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Enjoying the views in Yukon's fantastic Tombstone Territorial Park! Photo taken yesterday.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Dawson City, Yukon, Canada.

Where are they going next? Chicken, Alaska!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Extending time in your RV without hookups...

It was a wet, rainy, windy, miserable day yesterday. We had been parked overlooking the Arctic Ocean, and when the cold front blew in overnight... it blew in hard! We were both woken up by the wind rocking Sherman, and howling through the electrical cables we were parked near.

Winds were averaging 50 km/h (30 miles per hour) and gusting to 70 km/h (42 mph).

And, it was only 7C (45F) inside the motorhome. I put on our Mr. Heater Buddy, but it couldn't keep up to the cold wind finding it's way in. I had to put the furnace on at the same time to kick start the heat a little bit and once things warmed up the Mr. Heater Buddy was just barely able to keep us there if it was on high.

View out Sherman's front window!

But at least we are not in a tent!

Yikes!

After breakfast, we moved. We found a spot at the back of the ice rink to get out of the wind. Not as nice of a view, but at least we were now warm and sheltered from the wind. We stayed there in the motorhome for the rest of the day and only went out to check out the Pingo Market that takes place Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. But because of the weather, there was only one vendor at the market. He said it would be better on Saturday, and from the looks of the weather forecast we are going to be here that long!

A reader asked the following questions yesterday...

Could you do a post on how you handle dumping/filling tanks, how often you need to do it, are there any special tricks you use for extending the time needed to do it (one blogger I read suggested using a trash can for used toilet paper, like it's often done in Mexico -- what do you think), etc. etc. Do you keep showers to a minimum? Wash dishes in a different way that saves water? 

Yep, we do all of that and more! In fact, many of those things we have incorporated into our daily RV lifestyle so that we don't even think about them when we are traveling in the motorhome. We are so rarely hooked up to services, that it's just normal for us.

However, when we know that we're going to be a long time between dump stations or water fill up, we are extra cautious.

Hmm. Where to start.

Well, yes... we do put used toilet paper into a small covered trash can beside the toilet. There is a plastic bag inside the trash can, and that gets tossed in a dumpster once every couple of days. And no, we have never noticed an odor. I guess we just got in the habit of doing this when we started going to Mexico years ago. There are several benefits of doing this. The odds of you having a blockage in your sewer drain is pretty much eliminated. And you can use whatever brand of toilet paper you wish instead of specifically looking for one that disintegrates quickly.

We also use very little water when using the toilet. I don't mean to get too descriptive here, but RV'ers will understand what I mean when I say that your RV toilet bowl is not very efficient at flushing! It's difficult to clean without using an awfully lot of water when you're doing business #2. This is probably where the most fresh water is wasted, and ends up filling up your holding tank.

So... put a little bit of water in the bowl before you sit... maybe an inch or so... just enough to wet the sides of the bowl. Then you do your business and flush quickly so as not to have fresh water going down the drain. Then, you need a one liter (or smaller) size spray bottle filled with water a little bit of liquid laundry softener. You use this spray bottle mixture to clean the inside of the toilet bowl. Put it on a streaming spray to clean the residue. You will use very little water to do so, when compared to the "normal" way.

Also, we try to use public toilets if they exist. And if they don't, I (Kevin) will try to pee outside if we're at a place where I can get away with it.

In eleven years of RV'ing, our black tank has only come close to full once or twice. And we typically have no problem finding somewhere to empty it when it is only half full.

For the grey tank, with washing dishes, we use very little water in a separate bowl in the sink. Maybe an inch and a half deep depending on the amount of dishes. It doesn't take very much water to clean dishes. We don't often do this, but we have read of people using a paper towel as soon as they are done eating to wipe the heavy residue off their plates and utensils, making them easier to clean with very little water.

When we know that we're going to be without fresh water or somewhere to dump our tanks, we simply go without showering. A sponge bath works quite well, using hardly any water. And when we do shower, it only takes about ten seconds of water to get wet before you turn the water off. You shampoo your hair and then soap your body at the same time without rinsing off. Then maybe 20 seconds more of water to rinse yourself off. I probably don't use a gallon, and Ruth slightly more because of her hair.

Oh, and we hardly ever turn on our hot water heater. In fact, the only time we turn on the hot water heater is when we are going to have a shower, and even then it's only to get the water warm enough that we can use the hot water valve only without adding cold to it. Otherwise, we heat water on the stove when we need to. And when we think the hot water is ready for having a shower, we have a container to use under the faucet to collect the cold water that is in the line before the hot water starts flowing.

Sherman's fresh water tank holds 32 gallons, and the black and grey tanks are 42 gallons each. So we are rarely worried about filling our waste holding tanks. It is more likely that our first problem will be running out of fresh water! We also carry a 5 gallon jug of drinking water. We do not drink the water in our holding tank except for boiling for coffee and tea.

