The Boondocks

Our road trips in the Pacific Northwest often take us through the boondocks. It’s important to note that the boondocks aren’t unique to our neck of the woods; they’re just about everywhere.

According to the dictionary, “The Boondocks is an American expression from the Tagalog word bundók. It originally referred to a remote rural area, but now, is often applied to an out-of-the-way area.” 

We knew we were in the boondocks during a recent stop at a rest area. When I went to dry my hands, this is what I saw:

I pressed the button and got nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
I smacked the button and voilà! Hot air.

[bctt tweet=”When was the last time you were in the boondocks?” username=”@TuesWithLaurie”]

When was the last time you were in the boondocks?


69 thoughts on “The Boondocks

  1. Round here we call it the boonies sticks … living far from anywhere! Trying to get a mobile signal where I live feels like being in the Boondocks although it literally is where the summer houses are in Sweden – wonderfully remote!

  2. Oh, I’ve lived in more boondocks than you can shake a stick at, sometimes without electricity or even running water! I knew I’d made it to the boondocks in the American South when I ran into a sign on a storefront door (looking a lot like your “smack button” sign, too) actually reading, “Closed, gone fishin” 😆

  3. The boondocks has its own sense of humor and its own way of solving problems. Did you see the Ken Burns series on country music, Laurie? It celebrates the resilience of the people from “down in the boondocks.” Fascinating television.

  4. The bathrooms where our grandson plays soccer might boast a sign like this. The field is in town, but the restrooms are not maintained very well.

    Thanks for shedding more light on our rich language. I had no idea that “boondocks” had Filipino origins.

  5. Oh fun! When I was three my parents moved from Chicago out to the northern IL chain of lakes area, to a little town called Round Lake. For our first months or more living there, we had to go across the street to a park with a hand water pump to get our water.

    Our relatives in Chicago refered to that area as the boonies or sticks. At that time, the “expressway” had not yet been built. It took easily two hours with light traffic in our Hudson brand car.
    Our town was still largely populated with summer cottages.

    One of my sisters now has a home in a small town north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The internet signal is spotty. Being sparsley populated without signal is my new definition of the boonies.
    One of my favorite type of places to visit.

  6. We also called it living out on the back 40 (40 acres, that is) when someone lived in an out of the way location. I do like the “boonies,” though. It’s quiet and peaceful, and not as many lights to mess up the sky view. Haven’t been there for a while, so I miss it.

  7. Oct 6-9 my wife and I were in the BWCAW. Camping on a lake with just a firegrate and a latrine in the woods for “amenities.” Got there via canoe (of course) and tent camped. My idea of heaven.


  8. Well, I’m chuckling here because… Bob and I live at least on the edge of them. With all the water, hills and roller coaster roads around here I like to say we can get there from here… but it ain’t easy. People do think different, which can be a tad frustrating when these two refugees from the city want something done right now. 🙂

  9. I live there 😉

    An hour’s drive in any direction to the next town, 2 hours to the nearest city.

    This is a small town of about 3,000 locals, but in peak tourist season there can be 20,000 people here. A 10 minute drive will take me to a place where I can start walking and usually walk for a couple of days without seeing anyone else. And there are plenty of interesting people around if I want them too.

    Post quake a lot of things are being rebuilt to modern standards, so a lot of things are modernising in ways that some locals are not too happy about.

  10. Everyday I’m in the boondocks, back 40, the middle of nowhere. We do have utilities but when it comes to real broadband internet, not so many choices and certainly none that offer truly “unlimited” streaming. I like it, and then I resent it. Winters are a challenge for those of us who do not like driving on snowy/icy roads, and getting in and out of town without driving is not easy. We have daily Amtrak service – which we will lose if they cut the funding, and the nearest airports are two hours away. There are advantages and disadvantages.

