RV Podcast 307: Who says you can’t boondock in a big rig?

 RV Podcast 307: Who says you can’t boondock in a big rig?

There are a lot of RV myths out there and one big one is that you can’t boondock in a big rig.

This week, we dispel that bit of fake news by introducing you to two couples who not only boondock in big RVs, but both are thriving on it!

Jason and Rae Miller are known as the Getaway Couple on their blog and YouTube community and they travel and boondock regularly in a huge Fifth Wheel.

Mark and Julie Bennett, who publish the RV Love channel and blog and are authors of a very popular book on RVing, boondock in a huge Class A motorhome.

We hear from both couples this week as they tell you about boondocking in a big rig, what are the challenges and more importantly just how they get those giant RVs down the road and off the grid.

Both couples will teach you a lot!

Plus, we have RV News of the week, your RV Lifestyle questions and a great off the beaten path report from the Burketts.

You can listen to this episode of the Podcast on your favorite app or right below in the audio player. The interview about how to boondock in a big rig is about 20:37 in:

Show Notes for Episode #302 July 8, 2020 of The RV Podcast: How to boondock in a Big Rig

RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Oregon now charging out-of-state residents more to camp at its campgrounds
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department now adds a surcharge to out-to-state residents wanting to use its campgrounds. The surcharge works out to about a 30 percent price hike, making a full-service campsite cost $42 for out-of-state residents (compared to the previous $33). Cost of a tent site will increase to $23 from $19 a night. The state hopes to raise $500,000 from the new fees to make up for lost revenue from when the campgrounds were closed earlier this year because of COVID-19. It also hopes to encourage people to stay closer to home. The surcharge will be applied to new reservations and first-come, first-served campers and will remain in place for the rest of this year.

June RV and towable camper sales break the record
Well, most of the numbers are in, and now it is official: More Americans than ever are giving the RV Lifestyle a try. The RV industry recorded the best sales month EVER last June, with a 16.5% increase over last year’s 41,699 total. And that doesn’t even include numbers from the states of Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon and Vermont. Americans are really buying RVs and towables. The numbers support what we have been hearing for months. More and more people are camping as a result of COVID-19. To see more of what we’ve reported about camping changes this year click here.

Peak viewing of the Perseid meteor showers will be Tuesday and Wednesday- don’t miss it!
The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak this week, and if you can get outside to watch, you don’t want to miss it! Up to 100 shooting stars can be seen per hour during its peak. It should be visible all this week. A good strategy is to look up as late in the evening as possible, but before moon rises. The Perseid meteor show is visible every year when the earth drifts through a debris cloud left from a comet. To learn more click here or here.  To learn more about photographing the night sky, click here

Vandals spray painting campers, campground signs with messages of “COVID-19” and “Go home” in British Columbia
We saw reports last week out of British Columbia of people vandalizing camping trailers with the words “no camping” and “COVID-10”. About two weeks ago a story was in the news from North Island Campground where someone spray painted “Go home” on a campground sign. In the latest report, the camping trailer targeted was not even being used. The border between Canada and America is closed for non-essential travel, like camping, and while it is possible to “sneak” in, we wanted to remind you again that not every community wants out-of-owners visitors. 

In this summer of pandemic camping, remember to check ahead
Because of a surge in COVID-19 cases, California State Parks temporarily closed Turlock Lake State Recreation Area’s campground last weekend. Hawaii has also closed campgrounds and parks until Sept. 4 because of rising COVID-19 numbers. But Big Bend National Park, which opened, then closed because of COVID cases in the residential park area, is now open again – for day use only.  As we’ve said before, keeping track of what is open and what is not requires a scorecard this camping season. And as always, we recommend you check with Campendium, which is doing a good job of staying up to date. To see what things are like before you head out click here.

This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America’s #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  

RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK

This week’s question comes from our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group from a member named Jerry. He asks:

QUESTION:

When camping with full hook up, do you leave black & gray valve open or do you leave closed and drain as needed to help flush out drain hose?

ANSWER

Good question and one with pretty much universal agreement by experienced RVers.

Everyone agrees that while you may have your dump hose hooked up the sewer drain on your campsite; the black tank valve should be closed. You do not want it free flowing.

As far as the gray valve goes, the majority of people say to leave it closed, too. Though a few say leave it open if you are taking a lot of showers. Our advice is to leave it closed, too.

The reason is when it’s time to go and you empty the black tank, you want a good strong flow of grey water to help flush out any solids that may be trapped in your drain hose.

