Monday, January 27, 2014
Hippie Hole beach is now a memory as we settled into our new camp. We are just outside Yuma in a rather remote lagoon site off Ave7E between Fortuna Pond and Mittry Lake. I got in my first approximately hour long hike this morning....Im still busting with happiness.
Todays lunch menu: portabello mushrooms simmered, on a slow fire, in 1 teaspoon raw coconut oil with garlic, a cup of mint tea and one rice cake...yummers
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Before returning from Costa Rica over a year ago. I researched different ways of traveling. one idea was traveling in a small vehicle and carrying a well designed tent. The most practical least expensive tent that I was hoping to purchase was a PlayaDome system design for camping at the Burning Man event.
I particularly liked how the company put together a complete package. this package was put together to weather the extreme temperatures and winds. The package even included a reflective sun shade cloth tarp and rebar stakes.
I still think this is a great package and not only will it be great for traveling it would make a good starter shelter for anyone looking to homestead.
Solar seems to be a big subject among both Vandwellers and Fulltime Boondocking RVers. Being more of a low budget, low tech traveler with 'tendencies' towards the natural and green, gentle on the earth thinking, I seem to view this subject a bit differently.
I understand where the majority of people are coming from. Generally, they have lived lives in the mainstream of USA America, with hotwater for dishes and showers, televisions, sterios, computers and video games for entertainment, telephones, computers and gadgets to communicate with others.... and though I too, at times, have lived with these things. I have, as well, chosen to explore living life without these things. Why? I think its interesting. I dont have people to lean on in an emergency so I feel like I need to know how to take care of myself. My income is concidered a poverty income by some agency in the US, because of that I dont have some of things others do. When I travel, think that its kewl to learn how people who have less than me can be happy and survive, so I try to learn all I can from them....have you ever considered what to do if you were to poor to pay to see a doctor or too poor to buy toilet paper?
When I first began Fulltiming or Vandwelling, I didnt see much of a need for solar. Other than a couple solar driveway lights that were inexpesive and easy to carry. My van has a shore power connection for use at campgrounds and, with a good drive battery and a few LED bulbs, my ceiling lights are no power issue. There were times when the very short battery life of my cellphone was annoying, then I got a tablet to use for blogging and its battery is similar to a cellphone. My needs are pretty minimal.
On the other hand, there have been people so anxious for me to conform to thier idea of normal Vandwelling, that they nearly push all my migraine headache buttons with thier idea of my NEED. Geez. So this fall, I gave in and tried a solar system. I had a Harbour Frieght basic 45 watt system mounted to the roof rack of my van. I was given a sealed AGM 12V 33ah battery. Yes, tiny, but what do i have to run? With my multiple chemical sensitivites and asthma and storage inside the van, I felt it best to only allow a sealed battery.
So what happened with your experiment? you may ask.
It worked. Just like it was supposed to. Sun power in and electric power out.
With the size battery I have, I could charge and re-charge my phone and tablet multiple times daily.
The panels on the roof traveled fine. The industrial zipties we used as a hinge were strong and not affected by the sun although metal pipe clamps maybe a better choice in some situations.
The pipe insulation we used to direct the wind around the panels and to protect the roof from scratches as a result of screws and bolts worked very well.
The way we set it up so I could climb the back door ladder and lift the panels into a tilt possission also worked very well. Even with a weak shoulder (old rotator cuff injury) I could push them up into possition.
I had difficulty reaching them to clean them. A long handled squeegie would have helped, and been yet another thing to carry.
The lights that came with the set were great. Initially I liked them, although my eyes ached from the brightness and I had to ask myself if they were worth using.
I really liked the controller box. More companies should make similar designs. Although an actual reading of the state of the battery itself would have been handy.
I learned - 1. that having the large, rather heavy (from my viewpoint because I cannot lift it alone) system on my roof added another thing to think about everyday. My K.I.S.S., minamalist lifestyle doesnt need BIG stuff to think about. Like when I wanted to wash the van, or driving down a really bumpy road.
2. If your panels are overkill for your storage battery, you essentially are wasting energy. Unless you can put it to use during the day when the sun is most powerful. Unfortunately, because of the storage battety size I have, it limited what I could run on this system during the day - wont run my 4.5 w 12V cooler bummer.
3. I already have a sufficient lighting system both inside and outside the van that causes me no extra thought.
4. I already have a sufficient way to keep my cell phone and tablet charged for daily use. Cleaning my cellphone by taking it back to factory settings extended the life of my battery and basically ended that anxiety.
