On Saturday, June 19th I drove my rig to Mt. Vernon, Illinois for the installation of 400 watts of solar panels. The photograph above illustrates the interior components now positioned below the platform for my bed and the masterful work of the engineer at Boundless Power Systems. While this installation was occurring, I spent the week at Cape Cod with friends. The environment at the Cape is glorious. Yesterday I retrieved my rig from Ohio, restarting my journey with more battery capacity and less reliance on fossil fuels to run the devices that require electricity in my motorhome.

I’ll be better equipped to “boondock,” camping without a need for an electrical hookup. The noise, smell, and expense of running my propane generator will be significantly diminished. Sunlight creates an electric current when it strikes solar panels. The electric current will feed into a charge converter that will control the delivery of energy to the batteries that power my “house.” My batteries use the current to produce DC power. Then the power passes through an inverter that converts it to AC for turning on lights, charging phones and tablets, and turning on my air conditioning.

Boondocking is camping off the grid, away from the conventional RV park where rigs are sometimes lined up side by side on concrete slabs. Boondocking is quieter, and can afford opportunities to camp at beautiful destinations that aren’t otherwise available. When boondocking, there are no water, electricity, or sewer connections like you’d find in a conventional campground. Boondocking is often free. The National Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife have lands that are managed for this purpose. There is often a site with durable surface for rig or tent parking.

Boondockers are implored to adhere to the guiding principle that Mother Nature is not our maid. I hope this principle seeps into the consciousness of those who litter or leave trash behind, whether in the wilderness or in our cities. Litter wounds the environment. Willy nilly disposal of trash begets more litter. One empty water bottle left on the ground spoils an otherwise bucolic setting.

I spent my first night in the woods when I was ten years old. I was taught to “Leave my campsite cleaner than I found it.” I’m guided by this adage today as much if not more than I was when I was ten. I’ll pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter whether it’s mine or not. I’ll leave natural objects as I find them and minimize the impact of campfires. I’ll respect wildlife; I’ll be mindful that I’m a visitor in their home. I’ll camp apart from other visitors whenever possible. I’ll enjoy our public lands while protecting them.

Henry David Theoreau said, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” I’m urged by this message to respect what’s under my feet because it is the closest that I’ll ever get to heaven while I’m on the planet. I also take Thoreau’s quote as message to make practical use the power of the sun.

Philosopher George Santayana said, “The earth has music for those who will listen.” I’m writing now on my sister’s back porch in Nashville where the birds are showering me with their songs. I open my ears to the wind and the birds and commit to environmental stewardship.


Published by jmlewisjr

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications. We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.  The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time. Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.   I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas. My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving. This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.

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