We can typically go 10 days before we need water, and longer before we need to dump however if we really stretched it we could probably go longer.

And of course solar panels, batteries, a 1,000 watt inverter, and LED lights look after our electrical needs. From full, our propane tank will last 6 weeks or so depending on what climate we're in.

So, coming up here to Tuktoyaktuk where there are no RV services, we made sure we left Inuvik with a full fresh water tank and empty waste holding tanks. We only expected to be here 3-4 days, and we're already into day 5 and there might be a day 6 or 7 depending on what the weather does. Always better to be prepared. Although, our propane is getting low but we should still be okay until we get back to Inuvik.

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36 comments:

  1. I think that's great information. People need to learn how to conserve water and understand what you need to do to make it work when staying (or living) long term in a motorhome. I love the toilet paper idea, most of the countries I have visited they have a "bin" for the paper like in your motorhome. it just makes sense. I have had the clog in my motorhome and it's not fun! Take care, stay warm and safe, love this leg of your travel!!!

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    1. Thanks Karen! If people want to boondock then yes, they definitely need to learn how to conserve, especially if they want to prolong their stay. For those that aren't interested then they will just continue to go to the full hookup parks and not even give conserving their resources a second though. We do think the idea on putting toilet paper in the "bin" is a great idea for anyone in an RV, that way as Kevin mentioned you can use nice soft and thick toilet paper, not that expensive thin RV stuff.

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  2. A very informative post. Thanks for writing that. Hope the weather clears soon and you can head south again.

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    1. Thanks Peter! As much as we have enjoyed our time up here in Tuktoyaktuk the waiting around is starting to cut into our time and exploring we have planned once we leave the Dempster Highway. We are hoping the weather will start to clear up soon too and the road dries up enough that we can safely drive on it without fear of getting stuck or sliding off of it.

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  3. Could be way worse, could be a blizzard! On the bathroom sink I replaced the aerator with a $7 "instant off" water saver. Water flows only when the thin plastic rod is pushed.

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    1. Yep, that would definitely be way worse although it almost felt like a blizzard that one day! We aren't worried, we were prepared to sit around here if we needed to and it certainly isn't a bad place to be "stuck".

      Kevin isn't quite sure how or where you would put this in the bathroom sink. he has learned that not all water systems work the same way in all RV units.

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    2. Good point but chances are if your bathroom faucet has a removable aerator, this device could replace it, as it comes with several different sized adapters.

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    3. Ahh, I understand now. Yep, that would also save on a bit more water especially because you are sat in one place over the whole winter and actually have to physically move in order to empty so you want to save every last drop of water from going in to your grey tank.

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  4. Yikes! We are headed north soon to find some cooler weather but not that cold or windy:) You are sure having a great adventure!

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    1. We really doubt that you will get this kind of weather unless your north includes Tuktoyaktuk! ;-)

      Yes, we are certainly having an adventure.

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  5. When I tent camp, I carry biodegradable tea tree oil infused wipes to keep fresh. The tea tree oil helps reduce infection from insect bites, scratches, etc. It's a natural antibacterial oil. I carry the tea tree oil also to use as lotion...keeps mosquitoes away and other insect critters. I also have sage, sweet grass, juniper bundles to smudge my tent & bedding to keep critters out. I smudge my car and it leaves a nice fresh smell.


    The weather report predicted rain Tuesday through Thursday...but I guess it's moved into Friday & Saturday as well. One more rainy day and you'll be able to travel outta there. Take care.

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    1. Tea tree oil is certainly good for many things and if you are tent camping or "car camping" then I can see the wipes being handy to have but we have facilities in the motorhome that we can use and we know how to make them last so we would rather save the money and the extra garbage that wipes create. I do know that quite a lot of people use wipes when boondocking though.

      We have learned that the weather up here in Tuktoyaktuk is very difficult to predict so we will just wait around and hope we get a nice window of opportunity sometime over the weekend. We would rather wait and be safe than take any chances.

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  6. YIKES for sure on that Arctic Ocean - WOW!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Yep, it was a pretty dramatic ocean that one day!

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  7. I love watching the ocean when it is windy with lots of white caps!

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    1. We do too but not when we are sitting right in front of it in and RV that is being rocked about and salt sprayed upon! That was just a little too rough for us to enjoy.

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  8. Our limiting factor is always the gray water tank (we have 60 fresh and 45/45 waste tanks) so I try to put dish water down the toilet, also what I collect while the shower is getting hot. I think I can shower in 2 quarts when we're really conserving. We've gone as long as 9 days dry. For power, we have one 100W panel and one 12V deep cycle battery. It's enough for LED lights, water pump, phone and tablet charging, and vent fan during the day.

