The saleswoman said that our new Airstream trailer was good for boondocking. Being a newbie to the RV community, I had no idea what she was talking about. Not wanting to look ignorant as I was taking command of my new land yacht – and not really knowing if boondocking was a topic that Southern decorum would allow us to discuss in mixed company – I naively responded with, “Yeah, Marcia and I are going to do a lot of boondocking.” Thankfully, the conversation moved on to other topics such as tire inflation, battery maintenance, proper towing, and sewer dumping.
My curiosity caught up with me.
Wiktionary defines boondocking as the present participle of boondock (big help). Noun: Boondock (chiefly in the plural) A brushy rural area or location. Verb: Boondock 1) To camp in a dry brush location, 2) To stay in a recreational vehicle in a remote location, without connections to water, power, or sewer services.
The term boondock first entered the English language with U.S. servicemen during the Philippine–American War (1899-1902). The word comes from the native Tagalog bundok for “mountain.” Most of the population in the Philippines lives along the coasts. The interior bundok was a wild and remote place, sparsely inhabited by headhunting tribes engaged in guerrilla warfare. Returning servicemen and women from WWII added boondocks to our domestic lexicon to refer to rural, unsophisticated, and backwater locations (boonies).
Our Airstream turns out to be pretty good for boondocking – in the present participle fashion. It has a 39-gallon freshwater tank, dual deep cell batteries, 60 pounds of propane, and a 150-watt rooftop solar panel. In fact, we can be self-sufficient for weeks. However, after four or five days in the bundok, I tend to start to assume native habits such as carrying a spear and adorning myself with shells and body art. Behavior that is tolerated by my wife until I sport a loincloth, which prompts her to insist we move to a “civilized campsite” with city water and 30-amp service.