youtubeWhen the news of the severity of this health crisis hit on March 11, we happened to be in our “hometown” in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  As part of our 2020 Road Show, we were just days away from doing our next public presentations and open houses at both the local university and an outdoor outfitter, as well as visiting with old friends.  Needless to say, everything came to an abrupt halt overnight!

Like almost 1 million other Americans, we don’t have a traditional home in which to shelter.  We live 24/7 out of our RV’s, vans, or travel trailers.  Some of us never had a traditional home, others sold theirs and hit the road like we did.  Some folks are seeking a more sustainable way of life, some simply can’t afford a stick-built home, others are young families giving their children an educational experience of a lifetime, some work from the road or work seasonally in various parts of the country, and others are retired or partially-retired.  We are a very diverse group, but we all have one thing in common right now – we are all finding our own ways to social distance, stay healthy, and find an appropriate area to shelter in place without the comforts of a traditional home.


Road Show Open House Just Days Before Crisis Began

Are you going stir crazy at home and want to hit the road in your RV?

The answer is simple, don’t.  Not right now.  Please stay home, please stay safe…and start planning your next dream adventure!  The sooner people stop moving around from place to place, the quicker this virus will stop spreading.  The other major reason to not travel is that public campgrounds and day use areas across the country are completely closed – including all national parks, state parks, national forest/BLM campgrounds, and even some BLM boondocking land out west have closed their doors to campers.  Private campground and RV parks are a mixed bag depending on the state – some have remained open to seasonal residents only, and others have closed their doors until the crisis is over.  While some private campgrounds have remained open, many have closed public onsite facilities such as restrooms, laundry rooms, and common meeting spaces.

Instead of getting out there, now is the time to dream about your next adventure, join some RV-related social media sites, follow some full-time RV adventures on FaceBook, Instagram, or YouTube (like us, see below for more info), listen to RV travel podcasts, get your RV in tip-top shape, and do all of those things that you’ve said you’ll “get around to someday.” 

From what we’ve been able to gather from the conversations on many of the RVing social media sites, most people have cancelled their early summer plans and reservations; many are planning as far out as August or September.  This is certainly not ideal for families seeking to take a summer vacation, but this is the reality for 2020.  Plain and simple, this is the summer for a STAYcation on a whole new level!  Keep in mind, this health crisis could resurge at any moment, and you’ll likely want to be close to home.

Resources for Stay at Home Adventures

Want some fun new online tools to plan future adventures?  There are some great resources out there.  Check out our recent Northwest RVing article titled Apps and Online Resources for RVers. Drool over stories and images using the Outbound Collective app, plan a hearty road trip with a side of “off the beaten path” adventures with the Roadtrippers app, find the perfect campgrounds with The Dyrt Pro app, or create a history-based adventure trip with the History Here or Clio apps!

What if you are already on the road or live full-time in your RV?

Stay put as much as possible.  Across the country, RV travel has all but stopped.  People are staying in their seasonal spots, or are boondocking on public lands which are still open to campers. For a comprehensive state-by-state list of campground closures, Campendium has created this resource.   Recently, a group known as RVillage published a list of open campgrounds for stranded travelers.  Just like everything associated with this crisis, this list is changing daily, so contact the campground office before heading there. 


Our Tiny Shiny Home

We wanted to be as far away from others as possible, so chose not to find a campground.  As avid boondockers who run nearly exclusively on solar power, we decided to shelter in place in the closest national forest, about an hour’s drive away, with very few humans around.  We are actually writing this blog from our very own “Camp Quarantine”.  We chose a site near the headwaters of a creek, giving us all the water we need for showers, dishes, and even laundry.  By boiling or filtering water, we also have all the drinking water we need.  With our privacy tent and bucket toilet, there are no hook-ups or holding tanks required!  We use less than 6 gallons a day, so we can live very lightly upon this space. 

But, what about food?  Most people probably think we can’t fit much food in our tiny space.  Since we’ve lived and worked in some very remote places over the past 7.5 years, we know how to be strategic with food purchases and creative with food storage, thus limiting trips to the grocery store to every 10-14 days.  But, I guarantee you, we are still eating well on a small budget – from eggs benedict and crepes, to backcountry pizza and loaded portobello mushrooms, to scratch-made raspberry almond coffeecake and chocolate fondue with strawberries, we are in no danger of wasting away! 


Making Time for Fabulous Meals at Camp - Even Baking on a Rainy Day!

We are surrounded by hundreds of trails and numerous waterways; to burn off those indulgent calories we’ve gone hiking, cycling, and paddling almost every day.  We’ve chosen our outings strategically by staying away from the popular areas.  We typically pass (with a 6-foot social distance, of course) just a few people each day who are fishing, cycling, or walking.


Out Hiking in Low Density Areas

The only thing we don’t have at our campsite is a cell signal.  This is fantastic on one hand, but makes it difficult to stay informed during this crisis on the other.  As we’ve hiked around, we’ve found some key spots on local peaks where we can get a decent signal.  This isn’t the first time, and definitely won’t be the last, we’ve had to hike up mountains to get our news fix!

A few tips for enjoying outdoor spaces safely during this public health crisis (if allowed in your state or county at this time):

º Boondock and stay put for as long as you can. Doing this will keep you as far away as possible from other humans.  Stay limits on public land are usually 14-21 days at a time, depending on the area.

º Avoid all public restrooms, picnic areas, laundromats, and other common areas such as playgrounds, public seating, etc. This means you should bring your own chairs, yard toys, pee in the woods, and do your own laundry by hand.