Here are some of the 50 or so comments our RV Lifestyle Group members made in response to Jerry’s question:

From Becca: If you leave your black tank open the sewer smell with come into your camper

From David: For the grey valve, ours stays open. I usually close it on travel day or the day before to let it fill a bit and then dump right before I leave. Gives it a good flush out.

From Stewart: Black tank is always closed except when dumping. grey is open the whole time then closed when I predict showers and dishwashing will give me a nearly full tank to flush the hoses after I empty the black tank.

From Jean: Keep them both closed until ready to dump. We learned the hard way (too much solid stiff from the black tank left in the hose)

From Maria: We leave both closed until we are ready to leave. We then empty the black first, then we close the black valve, then we clean out the black w/ our San-T flush system, clean out the black AGAIN, then we empty the grey. By emptying the black first then the grey, it cleans out the hose. We then use another hose to hose out the sewage hose before we store it away. Can you tell we are super hyper vigilant about a clean sewage area and hose??

So there you go. Keep that black valve closed until just before you leave.

Thanks to our Fellow Travelers on our RV Lifestyle Facebook Group members for offering their suggestions. If you are not yet a member, now’s the time to join. We have over 40,000 members who are ready to help with all your RV questions. Just go to RVLifestyle.com/Facebook.

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium

RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK

RVers who own big towables, fifth wheel, and Class A RVs are often under the mistaken notion that they can’t boondock, that off the grid dispersed camping in non-developed forests and public lands is off-limits to them because of their size.

And while, yes, sometimes that low clearance and extra length makes navigating rough roads a little too hard, there are still a great many places where they can boondock.

And in many clases, the extras that come with their size may even make it easier and more enjoyable to boondock with a big rig.

To help us understand just how you can boondock in a big rig, we asked for some advice from two of our friends, other RV bloggers and YouTubers who we know do a lot of boondocking and who do it in big rigs.

First up is a report I asked Mark and Julie Bennett of RV Love to give us about their thoughts on how to boondock in a big rig.

Photo of mark and Julie who boondock in a big rig
Mark and Julie Bennett of RV Love fame regularly boondock in a big rig – a 40 foot Class A diesel pusher

Hey Mike, this is Mark and Julie from RVLove putting in our two cents on what it’s like to be boondocking with our large RV.

One of the things we love about it is that it’s got huge tanks for sure. You’ve got a hundred gallons of fresh water.

And it’s got solar and lithium and it is a 40 ft of a diesel pusher motorhome and perhaps our biggest limitation with boondocking is where we can go because it has a fairly low clearance in a really long wheel base.

So we have to be very mindful of where we’re going to go boondocking. But if we do our research in advance, we can find some really amazing places that are off the grid and stay there for extended periods of time, almost like we’re plugged in because we have such a robust off grid system/

So when the pandemic broke out in March and walk through and place orders. We happen to be in Quartzsite Arizona, which is a boondocking Mecca. And if anybody wants to try boondocking for the first time, Quartzsite, Arizona is a fantastic place to do it because it’s really set up for RVs.

Our motorhome is very heavy, 32,000 pounds fully loaded. But Quartzsite has a rocky surface. So it doesn’t pick up as much dust and it’s like better for supporting a larger RV. Now, of course, the prime time to go down there is in the winter, January through March. Don’t go there in the summer.

So we were there in March when COVID happened and we just said, well let’s shelter-in-place, we will just stay where we are. So we actually meant to stay for only a couple of days, but we ended up staying five weeks, off the grid in our class A forty-foot motor home powered by a solar panels and Battleborn lithium batteries.

We broke camp once after two weeks and went in to dump the black water tank and fill the fresh water tank at a campground downtown.  We came back and we stayed in place another 20 days.

Then we headed up to Colorado to get into a campground and cooler temperatures.

But we love boondocking with a big rig. We just have to be a little bit more organized with planning.

And obviously it is a lot easier in the west than in the east, but we did a whole RV remodel off the grid, actually. on a friend’s property in Oregon for our Ultimate RV makeover project. And that was pretty cool to be off grid and using power tools and doing a remodel.

Very doable. We love boondocking.

Hope that’s helpful for your listeners on the podcast. Thanks for all you do. I look forward to seeing you. All right. Thanks again guys.

Next up is Jason and Rae Miller, known to their followers as the Getaway Couple, who boondock in a big rig fifth wheel.

phpto of jason and rae who boondock in a big rig
Jason and Rae, the Getaway Couple, and the 42 foot fifth wheel they boondock in

Here’s a transcript of our interview about how to boondock in a big rig.