  11. Laurie, you know that back in the 80’s I moved to a large, passive solar cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The main road was named the Rattle Snake Highway because of the large number of snakes found paralyzed there on cold mornings. They crawl to the warm pavement in the night and being cold blooded, eventually become chilled and powerless to move. This was during the Back to the Land movement espoused by the Mother Earth News magazine and other conservation forward people. I lived totally off grid; woodstove, gravity fed water, oil lamps, chickens, the whole enchilada. I wouldn’t go back although I could still survive if the power goes out. I would not have missed it for the world though, there was a grand education in those 6 years. I still live not far from there, close enough that I have possums for yard dogs and hoot owls for chickens. Horses up one side of the road, cattle down the other. I can’t see or hear a neighbor on either side me. As for what you call the boonies, I think we just call it “Back up in the woods”.

  12. I spent 25 years living almost right downtown, just a walk around the Lake to the stores and downtown community. 4 years ago we needed a single story house and we moved to the other side of town and are now about a 10 minute drive from downtown and about 20 to the mall (I never go there any more) The Fort is about 15 minutes down the freeway from us and since they are moving in military at a fantastic rate, from our house to Seattle is nearly 100 percent housing now. Nestled into our small community are a huge number of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms A Land Trust of Boonies! We are actively trying to keep Wall Street and Nestle’ out of our water supplies and the Koch Brothers from Fracking our mountains….The Boonies are highly protected Even those islands off the Coast of the Pacific Northwest….We persuade unhappy folks to move to Montana and Idaho know they will be happier away from our Greenness!! Love the Boonies

  13. Oh Laurie, you’ve hit home for me. “Boondocks” is the more formal term, you know; “the boonies” is for those of us who live there. I’d not have it any other way, though Boondocks (and boonies) is often a pejorative term, as though those who live here are ignorant or at least uneducated. And, when I use the term for myself (“getting back home to the boonies”) it’s generally meant in a self-deprecating way. City folk (where I was born and bred, thank ‘ye very much) and country folk need to talk together a bit more. It’s becoming quite the divide once again. And important topic, as usual.

  14. Your hand dryer experience is so funny! I have used the term boondocks throughout my lifetime and understood the application, but I might have thought the origin would have a relationship to something historical or mechanical or??? It’s a great word, though. I need to go somewhere quite off my path to find the boondocks anywhere near me. I think the last time was actually a couple of years ago when I had an interest in finding some sand dunes I’d read about mid-state. We had to follow a remote out-of-the-way roadway to find it. But all things are relative, aren’t they? I think many of our blogging friends would laugh at what I call the boondocks! That I can find any place at all within California that feels remote is a wonderful experience. Just not often enough! 🙂

  15. Your bathroom sign–and the fact that the advice actually worked–is priceless. But I was most fascinated that the word comes from the Tagalog language. My daughter’s roommate a couple of years in college–her parents are from the Philippines and they frequently tried to explain the nature of the various languages used in that context. Thanks for your amusing posts.

    • Melodie — When I was doing my research for the origin of the word, I was so surprised that “boondocks” originated in the Tagalong language. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for letting me know 🙂

    • Cher — Having lived in Crystal Lake, IL for 23 years, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Some day when you have the time, hop on the train and head north into Wisconsin, then rent a car and drive and drive and drive. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the beautiful “boondocks” they have 🙂

      • Laurie, you most certainly do know what I am talking about! 🙂 Thank you so much for the excellent information! I think I’ve found my new “boondocks!” 🙂 Cher xo

  16. Life has thrown so many curved balls at high speed at me such that it feels like boondocks most of the time–It is a”jamais vu” experience.I am beginning to lpve it .
    Often during my travels,I come across new ways of operating familiar appliances and for a moment I am amazed.

  17. How curious that the word boondocks comes from Tagalog! I love language trivia like this! And I think smacking hand dryers might be kind of therapeutic! The last time I was in ‘an amenity’ in the boondocks (in Australia), I found a lovely, fat green tree frog peeping up at me from the toilet bowl!
    Thanks for sharing, Laurie.

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