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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Water, water everywhere: The Ancient Mariner wasn't in the desert



By Bob Difley
The southwestern deserts have spectacular sunsets nearly every night, abundant long views, clear air, lots of open space, warm days, refreshingly cool good-for-sleeping nights, a bonanza of wildflowers in the Spring--but little water. When the summer cloudbursts come, the deluge is so fast that little soaks in, running off through normally dry washes, sometimes causing flash floods. the winter light rains soak in, just enough to trigger the wildflowers, but not enough to fill reservoirs or RVers water tanks.
Like the cacti that store water in their fleshy pulp and dispense it as needed, creosote that sends roots out far from the main plant to gather all the moisture that falls within its root area, and birds and animals the know where to find all the tinajas (rock catchments that hold pools of rain water--see photo below), desert boondockers also need to learn how to conserve their water supplies, a Darwinian adaptation to the dry desert climate that is necessary for survival. The following tips will help you get the most out of your water supply:
  • Fill Jerry jugs or collapsible bladders to pour or pump into your water tank as your main supply diminishes. Carry in your tow vehicle and fill when near a water source.
  • When showering or washing hands, turn water on to wet yourself. Turn off and soap. Turn
  • on to rinse.
  • Save shower water into a plastic bucket or dishpan while waiting for it to heat up and use for rinsing dishes or flushing toilet.
  • Wipe food bits off dishes with paper towel before washing to keep dishwater clean. Wash dishes in dishpan, not under running water. Rinse in separate dishpan of clean water. Use rinse water to flush toilet or water thirsty plants.
  • Use low flow shower and faucet nozzles. Turn faucets only half on when using.

Conservation of water resources will also extend your stay before you need to pack up and move to a water filling station. If you can squeeze another day or two before you run out, multiplied by a winter of boondocking, you will spend a lot more time enjoying the desert.
For a complete guide to boondocking, see my eBook, BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America's Public Lands on right side of this page.

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