Mike Wendland:          Joining us now is the Getaway Couple, Jason and Rae. Guys, I’m delighted to get you on the podcast. We’ve been talking about this for a long time.

Rae:                             We have. I’m so glad our schedules have finally matched up. We’re happy to be here.

Jason:                           Yeah.

Mike Wendland:           You guys are coming from our favorite place in the whole world, which is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, right now. You’re enjoying this beautiful summer weather up there?

Rae:                             Yes, we are. We’d have to say it’s one of our favorite places in the world as well. We just love Michigan.

Jason:                           Yeah, we spent the end of spring up here last year, just passing through because we had no other plans. Our other plans fell out and we just happened to be in Indiana, and so someone was like, “Well, go up through Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.” So we did it and we just fell in love last year. We’re very happy to be up here.

Rae:                             Yes.

Mike Wendland:           We think we’re going to spend probably September and October up there, and then we always go up in January for snow. Well, that’s great. We’ve got a link to all your media platforms and people can follow you right in the show notes for this episode. They’ll be able to go up and maybe see some of those awesome photos from God’s country, is what they call the UP of Michigan. I want to talk-

Rae:                             Yes.

Mike Wendland:           I want to talk to you guys in a minute about boondocking with a big rig, because that’s what you have. But for my audience that maybe is not real familiar with the Getaway Couple, they will be, because they’ll follow that link, but introduce yourselves a little bit. Tell us how long you guys have been RVing and why are you doing this lifestyle? Everybody kind of has a little specialty that we all do. Tell us what you guys are excited about.

Jason:                           Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve been full-time on the road for just over three years. We are originally from Los Angeles, California, and we both were kind of into the, make as much money as you possibly can, lifestyle that is very common in Los Angeles. Keeping up with the Joneses, getting the newer car, the bigger house. But we very, very much loved travel. Rae and I actually went to the same high school and we were in a German foreign exchange program, so we traveled overseas pretty early and just kind of really fell in love with travel in general. So we would also take every single hour of vacation that we got from our company every year and we’d be planning out, two, three years in advance to make sure that we take all of our vacation time. So we actually started Getaway Couple just doing that, taking our vacation overseas.

                                    And then when we got married, we took a month and a half off of work and did a big honeymoon. We pretty much spent just as much money on our honeymoon as we did on the wedding because that was important to us. And so we were away from work for so long that something clicked. We were on like a cruise ship in the middle of the Greek islands, just looking out at these small islands go by. And we were like, “What are we doing, going to work every day? We need to travel.” And so then we started watching travel YouTubers, that travel the world and all of that. And we were starting to plan to save up, to hit the road full time, just travel in a suitcase. And then we got a dog that we absolutely fell in love with.

                                    And we were like, “How can we travel with this dog?” And just a recommended video came up. I think it was Gone with the Wynns, and it was them traveling in their RV. And being from LA, we don’t really have a lot of RVs. We tent camp because the weather is always nice. You don’t have to worry about freak thunderstorms rolling in. So we’d never really even gone RVing or thought about it. And so we saw that video and we’re like, “You can live in an RV? You can do this full time?” And so that kind of spun us down this whole road that ended up where we are now, where we started… I worked remotely, I did cybersecurity.

                                    So I was able to transition to a remote position. And then we hit the road fairly quickly-

Rae:                             Mm-hmm (affirmative) within a year.

Jason:                           Yeah. Within a year and bought the biggest RV they had on the lot, because we were coming from a house and we’re still in that mindset of, we need as much space as we possibly could and just fancy stuff. So I literally pulled off the lot, my hands were shaking because we’d never towed something this big before. But we’ve made it. We’ve had some mistakes along the way, but here we are.

Rae:                             Yes.

Jason and Rae, boondocking and enjoying S’mores outside their 42 foot Fifth Wheel

Mike Wendland:           Well, let’s talk about that big rig, that had your hands shaking. How big is it? And what do you tow it with? I take it then you never have driven like a B van or a Class C RV. You just went straight to the big towable. Tell us how big it is.

Rae:                             It’s a 42-foot Grand Design Solitude and we’re also 13 feet, six inches tall. So we are long and tall, but we do tow it with a 3,500 Dually Diesel Ram. And no, we didn’t try out anything else before. We just initially thought we needed the biggest rig. We don’t think that now, but we love our floor plan so much which is why we’ve learned how to drive it and got a little more on the up and up with all the safety procedures. But yeah, it’s been great. So yeah, neither one of us either drived, a Class C or a van before this.

