Boondocking Adventure Us

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”
           — Henry David Thoreau, 1854

Living Deliberately


Palmer Energy Systems

Magnum Inverter

Lifeline Batteries


RV Electric and Solar

Palmer Energy Systems  Lake City, Florida
We would not be able to do what we are doing, or go photowhere we are going, without a reliable electrical system for our photorig. John Palmer at Palmer Energy Systems has one of the highest reputations in the RV industry. He helped us create a custom electrical system made for our off-the-grid living, using top-of-the-line equipment that is manufactured domestically. His craftsmanship and attention to detail are impressive, and he encouraged us to participate in the installation process so we could learn all about the components — which is important when you may have to do your own repairs on the road. At his invitation, we spent several days at his photoforested facility to test our new system and make sure it worked for our needs. When we realized we would rather have the photoinverter in our storage compartment instead of the living cabin as originally installed, he switched it out the next morning without question. We would strongly recommend John Palmer at Palmer Energy Systems to any RVer or boondocking aspirant.




External Power Plant — Gasoline Generator

Hildebrande Engines  Largo, Florida
Solar power is fantastic, but overcast days come now and then. And sometimes it’s just nice to park in the shade. Plus, in the real world, solar alone can never quite “top off” the batteries to a full charge. For these reasons and more, we really loved our on board Onan 2.8 Microlite Generator. But this old generator — part of the RV’s original equipment — was also the least reliable component of our system. Noisy and gas-thirsty, it had a penchant to pollute. So we took it to Mike and Charles Hildebrand at Hildebrand’s Engines to bump it up to 21st century standards. Alas, the old generator was too far gone to repair. So we bought a brand new external photogenerator instead — one that uses little gas and is very quiet. We can now pull into any boondocking campsite or wilderness area and top off our photobatteries without disturbing the peace. Best of all, thanks to our photosolar panels, we use less than ¼ gallon of gas for a complete bulk charge. We recommend Hildebrand’s Engines if you want to buy your own Robin-Subaru generator.


Datastorm of Florida


Internet and Communications

Datastorm of Florida  Pembroke Pines, Florida
Since we planned to take our home to very remote places, we could not count on cell phone towers to connect with the outside world. We needed a communications system that we could use anywhere. Our solution: satellite internet. But it turned out that mobile satellite internet equipment was more complex and required more precision than the typical satellite television reception that most RVers use. Fortunately, we had the help of one of the best satellite internet installers in the country. Tony and Paul Arcuri of Datastorm of Florida facilitated our research process, and were always available by phone or email whenever we had any questions. As seasonal full-timers themselves, they knew exactly what we were looking for as boondockers. They set us up with top-of-line equipment, professionally installed, in less than three hours. We were provided with a generous warranty package, and Tony and Paul continue to be available to us after the sale at any time. We strongly recommend Datastorm of Florida to any serious full-timer.


Laptop Computers


Laptop Computers

Dell Computer
A computer that supports off-the-grid living will present some give-and-take challenges. You need the processor and system powerful enough to interface with both web and desktop applications, but at the same time the processor must use the least amount of electricity as possible. When we were searching for computers, the EPA had not yet finalized their Energy Star specifications, so lots of independent research went into finding the right processor that represented the best cost/benefit ratio. (A $3000 computer sorta defeats the point, right?) With our Good Sam Club membership discount, we found what we needed in a relatively inexpensive Dell laptop. The Intel Core 2 Duo T6400 processor with the Penryn architecture, at the time of our purchase, was the best chip for our buck, with a processor nanometer of only 45 AC watts. In actual use, we have found this to be a very buffered ceiling, as each of our Dell laptops uses at most only 18 AC watts (or 0.15 AC amps) each, which translates to only 1.5 DC amps(!) — as such, we can operate two laptops and the internet modem all plugged in and charging the photobatteries off just two photosolar panels.

RV Insurance

We have been happy with GEICO’s service for over a decade. So when we found out they had RV insurance specifically for full-timers, it was a no-brainer.


Big Cypress, Florida

Chewalla Lake, Mississippi


Our Toad

Axis Powersports  Inverness, Florida
Once we get to where we’re going and hunker down (not a simple process!) there’s no sense in moving our whole house to run to the store, or explore the town, or get us to the next trailhead. That’s what we have our scooter for. In RV-speak, the vehicle you tow behind your rig is your “toad”. Our toad weighs only 170 pounds, travels by rack on the trailer hitch, and gets 100 miles per gallon. It’s perfect for the two of us and a lot of fun. Derick and Angela David at Axis Powersports were very patient with us. We asked a lot of questions about small engines, scooter laws and scooter maintenance. They made the purchase easy and fun. Most importantly, they have always been available to us after the sale as our questions arise, even though we are “out-of-town”. We highly recommend Axis Powersports to anybody in the market for a scooter, ATV or dirt bike.

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What about gas?

Our photoscooter gets 100 miles per gallon. And our main photohouse averages about (mumble, mumble) 10 (mumble) miles per gallon. But, really, it's our entire house, and it's going to take a big engine to pull it around. Look at it this way, though. Research indicates, and our own experience has shown, that full-timers actually use less gas than the average urban driver.

How’s that?

We do not drive to the grocery store and back. We drive to the grocery store, and then move on. You will find, if you add it up, that about half the miles on your odometer are put there on the return journey. We’ve eliminated that part.

We average about 760 miles per month driving our photospaceship, which is both a) about the length of ¼ the country, giving us lots of places to see and do, and b) about 15% less than number of miles the average driver puts on their car per month.

So, that helps us feel better. Now, let’s talk about the solar panels.