY

Happy Mother’s Day 2014 – Rawlins, WY

The snow is all gone now and temps are well up into the 60s.  There is a constant wind that makes being outdoors a bit of a challenge, but the park is nice and comfy and the owners are warm and friendly, so life is good.

We’re all set up now to enjoy our time here in Rawlins … but looking forward to our next boondocking adventure. 🙂

Have you gone on any boondocking adventures lately or gotten stuck in the mud?!? LoL

Feel free to share 🙂

~Cheers~

Giles French Park – A Boondocking Review

If you read the review I wrote on Rufus Landing you know we only traveled a short distance to our next boondocking spot – GIles French Park is another Recreation Area run by the Army Corps of Engineers.

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This park is a no fee, 14 day limit, dry camping environment open to RVs and tents located on the Columbia River, just down river of the John Day Dam. You can get to the park by Exit 109 off I-84.

We didn’t realize when we pulled into the Rufus Landing Recreation Area three days prior that Giles French Park was here, even though it was on the same road. Had we gone right instead of left at the fork in the road we probably would have ended up here for the entire time.

Most of the spots in Giles French are paved, although there are some gravel places to set up on as well. We moved our rig on a Saturday so we ended up in a gravel spot. But It was a perfect boondocking location right next to the Columbia River.

We spent four nights in this spot …

Giles French Park, Rufus Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus Oregon

The campsite was fairly flat and only needed a couple leveling blocks to get level.There aren’t any designated parking places, but for the most part campers are parked parallel to the river. This helps a great deal with the wind that usually whips through the area.

The park really emptied out by Monday. Here are a couple pics of more parking options …

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

Giles French Park, Rufus, Oregon

As you can see in the pic above, there are dumpsters in the park which is convenient. There is also a restroom building with running water at the very easterly end of the park. (Just before the gated off access to the John Day Dam.) It’s not new by any stretch of the imagination, but it was clean, heated and the water was very hot. There’s also an outlet located next to the hand dryer which might come in handy if you don’t have power in your rig or tent.

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The Giles French area was much quieter than Rufus Landing. We really couldn’t hear the traffic on I-84 at all. However, you can still hear the trains, so something to keep in mind if you’re a light sleeper.

I-84 above Giles French Park. The train tracks are raised and between the campsites and the highway.

I-84 above Giles French Park. The train tracks are raised and between the campsites and the highway.

One more look …

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This part of the river is a fishing mecca for anglers looking to get their quota of salmon and steelhead trout. While the leisure fishing boat traffic is much lower than down by Rufus Landing …

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Anglers off the shore at Rufus Landing, Oregon

There are more fisherman casting off from the shore in Giles French Park. There are several fishing platforms along the river’s edge. I believe you have to be a recognized tribal member in the area to use the platforms so check into that if you’re considering throwing in a line. 🙂

Fishing platforms along the Columbia River.

Fishing platforms along the Columbia River.

Seeing as we’re not Native American, or fishermen for that matter, we didn’t do any fishing from the platform in front of our campsite. But it did make for a picturesque view for our Cinco de Mayo celebration 🙂

Enjoying the early May sunshine along the Columbia River in Oregon.

Enjoying the early May sunshine along the Columbia River in Oregon.

The entire area is actually very picturesque. Whether you’re looking toward the dam …

John Day Dam, Rufus, Oregon

John Day Dam, Rufus, Oregon

Or looking toward the interstate and train tracks …

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Or watching the sun set on another relaxing day …

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If you are in the Rufus, Oregon area (about 48 miles east of Hood River, OR)  and you’re looking for a place to spend one night (or two weeks!), Giles French Park, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers is a great option. Take Exit 109 off I-84, head toward the river and go right at the fork. 🙂

*Side Note* – The park does not have a dump station or water available. However, there is a Shell Gas station/convenience store located at Exit 109 that is set up for dumping and water refilling. The price listed on the sign indicates the fee is $6, but when I went in to pay they charged me $10. Still not a bad price I guess. They refill propane tanks as well.

That’s all for now. 🙂

~Cheers~

Rufus Landing Recreation Area – A Boondocking Review

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If you’re traveling along Interstate 84, about 48 miles east of Hood River, Oregon, there’s a great boondocking option if you’re looking for one. The Army Corps of Engineers has a nice little Recreation Area just off Exit 109  for stays of up to 14 days.

The scenery was certainly a change from the lush San Juan Islands we had just left, but it beautiful just the same. Not a bad view from my desk …

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We set up at the very end of the recreation area, staying to left once the paved road ends. We had intended to only spend one night but ended up staying for three. (We only moved a bit, but I’ll write more about that in a different review.)

20140430_174612There weren’t very many other campers during the week, but a few more rolled in on the weekend. Parking is pretty much haphazard as long as you stay in the designated areas.

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And there were rigs of every shape and size …

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On a side note, we did encounter a great deal of wind coming out of the west. That would explain why there’s a wind farm on the Washington side! 🙂  One day was really windy and had the camper rocking a bit. (Steady 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph) Since we didn’t have our slide out anyway we just rode it out. We probably would have been a little better off if our rig had been parked parallel to the river as opposed to perpendicular. But it all worked out fine.

There is horseshoe-shaped island called Gerking Canyon not too far off shore. The easterly tip of it seems to be a good spot for fishing as there were always a few boats anchored out there with lines in the water.

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In addition to the anglers, there’s a  decent amount of barge traffic on the river as well.

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The barge traffic was very quiet. We could just barely hear the hum of the tug engines as they made their way up and down the river.

On the other hand, I-84 does run along Rufus Landing, and yes you can hear the traffic quite clearly. It didn’t bother us at all and seemed to really ease up during the nighttime hours.

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That’s I-84 to give you an idea of how far away it was from out spot. We were probably about as close to the highway as you can get in this area. lol No, that wasn’t our intention but it was the most secluded spot we could find that was so close to the water.

That large pile of stones did a great job of buffering the road noise.

This pic may give you a better idea …

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That’s the pile of stones in the background working as a buffer … and that’s Mr. G. working as a buffer. (Better a buffer than a fluffer, Ha! I’ll be here all week folks. Don’t forget to tip your server!) Anyhooo … He waxed the entire H.O.W. by hand. He was a little sore that night!

The only negative I think you might find if you’re looking for someplace really quiet is the locomotive noise – and by that I mean T-R-A-I-N-S. I know there are some people out there that really get cranky when they get all settled in and realize there are tracks nearby. Heads up – there are tracks on both sides of the river here and the trains seem to pass about every 30 minutes to an hour.

Trains to the south of us …

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Trains to the north of us…

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Honestly, we’re used to hearing trains so the tracks didn’t bother us. Truth be told we think a train whistle in the distance is kind of romantic. But, there are no crossings nearby so they aren’t sounding their horns at all here. Like I said though, you can certainly hear them rumbling by – frequently. So if you’re someone who wakes up at the sound coming from the tracks and says “F@%&*ng Trains!” you might want to pass this place over. Just sayin’.;-)

In our opinion, sunsets like these trump the minor transportation noise – hands down.

20140430_19162420140430_202215 Here’s a satellite view via Google maps. The red arrow is the location of our rig and the direction we were facing.

Google Maps image

Google Maps image

The area is open to tent camping as well as RVs and there is a pit toilet building located on the grounds should you need one. They were pretty clean and well maintained.

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If you decide to check out this boondocking spot, Rufus Landing Recreation Area is off Exit 109 on I-84. Follow Rockbeach Lane west all the way to the end, then keep going until you reach the water Oh and hey, say “Hello” to the geese for us!

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~Cheers~