Mike Wendland:           Well, talk about the big question that we want to really focus on because you guys like to boondock and there’s this myth that is out there, that big rigs can’t boondock. Talk about how you guys boondock and the challenges that are involved in that and what you’ve learned along the way about boondocking with the big rig.

Rae:                             Yes. So that was a myth that we believed for a while too. So we didn’t boondock our first year and a half on the road at all. And then we had some friends take us out and show us the ropes for our first trip. And then we started to just fall in love with it. And I have to admit, I was the one that was a little more hesitant just because I didn’t know what to expect. And it was a steep learning curve with learning everything about the rig. So I thought boondocking was going to be another steep learning curve. Again, we had mistakes and we had issues, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. And we use Campendium a lot to find sites that can fit us. And past reviewers are super helpful when they let you know what size rig they came with.

                                    And then we picked up Rad Power Bikes, our e-bikes, because we like to use those to go scout. So that way we’re not even bringing our rig down into a precarious situation, we can just ride the bikes down, check it out and decide yes or no. This is where we want to go. And we’ve just learned a couple of tips and tricks along the way. And we’ve made some upgrades to our rig as well, to help with boondocking. We added solar, we added a nice battery bank. We upgraded our suspension system, but you don’t need all those fancy upgrades. You really can get out and start boondocking with what you have and just pick up the necessary items along the way.

Jason:                           And I would say boondocking is actually even easier right off the bat with a big rig because of your tank sizes. There’s less having to conserve as much water because we have a 100 gallon freshwater capacity and then we have two grey tanks with 50 gallon capacities each and our black tank is 50 gallons capacity. So just right off the bat, all you can do is buy a big fifth wheel right off the lot and if he doesn’t come with a generator buy a portable generator and you can get out there from day one.

Rae:                             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mike Wendland:           You do have solar and I would assume you have batteries. Talk about your solar, your batteries, your inverter, what size? And give us an idea of how on a typical boondocking trip you guys manage your power.

Jason:                           Yeah, absolutely. So when we first started, we had just our one lead acid battery and we’d just run our generator all day because I needed it to work. And then we slowly figured out what we needed. We upgraded just a single drop in Battle Born Battery, and that made a huge difference even without adding any other systems. Then we added an additional five Battle Batteries, Battle Born Batteries. So we have a total of six Battle Born Batteries now for 600 amp hours of storage.

                                    We have a kind of unique system because we full time and spend a lot of time off grid now. We wanted to power every single outlet in our RV and there’s a ton of them. We just continue to find more, I feel like. So we have a dual 3000 watt inverter setup, Victron Inverters, and we have two of them that run in parallel, to power every single outlet. And then to recharge those Battle Born Batteries, we have 1,200 watts of solar on the roof by…

Rae:                             Hightec.

Jason:                           … Hightec Solar. So anyway, I think we’re probably going to add a little bit more there because you can never have too much, in my opinion. We are not stingy with power whatsoever. So we do use a lot every day and so that’s why we definitely want more solar.

Mike Wendland:           Now you were in a Northern climate now where the sun is… it’s summertime, but it’s still, it’s not quite as strong as it is when you’re down South. A typical day how does the batteries… how do they charge during the day? And is that completely top them off pretty much at night? What about air conditioning unit use with your system? Are you able to use the AC without having the generator run?

Rae:                             Yes. So we actually have a soft start on each AC. We have two ACS in our rig and we are able to run both of them because of the dual inverter powering each leg. And surprisingly, even up here in the North, we’re doing really well. Jason just opened our Color Control and we’re at 99% already today. So we’re going to get a full charge. And that is when we’ll get a little more conservative, we’ll make sure that everything’s turned off at night. And we have a large hard drive that we edit our videos on that uses a lot of power so we make sure that’s off every night. But other than that, we don’t think about it too much. And our panels are tilted right now. That’s definitely helping.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah. I was just going to ask you that. That’s a great, I mean, that is a great system that you have. Now I’m back to the big rig though. How hard is it for you guys to find those true places where the Getaway Couple can really get away out there boondocking?

Jason:                           So I’m not going to lie. It definitely involves a little bit more work than it does with smaller rigs, but it is 100% manageable. So for us, even just finding campgrounds, you kind of have to filter out spots that you can’t fit in. So it’s no different than looking for a spot in a campground that you can fit in. We use Campendium mostly as Rae said, for the boondocking sites. And the great thing that we love about it is people report their rig size but then also you can take a look at the pictures people post. And so we try to look for other rigs that are a similar size as we are. So that’s our first step to narrow down our campground options. And there’s still tons, it’s just, maybe there’s 10 sites in an area and three of them would fit a big rig, okay.

