Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Greta Garbo Loves to Boondock

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I don't mind boondocking. We spend several months a year on the road and camp a majority of the time without hookups. My husband will camp anywhere, but I do not care to camp in remote areas by ourselves. My husband says I am being silly. Recently we camped in Big Bend with a backcountry permit. We found several sites that we could drive our rig without doing any damage. The permit was only ten dollars for two weeks of camping. I admit it was beautiful, no noise or light pollution, and we love natural settings and hiking. However, I felt we were too isolated at the end of a dead-end road. Am I being silly? Should I develop an attitude like my ex-Marine husband and throw caution to the wind? I love the places he finds to legally park, but some of them keep me from feeling comfortable.
--Apprehensive in American Outback

Dear App:
Caution is good, but safety has no guarantees. Many boondocking sites come with the disadvantage of not offering the margin of camping security that you expect from regular campgrounds. Most are not monitored on a regular basis by authorities and you are basically on your own. All campers have to make their own calls on these situations. You should do what makes you comfortable, but don't make yourself paranoid by reading too many newspapers. Rural America is not as dangerous as you might imagine. Many RVer's find safety in numbers and hook up with other campers to share boondocking sites. Quartzsite and BLM lands all over the west find groups circling the wagons together. Some groups form to stake a mining claim for no other reason than camping on it. The sites you mention in Big Bend are just large parking areas off unimproved roads that would accommodate several rigs. It doesn't hurt to "drive softly, but carry a big stick." If you constantly camp alone in primitive areas you should consider some form of protection. I'm not suggesting you mount a .50 caliber on the roof of your rig. Although it might be intimidating, it's way too heavy and will put a dent in your fuel budget. I recommend something more subtle. If you do not like guns, carry some bear spray. Twenty years ago this might have been more of a problem. I find as we move into this new age of, "The Boomers are Coming," there are few boondocking sites that are not already crowded when arriving. In my RV Shrink practice I am dealing more and more with the Greta Garbo syndrome. People are constantly occupying my couch and groaning, "I want to be alone."
Find your comfort zone, compromise with your husband and enjoy the places that make you happy. There are thousands of natural campgrounds that offer peace, quiet and a shade more security than some of the boondock sites. Often the more familiar you become with an isolated site, the more comfortable you are occupying it.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink



Anonymous said...

Each of you should train for and acquire a concealed carry permit, acquire a smaller lighter hand gun, and both be armed. If you are trained and capable of self defense, there is less to fear.

Florida has a non resident, 31 state reciprocal CCW permit, and all your husband needs for training proof is to provide a copy of his DD214 of military service.

Anonymous said...

Excellent response Dr.! We have always carriesd a security 12 gauge shot gun in our rv. In the past few years we have found that we are traveling into very remote areas with our 4 wheelers. Bear country! Also, a few 2 legged animals looking for an easy target. I carry my 44 mag on my hip & my wife has her 38 in her fanny pack holster. The old saying,I rather have my gun & not need it than to need it & not have it is my MOTTO! In this day & age & with the economy the way it is, there are people out there who will take what is yours if they feel your an easy target. That problem seems to be growing & law enforcement keeps getting cut back.We need to be able to protect ourselves & family whether in the woods or at home. Be observent,aware of your surroundings & BE PREPARED TO ACT!
Now go out there & have fun, just be safe.

Anonymous said...

I have read that another alternative to Bear Spray is one of the sprays labeled as "Wasp-Hornet spray". Which does the same thing as the Bear Spray but cheaper and easier to procure and may also be used for wasps and hornets. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

If my Bride had a gun of any kind (including a water gun) on her, every one around would be in grave danger. LOL I know it is no laughing matter but if you don't know how to keep from have your gun taken away from you are in even more trouble. If she pulled out a gun the only danger a crook would have would be to laugh to death. How ever the bear spray she carries is a whole different story. We had a very aggressive dog show up from nowhere once while boondocking and as it charged my Bride she used the bear spray (shot from the hip holster no less) and the beast suddenly decided to leave after a few minutes of digging his face in the dirt. I do have a 12 ga in the RV, pump action, and she knows how to use it. But knowing how and doing are two different things. Could you shoot an human person? Some people can't..

Anonymous said...

Good advice and comments here all around. This reminds me of my ex-mother-in-law who was "afraid" to visit us when we lived on a rural acreage yet she lived in an area of a city that had the highest crime zone in the state! Perception can be your reality if allowed.

Johnny said...

Very good advice doctor. I am a serious advocate of safety first and have almost forty years experience in doing so as a Chief of Police, Security Specialist and 'agent'. As any 'experienced' person knows, we all need training and education in action & law. It is a terrible thing to take another person's life...a terrible thing, no matter how justified. But when there is no lawful alternative...

And like the man said, the predator is looking for an easy target, anywhere he or she can, especially during these desperate times.

If you follow the law and train yourself into using it as a "second nature". Then you will always be ready to handle the responsibilities of boon docking comfortably by not becoming an obvious target.

Other than that, my need for those 'solo flights' are needed for somewhat professional means besides spiritual, etc.

I always thank those elements of society meaning me or mine ill-will, for the great training opportunities!

...and those rare times you can actually turn a bad situation into something beneficial for all parties involved! lolol

Bob said...

My wife and I are new "almost full timers". Last year when we were preparing for our change in lifestyle, I seriously thought about personal protection. I am not a gun person, but neither am I anti-gun. While I feel sorry for those who live in fear to the degree they have to have a gun at the ready all the time, I am aware that this is still a dangerous world and any reasonable person needs to pay some attention to personal safety.

I love the wilderness and what I fear most there is the possible results of my own stupidity. I try to be constantly aware that I am intruding in the living space of other creatures.

When not in the wilderness, my chief concern are the crazies within my own species and there are a lot of them. RVers do not just encounter other RVers. There are non-RVers who see the RV and its occupants as a juicy target.

I seriously investigated the pros and cons of owning and carrying a gun. Here's where I came down:

Legally carrying a gun is an investment of about $1,000 and a lot of time. Shocked? Consider gun, ammunition, carry permits for two (multiple states), and safety training for two. Surveying the gun laws of several states convinced me that I could not drive any distance across state lines without violating someone's law, regulation, or prohibition.

I decided that 51 different sets of laws, overzealous cops, criminal-justice systems that don't work very well, and a host of lawyers anxious to take my money to prosecute me and defend me in case of a Catch-22 violation that is sure to happen is a greater risk to time and treasure than a mugger or a bear.

I opted for two cans of wasp spray -- one in my 5th wheel and one in my truck. Wasp spray because it shoots a stream to a range of 25 feet rather than a fog which is easily dispersed by the wind and is only effective at short ranges.

Like my fire extinguishers, I hope I never have to use them but I feel a little safer having them nearby. Safety lies somewhere between paranoia and carelessness.

Bob said...

First time I have heard about staking mining claims for the purpose of camping. Somebody tell me more about that.