5. I learned what I wanted - if I had more power I would power a 12V cooler and sometimes watch movies. AND to do that I found adding a simple SDcard to my tablet enabled me to watch movies with no additional power. To run a 12V cooler, I will need a larger battery. I dont have the budget for a larger sealed agm battery right now, so that idea is on hold.
So, now, when I deal with a larger system in the future, I will get a large wattage small sized solar panel, something I can lift, install and manage alone and a larger battery (of course, I have to deal with my fear of batteries and electricity too)
Im very happy with my simple solar lighting choices which i will discuss in my next solar post
Hello, how are you all? If i were to decide to come to the upper canada village in ottowa....would i be close enough to visit with you all? I spent some 1st cup of coffee time journaling this morning and then promptly lost it all....perhaps the different office program I am now using does not have an automatic timed 'save' function? Live and learn as the saying goes. Cindy made her first homemade butter this morning...about a month ago now as I was driving around, I spotted a local organic dairy farm. Cindy and I went back with our 1 gallon glass jar and bought a gallon of fresh milk (like we used to do when I was a little girl in Maine) She was so excited. What a special way to share good food and the process of scouring in ones community for your groceries instead of just walking into a sterile, tho nicely decorated store to buy prepackaged, processed, everything! Sarah visited this weekend - again so nice to connect with 'my peeps!' (lol) Whirled wind days... :) Over this past weekend, a 2013 Winter RTR and Vannin buddy came to visit with me. Yes, I am still in Upstate New York. It seems that God wants me here a little longer, things just keep coming up - and incredible things at that. But then I am not the only person who has these kinds of things happen. Many people seem to understand about coincidences that aren't really coincidences. Anyway, as I was thinking over my upcoming travels, my son called to ask me a favor--to please have my brakes checked before I leave this area. My son also has a 1994 Chevy G20 and recently needed to replace the brake systems master cylinder and wanted me to have mine checked as a matter of safety. Good thing too, because I didn't need a master cylinder I needed rear brakes! I am so glad that I had found a local mechanic shop that I feel is fair and reliable and I scheduled an appointment with John at Swift Automotive. He fit me into his schedule and Simply Van had to spend a few days away from 'home'! I have been blessed to have my friend Cindy near by and we've been spending a lot of time together, so I had a place to stay. John has a large storage garage behind the automotive shop and this month, his mother has been busy holding a garage sale many days. They are cleaning up so that garage will be available for winter storage rental space for cars, boats, jet skis, travel trailers and RVs, as well as snow mobiles. It was great visiting and getting more aquainted with thier family. In fact, on the day that I picked up Simply Van, I even met John's dad who has been recovering from broken ribs (ouch). John went out of his way to adjust the new brakes the day after, put some rainx on my windshield and called to checkup on how the van was doing. I feel like I made a friend rather than just doing business. After all the recent repairs to the van, I had been thinking it would be a good idea to add roadside assistance to my insurance policy. Thinking that it may be a good idea to contact my current agency - Gieco- before calling AAA or Good Sam's, I made the call... after all the verification that I am me, and a pleasant, "Oh, Ms Lesa, its wonderful to speak with such a loyal customer, I see you have been with us, off and on since 1985!" I ask my question - is road side assistance available to me and what would the cost be... Well, Ms Lesa, lets go over a few things... So he checks my current address and --- says, I see that your address is a mailing service in South Dakota. (when did that start showing up in their computer systems?)...anyway, I told him that I live a Full Time RV lifestyle. He said that he was sorry to hear that and that my policy would be canceled. (what?!) After asking a few more questions to clarify why I was being dropped, the 'really nice' Gieco guy tells me that he's not suppose to tell me that the cancelation process takes about 2 weeks. Wow. How generous. So what does a Full-time Van-isher/dweller/kamper person like me do? Go straight to Google - and all the online Vandweller, CheapRVLiving, Full-time RVer sites and forums and ask questions --- read up old insurance articles and posts. Then armed with that information, I start making calls. It is interesting to find that only 5 US Insurance Companies will insure Full-Time RVers. Those companies are Escapees-Bancor South, Good Sam's-National General, Progressive, Geico and Allstate. Yes - Gieco is in that list....so what happened to me? The Gieco RV lady I spoke with told me that they would be more than happy to insure me as a fulltimer, if I would simply sell my passenger van and get a Class B camper van instead. Or they could insure me as a regular passenger van if I would get a home, like house or apartment, or if I bought a piece of land. I fell through the cracks of their insurance system. So I called Good Sam's only to be told the same thing.... As you can imagine, I was stressing out about then and wondering if I was ging to be able to find insurance or continue my current adventures or not. Then I read a few more posts from forums and that didn't actually make me feel any better - because I realized that many people living similar to me, use Aunt XYZs address or they have a storage building or use their brother's address. I have had to become very independant, have had some bad experiences trusting others and it is best for me to use a mail service. So back to the phone I go. I call Progressive who gives me a quote - even after I tell them that "I live in my van"! I can't hardly believe it - and being a careful person,, I ask for the quote to be sent via email as I consider my options to make a good decision. Wow - then I contact Escapees company - and what a lovely (kinda cute actually) southern sounding man I spoke with. He was so happy to share insurance stories and rv stories...He said that what I had found out so far was true and that I could not only get insurance and keep my lifestyle, but that he most likely would be able to get even Progressive to give me a better quote - at least lower the deductables and get road side assistance--- we will talk again tomorrow. I thought for a while, that I might need to change the state that I have chosen for residency, and that may be true although for now, I should be able to have better insurance coverage and road side assistance.