Rae:                             Satellite view on Google Maps also helps.

Jason:                           Yeah. So that’s the next step, is satellite view on Google Maps. And we kind of just look at the road in and then try to find, what we like to think of as an escape route. So if we’re going down the road, is there somewhere where we can turn out or is it just a two track road between all of these trees? And we kind of just have to keep going for miles and miles and miles. Because, the turning around a 42-foot fifth wheel on a two-track is not fun. So we try-

Rae:                             Unfortunately, we have had to do that once and we learned our lesson.

Jason:                           We try to avoid that as much as possible. So that just goes into the planning, but then still once we find a site and we’ve looked at Google Maps and we’ve seen what it kind of looks like, we still usually pull over somewhere safe near the entrance before we start going down the path of no escape. And we pull our Rad Power Bikes out and we just ride down the dirt road or the two-track and kind of just explore. Make sure that everything is still as it looked like on Google Maps, because sometimes those images can be years old and suddenly there’s a new forest that’s sprung up on where you thought you had a big clearing or something.

Mike Wendland:           Where do you keep your Rad Power Bikes?

Jason:                           So our specific floor plan has a raised rear living room which gives us this massive pullout storage in the back of our fifth wheel. And so-

Mike Wendland:           Kind of a garage? Yeah.

Rae:                             Yeah.

Jason:                           Yeah. Exactly. And so we’re able to keep them in there, which is awesome. It keeps them out of the rain and out of passerby’s view.

Mike Wendland:           Are these-

Rae:                             And they are the RadMinis so they just fold [inaudible 00:14:52].

Mike Wendland:           The foldable minis. Yeah. I got a new RV this year with the garage and my Big City Bikes they don’t fit. So we’re looking at getting rid of those and probably picking up those minis. I saw your minis when we were at, I think the show, the RV show earlier this year in Tampa. They looked pretty neat. [crosstalk 00:15:13]. I have one more question, and then how people can learn more about all of this stuff, but what do you do for internet? That’s the other big thing of course, and how important that is if you’re working from the RV and if you’re boondocking, what’d you do?

Jason:                           Absolutely. So my background is in cybersecurity, so I’ve always been very invested in having the best internet that I could possibly have. And I actually recently just upgraded to some enterprise system, but previously we would just run two separate plans, AT&T and Verizon, unlimited plans. And I really keep an eye on the Mobile Internet Resource Center run by Technomedia for the latest plans and updates. And even before I hit the road, I would keep an eye on that.

                                    And when they tell you that a plan is unlimited, I jump on it because those plans come and go so quickly, as you know. So I have both Verizon and AT&T, and we just use the flagship mobile hotspots that they had for each of them, and we just switch between the two. Now we have a whole cradle point system with antennas on the roof. It’s kind of crazy, but overkill for a hundred percent of people out there.

Rae:                             Right.

Jason:                           Yeah.

Mike Wendland:           No, no, no. Maybe 99 because I’m with you on that too. I just [inaudible 00:16:36] a little 25 foot RV. I’ve got three systems. So I’m with you on this. Now I want to talk about something else that you guys are involved with called the RV Master Class and particularly the idea of how to do boondocking in a big rig, and briefly give us a quick overview on how… for the folks who have big rigs like yours, want to learn what you have learned, but not go through the bad experience part of all that, how can that help them?

Rae:                             Yes. So we started our RV Master Class with Tom and Caitlin from Mortons on the Move, and Kyle and Olivia from Drivin’ & Vibin’. And so we’ve created this online platform and we have three signature courses, with our most popular being Boondocking 101. And so that is for people who have never boondocked before, or maybe tried it and didn’t like it and are hesitant.

                                    This course will help guide you through everything you need to know, from how to find water, how to find the camp sites, how to find dump stations after, how to scout and even safety with wildlife, safety with other people. We really just go through everything and walk you what the boondocking process looks like. And because it’s coming from all of our different perspectives, we were able to cover, the big rig section, but then also, a small travel trailer and just different concerns for different rig types.

Jason:                           Yeah. It was really great because, for us, it came about because we were scared of boondocking and we were lucky enough to have friends like Kyle and Olivia, and Tom and Cait who are very experienced boondockers, kind of take us under their wing and show us in person what we need to do and how to do it. And not everyone has that. And so we kind of wanted to make this course to help those people who didn’t have the friends that are YouTuber experienced boondock extraordinaire.

