Update on dry-camping in Ohio

We are in day 6 dry-camping in the Lake Loramie State Park. We think this is an apt time to review our longest dry-camping run in our Airstream CCD 25. And we want to share a little about camping this week in one of Ohio’s fine state parks.

Lots of kids, families, bikes

Lots of kids, families, bikes

This gorgeous state park is this week hosting, I think, every person in Ohio. Well, we have some Ohio friends we haven’t seen but the park is absolutely a beehive of busy-ness. This is the busiest we’ve seen any campground anytime. Everyone is buzzing about enjoying fabulous Memorial Day weekend weather and enjoying being here.

Children and adults appear equally elated to escape to this local campground. We’re glad to see this — so many people are vacationing here on this long Memorial Day weekend. People seem to be very local, many of them commuting from work to their trailers on the early days preceding the weekend. The recession didn’t kill camping but it might have prompted more people to stay in parks closer to home.

A large number of the campers seem to be multi-family. We are seeing many two and three camper set-ups where they have creatively pulled their campers facing each other. One camper remarked to us, they are real lenient at this park about the rules. This seems, very nicely, to allow these families to camp comfortably and without causing any apparent harm.

We also are seeing a lot of multi-generational campsites. The grandparents, it appears, arrived on Wednesday or Thursday. They start staking out the site and enjoy a night or two before the kids and grandchildren arrive. Then on Friday afternoon all heck busts loose. Here come the kids and grandkids and four bicycles and ladder golf and beanbag toss and horseshoes and bonfires and lots of laughing and grandmoms saying, “honey, here have some more of this before you go playing again. And don’t you want some more pop?”

And here are much larger numbers of older and smaller recreational vehicles than we usually encounter. Frequent visits we’ve made to state parks haven’t shown us as many pop-up campers or such a small number of motor homes. I guess this maybe is because we more often (five days out of seven) aren’t seeing working families in campgrounds. So we more often are seeing retired people who are spending their grandchildren’s inheritances or who, like us, opted for a more comfy motor home or travel trailer.

Not this week. In this state park almost a third of all sites are occupied by tents or pop-ups, and there are probably not two or three large motor homes. How many Airstreams, Argosys, Avions, Holiday Ramblers, or other premium trailers? One, just ours. Well, there was an Avion but he left the day after we arrived. We have seen lots of very practical and serviceable 20 to 30 feet long Sunnybrooks and KZ Sportsmen Forest River trailers and fifth wheels. And a bunch of pop-ups and tents.

I mentioned before we are dry-camping because we didn’t make advance arrangements for this busy weekend. This dry-camping has turned out a good experience for us. We’re too cheap to dry camp when we have electricity available, because we can power our refrigerator at no added cost with the electricity. The refrigerator normally consumes propane (although not much) when we’re not plugged in to electricity, and many campgrounds include electricity in their most basic rate. So we save propane if we run the fridge on their electricity.

Our site in Lake Loramie State Park in Ohio

Our site in Lake Loramie State Park in Ohio

Since it is cheaper and we can rent a site through Saturday (or longer) we opted for primitive, or no electric and no water service. And we gained a nice campsite by the water which, on the electric sites, would be at an additional premium cost. Our campsite setup is simpler with no water hoses and no electrical cords. We selected a pretty site away from the tree shade (and dead limbs falling) and close to the canal edge.

This has been easy camping, although not far different from what we usually would do. We can’t use the microwave. We use a small portable inverter to convert 12vdc to 110vac for someone’s curling iron and to recharge the laptop. And we can watch television if we want, again using the same 150 watt inverter. Everything else is battery-powered. After completing five and starting the sixth day we have remaining 10 gallons fresh water (we have used 29 gallons). We have 1/2 tank each in black water and rinse water. Our batteries are fully charged. It seems we could go at least another two days at the current rate of water usage.

We’re not trying to win a contest or prove anything. We are enjoying living simply and saving money. This is easy in our Airstream — our wide-opening windows and roof vents provide great ventilation. Our solar panels have provided ample power for our lighting, radio, and recharging the laptop. And the solar-charged batteries and tank capacities have been sufficient to allow a full week without any external utilities.

Incidentally, the biggest draw on the batteries is when I push the transmit key on my ham radio — 22 amps at 12vdc. Batteries so far have held overnight at 12.6v each day, enough to give the radio full power for a short time. I work the radio an hour in the evening and again for a half-hour in the morning. I reached France, Moldova, Ireland, and Colorado, in the past three days. This state park has been a good spot for long distance (dx) ham radio operation.

We are frugal users of power. I wonder if our reduction in carbon footprint is helping the environment as much as we should? We are:

  • * living in a tiny (<200SF) house,
  • * weekly water consumption is approximately 40 gallons,
  • * using less than 1/100 as much electricity as our brick house did,
  • * using at most a couple of gallons of propane each week, and
  • * driving less than many, if not most, commuters.
  • Our largest variable in energy (and costs) is miles driven, especially towing. We are burning a gallon of gas every eleven towed miles. We have, for the past eight months, settled down our towing mileage considerably by staying three months each in two venues. We're on the move now, and might average as little as a week in each stop for the next five months.

    We’re making our way across the country toward Vancouver, BC. There are a few stops we’ll make on the way. We’re going to buy enough gas to get to Vancouver, and we really would like to tow the trailer with us. We want to make the distance, but not in any hurry. So we can spread the gas cost across more weeks and months, and hopefully spend less for the year.

    Dry camping, if we learn to do it effectively, will help us afford our lifestyle and travels better. We are looking forward to learning better how to economize while enjoying camping. One big answer may be an increase in dry-camping. We’ll try.

    See you down the road!

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