Avoiding Laundromats!

º To get some exercise, find outdoor spaces with very few people. Please don’t go to any popular, well-known areas. Most doctors would agree that getting some Vitamin D and staying active is the best way to boost your immune system. But it is easier to maintain a social distance while walking along a road in your neighborhood than along a narrow trail in the forest. 

º Use your own outdoor sports equipment. Don’t rent bikes, kayaks, or OHV’s right now.


Hutch Social Distancing in His Whitewater Kayak

º Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly. Clean your phone, vehicle, and RV as much as you clean your hands.

º Don’t do anything stupid. Now is not the time to work on any of your arial mountain bike tricks, solo free climb, Class 5 descent, or even running your chainsaw -- try not to put any unnecessary stress on the healthcare system right now.  You know yourself and your limits, listen to them and keep it simple and fun.

Looking for some great ways to experience the natural world from the comfort of your RV or home?

For those of you with a travel itch that you need to scratch, use this “shelter in place” time to learn about and experience the natural world, whether it’s in your own backyard or on the other side of the nation.

National Park Service: Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, Lakeshores, Seashores, Trails, and More!

Now is the time to discover some of the least visited National Parks.  And, if you are from Washington, you have one in your home state!  Any guesses?  The answer can be found at the end of this blog.

“National Parks: America’s Best Idea” video series

REI National Park Guide & Maps app

Parks Activities You Can Do From the Comfort of Your Own Home

America’s National Parks Podcast

National Geographic Adventure Edition road atlas

National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States

Local & Regional Areas

1000 Places to See Before You Die WEBPeruse some resources like 1000 Places to See Before You Die: United States and Canada and zero in on the West Coast.  You’ll be surprised what you find that you didn’t know existed in your region!  Or, check out Adventures NW Magazine, a wonderful, local publication from Bellingham, WA. for some great ideas on the PNW.  To locate your local State Park or any in the nation, go to America’s State Parks.  Or, explore your local national forests, locate campsites using this national database!

Fun Backyard Activities for Kids of All Ages

As spring blooms in many parts of our gorgeous country, it’s difficult to stay fully inside.  Your backyard or the area immediately surrounding your RV can be full of discovery opportunities.  As both Outdoor and Environmental Educators, we have used these fun, learning activities with kids of all ages.  These lessons are designed to build science, writing, art, and communication skills, but the best part is that most kids don’t even realize they are learning! 

No matter where you are sheltering in place this spring/summer, we wish you well and please take this pandemic seriously.  If you stay safe and healthy, you will help others do the same. Following the guidelines set forth by the CDC, as well as your state/city/community mandates, will help us all now and in the future.  The last thing we want is a COVID-19 encore later this year, or a repeat performance in 2021!


Watching the Sunrise Gives Us Hope

Learn more about our solar-powered adventures on our website and follow us on the road via social media at Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

Answer:  Due to the expanse of land and the large number of different life zones within the park, North Cascades National Park boasts the second most biodiverse ecosystem of all U.S. national parks.  It’s much like a mini-New Zealand, with jagged peaks, 1000’s of waterfalls, turquoise lakes and rivers, and contains the most active glaciers in the lower 48 states.  Needless to say, if you haven’t visited, this summer might be the time!

Shari and Hutch
Author: Shari and HutchEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
In 2012, David Hutchison “Hutch” and Shari Galiardi left behind careers and a comfortable home in North Carolina to travel with the vintage camper trailer they lovingly restored, outfitted with solar, and named “Hamlet.” What they thought would be a year or two adventure around the continent transformed into a new lifestyle. 7.5 years later, with no end in sight, they share stories and insights from their mid-life adventure to large industry travel shows, intimate college campuses, open tiny houses in REI parking lots and a growing online audience. Traveling over 100,000 miles to 49 states, countless National Parks and other public lands, the couple pursues what it means to live the good life on their own terms and sustain it. The writing and photography duo currently pen the popular “Full-Time Campers” column in The Dyrt’s online magazine and contribute to Renogy’s solar blog as well as other publications.

Comments   

0 #2 Shari & Hutch 2020-05-01 23:49
Hi Patti,

Thanks so much for reaching out! We are thrilled that you now have solar ppanels! Did you get Renogy products? We love them.

Enjoy the North Cascades. We spent a full season there in 2016, from Feb to Sept -- part work, part volunteer, part adventure. July and August are the best times to be there!

If you need any assistance with your new solar system, give us a holler! Happy to help out.

Cheers,
Shari + Hutch + Hamlet
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0 #1 Patti 2020-05-01 15:49
Thanks for your contributions to NW RVing. We have an A Frame Pop Up trailer which we bought two years ago. We read your solar panel articles/blog and asked our kids for solar panels for Christmas. We can’t wait to use them but meanwhile are definitely sheltering in place. One of our trips we already have planned this summer in July is the North Cascades National Park plus a few state parks nearby. We discovered it shortly after we moved to the PNW 33 years ago, spent our first NW camping trip there and regularly took guests to see it on day trips. You are right - it is such an amazing park. It’s funny you mention New Zealand. I remember seeing it and thinking The Lord of the Rings could have been filmed here instead. I hope by July things will be safer to explore again. From reading your information on solar panels, I know you spent a very rainy time in Diablo. I hope this July Diablo will have less rain:). Thanks for reminding everyone to stay safe and in place! Patti
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