Rae:                             Right.

Mike Wendland:           Well, we’ll put a link to that as well as the Getaway Couple website, and your videos and blog, all that we’ll put in the show notes. And it has been delightful speaking with the Getaway Couple, Jason and Rae, but in particular, learning that big rigs can indeed boondock and you guys are proof of that. And by the way, I meant to tell you how I love your slogan, your story brand name for your website, dare to live the life you’ve always wanted. And you guys are out doing that. It’s been great having you on the podcast.

Rae:                             Yes, it was our pleasure. Thank you so much for having us.

Jason:                           Thanks.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new  motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

RV PODCAST OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT   

BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT

If you’ve listened to many of these reports, you’ll know that among our favorite out of the way stops are the studios of outsider artists.  Some of these have gotten a lot of attention and have come to be well known, either during their lifetimes or after they’ve passed away.  You can learn about many who are less well-known at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which we enjoy visiting regularly.  

Some of these artists just put a few pieces up in the front yard for the enjoyment of passers-by, and some devote an entire lifetime to developing a style and building a world of creative work around it.

Mary’s Studio

One such is Mary Paulsen who lives and works down the road from Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina.  The way we heard the story told, one of her children brought home a couple of window sashes, and one day she had a message from God to paint.  

She painted a scene on the glass and took it into the nearby town, where someone promptly purchased it for $80.  No more teasing from the kids.  Instead, they began rounding up old windows for her to paint.  Mary’s received other messages, one of which resulted in the doll village she’s built with over six thousand dolls.

Mary and Patti

I wandered through the many outbuildings, each full to bursting with painted windows and other handmade items.  One that caught my eye was a nativity scene.  As a retired maternity nurse, I’ve seen thousands of mothers holding their newborns, and I was struck by the fact that this painting in its primitive style perfectly captured the way a mother looks with a new baby in her arms. 

 Later on, when we encountered Mary on the lawn, I told her about my reaction.  She smiled a big, beautiful smile and said. “I’m so happy it spoke to you.  That’s what I made it for.”  I felt an instant connection to this warm, enthusiastic woman, and her eccentricity quickly became a side note to her genuine interest and outgoing nature.

Mary’s place is made up of a long row of outbuildings and a treehouse.  The treehouse is home to the doll collection, and the other buildings are more or less themed.  A couple of them are made up entirely of colored glass bottles cemented together.  

We saw similar buildings, and a lighthouse, in the panhandle town of Carabelle Florida and at the Chapel of Jimmy Ray in La Cieneguita near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. (Incidentally, Carabelle is also home to the reputed smallest police station in the USA).  Inside these buildings, especially on a sunny day, the light coming through the walls is glorious.

Marry’s Bottle House

Other buildings held collections of Coca-Cola memorabilia, dolls, and miscellaneous items no doubt destined for future pieces of artwork.  Interestingly, Mary happily sells nearly anything from her stock, so if you need a bright red Barbie doll or 1958 Pennzoil can, or even a Barry Goldwater commemorative plate, just speak up and make an offer.  Of course, the paintings take up much of the space, and are the real showstoppers of a visit here.  

They’re all for sale, at prices ranging from under a hundred bucks to well into the thousands.  Mary is a prolific artist, and many of her pieces have similar themes—religious, woodland, and seashore.

We encourage you to visit while Mary is still active and working, as a chance to visit with her really makes the stop memorable.  And while you’re in the area, you might try the selection of modestly priced seafood at Holden Beach Seafood, where they feature fresh items from the local catch for you to cook in your RV.  Also not to miss are the excellent homemade ice creams at Beaches & Cream a few minutes down the road in the other direction. 

 This area of the coast is chockablock with small eateries, galleries, and other surprises, making it especially rewarding for those willing to wander a bit, off the beaten path.

New to boondocking? Check out our comprehensive guide that will get you started this weekend!

Whether you want to boondock in a big rig or a small RV, we have you covered Mike and Jennifer literally write the book on boondocking with a 65+-page downloadable digital guide to help you understand the nuances that come with boondocking, the most common boondocking problems, and what you need to do to get your rig “boondocking-ready”.

 
 

Mike Wendland

Mike is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road. He enjoys camping (obviously), hiking, biking, fitness, photography, kayaking, video editing, and all things dealing with technology and the outdoors. See and subscribe to his RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube, where he has hundreds of RV and travel related videos. His PC MIke TV reports, on personal technology are distributed weekly to all 215 NBC-TV stations.

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