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    1. You sound like you do all the things that we do, so you are doing it right! :-)

      We have a funny set up with our fresh water and grey water tanks, that being our grey tank is bigger than our fresh water so we should never fill it before running out of water.

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  9. Hi Kevin and Ruth, thank you for visiting a remote village. Do you see similarities with this community and those you experienced in Colombia? or remote parts of Mexico?

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    1. Any of the little rural communities that we came across is Colombia never seemed or felt remote. They always seemed to have all the necessary requirements for a village like you would find in Canada or the USA so we would compare Tuktoyaktuk to be about the same. It has water, sewer although they have to be delivered and removed from the houses up here but it is all done with proper sanitation guidelines in place. They have electricity, internet, TV, heat, 2 grocery stores, recreational facilities including an indoor pool (summer only), indoor ice rink, a rec hall, churches, repair shops, medical clinic/hospital, nursing home, school and an airport. They are definitely better off than a small remote community in the middle of nowhere Mexico. Having said that I also don't think that people in the little remote parts of Mexico are all that badly off, they live of the land much like they do here in Tuktoyaktuk but they have much nicer weather and are able to grow and pick so much more food. Also this little places in Mexico all have goats, sheep, cows, chickens and more so although they may not have as many comforts of a more modern village/town they still manage to live happy lives for the most part. So yes, Tuk would be considered a modern village/town but just in a very remote part of the world. I ope this helps to answer your question. :-)

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  10. Your advice is right on. If I may add, we use the "if it's yellow let it mellow". So we don't flush number one until necessary, especially at night and use it as flushing water in the morning. Works well. Learning how to wash dishes is a plus and knowing that hot water is not a necessity to do so. As you stated, when possible, number one outside. Saves on tank space. We've never had an overload issue.

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    1. Yep, if you like a place and want to stay awhile or even just traveling in areas that don't have any RV services for any length of time you want to do whatever you can to prolong your time. :-)

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  11. There's something wrong with this statement,,, We parked in back of the ice rink **what
    you're in the middle of the below sub zero ice and frozen tundra country???? next thing you know you're going to tell us there's a Starbucks in the bowling alley there.
    I suppose it must be hard shoeing the polar bears an the Penguins off the outdoor ice-skating rink.
    Interesting how people that live in that kind of climate in that isolation can read the weather better than most meteorologist, be interested To see if his prediction is right,

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    1. But it isn't subzero temperatures in the summer, and these people are Canadians, you play hockey any time of the year here! ;-)

      I don't think they have a bowling alley here but they do have an indoor swimming pool (summer use only), I bet there is coffee available in there, and it would more likely be Tim Horton's coffee not Starbucks, lol! BTW, they don't have penguins anywhere in the Arctic Circle, they are all down in the Antarctic.

      So far the weather is clearing and the road is drying.

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  12. Like your posting lots of great info and pretty well the way we boondock, and can actually do at least 14 days , but then we have larger tanks. Like you we know how to conserve, Enjoy your time there and hope the weather gets a bit warmer for you guys.

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    1. Yep you guys are great at boondocking, now you just have to learn how to fill your fridge for longer so that you don't have to make all those trips into town for more food every couple of days, lol! Just bugging you, I know that you like to do those little drives into town just for the drive itself and to get out and talk with people. :-)

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  13. THANK YOU SO MUCH. This is extremely valuable information...and rarely talked about. I really appreciate it!

    J.D. Roth just posted a long article about his traveling the U.S. in an RV. It would be interesting to hear what you and Ruth think about his experience (and numbers):

    https://www.getrichslowly.org/us-by-rv/

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    1. Interesting story. Ultimately, they paid too much for that rig to begin with. And regarding their expenses, he readily admits they could have done it cheaper, but they had a lifestyle to maintain. We've learned that everybody does it differently.

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  14. Hopefully the weather gives you a break... soon.

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    1. Looks like it is, hopefully we are heading out in a few hours! :-)

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  15. Great post very useful information. Too bad the weather is not better but sounds like your having a great time. Looking forward each day to your posts. Take care and be safe!

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    1. Thanks Brigitte, we are hoping that the weather improves too. It already is looking better and we should be able to get out this afternoon, fingers crossed.

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  16. Well, we learned a thing or two on this post, and many thanks (I almost wrote "many tanks!") Hope you guys can escape during a lull in the rainy weather. Best wishes!

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    1. We are still learning new things when it comes to RVing, you are never too experienced to learn something new! ;-)

      We did get that lull in the weather but we are going to hit another rainly system on the Dempster Highway heading further south in about a day or two so we will most likely be held up again. It is definitely and adventure!

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  17. Thanks for the great post and info ......good to know we are doing the right things and learning more tricks from you two.

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    1. We are always learning new things ourselves, you are never to old to learn! ;-)

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