RTR wrapped up and some friends and I exited the now crazy busy Quartzsite area. Battling challenging MLK holiday traffic, we crossed over into California at Blythe. A little shopping, laundry mat visit and resupply of water and essentials in small town Blythe, then we headed down highway 78 along the Colorado River. Our destination a tiny cove on the Arizona side of the river. We have been thouroghly enjoying Hippie Hole Beach. Yes, our group has been joking a lot about that name as we bring out guitars and tell stories by the campfire.
....till next post
Thursday, January 23, 2014
What a wonder to watch my friends having fun...
Boating on the river, making jewelry, sharing Sunset and Happy Hour time as they start the fire for the evening and often share a snack.
Ive been having fun preparing food for the group - it's just something I like to do, often I cannot eat what I am preparing so I have someone else taste test. Just in case you all wanted to know how I can cook for others and not affect my food allergies and stuff...thats how I do it, I guess I was just blessed with a talent for flavors, and food preparation including cooking methods and stuff. I can kinda tell by the sight and smell of foods if they are going to be good- then with someones taste testing, salt or sweet or whatever can be adjusted.
This morning, though I thought it would be shower day for me, it became play with another cooking idea...so out came the plant pot I picked up on the Free pile at RTR, some kindling, a wire rack I carry just incase, and the enamel pots that were less than $3 from a thrift store in Lake Havasu City. A small pot of soup made a great lunch.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
2013 was a very full year with miles of travel and many events. I was considering ending my blogging because I couldn't see any real purpose or good that my writing was serving. Over the past few weeks, perhaps given the change to a new year. I have recieved many short emails and phone calls asking where and how I am. I am GREAT! better than ever. I woke up giddy with happiness the other night - I'm holding on to that experience.
I have been attending the winter Rubber Tramp Rondevous (RTR) in Quartzsite, Arizona. The scheduled events are nearly over now. We discussed things like how to convert a vehicle in order to 'Full- Time RV' or live in said vehicle, shared ideas for cooking, keeping warm, showering, receiving mail, how to be respectful when choosing a boondocking site, disposing of trash among other things. We shared social moments that included campfire chit chat each night, Hobo Chili dinners and Baked Potato social events organized by Mark & Donna. We have showed off our vehicles at the first Open House, shared on the ever present Free Pile tarp (freecycle at its RTR finest). And we have helped each other tweek ideas, solve problems and complete projects. Tools (ever present in guy vehicles) were shared and tires checked. We met, yet again, now lifelong friends as well as making new connections that likely will be life long. Incredibly we also connected with our neighboring Escapees group the "Boomers" who are a lovely, incredible, sharing and knowledgeable group of Full-Time RVers and World Travelers.
The sharing, giving and emotional support in this group is incredible to experience. Without guidelines or rules, this group of people have chosen to take more personal responsiblity and I have found that the majority have the personal goal to live what they believe. Coming together with open mindedness and encouraging hearts I have experienced a sharing between Christians, Atheists, Free Thinkers, Introverts, Extroverts, the openly opinionated and sometimes annoying, as well as those more fortunate economically mixing joyfully with those less economically fortunate and even very close to dirt poor. A commonality is a love of freedom and a need for choice. Often, health is important as is giving up the major stressors of the societal norms. It is refreshing to see gadgets that use little to no energy. Yes, there are lots of solar panels present - for good reason as the use the sun's energy is helpful to those just begining to explore a life lived Off Grid.
I am being encouraged to stay in touch with you through my blog writing - honestly, though I would like to, I cannot possibly answer the numbers of emails I recieve.
I am grateful. to my friends, my family and even my aquaintances - I learn so much and am blessed so richly through you and your presence. Please stay connected, add comments and keep in touch, it helps to encourage me to give more - knowing that my words are reaching someone in Internetlandia.