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The 320 challenge was accepted and completed! In our last post, we lost one of our solar charge controllers, which effectively put two of our 320 watt solar panels out of commission. This left us with 320 watts. We’ve been off-grid boondocking since March 17 so we have gotten pretty good at using our resources wisely. We decided to try to stay a few more days in our boondocking spot (see map at end of post) in Wendover, UT and see how well we could operate off the one panel.
So how did it go? Surprisingly well! It helped that we were in a sunny location where the sun rose early and didn’t set until close to 9 p.m. We cut back on some of the electronic usage, but were still able to keep our computers and phones charged at all times. The experience did reinforce the value of redundancy. Our solar system was set up in such a way that if one section was out, we could still operate off the other. We also have the generator, but prefer to use that sparingly as it is noisy. Having multiple systems gives us a sense of security – especially in situations such as this.
Tuesday evening we ran out of water in our freshwater tank. We still have ample drinking water and an extra 5 gallon container of potable water, but we decided to leave our spot and start making our way toward West Yellowstone the next morning.
Just a few miles from where we were camped is the Bonneville Salt Flats International Race Track. This is a quick drive off of I-80, just take exit 4 and take the first right after the gas station. It will take you down a road with a circular spot at the end to turn around. There is no fee to stop and check out the area.
We were the only ones there and even though the name “salt flats” clued me in on what it was comprised of, it still blew me away to actually walk on the salt. It reminded me of large pieces of coarse salt that I often cook with. It is still relatively early in the year and the salt was still pretty damp. It isn’t until later in the year when it has dried out and hardened that it is safe for vehicles to venture out onto the surface. You definitely will not want to take an RV onto the flats and they don’t recommend it.
Before getting on the freeway, we stopped at the gas station at the corner. Russ had to go in to pay for gas and came out with a bag full of surprises! The store actually had rubber gloves and hand sanitizer for sale. A box of 100 gloves cost $18.99 – now we’re not sure if this is a good price or not, but it was worth it as we were a bit stressed since we were down to using our yellow dishwashing gloves. The woman at the store told Russ that the owner of the store had someone travel all the way to California just to pick up the stock that they had.
Moving along I-80E from Wendover toward Salt Lake City, we were treated to some gorgeous scenery… no idea what the tall tower-like object is in the middle photo, but it definitely catches the eye!
We made a quick dip down I-15 South to visit one of our favorite stops – Rowley’s Red Barn. It sells fresh produce, cheeses, butter, fudge and amazing ice cream (check out our video at the bottom of this post). It’s also a Harvest Host location where Russ and I stayed overnight on their side lot when we went through last year. After having a quick lunch and our fridge stocked with Amish roll butter and plenty of green onion cheese, we got back on the I-15 and went north.
Just north of Salt Lake City, we crossed the border into Idaho in search of some BLM land to boondock for the night. I was surprised to see how green everything was already! After having spent so much time in Nevada and western Utah, the vivid colors were mesmerizing.
The spot we found for the evening is known as Blackrock Canyon, just outside of Pocatello, ID. The area is accessible for any size rig, but before we got to the camping spot there was about a mile and a half of dirt road that is rutted in some spots, so we had to take it extra slow. There is a fairly level parking lot and a pit toilet at the entrance to the BLM area just past the cattle gate. There were many trucks parked in the lot when we arrived as it is a popular area for quads and off-road motorcycle enthusiasts. They were all gone around 9 p.m. and just us and another camper remained.
Up next: our final push to West Yellowstone!
BOONDOCK #1 Wendover, UT
BOONDOCK #2 Blackrock Canyon (ID)
NOTE: This footage was filmed July 30, 2019